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What is a "generic fantasy game"?

Some Nobody

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Aug 8, 2013
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I see this all the time as a criticism whenever a new fantasy game is created. Now, personally I love most settings: modern day, futuristic/cyberpunk, science fiction, steampunk and so forth. If you can get a good story out of it, I'll probably enjoy it. Admittedly, my favorite is high fantasy so I might be biased, but I'm just wondering: Why isn't this a criticism I see leveled at other genre? At some point or another, I've seen everything except GAF darling Dark Souls, claimed as "too generic"--including upcoming BioWare RPG Dragon Age: Inquistion.

I don't get it. Exactly what's generic? And what would constitute an interesting fantasy RPG for you, if what you see is mostly run-of-the-mill?
 

Orayn

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Jul 4, 2010
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I find it's mostly just something people bring up when they're trying to disparage WRPGs, same way as JRPGs are "generic anime," shooters are "generic bald space marines," etc.

People rarely have any real problem with the type setting, they just want to level a low-effort accusation that most/all of a genre is uninspired and therefore bad.
 

Steel

Banned
Jun 20, 2013
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Generic fantasy is generally referred to as tolkein-esque worlds. Personally I don't care so long as it's well done.
 

RaikuHebi

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Jun 16, 2013
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Final Fantasy: The Early Years.

I love RPGs. I love Final Fantasy. But ironically I hate typical fantasy.
 

pizza dog

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Aug 2, 2013
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Does it have Tolkien Elves/Dwarves/etc or derived from same?

Assumed guilty of being boring unless proven otherwise.
 

Derrick01

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May 9, 2011
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For me it's usually a game that has the typical elves, dwarves and orcs, they generally use the same medieval-ish art and building styles, have a magical element to them and their lore and map are full of unpronounceable names. It's why even I groaned just a little bit when Obsidian first unveiled project eternity, but I'm hoping their supreme writing talent will be enough to separate it from the rest.
 

Woorloog

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Apr 18, 2010
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For me it's usually a game that has the typical elves, dwarves and orcs, they generally use the same medieval-ish art and building styles, have a magical element to them and their lore and map are full of unpronounceable names. It's why even I groaned just a little bit when Obsidian first unveiled project eternity, but I'm hoping their supreme writing talent will be enough to separate it from the rest.
I have no doubt they will write a good story and characters but world-building... eh, i have very strong doubts about that.
At least they're bringing gunpowder to the world.
 

Espada

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Feb 26, 2007
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Basically anything that draws straight from Tolkein's writings without any distinguishing traits.
Yup, pretty much this. Some games adhere so much to Tolkien's work that I just find them painfully dull. Enough so that it destroys my interest in them. Give me distinct, creative stuff over that any day.
 

Glass Rebel

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Oct 12, 2010
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When it comes to Western fantasy, it's usually stuff that's very close to Tolkien concepts and tropes. Basically high fantasy.

The Souls series is so beloved because it draws from other genres like Lovecraftian horror.
 

Orayn

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When it comes to Western fantasy, it's usually stuff that's very close to Tolkien concepts and tropes. Basically high fantasy.

The Souls series is so beloved because it draws from other genres like Lovecraftian horror.
Just a little, though. A lot of Souls' more interesting monsters look like something out of a supplemental D&D Monster Manual rather than the main one.



Especially stuff like the Chaos Eaters. I always felt they were a very intentional shout-out to the blobby, vaguely formed monsters you'd find in musty old RPG source books.
 

Markitron

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Aug 24, 2010
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I thought kingdoms of Amalaur was pretty generic
 

Coppanuva

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Oct 24, 2011
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The Elder Scrolls Series. Basically all of them. Skyrim a bit less because it's all norse, but it DOES feature the same basic races and disputes between them as every other fantasy game.
 

Gestault

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Oct 18, 2012
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Games that are written forgetting that fantasy is a setting for good writing, not necessarily the end-product of it.
 

Steel

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Jun 20, 2013
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The Elder Scrolls Series. Basically all of them. Skyrim a bit less because it's all norse, but it DOES feature the same basic races and disputes between them as every other fantasy game.
Wait, what? Have you played Morrowind sir? I don't think there's a single environment in the fantasy setting like morrowind if we're being honest.
 

