Dark Souls: Death Comes Naturally

I got back from Gamestop one rainy night with my copy of Dark Souls.  If you’ve been reading my posts, you should know that I love RPGs.  A whole lot.  I had heard rumblings from other reviewers that Dark Souls was hard.  Not a “Wow this is surprisingly difficult!” kind of hard, but soul crushingly difficult.  I can honestly say, that this is about as accurate a statement as you can say regarding this game.

That’s one of the earlier boss fights, the Moonlight butterfly, and this video makes it look easy.  This fight took me about 10 tries to finish off (Albeit, it’s because I had no ranged capabilities).  Difficulty isn’t only a feature of this game; difficulty IS this game.  And that’s a good thing.

This is beyond your run of the mill RPG.  The plot isn’t relevant, hell it’s barely there at all.  The character’s aren’t gripping, and there’s no Mass Effect world writing here.  And while I would normally just say “What’s the point!” in an RPG, this game doesn’t need any of those.  As a matter of fact, I might venture to say a game like this would be hindered by such things.

One of the greatest things about this game, is the absolute overwhelming sense of despair and loneliness it leaves you with.  The world is dark, and desolate, and absolutely beautiful.  The graphics are not only amazing, but at the same time it’s not just the graphics that are beautiful, but the world itself is unbelievable.  It’s the combination of not only utter despair, but absolute beauty of the world that makes this game a joy to play, even in the face of difficulty.

Yeah, no, that's fair

TOTALLY an even fight

Which brings me to my next point: This game is hard.  One of the main points in this game is gathering souls by defeating enemies.  Souls basically act as both experience points you use for leveling up, and currency for buying items and using a blacksmith.  When you die, you drop all of the souls you had where you died, and if you die again before you reach that point again, you can kiss goodbye to those souls.  But only rarely is this game unfair.  And I mean VERY rarely.  At early levels, poison can be absolutely trying, because it just DOESN’T GO AWAY, and the curse ailment, which halves your maximum health, stacks, leaving you at times with 1/8th of your health!  But in the scope of the game, this is really just a minor gripe, as with the right items, this can be more or less circumvented.

These are Bonfires. they replenish your health, give you potions, let you level up, and you go back to them whenever you die. They are your only friend.

It’s also worth noting the almost genius online features of this game.  I mentioned the overwhelming loneliness this game presents at times, but when you play online, you are never alone.  Occasionally, you’ll see the ghost of another player walking around, or see the blood splatter where another player dies, giving a look at the last moments of the players life before his unfortunate end, or hear the ring of the bell signifying someone else finishing the end of the level, which presents the glimmer of hope and the idea that it IS possible, and shows that you can keep going.  but the greatest idea that this game presents, is the soapstones.  these items let you leave messages on the ground for other players in other worlds to see, or leave yourself available for other players to summon you so in cooperation, you and the person who summoned you to fight together.  These soapstones are the highlight of the online, in my opinion, creating an environment of indirect cooperation of players, all moving toward the same end.

There is also another part of the online, where you can invade another player’s world, but in all honesty, I can’t get it to work out.  I never played it, but apparently in Demon’s Souls, Atlus hosted servers where invading and invaded came together.  In this game, The invading player hosts the match, which isn’t exactly reliable.  You see a lot of “Finding player” followed by “connection failed.” And the item that you used to partake in this goes away whether it was successful or not.  Does it work well?  Probably, I can see how an epic struggle between players would be amazing in this game.  but the servers are just too unreliable.

This is not a game for everyone.  You WILL die.  A lot.  And you will always be better for the experience, learning something else about your adversaries. And then adjust your strategy accordingly.  Its this kind of character growth, not only by level, but by actual growth of knowledge that makes the difficulty of this game amazing, and simply a must play for everyone who thinks they have the stones to finish it off.  So, you must ask yourself.  Are you prepared to die?

My score: 9 and a half bloody, bloody, soul crushing deaths out of 10.

PS

This is probably the best holiday season in YEARS, and I’m in no way gonna be able to keep up with everything.  But, I have a preorder down on skyrim, and I’m preparing my body to never see daylight again.

