Good article with a lot of good points.
I believe the problem a lot of RPG developers have is that they try too please to many people or only a small portion of the people. I will use Dragon Age and Dragon Age II as an example. Dragon Age: Origins has more customization and allows you to choose your race and class. This limited Bioware some what in the cinematic and personal nature of the story and forced them exclude voice acting for your main character. In Dragon Age II they took away the choices of origin and race, which allows them to voice act the main character and make the story more personal to the main character, but limiting options and replay value somewhat. I have heard people give Bioware allot of flack over this choice, but then again many of people love it. Many developers seem to struggle with who to try to please, the niche audience or the broader audience. If you can get both the profit can be great, and the deciding factor is usually what will bring in the most money. Some try to hard to please everyone and others make a game for a much smaller group. The hardcore RPG fans or the causal RPG fans. I think allot of them can't find a balance and the game suffers. Atlus is an example of a developer/publisher that targets a very specific JRPG audience, makes limit runs of their game, and still is pretty successful. Bioware and Bethesda would be an example of a developer that is going for the broader audience with their games, and are blending in action and shooter elements with great monetary success.
What many of them are doing is streamlining games, in my opinion, too much. For example Final Fantasy XIII. No towns. No mp. No exp. No world map. Linear game play and linear character progression. Exploration and customization are being replaced with cinematics and fast paced game play. Old RPGs flowed at a slow pace like a novel and contained lots of strategic elements much like the pen and paper games they derived from. The new games move at a much faster pace now and are losing much of their RPGness. I am not saying all new games are bad, but I believe the day of games like the AD&D Gold Box, Might and Magic, and Bauldur's Gate games I love are an endangered species. The Final Fantasy series I once loved is pretty much dead, to be replaced with MMOs and On The Rails RPGs.
On the subject of JRPGs, they have changed with the rest of the Japanese media. The anime and manga are all high school panty shots and fetish anime, and the games are reflective of that. Now you haves games like the Atelier series and Hyperdimension Neptunia that thrive on girly outfits and showing girls bottoms. The Japanese obsession with dating sims are also spilling in. Not all RPGs have fallen prey to Moe harem theme, but it is more common.
Well that's my rant. Actually I still find quite a few RPGs I enjoy on the handheld systems, but most of the big budget ones on the home console are lacking. A few I do enjoy are Lost Odyssey, Demon Souls, and Neir. I been wanting to play The Witcher, but have not got around to it. Hoping Dungeon Siege 3 is good. Elder Scrolls V will hopefully be out at the end of the year. I am going to pick up Final Fantasy 4 Complete on the PSP.
AND TAG YOUR DAMN POSTS! lol
This Steam game requires multiple product keys. When the game asks for one, you can press shift+tab to close this message that is totally boning your screenshots to hell, and categories would be awesome too. Otherwise, an amazing article!
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I actually liked the overall atmosphere of this particular game. Pretty much everything about the game in single player awesome except for the parts where you actually fight the drones. Goddamn Alma still creeps me out. lol