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Old 12-30-2010, 07:28 PM   #1
kamiboy
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Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG designers

1/7/2011: It was a mistake to try and treat this text as a game review, please instead regard it as an article discussing JRPG game design instead, which was its original intent.

Intro:

The JRPG genre has long been weighed down by archaic game design choices, all of which are brought on by nothing but nostalgia of its fan base and time worn traditions of the genre.

Ironically the most popular series in the genre, Dragon Quest, serves as the very embodiment of all the needless appendages still shamelessly hanging on the genre formula since it was set in stone back in the 80's. As such many JRPGs and the DQ series in particular, are almost indistinguishable from RPGs that came out decades ago. This is not a good thing, because it means that the genre has not moved forward and if it continues not doing so it will wither and be overtaken by other genres, or god forbid, Western style RPGs, which are full of problems of their own.

Tracing the roots:

I get the impression that the reason for this lethargy in the genre is mostly due to the almost unreal popularity and support it has been the recipient of in its home territory, Japan. In that regard I like to say that JRPGs are to Japan what shooters are to the west.

Shooters, specifically the FPS, today are the antithesis of evolution in the industry. The gameplay in any modern FPS can be traced almost unchanged back to Catacomb 3D. It seems since most developers in the west, due to their popularity, are preoccupied with making first person shooters or games of the shooter persuasion in general, those types of games have come to accept a technical graphical/presentational evolution in place of any gameplay specific evolution.

Similarly any old school, as some would lovingly call it, JRPG will resemble the original DQ to an almost shocking degree. Unlike the FPS, though, where the only gameplay element that separates one game from the other are nothing but superficial, most JRPGs allow themselves to be quite creative in filling out the blanks around the rigid RPG skeleton that was established by the old kings of the genre.

Cultural phenomenon:

Essentially the JRPG and the FPS are victims of their own popularity. I've observed their sizable fan base respond to evolutionary change with either apathy, as is often the case with JRPG fans, or with violent phobia, as is often the case with FPS fans. Focusing on the Japanese JRPG fans I think there is evidence of the fan base there being mostly senior fans who through interest purchase new installments in their favorite ancient franchise. So the DQs and Final Fantasies sell millions of copies to the established fans of old, but there are few new comers to spot among them.

In the last few years, I've noticed many Western gamers, and I imagine Japanese as well, specially having lost interest in JRPGs because they feel they are outdated. I myself, having played dozens upon dozens of RPGs in my time, have formulated the basics of how it would be best to change things for the better.

A call for evolution:

The first and most important archaic game mechanic that needs to be completely removed from all future RPGs is the random encounter. Random encounters were never a good idea, not even back in the 80s, and I am baffled at how this stain on the genre has survived this long intact.

As I see it the only relevant argument any game designer can put forth in defense of keeping this archaic game mechanic alive is that it is necessitated by another equally unwelcome, and long due for retirement, RPG mechanic, the grind. The grind, in conjunction with the random encounter, existed in 80s RPGs to artificially prolong gameplay by forcing players who could not defeat a purposefully overpowered boss to "train" their characters through grinding to level up in order to more easily defeat said boss.

A focus on the fun core:

Half of what makes a RPG fun is the adventuring part, to explore regions off the beaten path and generally let curiosity be one's lodestone in the quest for adventure.

In most JRPGs the greatest obstacle between a player and the true joy of exploration is having the experience inexplicably interrupted regularly for a pace-shattering enemy encounter. By throwing one random encounter after the next in the face of gamers when all they are trying to do is to satisfy their explorer whim of "I wonder what lies yonder", the game designers are actually punishing the player for giving in to their adventuring spirit.

It takes only so many random encounters before players grow tired of the whole debacle and abandon adventuring in favor of trying to reach that next town as fast as possible. In other words random encounters ruin the fun of adventuring, which is half the fun in RPGs.



