Computer RPGs

For this week's "RPG Corner" I wanted to step away from pen-and-paper for a moment and delve into computer RPGs for a bit.

I first got hooked on computer games via "King's Quest III", which is probably more of an adventure game than a true RPG. But the elements that first attracted me to D&D are there -- growth of a character over time, acquisition of new items and skills, figuring out puzzles, exploring hidden environments, and active participation in a story. My brother had a new PC at his house, and on my first Christmas vacation from college I was over there literally every night, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. After two weeks we finally realized you could save your game progress instead of starting from scratch every time you died, and things went a lot faster.

Hey, we were idiots, what can I say?

Ever since, it's the RPG that keeps me coming back to gaming time and again. From "Might & Magic" to "Baldur's Gate" in fantasy on up to "World of Warcraft" and the "Fallout" series in sci-fi, these games keep me fired up and interested in the world of consoles and computers. I've been moved, challenged, excited, depressed, and obsessed more times than I can remember.

I have a hard time defining just what qualifies as an RPG, though. Clearly D&D has decided to move more in the direction of the computer titles, with combat-maximized rules, lots of power trees and a "build"-centric focus. Along the way the story seems to be getting less and less important, but to me that's really the core of a good RPG. The action and mechanics enhance the story, but without some reason for being there, without a character to build, it's all just a big fireworks show.

But as someone pointed out in the "Avatar" thread, sometimes fireworks is all you want, and hey, who doesn't like fireworks? If story's your thing (as it is for me), then great, but that's not the case for everyone. Why should an entire genre be defined just by what I personally enjoy the most?

All of that's a long way 'round to the point of this post (such as it is), namely, what computer RPGs did you / do you enjoy the most, and why? What is it that qualifies a game as an RPG? What is it that you like about computer RPGs better than pen-and-paper style games?

Edited to Add: You can play King's Quest III online for free if you want. I love the internet!

9 Responses to Computer RPGs

  1. Kaldath says:

    The Computer/Console RPG’s I have played:

    Final Fantasy I
    Final Fantasy II
    Final Fantasy III
    Final Fantasy IV
    Final Fantasy V
    Final Fantasy VI
    Final Fantasy VII ( The Best Final Fantasy Game EVER )
    Final Fantasy VIII
    Final Fantasy IX
    Baldur’s Gate
    Wild Arms
    Lufia II
    Star Wars: Knights Of the Old Republic
    Star Wars: Knights Of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords
    and a few other titles I can’t remember

    Everquest I
    Guild Wars
    Final Fantasy XI
    World Of Warcraft
    Dungeons and Dragons Online ( DDO for short )

    I would have to Say that Even though Final Fantasy VII is the best Final Fantasy game ( in my opinion ) That I enjoyed playing Final Fantasy XI the best out of all the games listed above. That being Said I enjoy Table Top, pen and paper RPG’s better then Computer/Video Games mostly for the Role-Playing Aspect which is not truly present in any computer game.

    When I Role-Play in a Pen and paper ( or even some free Form, IRC or PBEM games for that matter ) I take on a Role that isn’t Me. FOr a short time I stop being Harry ( my real name ) and become Kaldath, or whatever character I am play at the moment. Kaldath the Character from my Play By Email Game Raven’s Keep ( a name I liked so much I started using it as my User name on the internet ) is a much different person then Harry, Kaldath will do and say things Harry would never consider doing or saying , and Vise Versa. The True RPG experience for me is that becoming of someone different, getting into this new persons head and adjusting your way of thinking to the characters persona THAT is Role-Playing to me.

  2. Me, Myself & I says:

    I’ve played my share of computer RPG’s such as the ones previously listed with a few extra’s added to the mix.

    Most notibly;
    Hero’s Quest (all of them)
    Neverwinter Nights (and many other D&D based)

    I have to agree that they do not compare with true Ropeplaying in person either free form or tabletop. The thing about computer RPG’s is that they are so rigid. They have stry lines that are very stagnent that can not be altered (other than in pre-determined ways). I also find them less challenging. If you die, you can just go back to the last save or re-spawn etc. In a table top game in comparison, if your character dies, depending on the game, they might just stay dead. Its much more challenging.

  3. Connor S. says:

    Well, I do play many games and alot of them are RPGs. For MMOs, I really only played WoW and Aion (Both of which are now terminated 🙁 ). For non-MMO’S, and console games, I’ve played:

    Oblivion: The Elder Scrolls VII

    Oblivion: The Elder Scrolls VII Game of the Year Edition w/ Shimmering Isles, and Nine Knights or whatever, I always forget the 2nd one. Both are great games with endless possibilites.

    Fallout 3 (Wonderful game. If you have not tried and beat at least the normal non-expansion mode, I really suggest you do. It pays off.)

    and… (lol) Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition including Broken Steel, Operation Anchorage, and like 3 others.

    Bioshock (also great, just really never got into it as much as the others)

    Dragon Age Origins (Wonderful, better than Bioshock and almost as good as Fallout and Oblivion, if not equal.)

    Dragon Age Origins: Return to Ostagar

    Dragon Age Origins: (lol lovin’ the DLC) The Shale one. (Not sure on the name lawl. Just remember the chick from it.

    Dragon Age Origins: Awakening (Undoubtedly the best RPG expansion pack out there. It takes off from the original game, and if you choose you can return an old player, which I loved because my dude was a badass by the end of DAOA)

    That’s it. I really like Bioware, they’re where I look to for RPGs. I’m pretty sure they make all of these. I think. Or DAO/DAOA was made by Bioware and the others from a different company, but all great RPG games.

