Linearity in RPGs - An Exploration

DualShockers writes: "Perhaps one of the most fortunate (or unfortunate, as the case may be) realities about our lives is the fact that we travel in a linear direction through time. Our lives have a beginning and a finite point; there is no changing that. We don't have a Delorean we can charge up and race off into a different time period to influence our past and change the future (at least, not yet, right?). It's with this in mind, it seems, that our favorite books and movies define themselves - one linear motion, each having a start and finish, regardless of their genre or plot."

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iiprotocolii4235d ago

A very well written piece, in my opinion. One of the reasons I am so in love with JRPGs is because of how the story, although at slow paces sometimes, unfold like those in books. I've always loved the genre because of its ability to tell a story - even if linear.

Because the genre of Western RPGs are becoming extremely popular, some people tend to want to take elements of it, which is already embedded in their subconscious, and apply it to other titles like JRPGs. Although the overall core of how JRPGs haven't changed in the last two decades, I feel that is what has drawn most of us to them. Sure it is a game; but it is a game specifically designed to instill emotional values at given moments; where non-linear games usually deprive us of that very umph because of the non-linear approach of being able to control your fate. This adds an element of surprise.

I enjoy both genres immensely. But what I love about linear games is the fact that your destiny has already been chosen; your job is to unveil that destiny through the process of progress. And with it, you're pretty much surprised, saddened, angered, and happy as if it is a part of our very lives that seems to be unfolding before our eyes.

Good read.

Ravage274235d ago (Edited 4235d ago )

but i thought the main problem is with the majority of maps being basically 1 straight tunnel with little deviation? There's no way anyone can spin that into a good thing. That and the lack of towns. Visiting/exploring towns is one of my favorite gaming past-time and SE just gave me a HUGE reason not to buy their game...sigh~

No doubt it is a very well written piece and i enjoyed reading it. I also happen to agree with the writer, i really hate people who tries to turn games into something it was never meant to be. WRPG and JRPG can exchange gameplay ideas every now and then, but at the end of the day, the best games will be the ones that stick with what defines their respective genres. Trying to please everyone tends to have the opposite effect, so why not focus on pleasing the fanbase?

Bigpappy4235d ago

It might work in some game, but it is not better. The JRPGs are giving you no choices in the game-play whatsoever. you can't even walk on your own grass. You just follow the trail and hit the magic buttons to fight when the trail forces you into one. WRPGs, of which the King is still Morrowind, allow the player to not only enjoy an engrossing story, but to explore the big world, go where you want when you want, kill who you feel to kill and spear who ever you wish. Linearity worked for me until I was given the freedom to make choices. Now I fine linearity childish. I tried to play a few on the 360 and can not even complete the demo's.

Redempteur4235d ago

GREAT Article i dunno but this sis exactly how i feel these days when some people try to downplay FF13 for linearity .

I personnaly ( whatever game ) enjoy the story many Haveto tell

*/ still getting FF13 day one

Baka-akaB4234d ago (Edited 4234d ago )

Morrowind engrossing story ? enough already Bigpappy ... we knows you might not enjoy Jrpgs and you don't have to at all . But let's not exagerate .

Most of the good stuff in bethesda game , story wise , are contained within books found on library shelves , in the game .

Like the whole backstory of the world , and it's countries and races . It actually rocks , but isnt even made part of the game .

So far the best attempt at actual stories mixed with freedom came from bioware/black isle and a few rare stuff like the witcher .

To each their own but i didnt find appeal , in say Oblivion , the idea of being free to choose to explore or not "random cave XX filled with monster XX" for almost no reason . I have mmo for that , and they have a good reason for it , you do it in multiplayer , and they lately actually try to add some story meat on top of those .

At last , you guys too often assume that every jrpg leaves you no choices ... quite a few of them can actually feature choices leading to multiple possible endings , but obviously within the limit of the story and choices made .

And this isnt the first time i see you trying to equate "WRPG with maturity" ... wich is pretty funny . Your taste outgrew jrpgs fine , but hardly anything to do with maturity .

There is hardly anything mature with cheap sex talk and cutscenes within the current bioware games (as awesome as they are otherwise)... it's the common and lowest denominator for teens . It's the easy way out , instead of actually writing romances , with choices or not , as done by quite a few other games in both wrpg and jrpg genres ...

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Tomarcus4235d ago

I always found Western RPGs to be like those Goosebumps books that you picked from choices and read that way. My main draw to a game is a linear storyline. I feel that making a game too open (GTA, Fallout, Prototype, etc) causes me to lose focus and then the game sits on my shelf (all three of those games do). Well written.

Chadness4235d ago

Exactly. This is why - and I freely admit this - I never completed the main story in Oblivion. I only have a vague idea what it's about. Yet, I really enjoyed the game. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing, but man, focus on the main story is next to zero in that title. I enjoyed doing the side quests and the guild quests and all, but never once did I get through the entire main story because it was just so unfocused.

taz80804235d ago

SOmetimes having too large of a sandbox is apronlem and just causes you to get sidetracked and ignore the main story. Linearity can be good to keep gamers focused.

Ravage274235d ago

i didn't complete in this gen. I was expecting to sink in 100+ hours but instead, got bored after 20+ hours. idk about you guys, but the world lacks soul,is maddeningly generic,combat is clunky, and the main story has zero appeal. I knew i had enough after entering Oblivion for the first time in Kavitch.

kraze074235d ago

I've clocked in over 300 hours on Oblivion. The game could've been a bit heavier on the fantasy, but I still loved it.

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JoelT4235d ago

I feel that those who are currently nitpicking FF XIII recently for being too linear are spoiled by all of the WRPG's. Sometimes it's better to have a set path or narrative. After all gaming is about going through an experience you normally wouldn't have the chance to. It's nice to just escape from time to time and go on a wild ride.

IG_DARKSA1NT4235d ago

I totally agree, linear can be better just because you have a set objective and not just moving around the maps trying to find your way.

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