Ohhhh yeah

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2011: The Year In Games (So Far)

Just a preamble: I’m not including games from Late September and October yet, those are, in my opinion, more approaching the Christmas side of things.  But I thought I’d take a quick look back at the year so far and look at what games have caught my attention, and more than likely should be catching yours as well!

Lets start with my favorite game of the year so far, and in my opionion one of the best games of this GENERATION so far: Portal 2.  I can’t even BEGIN describe how well written this game is. Combustible Lemons.  Potatoes. SPACE!!! These words may not seem like much on the surface, but in Portal 2, they are turned into masterpieces in tounge-in-cheek humor and writing.  For Example

I’M THE MAN WHOS GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN.  WITH THE LEMONS.  See that?  That’s Portal 2.  But exemplary writing does not make a “game of the generation” game.  Which is good, because Portal 2 has an idea about what it wants to do.  And what it wants to do, is make a damn good puzzle game.  Good thing it succeeds.  It succeeds greatly.  Portal 2 takes place in 2 parts.  The very cinematic and very well written/directed single player campaign, chock full of puzzles and clever set pieces, and the Multiplayer campaign, where both players are flinging portals all over the place in unison in order to make their way through.  All in all, it’s a very rewarding experience, and one that EVERYONE should take a look at.

Another game which is up there in my opinion for Game of the year (so far) Is The Game Catherine.

Ass Monster

Yep. thats a giant ass monster. And it's trying to eat you.

Catherine is not a standard game, and honestly, for better or for worse, it’s unlike ANYTHING you’ve ever played before.  Developed by Atlus’ Persona Team (The team behind a couple of my OTHER favorite games, Persona 3/4) This is a gmae about one man, and his inner conflict of morals as he debates on whether to continue cheating on his longtime girlfriend Katherine with the beautiful seductress Catherine.  and there’s also a baby with a Chainsaw.

At it’s heart, as you can see from the video, Catherine is a block puzzle game. In his dreams, The main character, Vincent, has to pull and rearrange blocks to climb a tower to the very top as the bottom of the tower fall away.  And if he falls in the dream, he succumbs to an equally gruesome fate in real life.  The game takes place in two parts.  During the day, you watch as the drama surrounding Vincent’s love life unfolds.  Most of this takes place with you interacting with the local bar, The Stray Sheep’s, patrons.  There are multiple endings, and based on your decisions in the game, and how you interact with the other patrons, you could get a different ending.  Whereas at night, the world becomes a hell of Block puzzles.  And sheep.  Lot’s of sheep.  A disclaimer: This game is BRUTALLY difficult, and unless you’re very alright with challenge, you’re gonna want to start it off on easy or normal.  But the challenge never seems to deter the player from wanting to continue.  Something about the very nature of the game makes it so you want to make it through, despite the difficulty, and on the easier difficulties, the game is very liberal about giving you retries, so it never seems entirely hopeless.  All in all, it’s a very respectable puzzle game, with a top notch drama attatched to it, that is genuinely adult.  Not adult in the “Look boobies!” kind of way, but in a way that legitimately makes you think about the moral reprocussions of cheating on your significant other.  If you like a decent challenge and a well made puzzler, definately pick this one up.

Another one of the big games, and one of the games that ended up with a lot of controversy around the making of it, was L.A. Noire.  L.A. Noire was developed by Australian studio Team Bondi, in association with Gamerpower-company Rockstar Games.  After a long period of “Is this ever actually going to happen?” Syndrome, the game was finally released earlier this year.  And boy was it a game.  At a whopping 3 discs on the Xbox 360, the game had a very wide scope of the inner workings of the Police Department in a Post WWII Los Angeles, with a storlyine attatched to it that could rival classic movies such as LA Confidential of The Maltese Falcon (Which, in a fun little easter egg, you can find in a Pawn shop.)  But, all of that aside, what you could REALLY write home about wasn’t the actual gameplay or the story, but the industry changing Facial Detection system in the game.