It has already been done, and well:

Permit me to reference two games I hold in the highest regard in the RPG genre, both of whom were light years ahead of their contemporaries, when giving my answer to how to perfectly get rid of most archaic RPG mechanics, such as the random encounter and the grind. These two titles are Vagrant Story, made by a person I hold in the highest regard, Yasumi Matsuno, and Chrono Trigger for the Super Famicom which both were the result of the adventurous experimentations of the Square of old.

Both of those titles contained no random encounters and instead had enemies visibly present in the game world to avoid pointless encounters. Vagrant Story took its commitment to innovating the RPG genre one step further by also abandoning the need for the grind by making the level of a character a largely unimportant factor in its ability to vanquish a foe or boss.

If you build them, it'll be more fun:

Instead of the character's level Vagrant Story made the gaining and customization of weapons, armor and character abilities the focus of how to succeed in battle. In Vagrant Story there was no overworld map or towns either, as that game also discarded such needless traditions of the genre. In so doing there were no weapon shops from which to hypnotically purchase better weapons needed for the next iterative boss encounter. Rather Vagrant Story relied on the player to build their own weapons and armor by combining weapons and armor dropped by vanquished foes.

I found that method of strengthening oneself to be genius when compared to just making stronger weapons automatically available in the next town in other RPGs. For one, making your own weapons through the deep and engaging crafting system really required mental effort towards becoming stronger instead of just mindlessly grinding through random encounters, most of which can be completed by just choosing the "attack" command over and over again, or purchasing better equipment which is equally none engaging, unexciting and effortless.

The other part of the formula for success in battle was to customize the abilities a character gained as it progressed through the game. Without going into too much detail I will say that the abilities, physical as well as magical, in Vagrant Story were great and choosing the right combination for the encounter at hand was very strategic, which really added to the gameplay.

Adventuring means exploration:

To get back to adventuring, by removing random encounters one will affectively remove the main barrier dissuading gamers to go exploring the game world at a whim. It's then that developers have to turn their attention to making a more exciting looking and feeling game world. The traditional town/dungeon/overworld break up present in traditional RPGs, like all DQ games, rarely provide players with very exciting locals that would pique the adventurous spirit.

Because of the need to break their world so abruptly into these three aforementioned sections most traditional RPG's do not offer very varied or exciting locales. They also create the illusion of their worlds being very boxed-in and none dynamic, simply existing to connect one town to the other or to a dungeon.

Playing RPGs would be much more exciting and enjoyable if less effort was put into making the world unnecessarily large and more effort was put into the locales to make each area of the world unique, beautiful and adventurous, instead of just feeling like a repetitious backdrop for constant random encounters. For examples of how to create breathtaking locales that encourage one to go explore one can turn to ICO and Shadow of Colossus. For more RPG-like examples the recently released western RPG, Fallout 3, can be mentioned, which contains one big seamlessly connected world full of interesting places that beckons explorers to discover their many secrets.

Too many RPGs stoop to creating generic looking locales to artificially prolong the distance between each stop, usually in the form of a town, and the DQ series has long been guilty of doing this.

Unfortunately where Fallout 3 succeeds in creating a beautiful, exciting looking world it fails in providing rewards for all the exploring it invites. There is rarely a "pot of gold" at the end of the many symbolic rainbows in Fallout 3, so exploring ends up feeling unrewarding. Rewarding exploration with good useful treasures is equally important to the joys of RPG gameplay.

Up quality by reducing quantity:

Another two things I feel needs to be addressed in all future RPG's is emphasis on quality of enemy encounters in favor of their quantity, which directly relates to the length of the average RPG. As is to be expected the RPG genre has always thrown thousands upon thousands of enemy encounters into the face of their players before completion. As a result, the majority of these encounters offer nothing in terms of quality, enjoyment or challenge and do nothing but extend the playtime to unacceptable lengths.

Most RPG's, I've noticed, contain in them somewhere between 70-100 hours of raw gameplay for the average player. The vast majority of this time is spent pressing the same button to repeatedly attack and grind through yet another effortless, pointless encounter, a mad practice of pure genre loyal padding. What an inexcusably decadent waste of people’s time.

