Well now all of that was self-indulgent now wasn’t it? Not a lot for the neophyte and a whole lot of nattering that those familiar with Video Role Playing Games (VRPGs) probably are far more familiar with than I am. Still, I had fun, and that’s what’s important, right? Oh, and I hope you had fun, too.
But as with good things, so too must this series end. And at seven posts, as promised. The mind reels.
But before we go, let’s dip our feet back into terms one last time.
At Part Three we discussed subcategories (or just categories) of VRPG. Solid, Semi-Solid, and Inconsequential Fluid. What these terms refer to in short is the consistency of a VRPG plot. The Solid ones give the player no choice in story, the Semi-Solid as general (if limited) say in how the plot goes, and the Inconsequential Fluid the illusion of having a say in something that is more or less Solid.
Now the observant might notice a lack there. A missing fourth category. Call it True Fluid, or, to keep things simple enough for even me to understand, just plain Fluid.
Brother Eric noticed this lack and pointed it out in his answer post. His idea, with mild editing on my part, is as follows:
A … Fluid game is one where there really isn’t a story at all – there’s a situation and a world, and that’s it. Any other story you come up with is yours. Generally, games like these don’t really have endings at all. My brother can be forgiven for not thinking of this himself – I doubt he’s ever played such a game, and if he did, he might not have thought of it as an RPG. I imagine that a lot of people have played some of these games without thinking of them as role-playing games, but that’s exactly what they are. Moreover, proper … Fluid games are a pretty recent development, and no major studio has latched onto the idea (although one studio has become a major studio by pioneering, if not inventing, this group of games).
Being almost as brilliant as I am, Eric comes up with some very interesting ideas. His suggestion of Minecraft fitting the bill of Fluid games works quite well, and it’s real tempting to just say, “Whelp, he’s right!” and move on to the next self indulgent series of posts.
Except he isn’t right. In fact, he is almost hilariously wrong.
Why so funny? He’s a game designer. He has game mastered countless RPGs. He should know better.
At no point in my list of terms do I move away from plot or story. Both all always there in some fashion or another. What changes is the level of control the player has.
By using the “situation and world” definition, we eliminate the game designers from the equation completely. It would be, to my mind, like calling the Neverwinter Nights toolset fluid. Players create their own stories with that, right? They can even create their own worlds and situations, within reason.
No, there is a better definition of Fluid VRPG. It is one in which both player and game designers play off one another to fashion a complete story. The old tug and pull, twist and shake, where things could be planned for one outcome only through inspiration and creativity head out to some other direction.
It is, in essence, the complete and total recreation of the Role Playing experience in video game form.
Has it happened yet? I don’t think so. Minecraft isn’t it. Minecraft, I would say, isn’t even a VRPG.
But with the wealth of options growing in both the standard VRPGs and the Massive Multi Online Play games, it might not be long before it does.