RPG Video Game Cliches I’d Like To See Broken

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Games - Thursday, July 29th, 2010

As MMORPGs continue to spread in popularity and just about everybody now is either playing a mini version of Facebook, joining a clan online, or buying the big games and playing them on the PC, the cliches that go along with this genre are just so ingrained that if you got rid of even a few of them, people would hardly recognize the game anymore.

Now, a lot of cliches are necessary. Buying equipment in town and fighting in the woods is one example; you can’t have monsters harassing you while you’re picking out a new sword and it certainly wouldn’t do to have shopkeepers out there in the battlefield dodging fireballs. So that’s a necessary cliche.

Instead, here are a bunch of unnecessary Role-Playing-Game cliches which are just the product of lazy thinking and copying other games. Be the first to break these when you design the next game, and you very well could be on your way to being the next SquareSoft!

Note that we will be counting the character-based RPGs (Rogue, Moria, Nethack, Angband, Dwarf Fortress) as separate most of the time. They avert most cliches simply by not having graphics at all, but they actually count as more their own genre anyway.

Females in skimpy outfits – Why does my hell-knight need 180-pound polished titanium armor but my sorceress can go into battle wearing a bikini and take less damage? Yes, I know, it’s for the sex appeal. Hey, wait a minute. How about I just surf the web for porn if I want to see sexy women (or God forbid, get to know a real life one) and keep the inch-high, 1200-pixel sprite dressed like any normal warrior would dress?

Sewers. – What, does every damn game have a level being fought in a sewer? Jesus, enough with the sewer mazes already! Let’s fight in a circus, a corral, a bakery, anyplace but a sewer!

Fire and ice magic. – Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know. You kill the ice monster with fireballs and you kill the fire monster with ice balls. Like 653,918 games just like this one. Yawn! When can we get new magic trees that have evidence that somebody, oh, I don’t know, used some imagination? Have ether magic, with Will-O-th’-Wisp, ectopasma attacks, and ghost elementals. How about a sorceress whose magic is based on music and casts different spells by singing different songs or playing different music instruments? What about instead of a plain vanilla wizard, we have an alchemist instead, whose magic effects are limited to potions and transmutation? See how easy this is?

24-hour stores – Every NPC is open round-the-clock to sell you healing potions and armor. You know, you could be daringly original here and have shop-keepers go to bed, not be open on Sunday, only come out at night, etc. Seiken Densetsu 3 and later “X of Mana” series notably proved this can work.

No basic body functions. – I realize that it would be too tacky to have Port-a-Johns scattered throughout the dungeon, but still you could have mandatory rest stops. And why not have characters regularly need to eat and drink? Nethack is the only one so far that does this.

Treasure chests everywhere – Geez, can’t you just have stuff laying on the ground? Or put away in a stash? Or in boxes in a keep? Why do the little old lady in town and the dragon down on level 50 have the exact same treasure chest? Why do they all either unlock for anybody or all require identical keys? Why do all keys disappear after one use? I mean, it’s been decades now, isn’t anybody ever going to think of any other way to give me stuff?

Creatures never use their dropped items. – This one makes so much sense, and yet the only one that approached it is Nethack. A creature that drops class 18 armor should have been harder to kill. Worms have no business hauling human-body-shaped armor. A wizard who was packing a wand of fireballs should by damned have cast a fireball or two before we killed him. And so on.


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