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An Introduction

An Introduction to the RPG

What is this dark and dreary website meant to do? Video games are a fascinating and burgeoning medium that challenges its audience- the player- with a layer of engagement not found in the appreciation of other artistic forms- an interactive element that requires the agency of choice. While this usually means a video game is meant to be "conquered" in order to give the player a sense of satisfaction via accomplishment, it can be coupled with narrative and presentation twists in order to create a markedly different effect. Much of cinema's analytical vocabulary exists within this medium, especially in regards to storytelling, but not all video games require a narrative in order to be considered complete. The wide variety of video game genres- some still proving difficult to properly define- means that analysis of their message and function can vary depending on the ultimate objective or accomplishment that the player must achieve. In this way, the Role-Playing Genre is a…
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JRPG Talk- Part 4: Combat

Welcome to another installment in a continued discussion of JRPGs. Today, we'll take a look at another core element of the genre- combat systems. While many of the terms and concepts in these articles may be applied to WRPGs as well, our discussion will mainly focus and reference JRPGs. Let's review our ever-growing glossary of terms:

Organic grinding- the experience (EXP) the game developers force you to accrue because of thoughtful game design.
Artificial grinding- the experience accrued for no other reason than to lighten the burden on the player or subvert the difficulty spikes.
Motif- A fundamental mechanic of a core environment in an RPG, such as a dungeon, or the overworld. Motifs encompass reoccurring mechanics.
Gimmick- An area-specific mechanic of a core environment. Usually a puzzle or gameplay element exclusive to an area.
Aesthetic- The artistic design of a core environment. This artistic element can contribute to gimmick mechanics.
"Traditional" Overworld Des…

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

This is a hard review for me to write. I’ve done this sort of thing for many other games, and I have also done reviews for previous Zelda games. But Breath of the Wild is a different beast. It is a game so massive, it requires a massive, sloppy look at it from every angle I can think of. Within this note, you will find what I consider to be a comprehensive look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. If you would like to read about a specific perspective of the game, I have them listed here. Simply use your search function to skip right to a specific section by typing in the number listed below: 001: The Social Experiment (Introduction) 002: A Zelda Experience (Key Features) 003: A Game of Logic (Criticisms) 004: Placement (Conclusion) Well, let's get to it, shall we? 

Review: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Kickstarter is a tricky mistress. She will tease you with promises of a great night on the town, but when you fork over the cash, things might turn out very differently than what you had expected. Of course, if you simply trust the developer to make a solid product and refuse to involve yourself in the "process," you are bringing that sort of result upon yourself, right?

But what if you really do trust a developer and want them to succeed? Where does that put you when things do not exactly meet your expectations? Well, that is a different side of Kickstarter, the one where established developers with a vision, or perhaps a familiar intellectual property, take to the site in hopes that their fanbase is still out there, waiting for another great experience. That can sometimes be even more disappointing than an unknown developer's product not resonating with you.

That brings us to Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.

Review: Pokemon Sun

"I'm getting too old for this," I muttered as I switched to an area-of-effect attacking move with my Bewear, knocking out yet another S.O.S. wild encounter in two turns. Yes, there was plenty new to experience in the series' latest outing, but Pokemon Sun was testing my patience. I wondered when I became jaded enough about Pokemon to get annoyed by such things, but there I was- trudging halfheartedly through Game Freak's newest catchable critter title.

Sometimes, video games are like comfort food- it is easy to turn off your brain and roll with the punches, slipping into a familiar world and experience and unwinding at the end of the day. But Pokemon Sun did not evoke those feelings in me, and for the first time in the history of the 20-year series, I found myself questioning my love for Nintendo's most reliable cash-cow.

JRPG Talk- Part 3: The Overworld

Welcome to another installment in a continued discussion of JRPGs. Today, we'll take a look at the design of another core element of the genre- the Overworld. There is a specific definition that stems from a user-generated source which I would like to immediately identify- found here, of all places. To reiterate much of this definition, an Overworld is meant to interconnect specific locations and primarily function as a means for travel. But there are many questions the idea of an Overworld presents, and many concepts of game design that must be addressed. In discussing the subject, we might actually end up coining some new terminology. While many of the terms and concepts in these articles may be applied to WRPGs as well, our discussion will mainly focus and reference JRPGs. Let's review our ever-growing glossary of terms:

Organic grinding- the experience (EXP) the game developers force you to accrue because of thoughtful game design.
Artificial grinding- the experience accrued…

Bi-Weekly JRPG Talk- Part 2: Dungeon Design

Greetings, all, and welcome to another installment of an ongoing discussion of JRPGs. I began writing for this concept quite a while ago, around when I actually finished Xenoblade Chronicles X. (which was around February. It's been a while.) However, the completion of another title in this genre spurred me to finally post my thoughts and begin the series in full. I've done a bit of rumination on where to progress from our last talk, which largely had to do with the progression of story in the genre, but eventually lead into a discussion of the entirety of a game's progression. This lead to two definitions, which I'll reiterate so that we can use them moving forward. I'll do this for all the terminology I coin in each talk, so that we have a little glossary of terms before each discussion:

Organic grinding- the experience (EXP) the game developers force you to accrue because of thoughtful game design.
Artificial grinding- the experience accrued for no other reason tha…