RPG Analysis

Posted on Mar 24th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (Fleach)
Posted under Review, Firewatch, Indie, First Person, Walking Simulator, Character, Narrative, Games, PC

Many modern, first person adventure games are labelled as "walking simulators," particularly the ones with a narrative focus. This term refers to a game in which players walk throughout the in-game environment without doing much else like engaging in combat or finding collectibles. It's a label that, while superficially accurate, is often applied to a game because players can't decipher much more beyond the surface characters or stories. However, more often than not that couldn't be further from the truth of what these games offer. Take, for example, Dear Esther; it features the final fleeting thoughts of its narrator as his life fades away. It's true that the gameplay only involves walking from one set piece to the next, but what makes the game substantial is the emotions and memories the narrator presents. The walking simulator is the most effective at allowing players to really get into the head of a game's character.

Firewatch, the first game from Campo Santo, is the latest inclusion in the walking simulator category. The fact is that this game offers much depth of character, narrative interactivity, and even some role-playing which can only be achieved by utilizing this unconventional and divisive genre.


Continue reading Firewatch: Not Just a Walking Simulator

Posted on Feb 25th 2013 at 01:20:07 PM by (Fleach)
Posted under RPG, Silent Protagonist, Speech, Dialogue, Conversation, Character, Story

A hero will always have something to say, but not every hero has a voice. Once utilized simply due to technical limitations in video game development the silent protagonist has come a long way. The strong, silent type used to prevail in early video games and has set the standard of how relationships between the player character and supporting cast members are presented. How the speechless explorer is handled has a significant effect on the game as a whole.

There are two principle versions of the silent protagonist: the mute and the secretive. The first case presents a player character whose dialogue is neither displayed nor implied. The descendent of Erdrick in Dragon Warrior is an exemplary mute hero. These protagonists react to the world and those who inhabit it, and ultimately enable the player to become immersed in the character and story. The benefit of this is that the player can form his or her own thoughts and emotions concerning in-game events which makes the experience feel less scripted. However, if handled too lightly the mute adventurer can be perceived as nothing more than an errand boy. This usually comes about when the player must complete tasks assigned by supporting characters that repeated fail to achieve any seemingly significant plot development.

A secretive protagonist is in many ways a solution to the problems that arise from a completely mute hero. Here, the player character's lines are implied or referenced by the supporting roles. Link is one of these protagonists in that even though he does not technically have any lines of dialogue the character with which he is conversing will react as though he had just said something. Similarly when the secretive character is supposed to speak the game will prompt the player with a Yes or No question. Using this type of protagonist allows for strong bonds to form between the player and the hero which in turn allows him or her to become more real and relatable. This scene from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time displays the traits of a successfully executed secretive protagonist.

I know Zelda isn't an RPG, but this scene gets the point across.

Successfully utilizing a silent hero allows the character to be infused with courage, honour, steadfastness by the player. The character that keeps calm when thrown into the fray of battle, clear and conscious while traversing a dungeon is more often than not an adventure with no real lines of dialogue.

The silent protagonist works to varying degrees, but what this sort of character proves is that a person's actions speak volumes. Of course these voyagers are burdened with immense responsibility. This is why the silent protagonist fits so nicely in the Adventure genre, especially in the RPG. The player learns that when faced with opposition what he or she does is equally important as what can be said. We can also gather that the nature of responsibility itself is often something which we would rather avoid, but by approaching the situation head on with determination and a clear mind success is never out of reach. Despite not being able to talk the quiet hero has a lot to say.

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Role Playing games are my favourite genre of the gaming library. I feel it is appropriate to take a look at the games that have touched me in my time as a gamer and collector and share them with the community. Feel free to discuss your thoughts, ideas, and challenge my opinions. The conversation is welcomed.
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