While up at BioWare’s headquarters in Edmonton, I had the opportunity to throw some questions at company co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk. I was curious about how the duo felt about the current RPG landscape in general, and why we’re seeing more and more western-style RPGs while JRPGs have, at least among North American audiences, fallen somewhat to the wayside.
“The fall of the JRPG in large part is due to a lack of evolution, a lack of progression,” Zeschuk said. “They kept delivering the same thing over and over. They make the dressing better, they look prettier, but it’s still the same experience.
“My favorite thing, it’s funny when you still see it, but the joke of some of the dialogue systems where it asks, ‘do you wanna do this or this,’ and you say no. ‘Do you wanna do this or this?’ No. ‘Do you wanna do this or this?’ No. Lemme think — you want me to say ‘yes.’ And that, unfortunately, really characterized the JRPG.”
Zeschuk admits that there are definitely exceptions coming from the East (Demon’s Souls is currently one of his favorite games), but North American definitions of role-playing have simply evolved beyond those of their counterparts on the other side of the world. “We have big debates on whether GTA is an RPG, for example. It’s got all the elements, it just doesn’t have the numbers. And what gamers here want is that higher depth, that higher integration of features…Mass Effect 2 is in some ways a continuation of that evolution.”
I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Zeschuk, but I no longer have any patience for JRPGs whatsoever (Half-Minute Hero notwithstanding, obviously). I’m curious to see what JRPG fans think of Zeschuk’s stance, though. Do JRPGs really suffer from a lack of evolution?