[size=1]Psst... Molyneux didn't make Fable.[/size]
Our Man in Japan -- Fe Bu Ru
"I will say this to you Petie: I think it profoundly amusing that while you hyped this game to be something of an evolution of what's already available it pails in comparison to some much older console RPGs."
[size=1]Psst... Molyneux didn't make Fable.[/size]
I don't think you're even close to the right track here, ninetails.Because I've been reading impressions on the game on English forums, I'm momentarily reminded that according to the cliches about Japanese gamers, we're not supposed to be impressed with stylized realism, all we like is anime and apparently we're obsessed with youth. I mentioned this to my friend, ?Hey, you know how the character's limbs are a bit big for him??
?Yeah, it looks cool.?
?Mmm. Guess what? That's a sign that this game is for children.?
My friend gave me a look as if I've clearly lost my mind. I said, ?maji de? which is super-popular Japanese slang for a lot of things depending on the inflection, but this time it means, ?I'm dead serious.? I launched into a nature-documentary-like description of how the Mama American leaves her children in the adult wild once they've grown up and forbids them from ever associating any style of portrayal which might recall such childhood in order to be real men and women. After telling me how weird I am, my friend stated, ?Americans have childhood abandonment issues.?
The way I see it the dislike of 'childlike' imagery and themes on this side of the Pacific comes from two sources:
1) The broader culture here tends to look down on all video and computer games as childish. So when something that seems even more childish than the games we "adults" like to play comes along a natural response is to do unto others. This may be slowly changing but it's still the dominant paradigm.
2) There's a wholly different literary and artistic tradition here that doesn't have so much of a playful element for adults. There's no Western version of a benevolent Hanuman - our mythic, playful, tricksters tend to have a malicious edge like a Loki. While we have fairy tales and Shakespeare, never the twain shall meet. If serious literature and fantastic elements do cross paths it tends, when successful, to be more serious fare like the works of Gaiman or Tolkein. Even then many English reviewers dismissed Tolkien at the time as a writer of children's books. This is, obviously, changing as well.
3) There also seems to be more of a Western fascination, obsession even, with replicating reality and realism inside the digital realm. I can explain why this appeals to me and seems to appeal to others. What I can't explain or understand is why this doesn't seem to be as big in Japanese games (at least those I've seen). While one hears anecdotes about Bus Simulators and the like, which kinda boggle me as being interesting subject matter, we don't see many wargames, simulations or serious strategic games outside of KOEI. What we do see are a flood of big-headed anime games or games featuring monkeys wearing pants and throwing things. These games tend to seem childlike and childish by comparison, by our subjective cultural standards. Some like 'em, some don't. But I don't think it's a psychological issue so much as it is a cultural one.
Hey, you cut the part where I said I wouldn't go as far as Tatsu to say its childhood issues, but instead call your choices bizarre and off-base! :D No, but seriously, the way you quoted made me think you thought me serious about the whole Mama and the kids thing. You obviously know a thing or two yourself (calling me ninetails! Ha!)
In any case, those are some interesting details, some of which I was aware of. I do think this is something our two cultures will never stop disagreeing about, though, you can see the same types of comments in both directions so many years ago when the were the first encounters between the two traditions. (Though a lot ruder and more tasteless, no wait, some Japanese call American realism ugly and dirty and some Westerners call Japanese stuff "gay", never mind.)
In any case, I put that in there mostly just to show the same thing often happens in reverse. I'm real accustomed to all sorts of how strange and surreal Japan is, so I thought I'd show you how strange and surreal the West can be.
And yes, when it comes to Fable, I think its really being taken too far and that's where I added "off-base." Most of Fable's style is pretty realistic, but just because it has saturated light, bright colors and some slightly exaggerated proportions, its less adult? You can't convince me that isn't just fundamentally bizarre, no matter the cultural reasons, in the same way a lot of people find Japanese TV and commercials bizarre despite the cultural reasons. :P
Also, I have a question for you! How do you know if the style of visuals isn't realistic that the aim wasn't to go for realism?
And I doubt that there'd be that image there, if instead of Mario, Castlevania, Mega Man and et al, it was Daisenryaku, Galactic Legends, Lord Monarch, A Train and et al that became popular.
