CRPG Analyzer: A checklist for computer role-playing games

The Should Haves describe the fuzzy zone of the CRPG genre from

CRPG light (no Should Haves fulfilled)
to
CRPG heavy (all Should Haves fulfilled)

The Must Haves are the necessary conditions for a CRPG.
All Should Haves together are the sufficient conditions for a CRPG.

All things in between (All Must Haves + some Should Haves fulfilled) have to be further qualified with tags.

Elegant system I would say ;)
 
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The Must Haves are the necessary conditions for a CRPG.
All Should Haves together are the sufficient conditions for a CRPG.
Or in other words (I think of it like this) --

Must-Haves fulfilled: game is CRPG-ish
Must-Haves + Should-Haves fulfilled: game is a CRPG
 
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More science:

Understanding Computer Role-Playing Games
A Genre Analysis Based on Gameplay Features in Combat Systems


2. GENRES AND THE CRPG GENRE
There are a couple of fundamental parts that makes a game a
computer role-playing game. The base of modern CRPGs comes
from wargames and from pen-and-paper roleplaying game. One
wargame that probably had a large impact on modern CRPG is
the game Chainmail, while it used the same game mechanics as
most other wargames all the units in the game were inspired by
Tolkien’s fantasy world. This was taken further by the pen-and-
paper roleplaying games Dungeon and Dragons, which put
emphasize on each player having one character, and Brathwaite
and Schreiber [7] view character development as the most
important part of any role-playing game. Typically, this
development takes the form of letting players make choices on
how to improve attributes or abilities that affect combat, but often
players may also make decisions regarding the development of a
narration or a relation with a non-player character.

5.1 Ubiquitous Patterns

36 patterns were found in all games examined; they were therefore not included in figure 5 since they do not affect the cluster structure. Knowledgeable players of RPGs are likely to have experienced gameplay related to these patterns and are likely to be sensitive to particularities regarding these, especially their absence from a design. As such they are of concern to anybody that is about to design or analyse combat systems for CRPGs. We thereby identify the following patterns as being ubiquitous in CRPGs:
PRIVILEGED ABILITIES, PRIVILEGED MOVEMENT, EQUIPMENT SLOTS, ANALYSIS PARALYSIS, EQUIPMENT, ARMOR, GAME ITEMS,ENEMIES,PLAYER CHARACTERS, AVATARS, PARTIES, BOSS MONSTERS, IMPROVED ABILITIES, NEW ABILITIES, GAMEPLAY, STATISTICS, GRINDING, QUESTS, COMBAT, COMPANIONS, CUTSCENES, DAMAGE, DIALOGUES, GAME WORLDS,GOD VIEWS, HELPERS, ILLUSION OF OPEN SPACE, INACCESSIBLE AREAS, INVENTORIES, LOOT, MAIN QUESTS, NON-PLAYER CHARACTERS, OBSTACLES, PLAYER/CHARACTER SKILL COMPOSITES, STIMULATED PLANNING, TACTICAL PLANNING and WEAPONS.

Maybe not too surprising, many of these patterns have been previously identified [6][28]. While most patterns in this group are probably no surprise for those familiar with RPGs, they do provide a quick overview of what gameplay elements players most likely expect to find when starting to play a new CRPG.
 
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Interesting, because it very much focuses on JRPGs, an area which we are probably less knowledgeable about here on the Watch. It might be worthwhile to check those "ubiquitous patterns" against our checklists and see if we missed anything, although it would have been great if they mentioned what those terms actually mean.

Sure, I understand what "loot" or "main quests" are, but "god views" or "helpers"? Could mean anything (or maybe they are standard terminology in the JRPG community.)
 
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I will look into it, but I've only played 20 JRPGs or so.

Helper: temporary party member for a quest?
God View: popular view In RPGMaker games?

Nice read:

Gameplay Design for Role Playing Battle Systems
Master of Science Thesis
Christopher Dristig Stenström

http://publications.lib.chalmers.se/records/fulltext/165277.pdf

1. The user has to be able to develop his/her character(s). Basically, each RPG have the user being able to improve his/her character(s).
2. Only games which the user can complete the game himself/herself, this to limit the research from including multiplayer RPGs.
3. Player has a party of characters, or an army of characters, this is to limit, the research from genres of games.
4. The Game needs to have a clear end of the game, this is to remove the genre Massive multiplayer online role-playing games.
5. Battle gameplay emphasize on strategic decisions from the user.
To limit of the research from other genres which are more action-oriented but might have a lot of RPG elements. Games which are based around action (have less story development, combo focused etc.) will not be considered in this research. For example Devil May Cry, Onimusha or Scott Pilgrim against the world: The game

Summary: An RPG is a game where the user will develop a user controlled character(s). The character developing process is usually a combination of gaining experience points through battle in the game, and by gaining better equipment (usually by battling) which can be equipped and enchant the character. The game will offer a story of some sort, the game world and the components of the story are often similar to fantasy literature settings and sometimes scifi literature (it can be other settings for example Steam Punk). In this story the game will offer some sort of dialogue, interaction between characters in the game. This can be done in different ways and commonly it differs with WRPG, which uses a more open storytelling and let the user makes moral decision, while JRPG offers a more linear storytelling very similar to a book. The user will have a lot of battles, which is the agenda of this research. These battles do not challenge the users on reflex skills or the user‘s fine motor skill level, but on an intellectual level.
There is sub genres such as ARPG which focuses more on action, however the ARPGs mainly challenges the user‘s ability to perform pre planning and longtime decision making then fast reflexes.

He missed Choices&Consequences & Exploring.
 
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I gave v0.97 a try with Blackguards. I've done the MHs and SHs only.

====================

Blackguards

Character Development
Describes ways to change or enhance your characters in order to increase their effectiveness in the game.
  • Must Have
    C1: you can control one or more characters (Not only uniform troops) =>yes
    C2: you can progressively develop your characters' stats and/or abilities (=> e.g. through quests, exploration, conversation, combat, …) =>yes
    C3: you can equip and enhance your characters with items you acquire =>yes
  • Should Have
    C4: you can create your characters =>yes
    C5: character development requires careful thought and planning =>yes
    C6: tactical use of character/party skills/abilities are the primary means of problem solving, gameworld interaction and overcoming challenges rather than the player's physical coordination skills. =>yes

Exploration
Includes how you can move through the game world, as well as everything you can find, see, manipulate or interact with, like locations, items and other objects.
  • Must Have
    E1: the Gameworld is simulated by consistent rules and mechanics in which the character/party can interact, explore and find new locations. =>no
    E2: you can find items that can be collected in an inventory. There have to be more item types than quest items, weapons, ammunition and consumable stat boosters. =>no
    E3: you can find information sources (=> e.g. NPCs, entities, objects that provide info) =>yes
  • Should Have
    E4: there are NPCs in the game =>yes
    E5: you can choose a path (=> there is at least some branching) =>yes
    E6: you can manipulate the game world in some way (=> e.g. pull levers, push buttons, open chests, …) =>yes
    E7: the gameworld can affect your party (=> e.g. weather, traps, closed doors, poisoned areas, …) =>yes
    E8: to progress or overcome obstacles (=> e.g. unlock locked areas, repair bridges, dispel barriers, …) you have to enhance your characters abilities or solve some quests or puzzles. =>no