Vagrant Story did not do things this way, almost each one of the encounters in Vagrant Story was both engaging, challenging as well as meaningful. This was in large part because Vagrant Story did not have intentionally weak generic enemies to serve as artificial stumbling blocks for its player. As a result each encounter was a quality encounter because it needed the player to pay attention or risk dying, even when fighting a normal enemy.

Exactly because of this the gameplay time in Vagrant Story was shorter than the RPG standard by many tens of hours. The average gamer can complete Vagrant Story in 40 hours or less but that does not mean that its players felt they were short-changed because the quality of gameplay within was much higher than any 100 hour RPG.

Because there was no grind or weak pointless encounters the game felt devoid of the crippling repetition that brings down the quality of most RPGs. 100 hours is too much time to ask gamers to invest in games these days. People are busy and too many interesting games come out for one to spend 100 hours on just one, especially if one does not get more quality gameplay in exchange of the extra tens of hours put in. A length of 30-40 hours is much more appropriate for RPGs these days, because any game that is longer cannot possibly hope to keep things from becoming horribly repetitious.

Interruptions are archaic:

I'll mention a few last things before wrapping things up. In Vagrant Story, Fallout 3 and Final Fantasy XII the transition into an enemy encounter happens seamlessly. But in the DQ series and all other old school RPGs encounters result in a scene change into an encounter scenario. This transition, and the subsequent return after the encounter ends take up many precious seconds which are nothing but a waste of time. They might not seem like much, but even something that takes 5-10 seconds adds up when repeated hundreds of time during the life of a game.

Much ado about narrative:

Finally all that remains is to discuss the recent hubbub around how story is presented in most JRPGs. Let me get back to Vagrant Story once again for this discussion. That game told its story via real time rendered non-interactive cutscenes, but they were very short and sparse. Despite that, Vagrant Story contained an incredibly deep and complicated story, one on the same level as any Final Fantasy game. Typical of its creator, Yasumi Matsuno, Vagrant Story's story was fraught with political intrigue, back stabbing, behind the scene dealings and lastly meddling with the dark arts. An exquisite tale told not through extravagant or lengthy cutscenes such as older FF's did, but in short bite sized very subdued cutscenes.

This is an approach that Japanese RPG developers could employ to not lose Japanese gamers, who enjoy a good story, while at the same time appeal to impatient Westerners. In fact, Vagrant Story should be the gold standard for how to make an RPG for all JRPG developers. It did not have a grind, it did not have towns, its world was one giant connected city, it had a very deep plot told through real-time rendered short sequences, its combat system was simply amazing and instead of relying on leveling up to defeat tough monsters it relied on a very deep weapon customization system combined with property changing magics and lastly, it was no longer than it had to be, around 30-40 hours in length. About the only problem it had was that it was a complete commercial failure, but I like to think that we are responsible for that, not its makers.

Closing comments:

I genuinely feel that this change is needed for the future survival of the genre as many gamers today feel they cannot continue to enjoy RPGs as they are now. As of FFXII SquareEnix had demonstrated their commitment to shaking things up, but as soon as I got my hands on FFXIII it was made clear to me that contrary to my logic JRPG’s are heading in a very strange and counter intuitive direction in the future. This is a direction which I in the future wish to dedicate some time discussing the details of as well as express my bafflement with how it could have come about.

Last edited by kamiboy; 01-07-2011 at 08:17 AM.
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Old 01-05-2011, 03:23 AM   #2
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

As someone who has played RPGs, I've come to expect overworlds and towns and grinding without a second thought. And random encounters do make it seem like wandering through a mine field.

And you never think to expect anything different from the genre until you encounter a game that does something new with it. So I would be interested in trying out Vagrant Story to see what you mean.

Dollars often trump creativity, unfortunately. When you stumble upon a formula that turns out to be a reliable moneymaker, there's not much of a business incentive to depart from it.

You don't have to write a plain review, but you do need to start using plainer language. This was a difficult read. The easier you make it for your readers, the better.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:53 AM   #3
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

The quest for profit does usually take precedence over the quest for creativity, sure, but the JRPG genre is certainly not a mine as abundantly rich as it was just, say, 10 years ago.