Black Door

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Dec 5, 2012
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Basically anything that's essentially LOTR, Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance with all of the names changed. Even worse when they try to "grim it up" by throwing a shit filter on everything and make the characters talk about death and darkness all the time without letting up (very few games can do this and make it sound good)

I suspect the next trend in WRPGs will be knocking off ASOIAF/The GoT TV show (instead of orcs, you're fighting rival families, anyone can die, some sort of mystery happening in the Grim Elsewhere, B plots involving a Messiah in another country, etc.)
 

BocoDragon

or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
Dec 5, 2005
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Final Fantasy: The Early Years.

I love RPGs. I love Final Fantasy. But ironically I hate typical fantasy.
I would argue that FF has never been "typical" fantasy.

It wasn't directly inspired by Tolkien or D&D... It passed through a Studio Ghibli "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" influence on its way.
 

Woorloog

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Apr 18, 2010
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Wait, what? Have you played Morrowind sir? I don't think there's a single environment in the fantasy setting like morrowind if we're being honest.
Indeed. And overall the Elder Scrolls WORLD is not quite generic, it has far too much attention to detail.
Sure, basic tropes are there, but that's what makes it so wonderful, familiar yet it is not.

EDIT TES world started as homebrewn DnD setting for TES: Arena, so...
 

TheRealTalker

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Mar 29, 2013
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basically any of those

"save the kingdom my lord"/ "Only for real MAN Huuzzah" Women pinup ads for MMORPG's that you see on the web
 

Glass Rebel

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Just a little, though. A lot of Souls' more interesting monsters look like something out of a supplemental D&D Monster Manual rather than the main one.
I'm not familiar with D&D monsters but I was thinking more about the atmosphere and underlying themes. But of course it's not the only influence.
 

GillianSeed79

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Generic-fantasy for me would be what is essentially the typical Tolkien-inspired universe or tropes that you see across all forms of media. That's not to say generic fantasy is all bad, but stuff like having eleves, orcs, dwarves, medieval setting, etc. is pretty common place in generic fantasy.
Science-fiction tends to be more varied, but there seems to be very limited interpretations of fantasy when it comes to the genre.
 

Astery

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Well, every mmo which tries to copy exactly what wow does for the wow money a couple years ago are generic, as with every shooters that chases the cod money by following exactly the presentation and what it does gets labelled generic too if these made you feel any better.
 

Woorloog

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Apr 18, 2010
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Generic-fantasy for me would be what is essentially the typical Tolkien-inspired universe or tropes that you see across all forms of media. That's not to say generic fantasy is all bad, but stuff like having eleves, orcs, dwarves, medieval setting, etc. is pretty common place in generic fantasy.
Science-fiction tends to be more varied, but there seems to be very limited interpretations of fantasy when it comes to the genre.
Scifi more varied? Don't think so. Well, at least it is very hard to find an original and excellent scifi.... Regardless of media.
Mass Effect, just for an example, is generic space opera, with some Lovecraftian elements.
 

Black Door

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Science-fiction tends to be more varied, but there seems to be very limited interpretations of fantasy when it comes to the genre.
Sci-Fi presents another problem. Every Space WRPG must be Star Wars, Halo, or 40K. No one will ever make a sci-fi RPG where you play as, say, Hanar solving a murder mystery with no combat
 

XANDER CAGE

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Mar 21, 2011
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European/Western Tolkien/Gygax derivative high fantasy.

It's not inherently bad or anything, but a lot of games/movies/books/you name it basically treat fantasy as a plug-in template.
 

GillianSeed79

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Scifi more varied? Don't think so. Well, at least it is very hard to find an original and excellent scifi.... Regardless of media.
Mass Effect, just for an example, is generic space opera, with some Lovecraftian elements.
That's true I guess. What I'm saying is that I think it's generally easier to stray from the typical Star Wars mold with sci-fi, probably not in videogames, but in general. I should also say that I actually really like "generic-fantasy", as in Tolkien-isnpired tropes. Also dragons. I love dragons. Especially dragons that talk.
 

