Bioware: “JRPGs are Stagnant”


Leading western RPG developer Bioware has criticised Japanese-style RPGs for a “lack of evolution,” and excessively linear stories.

Bioware co-founder Greg Zeschuk lambastes JRPGs for a lack of innovation in a recent interview:

“The fall of the JRPG in large part is due to a lack of evolution, a lack of progression. They kept delivering the same thing over and over. They make the dressing better, they look prettier, but it’s still the same experience.

My favorite thing, it’s funny when you still see it, but the joke of some of the dialogue systems where it asks, ‘do you wanna do this or this,’ and you say no. ‘Do you wanna do this or this?’ No. ‘Do you wanna do this or this?’ No. Lemme think — you want me to say ‘yes.’ And that, unfortunately, really characterized the JRPG.”

Ironic words indeed, coming from a company which itself has yet to deliver any significant innovations since its magnum opus Baldur’s Gate series, released in 1998…

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  • Lol 😀 Evolve 😀
    Bioware RPG are all same .
    Their nonlinearity is not that great.
    And what is bad about linear games anyway?:D
    And bioware games are famous just because of biggest hype i ever saw .
    Uber cool commercials etc.

  • Anonymous says:

    In Mass Effect you have control over whether major characters live or die, you can choose to help people in a variety of ways, selfishly, selflessly, extort them for money, steal from them, or just flat out kill them alot of the time. you can beat someone up or talk him down.

    Even the final boss of ME1, you can talk him into suicide, avoiding the battle with him. In ME2 the final mission you enter into with 12 party members that you’ve gotten to know throughout the game, fully fleshed out characters that have as much personality and life as any major character in any rpg, some of them were even party members of the first game, but at the final mission, the suicide mission, you’re making big decisions that can lead to your entire group making it out alive, or any number of them dieing permanent story deaths in any number of ways.

    it’s mindboggling how many outcomes the finale can have and how meticulous the calculations were in making something like that WORK from a programming level. you can even get the main character killed and still get a full fledged ending to the game based on your decisions, just with your character from the first 2 games in a coffin. Obviously this is a playthrough that you can’t carry over, but in a playthrough where you live you can still carry it over even if you only have 2 living squadmates out of the 12. there’s no forcing you down a path. it’s a real revolution of rpg story telling.

    Even big missions give you choices that will effect entire races. in the first game you can cause the genocide of an entire species, in the second game you have the choice to instigate war between two races (the quarians and geth) or influence a peaceful outcome. decisions like these are why people are so excited to see how it plays out in the third game. there’s alot of carryovers from the first game into the second that just prove what kind of impact your decisions can have even on people you haven’t met.

    depending on how you ended the first game humanity is either a part of galactic politics or has dominated them in something that other races see as fascism. You can negotiate over the lives of hostages or kill the terrorist leader outright, each with it’s own set of ramifications and each outcome is fully fledged with carryover into the next game.

    so much of what makes MASS EFFECT such a revolution in the rpg world is that it really makes you feel a part of the game. It turns story and cutscenes into a gameplay mechanic that ties every element of the game design together, instead of the traditional japanese format of 3 modes “combat, exploration, cutscene”. Most japanese games these days are getting to the point where i’d rather they just make a dvd video insert like the street fighter 4 animes and just let me play the gameplay portions end on end and watch the movie portions end on end.

    it’s getting to the point where switching between the two is just….archaic. that was the biggest problem with mgs4 and it’s the biggest problem with most japanese games in general. (thank god for demon’s souls) I can’t even stand to play yakuza because the stark contrast in “mode switching” is just so shattering. I don’t want to have to play the game to find the next cutscene fmv and i don’t want to be taken out of the cutscene fmv into a world where suddenly you are suddenly fighting 50 guys and walking arround a shitty overworld for an hour between scenes. In mass effect every decision you make changes the flow of the game, makes an impact on how everything plays out, frequently changing the nature and flow of upcoming battles. That is an evolution of the rpg. fucking do your research before you trash talk mister Artefact guy.

  • Bronxdragon says:

    They have no right to say that when their games follow the same pattern too……why can’t they just stfu stop bagging on other genres of games(also the stupid rival shit that Ninetendo has with like everyone) AND MAKE A DECENT FUCKING GAME!(this goes out to all game companys)

  • This must be why people are JRPGs are doing so much better than WRPGs–oh wait. The only worthwhile rpg to come out o Japan (sort of mainstream) is Demon’s Souls.

    And the pot shot at the ending is moronic to say the least. At least Bioware continually improves on the non-linearity of their games and actually allows you to do the actions IN the game, instead of getting to watch the action. Oooh man, those bioware guys are smart, it’s a wonder how japanese developers are gonna catch up (and they won’t, they’ll continue to churn out drab cg movie crap pieces like FFXIII).

  • anyone that said :
    -linear story is worse than non linear ;
    -not making choice/ or making choice but ended up in the same direction is worse than multiple fucking choice;
    -solid story is worse than multiple choice of event that lead us to somekind of parallel event and different ending ;

    should know that door is swing both way.
    What if i like everything you wrpg fanboy dislike?
    So that makes me wrong huh??
    Who cared about what bioware said, they can go kiss my ass.

  • Bioware’s games have a tendency to suck too.

    Games like Jade Empire, Mass Effect, and recently Dragon Age all have horrible gameplay. That and you level up so that you can do nothing because all of the enemies are dead and don’t respawn, especially crippling Mass Effect’s gameplay. Oh but I guess the fun of that game was driving around barren planets looking for that one fort and a satellite.

    Bioware’s games lack in gameplay. All they have to offer are dialogue choices.

  • Ironic that an article about stagnation in JRPGs has turned stagnant itself.

    All that needs to be said, really, is that people have different opinions. If you enjoyed a game, great; there’s no need to insist it’s the best of it’s kind – I always thought people that did that were simply insecure in their fandom, unable to deal with the concept that they aren’t automatically right.

  • The best example of the above is Golden Sun, even if you say Yes or No you are going down the road they, the Dungeon Master, wants you to go. Heck most of the time they forgot what you chose right after they asked. It doesn’t help that they do this almost every 3-6 boxes of dialogue.

    The only annoying thing in an otherwise awesome game.

  • Suikoden did that a lot with the “Do you want to do this or this?” thing repeating. I remember trying not to take the bright shield rune knowing what would happen, but noooo the game forced me to take it >.>

  • “coming from a company which itself has yet to deliver any significant innovations since its magnum opus Baldurâ��s Gate series, released in 1998â�¦”

    U sure know everything about rpg’s :DD

  • Unlimitedbladeworks says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Bioware on this one. The last jrpg I played was Tales of Vesperia, which was fun not much different from previous Tales games. Square Enix is just as guilty, slight changes to mechanics but extremely linear stories. Games like Dragon Age let me decide what happens in the story and if I’m a hero or a villian. Jrpgs need to do more of that if they want to stay competitive in America.

  • Since when has a JRPG shown any “innovation” at all? Dragon Age: Origins alone is enough to have most JRPG’s running for their money, just in the gameplay and story department.

    Honestly. Just admit it already. -_-

  • “Ironic words indeed, coming from a company which itself has yet to deliver any significant innovations since its magnum opus Baldur’s Gate series, released in 1998…”

    I guess living under a rock is a good source of information in itself, considering that Bioware is the “Leading western RPG developer”.

  • actully you all guys are wrong

    cause in Artefact’s all-seeing eyes and his insightful point of view, it indeed is true that nothing really evolved no matter jrpg or wrpg,
    all you do is just watching the screen and push the buttons in your hands fucking hard .

    really stagnant ,lack of innovation

    anyone saying a word about wrpg more innovative than jrpg is just xxxx

  • I still enjoy both genres; however, I don’t really understand all the hate when someone outside of Japan states there’s something wrong with an aspect of the Japanese gaming industry. Hideo Kojima himself expressed disappointment in how stagnant the market is in japan and nobody made a huge fuss about that.

    I mean sure he’s not singling out RPGs in specific, but rather talking about the industry as a whole which is quite a bit worse.

  • jrpg = you move the main character around but have no input into the story

    wrpg = you move the main character around and have different dialouge options that ultimately have very little effect on the story

    either way you still play according to how the developers designed the game..

    and why no mention of one of the all-time best wrpg series, bards tale, and i dont mean that lame cockney one by lion’s head (i think it was them)

  • The taste is like the ass: divided. I for one agree with Greg. But hey, I guess if you find a winning concept then you stick to it? Personally I think the JRPG-scene is in need of some change. Each to their own, I guess.

  • Gotta say I agree with Bioware there but I would say most of the Japanese game industry has that problem right now (most not all). I’m know everyone has a preference but its shocking to see other developers other then those from Japan doing so well, and Japan releasing well the same old crap with not much improvement.

  • Sometimes what’s needed isn’t innovation, but improvement. If something works, and people like it, I don’t think you need a drastic change. I’m not against people that make something new, though I do have a problem with people that cast a stone, while living in a glass house.

  • I had hoped when Mistwalker was forming that we would see some real innovation to JRPG styles. But it turns out they just made some jrpgs for their new Western company through Microsoft. Lost Odyysey fun, Blue Dragon sucked. Maybe they’ll make something good next time around….

    I’ll hold back any criticsim to bioware until after I play Mass Effect 2. I can say Dragon Age felt like Mass Effect. Switch the fantasy with Sci-FI, hire some VAs with english accents, replace spectres with grey wardens, replace Kaiden with Allistair, and you have Dragon Age. The same can be done with Kotor to ME(Jedi=Specter). Now you can rise to the defense and say “The combat mechanics changed” or “the dialogue systems evoled and became more fleshed out”, but it’s still the same game with a new costume.

    Shall we proceed to Bethseda? Since Fallout and Arena and Daggerfall, we’ve seen the same idea. Is Fallout 3 not Oblivion with stylistic changes and some gameplay differences? Sure is. I may be simplyfying it, and I do appreciate all the subtle additions to fallout to immerse you in the world, it is still oblvion in the same way Dragonage is Mass Effect.

    The point, all popular commercial rpgs suffer from the same lack of innovation. Until their corporate masters decide to take a chance, we won’t see much in terms of “innovation”.

