One of this week’s top iPad games is something called Defender Chronicles II. Supposedly, it welds tower defense and role playing games (RPGs).
This is bullshit.
Every abstract game can become an RPG overnight by gluing some stereotyped bits of stock narrative between episodes. There was a queen. She was besieged. There were monsters. And more monsters. And even more monsters!
You can do this in your sleep. And, apparently, they do.
It’s not an isolated case, either, and it’s not limited to translated titles or the clueless productions of precocious kids. What confuses me is whether these game peddlers know they’re lying, or really think that gluing a name and character sheet onto some parametric game mechanics makes something “role playing.” Yes, eurogames glue nearly-irrelevant metaphors to abstract game mechanics and nobody minds, but nobody buys a eurogame because they want to learn to build pyramids or buy art or settle Catan.
On a slightly more cheerful note, here’s a talk by Martin Jonasson and Petri Purho about “juiciness’ in games. “Juiciness” is an interesting term that stands, in essence, dor “nearly-gratuitous animation.”
The critical word here is “nearly”.