Reply To: Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games

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“… (by Chris Williams) Dunno, I approach adventure games as being an attempt to give a player the ability to become a character in a story in as seemless a manner as possible….”

Actually, I’d quibble a bit with this. I don’t see story as being a distinguishing factor between adventure games and RPGs. There are RPGs with very complex and well-developed stories. And there are adventure games that are little more than a plotless collection of puzzles, with a paper-thin story pasted on afterwards as an obvious afterthought. Both adventure games and RPGs have stories, and in both genres there are some games that have better or more complete stories than others.

The way I see it, adventure games and RPGs are actually very closely related. Both genres share two main goals: to tell a story, and to give the player a feeling of immersion in an imaginary world. In both genres, some games concentrate more on one of these goals than the other (and some games don’t manage to do a good job of either of them). But both adventure games and RPGs need something else to keep the player occupied, to give him more to do than just plow through the story with minimal interactivity. And it’s in how they approach that “something else” that the genres differ. Adventure games do it by requiring the player to solve puzzles to progress. RPGs do it by forcing the character to gradually build up level and/or stats to face more difficult opponents later in the game.

So that, as I see it, is the key difference between adventure games and RPGs–not in the story, which exists in both genres (to varying degrees depending on the individual game), but in the puzzles. I think Johann de Waal and Brandon Klassen have brought up some interesting ideas for how to approach puzzles in a massively multiplayer setting, and I’m certainly not trying to find fault with those; I just wanted to express my disagreement with the implication that adventure games are focused on story and RPGs aren’t.