  • To generalize it here
    You see a dog:
    1) Kick the dog
    2) Pet the dog

    In JRPGS, no matter what, you could NEVER select the option to kick the dog cause the main character(who is usually a good guy) would never do that!!

    In WRPGS, why the hell not? You’re supposed to be role-playing as a character in the game and you can damn well kick whoever you please

    So yeah.. JRPGS should be renamed to something less misleading. like Japanese Interactive Movies!!

  • I've been watching, and frankly I haven't seen a lot of 'radical' in damn near every form of electronic gaming in 10 years.
    I'm a wargamer, and it's a damned small niche. How small, chances are if I mention Matrix Games, you respond with 'who?' Yet they are the EA of wargaming. And in all of wargaming, I've really only seen one radical fresh approach in 'design' in the entire wargaming hobby. That, and I have only seen a few (I don't run out of fingers counting), wargames released to the hand held market.
    Game makers have all largely gotten into their own collective ruts.
    The only thing to happen in 10 years, is the machinery has become more powerful, and the graphics more pretty.
    But Bioware has hardly been a beacon of change or a decent example.
    GAMING is stagnant.

  • The whole “multiple paths” gimmick is stupid anyway. It punishes the player for doing well; the further you get in the game, the more potentially interesting story points are closed off to you.

    Sure, I could see them all by replaying the game 5 or 6 times, but why the hell would I bother? It’s not like there aren’t other good games out there I could be playing.

    Bottom line: One well-realized story is better than five half-assed ones.

    • Then read a book and do not play role-playing games. Know the difference idiot.

      Okey here’s the deal why I agree with Bioware, if you are role-playing in a game(specially table top games) you cannot expect the story to be good or bad, it all depends on how you immerse yourself “in”, how you interact “with” the story in hand. You are role-playing in a game because you want to know how can “your” presence effect the story.

      If you are roleplaying in a game you are playing your story. You are roleplaying how you want the story to flow. If you are just following a linear story then you are “NOT” roleplaying but you are reading a book. Yes you are playing but you are still just reading it.


      It is better that I am playing in a role-playing game that has a bad ending, than playing in happy ville in where deep in my heart, I know that the developers, creator or the DM half-assed me to a show and tell session.

      Multiple choices, multiple endings, multiple paths is what makes a RPG interesting. Sure it cannot be perfect but it is a start.

  • I think mr. Greg Zeschuk misses an important point.
    While WRPGs give you the freedom to created and change you character in sometimes unbelievable amounts of aspects and are able to tell epic stories they will thus this never be able to give a character the same feeling a JRPGs does, in a JRPG you may struggle, feel sympathy, feel sad, share happiness and may cry over the death of a char in a way you will never be able to do in a WRPG.
    If you didn’t play JRPGs you wouldn’t be able to understand, but the emotions created by the much deeper developed backgrounds of the chars is so important: Aeris death in FFVII, Zidane and Garnets reunion in FFIX, the farewell of Auron and Tidus in FFX, KOS-MOS battle with T-elos (Xenosaga), Selvarias sacrifice in Valkyria Chronicles and many other.
    I have never seen or heard of a WRPG that would make a player remember and treasure a scene this much.

  • I just say that JAPS and their FFs are FAGS!!!!
    Except for the inspirational EarthBound, not the gameplay that special but the themes (a contemporary world). Earthbound inspires today’s games such as Left 4 Dead (four protagonist, one of them are girl), Fallout 3 (exploring RPG in a post-apocalyptic fashion), and Persona (set in contemporary Japan). Too bad Earthbound and Mother 3 practically massacred by the far worst FF, in which FF has horrible dialogue (ff7), and apparently Squeenix uses hypnosis to attract their peoples.

    SO, with the exception of EarthBound and Persona, JRPGs are FOR FAGS!!!!

  • Pfft. That’s the pot calling the kettle black.

    Most JRPGs that are worth playing have decent if not great stories. Most WRPGs I’ve seen are more or less one dude, running around, doing nothing (With optional good/evil [No middle ground] system!)in particular to a plot that, thanks to the ‘totally open world’ is usually enough to make some of the most cliche fan fictions look like works of intelligent planning.

    Mind you, I’m not saying that JRPGs are a creative wonderland, I’m just saying I’d rather play a game with interesting characters and story-lines than an open world without any half decent plot and a party that consists of a blank canvas supposed to represent ‘me’, and will in all likelihood be a grizzled male without a lick of hair on his head.

    • Yes because going to an elven village to slay a werewolf that is actually also a hot dryad like female who was cursed by an angry elf whose daughter was gangraped by humans is cliched. Oh and now you have to choose to either end the curse and kill the elf who sends you on the quest or side with him and let it continue.

      Seriously just because you don’t play these games don’t talk like you understand them or can even have an educated opinion on them.

    • Yeah, I also play RPGs for the narrative, the characters. Narrative is usually better when there’s only one path to follow (or at best 2-3 branches like in Megaten games etc.). It’s like novels, or movies, for that matter. And characters… Well, if I have to choose what the main character does, I feel rather disconnected from the narrative. Funny. I LIKE linearity in games! 😀
      I totally understand what he means about choices which only allow you to say yes, though. They don’t make sense, might as well let the main character say yes automatically and get rid of the choice.

      • You then like reading books instead of “role”playing then.

        Just look at it. RPG’s means “roleplaying” games. If you do not have a “role” to play then you are just an observer, watching these heroes do “their” job on saving the world. You are not part of it because you are just watching them do the heroics while you are given the duty of being the party’s official bell boy and guide, helping them arrange their stats, items, spell and levels so that they can show you what they will do next.

        Maybe you are not suited for true RPG, hell I do not know if you like the dramatics in life or played table top RPG. But calling a linear story for you to watch as a great and uber RPG is plain wrong.

  • “Ironic words indeed, coming from a company which itself has yet to deliver any significant innovations since its magnum opus Baldur’s Gate series, released in 1998…”

    No innovation since Baldur’s Gate? I’m sorry, but that’s simply not true, although I love how you completely pass off your opinion as undisputed fact. Nicely done.

    I love how everyone completely missed the point of what they were trying to accomplish with the original Neverwinter Nights, which was, to translate the table top DND experience as best as they were able to the PC. Given the unprecedented level of control they gave you over crafting your own RPG experience through module creation, I think they succeeded admirably. And the idea of allowing the Dungeon Master to participate invisibly in real-time offered further fine control over a campaign as your friends played through it. I spent countless hours just messing with the 2DA files, and creating my own spells and magical items, including a ring of transposition, which was great fun.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of gamers are blood sucking consumers, so most of them approached the game from the built-in campaign perspective. Durp.

    Besides Bethseda’s Elder Scroll series, I can’t think of any other RPG which offered such an incredible amount of replayability.

  • I think he (Greg Zeschuk) just states the obvious. There will always be a day that ideas will be exhausted and there will be no more innovation just like what we see in anime. Actually, what he said is the same for all gaming platforms. What has changed in Platforming, FPS, RTS, RPGs, Racing, Simulation, etc? Instead of stating the obvious why don’t he just make an innovation at RPGs. Do it with action and not on empty and useless words. But something bothers me, what if a supposedly “RPG” game was so innovated that it can’t be called as an RPG? What does make an RPG? Why is a game called an RPG if it hasn’t have any similarities to it’s predecessors?

  • I am only going to agree on the part about what the person that said “They kept delivering the same thing over and over”, which the Japanese do sometimes make same old storyline where the Hero must save the world from an over powered godly evil being.

    I am going to counter that by saying Bioware does the samething showing there concept of a Hero must make a choice to do good or evil which also effects your relationship with your party members its always ways in there games.

  • I still love Morrowind, with the right mods its still the best RPG I’ve played. Oblivion, while a pale shadow of its predecessor, is still quite fun to play. After the Elder Scrolls games D20 systems feel really stifling, especially when it comes to character creation and fights.
    The ability to mod WRPGs is why I prefer them to console JRPGs. You can change the world to suit you.

  • Regardless of who is stating it, it’s quite true that gameplay wise, there’s not much of a core difference between Final Fantasy 1 and Final Fantasy 13.

    I was hoping that Square would have gone further with the way they made Final Fantasy 12, but sadly they went back to basics.

    Most likely they, like every other company, is trying to cater to a bigger croud and thus dumbs elements of the game down.

  • Dragon Age Origins is a 2009 title that is far more evolved than the average JRPG. Fallout 3 has more open ended events taking place, especially with the added downloadable content. S.T.A.L.K.E.R., a less recent game, yet truly worthy title, has more than one trick up its sleeve (though isn’t the work of Bioware). Mass Effect 1, 2 and Knight’s of the Old Republic are quite interesting to mention as well.

  • “The fall of the JRPG in large part is due to a lack of evolution, a lack of progression. They kept delivering the same thing over and over. They make the dressing better, they look prettier, but it’s still the same experience.”

    Why do I sense so much envious coming from this guy? The fall of the JRPG??? Final fantasy 13 just sold over a million copies in a single day alone, in Japan ONLY.

    Anyway, what’s today JRPG developers guilty of are they always underestimated the western gamers: dumbing down the gameplay, censor/westernize certain part of the story/scenes, try too hard to make their JRPG appeal to western audience… Thus, today’s JRPGs lost the luster they got during the 90’s.

  • Um, the Bioware guy has a point. I think the author here has their head a bit too far up Japan’s ass… I fully understand that sankakucomplex is extremely opinionated, leaning towards paedophilia, and strongly pro Japan, but to defend the JRPG only by saying “Well Bioware sucks too” is just pure lame. At least throw a single title in the article to try and prove him wrong, other than call foul on a company which has been pushing itself constantly to provide as much flexibility in it’s games as possible. It has not simply made Baldur’s Gate… what’s Final Fantasy at now? XIII?

    • Truethat.
      “At least throw a single title in the article to try and prove him wrong” – look at the tags, I lold hard after seeing them. “Dragon Age” and “Final Fantasy”… Looks like this time, Mr.Artefact is all talk.

  • Gotta say I agree. Luckily, Final Fantasy Tactics didn’t do this, but then I played Final Fantasy X and I guess I just thought, “What the hell is this crap?”
    Persona 3 and 4 sort of did it, but it was at a respectable level for me. The journey through the game was very open.

    I have no problem with a game being “linear” as long as the story is good and it’s a fun experience (Earthbound, for example, which probably was helped by never taking itself seriously).

