By Bribo 128 Comments
Skyrim Is almost upon us, and much as I am looking forward to it, there is that tiny tingling sense of dread that it wil be full of all those hoary old cliches that can turn a journey of discovery into one of those nostalgic clip-show's that still pollute TV a good decade or so after we tired of them.
This is personal opinion, of course. Many of the subjects that I would like to expunge from RPGs may be the very things that keep you coming back. And I welcome opinions defending your own favourite tropes.
Let us begin:
- J.R.R Tolkien - the 400 pound gorrila with guns for eyes. Tolkien's works have gone from literary touchstone, through enemy design crutch, to easy shorthand. If your RPG features orcs, giant spiders, elves who are good at ranged attacks and dwarves who are good at melee - you have instantly flagged your fiction as creatively bankrupt.
- Prophecies announcing that you are the chosen one. This mostly a fault with JRPGS. Of course I'm the fucking chosen one. I paid forty quid for this game so I would hope that I can assume I won't be cast as the hero's accountant.
- Turning in quests. I am currently playing Xenoblade Chronicles and I cannot adequateley describe how gratefull I am that I don't have to go back and find the guy who charged me with the task of murdering 5 rabbits before I can claim my reward. Every RPG needs an invisible postal service.
- Amnesia. JRPGs are the main culprit, but I'm fairly certain that most people here would agree that if someone claims to have amnesia, they are blatantly lying. There may be a story worth telling regarding repressed memories, or short-term memory loss (perhaps not - Memento: The Videogame?). But we know enough about how brains work to the point where that shit won't fly.
- Trash. Loot is an important part of any RPG but we really need an in-game filter along the lines of Take This One Thing, Take All or Take Usefull Stuff - where Take Usefull Stuff is the default. Unless the game has a pet (or the afore-mentioned invisible postal service) that can sell all junk on your behalf. But really, why include it if doesn't matter?
- Giant bugs. Back to picking holes in Tolkien here, but insects and arachnids, on the enormous scale that they have appeared in his books and in so many films and videogames, could not actually exist. They lack the lungs that we mammals have and can only draw oxygen through their exoskeletons - and given the inverse relationship between body mass and surface area, anything above waist-height would have long asphyxiated before you even met them , let alone present any significant challenge.
Tolkien also gets a bone for his inclusion of dragons. Gigantic flying lizards show up in mythologies as diverse as medieval Europe, aincient China and pre-historic South America (South America is only classified as Pre-Historic because they were terrible at writing things down). There is a certain frisson there, where one might believe that some of our early ancestors might have tussled with a dinosaur and passed on their story through grunts, cavepaintings or interprative dance. And wizards of course, because denying some sort of magical element would be fucked-up.
Again, this is welcoming thread - and I look forward to my arguments being shot down in rapid sucession.
Except for that one about the giant bugs. That's science.