Future of the RPG genre

Sarafan

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I've been wondering lately what's the future of the RPG genre. In its history it had a lot of twists and the future is not so certain.

Many people think that its golden era was at the turn of the centuries. The RPGs from late 90s and early 2000s brought a new quality to the genre. The era of schematic dungeon crawlers was over. Storytelling was best than ever and mechanics provided by the AD&D ruleset resulted in a decent character development system. That's why we remember games like Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Planescape Torment, Neverwinter Nights and a few other. Never before computer RPGs were so much fun.

Then something happened. Interplay along with Black Isle went bankrupt. BioWare was able to stand its ground and release Knights of the Old Republic in 2003. This was followed by Knights of the Old Republic 2 release by Obsidian in 2004. These were different games than isometric classics from the turn of the centuries and they marked another shift. The genre has plunged into a crisis. For almost three years we didn't see any major RPG on the horizon. Neverwinter Nights 2 released in 2006 wasn't as big success as everyone expected. The hallmark of the crisis was action oriented Mass Effect. It was a very good game, but fans of classic RPGs weren't convinced. On the one hand a lot of RPG elements such as character progression system, where added to newly developed games from many genres. On the other hand full-fledged RPGs became very scarce. The only noteworthy releases in the upcoming years were The Witcher and Dragon Age: Origins. Without the success of DA:O we wouldn't probably see a new renaissance of isometric classics.

The renaissance began on Kickstarter. inXile successfully funded its project - Wasteland 2. This was followed by a few other successful campaigns such as Pillars of Eternity, Torment Tides of Numenera and Divinity Original Sin. The return of isometric RPGs became a fact. And it wasn't limited to Kickstarter. In the upcoming years we got games such as Tyranny, Age of Decadence and Serpent in the Staglands. When Brian Fargo asked the community to fund his project, no one expected that we'll see an outbreak of classic representatives of the genre.

The future of isometric RPGs isn't clear. Pillars of Eternity 2 received very good reviews, but it didn't sell good. Obsidian won't be keen on creating its successor in the near future. On the other hand there's Disco Elysium. It was praised by the reviewers and while we don't have any data on its sales records, we can presume that it was quite a success. The game is frequently on the list of best selling games on GOG. The PoE2 sales flop will however probably discourage the developers from taking risk in creating bigger games similar in style. Everyone will wait and see what will happen with Baldur's Gate 3.

We can't also forget about the success of The Witcher 3. It's quite unique in its combination of open world and great story telling (something that's not frequently seen). The upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 may establish a new fashion for FPS RPGs. This may be the path which the RPG developers will follow in the near future. The trend is already visible with the success of The Outer Worlds.

What do you think about the future of RPGs? What will happen with the genre? What RPG transformations we'll see in the future?
 
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Zoid

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Some counterpoint for the sake of discussion:
Then something happened. Interplay along with Black Isle went bankrupt. BioWare was able to stand its ground and release Knights of the Old Republic in 2003. This was followed by Knights of the Old Republic 2 release by Obsidian in 2004. These were different games than isometric classics from the turn of the centuries and they marked another shift. The genre has plunged into a crisis.
I don't remember this as being an RPG dark age. I actually remember it as being pretty exciting. Morrowind released in 2002 and was revolutionary for the genre. Fans of the classic isometric RPGs had Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance 2 in 2004. That is also the year that World of Warcraft released, which brought a lot of new fans to the fledgling MMORPG scene. Let's not forget Fable in 2004 either, and the JRPG world was pumping out hits every year on PS2.
For almost three years we didn't see any major RPG on the horizon. Neverwinter Nights 2 released in 2006 wasn't as big success as everyone expected. The hallmark of the crisis was action oriented Mass Effect. It was a very good game, but fans of classic RPGs weren't convinced. On the one hand a lot of RPG elements such as character progression system, where added to newly developed games from many genres. On the other hand full-fledged RPGs became very scarce. The only noteworthy releases in the upcoming years were The Witcher and Dragon Age: Origins. Without the success of DA:O we wouldn't probably see a new renaissance of isometric classics.
Neverwinter Nights 2 may not have been a massive success in 2006 (though I loved it), but that's the year Oblivion came out which was huge.

