CRPG Analyzer: A checklist for computer role-playing games

HiddenX

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@Kostaz
Linear CRPGs are CRPGs on a railroad, you are transferred from level to level without a choice to go back.

CRPG-Meter:
The task to get from A to B has no or few options to go away from a fixed physical path.

Not so common nowadays… at least for CRPGs.

@Felipepepe
Nice non-combat example :)

…it gives no knowledge on how deep or important the mechanics are in the game…
We are still in phase 1 … Arhu wants to measure, too. I think about it.

Our first goal is hopefully reached and we should test it a bit, before go further.

@Arhu
Your summarization of elements is (nearly) right, but you have to interpret it again when you have to apply it on a given game. Why nearly ? Character progression by equipment only is a feature of adventures. For CRPGs you need character progression through better equipment AND stat advancement.
 
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HiddenX

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Minimal Version (IMHO):

Definition of a CRPG (V0.4)

A CRPG is a computer game that fulfills these criterions:
(in other words: has the following CRPG elements)

Character Development
C1) you can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!)
C2) you can develop (Stats, Skills,…) your party by questing (= using your skills )
C3) you can equip (and enhance) your characters with items you find, loot, build or buy

Exploration
E1) by exploring the gameworld you can find new loacations
E2) you can find Items
E3) you can find NPCs
E4) you can manipulate the gameworld in some way (levers, buttons,…)
E5) the gameworld can affect your party (weather, traps, closed doors, …)

Story
S1) an interactive story is told, that is more or less influenced by your actions
S2) you can interact with NPCs (-> quest givers)
S3) a game goal exist (at least one quest)

_________________________________________________________________
Exploration -> new Quests -> using Skills & Exploration & NPC Interaction & World Manipulation for solving Quests -> Story advances & Characters are progressing -> new Locations -> more Exploration …
______
PS:
E5 is new
 
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Arhu

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@Arhu
Your summarization of elements is (nearly) right, but you have to interpret it again when you have to apply it on a given game. Why nearly ? Character progression by equipment only is a feature of adventures. For CRPGs you need character progression through better equipment AND stat advancement.
I added something to the initial summaries for this reason, did you read that? (cf. bottom of my last post).

You can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!). Characters progress, or can be customized, in several ways.


Adventures usually don't have any character progression at all, least of all due to equipment. Well, maybe they "develop" in the sense that they learn more about themselves, but that's about it. From the Venn Diagram: Story + Exploration - Character Development = Adventure.

There might be confusion in regard to the term "progression" though: since I used it for Character Development, it's only meant to apply to that. It's neither progression to advance the story nor progression to advance in the game world. And yes, CRPGs do need more than one type of character progression.
 
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HiddenX

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@Arhu
Characters progress, or can be customized, in several ways.
several could be attributes like stats, talents, traits, skills, HP, MP …

I want Item Equipment as must have + some kind of character advancement by enhancing some kind of attributes as a must have.

In my mind I tested the definition through all Wizardrys, Ultimas, Might & Magics, BG1, BG2, Fallout 1 & 2, Planescape Torment, Nordland Triologie -> V 0.4 works as a CRPG identifier for all "normal" CRPGs.

We need some borderline games, outsiders … any suggestions ?


PS:
E5) optional or must have ? A closed door, chest… is in every CRPG, isn't it ?
 
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HiddenX

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Diablo

Character Development
C1) you can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!) yes
C2) you can develop (Stats, Skills,…) your party by questing (= using your skills ) yes
C3) you can equip (and enhance) your characters with items you find, loot, build or buy yes

Exploration

E1) by exploring the gameworld you can find new loacations yes & no (levels are generated, random)
E2) you can find Items yes
E3) you can find NPCs yes
E4) you can manipulate the gameworld in some way (levers, buttons,…) yes, if I remember right… smashing barrels ?
E5) the gameworld can affect your party (weather, traps, closed doors, …) yes

Story

S1) an interactive story is told, that is more or less influenced by your actions yes, but no choices, no branches-> linear
S2) you can interact with NPCs (-> quest givers) yes
S3) a game goal exist (at least one quest) yes, Kill Diablo

=> Diablo is a CRPG (with random levels, a linear story, and no/few choices with consequences)
 
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Arhu

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We need some borderline games, outsiders … any suggestions ?
King's Bounty, Diablo, Metal Gear Solid, Trine, Dreamfall, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Thief, Indigo Prophecy (aka Fahrenheit)

Regarding Diablo: intriguing — this is where weights and sub-genres will play a role (pun intended), I'll write more on that tomorrow.
 
