Sven Winke on what matters most in RPG

Original author: Swen Vincke
If this name does not tell you anything, then you most likely are not familiar with the company Larian , which makes great RPGs. I myself am a fan of many of their games, in addition, sometimes I correspond with people from their friendly team (more on their official forum, though). Now the guys are working on Divinity: Original Sin , and Sven, in the light of this, apparently wrote an interesting article on his blog about what really matters in RPG. I ask fans of this genre under cat.

Once upon a time, back in the days when we were working on Divine Divinity, I came up with an acronym that describes everything that, in my opinion, is important in computer role-playing games. I thought a lot about it, because I had to tell something to reporters, and I knew that there would be many awkward moments during which we should patiently wait for the new version of the game after many problems.

Just then, I came up with the FUME paradigm, a model with which it is possible to assess the likelihood of whether Sven falls in love with a particular RPG or not. If her rating is small on the FUME scale, then you can expect from me such pearls as "it sucks" or "make my eyes see it." But if the game gains a good rating on a scale, I will continue to talk about it until the end of time. Ultima VII, for example, looks decent on the FUME scale, like Fallout 2. I would love to include modern RPGs in this list, but, unfortunately, there are no games among them that could compete with Fallout 2 and Ultima VII.

Suppose my last statement makes you think that I am one of those cynics who think that all CRPGs are crap, but that’s not the case. On the contrary, I think there have been many breakthroughs over the past decades. The only problem is that there simply was not a single game that would include everything that I want to see in one game. And the restrictions in recent years seem to have blocked the path of development that I would like to see. But, even if I'm a little disappointed with the latest RPGs, I remain optimistic about the future because I firmly believe that progress cannot be stopped in the end.

So, let's see what FUME is.

Ultima VII has a fairly high FUME rating.

FUME , in short, is my method for measuring the quality of what kind of character development a game can offer me. Character development is a feature that I care most about in RPGs. The higher the FUME points, the more I love it, the lower the FUME rating, the less likely it is that the game will remain on my hard drive (or it will be installed at all if its FUME rating is so low).

F in the acronym means available freedom in character development.

Can you make such an embodiment of the character that you would like to play? Or you are driven into a rigid framework into which game designers squeezed you, who probably did not think about your imagination. This is an important issue, because it (freedom) directly affects the degree of immersion in the game.

Freedom also reflects the degree of linearity of the game - you simply cannot have much freedom in a linear game. It also manifests itself in the ability to influence the game when making a choice. If my decisions do not even affect any tiny aspect of the game, then obviously it will not gain a normal rating on my Freedom scale.

Good old Fallout scored a rather high rating on my Freedom scale (surprisingly), despite the fact that most of the games from Bioware have a low rating, even if I really enjoyed Baldur's Gates and Icewind Dales. Unfortunately, most RPGs are very far from what I would like to see them, but, nevertheless, there were steps in the right direction, so I continue to hope ...

Next comes U , which characterizes the Universe, in which everything happens action.

Is she interesting? Varied? Is it original? Have you had exciting adventures in this universe? Is the game world important to you? Is this the type of universe in which it is interesting to play, not only at first, but also a well-developed character? And also, is this a place that reflects your actions? Does it change as a result of your exploits? Do you influence her? If the answer to most of the questions is “yes”, I might even be tempted to play it, even if it sucks on other aspects. I like to explore new universes. They are a projection of a complex mix of cultures.

M - the motivation that is given to you during the development of the character.

This does not always have to be the main plot: for example, Diablo is a game that got its Motivation due to loot and a few clips, rather than a complicated storyline. However, it is clear that a good story can play an important role in enhancing your desire to explore the universe of the game. When the rating of the Universe is small (as it often happens), it is very possible that I will continue to play if my motivation is high enough. In general, I believe that if both (the Universe and Motivation) have a low rating, then I will not be interested in such a game.

It is interesting to note World Of Warcraft. I had two 70-level Persians, (not very impressive, as many would think), but given the amount of free time, this number is crazy. I no longer play World of Warcraft because I thought it was a good story, or because I was impressed with its universe - I played only because I was motivated ... other people played it. So, everything that makes you continue to play passes, although my personal holy grail will forever remain a strong storyline that will emotionally affect me.

And finally, E , which means Enemies against whom you have to develop your character.

This aspect can be interpreted very broadly. E is probably better to replace A(Antagonist (s)), against whom you are developing a character, but FUMA doesn't sound so sexy!

There should be some resistance in the game world in which you will develop, whether it’s bad guys, an ethical problem, the importance of which increases over time, personal questions ... Whatever form you choose, you want it to be interesting, varied, original believable and amazing.

I actually can’t remember a single RPG that really would impress me in that direction. Although, here it is probably worth noting SHODAN, which disappointed me so much that I remembered it ( from a translator: SHODAN is the main antagonist in the System Shock series). I think that as technology improves, over time we will be able to make truly memorable villains.

As already said, I have not seen a single game that would have a high rating in all aspects, but I really enjoyed many games that perfectly showed themselves in at least one aspect. So, any game that combines two or even three components, in my opinion, is a successful RPG. If you want to know why I loved Ultima VII, it is because she scored a high rating on the Universe and Motivation scale, gave me a sufficient illusion of freedom, and at least I can recall some of the villains.

I wrote this article because I realized (while writing another article) that I never described how I define concept and design in Larian. The process is quite simple. Everything that gives one of our games a chance to climb the FUME scale, I will support. Anything that reduces our FUME potential , will be immediately discarded, even if it fits well in the game mechanics.

Over the years, I have seen that it is often necessary to make compromises, be it technical, financial, production or humane considerations. And sometimes it looks like something inevitable. A huge number of people have been involved in the development of games for a long period of time, and it is impossible for everyone to have the same opinions with each other, so the conflicts and compromises that follow them are very difficult to avoid.

Whenever you see something that reduces the rating of the game, then I can say with confidence that this is a result of compromises. This is one of my deepest professional desires - one day to make an RPG that does not fall under these compromises. This is very difficult to do, so I will probably be busy for some time, but at least I have guarantees that I will not get tired of my work.

By the way, I can say that Divinity: Original Sin, IMHO - a big step in the right direction, and this is our desire to make this game the basis for future high-FUME-rated games. Will it work with us or not? I do not know. But then I know that this will not be a futile attempt. In any case, I personally believe that the new game in the Divinity series will have the highest FUME rating among all Larian games. This tells me that even surrounded by many unplanned things, we are in any case moving in the right direction.

I'm not sure if there is anyone else who has developed their own method for evaluating how good RPGs are in their opinion, but I'm really interested to know about other systems that exist. Television people do such things all the time.

From the translator:I apologize for any possible errors. Just decided to share an interesting article with the community. If you notice any errors, or there are suggestions for replacing some points in the text with more suitable ones, please write in PM.

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