QuickBASIC/QBASIC newsletter

Editorial Article

QBasic RPGs: What are they, and where are they going?

                            A few months ago I wrote a short article concerning QBasic RPGs on Tsugumo's
                    Message Board (some of you may recollect it). This article I'm writing now is sort of
                    like a revised version of it, and this time it won't sound so much like complaining =).
                    Anyways, on with the article. Before we analyze QBasic RPGs we have to look at
                    where they started. As QBasic began to expand on the World Wide Web the games
                    that people had made were basically very archaic and just overall pretty bad (QBasic
                    games always seems to be about 6-8 years behind commercial games). As for RPGs,
                    they were few and the actual Role-Playing Games (not just any game that said it was
                    an RPG) were strictly text based (or used dumb LINE, CIRCLE, and DRAW
                    statements) and didn't have much depth to them. But two little programs completely
                    changed the way QBasic programmers looked at RPGs in QB. These two programs
                      Lianne... In the Dark Crown Demo by DarkDread
                      RPG-CODE by Tsugumo

                            I'm not sure which came first but I know both programs have had a major
                    influence on how the QBasic Community looks upon QB RPGs (remember when the
                    Last Fantasy trilogy was considered to be an "awesome" game?). After the LDC
                    demo was released you may remember a surge of demos that were very similar in
                    style to it. But sadly, 99% of the demos that are released never turn into full games.
                    QB Programmers who think they understand what an RPG is begin to make one,
                    release a short demo showing off graphics and a tile scrolling engine then as they
                    delve deeper into the game begin to realize the complexities of making an RPG (i.e.
                    the complexities of a battle engine, creating a plot, weaving dozens of characters into
                    that plot, etc.). It's no easy process! Very very rarely does a good RPG ever get
                    finished. In fact, the only good completed RPG I've ever seen is Dark Ages I: The
                    Lost Continent. There are literally dozens of good RPGs in the works, but I doubt
                    even 1/8 of those will ever get finished. But next comes the question as to why every
                    QBasic RPG and every QB RPG demo seems to be based on console-style RPGs
                    instead of CRPGs (Computer Role Playing Games). Now, why is that? Is it just
                    because all the QB Programmers have strictly played console RPGs or they just
                    don't want to spend the time developing the harder elements of a CRPG? Probably.
                    Most QB RPG's also don't focus upon plot or character development, they focus
                    heavily upon graphics and a scrolling engine. Below is a brief analyzation of the
                    different CRPG and Console RPG elements found in a QB RPG (In this case, I'll
                    use a full QB RPG, Dark Ages I: The Lost Continent):

                     CRPG Elements:

                        *The player is the main character, instead of a console RPG style play where
                            the player simply controls the actions a pre-designed character in the game.
                        *One player, no parties (not really a CRPG element, but can be found in a lot
                            of CRPGs).
                        *Naming character (also a console-RPG style element)

                    Console-RPG Elements:
                        *The player is not allowed to design the main character's skills (i.e. rolling for
                            skills or attributes, or choosing from preset classes, etc.)
                       *Preset plot (can be found in a lot a CRPG's to)
                       *The player must accomplish most of the missions in a set order
                       *The player must accomplish all mini-quests to finish the game

                            These are just a few VERY simple examples of what elements Dark Ages
                    contains in it from the two different styles of RPGs. It's obviously more console
                    based than classic CRPG based. I really have to wrap up this article now, so, I'll
                    leave you with this; What does the future hold for QBasic Role-Playing Games?
                    Are they simply going to get better graphics, and faster tile engines, or are they
                    going to develop richer plots and have more than just simple two dimensional
                    characters, heroes, and badguys? Hopefully, they will move towards the latter, but
                    that is rather unlikely judging by the current direction QB RPGs are moving.

--Killian (Grant Shreve)