“To RP, or not to RP: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of enemy archers,
Or to face frustration from a thousand impossible puzzles,
And by googling, solve them?” – Shakesmeep
Why, you may ask, are Lori and I making a role-playing game rather than an adventure? After all, we are best know for our work at Sierra On-Line, an adventure game publisher. And our most popular games – the Quest for Glory series – looked and played a lot like other Sierra adventure games… with a few twists.
To us, those twists make all the difference. Quest for Glory are wolves in sheeps’ clothing, RPG’s in the guise of adventures.
So one answer is, we’ve never actually made a pure adventure game. Quest for Glory? RPG in adventure clothing. Shannara? Adventure game with RPG features. Castle of Dr. Brain? Educational puzzle game in an adventure game engine. Mixed-Up Fairy Tales? Children’s storybook in an adventure game setting. Our other games are even farther away from the adventure game mold.
The Trouble With Adventures
Now we have nothing against adventure games, but it’s really hard to make one these days because of that insidious creature, the Internet.
Back in the 80’s and 90’s, adventure game players seemed to thrive on frustration. If they couldn’t solve a puzzle, they would keep trying – sometimes for weeks or months. Maybe they’d ask a friend for help, but most of them were perfectly content to spend months working through the puzzles in one game.
Now things are different. People have no patience because they don’t need any. All of the answers are a few clicks away on the Internet. Unfortunately, getting a hint is a lot like eating a salted peanut – It’s impossible to stop at one.
Role-playing games have a big advantage there. Most RPG “puzzles” rely on building up your character’s abilities and using them well. You can go to a hint site to find out how to play better, but winning the game is still up to you to play. The game designer has a lot more power to control the length and difficulty of an RPG than an adventure game.
The popular first-person shooter genre is also immune to Internet hints, but Lori and I find those games boring. They rarely make you think, and they rely on fast hand-eye coordination to win. That’s fine; it’s a valid form of game play. We just don’t think it should be the only form.
What’s In a Game?
“What’s in a game? That which we call an RPG
In any other game would play as well.” – Shakesmeep
When we say that Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is an RPG, we mean that traditional RPG features are its main focus. You will explore, fight monsters, gain new skills, find items that help your character (mostly in combat), and improve your abilities through game play.
When people talk about adventure games, they mean you explore, find and use inventory items, solve puzzles, and usually talk to characters in the game.
Both types of game have quests. In truth, you can incorporate all of the elements of an RPG into an adventure game – as we did with Quest for Glory – and everything we think of as part of an adventure game greatly improve a role-playing game.
In tabletop roleplaying, the best games use all of the elements of both computer RPG’s and adventures. We think a great role-playing adventure should do the same.
The Heart of the Matter
So why are we calling Hero-U an RPG and not an adventure?
- 1. Branding – It’s a way of reaching a wider audience that might not have played classic adventure games.
- 2. Budget – We can make a better RPG-style game for less money than it would take to make a great graphic adventure.
- 3. True Love – Our hearts are in role-playing games. Lori and I met over a Dungeons & Dragons table, and we moved to Oakhurst because we wanted to develop RPG’s. We like the challenge of honing our character’s skills, learning new abilities throughout the game, and having the power to fight evil directly. It’s fun getting your frustrations out through imaginary slaughter!
So when you’re talking about Hero-U, please call it an RPG as we do. It’s ok to wink if you’re subtle about it. We don’t like to make games that fit neatly into a single category. Hero-U will have something for role-players, adventurers, questers, combatants, and puzzlers.
We want you to be too involved with playing your character’s role to worry about what kind of game you’re playing..
And that’s why we RP.