    Otherwise, yeah, I’ve nearly removed myself from playing JRPGs because of exactly this.

  • Rensei Bayushi says:

    I’ll be frank.

    First off, this article feels like another footnote in the long list of people talking up a storm on how one side of the RPG spectrum is better.

    As a player of both videogame and tabletop RPGs from both sides of the ocean, I do not believe either side is better than the other. Rather, I view them as two sides of the same coin; taking a cue from GNS theory, wRPGs are simulationist, whereas jRPGs are gamist. I think the primary reason certain jRPG franchises became such a hit is due to having a ‘pick up and play’ approach to the matter. Dragon Quest is one of the biggest examples of this.

    I don’t prefer one or the other (though I admit i’d like to see a little more variety in wRPG worlds), I just think that, not to sound cliche, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

  • This Article is 100% right. im so tired of the crappy cookie cutter JRPGs that never change. Alawys the same crap. always anime looking always aimed at 14 year olds.

    Bioware hasent released a innovative game since baldur’s gate? hahah someones butthurt about there preferred preferably.

  • If you want to include DA:O or other IPs from Bioware, you have to do the same for square enix.
    TWEWY was a completely different JRPG than any of the final fantasies. Square enix doesn’t equal final fantasy. In fact, since bioware criticized JRPGs as a whole, you have to consider games like Demons souls and the tales of series and compare them to each other.

    It seems that the largest thing in common between WRPG players and JRPG players is their level of rampant fanboyism…

  • I just played DA its nice Bioware is ok…

    but still Troika is/was better I’d say….

    nonetheless, torrents of BLOOOD!! DA does rock somewhat… but the secks could have been more pornographic

  • Get the Bioware team back together (before they get old and die or rusty – it has been 10 years already) and make more Baldur type RPGs or at least an easy to use editor for the isometric platform. Better 3D graphics while good cannot beat a good characterization or better yet customization of scripts or insertions of new regions, quests, maps and characters.

  • ‘failed to deliver any significant innovations’ since baldur’s gate? Thats bullshit. What about Mass Effect? And if we’re talking purely of number of choices in-game, then final fantasy doesn’t even compare to single one of bioware’s games. In my view though, its like apple’s and oranges, something to like in both.

  • I hate to say it but Bioware is kind of correct. A lot of things that are seen in respect for games being too linear (like FF13 for example) is just plain disrespect for the RPG community.

    Mass Effect did give you a lot more choices and exploration, had sex scenes in it, didn’t have turn base fighting, and even let you customize your very own character if you wanted to have one that way. However I have yet to see a JRPG to do this, unfortunately..

    And for those who thing Mass Effect 1 as too linear, let’s not forget the sequel is coming out soon too..

    • I very much agree. Also, Dragon Age is one of the most inspired RPGs I’ve played in ages.

      I really can’t blame Japanese companies though. So long as people are willing to throw money at ever weakening FF clones and eye candy, they have little need to innovate.

  • I dunno.. Persona 4’s pretty nice. It’s only because it’s a one-player thing that makes it seem stagnant.

    I mean even in WoW, basement dwellers can shout at each other.

    In Persona 4, “HELLZ YEAH. CHIE’S LEVELED UP!!!! GO…. me?”

    Of course it’s linear. There’s a beginning, and there’s an end.

    • having a beginning to a story and an end to a story isn’t what he means by linear. They mean that pretty much no matter what choices you make in a JRPG, nothing ever changes, none of your decisions matter in the long run because the game will end the way the designers wanted it to end. However, in many western RPGS, especially modern ones, characters change in look as well as behavior, your decisions shape the way other characters react to you, they effect the endings that you get, basically YOU are center stage in western rpgs while the story takes center stage. Every game has a beginning and an endings, but with JRPGS, no matter what you do, the way to that ending will be the same while in a lot of western rpgs, different people will describe the same game in different ways because they were able to take different paths.

  • Where did I say JRPGs aren’t derivative?

    The very fact that we have just seen Final Fantasy XIII demonstrates all originality has been squeezed out of the major titles. Square churns out FF games, Bioware churns out D&D games (and lately, D&D in space). Both do it very well, but this is not innovation as such.

    Personally I would say Persona has come closest to originality in recent years…

  • Umm, isn’t “goody two shoes, an ass or something in between” is pretty much the whole spectrum of human character? Is there something others than being completly bad, completly good or not completly bad, not completly good?

    Unless you’re also adding people who are vegetable. That’s all there is to characters.

  • I, for one, would like to see an RPG (from anywhere in the world) that doesn’t involve Ancient Evil Power Re-Emerges, Evil Empire Can Only Be Stopped By You And 3-5 Friends, or Massive Religion Is Actually a Front For Evil Organization.

    Those plots are wearing a bit thin.

    • I don’t think any one would play a game centered around a mediocre villain who is a pacifist and can be stopped by any body in the world. No we want to play the hero and we want to fight a worthy villain. This is true of every game, and nearly every action story out there.

    • Another gross oversimplification. At a very base level yes, it is a generic fantasy plot. But we have to look at the narrative of the plot before we make a judgement. What dialogue is used, the cinematics, the characters, the narration, locales, enemies, backstory. All of this done well make a good plot. Generic yes, but still good. And minor innovations can exist within a plot that is generic as a whole. I havent played Dragon Age, so I wont comment further, but review wise, the plot cant be bad to the point of tedium. And the ability of Bioware to take a reused plot and make it good is a mark of their mettle as a developer.

      • Dragon Age is the funniest game I’ve ever played. Nothing else comes close. It is so consistently awkward and stilted. I don’t know if it’s just a terrible game or if it’s some amazing parody of american RPG conventions, but it comes together brilliantly.

        I’m saying this to be ironic. For instance, there was a part in the game where the main character’s parents dramatically sacrafice their lives for him. At the peak of the scene the game rewards me with a “last of your line” trophy that pops up right over everything! CONGRATS YOU’RE AN ORPHAN! Who thinks this is a reasonable thing to do???


    • Thats what most video games with a story are. There’s always an evil power (or some variation) that the player must defeat (or join). Diablo, Final Fantasy, Fallout, Fable, Gears of War, Persona, Prince of Persia, Lost Odyssey, Chrono Trigger. These are all games from different countries and genres that have the same plot: defeat the bad guy.

      I wonder what games you’ve been playing that don’t share those same elements.

      • Planescape: Torment (You keep coming back to life when you die. Figure out what the hell is going on and see if you can cure yourself) and Devil Survivor (Don’t die. Fighting the big bads at the end is completely optional; you can say “No, fuck you” and go for a completely different path.)

    • And this is different from all the western/eastern RPGs in the last decade….exactly how?

      I somehow imagine playing a game where you are a middle-class office worker following a great hero kicking ass and taking pictures of it with a digital camera wouldn’t sell that many copies.

    • ChaosAngelZero says:

      Sad thing is, in the end Final Fantasy’s “big baddies” aren’t that much better, although of course the overexposure of character designs three or fours years before the game actually launches is quite effective.

      But yeah, a bad characterization would still be preferable to having no characterization at all.

  • according to credits, BIS was involved, but Bioware was the head/main studio behind it.
    really as far as the infinity engine days Bioware and BIS worked together a lot which is why the two studios got along so well over the years

  • by that argument, then jrpgs are far ahead of Bioware when it comes to art direction (who can’t seem to ever get their concept art into their games). S-E kicks Bioware’s ass!

    it doesn’t mean much to cherry pick a concept then claim that one concept defines the whole.
    something might be greater than the sum of its parts but a singular part never equals the entire sum.

    wrpgs have more dialogue choice, fine (though i could name jrpgs that dispute that, even versus Bioware’s “super innovative” Mass Effect dialogue). when was it decided then that dialogue choice equaled the jrpgs are inferior because THAT is Zeschuk’s conclusion.
    you use that one factor comparison to conclude an entire product.

    that makes far less sense than Arte’s “counter”

    • ChaosAngelZero says:

      Then again, we can always take into account the variety in game mechanics present in BioWare games, from those found in Knights of the Old Republic, to the first-person shooting in Mass Effect.

      That’s much more varied than SE’s all-encompassing “Command -> Attack”, if you ask me.

  • People who played Fallout 2 would kill you for making that comment.

    Fallout 3 was pretty enjoyable, but only until you remembered how good Fallout 2 was.
    F3 is essentially extremely shallow and dumbed down console version of Fallout.

  • I like RPGs from both sides of the world. There may not have been major innovations since Baldur’s Gate, but there was innovation nonetheless. Most JRPGs I pick up today in 2009 are not as fun as the ones I played in the late 90s. Blue Dragon is an exceptional example of a boring JRPG that is nowhere near as good as a late 90s RPG like Vagrant Story or Finaru Fantajii.

  • ChaosAngelZero says:

    You see, most people who got into JRPGs (particularly those that got into them with Final Fantasy VII) tend to associate weird or eccentric looks with personality, so essentially your speech will fall on deaf ears.

    So, in fact, the only thing developers like BioWare and Bethesda need in their games are characters with much more glitz and zazz… and maybe also try new argumentative settings besides strictly medieval, strictly sci-fi, the Star Wars franchise… you know, come up with something else, like Team Andromeda’s Panzer Dragoon universe, or Oddworld.

  • DA:O is pretty much overhyped shit.

    Basic premise made me cringe. Elfes, dwarfs and grasp…. dragons (which they call archdemon:/) Horrible rip off at Catolic Church.
    You really cannot make a more bland setup. After games like WITCHER or STALKER, you really expect more story-wise.

    They removed all stats, so you either go totally blind (and PRAY that devs really thought about double staff wielding dwarfs and balanced the game for them, or you’re forced to use walkthroughs).

    Dialog choices and branching is pretty much retarded, the whole time I’m thinking what to chose to predict what I can say next, instead of going with certain approach.

    The party emo-management was even worse. Now I cannot even play the game in direction I like because stupid, whiny _only_healer_in world_ will whine about it and quit. And if I play it her way, my tank will. Jesus.

    The tactics screen could be a lot of fun, if only they added option:
    -don’t kill your teammates with offensive spells.
    -(don’t run blindly into friendly AoE spells would be a welcome addnition, too)
    Even with halved friendly fire, a single fireball does more damage to my tank than entire engagement.

