I can’t believe what I’m about to write but… I recently bought Temple Of Elemental Evil from GoG, and… I didn’t like it anymore! Yes, the game that back in 2003 was considered by my brother and I (at those times we used to play CRPG together, sharing thoughts and impressions) as “the ultimate RPG”, right now, 7 years later… sucks.
Why? I think is because I aged up, am working full-time, and in general I’m used to a more “casual” gameplay (even if the right term would be “less hardcore”, not really casual). Just as example, I liked Torchlight MUCH more… and that’s an action RPG.
What does this means? I asked myself. Probably several things:
- as I said, I’m no longer a teenager or young adult (I’m only 36 but well, I can clearly see that my interests,tastes are different from when I was 28-29 years old). Before, I had lot of free time, so reading a 100 pages manual for me was FUN, not a pain 😀 And a game like ToEE was fine, even if had lots of texts to read, even if had a complex inventory and spell management, and so on. Right now, that scares me off!
- the gameplay of CRPGs evolved a lot. Now, you’re used to see several improvement/behaviour that if are missing really annoys you. Like moving the mouse over an item, and instantly see the difference with the one currently equipped in the appropriate slot (this was a feature requested from a user to my upcoming RPG Planet Stronghold and indeed, is very useful but also EXPECTED from nowadays players). So, there’s a long list of things, more or less important, that now players assume will be present by default in a game. And if they don’t find it, they feel frustrated/annoyed!
- Party based vs single character and real-time vs turn based. Most old CRPG were party and turn based. Most of new CRPG are real-time and single player based (you can still have a party, but the NPC AI usually is good enough to fight in your place). When I was playing Mass Effect 2 in particular, I almost never cared of what my other companion were doing. I was just fighting on my own, assuming they would do their part 😀
Of course, not everyone will share the same thoughts as me. But I was a bit surprised to discover how much my gaming tastes have changed in just 7 years! And I can somehow understand why all the new titles are more action oriented, or have excellent GUI system that let you do most of the actions with very few clicks.
However, I think you can still have a good gameplay, rule system, and variety even using the good old turn-based or an hybrid approach like real-time with possibility of pause. A good example is Dragon Age, The Witcher and Drakensang. The last two in particular IMHO represent a very good example of “old-school approach” into a “new fashion” of CRPG. They have still many statistics, items, but the interface is not as clumsy as ToEE. They have lots of tactical challenges but still, you aren’t forced by a turn-based system.
Don’t get me wrong, ToEE is still a great title and I wish Troika Games would still be here today, I’m sure they would make a RPG that would kick Bioware’s ass 🙂 For my upcoming titles though, I think will try a more real-time approach, both for RPGs and also strategy/management games like the Heileen spin-off that I should start prototyping very soon.