Story
Concerns all narrative elements like setting, lore, plot, characters, dialogue, quests, descriptions, storyline(s) and similar, including how you can interact with them.
  • Must Have
    S1: you can get info from information sources (=> e.g. hints, goals, quests, skills, spells, training, …) =>yes
    S2: you can follow quests (=> there is at least one main quest) =>yes
    S3: you can progress through connected events =>yes
  • Should Have
    S4: the story is influenced by your actions and character stats/abilities/skills =>yes
    S5: you can interact with information sources (=> e.g. NPC conversation, riddle statue question, …) =>yes
    S6: you can make choices in those interactions =>yes
    S7: your choices have consequences =>yes
    S8: advancing in the story requires thought (=> e.g. irreversible choices, moral dilemma, riddles, …) =>yes


Combat
Describes how combat is influenced by elements of Character Development, Exploration and Story.
  • Should Have
    F1: Combat efficiency is in some way tied to character stats or abilities (=> e.g. amount of damage, chance to hit, weapon access, …) =>yes
    F2: Combat works with some random elements (game internal dice rolls) =>yes
    F3: Combat should provide some challenge (=> e.g. preparing, use of tactics or environment possible) =>yes

Summary
MHs E1 and E2 aren't fulfilled, so the game doesn't qualify as a CRPG.

====================

Discussion
Well, it's not a surprise that for Blackguards the critical MHs are in the Exploration category. In fact I had difficulties to apply E1 here. What does it actually mean for a gameworld to be "simulated by consistent rules and mechanics"? In Blackguards the gameworld is nearly completely static, the party's movement isn't visualized at all, NPCs hardly move (though some of them appear at a different location after certain events). Interaction is limited to starting NPC dialogs, opening shops and entering new static locations. Is that a simluation? I don't think so.
It would perhaps be different if you considered the battle maps as part of the gameworld. Your characters move here and you can interact with the environment (barrels, traps etc.). But here you can't explore, can't find new locations, can't start dialogs. Overall I don't see this MH fulfilled.
Same goes for E2. I currently don't remember any item types except the stated ones.

Imho not classifying Blackguards as a CRPG seems wrong to me. Of course it's not a typical CRPG, it's focus clearly is on turn based combat. But to me it's a CRPG nevertheless, a Tactical CRPG.
So I think E1 needs another refinement where "simulation" is left out or is better explained .
E2 seems a to be to strict. If you leave out quest items, weapons, armor, ammo and consumable stat boosters, what is there actually left?
Clothes may exist that don't offer any protection modifications or stat increasements and are for visualization purpose only, but I don't think that makes a game a CRPG in this category. Another item type would be keys (in all variations), but they do exist in shooters too. Of course meaningless items also exist, that you may just carry around for nothing, but that's not the thing we want here.
My suggestion would be to remove the requirement of various item types. For filtering out shooters, there should be other MHs.
 
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@Thanks Morrandir

E1: is fulfilled for Blackguards IMO. You can find new locations (Cities, places in the woods). You can interact in cities. You can manipulate the environment in the battle maps.

You have to read this condition in a very abstract form. Don't expect Gothic 2 or Skyrim free exploration in every game. Exploration, can be done in a room, in a dungeon, in an overland map, etc.

But it is correct that Blackguards meets this condition only barely. The reviewer should make a comment on it.

E2: you can find/buy armor/books/spells etc. so this condition is clearly met.

Hint: (Armor is not excluded in E2)

PS:
I would have said No to S8.
 
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@Thanks Morrandir

E1: is fulfilled for Blackguards IMO. You can find new locations (Cities, places in the woods). You can interact in cities. You can manipulate the environment in the battle maps.

You have to read this condition in a very abstract form. Don't expect Gothic 2 or Skyrim free exploration in every game. Exploration, can be done in a room, in a dungeon, in an overland map, etc.

But it is correct that Blackguards meets this condition only barely. The reviewer should make a comment on it.
Yes, that's why I think we need to remove the "simulation" from E1's definition. What did you actually mean with "simulated by consistent rules and mechanics"? Wouldnt "in the gameworld the character/party can interact, explore and find new locations" be sufficient?
E2: you can find/buy armor/books/spells etc. so this condition is clearly met.

Hint: (Armor is not excluded in E2)
Indeed I forgot about the spells/books. And concerning the armor… why isn't it excluded? In most shooters you can find armor too.
I currently don't see any practical value for item types (Yes, I know I spoke for them some posts ago ;) ).
Imagine Blackguards having no spellbooks (learning spells through NPC only) and no armor items (e.g. fixed armor for companions and player char). E2 wouldn't be fulfilled and Blackguards wouldn't be a CRPG. Wouldn't feel right.
PS:
I would have said No to S8.
Well, I thought of the decisions whether to trust Aurelia or not (removing the collar etc.). It's not much and because I've played through only once, I don't know about actual consequences. But it's there. Wouldn't have a problem to give a no here as these decisions are really rare.
 
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E1: "in the gameworld the character/party can interact, explore and find new locations" is okay for me, too.

E2:
I included the item types to exclude pure shooters (Doom1, Quake, etc.), not all shooters.
 
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E1: "in the gameworld the character/party can interact, explore and find new locations" is okay for me, too.
Ok, we should add "…interact with NPC and/or objects…".

E2:
I included the item types to exclude pure shooters (Doom1, Quake, etc.), not all shooters.
I'm not fully convinced, but perhaps some more tests will. ;)
 
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Overall refinement. Better Intro.
Exact distinction between Player and his character(s).

@Arhu
If your NtH-and tag - reworking is done we should make an article for version 1.0.

@Morrandir can help, too :)

@Wulf - are you still there?

Definition of a CRPG (V0.99)

The three core categories Character Development, Exploration and Story that need to be applied and quantified to determine if an interactive computerised game can be defined as a Computer Role Playing Game (hereafter referred to as CRPG) are listed to show the necessary component elements and qualifying factors.
Any proposed or purported CRPG must contain all three core categories and their necessary Must Have conditions fulfilled to achieve the (minimal) CRPG status.

These core categories must maintain some form of progressive nature that will improve from when the game starts and leads to a conclusive game ending.

Each core category and the auxiliary category Combat also has related Should Have conditions, the reviewer should make a comment if a Should Have condition is not fulfilled.

So we have these scenarios to reflect the broadness of the genre:

  • At least one Must Have condition is violated => the game is not a CRPG.
  • All Must Have conditions fulfilled => the game is at least CRPG'ish or a CRPG light.
  • All Must Have and some Should Haves conditions are fulfilled => the game is a CRPG that needs to be qualified with further tags and comments.
  • If all necessary Must Have and sufficient Should Have conditions are fulfilled there's no further discussion necessary => the game is a true CRPG.

Optional elements are listed in the Nice to Have (NtH) list. With it you get precise information which optional CRPG elements are implemented in the game. A general game info questionnaire is added too, to do some rating.


