Is Story Important For Japanese Role Playing Games? Ask This Lady

Miwa Shoda joined Squaresoft, now Square Enix, in 1995 and went on to write Japanese Legend of Mana and Final Fantasy XII. Those are big games with big stories — something that they apparently do not need.

"I've worked all over the place and gained a great deal of valuable experience from all sorts of people," Shoda said via her Twitter account, "and learned approaches to writing games I would not have been able to do on my own, but the one approach I could never understand is the notion that 'games don't need storylines.'"

Shoda concedes that not all games need storylines. "But when I was told that RPGs don't need storylines, I was really shocked. They said players weren't after a storyline, so the bare minimum of events would suffice."

She does not explicitly say who told her that role-playing games don't need stories. Besides Square Enix, she has also recently worked as a freelance scenario writer for Marvelous Entertainment (2005's PSP title Valhalla Knights 2) and for Jaleco (2009's Wii title Kizuna).

"I've enjoyed RPG stories ever since I was a child," she added. "A thrilling adventure in a new world, with interesting companions. Events are how you enjoy that, together with a storyline, or so I thought. So I can't believe it when people say a storyline is unnecessary in an RPG."

FF12 Writer: "They Said RPGs Don't Need a Storyline" [Sankaku Complex][Pic]


    Endless random encounters and turn based battles. Brilliant

    I personally belive that a good game needs a good story. Could you imagine playing Oblivion without the large story and lore in the game, would you be motivated to play the same game if it was about saving a cat and made to be as plain as possible.

    I personally need a story to motivate me, crappy stories always demotivate me. I want more epic single player expernces.

    Some games can get away with out story lines or not very detailed story lines but RPGs really do need a good story.

    Shoda concedes that not all games need storylines. “But when I was told that RPGs don’t need storylines, I was really shocked. They said players weren’t after a storyline, so the bare minimum of events would suffice.”

    That school of thought is driving me away from playing Japanese games.

    I don't know where they got the idea that they can inject woefully over the top melodrama over zero storyline or character development.

    Like the first few scenes of FFXIII sum it up perfectly, some whiney annoying kid's mom dies, some chick you haven't seen before turns into a crystal, everyone is tearing up and telling you about their 'emotions' and all I want to do is knock their big goofy spikey haired heads together.

    When I was a kid I loved Japanese games, they seemed like the only games I wanted to play. Now I can't even force myself to play them, a few exceptions aside (No more heros being a prime example).

    FF13 rushed you so quickly into character intros and emotions it was hard to get emotionally attached to any particular character and the storyline.

    FF7 to 10 on the other hand, allowed you to meet characters slowly, and learn about their histories at your own pace.
    A portion of the game was specifically made for learning histories and developing the players emotions towards any or all of the characters.

    Unfortunately it also made FF13 difficult to push myself to finish, and I'd probably wait a few months for the next FF and its reviews to come out first before going to get it.

    depends what type of game youre playing.
    personally, i could play a fps game and not give two shits about the story line, just as long as i get headshots. rts/rpg games kind of need it though.

    I love RPG games. It’s by far my favourite genre. And game called “Secret of Evermore” (also by Square) on the SNES made me fall in love with the genre all those years ago. Ironically the story was simplistic and rather uninspired. A boy finds a machine that takes him to an alternate world, and has to get back.

    But I still regard that game as having the best story of any game I’ve ever played. I’ve finished it so many times that I actually started creating my own storylines and events for what was happening. Anything that wasn’t clearly explained in the game I thought of in my head. All the lore of the game, the items, spells and people and most importantly the world of Evermore I got invested in, I thought about everyone’s back-story as well as my own.

    I guess a game doesn’t really need a unique or fantastic story, it just needs a story that has the capacity to be enjoyed from your own perspective. Besides, anyone can find the most banal story fantastic.

    I’m off to set up my SNES again.

      You should love Demon's Souls.

    I'd prefer the RPG I'm playing to have a story whether it be cliched JRPG story or cliched western RPG story (oh believe me, western RPG's are as cliched as anything else, just slightly less cliched than JRPGs). She's right to be shocked, I'm sure the sheer majority of gamers would like their RPGs to have a fully fleshed out story.

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