Man, the typical RPG player's a real pansy nowadays, aren't they?
October 24, 2007

Yeah, I know, this is going to make it look like I was middle-aged when Bard's Tale and Wizardry came out (DAMN YOU EMP!!!!!), but it's gotta be said. It just seems way too many people have no desire to be challenged by RPGs anymore.

I've been playing FF XII for some time. Basically, I do the main quest completely honest and use guides for one thing and one thing only: to make sure I don't miss out on optional stuff. I don't use them to be told HOW to beat Zodiark or Yiazmat, but I do use them so I don't fail to get the opportunity to fight them. Pretty much the only things I want them for is to make sure I don't miss all the marks, espers and/or rare game that gives trophies. And with a game this big, I have no desire to beat it, realize I didn't find a handful of cool things and have to start from scratch just to get them.

Yesterday, I had some free time and went to the GameFaqs message board for the game just to see what kind of talk people were having about it. It was a mortifying experience. Let's look at a couple of gems:

1. A thread was started where one guy was questioning the order Split Infinity had players doing certain optional things in his guide (mainly how early he said players could go after the White Mousse mark). I got the idea from reading the posts there that a percentage of players get the game and follow a FAQ word for word in how they play it. What's the fun of playing a game if you're just going to follow a guide to the letter instead of, I don't know, devising your own strategies to get past tough encounters and using your own ability to make decisions to determine where you go and when you fight tough battles?

2. There's a thread concerning your least favorite place in the game. The overwhelming pick is the Great Crystal, with the main reason being that it's a huge, confusing dungeon with no map and there's no save crystal right before certain huge encounters. What kind of pussyshit reason is that? It's absolutely sad that players are so lame now that they NEED to save at nearly anytime and need to have their hands held to get through any dungeon.

So what did I learn about a number of RPG players?

1. They'd rather completely rely on a guide instead of actually trying to beat a game on their own.

2. They are too lazy to make their own maps, prefering to complain whenever the game doesn't hand them a picture-perfect one.

3. They're mortified when they don't get the opportunity to save immediately before fighting any sort of tough battle. Because, god forbid they'd actually get beat and lose 30 minutes of exploration/fighting/etc.

I shudder to think about what these guys would do if they were forced to play a true old-school game where you were expected to draw maps and could only save in a tiny handful of specific spots. While I love how RPGs have become more commonplace due to being more accessible to the masses, the flaw is that they've become easier over time, so whenever something remotely challenging gets put into the game, people act like it's the most sadistic thing ever created.

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honestgamer honestgamer - October 24, 2007 (11:54 AM)
Those people posting on the forums are the reason RPGs continue to grow easier with each release. Outside of the Shin Megami Tensei games, is there even an RPG franchise left that routinely kick's the player's butt? I don't think there is.
overdrive overdrive - October 24, 2007 (01:01 PM)
Tell me about it. So far in FF XII, the most challenging part of the game's been going through the Zertinan Caverns, where the enemies are head-and-shoulders above similarly-leveled monsters I've encountered. Mainly because this is an optional area you NEVER have to visit. There are Gorgochimeras, which are also in the Sochen Cave Palace (storyline-dungeon I'm up to). They utterly pale in comparison to the Skulwyrms, Scythe Mantises, Archaeoaevises and other enemies that are the same level, but not in storyline dungeons (at least not so far).

And that's what games have come to in this genre. Everything storyline-related is simple, while the only real challenges are in clearing optional dungeons and bosses — which detracts from the storyline because these places tend to have nothing to do with the plot. Right now, I can't tell you much about this game's plot (beyond good heroes vs. evil empire) because I'd rather do any optional stuff I can because that's actually fun and makes me think on how to proceed.

And those people on the message boards take all the challenge out of that by looking for any shortcut possible. I'd bet I'd kill anything in that game with no trouble if I had someone tell me the best gambits and equipment for every single fight (and the easiest way to obtain any tricky equipment you need to sell goods to the bazaar to) and I followed their advice blindly without thinking about anything on my own.

Besides SMT, it is hard to think of an actual current-age challenging RPG. That is, one that's challenging in the main quest — not the postgame optional dungeons or the sidequests. If there is one, I haven't played it, at least. DQ VIII had a few moments, but wasn't THAT difficult. Probably why I spend so much of my time with the retro games.....
EmP EmP - October 24, 2007 (01:21 PM)
The most challanging thing about FFXII for me was trying to stay awake.

That game is as awful as OD is old.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - October 24, 2007 (01:29 PM)
The problem with RPG players these days is they buy the game for the story instead of the actual gameplay. I wish these people would just read books and stop ruining this genre.
honestgamer honestgamer - October 24, 2007 (01:38 PM)
I've never agreed with you more, spaceworlder.
Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - October 24, 2007 (02:15 PM)
Wait, how old are you, OD?
Halon Halon - October 26, 2007 (10:56 AM)
Don't listen to EmP he's like 48 years old.
zanzard zanzard - October 27, 2007 (07:59 PM)
Hey EMP.

Being myself a retro gamer, I agree with you about RPG games being too easy nowadays, being more concerned with storytelling than with challenge.

I kinda miss rpg games where grinding levels and gaining gold (or whatever currency) were important stuff. Because, to me, the greatest thrill in any RPG is when I buy a new weapon and am dying to use it in battle!
If I don't need a new weapon to beat the monsters, then the thrill, like BB King once pointed out, is gone.

sashanan sashanan - November 10, 2007 (08:22 AM)
Hehe...many players shy away from the likes of Etrian Odyssey as being "too old school" even though it's a shadow of what old school really was about - harsh, unforgiving, designed to defeat the player, and the thrill was in beating it nonetheless.

I've been playing Mordor: Depths of Dejenol on PC for some time, a Roguelike that is one step ahead in graphics (and thus still pretty bare bones), but has all the challenge you'd expect. Dead characters CAN be recovered from the dungeon, but unless you make new characters to do it with, an amount of time passes until they're found and carried to the surface, and they'll age. As age and deaths stack, each resurrection brings the risk of very serious penalties to your stats.

I've already ruined one party of four by accidentally teleporting them into a rock wall - a simple miscalculation on my part - and needed another 30 hours to build up a SECOND party strong enough to pull them out of the rock. After that, all of them got an automatic stat penalty for having been rocked in the first place, and became useless so that I could basically only salvage their equipment.

I laugh at losing 30-60 minutes of progress in a Final Fantasy because there wasn't a save point where you expected one. Try 30-40 hours invested in that first party.

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