We now count several years past the point where a genre in its situation needs to exert itself to exceed user expectations by way of a fresh approach. This or be content to remain the same and slowly be relegated to a niche genre only existing on life support by pandering to the predictable needs of its ever shrinking core audience.

Many once popular genres became niche existences by failing to do exactly this, take for an example the Survival Horror genre, and the Arcade shooters (shmups).

Anywaste, this article in particular I feel is one I have written in the most plain of ways I can possibly manage, yet you find it hard to read?

Could you elaborate on what parts it is exactly with which you take issue?

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Old 01-05-2011, 10:57 AM   #4
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

Kami, it's your presentation. You make wayyyyy too many prefacing statements that are unnecessary. When you do this, it makes you sound more like you are giving a lecture, and that, for a reader, is a turn-off. You spend the better part of 14 paragraphs prefacing a review-

that's overkill.

And I'm not convinced by some of the assumptions you make. For example: Some genre will overtake JRPGs because design is languishing? That's like saying Deer Hunting games might replace Real Time Strategy games. Doesn't hold water. Every game genre is entrenched not in expectations or designs, but in what sells. And the videogame market is not stagnant, it's busier than ever. There's irony there to savor.

Your argument that FPS games are the antithesis of development is provocative and deserves it's own article, IMO. I agree! But it doesn't really explain why JRPGs are the way they are. Again, drawing a cultural parallel about what games appeal to what country --- that could be another whole article.

And about Vagrant Story. It could be argued, (and has been) that the entire game was nothing but a grind. Endless fighting and weapon crafting.

For me? Convince me it's not, without the exposition about what's wrong with other games of the past few decades. Or narrow it down to one game. Vagrant Story versus FF XIII? That's really what your argument is about, isn't it?
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Old 01-05-2011, 04:27 PM   #5
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

I suppose I do quite a bit of prefacing, but that is because I have no interest in discussing games in the traditional means of a short review, I do more of a analysis and dissection, and not just of a game or genre but the whole circumstance surrounding the topic of choice.

When I accidentally stumbled onto this site, via the many paged Deadly Premonition article and then read the site's mission statement I thought I had finally found a venue for such practices, but I may have been mistaken in that conclusion.

As for my assumption regarding other genres overtaking the JRPG because it is entrenched in a creative slump. Well I stay by that all the way, honestly I cannot see how the situation can be interpreted any other way.

The JRPG was once the bread and butter of the Japanese games industry. Just like the FPS in the west is now, it was an infallible cornerstone in their gaming culture, meaning it was the dominant genre by default, and the big names were guaranteed to sell millions of copies.

However in the last 10 years their prefect sales track record has been on a steady decline in Japan and is all but dead in the west. This is a direct consequence of gamers losing interest with them, and gamers being a very vocal sort of people are very clear about the grievances that led to their disinterest.

In west at least it is a case of fatigue for a genre that gas stuck too closely to its archaic roots. In Japan there are other factors in play, but the decline there is undeniable as well. Only the biggest named properties like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest still sell above a million, everything else is fighing over meager scraps, lucky to move a few tens of thousand units.

Vagrant Story is not one long grind, I resent that statement and anyone who dares utter such nonsense should correct their definition of what grinding means in games.

Vagrant Story is a game completely devoid of any grind because you are never running around in circles killing bats in order to level up so that you can beat that overpowered boss. In Vagrant Story all progress comes by means of skillful utilization of player actions and use of property changing magic. There is no getting stuck here caused by a low level, you can overcome all enemies and bosses by using a little strategic thinking.

Thus Vagrant Story is an RPG with all of the insipid padding removed, making every fight is thrilling, sizable and feel like a boss encounter.

In comparison all other RPG's which rely on grinding and padding as an artifice to lengthen playtime are the antithesis to Vagrant Story's core design philosophies.

My argument is certainly not at all about Vagrant Story versus Final Fantasy XIII as that would demonstrate a level of clairvoyance I did not posses 10 years ago, let alone today.

