I’ve written before about how role-playing video games don’t necessarily let you play a role, mostly due to programming limitations. This article made me think of the topic again, and I get the impression that they’re mostly just role-playing games because they tend to use the style and mechanics of tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons. The difference is that you really don’t have as much choice as to what your characters can do, or even who they are. The earliest ones tend to let you define your characters, but this doesn’t have any impact on how anyone else reacts to you, and there’s usually no dialogue between player-controlled characters at all. Later games would give the characters more defined personalities, but they rarely depended on any choices the players made. Still, I usually felt like I knew these characters more than I did the interchangeable Light Warriors of the first FF or the hero of the original Dragon Quest. I’ve recently been playing the Game Boy version of Dragon Warrior III, however, and I find it interesting that your characters have personalities. There’s a test at the beginning to determine the hero’s, and it gave me Lazy. I resemble that remark! Actually, it’s pretty easy to change a character’s personality using books, but what I haven’t been able to figure out exactly how it affects the statistics.
I’ve amassed (some might say “wasted”) many hours playing The Sims, and I have to say that in a way these games are closer to true role-playing. They’re considered simulations rather than RPGs, but they let you control every detail of the characters’ lives. Well, mostly; they can still object at times. Whenever one of the Sims I made was under computer control, they’d often do things that made me think, “Hey, they wouldn’t do that!” And in my head they wouldn’t, but within the parameters of the game and the limited personality traits I could give them, they totally would.
The Sims 3 improves this somewhat by allowing you to choose personality traits.
So does The Sims Medieval, which also delves somewhat into traditional fantasy role-playing, with weapons and experience points mixed in with your Sims’ typical needs to eat, socialize, and use the toilet.
There are quests as well, but it’s rather disappointing how much of each quest takes place off-screen.
I’ve recently tried out the World Adventures expansion pack in Sims 3, and it takes some cues from Medieval and the dungeon crawl genre. You can visit places like Egypt and Japan, and explore ancient temples and tombs. This involves a good amount of puzzle-solving in order to progress and collect treasures.
I did learn that it’s probably best to just take a single Sim on these adventures, as it can be difficult to switch back and forth when you’re in the middle of a maze. I suppose you could just have the other one(s) hang around base camp and study or something until they’re needed, though. In order to satisfy basic needs, you can bring along dried food and showers in cans. I’m not sure how the latter work, but there have certainly been occasions when I wouldn’t have minded having one.
I haven’t had any of my Sims visit France yet, but the two other locales look quite impressive.