I. A CRPG is a computer game that fulfills these criterions:

Character Development
Describes ways to change or enhance your characters in order to increase their effectiveness in the game.
  • Must Have
    C1: you can control and roleplay one (=Avatar) or more (=Party) unique characters (-> not only uniform units)
    C2: you can progressively develop your characters' stats and/or abilities (-> e.g. through an in game value (usually exp. points) gained by quests, exploration, conversation, combat, …)
    C3: you can equip and enhance your characters with items you acquire
  • Should Have
    C4: you can create your characters
    C5: the player needs preplanning for the development of the character(s)
    C6: the primary means of problem solving, gameworld interaction and overcoming challenges is the tactical use of character/party skills/abilities (-> the player's physical coordination skills are secondary)

Exploration
Includes how you can move through the game world, as well as everything you can find, see, manipulate or interact with, like locations, items and other objects.
  • Must Have
    E1: your character(s) can interact with the gameworld and find new locations by exploring.
    E2: your character(s) can find items that can be collected in an inventory (-> there have to be more item types than quest items, weapons, ammunition and consumable stat boosters.)
    E3: your character(s) can find information sources (-> e.g. NPCs, entities, objects that provide info)
  • Should Have
    E4: there are NPCs in the game
    E5: you can choose a path (-> there is at least some branching)
    E6: your character(s) can manipulate the game world in some way (-> e.g. pull levers, push buttons, open chests, …)
    E7: the gameworld can affect your character(s) (-> e.g. weather, traps, closed doors, poisoned areas, …)
    E8: there are initially inaccessible areas in the gameworld that can only be reached by enhancing your characters' abilities, solving quests or puzzles (-> e.g. unlock locked areas, overcome obstacles, repair bridges, dispel barriers, …)

Story
Concerns all narrative elements like setting, lore, plot, characters, dialogue, quests, descriptions, storyline(s) and similar, including how you can interact with them.
  • Must Have
    S1: your character(s) can get information from information sources (-> e.g. hints, goals, quests, skills, spells, training, …)
    S2: your character(s) can follow quests (-> there is at least one main quest)
    S3: your character(s) can progress through connected events and play their role
  • Should Have
    S4: the story is influenced by your decisions and your characters' actions and stats/abilities/skills.
    S5: your character(s) can interact with information sources (-> e.g. NPC conversation, riddle statue question, …)
    S6: your character(s) can make choices in those interactions
    S7: at least some of these choices have consequences
    S8: advancing in the story requires thinking of the player (-> e.g. irreversible choices, moral dilemma, riddles, …)


Combat
Describes how combat is influenced by elements of Character Development, Exploration and Story.
  • Should Have
    F1: Combat efficiency is in some way tied to character stats or abilities (-> e.g. amount of damage, chance to hit, weapon access, …)
    F2: Combat works with some random elements (game internal dice rolls)
    F3: Combat should provide some challenge (-> e.g. preparing, use of tactics or environment possible)

Tags are computer game tags that qualify the CRPG label even further:

  • Adventure-RPG: the main emphasis of the game are on Exploring and Story, less on Character Development
  • Rogue-like: the main emphasis of the game are on Exploring and Character Development, less on Story. Often features permanent death if a character dies and random generated levels.
  • Hack & Slash: many enemies, most of them easy to kill, respawning of enemies, much loot
  • J-RPG: Manga Style graphics, turn based combat, Eastern style CRPG
  • W-RPG: Western style CRPG
  • MMORPG: Many players are questing simultaneously online
  • Puzzle-RPG: the game's main emphasis are puzzles
  • Non-Combat: the game features no combat
  • Action: the combat is real time without pause
  • Strategic: additional troop (not your party) management available
  • Tactical: the game puts an emphasis on player tactical skill over character skill, often multiple squads (party splitting) are possible
  • Sneaker: combat is possible, avoiding it with stealth is better
  • Thief-like: combat is possible, avoiding it with stealth is better, thief-skills are essential (lock picking, ambush, hiding, sneaking,…)
  • Shooter: combat is mostly ranged and requires hand eye coordination and reflexes from the player
  • Sandbox: open environment where a lot of content is organized around simulation rather than story
  • Dungeon Crawler: closed environment where a lot of content is organized around dungeon interaction (traps, levers, buttons, teleports, riddles…) rather than story.
  • Fantasy
  • Historical
  • Modern
  • Post-apoc
  • Sci-fi
  • Steampunk
  • Technofantasy
  • Real World
  • Massive
  • Single + MP
  • Single-player
  • Co-Op
  • PvP
  • PvE
  • Real-time with pause: the real time combat can be paused any time
  • Real-time: the combat is real-time -> Action CRPG
  • Turn-based: the combat is turn-based
  • 1st-person
  • 3rd-person
  • Isometric
  • Top down
  • Floating camera: adds rotational control allowing full 3D navigation
  • Full control: full control over every party members action in combat
  • AI control: you only control part of the party directly, others are controlled by AI while they may accept general commands
  • subdued
  • realistic
  • whimsical
  • dazzling
1. Choice (13/13)
  • You can name your characters.
  • You can choose a gender.
  • You can choose looks or voice.
  • You can choose or create through play your own class, profession or race.
  • You can choose traits, alignment or disposition.
  • You can choose abilities.
  • You can choose spells.
  • You can modify primary stats.
  • Lots of different equipment is available.
  • Lots of different spells or abilities are available.
  • Abilities can unlock or block others or branch.
  • Character classes or development paths can be changed during the game.
  • You can have pets as party members.
2. Interdependence (6/6)
  • (Story) Character stats can change NPC disposition towards the PC.
  • (Story) Stats, abilities or spells can affect available dialogue options.
  • (Story) Unique items are in the game or can be made.
  • (Exploration) Stats, abilities or spells can affect available paths through the game world.
  • (Exploration) Stats, abilities or spells can affect the amount of things you can see, find or know in the world.
  • (Combat) Combat can be avoided due to stats (-> e.g. enemies flee.)
3. Interactivity (6/6)
  • You can create combos with spells or abilities.
  • Your character's stats can be modified by using spells or abilities.
  • Your character's afflictions can be cured by using spells or abilities.
  • You can rest or sleep.
  • Stats can limit in some way what you can equip or carry.
  • You can control party members or pets like your main character.
4. Immersion (8/8)
  • You need to specialize (-> can't have everything.)
  • You can create or choose a background story for your character.
  • You can tweak your character lots of times over the whole game.
  • You can wear normal clothes, not only armor.
  • Factions provide prizes for your deeds (-> e.g. houses, medals, ranks, …)
  • Magic is in the game in some form.
  • Your characters can be afflicted with negative status effects (-> e.g. diseases, fatigue, etc.)
  • Your characters can eat or drink.
1. Choice (4/4)
  • You can follow different paths to reach a goal.
  • You can reasonably go where you want.
  • You can return to previously visited locations.
  • There are few artificial borders, rare level loading.
2. Interdependence (6/6)
  • (Character) Char development choices can affect available paths through the game world.
  • (Character) Char development choices can affect the amount of things you can see, find or know in the world.
  • (Story) You can find and recruit new party members or tame pets.
  • (Story) Exploring off the beaten path yields rewards, e.g. optional quests, secrets or interesting locations.
  • (Story) You can visit and make use of social locations (-> e.g. taverns, inns, marketplaces).
  • (Combat) Combat can be avoided through sneaking or gameworld manipulation.
3. Interactivity (10/10)
  • You can collect items (-> there is an inventory.)
  • You can trade items for currency and better equipment.
  • You can interact with items.
  • You can break or destroy items.
  • You can repair items.
  • You can move items.
  • You can combine or disaggregate items.
  • You can gather pieces of flora or fauna for later use.
  • You can craft equipment, spells or items (e.g. alchemy).
  • Inventory size is limited.
4. Immersion (9/9)
  • There is a place you can call home.
  • You can explore lots of unique, beautiful and interesting locations.
  • Locations can evolve or change (-> e.g. town / destroyed town)
  • There are non-hostile creatures (-> e.g. wildlife)
  • Types of creatures make sense in the area they are encountered in.
  • Creatures are wandering persistently (-> no random encounters).
  • Looting makes sense (no shield on a dead wolf.)
  • Time is measured (-> e.g. there is a day/night cycle).
  • Time affects the game world (-> e.g. some things are only available at night).
1. Choice (6/6)
  • You can reasonably do what you want when you want to do it (-> quest order doesn't matter much.)
  • Some quests depend on each other.
  • Some quests rule others out.
  • Quests can be solved in more than one way.
  • You can join factions, though not all at the same time.
  • You can make moral choices (or romance choices).
2. Interdependence (7/7)
  • (Character) Character stats can change NPC disposition towards the PC.
  • (Character) Char development choices can affect available dialogue options.
  • (Character) Unique items are in the game or can be made.
  • (Exploration) You can find and recruit new party members or tame pets.
  • (Exploration) Exploring off the beaten path yields rewards, e.g. optional quests, secrets or interesting locations.
  • (Exploration) You can visit and make use of social locations (-> e.g. taverns, inns, marketplaces).
  • (Combat) Combat can be avoided through dialogue.
3. Interactivity (6/6)
  • Dialogue is fleshed out (-> there are multiple options in one conversation).
  • There is more than one game ending.
  • You can have conversations with party members or take care of pets.
  • There are many side quests.
  • State of the game changes in accordance with the player's actions.
  • You can solve or create conflicts between factions.
4. Immersion (10/10)
  • Lore is provided (-> context, faction rules, laws, history, …)
  • There are different factions (races, groups, guilds).
  • NPCs or party members are well developed (-> expansive background stories, etc.)
  • NPCs or party members interact with each other.
  • NPCs have schedules.
  • There are surprises and twists.
  • The storyline is character-driven (-> character development within the narrative.)
  • There is a proper ending or sense of closure.
  • There are memorable antagonists.
  • Your main character is defined.
1. Character Development (9/9)
  • Combat can be avoided due to stats (-> e.g. enemies flee).
  • You can control at least six characters.
  • Your characters are specialized (-> different battlefield roles).
  • Enemies are specialized (-> require different tactics.)
  • Resource management is necessary.
  • Units have multiple attack options.
  • Delayed attacks are possible (-> counterattacks, attacks of opportunity, etc.)
  • Movement-focused special abilities are available.
  • Units have multiple resistance options (-> e.g. armor, elemental resistance, etc.)
2. Exploration (9/9)
  • Combat can be avoided through sneaking or gameworld manipulation.
  • You can get a good sense of space (-> e.g. there is a grid.)
  • Combat can start at variable distances.
  • Directional facing plays a role (-> e.g. more damage from behind, flanking).
  • Terrain is variable (-> e.g. natural choke points, cover, combat bonuses).
  • Terrain can be manipulated (-> e.g. you can create barriers).
  • There are elevation effects (-> e.g. combat bonuses from higher grounds.)
  • There can be zones or items on the battlefield that reward units who get there in time.
  • There can be Zones of Danger on the battlefield (-> e.g. environmental damage).
3. Story (6/6)
  • Combat can be avoided through dialogue.
  • Combat can have different win scenarios (-> e.g. keep NPC alive, defend town).
  • Combat can have side objectives aside from "win/loss".
  • Characters don't die immediately but can be revived during combat.
  • Decisions on the battlefield have character development consequences.
  • There are memorable bosses.
1. Interface
  • How often is gameplay interrupted with loading? (rarely, sometimes, often)
  • How would you rate the game's interface? (intuitive, clunky, …)
2. Difficulty
  • How difficult is the game? (easy, normal, hard)
  • Can difficulty be adjusted?
  • How balanced is trading? (good, not-so-good, bad)
  • How balanced is combat? (good, not-so-good, bad)
  • How much reloading is necessary to beat the game (little, some, much)
  • How good is the AI? (good, medium, bad)
  • How much handholing is there? (little, some, much)
3. Gameplay features
  • Are there Easter Eggs?
  • Are there minigames?
4. Exploration
  • Is Auto-Mapping available?
  • Is Fast Travelling available?
  • Are there quest markers?
  • Is there a quest compass?
  • How much realism is there? (little, balanced, much)
  • How much looting is in the game? (little, some, much)
5. Character Development
  • Are there useless skills?
  • How would you rate character progression? (fast, balanced, slow)
  • Is there auto-leveling of some sort?
6. Story
  • Does the story follow clichéd paths?
  • How linear is the game? (linear, network-like, non-linear)
  • How would you rate the suspense? (boring, gripping, fun, …)
  • Are there pre-selected options (choice is reduced)?
7. Combat
  • How much fighting is in the game? (little, some, much)
  • Grinding: Is filler combat necessary to develop your character?
 