Back in the day Vagrant Story arrived at my doorsteps like a messiah sweeping away the gathering clouds of my growing impatience with the RPG genre as a whole.

I had begun to take serious issues with some 80's design choices still prevalent in them 20 years after the fact. But I had yet to solidify my exact sentiments, and Vagrant Story was like a revelation that answered all needing answering.

It demonstrated to me what could possibly be the future of RPG's, and 10 years later, not only did none of it come to pass, but things instead started going in the opposite direction. That is really what this is about, my feelings regarding the evolutionary path that the RPG genre could have taken, versus what it did end up taking and where it had landed now.

Vagrant Story was brought only to serve as an illustration of my points as fully developed in an existing project. And Final Fantasy XIII, which I mentioned very briefly, was just an counter example because, you know, Final Fantasy is the biggest name in the dwindling RPG kingdom of both west and East, so whatever they do is sure to turn some heads.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:47 PM   #6
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Question Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

Quote:
Originally Posted by kamiboy View Post
I suppose I do quite a bit of prefacing, but that is because I have no interest in discussing games in the traditional means of a short review, I do more of a analysis and dissection, and not just of a game or genre but the whole circumstance surrounding the topic of choice.

I think this where you lose me.

You're submitting a review in the forum for critique, but you're also saying you have no interest in using the agreed upon form for review that's used here.
That approach alienates readers, and isolates your writing from useful criticism...

I don't get it.
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Old 01-06-2011, 07:45 AM   #7
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

Yes, well, the fault is with me there. But I found it a bit bizarre that a site that aimed to spawn discussions transcending the traditional methods of critiquing games, namely the game review, had opted for posting game reviews as a means of benchmark.

Anyhow, if it were possible I would be more than happy to edit the subject of my threads to make them not be reviews, and instead just free discussions. But then I'd also have to post them in some other thread possibly.

After having read through some of the 5 star reviews here I doubt I could ever produce anything of the sort, their style is just contrary to the way I reflect on games. I was misled by some of articles here I read written by Daniel Weissenberger, which I thought were somewhat close to my own style.
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Old 01-06-2011, 11:45 AM   #8
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

Quote:
Originally Posted by kamiboy View Post
Yes, well, the fault is with me there. But I found it a bit bizarre that a site that aimed to spawn discussions transcending the traditional methods of critiquing games, namely the game review, had opted for posting game reviews as a means of benchmark.

Anyhow, if it were possible I would be more than happy to edit the subject of my threads to make them not be reviews, and instead just free discussions. But then I'd also have to post them in some other thread possibly.

After having read through some of the 5 star reviews here I doubt I could ever produce anything of the sort, their style is just contrary to the way I reflect on games. I was misled by some of articles here I read written by Daniel Weissenberger, which I thought were somewhat close to my own style.
I think you should reformat your reviews as articles! They could only gain in clarity and you would be free to - NOT be constrained by writing a review which you don't want to do. There's no bar on submitting articles-- check out Odofakyodo's excellent short article on Flower, for an example. I wrote a couple of short articles, myself.. they weren't very good.

A personal take: you mention spawning discussion. That takes more than one person. It can't all come from the writer. It takes a writer and a reader. Conversation has a life of it's own. If you tangent one too many times in making a statement, come out all at once with too many ideas, you will, guaranteed, stifle a response because the reader might not be sure what you're really talking about. You don't have to give away everything in your thinking, you can be a little mysterious.

Think of writing an article like going on a date. If you tell all, that person's going to lose interest in you. Think of it: someone's reading your article! You've got a complete strangers attention for maybe 5-10 minutes! That reader isn't just trying to get your ideas, they're trying to get who YOU are. Part of writing is selling yourself, with your writing style.

So, for my money? Jettison the qualifiers and statements of intent... Every time you say 'Now I'm going to discuss'- you stall the flow and you LOSE the attention of the reader. You distance yourself from your ideas, and that confuses the reader- to the person reading your article, you and your ideas are inseparable. You have to BE your ideas, in writing. So don't tell what you're going to talk about, just talk about it. Let the reader FIND the ideas for themselves. Be a little mysterious. And don't be afraid of editing. Editing is your friend. Try to cut the word count by half. I guarantee your ideas will be clearer, not just to the reader, but to you, too!