Are we considering Mass Effect the hallmark of a crisis in the RPG genre? I'd consider it a pioneering action RPG. Prior to Dragon Age Origins releasing in 2009 we had Fallout 3 and Fable 2 in 2008. It's true that the isometric RPG had fallen a bit out of fashion during this time, but the RPG genre as a whole was going strong.
The future of isometric RPGs isn't clear. Pillars of Eternity 2 received very good reviews, but it sold poorly. Obsidian won't be keen on creating its successor in the near future. On the other hand there's Disco Elysium. It was praised by the reviewers and while we don't have any data on its sales records, we can presume that it was quite a success. The game is frequently on the list of best selling games on GOG. The PoE2 sales flop will however probably discourage the developers from taking risk in creating bigger games similar in style. Everyone will wait and see what will happen with Baldur's Gate 3.
I think the future of isometric RPGs is bright and in something of a renaissance right now. Divinity Original Sin 2 has met with universal acclaim and strong sales figures, and D&D has become increasingly fashionable in recent years which will only drive more players to these classic style games.
The upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 may establish a new fashion for FPS RPGs. This may be the path which the RPG developers will follow in the near future. The trend is already visible with the success of The Outer Worlds.
The Elder Scrolls series (and later Bethesda's renewal of the Fallout series) have defined the first-person RPG format for two decades. The Outer Worlds owes its existence to Fallout New Vegas, building off of that format. I think Cyberpunk 2077 will make a notable contribution to the genre.
What do you think about the future of RPGs? What will happen with the genre? What RPG transformations we'll see in the future?
I think the future of RPGs is very bright. Classic cRPGs are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, which is good news for fans of the classics. Over the last couple of years, sales figures have delivered the message to developers that we want strong, single-player experiences (see God of War, Spider-Man, RDR 2, The Outer Worlds, AC Odyssey, and others). This will only benefit the RPG genre further. I'm very optimistic about the future of the genre!
 
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Pathfinder: wrath of the rigtheous
Solasta: crown of the magister
Realms Beyond
Colony Ship: a post-earth role playing game
Encased
Wasteland 3
Baldur's Gate III (if not an action game)
(...)

I think the future is good. The bigger audience will still have the more streamlined and cinematic approach of the Cyberpunk's, and the more niche audience that craves for deep and complex mechanics systems will still have their games.

We dont live in the dark ages of the middle 2000's, when the "consolezation" of the market destroyed the crpg genre (Fallout 3, Oblivion, Fable, Mass Effect...).
 
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Apollo

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A. If New Vegas didn't exist, Outer Worlds wouldn't. As much as I love it, it's literally space New Vegas.
B. FPSRPGs are the future, as we move into VR, Third person and isometrics are harder to do.
Overall, I think the future is First Person games with a lot of interactivity and mechanics like Disco Elysium in Vr.
 
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Zloth

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I'm hoping this is the last hurrah for the isometrics. I've actually been playing tons of them lately: PoE 2, BattleTech, and Pathfinder: Kingmaker made up most of 2019 for me. But their time has come and gone. It's time to start moving over to VR, or possibly AR with huge, virtual 3D monitors. It's the biggest thing since we got off the green screens (or amber, if you were into that sort of thing).

Another thing I'm hoping for is that we just stop saying "RPG." Seriously, it almost never had anything to do with role playing in the first place. The elements RPGs do have in common have spread all over the industry now, too. I can level up my commanders in 4X games. Shooters have strong stories and let me pick skills.
 
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Sarafan

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I don't remember this as being an RPG dark age. I actually remember it as being pretty exciting. Morrowind released in 2002 and was revolutionary for the genre. Fans of the classic isometric RPGs had Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance 2 in 2004. That is also the year that World of Warcraft released, which brought a lot of new fans to the fledgling MMORPG scene. Let's not forget Fable in 2004 either, and the JRPG world was pumping out hits every year on PS2.
Fans of classic team-based RPGs were quite disappointed however. Morrowind came out before the crisis began. BGDA2 was a console only game and it was more like a hack 'n slash than a true RPG. World of Warcraft is a MMORPG. This means that it doesn't have single player content. Fable is a strong point however.

Neverwinter Nights 2 may not have been a massive success in 2006 (though I loved it), but that's the year Oblivion came out which was huge.
I loved NWN2 as well. Especially Mask of the Betrayer! What a wonderful expansion pack this was. I'll have to replay it some day. The main problem with NWN2 is its camera control IMHO. It's quite difficult to master.

