Bucket Bros: The Carpenters of Comedy

Length: The Ultimate RPG Element

There are many genres of RPGs. JRPGs, like final fantasy. ARPGs, like might and magic. Turn based, like final fantasy one. Active time battle, like final fantasy four. Real time with pause, like baldur's gate. MMO, like everquest. Tactical, like final fantasy tactics. Action, like elder scrolls.

There are almost countless sub genres. Sadly the traditional view of the turn based RPG as the monarch has slowly eroded over time and now there is seemingly no limit to what is called an RPG regardless of a titles utter lack of combat depth as long as gamers feel you play a role in the game, elder scrolls being a prime example.

Yet while it is disgusting to hear time and time again what a great "RPG" this or that modern warefare plus dragons style game is, I have become even more tired of hearing about RPG "elements"

It started out humble enough. When describing an action rpg like secret of mana or diablo one would say it had action style combat and rpg elements like towns, levels, shops, experience points, spells, swords, medieval monsters, ect.

But slowly it all began to unravel. "Grand theft auto san andreas has rpg elements!" Every genre even sports has at one time or another been cited as having rpg elements.

First off this is a huge cliche and gets boring to hear and read over and over again the same tired rhetoric about how every game has rpg elements.

If every game has rpg elements then no game has rpg elements. Think about it, if experience levels and money and shops and different weapons to equip and so on are in many if not most video games presently made, why call them rpg elements anymore? Maybe it made sense in the early nineties, but that was a long time ago. Things have changed.

Yet one consistant RPG element has held constant to this day: RPGs are usually the longest games out there. Final fantasy games or MMOs like DDO are still way bigger time sinks then any ten hour FPS with a diablo style experience tree or a weapon "shop" in it's online death match mode.

Granted some people play black opps until they buy everything in their weapon "shop" putting in more hours than it takes to beat FF13. But that's playing a short deathmatch game over and over again and is different than advancing one character to level 99 in an MMO or muscling through a classic PCRPG or CRPG, playing through a long game with a good plot and a single party of characters.

So is playing at least mostly like a traditional late eighties early nineties RPG a must, if you want to be called an RPG by a real gamer who is smart enough to call a spade a spade? Absolutely.

But next time you level up in a FPS don't come bragging to me about all the amazing RPG elements in your game, because that game's solo campaign can be beaten in five hours, and length is the ultimate RPG element.

— Mars (Email the Bucket Bros)


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