    I could rage and rage about DA:O for hours.

    • Grow up kid. In the real world people with morals won’t stick around if you kill innocents or do something totally against their beliefs. Dialog choices that you have to predict? You will never make it in the real world. You don’t get obvious right answers in real life but have to tailor your message to your audience. In DA you need to learn the personalities of each character to know what you can or can not say with them.

      There is the option to not hurt your team with spells! Heck you hit H key and they won’t run after enemies into spells. Wow did you play the game at all or you just that slow?

  • I wonder if he deliberately took the opportunity of FFXIII’s ‘bad’ review and ‘linearity’ and let out the stagnant comment.

    Like some people (ArcheR, and some others) said, JRPGs are ‘linear’ by design and not because of lack of creativity. However ‘stagnant’ it may be looked at, but it sets them apart from WRPGs, and thus, we, gamers have choices of RPG to play, which we should be thankful for (the variety). Now, imagine if every developer in the world parroted what Bioware is doing with their RPGs because they’re the most ‘dynamic’ one out there (or claiming to be, since they can say something is stagnant, they should know what ‘dynamic’ is), it won’t be Bioware who will tell that RPGs have gone stagnant; instead, it will be the players.

    Oh, and someone said before that FFXIII is the ‘best’ JRPG at the moment – this can’t be more wrong. It’s not the best. Most recent, yes; but not the best. Definitely not. >.>

  • ChaosAngelZero says:

    Actually, Arte’s commentary at the end kinda states that both are stagnant/copypasted to death.

    That’s to say, Greg Zeschuk pointed at JRPGs being the same tired thing, then Arte “counters” by affirming that the same could be said about BioWare’s own titles.

    The core of the comparison here seems to be the decision-making, so while BioWare might also be stagnant, they’re still far ahead of most of the JRPG specimens.

      • Then Bioware man is right.

        JRPG are a different narrative medium where non-linear stories are simply not intended.
        Agreed, but Bioware man states that this non-linearity is the cause of JRPGs not doing as well as they should. Whether JRPGs are linear because of a conscious design choice as you have said or just because, the fact is that they are linear as you have admitted yourself. Bioware man thinks this is wrong, he thinks that this is the reason for JRPGs not doing so well and he said that in his interview. This is sorta like the apple telling the orange what it can do to taste better. The apple is still an apple and the orange is still an orange, but with GMO [GMO being the metaphor for modern technology], anything is possible.

        Trying to discredit Bioware man by implying that his own games fall into the same pitfalls of linearity was a bad move. Like I have repeated a few times, Bioware wins awards for its innovation, awards awarded by people more qualified to judge than you or me. Awards awarded by people with years and years of experience in games and exposure to the industry because it is their job to have the expertise. Bioware innovates, that is fact. If you grossly simplify their games, you can make it seem like they dont, but the fact that many of their innovations can be listed proves that they innovate. Innovations like the Mass Effect dialogue system can be dumbed down into a line like ‘Its essentially the same dialogue options over and over again’ but that detracts from the context of the dialogue, how the dialogue is presented, the effects of the dialogue choice, etc. In the end, its still an innovation by definition ‘something new or different introduced’. It is something different. By definition an innovation.

    BIOWARE stated this after FFIV is Out? 😀

    YES, JRPG is Linear.
    YES, U really don’t have much influence in the GAME
    But JRPG fans like me is ok wit it as long as a Good Story provided, and to hell the last JRPG with good story i ever played is FFX and TALES OF ABYSS and THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU (FFXII story really bored to DEATH)

    if u wanna compare Dragon Age/FALLOUT to JRPG, It Stands out cause It really Provide something that YOU can really influence in the GAME. JRPG should learn from WRPG and developed their own style of PLAYER INFLUENCE SYSTEM in their game, this is not about SHOUTING to EACH other. Face It, JRPG really need EVOLUTION.

  • Arcanum = Most Open, Most Awesome, Most interesting Game ever played.

    FF7 = Most epic.

    Fallout 3 = Biggest Surprise + enjoyment (Also Epic)

    Anything made by Bioware = Me fapping over my hardcore fanboy DnD obsession/ Starwars obsession.

    The graphics and animation in Dragon Age is so ugly that I refuse to play it without about 500 megs of community morphs and mods put in.

    • Graphics-wise, Fallout 3 is better than dragon age, there is not doubt about that, but if you’re talking animation (facial expressions, movement, combat, cutscenes etc.) then Bethesda is pretty pathetic compared to Bioware. The way the pc holds handguns in Fallout 3 is vomit-inducing, like he’s forming a chicken wing with his hand or something. And don’t even get me started on Oblivion, the most disgustingly animated sword combat and movement ever in a game.

  • “Ironic words indeed, coming from a company which itself has yet to deliver any significant innovations since its magnum opus Baldur’s Gate series, released in 1998…”

    at least they don’t milk like what SE does to Final fantasy… now in its 13th iteration.

  • Barbarian of Gor says:

    I kind of had similar thoughts when “Sigma Star Saga” made essentially a fantasy RPG (sci-fi setting) that combined 2D side scrolling space ship combat ala “Gradius” as the “Random Monster encounter” issue… Like, “hokay, they really have done it all now…”

    However, there’s a sort of limited market of what can be made and what people want to buy. Make the games too weird, too innovative, nobody will buy them or want to play them. Remember the ads for Dreamcast’s “SeaMan”…?

    So, the “Fantasy RPG quest” made cliche by Dragon Warrior though expanded and innovated in the “Final Fantasy” series, or to use a USA term the “Ultima” series really defined it. Itself it’s a weak remembrance of the “Hero’s Journey” mythological symbolism, that’s why it does so well. It’s an increasingly ‘fixed’ genre, like the the “Romance” novel. But, it’ll still keep it’s niche market, and the stories will be told again and again and innovated a little bit more as time goes by.

    What I’d really like if they RPG’d would be to get the style from Princess Crown/Odin Sphere and use it to “Littlewitch Romanesque”, making “Littlewitch Romanesque Adventure”. Make it a huge expansive mild action RPG that is a “Castlevania” that fills up a DVD! A huge expansive 2D world, with 2.5D effects. They’d need to make it ‘ecchi’ at worst to get it in AmeriKKKa, but then they’d have attack dog lawyers against any moralists and that’d help reverse the censorship tide.

  • “Ironic words indeed, coming from a company which itself has yet to deliver any significant innovations since its magnum opus Baldur’s Gate series, released in 1998…”

    at least they don’t milk like what SE does to Final fantasy with its 13th iteration.

  • HyperKnuckles99 says:

    ‘My favorite thing, it’s funny when you still see it, but the joke of some of the dialogue systems where it asks, ‘do you wanna do this or this,’ and you say no. ‘Do you wanna do this or this?’ No. ‘Do you wanna do this or this?’ No. Lemme think — you want me to say ‘yes.’ And that, unfortunately, really characterized the JRPG.”

    They say this but they did the same exact thing in Sonic Chronicles.

  • While I agree most JRPGs are pretty stagnant, I hate the pretension eminating from these WRPG fans. Bioware games usually consist of be goody two shoes, be an ass, or something in between.

    And a lot of WRPGs today are just dumbed down BS sequels to better games before like Failout 3.

    Sure, something like Dragon Quest may be stagnant, but why change a formula that works? I’ll take something that sticks to what it does best over something that throws in a bunch of gimmicky crap in the name of “innovation.”

  • “‘Do you wanna do this or this?’”
    In Deus Ex you do what you want, you can be the good guy or the bad and the story progresses according to your actions, although still linear, you have no idea of the consequences of your actions.

  • I really don’t care if the story is linear or not. I care if the story is good writed. Why it’s common to see people consider ff6 and bahamut lagoon the best historys of rpg? Because at this point not only the jp industry, but the world industry of rpg is lacking. Actually, the majorit of the eforts are the grafics, the soundtrack and the gameplay. Those points are important to make a good rpg, but it really is far to be all.

  • Hey – DA:O have mostly the same concept as Baldurs Gate, but how much games does have concept of BG and how much are FF lookalikes?
    There are like 5-10 games since BG that had similar gameplay, but there are 5-10 games that looks and plays like FF each year.
    And I dont agree that Bioware didnt evolved since BG. They tried few different concepts that sucked as hell (NWN1&2) but they learned from it. DA:O offers more epic movie-like experience but it retains a lot of choices that DO infuence game world.

    • Hey, got a problem with NWN? C’mere, imma kick your arse!
      Heh, in all seriousness, I loved both NWN games and their expansions. NWN1 main campaign was a bit too gloomy, but, other than that, I loved it. Imo, NWN games are the ones that best convey the feel of D&D’s d20 system.
      Care to elaborate on the concepts that, in your opinion, sucked?

  • If you think Dragon age had boring characters than who in the blue hell do you find interesting? That game had some of the most creative characters with not only personality but allegiances they held above the main character. Heck Shale alone has more personality than anyone I have seen in a JRPG since the SNES days.

    I am really doubting you ever played the game. Btw name the big JRPGs that don’t have the word Final in it? Oh wait there is none. FF13 is just going to sell because of blind fan boys like yourself.

  • Prettier graphics, yes, but pretty ones? No, not really.

    The game engine used for DA:O needs an immediate revamp. Knock out the multiple graphical stutters and anomalies, and fix the absolutely preposterous load times, and then you’ll have a game worthy of its narrative. The graphics weren’t bad, but they weren’t good either, though technically they’re the last thing priority they need to address.

  • “‘do you wanna do this or this,’ and you say no. ‘Do you wanna do this or this?’ No. ‘Do you wanna do this or this?’ No. Lemme think — you want me to say ‘yes.'”

    What JRPG did he play? I don’t seem to recall there being choices like this in JRPGs. I believe they are pretty proud of their linearity.

  • No innovations since Baldurs Gate??

    The battlesystem of Kotor and Jade Empire were innovative back then (or has anyone else seen something like this in an RPG before?)… kotor is still one of the best RPGs ever made.