  4. Worf says:

    On average, pen and paper RPGs are better, but are heavily dependent on who’s DMing. A good DM can make a run of the mill preset book adventure into something awe inspiring.

    As far as CRPGs are concerned I’m a bit more experienced than most.. My first was the first Wizardry… I played Ultima since Ultima 2 (later I found a copy of Ultima I to play) played all the Hero’s Quest and most of the old D&D games.

    Of the D&D ones the one I remember most was Menzoberanzan, but I think mostly because it was a looooong game.

    Of the Hero’s Quest series, the best part was whenever the current puzzle emphasized a skill that you had. Since the game forced you to choose from 3 different classes, replay value was added when a situation forced you to make a different choice because your current character didn’t have the skill you used the first time around. Plus it was the first time I saw an acceptable real time combat system.

    More recently (not THAT recent I know) Diablo and Diablo II… Can’t wait for Diablo III (the rumor mill says christmas)

    MMOs haven’t been much on my plate lately, but the ones Ive played most are Guild Wars and Runescape. And while I DO understand that graphics for a computer game are a must for some people I actually like Runescape for the fact that it is THE MOST open ended game I’ve seen. There’s nothing that you’re required to do… no “main story line” that you HAVE to advance…. also, no need to stay logged on forever. Guild Wars was fun but I felt very little freedom of choice (almost none).

  5. Vina says:

    The computer RPG game I liked (and like) the most and, I think, the best PC game ever made is, no doubt, Ultima Online (UO). Why? First of all because is not only a game based on Player vs monster or player vs player fights, but is much deeper, with story, quests, set in a very detailed, ‘realistic’ world (in a fantasy setting), so easy to identify itself with your character and get addicted. And, in my opinion, what makes an RPG game a good one is the chance to get involved in your character to fully live the imaginery world of the game.
    Probably the reason why I like PC RPG game most than classical pen-and-paper one is that they are always ready to be played, no need to set an appointment, to find the right place and the available people, and, with on-line games you can also play with (and against) real peole from all over the world.

    For this reason I am creating an RPG System on Second Life, trying to recreate the sensations I had playing Computer RPGs. I am posting this here not to advertive myself (not only!) but because the quests giver characters (a feature that is coming soon) has been made with HeroMachine, so I take chance to thank all the Staff of Hero Machine. THANK YOU UGO!

    If you want to know more about my projects:

  6. Me, Myself & I says:

    Bioware is in my home town. I’ve actually played roleplaying games in the same circle with some of Bioware’s developers. They were named within the top 100 employers in Canada from a few sources I’ve seen.

  7. Sefighter says:

    I have been fascinated with the Fantasy genre (and a bit of SciFi) as far back as I can remember since kindergarten /primary-school. What got me hooked me up on it, I don’t know and can’t remember. One of the earliest things I can think of is the Dungeons and Dragons, cartoon TV series, which I love

    I was drawing since I was a kid, and most of my drawings are dedicated to Fantasy (as some are on my website). Not that I am too good at it, but I enjoy it now and then, less these days though, I lack inspiration.

    As far as gaming goes, I have never played a real D&D game with a group of friends and a DM. I don’t know any of my friends who took part in it, and though I was the only geek who liked it when I grew up. Although my brother was in such a D&D group and whenever he came back from a session I listened with amazement to his stories.
    I did however play a few computer adventure and RPG games that I really liked, and still do. I can’t say I am very experienced as others here might be. I started with adventure games (Quests) such as:
    – Simon the Sorcerer 1 + 2
    – Discworld 1 + 2
    – Day of the Tentacle
    – Monkey Island 2
    – Grim Fandango

    I moved to RPGs later, such as:
    – Baldur’s Gate 1 + 1.5 + 2, which I think is the best RPG, and even the best computer game ever made. Mostly because of the rich and well done story and plot of the game, that you play a key role in. Like you Jeff I am more interested in a good story of a game. In my case it’s much more key than graphics and “fireworks”.
    – Quest for glory 5: Dragon Fire
    – Dragon Age: Origins, although I haven’t finished it yet.
    – Nox
    – Diablo 2, which I really enjoyed but I can’t call it a true RPG, but rather a hack and slash game, where all you do is kill monsters gain more powerful items, go up levels, and then kill some more monsters again, and the cycle goes on. I find it gets boring after a while, but I keep coming back to it every so often. It’s a well made game, like everything from Blizzard, and I can’t wait for Diablo 3 to come out. In Diablo’s case I think the story is not as well written as in other games, not that I have such a rich experience to compare it with.

    I played some MMORPGs, like:
    – WoW, when it first came out in 2004, for half a year, and then I came to the conclusion that it’s pretty much like Diablo, hack and slash, at least in my opinion.
    – Runes of Magic, which is free, and I think has better graphics than WoW.

    Other fantasy/sci-fi games I love, although they are not really RPGs are:
    – Warcraft 2 + 3 +3.5, I really hope they come up with , as another strategy game
    – Starcraft 1 + 1.5
    – Heroes 3
    but that’s just me and my silly opinions… 🙂

  8. Kalkin says:

    The best computer RPGs:
    -Might & Magic-series

  9. Anthony says:

    my favorate computer RPGs are

    Dragon Age: Origins
    Mass Effect 2 (I like the idea of a sci fi RPG)

    well…okey so these are the only ones I’ve played but I love all of them significantly more than my other cpu games