I honestly think, this could be the future of modern gaming if utilized in future games.  In interrocations and cut scenes, you could see Everything about their face.  Every facial tic, every eye movement, every word on their mouth was shown in painstaking detail through Bondi’s facial detection system.  Just imagine the possibilites if it were added to other games!  In all honestly, the rest of the game, although awesome, wasn’t perfect.  At times, some of the cases dragged on, and in the later parts of the game at times felt rather repetative.  Look at victim, search for clues, interrogate, lather, rinse, repeat.  And at times, what you think could be doubting someone could be straight up accusing them of murder.

But in the long run, those are minor gripes.  It’s a very well made game, and it’s worth playing, without a doubt.

Those are my top the games of the year thus far, I would have to say.  I’d like to honorably mention Dragon Age 2 and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 as well, both are fun games in their respective genres, and are worth checking out as well.  There are a lot of good games to look forward to this holiday season, from Dark Souls and Skyrim, to the Old Republic and Gears of War 3.  So keep your eyes open for good games, and feel free to comment on my opinions and tell me I’m full of shit.

I’M THE BEST AT SPACE

Brian Laurence Bishop

P.S.

My Night: Creating a Tabletop RPG, Tangled, and The Room

I’m not writing a blog post about any one inherently geeky thing today, and I apologize for this.  But I had a hell of a night last night.  You know, in college they call it thirsty Thursday because people are getting drunk or whatever it is that “normal” college students do in Thursday.  Me, my Thursday was a little bit different, but it also ended with me returning to my dorm room at 6 O’clock in the morning, nonetheless.  It started at 5 O’clock at night on Thursday, and a Disney Movie called Tangled.

Let me begin by saying I freakin’ love Disney Movies.  I could literally spend hours on end watching the adventures that the Walt Disney company has woven together.   As a matter of fact I have done this, but that is a story for another time.  I am a member of the On-Campus organization Dumbledore’s Army.  Yes, it’s a club where we normally discuss Harry Potter and stuff, but today we decided to watch Tangled.

Say what you will about your opinions on Disney movies, I thought Tangled had a certain air of badassery about it.  As a matter of fact, being the tabletop RPG gamer I am, I couldn’t help but say at certain points “Well HE failed his Dexterity check!” or “Roll the D20 for your Perception check!”  and thus, an Idea was born.  I could create a Tangled Tabletop RPG.  Is it a good idea?  Probably not.  Creating a tabletop engine requires a lot of time and effort, but my fellow DA members (Holly, Jessie, Willie, Chantel, Lorraine) agreed that after I finished (IF I finish) They’d be down to play it, so that’s fun.

So after we finished that wonderful film, we just watched Adult Swim on cartoon network and did awesome like we normally do. (We always do awesome).  It was around 11 o’clock that we decided we were hungry and should go to Devils Diner (The only dining hall at ASU open at such an hour) to eat.  Now, at the same time, the last Light Rail train was leaving, little to my knowledge.  I don’t have a car so I rely on taking the light rail to get back to my comfy room at Taylor Place dorms.    So, I missed the Light Rail.

I didn’t know it at the time of course, so I went on my merry way enjoying the evening.  I even had the privilege of explaining the Entire Final Fantasy franchise to Holly.  You know what?  I have time.   Here we go.

Final Fantasy 1: The original, terrible game by today’s standards, hard as balls, but the original.

Final Fantasy 2: Kinda actually had a plot, leveling system was lamesauce.  Never came out in the US til way later on.

Final Fantasy 3: Beginnings of the Job-change system, and overall awesomeness.  Never came out in the US until way later on.

Final Fantasy 4: Final Fantasy 2 in the us.  One of my personal favorite FFs.  Characters were awesome.  Plots were great.  Fighting system was impeccable.

Final Fantasy 5: Kinda lamesauce plot, but leveling system and Job Change/Mastery system was Aaaaaaawesome.

Final Fantasy 6: The villain was this awesome Demented Demonic clown thing that straight up murdered people for shits and giggles.  Yeah.  it was epic.