  • I believe its like this, jrpgs and wrpgs are sort of completely different. Jrpgs will always sell where they are made and so will the later. When you look at it, most wrpgs offer character customization and huge side quests that deviates from the story, with new generation wrpgs offering decision making options that change the whole story, so it makes you feel like you made the outcome of whatever decision you made happen. While on the other hand, playing jrpgs are like playing movies, you usually move to a certain location, watch a video, fight a boss and watch a cut scene again, you don’t really feel involved and the decisions you make hardly any difference to the overall story, you dont really feel like there are consequences to the decisions you made. Innovation is something else completely though, I believe that jrpgs have some of the best innovations in terms of battle systems that are just fun and quite intelligent. So over all, its more like, jrpgs have better battle systems while wrpgs now have better and involving stories, I think that jrpgs need to bcome a lot kore dynamic and try to involve the player a lot in their stories making the player feel the weight of a mistake and the elation of a right decision and they would be better accepted in the western world, as for me I play all of em, don’t really matter to me but the guy at bioware does have a point though.

    • I think the biggest point this guy from bioware is making is that if you read a review for a new JRPG it is never about the story but about the shiny new name for the combat or leveling system used. Which of course once you play it you realize it basically is the same that you have seen before but with a new name.

      JRPG developers have lost the art of telling stories that people care to play through.

      Btw anyone who thinks Dragon Age characters had no personality is a moron.

  • Well I agree with him, although I love JRPG they tend to be a bit repetitive after a while

    “any significant innovations since its magnum opus Baldur’s Gate series”

    Sure, Mass Effect is the carbon copy of Baldur’s gate

        • 08:04 anon here.
          I actually completed KOTOR twice and, even though I haven’t completed Mass effect yet (played it for several hours, though), I can say with confidence, that the similarities you pointed out are not quite enough to say that that ME is a copy of KOTOR.
          In every RPG there must both be some good and some evil forces, whatever the naming, they will most often be similar to the standard ones. This is where the SF setting comes into play again. What did you expect to see instead of the Specters/Jedi? Fucking peasant militiamen?
          Once again, get real.
          And there must always be some superpowers/magic/etc as well – only hacing and slashing/shooting everything gets old quickly if there are no special moves or, at least passive powers to enhance your main attack/defense.
          Care to discuss further, Mr.Everyone-Who-Doesn’t-Agree-With-Me-Is-A-Blind=BioWare-Worshipper?

        • @ 12:14 – The analogy is much stronger in HentaiKamen’s post than yours, as shown below.

          HentaiKamen’s logic:
          Organized military force of Always Chaotic Evil guys > organized military force of Always Chaotic Evil guys (works)
          Pseudoreligious organization defined mainly by their opposition to the above Always Chaotic Evil guys > crack military team formed to oppose the above Always Chaotic Evil guys (half-works, half-fails)
          Near-supernatural power source derived from omnipresent biological symbiotes > near-supernatural power source derived from engineered biological symbiotes (works)
          …For a total of two and a half working analogies.

          Your logic:
          Organized military force of bioengineered Always Chaotic Evil guys > disorganized band of bioengineered lunatics who occasionally act as the big bad’s meat puppets (Maybe a third works, if I’m being generous)
          Crack military unit assembled to counteract above Always Chaotic Evil guys > crack military unit who *became* above meat-puppet lunatics (Fails HARD)
          Near-supernatural power source derived from engineered biological symbiotes > near-supernatural power source derived from the equivalent of nuclear waste (Half-works, again being generous)
          …for less than one working analogy.

          tl;dr You fail logic forever. Or just have no fucking clue what you’re talking about.

        • Basing this on all of the things Mass Effect rehashed from Kotor into something slightly different:

          sith > geth
          jedi > specters
          forcepowers > biotics

          If you weren’t a blind Bioware worshipper you’d see the resemblance in the storylines too.

  • Western RPGs sure are evolutionary….
    When i see a western rpg that compare to any of the big j-rpgs then they can talk.
    Dragon Age was an ok game, but for me it lacked any engaging story, the characters were rather bland even with the so-called choices you have i would rather have a stellar story than some half assed system.

  • Author is obviously a butt hurt fan boy.

    1. Dragon Age is a great game and has a lot more story and soul then any modern JRPGs.
    2. Guy from bioware is right and instead of being insulted we we should encourage japanese development companies to get back in the ball game

    Look at FF13, story seems cliched as always with flat characters. But oh wait you can turn your freaking summon into a car!! How cool is that. Except for a few exceptions in the ps2 era, most JRPG’s have lost the story telling and soul that at least made them worth playing. Sure they were linear as all hell but at least you got a good story out of it.

  • Anyone insulting Bioware is incredibly wrong in everyway. Bioware’s games are incredibly thought-out and expansive, they make literally the best RPGs. JRPGs are a tired and bland genre all this generation, deal with it.

    • Dragon Age: Origins and Final Fantasy 13 are basically equal in how much they were letdowns. I know a few Bioware fanboys who absolutely RAGED over how they dumbed down or screwed up the ruleset in Dragon Age, how many of the dialogue options were so archaically cliched and corny, or how the branching options had nonsensical consequences that majorly hurt their progress. On the other side, we’ve seen just how much FF13 has its own issues.

      So, what about Dragon Age: Origins? We haven’t forgotten about it, though many of us wish we could.

      It’s only a “really great game” if you refuse to look at it with a critical eye and are inside its target audience. For some people, however, it was made of fail just as much as FF13.

      I was excited about both. I thought DA:O would be the first WRPG I could get into. I thought FF13 would be my homecoming to a series I swore against. I was wrong in both cases, however.

      • Amen to that ArcheR.
        I feel the same way.

        Dragon Age was a massive let down. I already expected the linear story, but I thought that there would’ve been plenty more side quests to do and plenty more of the world to explore.

        But all of the areas turned out to be so small that the world itself felt empty. It could’ve been so much better if it had landscapes that could actually be explored…

        As for FFXIII, I was very shocked to see how the maps are linked into a LINE…

        I hope I get to see the day Rockstar Games make a game in a fantasy or sci-fi setting… If that happens we will see the most amazing game ever made. GTA IV had an amazing story and characters, along with the option to do just about anything you bloody wanted in the whole city.

        Dragon Age’s Denerim (biggest city) looked like a back alley compared to the scope of Liberty City.

  • I don’t get what was wrong with Bioware’s statement? I agree with them 100% and the last Final Fantasy game I played was FFX back on PS2. Atleast the last one I finished that is, tried FFX-2 for like 20 minutes before giving up on that fanservice festival.

    • Because, first, Final Fantasy does NOT equal Japanese RPGs. You’re missing the rest of Square non-FF catalog, the Tales series, anything by Nippon Ichi Software, as well as the ENTIRE Atlus catalog. Which are all wildly different games. If you base statements on Final Fantasy alone, you don’t know how wide the playerbase, gameplay, and storytelling in JRPGs really is.

      Second, if you want to support a point, be smart: Don’t ADMIT you only played a tiny amount of the games for less than even an hour. You’re just proving to everyone you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      FFX is hardly the best JRPGs have to offer, especially since you’re not even talking about a current game! Seriously, are you even trying?

  • I find this hilarious the fact that bioware has the right to say those things, Thier game is also linear, it is basically POINT A TO B with chocolate to do in between just to make it feel different. Other than that I didn’t have any choice to get away from the warden faction no matter what side i joined, and the story about saving the world from darkspawn, I haven’t seen that crap before oh no lord of the rings, star wars, all that stuff doesn’t have that kinda story at all, BIOWARE IS AMAZINGLY FRESH AND INNOVATIVE. Face it folks, the only successful rpg is World of warcrap due to its fanbase don’t even deny it. MMORPG is sucking the lives of our people today.

    • If you want complete freedom then play second life or the sims you dumbfuck. What kind of a game would it be without the story. It’s like buying a novel but you want to be able to change the story the way you like it, so you buy a blank book dumbass.

        • @09:25 – The stuff you’re “lolrong”ing at is the differentiating factor between RPGs and tabletop wargames, and also the reason people play RPGs instead of tabletop wargames (that, and wargaming’s out-fucking-rageous costs). Just saying.

        • “RPGs are about choice and allowing players to roleplay the chars they chose as well as influence the story.”

          Ummm no! Roler players = the newbs. RPG’s descended from tabletop Wargaming (note how ALL RPG’s have combat, coincidence? I think not!)

    • dragon age might have major plot points but it gives you several paths to get between them. sure there is a big bad the darkspawn but humanity isn’t the big good they are just as bad and worse in some regards. you dont just go to area a and do plot a you can go to area a and do a-z to complete plot a.

    • It’s only natural that you’ll make it from point A to point B. But to reach that point B, you are given a choice between paths C, D, etc. If the progression of the story goes in a completely different direction, than it did last time, you are playing an expansion pack, or a completely different game whatsoever. Get real. If you want complete freedom, play tabletop D&D.

  • Why are so many people here attacking Bioware’s games rather than acknowledging that what he says is true?
    JRPGs are as linear as a line, sometimes a wavy line, or maybe even 2 parallel lines, but they’re very, very linear.
    The world needs more games like fallout 2.

  • At least someone finally said it . I agree that there has been a lack of innovation in the JRPG industry. JRPGs, although I am a fan, are extremely repetitive. Part of the problem is that Japan is overly prolific in this department. Instead of focusing on quality you get a lot of quantity. There are some gems but lets be honest, there a lot of generic titles. Not to mention the stories themselves are showing very little innovation. How many times does there have to be an evil empire? I also feel that some Japanese developers have trouble evolving. They have an established formula that they like to stick too, whenever they stray away from this formula they tend to get muddled. I think this was evident in The Last Remnant.

  • Completely agree with Bioware, I used to play JRPGs prolifically, now the vast majority just feel stagnant. Add to this the fact that a fair few of the more niche JRPG titles are being given sloppier and sloppier localisations and things don’t bode well. JRPG devs are still targetting the same teenage demograph, and those of us who hailing from the PS1 era are now seeking a more mature gaming experience. WRPGS are delivering in this area, JRPGs are not.

    Its getting really annoying, I want to get back to loving JRPGs, but the triple A stuff like Valkyria & SMT are far and few between this gen.

  • Why the hell should anyone listen to Bioware?
    Its not like they make the ugliest fucking character models and have boring ass battle systems or anything like that.-_- Face it people they’re the most overrated company on the planet. Well, next to Microshit that it.

    • woot, best post around here.

      That’s basically the real issue of JRPGs. Calling them VN would be more accurate instead of calling them RPGs, cause that’s a thing they’re not. Bioware games at least give you SOME choices to make that have some influence somewhere, as well as actually allowing you to play the char you want to play.