Apologies to Tom, BTW, I tried to fix whatever the quotes problem was, but obviously it didn't go away. Maybe I should try to save it in a different format?
I don't have an X-Box so I won't be commenting about Fable per se. How can I tell if graphics are intended to be realistic if they don't come out that way? Generally if the graphics seem to hold together, designwise, but don't look at all representative of real objects then you can guess the artist wasn't really trying for realistic visualizations. If the graphics don't hold or work together, it doesn't really matter what the objective was because they're sucking either way.
I'm more interested in realism in gameplay (whether emotional or mechanical) than graphics myself. Being an emotionally and aesthetically stunted former wargamer I can look at counters on a board and imagine very vivid battles going on with no graphics card required. Look at my fascination with Romance of The Three Kingdoms. The graphics in VII-VIII (by far my favorites) were rudimentary for most things but they did the job and were, for what they were, designed well enough to enhance the atmosphere. They never tried to take the place of the imagination, though, which is where all the action happens.
And before anyone points out Midsummers Night's Dream is a Shakespearian play about faeries I will. Perhaps there's a better way to say what I was trying to get at.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, for starters.Originally Posted by Brian Rucker
Shakespeare lived in a demon haunted world, and his works reflect this. The supernatural is a key element in Hamlet and MacBeth, while The Tempest is set on a demon infested island whose main character is a sorcerer.
Edit: Whoops, Brian posted again while I was typing.
Kitsune - cool post. Interesting to see how gaming geeks in other countries react to their imports. :)
I'm curious, though: what are some specific examples of other RPGs which do the whole "open-ended, dynamic" thing better? I can't claim to be an expert on just the subset of Japanese RPGs which wash up on this shore, much less all the ones which stay on your side of the Pacific. ;)
[quote="Brian Rucker"]Yes, but what breeds the implicit assumption that disproportionate or child-like is inherently "less mature"? You're talking about the fact that it's found that way in America, and Kitsune is making reference (tongue-in-cheek) to the fact that it is that way because you can't be "grown up" unless you put behind you all childish things. They're completely separate levels of the same thing.Because I've been reading impressions on the game on English forums, I'm momentarily reminded that according to the cliches about Japanese gamers, we're not supposed to be impressed with stylized realism, all we like is anime and apparently we're obsessed with youth. I mentioned this to my friend, ?Hey, you know how the character's limbs are a bit big for him??
?Yeah, it looks cool.?
?Mmm. Guess what? That's a sign that this game is for children.?
It's ultimately the same argument as "All console games are for kids." Which means it's probably not worth going into here yet again. But for whatever reason the fact is there's a much larger contingent of "That's not perfectly realistically built/proportioned, therefore it's 'kiddy'" here than in Japan, with it's SD characters, sexually and chronologically ambiguous media icons, and the like.
(BTW, it's hard for me to type something along the lines of "Americans require realistic proportions from their media icons." when, in fact, we require grossly unrealistic proportions out of our stars and starlets in general to consider them valid; it's just that the proportions we require over here have everything to do with insane emphasis on secondary sex traits as the 'norm'. Which, as I think about it, might be related to why disproportionation on other things is seen as childish. Note that comic books are generally farther along the scale of childish than games, and comic books are dominated by DDD-wielding women from hell and chronic steroid abusers for the most part. Which puts them firmly in the realm of 'mid-teen' in American culture.)
Hmmm, well, you may have heard me talk about recently, but there's the Lunatic Dawn series, for instance. To give one example of an element, if you kill a lot of monsters in the region and do activities that generally kill monsters (you needn't ever fight in a Lunatic Dawn game if you don't want to, you can play for a long time just doing other stuff) then the surrounding towns will begin to prosper. You can help this even more by shopping there and bringing in more money to the town. The layout will change, the houses will become better, the people will increase. The religion you will believe in will especially prosper, with more believers. You can also affect the climate by fishing about with the elemental properties of things. Plants may not grow as well, or it might become tropical and humid eventually depending on what you do.Originally Posted by unbongwah
In Traverse: Starlight & Prairie, a latter-day SFC RPG, time was truly of the essence. In overworld maps and towns, each day, the hours would go by and depending on where you went, people would be in different places in their routines. If you went into someplace, then the game even calculated minutes and people would walk in and out of taverns, or go on errands and such. The game only ended when you get married, but you could do anything you want until then. The seasons went by and the taste and feel of towns would change from winter to spring and such.