Final Fantasy 7: Hands down, the most popular of the FF games and the most famous.  Spawned its own franchise within a franchise, and had an EPIC movie called FF7 Advent Children.

Final Fantasy 8: WIDELY contested.  Some people, including me really like its plot and characters (DUDE HAS A SWORD THAT IS ALSO A GUN!) but a rather difficult to get the hand of fighting system. Love it or hate it.

Final Fantasy 9: I disliked this one.

Final Fantasy 10: Auron is a badass.  Tidus is way too peppy, and his girlfriend summons giant badass mosters.  Pretty cool game bro.

Final Fantasy 11: The MMORPG.  Not a fan, but lots of people are.

Final Fantasy 12: Very different, more strategic fighting system and In my opinion RIDIKILOUSLY hard. Main character is lame, but everything around him is epic.

Final Fantasy 13: NO ONE LIKES FFXIII…except me.  I thought it was awesome…

Final Fantasy 14: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…wait, this is actually a game?  Oh…well…uhm…why isn’t it finished?

There ya go. The entire main final fantasy franchise.  That was a long digression, and i will probably get several angry comments.  So, you know, COME AT ME BRO.

But at any rate, I was trapped in Tempe.  so what did I do?  I mooched.  I basically posted up in Adelphi 2’s common area, flipped on the epicness that is The Room, and began work on my Tabletop RPG.

Oh, what is The Room you say?  Only the greatest achievement ever in modern filmmaking!

Seriously.  Its SO BAD.  So bad that its hilarious.  I’m pretty sure Tommy Wiseau is the most unintentionally hilarious actor in the history of ever.  So, I would recommend seeing it purely for the lulz!

Whilst this epic was playing, I took the time to begin my build of the Tangled Tabletop RPG.

Basically, I built the classes for the game, based on the movie, and the spells that the mage class (Botonist/Florist) would use.  As for the game engine itself?  Well, I could only do so much in that time.  So 4 hours of writing and building, and watching The Room later, it was 5 o’clock in the morning and I still hadn’t slept.  the good news?  the light rail started up again!

It was still dark out, and here I was walking through an oddly empty campus.  2/3rds of the student populace was probably sleeping off the events of the night before.  And there I was.  A light rail ride later and here I am, in my dorm, tired as balls.  Do I get sleep?  Nope, I’ve got a full day ahead of me, but that’s the life of a geek!  Sleep isn’t always a luxury.  (Think LAN parties.)  So, at any rate, that’s why I’m not giving you a geely blog post today, and I’m sorry about it,  really.

YOU’RE TEARING ME APART LISA!

Brian Laurence Bishop.

PS.

This changes lives.

Happy 80th Birthday Leonard Nimoy

This won’t be a full post, I just wanted to wish an happy 80th birthday to a great man: Leonard Nimoy.  Most well known for being Mr. Spock on the quintessentially geeky show Star Trek!  So happy birthday champion, may you Live Long And Prosper!

Pure Memetics

What is a meme, but a dirty little pile of secrets? See there you go, that was a meme right there.  The above video you saw was none other than the “original” meme, All Your Base Are Belong to us.  It stemmed from a TERRIBLE Translation from a really old game called Zero Wing, someone on the internet found it and voila: a meme was born.

Now, seriously, what is a meme?  Philosopher/Scientist/Person Richard Dawkins was the first person ever to coin the term meme, really, in his book “The Selfish Gene.”  I would not recommend reading it.  It’s boring.  Unlike memes.  Anyway, he describes a meme as “conveying the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation.”  Wat?  Alright, basically it’s a seemingly useless phrase or series of phrases that, due to transmission from one person to another, has become recognized.

Now, Brian, why are you telling me-

Before you go any further allow me to object and explain why I’m even telling you about memes.  Because they’re on the internet.  And the internet is inherently geeky, it WAS invented by geeks.  The internet is SERIOUS BUSINESS. Ahem.  Okay, ill stop memeing for a moment.

Lets look at a rather recent meme, for example.  Rebecca Black’s God Awful/Awfully Wonderful song Friday.