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Let's test Banner Saga…

Definition of a CRPG (V0.99)

The three core categories Character Development, Exploration and Story that need to be applied and quantified to determine if an interactive computerised game can be defined as a Computer Role Playing Game (hereafter referred to as CRPG) are listed to show the necessary component elements and qualifying factors.
Any proposed or purported CRPG must contain all three core categories and their necessary Must Have conditions fulfilled to achieve the (minimal) CRPG status.

These core categories must maintain some form of progressive nature that will improve from when the game starts and leads to a conclusive game ending.

Each core category and the auxiliary category Combat also has related Should Have conditions, the reviewer should make a comment if a Should Have condition is not fulfilled.

So we have these cases to reflect the broadness of the genre:

  • At least one Must Have condition is violated => the game is not a CRPG.
  • All Must Have conditions fulfilled => the game is at least CRPG'ish or a CRPG light.
  • All Must Have and some Should Haves conditions are fulfilled => the game is a CRPG that needs to be qualified with further tags and comments.
  • If all necessary Must Have and sufficient Should Have conditions are fulfilled there's no further discussion necessary => the game is a true CRPG.


Banner Saga



I. A CRPG is a computer game that fulfills these criterions:

Character Development
Describes ways to change or enhance your characters in order to increase their effectiveness in the game.
  • Must Have
    C1: you can control and roleplay one (=Avatar) or more (=Party) unique characters (-> not only uniform units); -> yes a party out of a changing pool of characters
    C2: you can progressively develop your characters' stats and/or abilities (-> e.g. through an in game value (usually exp. points) gained by quests, exploration, conversation, combat, …) -> yes
    C3: you can equip and enhance your characters with items you acquire -> yes, but minimal inventory with one(!) slot
  • Should Have
    C4: you can create your characters -> no
    C5: the player needs preplanning for the development of the character(s) -> yes
    C6: the primary means of problem solving, gameworld interaction and overcoming challenges is the tactical use of character/party skills/abilities (-> the player's physical coordination skills are secondary) -> yes