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HiddenX

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King's Bounty

Character Development
C1) you can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!) yes, but predefined character
C2) you can develop (Stats, Skills,…) your party by questing (= using your skills ) yes
C3) you can equip (and enhance) your characters with items you find, loot, build or buy yes

Exploration

E1) by exploring the gameworld you can find new loacations yes
E2) you can find Items yes
E3) you can find NPCs yes
E4) you can manipulate the gameworld in some way (levers, buttons,…) yes
E5) the gameworld can affect your party (weather, traps, closed doors, …) no, I think corrected: yes

Story
S1) an interactive story is told, that is more or less influenced by your actions yes, but no different endings
S2) you can interact with NPCs (-> quest givers) yes
S3) a game goal exist (at least one quest) yes

=> Kings Bounty is a CRPG with a gameworld, that doesn't affect you ;)

E5)
(I don't remember traps, teleporters, closed doors or something in the game, do you ?)
 
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Thrasher

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S1 for Diablo is very weak. Story is not really influenced anymore than any other linear game with a story. No branching / choices with consequences. Similarly with 2, NPC interactions / relationships aren't anything more than quest givers and shopkeepers. No choices and consequences there. Still meeting the criteria as stated though. Look forward to a more quantitative approach with rankings for each category. :)
 
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fadedc

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How about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for a really borderline case. I believe it would meet criteria on everything, although with limited finding and equiping of items and only one predefined character.
 
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Grand Theft Auto doesn't really have much in the way of advancement, though. No leveling up as far as I know, no skills or abilities, etc.

I think if they added a skill system and leveling up, it would definitely be an RPG then. But as-is I'm gonna say no.
 

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Grand Theft Auto doesn't really have much in the way of advancement, though. No leveling up as far as I know, no skills or abilities, etc.

I think if they added a skill system and leveling up, it would definitely be an RPG then. But as-is I'm gonna say no.
So Saints Row is an RPG? Ain't this definition a bit too broad?
 
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HiddenX

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@Arhu / Trasher:

I measured the CRPGness of Diablo with the CRPG-Meter;

CRPG-Meter for Diablo

CRPG Categories:
Story, Character, NPC-Interaction, Gameworld, Manipulation, Combat

STORY: 1.5 out of 5 (ultra light / light)

CHARACTER: 2 out of 5 (light)

NPC-INTERACTION: 1 out 5 (ultra light)

GAMEWORLD: 1.5 out 5 (ultra light / light)

MANIPULATION: 2 out 5 (light)

COMBAT: (light)


=> Diablo is an (ultra) light CRPG

The CRPG-Meter works for this pretty good, an alternative method to identify a CRPG would be: score a t least 1 point in each CRPG-Meter category. Problem:
To make a complete CRPG-Meter for one game is much work.
Measuring the extra categories: COMBAT, MANIPULATION & NPC-INTERACTION is important to get a complete picture of the game.
 
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Couchpotato

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I think you hit the jackpot here. This is something no one in the industry has even figured out.:worship:
 
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Arhu

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E5) optional or must have ? A closed door, chest… is in every CRPG, isn't it ?
Optional. While arguarbly important as a gameplay element, I reason that Baldur's Gate without weather, traps or closed doors would still be a CRPG. Just one without a useful Rogue class. ;)

E4) you can manipulate the gameworld in some way (levers, buttons,…)
I would make this optional, too, for the same reason. King's Bounty from your example did have some levers at least, but even without those the game offers a whole lot of exploration. (E1-E3)

Optional elements can be used for weighting purposes.

S2) you can interact with NPCs (-> quest givers) yes
S3) a game goal exist (at least one quest) yes, Kill Diablo
"Questing" is redundant in these two points. The term also implies that there is a goal.

Your descriptions are rather verbose. I'd try to make the wording more concise and use a common format -- "yes, you can!":


Character Development
C1) you can control one or more characters
C2) you can progressively develop their stats by questing and using their skills
C3) you can equip and enhance your characters with items you acquire

Exploration
E1) you can find new locations by exploring the gameworld
E2) you can find Items
E3) you can find NPCs

Story
S1) you can progress through an interactive story
S2) you can interact with NPCs
S3) you can follow quests and at least one main quest


Two questions:
- What about games that have player-created stories, but no actual main quest (and thus no game goal)? These are ruled out at the moment. Should they qualify?
- Divinity: Original Sin will, according to Larian, have no "quests." You can talk with NPCs, but they only mention stuff and you're free to act on that info or not. I suppose there also is a "win game" scenario, but let's assume there isn't even a game goal as such. Would the game with such "self-imposed" quests for S3 with its current wording?
 
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Nameless one

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King's Bounty

E5) the gameworld can affect your party (weather, traps, closed doors, …) no, I think

Gameworld does affect you in some way in King's bounty.Lot of troops get bonus or get weaker depending on soil fight started on, day and night cycle and whether is fight underground or in open can affect troops too.

On topic: I don't think level advancement is necessary for cRPG, but stat system that can be influenced on character generation is.
 
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Arhu

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So Saints Row is an RPG? Ain't this definition a bit too broad?
I haven't played it, but why not. Once we agree on a way to determine if a game is a CRPG — and judging from comments the current version is pretty sound, the next step would be to find ways to quantify their relative importance or focus. Broadly speaking, Diablo would be a CRPG. It is often called an Action-RPG. It excels at character development, is good at exploration but weak in story elements.