Are we considering Mass Effect the hallmark of a crisis in the RPG genre? I'd consider it a pioneering action RPG. Prior to Dragon Age Origins releasing in 2009 we had Fallout 3 and Fable 2 in 2008. It's true that the isometric RPG had fallen a bit out of fashion during this time, but the RPG genre as a whole was going strong.
It was a hallmark of a crisis especially for fans of more classic RPGs. I agree that the genre has undergone a major change in these years. One of the symptoms of this change was the fact that many RPG elements were incorporated into titles from other genres. It was a dream come true to many RPG players, but others were disappointed by the lack of release of more classic representatives of the genre.

I think the future of isometric RPGs is bright and in something of a renaissance right now. Divinity Original Sin 2 has met with universal acclaim and strong sales figures, and D&D has become increasingly fashionable in recent years which will only drive more players to these classic style games.
Good point. In the future we'll probably see more RPGs that use the newest D&D ruleset. From what I've heard Wizards of the Coast established a new studio that will work on computer RPG games.

The Elder Scrolls series (and later Bethesda's renewal of the Fallout series) have defined the first-person RPG format for two decades. The Outer Worlds owes its existence to Fallout New Vegas, building off of that format. I think Cyberpunk 2077 will make a notable contribution to the genre.
I enjoy FPP RPGs, but I hope this trend won't diminish isometric RPGs. Let's hope there's enough space on the market for different style representatives of the genre.

Over the last couple of years, sales figures have delivered the message to developers that we want strong, single-player experiences (see God of War, Spider-Man, RDR 2, The Outer Worlds, AC Odyssey, and others). This will only benefit the RPG genre further. I'm very optimistic about the future of the genre!
That's a very good thing. I'm not a multiplayer type of guy, so I'm happy that single player games achieve success. I strongly believe that CP2077 will be a huge success as well. It's a single player only game (multiplayer will be a separate game) and its success will be watched by multiple publishers. This is going to be a very strong signal, what games the players want to buy.
 
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Sarafan

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I think the future is good. The bigger audience will still have the more streamlined and cinematic approach of the Cyberpunk's, and the more niche audience that craves for deep and complex mechanics systems will still have their games.
Let's hope that the classic RPGs will stand its ground. The flop of PoE2 saddens me a little however. It's nice that at least Disco Elysium has good sales.

We dont live in the dark ages of the middle 2000's, when the "consolezation" of the market destroyed the crpg genre (Fallout 3, Oblivion, Fable, Mass Effect...).
I think that's the merit of indie developers. Without them we'd probably still be flooded with console like titles.
 
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Sarafan

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B. FPSRPGs are the future, as we move into VR, Third person and isometrics are harder to do.
Overall, I think the future is First Person games with a lot of interactivity and mechanics like Disco Elysium in Vr.
Are you so certain that VR is the future? VR sets are available for years now and they're nothing more than niche.

I'm hoping this is the last hurrah for the isometrics. I've actually been playing tons of them lately: PoE 2, BattleTech, and Pathfinder: Kingmaker made up most of 2019 for me. But their time has come and gone. It's time to start moving over to VR, or possibly AR with huge, virtual 3D monitors. It's the biggest thing since we got off the green screens (or amber, if you were into that sort of thing).
The future of VR isn't clear. The sets are available for quite a some time and they didin't come
out of their niche... In the most optimistic scenario it'll take a lot of time before they become mainstream. The technology is still expensive and the graphics quality isn't satisfying.

Another thing I'm hoping for is that we just stop saying "RPG." Seriously, it almost never had anything to do with role playing in the first place. The elements RPGs do have in common have spread all over the industry now, too. I can level up my commanders in 4X games. Shooters have strong stories and let me pick skills.
Role playing is present especially in games which offer dialogue options. You're role playing a certain character. Check Planescape Torment or Pillars of Eternity. There are lots of options to role play a character in these. Character progression system is only one of the elements of a true role playing game.
 
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Apollo

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Are you so certain that VR is the future? VR sets are available for years now and they're nothing more than niche.



The future of VR isn't clear. The sets are available for quite a some time and they didin't come
out of their niche... In the most optimistic scenario it'll take a lot of time before they become mainstream. The technology is still expensive and the graphics quality isn't satisfying.
I'm not saying a year from now, maybe not even 5, but I can say that VR is, maybe even next decade, the future.
 
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I would say that what typifies this day and age, and therefore bearing on RPGs specifically, is the the split between indie games and AAA. AAA seems content to continue raising the spectacle bar with ARPGs that focus on big buget set piece story telling, such as the incoming Cyberpumk 2077. Were as Indies seem to have split into two camps, namely innovation and comfort. The innovation camp want to create fusions of genre or at least upend well established components of existing ones. The comfort camp is all about crafting a slightly modernized version of a game you've played before and are craving but aren't receiving from the large publishers.