Exploration
Includes how you can move through the game world, as well as everything you can find, see, manipulate or interact with, like locations, items and other objects.
  • Must Have
    E1: your character(s) can interact with the gameworld and find new locations by exploring. -> yes, but very linear; only a little interacting in cities
    E2: your character(s) can find items that can be collected in an inventory (-> there have to be more item types than quest items, weapons, ammunition and consumable stat boosters.) -> yes, you can buy items
    E3: your character(s) can find information sources (-> e.g. NPCs, entities, objects that provide info) -> yes
  • Should Have
    E4: there are NPCs in the game -> yes
    E5: you can choose a path (-> there is at least some branching) -> more no than yes, only minimal branching
    E6: your character(s) can manipulate the game world in some way (-> e.g. pull levers, push buttons, open chests, …) -> no
    E7: the gameworld can affect your character(s) (-> e.g. weather, traps, closed doors, poisoned areas, …) -> yes, bad weather
    E8: there are initially inaccessible areas in the gameworld that can only be reached by enhancing your characters' abilities, solving quests or puzzles (-> e.g. unlock locked areas, overcome obstacles, repair bridges, dispel barriers, …) -> no

Story
Concerns all narrative elements like setting, lore, plot, characters, dialogue, quests, descriptions, storyline(s) and similar, including how you can interact with them.
  • Must Have
    S1: your character(s) can get information from information sources (-> e.g. hints, goals, quests, skills, spells, training, …) -> yes
    S2: your character(s) can follow quests (-> there is at least one main quest) -> yes
    S3: your character(s) can progress through connected events and play their role -> yes, but only minimal roleplaying in combat
  • Should Have
    S4: the story is influenced by your decisions and your characters' actions and stats/abilities/skills. -> yes
    S5: your character(s) can interact with information sources (-> e.g. NPC conversation, riddle statue question, …) -> yes
    S6: your character(s) can make choices in those interactions -> yes
    S7: at least some of these choices have consequences -> yes
    S8: advancing in the story requires thinking of the player (-> e.g. irreversible choices, moral dilemma, riddles, …) -> yes, party members can die permanently caused by bad decisions


Combat
Describes how combat is influenced by elements of Character Development, Exploration and Story.
  • Should Have
    F1: Combat efficiency is in some way tied to character stats or abilities (-> e.g. amount of damage, chance to hit, weapon access, …) -> yes
    F2: Combat works with some random elements (game internal dice rolls) -> yes
    F3: Combat should provide some challenge (-> e.g. preparing, use of tactics or environment possible) -> yes


Banner Saga
is an Adventure CRPG with tactical turn based combat. Some strategy elements for managing your trek are involved, too. Story elements and c&c are better implemented than character development and equipment management.
The game is simply too short for better character progression. Gameworld exploration is a very linear affair. Entertaining genre mix with interesting characters and challenging combat for a rainy sunday afternoon.
 
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Let's test Telengard …

Definition of a CRPG (V0.99)

The three core categories Character Development, Exploration and Story that need to be applied and quantified to determine if an interactive computerised game can be defined as a Computer Role Playing Game (hereafter referred to as CRPG) are listed to show the necessary component elements and qualifying factors.
Any proposed or purported CRPG must contain all three core categories and their necessary Must Have conditions fulfilled to achieve the (minimal) CRPG status.

These core categories must maintain some form of progressive nature that will improve from when the game starts and leads to a conclusive game ending.

Each core category and the auxiliary category Combat also has related Should Have conditions, the reviewer should make a comment if a Should Have condition is not fulfilled.

So we have these cases to reflect the broadness of the genre:

  • At least one Must Have condition is violated => the game is not a CRPG.
  • All Must Have conditions fulfilled => the game is at least CRPG'ish or a CRPG light.
  • All Must Have and some Should Haves conditions are fulfilled => the game is a CRPG that needs to be qualified with further tags and comments.
  • If all necessary Must Have and sufficient Should Have conditions are fulfilled there's no further discussion necessary => the game is a true CRPG.

Telengard


I. A CRPG is a computer game that fulfills these criterions:

Character Development
Describes ways to change or enhance your characters in order to increase their effectiveness in the game.
  • Must Have
    C1:
    you can control and roleplay one (=Avatar) or more (=Party) unique characters (-> not only uniform units); -> yes one character
    C2:
    you can progressively develop your characters' stats and/or abilities (-> e.g. through an in game value (usually exp. points) gained by quests, exploration, conversation, combat, …) -> yes
    C3:
    you can equip and enhance your characters with items you acquire -> yes
  • Should Have
    C4:
    you can create your characters -> yes, you can select from randomly generated attributes
    C5:
    the player needs preplanning for the development of the character(s) -> no
    C6:
    the primary means of problem solving, gameworld interaction and overcoming challenges is the tactical use of character/party skills/abilities (-> the player's physical coordination skills are secondary) -> no, it's one of the first action dungeon crawlers, hit the keyboard baby!

Exploration
Includes how you can move through the game world, as well as everything you can find, see, manipulate or interact with, like locations, items and other objects.
  • Must Have
    E1:
    your character(s) can interact with the gameworld and find new locations by exploring. -> yes, fountains, thrones, teleports,...
    E2:
    your character(s) can find items that can be collected in an inventory (-> there have to be more item types than quest items, weapons, ammunition and consumable stat boosters.) -> yes
    E3:
    your character(s) can find information sources (-> e.g. NPCs, entities, objects that provide info) -> yes, the Inn, but nothing else
  • Should Have
    E4:
    there are NPCs in the game -> no
    E5:
    you can choose a path (-> there is at least some branching) -> yes, you explore a dungeon
    E6:
    your character(s) can manipulate the game world in some way (-> e.g. pull levers, push buttons, open chests, …) -> yes
    E7:
    the gameworld can affect your character(s) (-> e.g. weather, traps, closed doors, poisoned areas, …) -> yes, teleports
    E8:
    there are initially inaccessible areas in the gameworld that can only be reached by enhancing your characters' abilities, solving quests or puzzles (-> e.g. unlock locked areas, overcome obstacles, repair bridges, dispel barriers, …) -> no

Story
Concerns all narrative elements like setting, lore, plot, characters, dialogue, quests, descriptions, storyline(s) and similar, including how you can interact with them.
  • Must Have
    S1:
    your character(s) can get information from information sources (-> e.g. hints, goals, quests, skills, spells, training, …) -> yes, learning spells
    S2:
    your character(s) can follow quests (-> there is at least one main quest) -> yes, but only one quest: survive
    S3:
    your character(s) can progress through connected events and play their role -> yes, but no roleplaying
  • Should Have
    S4:
    the story is influenced by your decisions and your characters' actions and stats/abilities/skills. -> no
    S5:
    your character(s) can interact with information sources (-> e.g. NPC conversation, riddle statue question, …) -> no
    S6:
    your character(s) can make choices in those interactions -> no
    S7:
    at least some of these choices have consequences -> no
    S8:
    advancing in the story requires thinking of the player (-> e.g. irreversible choices, moral dilemma, riddles, …) -> no


Combat
Describes how combat is influenced by elements of Character Development, Exploration and Story.
  • Should Have
    F1:
    Combat efficiency is in some way tied to character stats or abilities (-> e.g. amount of damage, chance to hit, weapon access, …) -> yes
    F2:
    Combat works with some random elements (game internal dice rolls) -> yes (?)
    F3:
    Combat should provide some challenge (-> e.g. preparing, use of tactics or environment possible) -> no

Telengard is an early Action CRPG with real time combat, a dungeon crawler and rogue like with only minimal story elements and no NPC interaction.
 
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Let's test Farcry 3 …

Definition of a CRPG (V0.99)

The three core categories Character Development, Exploration and Story that need to be applied and quantified to determine if an interactive computerised game can be defined as a Computer Role Playing Game (hereafter referred to as CRPG) are listed to show the necessary component elements and qualifying factors.
Any proposed or purported CRPG must contain all three core categories and their necessary Must Have conditions fulfilled to achieve the (minimal) CRPG status.