I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Last edited by RandomRob; 01-06-2011 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 01-06-2011, 01:35 PM   #9
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

Perfectly sensible suggestions my man, in fact so sensible that I am aware of them all already, and if I possessed even an iota of the ability to follow trough on any of these guidelines I imagine I'd have gotten somewhere by now.

Alas, I am utterly useless in making my ideas digestible into 10 minute sections. At that point all they become is a short collection of baseless opinions, and then where do I even get off daring to utter them.

I have a tendency to clarify all my points because I feel to barge in boisterously armed with a set of blanket statements with no support behind them is ungentlemanly.

Also the last thing I wish to do is to generate a back and forth clarifying discussion with anyone, which is why I always make a point to try and clarify my points beforehand.

My ultimate goal, I suppose, is to just add my perspective on certain issues so as to grow the breadth of alternative viewpoints in existence, for as it stands these, I feel, are rather lopsided in one way or the other. So the effect I seek is not to spawn discussion in the place where the article was posted, but rather equip people who discuss or think about games in general with more opinions to draw from, if you can catch my meaning.

Anywaste, where is this place where one can submit articles? I may just give it a last shot before vanishing and put that time towards playing more games instead.
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:17 AM   #10
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

Hey Kamiboy,

As someone who played a lot of JRPGs growing up (Dragon Quests, Final Fantasies, etc.) but has completely given up on them now, I find your article interesting. I hope you don’t “vanish” into the ether without giving it more tries here. I think you have a passion and a good understanding of what you’re writing about. You make some really good observations and connections.

The biggest problem for me is that the article is far far too long and wordy. The word count is 2400 words and that is probably 60% longer than it really should be. The typical gamer coming to a non-academic web site does not have the attention span for 2400 words.

You don’t complete your main thesis until about 450 words into the piece. Considering that the typical article or review is probably in the neighborhood of 1000 words, at that point you’ve used up the patience of all but the most dedicated readers. I found myself thinking “Get to the point already.” In my opinion, Rob is absolutely correct: less is more. Let the reader fill in some of the blanks. Anyone who can’t do that to a reasonable extent is probably not in your target audience anyway.

Personally, if I have to provide any background or context, I try to do it in a paragraph or less. I want to know what your thesis is by about the end of the first paragraph - certainly by the end of the second. If you don't get to that relatively soon, then the piece comes across as unfocused and I'm going to move on because I don't know when you're going to come around to it and my time is valuable.

Your first paragraph should set up the JRPG genre, mention DQ and FF. Then I’d suggest getting to your main thesis: establish that the genre is stale and that you intend to identify the problems and the solutions. Then work through the problems, then the solutions.

Of course, you need to TRIM THE FAT.

You already have everything there that will be in your final draft, it’s just a matter of gutting anything that doesn’t directly support your thesis or any supporting points. For example, the whole comparison of JRPGs to FPSs is largely unimportant to your main thesis and can be cut totally. That topic could be an entire article in and of itself. BAM! 150 words cut.

Another way to reduce word count and improve flow is to condense existing points. This is the hardest part, in my opinion, because being succinct and clear without losing completeness is something that takes practice. For example, your entire section “Up quality by reducing quantity” can probably be condensed to one or two good paragraphs. Do you really need to mention the 100 hour stat three times and the 40 hours twice? A single comparison of those numbers gets your point across (it is a good point).

This is a matter of personal style, I suppose, but I would get rid of the headings. Generally, I don’t think headings are necessary unless you’re writing a book or a very long article. If you have effective transition sentences between your paragraphs, they eliminate the need for headings and help weave the piece together and create flow.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:45 PM   #11
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

So here is where I am confused, I thought this website was aiming to be an academic styled alternative to all of the blog styled ones currently covering games. More academic skewed discussions are, of course, less mainstream by nature, but that is okay because the audience consists of more knowledgeable, more patient readers who enjoy a deeper discussion of the topics at hand.