        • Oh, I can remember MANY cases of “Choose this or that -> this -> ok… LOL,no, you’d do that.” Even a number of the best VN had many points where 1) you had no choice whatsoever even if you didn’t want the char to act like that or 2) you made a choice but a) it counted against your ending girl score and b) the game picked the other option despite what you wanted to do.

          The problem is those make up most of the responses, ie your responses matter little in the end. The point of choice is having more than one viable choice. If there’s just one right choice, and everything else makes you get a straight bad ending, the game essentially forces you to choose what it wants.

  • Most of these comments are very sad.
    JRPGs are obviously stagnant as seen from FFXIII.

    But Bioware has yet to bring any innovation to their games since Baldur’s Gate, or arguably Kotor (since it was sci-fi after all).

    Mass Effect was Kotor with a different combat system.
    Same branching dialogue, same module based maps. Same long ass loading times. (Fuck that fucking elevator ride.) Similar plot twist towards end game. Same force powers (oh sorry, biotics?). Just think you tools.

    Dragon Age was Baldur’s Gate on a better (barely) game engine. Same retardedly small maps and ridiculous loading times from module to module. It also used the same old ass story Bioware keeps re-using from Kotor. You are in an organization that is meant to save the world from a) sith b) geth c) darkspawn…

    They can write an epic story that revolves around something other than saving the world… If you think about it they just take old ideas all the time.
    Mass Effect steals from every sci-fi epic so far and just re hashes the ideas into its own IP, and Dragon Age does the same thing but instead steals from fantasy epics. Oh except elves are now poor… What a twist!

    Bioware doesn’t really do anything innovating anymore.
    They even insist on using shit engines with the excuse “our engines are designed for RPGs”. How about dropping the module based maps already?

      • So did I.
        But I am not blind so I saw it for what it was.

        I wouldn’t be so critical if that same game was made on a better engine with more open environments and less loading times. It would’ve done much for immersion. And many of the side planets were totally barren. They put them in just for bragging rights, which was a lame move.

    • All of this is basically a really cynical view on the innovation Bioware has done. So many games are about saving the world, but Bioware does it in its own innovative way. This way might not agree with you, but it does agree with alot of people.

      • All of this is basically a really cynical view on the innovation Japanese RPG devlopers have done. So many games are about saving the world, but Japan does it in its own innovative way. This way might not agree with you, but it does agree with alot of people.

      • by that “i like it and that makes it fine” logic than the exact same thing can be said about jrpgs.

        it may not agree with you but plenty of people like jrpgs as well.

        in fact given that Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, hell Pokemon still blow away any Bioware title in sales, the “a lot of people” argument does more to support what jrpg devs are doing than not.

      • I thought we were talking about innovation here.

        What I was trying to point out is that Bioware hasn’t brought anything new to the table.

        Their games use the same old recipe they have been using for 10 years now, which makes all their games very similar on many levels.

        I can tell you my speculation on why this has been so. When they decided to do Mass Effect, after the success of Kotor, they did so because they wanted to establish their own Intellectual Properties (which would save them alot of money).

        Same deal with why they made Dragon Age instead of another Baldur’s Gate. Starting an IP is no easy task, but it just irks me the way Mass Effect and Dragon Age just reuse old ideas, not only in story but in gameplay as well.

        If they had at least used a spectacular engine to properly flesh out their game worlds, I wouldn’t have been so critical. But with their module based old tech, so much is lost. If you only remove the painted on scenery you would know what I mean.

  • I just read some articles concerning the difference between Fallout 3 and Dragon Age where some university professors had voiced their conclusions.

    Fallout 3 is being held as the prime example of what we can call good/chaotic alignment.

    Dragon Age on the other hand is being held at a grey angle, where the point is not to be 100% good, or 100% evil, but to understand your comrades and party members. And to make the right choices in order to boost your influence with them. This is what makes Dragon Age (and Mass Effect) the best ever RPG in my eyes, where psychology, and personal story of your partymembers add such an interresting angle to the game. It is as if it is not just you playing, but you must act in term of your partymembers.

    When I play Dragon Age I however save alot, and switch out my teammembers if I find out that they disagree with my decissions. So there are easy ways around this as well, if you for some reason disagree with the mechanics, or want to play only to gain your teammebers confidence. Alternatively you can just discard their ideas, and do what you want. But then you won’t get any intimate action for them either. One point where I would think all you Sankaku Complex readers would agree with me.

  • Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but since when has a linear style of storytelling been “Bad”?

    It’s nice to have games that are both very linear (Strong control on character development, story is more structured and focused) as well as games that are extremely non-linear. I don’t see what’s so bad about having a little bit of both, as neither seem to be inherently better than the other. Some games want to tell their story, and others want you to form your own. Once again, two different methods of storytelling.

    • JRPGs are tend to be on consoles, which tends to inherently lack moddability. And mods don’t automatically make a good game, by far.

      Dragon Age, for instance, has more players that I personally know modding it to fix faults in the game’s ruleset than to add their own missions.

      And you’re even specifically putting it as “PC WRPGs”. You’re comparing apples to to asparagus.

  • I find myself somewhat agreeing with them. Bioware’s hit Jade Empire and Mass Effect were really good, albeit sometime the controls were annoying. I’ve played Japanese RPGs and they all mostly contain the same elements; big breasted women, big colored spiky hairs, fancy bigass swords, and alot of sparkle but not glow. There are good Japanese game titles out there, but unfortunately, the mass majorities are really weak and not innovative.

  • He criticizes JRPGs on a sole thing, which is linearity (which – oh coincidence – is also the strength of Bioware RPGs).

    But the linearity in JRPGs has always been a design choice that emphasizes characterization over more generic personalities (like, yes, in Bioware RPGs).

    So it’s a trade-off. I like both styles, and I would wish there was some respect between the fanbases (and even more, the developers) of either.

    Besides, I think he over-generalizes JRPGs. There’s some evolution to be found, or some intruiging settings that have rarely been explored in western RPGs. Of course one would have to look past the generic fantasy JRPGs then.

    • “But the linearity in JRPGs has always been a design choice that emphasizes characterization over more generic personalities…”

      THANK YOU! So many WRPG players miss this simple point. An overall-liner storyline does not mean a story-on-rails experience, though it CAN (as FF13 has shown us very well). But JRPGs don’t have to be so strict. Chrono Trigger had quite a lot of possible deviations in it despite being 10-15 years old!

      And it is a design choice because when you make unbelievably large branching stories, you have to plan for each step and the story becomes about the choices instead of the characters.

      Me, I like following characters. Strong characterization is what keeps us coming back to novels and movies we love. Those NEVER change the second, third, and fourth time we go back to them, but we still love them. Games, being longer, need a bit more to be replayable, but RPGs on either side of the Pacific do their best to include that.

      But you cannot deny that the strong storytelling, and even stronger characters, are on of the reason you love to go back to those RPGs you’ve already played.

      There does need to be some respect between the two sides because, frankly, both have their evils and both have fans for a reason.

      Western RPGs are just as “stagnant” as JRPGs are – better presentation and graphics, better lengths, more complicated and detailed systems, but the exact same basic design core that’s over 20 years old.

      Here’s the thing: That’s not stagnation. FF13 has the same amount of criticisms I hear thrown at it as Dragon Age: Origins did. And both were pretty damn huge “blockbuster” games. The faults of the types are inherent to their basic core gameplay and take a lot of work to be avoided, but even in 2009, we’re still going to get games that miss the point.

      I know there are a lot of JPRG players who hate WRPGs, and the other way around, and I hate it. I find more WRPGs boring, but that’s just because of my preferences. There’s still an obvious market for them and I’d be stupid to think the entire genre is old, stagnated, or outdated.

      This developer’s comments are, sadly, so representative of a lot of western fans and developers, and I hate it.

      Can’t we all just get along?

      • @ ArcheR

        Well said! The only WRPG I have enjoyed are Planescape Torment and Fallout 1 & 2, all by Black Isle, while Baldur’s Gate 2 + Throne of Bhaal expansion are also one of my favorite WRPG in isometric view. But nowadays, the only things western developers are thinking about are more blood/violence and more sex (Dragon Age).

      • But if you get no choice at all in your “role playing game” and you only play it for the “strong storytelling, and even stronger characters” the only thing that seperates an RPG from an FPS would be the game mechanics.

        I say that because I can think of plenty of shooters that have that “strong storytelling” and “even stronger characters” you speak of…

        Gears of War? Killzone 2? Half Life?

  • To be perfectly honest, Dragon Age was very well presented in story and actions. Its flaws were largely in the graphics and gameplay departement, which really need a good deal of tweaking before they ever appear on a console again. Also, the load times… What the HELL was up with its embarrassing load times? There’s a lot of crap in there they expect swallowed before you can actually bite into the juicy and excellent narrative.

    I think if I ever saw a JRPG with the same quality of presentation using a dynamic choice system even half as robust as Dragon Age’s I would shit a brick. JRPGs are telling a story, but is it too much to ask that they let us contribute to how it develops instead of just reading along? Or does that interfere with their 5000 hour long cutscene extravaganzas? >_>

    For now I’d probably have to say Demon’s Souls is the best RPG experience I’ve had on a recent console system, and that’s a little sad in retrospect.

    • “graphics and gameplay”
      “load times”
      “on a console” – Aha, I think I see your problem.

      They made no secret about it basically being developed for PC then essentially ported to the consoles and modified.

      The graphics weren’t all that great, but the gameplay difference between console and PC is night and day. Also, the load times on my PC were lightning-fast (often less than a second), and mine is more in the low-mid range as far as gaming rigs go.

      I agree with the rest of what you said though (except I’ve never played Demon’s Souls).

  • Most big popular JRPGs are stagnant? Sure.
    But while well-written, isn’t Bioware known for always making KOTOR? The combat may change a bit, bit it does in Final Fantasy too. Whenever I read a review for Bioware games there’s a quip about being basically like KOTOR.

    • Yeah…

      Mass Effect trilogy is considered one of the best video game sagas ever, KOTOR made it to game of the year during the time it was released…

      You sir are a complete idiot and an ignorant douchebag

  • Same could be said for western games.