These core categories must maintain some form of progressive nature that will improve from when the game starts and leads to a conclusive game ending.

Each core category and the auxiliary category Combat also has related Should Have conditions, the reviewer should make a comment if a Should Have condition is not fulfilled.

So we have these cases to reflect the broadness of the genre:

  • At least one Must Have condition is violated => the game is not a CRPG.
  • All Must Have conditions fulfilled => the game is at least CRPG'ish or a CRPG light.
  • All Must Have and some Should Haves conditions are fulfilled => the game is a CRPG that needs to be qualified with further tags and comments.
  • If all necessary Must Have and sufficient Should Have conditions are fulfilled there's no further discussion necessary => the game is a true CRPG.

Farcry 3


I. A CRPG is a computer game that fulfills these criterions:

Character Development
Describes ways to change or enhance your characters in order to increase their effectiveness in the game.
  • Must Have
    C1:
    you can control and roleplay one (=Avatar) or more (=Party) unique characters (-> not only uniform units); -> yes one character
    C2:
    you can progressively develop your characters' stats and/or abilities (-> e.g. through an in game value (usually exp. points) gained by quests, exploration, conversation, combat, …) -> yes, lots of combat skills
    C3:
    you can equip and enhance your characters with items you acquire -> yes
  • Should Have
    C4:
    you can create your characters -> no
    C5:
    the player needs preplanning for the development of the character(s) -> no
    C6:
    the primary means of problem solving, gameworld interaction and overcoming challenges is the tactical use of character/party skills/abilities (-> the player's physical coordination skills are secondary) -> no, Farcry 3 is a Shooter!

Exploration
Includes how you can move through the game world, as well as everything you can find, see, manipulate or interact with, like locations, items and other objects.
  • Must Have
    E1:
    your character(s) can interact with the gameworld and find new locations by exploring. -> yes, free exploring
    E2:
    your character(s) can find items that can be collected in an inventory (-> there have to be more item types than quest items, weapons, ammunition and consumable stat boosters.) -> yes, but only very few besides weapons & stat boosters
    E3:
    your character(s) can find information sources (-> e.g. NPCs, entities, objects that provide info) -> yes
  • Should Have
    E4:
    there are NPCs in the game -> yes
    E5:
    you can choose a path (-> there is at least some branching) -> yes
    E6:
    your character(s) can manipulate the game world in some way (-> e.g. pull levers, push buttons, open chests, …) -> yes
    E7:
    the gameworld can affect your character(s) (-> e.g. weather, traps, closed doors, poisoned areas, …) -> yes
    E8:
    there are initially inaccessible areas in the gameworld that can only be reached by enhancing your characters' abilities, solving quests or puzzles (-> e.g. unlock locked areas, overcome obstacles, repair bridges, dispel barriers, …) -> yes

Story
Concerns all narrative elements like setting, lore, plot, characters, dialogue, quests, descriptions, storyline(s) and similar, including how you can interact with them.
  • Must Have
    S1:
    your character(s) can get information from information sources (-> e.g. hints, goals, quests, skills, spells, training, …) -> yes
    S2:
    your character(s) can follow quests (-> there is at least one main quest) -> yes, many quests
    S3:
    your character(s) can progress through connected events and play their role -> yes
  • Should Have
    S4:
    the story is influenced by your decisions and your characters' actions and stats/abilities/skills. -> yes, but not depending on skills
    S5:
    your character(s) can interact with information sources (-> e.g. NPC conversation, riddle statue question, …) -> yes
    S6:
    your character(s) can make choices in those interactions -> yes, a few
    S7:
    at least some of these choices have consequences -> yes, but very few
    S8:
    advancing in the story requires thinking of the player (-> e.g. irreversible choices, moral dilemma, riddles, …) -> no


Combat
Describes how combat is influenced by elements of Character Development, Exploration and Story.
  • Should Have
    F1:
    Combat efficiency is in some way tied to character stats or abilities (-> e.g. amount of damage, chance to hit, weapon access, …) -> yes
    F2:
    Combat works with some random elements (game internal dice rolls) -> no
    F3:
    Combat should provide some challenge (-> e.g. preparing, use of tactics or environment possible) -> yes

Farcry 3 is an Action Shooter CRPG, that features very good free (nonlinear) gameworld exploring, many quests, minimal character development = some combat, healing and sneaking skills to learn, interesting story - but only a few choices with consequences. Some item management and some crafting is implemented, too.

***

With Def. 1.00:
Farcry 3 is an Action Shooter with many RPG elements, that features very good free (nonlinear) gameworld exploring, many quests, minimal character development = some combat, healing and sneaking skills to learn (not necessary to advance), interesting story - but only a few choices with consequences. Some item management and some crafting is implemented, too.
 
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We leave the beta testing and release V1.00 :)

new:
C3: Checks against character stats and/or character abilties/skills are necessary to make progress and finish the game

Definition of a CRPG (V1.00)

The three core categories Character Development, Exploration and Story that need to be applied and quantified to determine if an interactive computerised game can be defined as a Computer Role Playing Game (hereafter referred to as CRPG) are listed to show the necessary component elements and qualifying factors.
Any proposed or purported CRPG must contain all three core categories and their necessary Must Have conditions fulfilled to achieve the (minimal) CRPG status.

These core categories must maintain some form of progressive nature that will improve from when the game starts and leads to a conclusive game ending.

Each core category and the auxiliary category Combat also has related Should Have conditions, the reviewer should make a comment if a Should Have condition is not fulfilled.

So we have these scenarios to reflect the broadness of the genre:

  • At least one Must Have condition is violated => the game is not a CRPG.
  • All Must Have conditions fulfilled => the game is at least CRPG'ish or a CRPG light.
  • All Must Have and some Should Haves conditions are fulfilled => the game is a CRPG that needs to be qualified with further tags and comments.
  • If all necessary Must Have and sufficient Should Have conditions are fulfilled there's no further discussion necessary => the game is a true CRPG.

Optional elements are listed in the Nice to Have (NtH) list. With it you get precise information which optional CRPG elements are implemented in the game. A general game info questionnaire is added too, to do some rating.


I. A CRPG is a computer game that fulfills these criterions:

Character Development
Describes ways to change or enhance your characters in order to increase their effectiveness in the game.
  • Must Have
    C1: you can control and roleplay one (=Avatar) or more (=Party) unique characters (-> not only uniform units)
    C2: you can progressively develop your characters' stats and/or abilities (-> e.g. through an in game value (usually exp. points) gained by quests, exploration, conversation, combat, …)
    C3: Checks against character stats and/or character abilties/skills are necessary to make progress and finish the game
    C4: you can equip and enhance your characters with items you acquire
  • Should Have
    C5: you can create your characters
    C6: the player needs preplanning for the development of the character(s)
    C7: the primary means of problem solving, gameworld interaction and overcoming challenges is the tactical use of character/party skills/abilities (-> the player's physical coordination skills are secondary)

