Grizzly Gaming

Friday, September 23, 2011

Need to Know Basis

While writing a piece for this blog, I realized that I often throw around video game terms and industry buzz words that the average reader, and maybe even average gamer, might not be aware of. I had originally intended to just cover one term but quickly realized that that probably wouldn’t offer enough content to warrant a whole new post. That and I kinda got caught up while trying to differentiate between “open world” games and “sandbox” games – and coming to the conclusion that there really isn’t much of a difference in those terms. (‘Open world” can be used to describe any game that features a large, open map that can be explored at leisure and “sandbox” games are generally open world and have features that allow gamers to experiment with the gameplay to create outcomes not necessarily intended by the designers. Grand Theft Auto, Saint’s Row and Just Cause are some of the best examples of open world, sandbox games.)

FPS – First-person shooter

If you’ve ever read any of my reviews you’ve seen this term before. An FPS puts you, as the player, in the shoes of the main character. In Halo, you’re Master Chief. In Duke Nukem, you’re Duke Nukem. In COD, you’re whatever random soldier who seemingly has to win the war by himself (I’m sure some of you have seen the internet meme “Ramirez, do everything!” by now). Though not all FPS games are necessarily shooters (for example, Mirrors Edge and the very underrated Criminal Origin series) a game played from the first-person point-of-view is generally called an FPS.

A scene from a multiplayer match of Call of Duty 4, but

could be a scene from literally any COD game.

RPG – Role-Playing Game

In the traditional sense, the term RPG was used only to describe games with heavy emphasis on inventory management, character progression, dialogue and turn-based combat like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger. Today, you’ll often see the term RPG pop up to describe many different kinds of games, as many titles today incorporate elements of the traditional RPG genre into action titles or FPS titles – such as earning experience points to level up a character or elements of dialogue.

Final Fantasy VII - what nearly any gamer will imagine when they hear the term "RPG"

For instance, the game Borderlands would most likely be described as an “open-world FPS” because it is played in the first-person shooter format and features a large game-world to explore. However its deep character progression and extensive amounts of items to be found, bought and sold also places it squarely in the realm of RPGs. The same goes for the recent title Dead Island. On the surface it seems like it’s only a game about chopping up zombies but when you actually get into it, there are unique skills that each character can earn as well as numerous items and weapons to find and upgrade. Even shooters like Bioshock contain RPG elements. Through the use of plasmids you can upgrade your characters health/eve(mana) as well as upgrade your weapons with unique enhancements. Basically, any game that has elements of character progression or item management can be, at least partly, considered an RPG today.

MMORPG – Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game

MMOs are a new breed of the RPG genre that have exploded in popularity in the past decade. While numerous MMOs exist in many different formats (for instance, the FPS MMO Planetside) the most popular in the genre is undoubtedly World of Warcraft. Most MMOs do away with the turn-based combat of traditional RPGs but keep the heavy character development and abundance of loot that the genre is known for. The main draw of this sub-genre is the emphasis on playing in a large, persistent world with hundreds, if not thousands, of other human players where dividing into guilds and organizing large parties to go on quests (or raids to WoW players) together is not uncommon.

I’ve never gotten into MMOs personally, but not because I’m not attracted to the genre – quite the opposite actually. Being the kind of gamer who insists on utter domination of a certain game before moving onto the next title, I knew that if I ever became seriously addicted to an MMO (most likely WoW) that I’d literally never stop playing. You remember that episode of South Park where the boys had to team up and train for months to stop one rampaging player? Yeah, I would easily turn into that dude if I ever started playing WoW.

Above, another reason why I can't get into WoW. Seriously, what the hell is going on?

RTS – Real Time Strategy

Real-time strategy games generally focus on two things – base building and conquest. Players will have a top-down view of the game board/map and at the beginning of a mission are tasked with starting a base – by placing structures – and then gathering resources. In Command and Conquer, there was only one resource to gather (Tiberium, or Ore if you’re playing a C&C: Red Alert title) but other titles like Starcraft and Warcraft up the number of resources needed. With your base under construction you can then begin to build units to protect your base, explore the map and attack your foe. More recent RTSes, like Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War, eschew the concept of resources gathering in favor of holding strategic points which translates into more requisition points that can be put toward new units, buildings and upgrades. It’s a subtle change but alters the dynamic of the genre as the focus of attacks may not necessarily be another player’s base but their strategic points, which limits their combat ability.

The strategy genre is probably one of the earliest genres I was introduced to as a kid that I identified as different from the usual beat-em-ups I’d play on NES or Genesis. My dad, who was/is an avid table-top gamer, got me hooked on games like Panzer General, Steel Panthers, Colonization and Civilization and from there my love for the genre radiated outward until I was playing games like Command and Conquer, Starcraft, Warcraft and Heroes of Might and Magic (though HoMM isn’t really an RTS, more a turn-based strategy game).

A scene from "Command and Conquer Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge."

And yes, those are UFOs flying around a pyramid.

Though you’ll get a different answer depending on who you ask, I am firmly in the camp of believing that the RTS genre really only belongs on the PC. Many attempts have been made at producing worth-while RTSes on consoles, I’ve never found using a controller to be quite the same as a mouse and keyboard when trying to build a base and build/direct units simultaneously. One of the only RTSes I’ve played on the consoles that really seemed to work was Civilization Revolution. And I still didn’t end up putting much time into it – just felt too much like a “Civilization-Lite” game that just could never match up to its PC counterpart.

QTE – Quick Time Event

This one isn’t a genre – though some would argue that there are games that rely a little too heavily on Quick Time Events. A QTE is what some would call a button-pressing minigame, an instance in a game where players a required to enter a sequence of buttons or mash a particular button. Games like Resident Evil 4 popularized the use of QTEs and in games today you’ll often find them in action/adventure titles where QTEs will make up a long action sequence. For example, gamers will often have to engage in long QTEs as God of War antihero, Kratos, as he tears the wings off a Pegasus or gouges out the eye of a Cyclops.

I could've found a scene from God of War to illustrate my point but I feel like this one serves just as well.

Yeah, I know it was a little weird to do a bunch of genre acronyms and then throw in QTE at the end but it was another acronym that popped into my head as I was doing this so I figured what the hell.

How’d I do in these explanations? Did I screw anything up? Does anything need clarifying? Let me know in the comments! I’ve already got a few terms for the next installment of “Need to Know Basis” so be on the lookout for that.


Blogger michelle gazada said...

Arathi Basin- Arathi Basin consists of 15 player teams. There are five resources nodes located throughout the map. The more nodes that are owned by a particular team, the more resources that team will gain. The first team to 1600 resources wins the battle. The battle starts with all nodes being neutral. To capture a node a team must first assault it. A node is assaulted by clicking on the flag. After one minute, if it is not attacked or defended by the other team, the node will be captured and begin to collect resources. Nodes can be attacked at anytime and no team permanently controls any node. The more nodes that your team controls at any one time, the more resources your team collects.

Warcraft Conquest

October 1, 2013 at 11:45 PM  

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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