    But who pays attention to what founders, co-founders and other people involved in the gaming business has to say?

    They should just stick to making games and shut their traps since only crap seems to be coming out of them recently.

  • “sigh”. I hate WRPG’s. So boring. I actually happen to like a more linear story and gameplay style, if its to open ended I get bored and quit. I have never completed a single WRPG. The sad thing is I keep getting them thinking I might actually like it. I have bougt all the major WRPGs and returned them at some point. Bioware games being at the top of the list.

    • Hahaha, bravo for awareness! People are appropriately thoughtful about this topic, but for many others it’s just blatant fanboy baiting. In most other instances, if only there weren’t a whole world of spazz-attacks that think so little that they are ripe for baiting. I guess I don’t blame Artefact for simply being fluent in provoking/stimulating an audience, but it’s nice to see people call this sort of thing out…

  • Artefact says

    “Ironic words indeed, coming from a company which itself has yet to deliver any significant innovations on its magnum opus Baldur’s Gate series, released in 1998…”

    Huh? The best rpg from Bioware is NOT BG series anyway

    What is the nature of a man?

    • “What can change the nature of a man?” was the question but anyway Bioware had no influence on Planescape: Torment other than providing the engine.
      I have to agree however that it was better (storywise) than BG.

  • I like their games reeeally really much..But yeah, i think they should not brag about their success and backbite on other rpg subgenres or manufactors which they obviously don’t like just because he swims on top for now.

  • Honesstly Dragon Age is the best damn RPG I’ve seen in a while. It seems different plas different and looks different. I ove the dark storyyline as well as the constant auto bantering bickeerrg the charecters do.

    And I never really heard of Bioware until this game came out. And when I looked up their profile all their gamereleases are stuff I never played so that may or may not be the reason I believe Dragon Age is the royal shiznit

  • As much of a Bioware fan that I am I have to completely disagree with this statement. You can’t classify the entire JRPG genre like that. Apples are not the same as Oranges. The same goes with JRPG’s and WRPG’s, they have vastly different styles of development.

    Granted I do believe some JRPG franchises have stagnated. Final Fantasy and Star Ocean come to mind, as they seem to have lost their magic. Still other franchises like the Shin Megami Tensei series are still really good, and give me hope for JRPG’s.

    Also, as much as I love DAO and Mass Effect I would be blind if didn’t admit that they had linearity too. After all no matter how you develop your character you still end of fighting the same Big Bad.

    Really, Bioware stop criticizing a different genre and do you do best, make great WRPG’s. I want my Mass Effect 2 damnit!

    • “JRPG franchises have stagnated. Final Fantasy and Star Ocean come to mind, as they seem to have lost their magic. Still other franchises like the Shin Megami Tensei series are still really good, and give me hope for JRPG’s.”

      The heck. That’s contradictory. FF changes with every title, while all four SMTs stay virtually the same.

  • I agree with jrpgs being stagnant.

    And it will take a lot of efford from square enix, atlus, namco bandai, and other developers on the jrpg genre to make it have a broader appeal.

    Most jrpgs really are very closely connected with the formula consagrated since the snes era.

    WRPGS are also somewhat stagnant, especially bioware’s, since the latest games aren’t all that different from the 2003 Knights of the Old Republic.

    It’s a hard time. Many genres are becoming stagnant and uninspired.

  • Funny how he makes fun of the JRPGs “one sided question” when all the bioware games I’ve played have something that’s just as annoying

    I can ask someone “are you a duck?” and have a lengthy conversation about their duckiness, then talk about something else only to have “are you a duck?” reappear on the dialogue menu!!

    Then we could repeat the whole conversation like we have brain damage and lost our short term memories or something.

    They’ve got no business criticizing that IMO

  • What? Dragon Age and Mass Effect aren’t linear? The only real choices those games had were to be a jackass or a saint. Which ever you choose, the story still progresses the same. They just made an illusion of freedom/choice.

    • Wrong, I just read some articles concerning the difference between Fallout 3 and Dragon Age where some university professors had voiced their conclusions.

      Fallout 3 is being held as the prime example of what you just described Dragon Age/Mass Effect as.

      Dragon Age on the other hand is being held at a grey angle, where the point is not to be 100% good, or 100% evil, but to understand your comrades and party members. And to make the right choices in order to boost your influence with them. This is what makes Dragon Age (and Mass Effect) the best ever RPG in my eyes, where psychology, and personal story of your partymembers add such an interresting angle to the game. It is as if it is not just you playing, but you must act in term of your partymembers.

      When I play Dragon Age I however save alot, and switch out my teammembers if I find out that they disagree with my decissions. So there are easy ways around this as well, if you for some reason disagree with the mechanics, or want to play only to gain your teammebers confidence. Alternatively you can just discard their ideas, and do what you want. But then you won’t get any intimate action for them either. One point where I would think all you Sankaku Complex readers would agree with me.

      • ChaosAngelZero says:

        The decision-making stuff in Dragon Age sounds a whole lot like the one you do in the Persona 3 and 4 games but to a greater extent.

        Funny (or sad, depending on how you think of them) how the only way JRPGs can get slightly less stagnant is by aping WRPGs.

  • Kinny Riddle says:

    Arte, I see most of us here are taking issue with your last paragraph, and I’m inclined to agree with them.

    This is not because I’m some fanboy of western RPGs (most RPGs I played are JRPGs for the record), but because you seem to totally neglect well-acclaimed games like KOTOR when dismissing their criticism of JRPG, which isn’t entirely unfair.

    The most recent example of the “linear story” criticism can be seen in FF13, which has been well documented by your own reports.

      • When has an RPG, Western or Japanese, redefined or had a significant impact on RPGs on the whole?

        Sure, Bioware hasn’t produced anything that significantly impacted RPGs on the whole in a while, but when has a Japanese one recently?

        As much as I hate it, FFVII is the last significant JRPG that I can think of. The Persona games and the Tales games, while definitely worth their salt, introduced nothing new from the standard copypasta of current RPG games.

        Bioware followed their NWN format, but is that so different from the JRPG copypasta? If you flame Bioware for copypasta, but fail to do so for JRPGs, then you’re merely setting a double standard and destroying your own credibility.

        • The tales game combat system has been around since the SNES. Back then if i recall correctly that was quite new. Not to mention your weapons actually changed dating back to the SNES. BTW just so you know while Phantasia was on the GBA in the U.S. it was originally on the SNES.

          Oh and what i think artefact means by same structure and to me he has SPELLED IT OUT is that while SOME things have evolved biowares own style of choice making has not. In each of his comments he has said how this is about the choice making not the other stuff.

          The other factor is everyone is mentioning ffxii or xiii well fact is 12 is bad to some people because it feels too much like an mmo and traveling alone is a pain while 13 is a kneejerk reaction to the complaints of 12.

          edit i had a glitch when trying to post before and it’s been a half hour at least since then if this turns into a double someone pls delete.

      • Ive replied to every one of your comments thus far, and I will do so again. You continually to refer to a vague ‘structure’ inherent within bioware games that remains unchanged.

        What exactly is the difference?

        Maybe its that their successive games have a different combat system. Or that the games have a different dialogue structure. Or maybe its the art style. Or maybe, its the game engine, the most fundamental ‘structure’ of any game, being significantly different in all 3 games.

        The only structure that remains constant between the individual IPs of Bioware is that they all win awards and garner high praise.

        Ive been surfing this site for a while, and watched as you made many, many, many troll comments at the end of your posts. This is the first time ive seen you defend your trolling enough to have 3 replies to 3 different people on a subject like gaming which I am well versed in. Maybe you are butthurt that FF13 sucked, maybe you took an honest offence to the words of Bioware and decided to mount a little personal resistance on your site, maybe you wanted to capitalise on the shitstorm that FF13 created and use this as an opportunity to get more views on your site. All of this is your right and I take no offence to that.

        But when you make a statement built on such a shallow foundation, It is my every right to criticise you. And all your statements in this post thus far have been built on very shallow foundations. I am disappoint, I expect a higher grade of trolling from Sankaku.

        • Anon 04:48 here, back in the morning.

          Way to go, this is the higher grade of trolling I expect from sankaku.

          Not defending your stand or your actual criticism instead attacking Anon 07:26 ad hominem. He clearly has an idea of what he is talking about. Anon 07:26 is getting tired of your troll posts. That is all. He did not state that other people are getting tired of it or that the posts are bad for the site or that the posts offend him or others in any way. He merely stated that the constant stream of troll posts had become tedious to him and implied that he wanted less trolling.
          In my opinion, trolling is part of your style and you should not stop, but please, make sure its trolling of a high standard.

          Still not providing a more solid foundation for your claims, you divert the subject to a fanboy node of bioware supporters. This doesnt prove anyone wrong, this merely implies the comments everyone previously made in defence of bioware are flawed and biased due to fanboyism. Nothing is proven wrong, no argument is nullified but now all the ‘fanboys’ seem to be in the wrong. That is good trolling.

          ‘Woe betide he who suggests Dragon Age is but the latest in a long line of derivative rat-killing RPGs?’
          This casts yourself as the victim in this infernal flame war, and places anyone who criticises dragon age of by implication Bioware RPGs to be a source of woe. The actual criticism ‘ latest in a long line of derivative rat-killing RPGs’ is a cynical play on semantics, twisting words to make a cynical statement. Somewhat akin to saying ‘FF13 is the latest in a long line of JRPGs with shallow but beautiful characters’ or ‘The combat system of most JRPGs is flashy, but offers no real depth other than alot of cool moves’. All troll statements, but all of them sound true enough to be believed.

          Of course, I could be overanalysing a short simple statement that you made at 9:17 in the morning while your mind was still in sleep mode, but hey, its the internet, shit happens.

        • Lucky you don’t, you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

          I can see we have hit upon a new “fanboy node” – that of Bioware supporters… Woe betide he who suggests Dragon Age is but the latest in a long line of derivative rat-killing RPGs?

        • “Ive been surfing this site for a while, and watched as you made many, many, many troll comments at the end of your posts.”

          I though I was the only one that noticed that…

          If I had a site like this, I’d try to make a couple of funnies, myself, but the contrived articulation and the strange, biased comments at the end of each ‘summary’ are reaching the point of tedium.