On topic: I don't think level advancement is necessary for cRPG, but stat system that can be influenced on character generation is.
At first I thought either one or the other was necessary, but imagine a game where you can really customize your character in the beginning: Assign stat points, change looks, class, skills, etc. Maybe the game even changes depending on your choices. Yet there is no character development (leveling) during the game at all. Wouldn't this mean that there was no character development? And would that not make it more of an adventure game?
Character customization during creation is a good element for quantification purposes though.

=> Diablo is an (ultra) light CRPG
COMBAT, MANIPULATION & NPC-INTERACTION is important to get a complete picture of the game.
Indeed. Let's talk about it, then. I'll start by randomly listing possible elements that could be used for this purpose, mostly taken from the optional requirements — we can try to reduce them later on, where appropriate.


Quantifying CRPG elements - the more the better

Once we know that a game is a CRPG in a broad sense, we can try and see how deep it is in each category, or where its focus is. This is a binary approach again.

Character Development

  • C.1) gain ranks, achievements, society status
    C.2) choose profession, race
    C.3) build equipment, alchemy
    C.4) character can be customized during character creation
    C.5) freedom in character development, i.e. no fixed classes
    C.6) character development choices have an impact on gameplay
Exploration

  • E.1) you can find and recruit new party members
    E.2) you can manipulate the gameworld in some way (levers, buttons, …)
    E.3) the gameworld can affect your party (weather, traps, closed doors, …)
    E.4) you can interact with items (combine or use for more than one purpose)
    E.5) there are few artificial borders, you can reasonably go where you want
    E.6) you can follow different paths to reach a goal
Story

  • S.1) Riddles are implemented
    S.2) you can choose allies, enemies
    S.3) predefined context, faction rules, laws, history… is written
    S.4) player choices in dialogues or the story as such have an impact on story or story elements
    S.5) you can reasonably do what you want when you want to do it (quest order doesn't matter much)
    S.6) you can talk with NPCs about different topics
 
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Wulf

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...one more time, in no uncertain terms.

*Exploration"

Where the player/s can interact with the whole game world and all it contains in any way that may be possible.

If there is no way of progressing the game via exploration then the game cannot be a RPG.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Character*

Where a player character/s can be chosen or created, and/or progress in stature, status, skills, attributes etc' in any way that may be possible.

If there is no character stats progression as the game unfolds then the game cannot be a RPG.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*Story*

Where a player/s can, be told, find, unearth, learn, enable, a story that has a conclusion, outcome, change, result, that has progressed from when the game started in any way that may be possible.

If there is no progression to the storyline as the game unfolds then the game cannot be a RPG.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

These three core layers are all that is needed for a defined RPG and they must have the ability to progress via role playing. Nothing more is needed to the definition.
 
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Nameless one

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At first I thought either one or the other was necessary, but imagine a game where you can really customize your character in the beginning: Assign stat points, change looks, class, skills, etc. Maybe the game even changes depending on your choices. Yet there is no character development (leveling) during the game at all. Wouldn't this mean that there was no character development? And would that not make it more of an adventure game?
Character customization during creation is a good element for quantification purposes though.

No leveling system doesn't mean no character progression later on.Stat and trait could be changed through choices withing game,equipment,companion choice or some other alternative.Stat progression might be necessary, but classical level up when xp reaches certain number isn't imo.
 
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Maylander

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I feel there's not enough emphasis on the ability to affect the outcome of quests/story. It's hard to call it proper roleplaying if that's not present. The later GTAs would currently end up being CRPGs according to the requirements here and that's just plain wrong.

Any newer GTA would score roughly the following:

Character Development
C1) you can control 1 or more characters (Role-Playing!)
Yep.
C2) you can develop (Stats, Skills,…) your party by questing (= using your skills )
No.
C3) you can equip (and enhance) your characters with items you find, loot, build or buy
Yep.

Exploration
E1) by exploring the gameworld you can find new loacations
Yes.
E2) you can find Items
Weapons, yes.
E3) you can find NPCs
Lots of them, yes.
E4) you can manipulate the gameworld in some way (levers, buttons,…)
A lot of stuff to blow up. Especially cars.
E5) the gameworld can affect your party (weather, traps, closed doors, …)
Fairly certain that's a yes, but it's been a while.

Story
S1) an interactive story is told, that is more or less influenced by your actions
Story, but no C&C.
S2) you can interact with NPCs (-> quest givers)
Yes.
S3) a game goal exist (at least one quest)
There is a goal, yes.

One "no", one "yes/no" and the rest yes. I'd say that's a CRPG right there, yet we all know it's not one, so there's clearly a flaw here. I'd say this is a D'Artagnan case of "we see what we want to see" - as long as people put games they like into it, it's fine to call it an RPG. However, the model breaks once you pop in GTA, Saints Row and so on.

The same problem arises when comparing Oblivion to GTA or Saints Row. GTA is every bit as RPGish as Oblivion except skills that increase when you use them. Oh yeah, and it's set in a modern world instead of a fantasy world, but that is completely irrelevant.
 
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