I think this all works well as a place holder for now, but I believe the future of role playing games lays in advanced AI that has loads of hooks into effecting the world around you as you make choices as the character. If you're older enough (or you know how to use Google ;P) you might recall Peter Molyneux going on about how you could cut a sapling as a child in Fable and later on you would see that impact in the matured tree as your adult self. a physics based world coupled with an Advanced AI could make good on that promise and so many more! It would be genuinely enjoyable to get lost in a fantasy world where the larger plot point are built, but everything else really is emergent! We'd all have to leave the comfort of strategy guides behind and actually think on our feet, so to speak...the horror! ;P A sufficiently advanced AI linked to an NPC chat system alone would be hilarious/awesome!

Going a step further down the road, I could see setting up the world as a base line, and having no one plot outcome, but letting your characters life influence the world/kingdom to one end or another. The conditions of a world wide problem could be set and then from there, its really your story. That would be truly amazing and would finally rival the sense of freedom and awe I had as a younger fellow playing Elderscrolls Arena. A ways off? Sure, but a middle aged man can dream, right?
 
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Zoid

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Fans of classic team-based RPGs were quite disappointed however. Morrowind came out before the crisis began. BGDA2 was a console only game and it was more like a hack 'n slash than a true RPG. World of Warcraft is a MMORPG. This means that it doesn't have single player content. Fable is a strong point however.

It was a hallmark of a crisis especially for fans of more classic RPGs. I agree that the genre has undergone a major change in these years. One of the symptoms of this change was the fact that many RPG elements were incorporated into titles from other genres. It was a dream come true to many RPG players, but others were disappointed by the lack of release of more classic representatives of the genre.
As you and @Zloth allude to, the term RPG has become so broad that it needs qualifiers in discussions like this. Baldur's Gate, WoW, and Mass Effect are all completely different games, but they are all RPGs. The genre is so expansive and branching that "RPG" is no longer just one category of games. "RPG" is now a mega-genre, like "action movie."

In this thread you seem to focus on classic, isometric, party-based, tabletop-based RPGs, and you're right - there was a dearth of these games during the early/mid 2000s. I just wanted to bring up games from other RPG sub-genres to make the point that there were lots of great "role playing" outlets at that time - all equally valid members of the RPG family - they just came in different packages.
Good point. In the future we'll probably see more RPGs that use the newest D&D ruleset. From what I've heard Wizards of the Coast established a new studio that will work on computer RPG games.
I'd love to see more games based off of tabletop systems, even non-D&D systems like Pathfinder, Traveler, or FATE.
I enjoy FPP RPGs, but I hope this trend won't diminish isometric RPGs. Let's hope there's enough space on the market for different style representatives of the genre.
( . . . )
Let's hope that the classic RPGs will stand its ground. The flop of PoE2 saddens me a little however. It's nice that at least Disco Elysium has good sales.

I think that's the merit of indie developers. Without them we'd probably still be flooded with console like titles.
I may have my optimism glasses on, but I really think there is. We're living in an exciting time for video games. Video games have matured as a technology, and they become more culturally prevalent every year. More and more parents nowadays grew up playing video games. The explosion of the indie scene in the last 15 years means it is now easier than ever for low-budget, independent producers to distribute their games, and there's more room in the market for them. I think that as long as a genre still has fans, it will persist. Classic isometric RPGs are well-loved and I think there will always be a market for them.

Also I don't think "console-like" games are bad any more than classic PC isometric RPGs are bad. They're just different things :)
That's a very good thing. I'm not a multiplayer type of guy, so I'm happy that single player games achieve success. I strongly believe that CP2077 will be a huge success as well. It's a single player only game (multiplayer will be a separate game) and its success will be watched by multiple publishers. This is going to be a very strong signal, what games the players want to buy.
And they will buy Cyberpunk. Ohhhhh will they buy it.