I thought this site was trying to do for games what was done for movies, seeing to bring about a decidedly more niche, but also decidedly needed venue for higher level critiquing of games or discussions on games.

Anywaste, thanks for the detailed dissection of my so called article, but the scope of that you suggesting pretty much nullifies the need for the original, at that point I may as well throw this all away and instead write something new regarding the topic of JRPG's.

I may just do that in the future, if which case I'll prolly post it here as well, but my style of writing make 1000 word blog sized articles unrealistic, especially when covering a topic that I am passionate about. Hell, I'll try though.
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:18 PM   #12
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

On the other hand, 1000 words is such a pedestrian goal, if you really want to maintain the impatient attention of the mainstream then get your ideas across using only 180 characters.

So here I go:

JRPGs=archaic
Sales=low
Writing on wall
Learn from Vagrant Story
No grind+trivial character lvl+seamless battles-random+custom gear+tactical magic+subdued story+atmosphere-padding=Yes!

Last edited by kamiboy; 01-08-2011 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:42 PM   #13
RandomRob
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

There's nothing pedestrian about being brief and concise. High word count doesn't automatically make something clear.

The idea of the site is to submit work and have it peer reviewed so you can edit it and make it better. IMO.

Last edited by RandomRob; 01-08-2011 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:48 PM   #14
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

Hey Kami,

I don't speak from a position of authority, and I think a staff member could help clarify the site's mission here. I will say that based on the countless reviews and articles I've read here over the years, I personally would not define Gamecritics as a rigorously academic web site. I think it is intended for the "layman" and I think that's a good thing. That's not to say it's not useful discussion. I find the average discussion is leagues more thoughtful and mature than most other sites.

It seems the type of piece you're going for would be similar to Sparky Clarkson's wonderful examination of the cinematic action genre. In that light, perhaps some of my advice might be unwarranted. You might want to keep the headings (although you don't need to tell me where the introduction and conclusion are). You can also allow for more length. His piece clocks in at about 2100 words, and that's about as long as you're going to see articles on this site.

Sparky's word count is completely acceptable because he says a LOT without clarifying, being redundant, or inserting paragraphs of peripheral information. He has more or less a single statement of intent, which is his thesis. Unsurprisingly, you see this at the end of the first paragraph. By the time I've read through all your prefacing statements and find out what your thesis is, Sparky's already well into his second supporting idea. He's got my attention and is making a great case, while I'm still wondering whether or not you have a point. I admit that you're taking on a big topic, so getting down to 1000 words might be too much cutting. However, I think 1600 or so is a reasonable target.

Although Sparky has much much more to say about the cinematic action genre, it's clear that he acknowledges the limits of the internet medium and respects the time of his readers. Precious few people spend an hour reading a single article on the web - there's just so much else out there at a click of the button. Sparky knows when to call it a day and allow his audience to chew on what he's said. If they're still interested, then they can continue with his follow-up piece that gets even deeper critically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kamiboy View Post
Anywaste, thanks for the detailed dissection of my so called article, but the scope of that you suggesting pretty much nullifies the need for the original, at that point I may as well throw this all away and instead write something new regarding the topic of JRPG's.
I respectfully disagree here. As I said before, I think you have everything you need to finish this article right here. I believe there is a fantastic article in here just waiting to be uncovered - like sifting through a bowl of dirt for several nuggets of gold. You want the reader to see those gold nuggets - if they do they will take them home with them.

Rob's absolutely right: Being more concise will make it a better read.
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:51 PM   #15
kamiboy
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Vagrant Story, and its many lessons for uninspired JRPG

Quote:
Originally Posted by RandomRob View Post
There's nothing pedestrian about being brief and concise. High word count doesn't automatically make something clear.

The idea of the site is to submit work and have it peer reviewed so you can edit it and make it better.
I see, so that is the intent. Well, I had completely misunderstood it then. Anywaste, such practices are entirely contrary to my interests, sorry if I wasted any of your time, I'll be heading off now.

Cheers.
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