Cuyejo

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Jun 25, 2013
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People mentioning the Elder Scrolls series, what the hell?

It's obviously greatly influenced by the typical Tolkien/D&D whatever fantasy setting and characters, but its lore has so much depth, seriously, that is unfair calling it generic, in fact in some cases it distances itself from some tropes of the genre.
 

Woorloog

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Apr 18, 2010
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That's true I guess. What I'm saying is that I think it's generally easier to stray from the typical Star Wars mold with sci-fi, probably not in videogames, but in general. I should also that I actually really like "generic-fantasy", as in Tolkein-isnpired tropes. Also dragons. I love dragons. Especially dragons that talk.
Well, Star Wars is more like space fantasy, than science fiction. As are many scifis that try to be the next Star Wars.

People mentioning the Elder Scrolls series, what the hell?

It's obviously greatly influenced by the typical Tolkien/D&D whatever fantasy setting and characters, but its lore has so much depth, seriously, that is unfair calling it generic, in fact in some cases it distances itself from some tropes of the genre.
It began as generic one, and it still has a lot of "generic" features. Which is why it is so wonderful, mix of old and new.
 

MagnaderAlpha

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The idea of what's "generic" differs from person to person. Some might say, a generic fantasy world would consist of magical creatures like elves and fairies, with dragons and wizards and revolve around a medieval-like setting. Even with that, you can limit your scope depending on preference. Like I said, you can technically consider Dark Souls generic fantasy if that's the way you feel about it regarding your preference. Others can say more D&D-esque worlds are considered more to be "generic". Something like Ultima or Wizardry, Elder Scrolls or Amalur. Even throughout the years, I'm sure the perception of what is generic has changed. One time, I'm sure Star Trek-ish/Battlestar Galactica-esque sci-fi worlds were considered "generic Sci-Fi", though decades past, I'm sure some of the more modern takes on science fiction have become the new face of "generic Sci-Fi". It changes with the time, and that which WAS generic becomes "different"(maybe even alluring to some people).

Generic-fantasy for me would be what is essentially the typical Tolkien-inspired universe or tropes that you see across all forms of media. That's not to say generic fantasy is all bad, but stuff like having eleves, orcs, dwarves, medieval setting, etc. is pretty common place in generic fantasy.
Science-fiction tends to be more varied, but there seems to be very limited interpretations of fantasy when it comes to the genre.
Science Fiction is no MORE creative a genre, nor LESS creative a genre than fantasy(or medieval fantasy). In the end, it all depends on the worlds, stories and ideas the writers create. It has NOTHING to do with setting and everything to do with the creator's capability of making a living, breathing universe that can capture it's spectators and make them interested in the events that transpire within these realms of fiction. Any highly imaginative ideas seen in science fiction can be accomplished in fantasy, and any shortcomings in fantasy can be found in the realm of science fiction. Ideas are only as good as their creators, regardless of genre.
 

XANDER CAGE

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Mar 21, 2011
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People mentioning the Elder Scrolls series, what the hell?

It's obviously greatly influenced by the typical Tolkien/D&D whatever fantasy setting and characters, but its lore has so much depth, seriously, that is unfair calling it generic, in fact in some cases it distances itself from some tropes of the genre.
If you dive deeper into the lore, certainly. Unfortunately the games (Skyrim and Oblivion at least, its most popular games) push a lot of that stuff to the wayside. We'll never get anything as demented as The 36 Sermons of Vivec as the core fiction of an Elder Scrolls game.
 

TheOohChild

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I would agree Elder Scrolls has a generic setting, but I definitely would not say they are generic games
 

Woorloog

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Apr 18, 2010
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I would agree Elder Scrolls has a generic setting, but I definitely would not say they are generic games
Ah, they're rather generic open world games, without anything special really, aside from excellent modding support. Aside from their setting, though how well it is represented depends.
IMO.
 

Arkanius

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Jun 14, 2010
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I keep forgetting that Morrowind is still an unplayed game for many of the new Elder Scrolls fans
Please do not call it generic.

That and Warcraft are definitely not generic