Exploration
Includes how you can move through the game world, as well as everything you can find, see, manipulate or interact with, like locations, items and other objects.
  • Must Have
    E1: your character(s) can interact with the gameworld and find new locations by exploring.
    E2: your character(s) can find items that can be collected in an inventory (-> there have to be more item types than quest items, weapons, ammunition and consumable stat boosters.)
    E3: your character(s) can find information sources (-> e.g. NPCs, entities, objects that provide info)
  • Should Have
    E4: there are NPCs in the game
    E5: you can choose a path (-> there is at least some branching)
    E6: your character(s) can manipulate the game world in some way (-> e.g. pull levers, push buttons, open chests, …)
    E7: the gameworld can affect your character(s) (-> e.g. weather, traps, closed doors, poisoned areas, …)
    E8: there are initially inaccessible areas in the gameworld that can only be reached by enhancing your characters' abilities, solving quests or puzzles (-> e.g. unlock locked areas, overcome obstacles, repair bridges, dispel barriers, …)

Story
Concerns all narrative elements like setting, lore, plot, characters, dialogue, quests, descriptions, storyline(s) and similar, including how you can interact with them.
  • Must Have
    S1: your character(s) can get information from information sources (-> e.g. hints, goals, quests, skills, spells, training, …)
    S2: your character(s) can follow quests (-> there is at least one main quest)
    S3: your character(s) can progress through connected events and play their role
  • Should Have
    S4: the story is influenced by your decisions and your characters' actions and stats/abilities/skills.
    S5: your character(s) can interact with information sources (-> e.g. NPC conversation, riddle statue question, …)
    S6: your character(s) can make choices in those interactions
    S7: at least some of these choices have consequences
    S8: advancing in the story requires thinking of the player (-> e.g. irreversible choices, moral dilemma, riddles, …)


Combat
Describes how combat is influenced by elements of Character Development, Exploration and Story.
  • Should Have
    F1: Combat efficiency is in some way tied to character stats or abilities (-> e.g. amount of damage, chance to hit, weapon access, …)
    F2: Combat works with some random elements (game internal dice rolls)
    F3: Combat should provide some challenge (-> e.g. preparing, use of tactics or environment possible)

Hints:
  • A game that fulfills conditions in the categories Character and Exploration but not in Story could be a Dungeon Crawler or a Rogue-Like.
  • A game that fulfills conditions in the categories Exploration and Story but not in Character could be an Adventure game, a Strategy game or a Shooter.
  • A game that fulfills conditions in the categories Character and Story but not in Exploration could be a Sim game or a Linear CRPG.

Tags are computer game tags that qualify the CRPG label even further:

  • Adventure-RPG: the main emphasis of the game are on Exploring and Story, less on Character Development
  • Rogue-like: the main emphasis of the game are on Exploring and Character Development, less on Story. Often features permanent death if a character dies and random generated levels.
  • Hack & Slash: many enemies, most of them easy to kill, respawning of enemies, much loot
  • J-RPG: Manga Style graphics, turn based combat, Eastern style CRPG
  • W-RPG: Western style CRPG
  • MMORPG: Many players are questing simultaneously online
  • Puzzle-RPG: the game's main emphasis are puzzles
  • Non-Combat: the game features no combat
  • Action: the combat is real time without pause
  • Strategic: additional troop (not your party) management available
  • Tactical: the game puts an emphasis on player tactical skill over character skill, often multiple squads (party splitting) are possible
  • Sneaker: combat is possible, avoiding it with stealth is better
  • Thief-like: combat is possible, avoiding it with stealth is better, thief-skills are essential (lock picking, ambush, hiding, sneaking,…)
  • Shooter: combat is mostly ranged and requires hand eye coordination and reflexes from the player
  • Sandbox: open environment where a lot of content is organized around simulation rather than story
  • Dungeon Crawler: closed environment where a lot of content is organized around dungeon interaction (traps, levers, buttons, teleports, riddles…) rather than story.
  • Fantasy
  • Historical
  • Modern
  • Post-apoc
  • Sci-fi
  • Steampunk
  • Technofantasy
  • Real World
  • Massive
  • Single + MP
  • Single-player
  • Co-Op
  • PvP
  • PvE
  • Real-time with pause: the real time combat can be paused any time
  • Real-time: the combat is real-time -> Action CRPG
  • Turn-based: the combat is turn-based
  • 1st-person
  • 3rd-person
  • Isometric
  • Top down
  • Floating camera: adds rotational control allowing full 3D navigation
  • Full control: full control over every party members action in combat
  • AI control: you only control part of the party directly, others are controlled by AI while they may accept general commands
  • subdued
  • realistic
  • whimsical
  • dazzling
1. Choice (13/13)
  • You can name your characters.
  • You can choose a gender.
  • You can choose looks or voice.
  • You can choose or create through play your own class, profession or race.
  • You can choose traits, alignment or disposition.
  • You can choose abilities.
  • You can choose spells.
  • You can modify primary stats.
  • Lots of different equipment is available.
  • Lots of different spells or abilities are available.
  • Abilities can unlock or block others or branch.
  • Character classes or development paths can be changed during the game.
  • You can have pets as party members.
2. Interdependence (6/6)
  • (Story) Character stats can change NPC disposition towards the PC.
  • (Story) Stats, abilities or spells can affect available dialogue options.
  • (Story) Unique items are in the game or can be made.
  • (Exploration) Stats, abilities or spells can affect available paths through the game world.
  • (Exploration) Stats, abilities or spells can affect the amount of things you can see, find or know in the world.
  • (Combat) Combat can be avoided due to stats (-> e.g. enemies flee.)
3. Interactivity (6/6)
  • You can create combos with spells or abilities.
  • Your character's stats can be modified by using spells or abilities.
  • Your character's afflictions can be cured by using spells or abilities.
  • You can rest or sleep.
  • Stats can limit in some way what you can equip or carry.
  • You can control party members or pets like your main character.
4. Immersion (8/8)
  • You need to specialize (-> can't have everything.)
  • You can create or choose a background story for your character.
  • You can tweak your character lots of times over the whole game.
  • You can wear normal clothes, not only armor.
  • Factions provide prizes for your deeds (-> e.g. houses, medals, ranks, …)
  • Magic is in the game in some form.
  • Your characters can be afflicted with negative status effects (-> e.g. diseases, fatigue, etc.)
  • Your characters can eat or drink.
1. Choice (4/4)
  • You can follow different paths to reach a goal.
  • You can reasonably go where you want.
  • You can return to previously visited locations.
  • There are few artificial borders, rare level loading.
2. Interdependence (6/6)
  • (Character) Char development choices can affect available paths through the game world.
  • (Character) Char development choices can affect the amount of things you can see, find or know in the world.
  • (Story) You can find and recruit new party members or tame pets.
  • (Story) Exploring off the beaten path yields rewards, e.g. optional quests, secrets or interesting locations.
  • (Story) You can visit and make use of social locations (-> e.g. taverns, inns, marketplaces).
  • (Combat) Combat can be avoided through sneaking or gameworld manipulation.
3. Interactivity (10/10)
  • You can collect items (-> there is an inventory.)
  • You can trade items for currency and better equipment.
  • You can interact with items.
  • You can break or destroy items.
  • You can repair items.
  • You can move items.
  • You can combine or disaggregate items.
  • You can gather pieces of flora or fauna for later use.
  • You can craft equipment, spells or items (e.g. alchemy).
  • Inventory size is limited.
4. Immersion (9/9)
  • There is a place you can call home.
  • You can explore lots of unique, beautiful and interesting locations.
  • Locations can evolve or change (-> e.g. town / destroyed town)
  • There are non-hostile creatures (-> e.g. wildlife)
  • Types of creatures make sense in the area they are encountered in.
  • Creatures are wandering persistently (-> no random encounters).
  • Looting makes sense (no shield on a dead wolf.)
  • Time is measured (-> e.g. there is a day/night cycle).
  • Time affects the game world (-> e.g. some things are only available at night).
1. Choice (6/6)
  • You can reasonably do what you want when you want to do it (-> quest order doesn't matter much.)
  • Some quests depend on each other.
  • Some quests rule others out.
  • Quests can be solved in more than one way.
  • You can join factions, though not all at the same time.
  • You can make moral choices (or romance choices).
2. Interdependence (7/7)
  • (Character) Character stats can change NPC disposition towards the PC.
  • (Character) Char development choices can affect available dialogue options.
  • (Character) Unique items are in the game or can be made.
  • (Exploration) You can find and recruit new party members or tame pets.
  • (Exploration) Exploring off the beaten path yields rewards, e.g. optional quests, secrets or interesting locations.
  • (Exploration) You can visit and make use of social locations (-> e.g. taverns, inns, marketplaces).
  • (Combat) Combat can be avoided through dialogue.
3. Interactivity (6/6)
  • Dialogue is fleshed out (-> there are multiple options in one conversation).
  • There is more than one game ending.
  • You can have conversations with party members or take care of pets.
  • There are many side quests.
  • State of the game changes in accordance with the player's actions.
  • You can solve or create conflicts between factions.
4. Immersion (10/10)
  • Lore is provided (-> context, faction rules, laws, history, …)
  • There are different factions (races, groups, guilds).
  • NPCs or party members are well developed (-> expansive background stories, etc.)
  • NPCs or party members interact with each other.
  • NPCs have schedules.
  • There are surprises and twists.
  • The storyline is character-driven (-> character development within the narrative.)
  • There is a proper ending or sense of closure.
  • There are memorable antagonists.
  • Your main character is defined.
1. Character Development (9/9)
  • Combat can be avoided due to stats (-> e.g. enemies flee).
  • You can control at least six characters.
  • Your characters are specialized (-> different battlefield roles).
  • Enemies are specialized (-> require different tactics.)
  • Resource management is necessary.
  • Units have multiple attack options.
  • Delayed attacks are possible (-> counterattacks, attacks of opportunity, etc.)
  • Movement-focused special abilities are available.
  • Units have multiple resistance options (-> e.g. armor, elemental resistance, etc.)
2. Exploration (9/9)
  • Combat can be avoided through sneaking or gameworld manipulation.
  • You can get a good sense of space (-> e.g. there is a grid.)
  • Combat can start at variable distances.
  • Directional facing plays a role (-> e.g. more damage from behind, flanking).
  • Terrain is variable (-> e.g. natural choke points, cover, combat bonuses).
  • Terrain can be manipulated (-> e.g. you can create barriers).
  • There are elevation effects (-> e.g. combat bonuses from higher grounds.)
  • There can be zones or items on the battlefield that reward units who get there in time.
  • There can be Zones of Danger on the battlefield (-> e.g. environmental damage).
3. Story (6/6)
  • Combat can be avoided through dialogue.
  • Combat can have different win scenarios (-> e.g. keep NPC alive, defend town).
  • Combat can have side objectives aside from "win/loss".
  • Characters don't die immediately but can be revived during combat.
  • Decisions on the battlefield have character development consequences.
  • There are memorable bosses.
1. Interface
  • How often is gameplay interrupted with loading? (rarely, sometimes, often)
  • How would you rate the game's interface? (intuitive, clunky, …)
2. Difficulty
  • How difficult is the game? (easy, normal, hard)
  • Can difficulty be adjusted?
  • How balanced is trading? (good, not-so-good, bad)
  • How balanced is combat? (good, not-so-good, bad)
  • How much reloading is necessary to beat the game (little, some, much)
  • How good is the AI? (good, medium, bad)
  • How much handholing is there? (little, some, much)
3. Gameplay features
  • Are there Easter Eggs?
  • Are there minigames?
4. Exploration
  • Is Auto-Mapping available?
  • Is Fast Travelling available?
  • Are there quest markers?
  • Is there a quest compass?
  • How much realism is there? (little, balanced, much)
  • How much looting is in the game? (little, some, much)
5. Character Development
  • Are there useless skills?
  • How would you rate character progression? (fast, balanced, slow)
  • Is there auto-leveling of some sort?
6. Story
  • Does the story follow clichéd paths?
  • How linear is the game? (linear, network-like, non-linear)
  • How would you rate the suspense? (boring, gripping, fun, …)
  • Are there pre-selected options (choice is reduced)?
7. Combat
  • How much fighting is in the game? (little, some, much)
  • Grinding: Is filler combat necessary to develop your character?
 

