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Thread: The RPG Sanctum - #15: Open World vs. Linear RPGs

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    Host of The Sectorcast Rosestorm's Avatar
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    The RPG Sanctum - #15: Open World vs. Linear RPGs

    On this episode of the Sanctum we examine whether open world or linear games are the way of the future. We also announce a special contest and Fanboymaster's eternal disdain for Record of Agarest War.

    Listen: http://www.rpgamer.com/rpgsanctum/sanctum15.mp3
    itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-...um/id416583261
    Download: http://feeds.feedburner.com/rpgamer/DJog

    Be sure to check the two contest we have going for The Sanctum, http://www.rpgamer.com/news/Q2-2011/062911a.html
    Last edited by Rosestorm; 07-11-2011 at 10:37 AM.
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    Well in generally I would say Linear RPGs because I really hate the way most Western RPGs do it with only a little bit main plot and the rest is just boring sidequesting.

    But my absolutely favorite way of telling a story is the way the SaGa series does it. While it's pretty unlinear, all the occurrances are still related to the main plot and there's never some boring sidequest. The only things unrelated to the story are about exploring mysterious caverns, castles and dungeons.

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    Member SiliconNooB's Avatar
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    I prefer expansive linear designs, but open world certainly seems to be in vogue in the moment.

    - That said, I also support a 'right design for the right game' kind of philosophy, because there are certain things that are only possible while using one design or the other ...
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    I'm glad that there are a wide range of games. While I've enjoyed both, I do have to admit that my completion rate is much better on more linear games than on more open games.

    I do feel that FF X and FF XIII are too structured and too linear. I do like to have some option to explore, even if it's limited.

    One other thing I really appreciate is when a game offers multiple solutions to a given situation. Open games tend to be better at this. For example, Fallout will let you fight, steal, or talk your way out of a number of situations. Even in more linear games such as Chrono Cross, there are multiple points where the player can choose from multiple options.

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    One Knight Stand Spartakus's Avatar
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    Questions like these always come up but mine is; can't I have both? I find the differences are so significant these two types of gameplay are suited to entirely different moods. If I feel like exploring an open world I don't want to play FF XIII, but if I want to be told a story I'd rather pick it over Oblivion.

    I think it's fun when things are mixed up though. It's an interesting touch towards the end of FFVI how it suddenly becomes very open and you have a slew of optional quests on your hand, or you can just head to Kefka's tower ASAP.
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    is not declawed RPGamer Staff Ocelot's Avatar
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    The Witcher II is a great example of how a game can have the best elements of open-world and linear RPGs. The two longest chapters of the game take place in large areas that can be freely explored and include a good number of side quests, yet almost all of the side quests have a strong story element to them. Even the "kill x number of monsters" quests (which make sense because being a monster hunter is Geralt's job) involve researching the monsters in question and using the right tools to take them out. And throughout it all is a very strong main narrative.

    Sandbox RPGs are certainly more compelling when there are actually interesting things to find in the gigantic world. I think Bethesda is learning that fact, after hearing why a lot of series fans preferred Morrowind to Oblivion (though both games could have used better dungeon design). I really hope that Skyrim has a stronger main quest narrative and more interesting side quests than Oblivion did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SiliconNooB View Post
    I also support a 'right design for the right game' kind of philosophy, because there are certain things that are only possible while using one design or the other ...
    agreed! this is so important for people to realize. it would be terrible if the RPG industry stopped making either linear or open-world games, and I believe its foolish for anyone to claim that one is really "better" than the other. many people have preferences for one or the other, but even among those people, many of them just haven't given the one they claim to dislike a proper chance. or they just judge a game by the critic reviews on sites like this, without even hearing what fans of the series think, much less actually playing the game themselves.

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    I was disappointed in this Sanctum, because none of you guys mentioned the Gothic trilogy. I thought at least Gothic 3 would come up in the conversation, since that is probably the most non-linear and open RPG of the modern polygonal 3D age. Gothic 3 was considerably more open and choice-oriented than the Elder Scrolls games. or if you want to go back to the 2D days, you've got the first two Fallout games. for example one key thing about Gothic 3 as well as the first Fallouts is that every NPC in the entire game world can be killed, permanently, even the most important quest givers in the entire game. and the game just rolls with it, the player deals with the consequences/rewards. in the Elder Scrolls you've got town guards that re-populate over time as well as tons of god-like, invincible quest-givers.

    I agree that FF13 was stupidly linear. I also agree with the guy who dislikes the way Kingdoms of Amalur explicitly warns the player of the power level of monsters. that sounds really artificial and immersion-breaking. promising game anyways however.
    Last edited by ukozo; 10-19-2011 at 09:34 AM.

  9. #9
    A Serious Man Drav's Avatar
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    Gothic 3 is awesome, but poor word of mouth after its disaster of a launch basically ensured that no one actually played it.
    Last edited by Drav; 10-19-2011 at 10:17 AM.

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    RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff 7thCircle's Avatar
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    Immortal quest givers is one of the mechanics Bethesda dropped in Fallout 3 that I hope makes its way into Skyrim. It's such a small thing, but it ruined some quests in Oblivion for me, pulling me out of the illusion of the game when sidekicks would take lethal damage and pass out for a while.

    As for Gothic 3, I passed on it when it sounded unplayable at launch and haven't reconsidered. It might be the only recent-ish WRPG that I haven't played. It hurts that part of the word of mouth is that Gothic 2 is better than Gothic 3, and I disliked Gothic 2.
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    is not declawed RPGamer Staff Ocelot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7thCircle View Post
    It hurts that part of the word of mouth is that Gothic 2 is better than Gothic 3, and I disliked Gothic 2.
    OMG 7th, we're on a roll lately. I thought I was the only hardcore Western RPG fan who disliked Gothic 2.

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  12. #12
    A Serious Man Drav's Avatar
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    Gothic 2 and Gothic 3 aren't really the same kind of game. Gothic 2 is basically a hardcore action-adventure game. It's very story driven, and once you make your faction choice by the end of chapter one you can't really deviate from the plot in any meaningful way. Also, if you have the Night of the Raven expansion installed, it's excessively, cruelly hard. It was aimed at veterans of the first game who wanted something exactly the same but bigger and harder, with a few of the more annoying issues from the first game ironed out.

    Gothic 3 is a sandbox game. Piranha Bytes realized that the most interesting part of Gothic is the beginning where you have to decide which faction you're going to join, and made an entire (huge) game out of that instead. Once you've played through the short opening vignette that establishes the setting, you're pretty much free to do whatever. There's a main plot, but it's kind of like Fallout 1 & 2 where your tasked with "Find X Thing", and the game doesn't really care about how you accomplish this, or whether you accomplish it at all. Unlike Fallout, it's very much in the background, and you spend most of the game doing quests for various factions, and deciding which side you want to take in the overarching faction war. It's night and day compared to the previous Gothic games, which probably explains why Gothic 1 & 2 fans still talk about it with a certain degree of bitterness even now, and why they didn't care that Risen was a complete rehash of Gothic 2.
    Last edited by Drav; 10-19-2011 at 06:12 PM.

  13. #13
    Host of The Sectorcast Rosestorm's Avatar
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    I've never gotten into the Gothic games. I always found Risen to be their best work.
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