A meme starts with one person finding something, like Friday.  Then he shares that video with someone else, or more likely a message-board like, 4chan.org (You’ll find that most memes have their roots in 4chan).  Soon, those people spread it to people they know, and suddenly 45,715,568 views.

That’s just the beginning of it.

With Friday it’s so broad you’ve got sub-memes.

Which seat can I take?  A meme.  Days of the week?  Now a meme.  Awkward Dancing Friend?

Well you get the point.

I find memes hilariously awesome myself.  I have had entire conversations with my friends composed solely of memes.

One of the most important part of a meme, and I say this cautiously, is that a meme is created almost always accidentally.  Almost, and I will get to that in a moment.  Rebecca Black didn’t go into the music studio and say “I will make this song a meme.”  No, someone stumbled upon it and it stuck.  And that’s how most memes start.

Oh, cats are also a meme.  Cats are cute.  Here are some cats for your viewing pleasure.

Now, when a meme is started by someone TRYING to create a meme, thats when you get whats called a forced meme.  What THIS boils down to is some guy on 4chan who posts something random OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL IT BECOMES A MEME.

Case in Point. Millhouse.

Let me be clear. Millhouse is NOT a meme.  But (and this is where the forced meme comes from…and where it gets a wee bit Inception-y) Millhouse is NOT a meme…IS A MEME. Someone tried so hard to force Millhouse into the internet culture that people continually asserted that Millhouse was not a meme, and, lo and behold…A MEME IS BORN.

But, for the love of god, don’t force memes.  No one likes it when you force memes.

Now, you may be asking me, where do I find out about the wonderful little packages of internet goodness.

http://www.knowyourmeme.com is a great place to start.  You’ll find descriptions of a vast majority of the memes out there and their extended histories on there, and for the most part it’s safe for work and family so you can teach the younguns to set up us the bomb too.

Now lets delve into the seedier parts on the innanets.

http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com  This is a meme wiki…written in a terrible, terrible, sarcacstic and highly offensive manner.  So basically written by the people that start memes in the first place.  Let me reiterate: THIS SITE IS HIGHLY OFFENSIVE.  Now, if you can get past that, and you don’t mind a lot of political incorrectness, it’s kinda funny reading about these memes from the source in a kinda sick and twisted fashion.

Last, but certainly not least: the granddaddy of em all: http://www.4chan.org. This site will either be the MOST offensive site you go on, or rather mild.  You’ll notice that it is divided into imageboards.  It ranges from a board about Pokemon or Anime, to boards about Hardcore Porn.  I think you can use your discretion here a little bit but for the love of god, keep kids off it.  Often times, memes start here.  /vg/ starts quite a few of them, /tg/ has had some in the past, but more than anything is the ever-present “Internet Hate Machine”

/b/. Random. Known in some parts as the A**hole of the internet.  Both terrible and hilarious.  I can recommend this to no one. Yes it is the birthplace of many a meme, but it is a terrible awful place.  I’m not going to lie, for all it’s stigma, the other boards on 4chan (within reason) can actually be a nice community to share your interests and your thoughts anonymously. (/a/ for example has a bustling anime community) But /b/…just…try to stay away from there.

There ya go.  Memetics 101.

tl;dr: Memes start when people say stuff and it catches on.

Move Zig,

Brian Laurence Bishop

PS. PONIES

Recently reached memetic status on 4chan’s /co/ and /b/ boards.  Yes, it’s a show designed for little girls.  But you’ll find that the #1 audience is 18-24 YEAR OLD MALES.  Why.  Because it’s surprisingly funny and well written.  No, it’s not for everyone, and yes, half of you are gonna look at me like I’m crazy for posting it.  But, statistics don’t lie my friends.  Ponies are epic.

Arizona Matsuri: A Miniature Venture Into Japan

Japan and Geeks have a very close relationship.  I mean, after all, this country is the birthplace of Nintendo, Anime, Sony, and crazy things like this

I, for one, have always been enchanted by Japanese culture.  From an early age I have been watching Anime, reading Manga (essentially anime in comic book form) and the Japanese culture in general, be it shrines, or technology.