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I added these hints to the Definition:

Hints:
  • A game that fulfills conditions in the categories Character and Exploration but not in Story could be a Dungeon Crawler or a Rogue-Like.
  • A game that fulfills conditions in the categories Exploration and Story but not in Character could be an Adventure game, a Strategy game or a Shooter.
  • A game that fulfills conditions in the categories Character and Story but not in Exploration could be a Sim game or a Linear CRPG.

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Hopefully, no other genre can exist outside of RPG.

RPG is the alpha and omega of any kind of games. All refer to it and none can exist outside of RPG.
 
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Beat'em ups? No story in them? No character progression in them?

Same for the rest apart Tetris maybe.

Blessed be RPG the source of all.
 
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Good article about CRPGs at MUD Wiki.

Among other things types of character progression are described:

Three different systems of rewarding the player characters for solving the tasks in the game can be set apart: the experience system (also known as the "level-based" system) the training system (also known as the "skill-based" system) and the skill-point system (also known as "level-free" system)

The experience system system, by far the most common, was inherited from traditional role-playing games and emphasizes receiving "experience points" (often abbreviated "XP") by winning battles, performing class-specific activities, and completing quests. Once a certain amount of experience is gained, the character advances a level, at which point he may increase his skills and abilities.

The training system is similar to the way the Basic Role-Playing system works. It was first used in CRPGs in Dungeon Master, and emphasizes developing the character's skills by using them - meaning that if a character wields a sword for some time, he or she will become proficient with it. This system was later used in the The Elder Scrolls series, as well as the Dungeon Siege series.

Finally, in the skill-point system (as used in Vampire: Bloodlines for example) the character is rewarded with "skill points" for completing quests, which then can be directly used to "buy" skills and/or attributes, without having to wait until the next "level up".

another interesting thesis : "The history and future of computer RPG development" from Mats Eriksson

Very good short reviews of essential CRPGs - read this.

In CRPGs the player assumes the role of one or several characters and feels some sort of emotional involvement with them.
A central aspect is the development of the character(s).
This development usually happens in levels, although some CRPGs use different systems of development.
Levels are gained by earning experience points from different actions performed.

Most CRPGs are set in some variant of a medieval high fantasy world setting, derived from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. However, there are many games set in other kinds of alternate realities, such as a sci-fi world and settings featuring specific historic eras.

Most CRPGs have some emphasis on tactical combat and feature a set of character attributes or statistics on which the
combat is based.

CRPGs feature a narrative which unfolds as the player proceeds in the game, and this plot often involves interaction with non-player characters.

A common characteristic in CRPGs are different puzzles, riddles and mazes, though such elements are often present in games of other genres too, such as adventure games.
 
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