I believe the future of role playing games lays in advanced AI that has loads of hooks into effecting the world around you as you make choices as the character. If you're older enough (or you know how to use Google ;P) you might recall Peter Molyneux going on about how you could cut a sapling as a child in Fable and later on you would see that impact in the matured tree as your adult self. a physics based world coupled with an Advanced AI could make good on that promise and so many more! It would be genuinely enjoyable to get lost in a fantasy world where the larger plot point are built, but everything else really is emergent! We'd all have to leave the comfort of strategy guides behind and actually think on our feet, so to speak...the horror! ;P A sufficiently advanced AI linked to an NPC chat system alone would be hilarious/awesome!
I agree with you. I think AI advancements are the most exciting thing that can happen to RPGs (and games in general) while we wait for hardware to advance to the point that VR can be done easily, cheaply, and convincingly.
 
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Zloth

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@Sarafan - VR (or AR - whichever) should be the future. It's got growing pains for sure (tough to wear over glasses, motion sickness, low resolution) but full immersion is vastly superior to watching the action happen in 2D on a little box in front of you. If you count the Apple and PET computers, PC gaming was pretty niche from the late 70's up until at least Y2K. A couple of years ain't nothing.

Regarding role playing, yeah, you're given options. So? If you're lucky, the game will give you the choice of two roles: good guy and *******. Maybe they give you a choice here and there that depends on your race/clan/astrological sign/blood type/whatever but it still boils down to those two options. You're not quite role playing when you're doing that - you're acting out a pre-defined role. If you want to play an angsty teenager with strong powers but can easily be discouraged, it isn't going to happen. If you want to play a Spock-like character that acts with as little emotion as possible, it isn't going to happen.

I'm certainly not saying that's a bad thing. Limiting roles makes it possible to do far better stories, IMHO. It's mighty difficult to make good, engaging stories ahead of time when the people writing the story haven't got a clue what the main character is going to be like! How would Mass Effect have played out if Shepard was in the military so he could find some good recruits then break off and be a mercenary?
 
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Frindis

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RPG games have an interesting future ahead and it seems to branch out in different directions. Choice & consequences seem to matter more and more, without us necessarily seeing a tremendous change in that area for the better. It is just been very focused on marketing-wise. The lessened complexity of rulesets seems to be the biggest change in the last decade. RPG games can still be quite complex, but we seldom have to open any rulebook to understand the basic mechanics. It will be very interesting to see what Larian Studios will be doing with Balders Gate 3 it that matter. The combat/movement has gotten better and that also helps to bring in people who might have avoided the genre in the past because of the often clunky mechanics. While that might sound that RPG games have gotten more streamlined, it would be far from the truth, especially thanks to the indie game developers.

For the future, I hope we will see be the possibility for players to completely change stories of the game from the getgo. I'm talking about being able to rip out the root and plant a new one, making each playthrough completely different through the player's own interaction in constructing change/consequences, making this ripple through other's playthrough. There was a game called Moirai that played with this idea, even if it was just one segment in the game where you could change the outcome of a scene for the next person playing it, through text-based changes. The closest we get to this as of now is through gamemaster roles, but instead of one gamemaster, I want every player to be one.

Since the RPG soul is something we find in every type of genre of games, it will never die. I see it as a cask of whiskey, that changes flavor over the generations, but contains the main components that made it great in the first place.
 
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Sarafan

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In this thread you seem to focus on classic, isometric, party-based, tabletop-based RPGs, and you're right - there was a dearth of these games during the early/mid 2000s. I just wanted to bring up games from other RPG sub-genres to make the point that there were lots of great "role playing" outlets at that time - all equally valid members of the RPG family - they just came in different packages.
Yeah, maybe the topic is too broad indeed. I especially love these classic, isometric RPGs, preferably based on ttRPGs. That's probably why I focused so much on them in my post.

I'd love to see more games based off of tabletop systems, even non-D&D systems like Pathfinder, Traveler, or FATE.
Actually Pathfinder is based on D&D. But I understand what you have in mind.

I may have my optimism glasses on, but I really think there is. We're living in an exciting time for video games. Video games have matured as a technology, and they become more culturally prevalent every year. More and more parents nowadays grew up playing video games. The explosion of the indie scene in the last 15 years means it is now easier than ever for low-budget, independent producers to distribute their games, and there's more room in the market for them. I think that as long as a genre still has fans, it will persist. Classic isometric RPGs are well-loved and I think there will always be a market for them.
I think that if it was not the indie scene, these classic RPGs would diminish in the flow of time. The indie scene brought them back to life. It's a huge advantage of the times we're living in. Who would think 10 years ago that indie games will achieve such a success.

Also I don't think "console-like" games are bad any more than classic PC isometric RPGs are bad. They're just different things :)
The consoles were more of a problem years ago, before the boom of indie scene. Hardcore PC gamers criticized the simplifications which "consolization" brought to the genre. There was also problem with user interface which was frequently designer to fit the consoles. This was a problem when there were no alternatives.