So when the winds told me of a Japanese Festival in Phoenix, of course I planned on going!  this blog post will take a slightly different turn of events from the norm, I’ll be talking about my findings at Arizona Matsuri.

The first thing I noticed at this festival was the abundance of cosplayers (myself included).  Cosplaying originated in Japan as an art of costume making.  People, especially at anime conventions would make costumes and dress up as their favorite characters from anime.  This, for example is me cosplaying Maes Hughes from the anime Fullmetal Alchemist.

Cosplayers take characters from their favorite video games, manga, anime and basically any other form of media imaginable and make/purchase costumes to wear at cons, or basically any other event that it would be (relatively) socially acceptable.

At this event, for example, cosplayers from around phoenix gathered together to enter the Cosplay competitions around Matsuri.

Also ever present at the Japanese festival to a geek like me was the abundance of booths selling random anime related crap.  When you go to an anime con, there is always something called a “dealers hall.”  the entire point of the dealers hall is to sell unsuspecting geeks like me useless anime related crap like figurines, anime dvds and manga.  For example, I took 40 dollars ot for the festival to buy food and I ended up spending 5 bucks on some udon noodles and blowing the rest on a figurine, 2 issues of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, a FMA Pocket Watch and a phone charm.  A wise man (my best friend MAtt Lew) once told me that to be an anime geek was to live a life of poverty and hunger, as it always came down to buying anime over food.  I definately know where he was coming from .

My favorite apart of the festival, though (aside from my own cosplaying adventures) was the band that played: Kitsune Robot.  Kitsune Robot is a band based out of phoenix that specializes in playing anime opening and closing covers.  And they are damn good (FYI, their facebook fanpage is hyaah http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kitsune-Robot/315247194160)

This Is some video of them doing one of my personal favorite anime, Fullmetal Alchemist from Matsuri last year.

And this was them this year, in top form, I might add!  They played themes from Anime such as 00 Gundam, Darker than Black, Naruto, and the Pokemon Theme song!

Now, aside from the geekly things to be seen, there is a lot to be said for the actual cultural aspect of the festival.  Japan is a country that is rich in it’s cultrual history, from it’s arts, to its martial arts, to badass samurai.

This was from a demonstration of the martial arts that samurai used in actual combat.  This demonstration, as can be seen, involved the actual use of authentic Samurai armor.  Only one word can describe it. Sugoi.  I mean come on, it was samurai attacking each other with katanas and other samurai-ly weapons.  There was a lot of things elsewhere to see too, for example the Japanese art of Bonsai.  Bonsai is amazing when you think about it, just look at this tree.

This tree is 150 years old.  Yeah.  bonsai is done by taking a regular growing, full-size tree and cutting the supporting root off on a regular basis so it cannot grow up, but it can grow to be a miniature version of a full size tree.  Only Japan could come up with something that awesome.  Also present was the musical aspect of Japan.  In one corner of the festival was the Taiko drummers.  If you found yourself in Taylor Place dorms and you heard an incessant banging, that was the Taiko.  It’s a very simple-to-learn but complex-to-master form of music.

It consits of teams of 4-100 people using a vast variety of drums, to make a vast variety of sounds in unison, its a very unique kind of music, and incredibly interesting to watch on many levels.

Overall, the festival was a pleasure to attend.  I went last year too, and it was just as amazing.  More than likely, the festival will remain into next year, so I would highly recommend anyone who finds themselves in the phoenix area to come and check it out.  At the very least, you can come admire the cosplayers.

Oyasuminasai!

Brian Laurence Bishop

PS.  Here some fun videos that are Japan Related that I have come across.

Yeah,  they have anime characters doing live concerts now.  What do we have?  Ke$ha?

Also, this, a favorite dance to do of cosplayers everywhere. Caramelldansen.

