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From Mass Effect to Skyrim, modern RPGs go to great lengths to merge linear, carefully crafted narrative with dynamic, emergent gameplay. Hundreds of thousands of man-hours are poured into these incredibly complex works, all in the effort to create a believable, cohesive story while giving players a sense of freedom in the way they play their game. The results of these efforts have been best-loved play experiences video games have offered.
But the goal of marrying linear narrative to dynamic gameplay is not out of reach for developers that don't have the resources to create such complex systems. No game shows this better than the classic RPG Chrono Trigger. Crafted by Square's "Dream Team" of RPG developers, Chrono Trigger balances developer control with player freedom using carefully-designed mechanics and a modular approach to narrative.
BlogOn August 4th thru the 7th, QuakeCon 2011 kicked off with its usual flare. While there wasn't as many booths as there were in previous years, there was still a lot to see and do. Bethesda once took over hosting duties and things quickly got under way. I was there for the event and the following is what I saw and experience.
There's no more room left for imagination in most modern RPGs. In the 8-bit era, the memory limitations of the cartridge format and the means of expression were very limited for developers, but that left more room for players to deduce and imagine. It's important to provide a tried and tested experience, but it's equally important to betray these expectations in a way that feels good to players.