        • ChaosAngelZero says:

          All Final Fantasy games starting from maybe VIII and onwards look to me a whole lot alike, maybe they should try with other art directors or something.

          On the other hand, BioWare stuff at least manages to look different and varied, but at the same time pretty much unremarkable, it doesn’t stand out from an artistic/ aesthetic perspective, unlike the technical one. Generic, if you prefer.

          Probably has to do with trying not to risk sales too much by experimenting in that field with unproven formulas or going against a stablished “identity” they’ve set with their past games.

        • “Maybe its that their successive games have a different combat system. Or that the games have a different dialogue structure. Or maybe its the art style. Or maybe, its the game engine, the most fundamental ‘structure’ of any game, being significantly different in all 3 games.”

          But the last three FF games also have different combat systems, storytelling structures, art styles and game engines.

          The point is, if those could be called stagnant just because of lack of choices, then so are BioWare games just because of the existence of moral choices.

  • Personally I hate American RPGs. Not evolving? They use the same themes over and over. And personally I am not the biggest fan of really open gameplay. I have a job and a life. I don’t have the time to play games for hours and hours a day wondering around aimlessly finding quests and crap.

    I like my JRPGs because I can play, progress the story, do side quests if I want, then just save and be on my way.

    And I am not a fan of Bioware so they can piss off.

  • They have too fast evolution for my mind. I don’t like any Bioware’s game, released after BG2.
    What I need: another Infinity isometric masterpiece.
    So they offer me new “experience” and “progress”, but I can’t get what I really want.

    • That is true. If you want the same old thing – then JRPGs are your friend. If you want something new with each release, something that changes the actual game play and not just the story and vistas, then JRPGs are probably not your first choice.

  • I understand completely the need to defend Japanese RPGs. They are still my favorite after all. But I have to say, it isn’t at all hypocritical of Bioware to make a statement like that. The illustration Dr. Zeschuk gave is one area where games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age excell. Now I love Mass Effect a lot, but it hasn’t stopped me from appreciating a good Japanese RPG more than anything. I look forward to a linear FFXIII experience even more than Mass Effect 2.

    • I also wouldn’t peg him as acting under fanboyism either.

      These guys “grew” up on jRPGs like us and were fans of the FF series like many of us.

      Just lately the charm has withered for jRPGs. I’d still buy em, because it’s still the SAME faire but better graphics, or sharper art over the years. Overall,, still enjoyable, to a degree, just not the best expereince.

      What I’d love is to see the artists from the top jRPG’s meld with wRPG’s track of innovations.

  • Bioware would have been better off if they’d actually taken a lesson from JRPG’s stagnancy and had a good look at their own concept of “evolving”.

    The farther they’ve taken things from BGII + Throne of Bhaal, the blander their material has been.

    • That ignores the base reality that Square Enix is arguably *the worst* RPG publisher *in the market*.

      An awful, awful, awful cancer on the entire industry that doesn’t even make /real/ jRPG’s.

      The fact the entire argument hinges on making a strawman utilizing them just shows how presumptuous and lacking in research the premise of the argument is coming from.

  • “Ironic words indeed, coming from a company which itself has yet to deliver any significant innovations on its magnum opus Baldur’s Gate series, released in 1998…”

    That is bullshit, KOTOR has some really significant innovations over Baldur’s Gate, and so do Mass Effect. I’m not justificating them for Greg’s critic, I don’t know if it’s righteous or whatever, but throwing random shit at Bioware for that is lame…

    • Indeed.
      Heck, even NWN, which wasn’t released that much later than BG brought huge innovations – a complete change of the interface… A new ruleset… Seriously, “no significant innovations”? Bullcrap, mesays.

      • JRPGs give all the interface changes and so on as well. This is about the fundamental structure of the play experience and narrative, which is arguably unchanged from BG and Planescape.

        Simple, superficial moral choices, linear progression through a series of hubs – the elements are unchanged.

        • Books, movies, manga and anime are all completely linear, the only choice we have is whether to keep reading/watching or not. We still love them though. I have no problem at all with a linear game or old fashioned gameplay, if it give me an enjoyable experience.

          I haven’t played many wrpgs recently, so can’t comment on Bioware games, I prefer story driven character development more that choice driven ‘moral’ development, which certainly can be superficial. You can kill who you like Fallout 3, then give some water to the homeless guy at the front of any city to get your karma back. I liked the game, mostly for references to Fallout 2 though, but your choices didn’t really matter. In the end you could die a hero or be vilified for not dying a hero.

        • Linear progression through a series of hubs.

          No, in Biowares case at least, they are content with creating the hubs and allowing the player to tackle them in any way they like yet still maintaining a linear MAIN QUEST with multiple different endings depending on gameplay choices.

          Superficial moral choices.

          Moral choices that change the story and outcome of the game arent superficial. Look at the big picture, some individual choices may seem superficial but they all contribute to a bigger picture. Some choices even end up allowing you to kill your own party characters, affecting the entire game even more.

          Unchanged fundamental structure of play and narrative.

          If you want to say that, then very few games have changed, because the play structure of most any game has been, kill enemy, dont die. Then again, between KOTORs semi real time d20 system, Mass Effect’s shooting affected by player stats and Dragon Ages more slashy combat, the play strucuture seems to change alot. The fact that you say the narrative is unchanged dont know squat about the games you refer to. The Narrative of KOTOR, Dragon Age and Mass Effect couldnt be more different. Bioware wins awards for its narrative, something I havent seen a JRPG do in a long time.

  • Are you kidding me Artefact? Bioware also made Knights of the Old Republic, the Mass Effect series, Neverwinter Nights, Jade Empire, and the new Dragon Age game… all of which are held to high critical acclaim.

    Bioware’s statement is not ironic, in fact they know what the fuck they are talking about; they are probably one the best RPG makers of all time.

    • You do realize that you can take the last five Final Fantasy games and they on average have scored better among reviewers than the games you listed right? Does that mean whatever Square-Enix says about WRPGs is true?

  • JRPGs ARE all about the same nowadays. However, that’s really what I like about them. 🙂

    I understand everyone’s love of JRPGs here, and I enjoy them more than Western RPGs, but are you people seriously denying how good Mass Effect and Dragon Age are? It’s not like Bioware makes shitty games or anything. And this is just one guy’s opinion, so don’t shoot down the entire compan– oh wait, I forgot. This is the internet, where rational thought doesn’t exist. nvm

  • It’s kind of funny, really. It’s not like they’re doing much to change the western RPG genre either. Dragon Age is largely just Baldur’s Gate with a few elements from some newer western RPGs.


  • I love how SO MANY companies and People are now just BASHING RPGS. I say if you can’t stand to play a game that last more then 5 hours, then get off the bandwagon called GAMERS. It seems that games don’t need EVOLUTION they need to be DUMB DOWN. Games are becoming EASIER AND EASIER and all the HARD GAMES ARE LIKE, IT’S TOO HARD WE CAN’T BEAT IT. Seriously people need to grow some more brain cells and STOP with the 5 hours long FPS and Just broaden their Minds, Sure JRPGs are a bit linear, but at least they offer what GAMES suppose to do, take you away from crappy reality and forget everything to just play. Rather then the FPS where you deal with Little Babies EVERYWHERE.

  • “Ironic words indeed, coming from a company which itself has yet to deliver any significant innovations on its magnum opus Baldur’s Gate series, released in 1998…” <- does that imply, that BG has been getting sequels and expansion packs since 1998 up till today? Were there any promises of new material/titles? Wake up. Even BG and NWN have big differences, even though they're not too far apart release-date-wise. Not to mention Mass Effect and Jade Empire. To finish it off, why create games with their plot centered around BG when Faerun is so huge and has so many different cities?

    Mr.Artefact, either you failed to convey what you really meant, or you didn't really know what you were talking about.

  • Rensei Bayushi says:

    I respect Bioware’s work, but I can’t help but feel that this yet another plus for one type of RPG being “superior”. Much to the chagrin of certain folk, wRPGs and jRPGs are two completely different sides of the same coin. Japanese ones (both videogame and tabletop) appear to have an emphasis on pick up and play, which I can understand. Sometimes, you just want a simple story in your game, and multiple branches can be overwhelming to some.

    In summary, wRPGs are simulationist, whereas jRPGs are gamist. (taking a cue from GNS Theory).

    I could poke at the fact that wRPGs gome in two styles, usually, but that’s too easy.

  • I mostly agree with the Bioware dude, but I still enjoy JRPGs as kind of my equivalent of TV watching, since I hardly ever watch TV. I like how I can just sit back, let the game unfold, move at my own pace, take in the sights and have some fun figuring out the battle system.

    • This is pretty much where my feelings are. I really enjoy BioWare games. I feel that BioWare is being a bit too arrogant in this regard, however.

      It is true that their games off variety in story, characters and don’t force you to tackle the story in any specific order. However, they also stick to the same underlying format in all of them.

      My feeling first and foremost is that linear or open ended/sandbox isn’t really the issue. Making games fun, first and foremost, is what matters. Personally, that is why I can count Persona 4, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Morrowind and FFXII among my favorite RPGs.

  • It’s strange. I completely agree with Bioware’s opinion, but at the same time I feel Western RPGs are just as bad. Really, almost no RPG from any country ever impresses me anymore. Japanese RPGs are always about annoying angsty teenagers saving the world from Demonic God #5396, and Western RPGs are always about a rugged hero with no personality running around some brown game world and engaging in bland combat with terrible graphics and animations.

    Can’t anymore combine the good parts of each kind of RPG to make one that actually balances out to be great?

    • Actually, I have similar opinion with you…
      WRPGs are more free but in most games I can’t feel strong characterization (except for the main char)

      JRPGs are less free, have fixed storyline but the characters leave strong marks in my memory (well, except for the stereotypes)

    • Well, sure, BioWare protagonists, for instance don’t have a personality at the beginning. It’s your choices and actions that determine it. That’s the basic concept of all BioWare RPGs.

      Gotta admit, though, BioWare is the cream of the crop, so utter failures coming from other companies seems likely.

  • Well recently Bioware had some very good RPG titles for it own such as Mass effect and Dragon age i enjoy both very much. But it also kinda of true that JRPG are linear still in my opinion linear doesn’t necessary mean bad.There are plenty of good JRPG game which are linear. (Does SMT series and RPG such as Disgae series count as linear?)