RPGs: I Saved The Princess and All I Got was This Stupid Chainshirt

Ahhh, the opening of Final Fantasy, I remember it fondly.  Final Fantasy on the NES was the first RPG I ever played, and I look back on it to this very day with a fondness that can barely be described in words.  But, I say this with gusto, the NES version of Final Fantasy was HARD.  But enough reminiscing, let’s get started.

RPG, as I said before, stands for Role Playing Game (Think Dungeons and Dragons type thing).  That is actually where they stem from.  Before the days of Pixels and 1s and 0s, there was Pen and Paper.  The modern RPG has it’s roots deeply rooted in the pen and paper RPG ala DND.  But things have changed drastically since the early days of the RPG.

In the early days, RPGs were purely text based.  One of the most well known text based RPGs was a game called Zork.  (which can be found here).  The entire game based around a single setting.  You see a mailbox.  What do?  Then, the user would input text based around what he wants his character to do (IE Open Mailbox).  And thus, the RPG was born.

After the Text based RPG was around for a while, a wonderful thing called graphics was born, and thus began the modern RPG.

What your eyeholes see before you is Legend of Zelda, one of the first graphical RPGs ever, and also a classic that is often played to this very day.  This took place on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) One of the consoles in what we call the 8-bit generation. The graphics are blocky, the narrative is minimal, and the gameplay is simple.  Thus is the way of the old school RPG.

As the years passed after Zelda became a hit, the RPG began to grow.  Instead of controlling a single character, you controlled the destiny of a party of characters, like Final Fantasy.  Plots began to get more involved, instead of continuing your quest just to save the princess, there were galaxies at stake, lives in your hands or even Pokemon to catch! (Yes, Pokemon is considered an RPG.)

Now, lets look at the modern RPG, say, one of my personal Favorites Dragon Age Origins.  Instead of the simple “save the princess,” the player is cast in the character of the “Grey Warden.”  The player character, through his dialogue choices, is able to shape the way the world sees his character, the way the world reacts to his character, and the way the world is shaped because of the characters actions.

Here’s a good review of the game, that gives a good idea as to how the game works.

And this is how the modern RPG works.  Often times it involves the main character working through a storyline, or not, and shaping the dynamics of a world, be it Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic or Elder Scrolls : Oblivion.

One last thing ill bring to light before finishing up: There are really two basic types of RPGs: The Modern RPG and the J-RPG.

J-PRG stands for Japanese RPG, like Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts.  The J-RPG is less about the players interaction with the world, and the influence they make, but more about plot.  You’ll find that most JRPGs have a very fixed plot with lots of cutscenes, telling the story and showing the various characters.  Look at Final Fantasy XIII for example: most of the maps that the gameplay is on are completely linear, meaning the player just moves forward and gets into fights with monsters and fights them, in order to continue the plot.  JRPGs focus VERY heavily on characters, and on script.  This is where I think part of the artistic value of video games really resides: In characters that make you feel feelings and in plots that make you want to continue playing.

The modern RPG is like I described before.  Looking at games like Fable or Fallout, that give the player a lot of freedom to play the game however they want to play it.  You’ll find that these games follow less of a set story, feature less cutscenes than J-RPGs and give the player a lot more leeway in how they want to play their lives out.  The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, for example, lets the player create a character from scratch, and basically do whatever they want, you could spend 110 hours in-game playing without so much as even looking at the main story.’

But, like most things I will bring up, playing RPGs is a matter of preference mostly.  If you like structured story, almost like reading a book or watching a movie, I would recommend J-RPGs (Especially Kingdom HEars, my favortie game of all time).  But, if you’re looking for an immersive experience, then I would recommend a modern RPG, like Dragon Age or The Elder Scrolls.  Or, maybe RPGs aren’t your thing at all, honestly, you have to like stories to like RPGs, maybe you’d rather just shoot things.

STOP RIGHT THERE, CRIMINAL SCUM!,

Brian Bishop

PS: This is Stick RPG, a basic RPG playable straight from your Browser!  Yaaaaaay!  I would recommend trying it out, it’s quite funny.

http://www.xgenstudios.com/game.php?keyword=stickrpg