Hmmm, there was Z'ill Oll, where everything you did changed some sort of aspect of your personality and you could change the personality of people by influencing them with different situations. It was called the Soul System. That game was just overall very cool.
In the Oni series games, your character was limited by a system of karma, which would affect what people thought of you and said to you, you had to watch it what you did and it would also affect what kind of powers you could use. You could say it was a good and evil system, but it didn't really work like that. :P (After all, in Shinto, the main theological problem is between the true (makoto) and the twisted (maga), so...)
In the Majin series, you can choose from all sorts of different emotional reactions to what someone says. Depending on what you say, not only will people's relationships change and the plot branch, but you'll have different levels of successful cooperation with them in battle. Furthermore, as you tend towards certain tendencies, the character's personality will develop from your choices. You can even become a typical anime asshole and stay silent, and that has an effect. For instance, if you always answer happily, you might become bubbly and have access to dialogue that is too perky and shallow without consideration, or if you balance it a bit better, just a happy optimist.
Well, in any case, those are a few of the choices I was referring to. There's just of tons of stuff out there and I know some of these developers REALLY don't have access to the kind of almost unlimited development time and huge budget Fable got, so my question, why is it they could develop these elements so much farther?
Man, I really want these lunatic dawn games the more you describe them.Originally Posted by Kitsune
Kitsune: OK, those games do sound pretty cool. Damn, and here I thought all we were missing out on was some pretty pictures. ;)
Well, I don't know for sure, of course, but I was wondering: of those games you mentioned, how many (if any) are for the current generation of consoles (i.e. PS2 et al) and how many are for older systems? Do you feel RPGs on past consoles were more "innovative" in terms of gameplay than current ones?Originally Posted by Kitsune
See, I sometimes feel like the vast majority of development time on current games is taken up by the technology - especially the graphics - with nowhere near enough left over for game design. In particular, the amount of effort it takes to create a more open-ended game experience has increased tremendously these days - ironically resulting in games which are more restrictive than their predecessors, not less.
Take, for example, the classic text adventure: In those days, the responsiveness of the game was limited only by the extent of the parser and the imagination of the game designers. The designers could decide how to deal with, say, absurd commands from the gamer and could make the game respond with a paragraph of text; e.g., make fun of the gamer every time they tried to use a dirty word. It was a relatively trivial amount of extra code, but it added to the depth of the game. I had a friend who was a big fan of Infocom games, and one of these things he liked was seeing how far he could push the parser.
Now, though, the expectation is you need spiffy graphics and motion-captured animation and voice-recording for every little action the gamer can undertake, which adds tremendously to the game's development time and budget. So the response, understandably, is to narrow the gamer's choices - to restrict where they can go and what they can do in the game-world - in order to keep development costs under control.
For a tightly focused game, this is fine: you don't expect to be able to tour the stadium and talk to fans in a sports game; nor do you need convincing NPC interactions in a mindless shooter. But for a supposedly "open-ended" game, these limitations can stand out a lot more, like tripping over an invisible bar.
In that sense, I think a game like Fable is actually a victim of its own technological prowess: because of the high cost of including more variety in its content, it ends up less open-ended than a game that can get away with calling a 50-pixel-icon your hero.
Yeah. Or you could look at something like NPC scheduling. In Ultima V days you just have to move a little tile around. Now if you want NPCs to eat and sleep and stuff you have to animate all that in 3D. The more living-world stuff you put into a game the more demands it puts on the art.
I have to say, I don't understand why so many people dislike Fable so much. I don't claim to have never played a game that does a lot of this stuff before, regardless of where it was made, but I think Fable is just a great game in its own right.
I'm not sure many people dislike Fable. It's sold very well. This is likely another case of the few shouting down the majority via the Internet.
*cough* Doom 3 *cough*Originally Posted by Warlord of Mars