@Sarafan - VR (or AR - whichever) should be the future.
I'm still not so certain. Many people said that 3D TV is also future and it wasn't adopted as of now. I'm not sure whether the companies will want to invest more in VR systems. AR has more potential though because it's more mobile than standard VR sets.

Regarding role playing, yeah, you're given options. So? If you're lucky, the game will give you the choice of two roles: good guy and *******. Maybe they give you a choice here and there that depends on your race/clan/astrological sign/blood type/whatever but it still boils down to those two options. You're not quite role playing when you're doing that - you're acting out a pre-defined role. If you want to play an angsty teenager with strong powers but can easily be discouraged, it isn't going to happen. If you want to play a Spock-like character that acts with as little emotion as possible, it isn't going to happen.
I feel the difference. To make role-playing fully possible, the game system has to react dynamically to your behavior and you can't be limited to established archetypes. This would require implementing into the game NPCs similar to the assistants developed by Microsoft, Amazon and Apple. That's the future of open world RPGs in my opinion. A quite distant future however.

I'm certainly not saying that's a bad thing. Limiting roles makes it possible to do far better stories, IMHO. It's mighty difficult to make good, engaging stories ahead of time when the people writing the story haven't got a clue what the main character is going to be like! How would Mass Effect have played out if Shepard was in the military so he could find some good recruits then break off and be a mercenary?
I agree that nothing can beat a true, well narrated story. :)

The lessened complexity of rulesets seems to be the biggest change in the last decade. RPG games can still be quite complex, but we seldom have to open any rulebook to understand the basic mechanics.
That's also a huge advantage of the tutorials, but I agree in overall. You can for example play Pillars of Eternity with success without knowing how exactly the game mechanics work. It's somewhere in the background. This was not necessarily true for older titles such as BG1 and BG2.

While that might sound that RPG games have gotten more streamlined, it would be far from the truth, especially thanks to the indie game developers.
We owe a lot the indie scene. This was one of the brightest moments in PC gaming in the last decade. I hope the indie scene will thrive in the future.

For the future, I hope we will see be the possibility for players to completely change stories of the game from the getgo. I'm talking about being able to rip out the root and plant a new one, making each playthrough completely different through the player's own interaction in constructing change/consequences, making this ripple through other's playthrough. There was a game called Moirai that played with this idea, even if it was just one segment in the game where you could change the outcome of a scene for the next person playing it, through text-based changes. The closest we get to this as of now is through gamemaster roles, but instead of one gamemaster, I want every player to be one.
As Mr.Vic20 pointed out, AI may have a huge role in this.
 
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Zoid

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I think that if it was not the indie scene, these classic RPGs would diminish in the flow of time. The indie scene brought them back to life. It's a huge advantage of the times we're living in. Who would think 10 years ago that indie games will achieve such a success.

We owe a lot the indie scene. This was one of the brightest moments in PC gaming in the last decade. I hope the indie scene will thrive in the future.
I don't think there's any worry about independent games not thriving in the future. I think we are already to the point that the boundaries of the "indie scene" have blurred largely out of existence. Video games are following the same path as music, and it's not a reversible path. You don't need a big name producer / publisher anymore to sell your game. If you make a good game and put it out there on the internet it can be just as much of a success as something released by a big studio (Stardew Valley was made by one guy and has outsold AAA titles).

The internet naturally trends towards freedom, which is why the music industry will never be able to go back to the "you have to have a record label" model. We'll see the continued growth of independent games as long as there's the market to support them, and the video game market will only continue to grow.
 

Sarafan

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I don't think there's any worry about independent games not thriving in the future. I think we are already to the point that the boundaries of the "indie scene" have blurred largely out of existence. Video games are following the same path as music, and it's not a reversible path. You don't need a big name producer / publisher anymore to sell your game. If you make a good game and put it out there on the internet it can be just as much of a success as something released by a big studio (Stardew Valley was made by one guy and has outsold AAA titles).
The biggest threat to indie part of the gaming industry are in my opinion low quality games. There's a ton of crap being released on Steam and I fear that this may discourage people from trying good indie titles. There's also plenty of gems that come out on Steam and nobody gives them deserved attention because they're one of the many. I hope that this won't diminish the indie scene in the future. I totally support the freedom that Steam gives to developers however despite of my fears.
 
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