is this an RPG?

edited February 2009 in Story Games
So, I'm working on this game called MotorClash. This is what you do in it:

You drive a car with guns and stuff attached to it, and blow up other people in gunned-up cars in an arena while spectators cheer.

You do cool stunts and last-minute escapes to move the crowd, which increases your popularity, which helps you get sponsorships.

You occasionally get to do interviews, giving you the chance to increase your popularity further.

You develop rivalries with other drivers.

You customize your car's weapons, armor, and engine to suit your strategy.

You create a theme for your car: you name it, decorate it, and design a signature weapon. In addition to being fun, this helps you move the crowd (based on how much cash you spend on it).

You pick a song for your entrance music (a la professional wrestling); at the start of each match, everyone plays about 30 seconds of their song (in a stereo, in real life) as they are announced.

You use your cash rewards from winning matches, plus sponsorships, to buy new stuff for your car, repair stuff that's broken, and pay for hospital bills. Eventually, you can earn enough to retire.


So, here's the question: is this a roleplaying game? I can't decide if it is, or if it's just a wargame. Or can it be both?
I'm not really concerned whether it's one or the other; I just want to know.

Comments

  • Do you play a role in it? If yes, it's roleplaying.

    Is it a game? If yes, it's a game.

    If yes to both, it's a roleplaying game.

    Based on your description, it seems to be heavier on the gamey pars, but I see some nice potential roleplaying bits in there- interviews particularly. It depends on how they're handled in play.
  • Have you played CarWars? It does the car fighting strategy stuff well and has some roleplaying rules to allow for your character to do stuff outside of his car, but as far as I know, most people didn't really play it this way. It was pretty much a war game.

    With some of the stuff you're talking about, it sounds like you're getting into a lot more roleplaying territory, which is cool. I always thought a CarWars-like RPG would be interesting.

    Beyond those comments, I pretty much agree with Willow's definition of RPG.
  • I think the interviews clinch it: it's an RPG.
    It might also be a wargame, but that's moot. A lot of RPGs are also wargames (D&D, frex).
  • edited February 2009
    Posted By: fnord3125Have you played CarWars?
    Haven't played it, but I've looked at it. It's... not what I wanted it to be, system-wise. MotorClash's system is a lot like Burning Wheel, i.e. (scripting + opposed dice pools).

    Posted By: Adam DrayI think the interviews clinch it: it's an RPG.
    So, you do the interviews in-character. How effective it is (at increasing your popularity) is based on your driver's Attitude, plus any Kudos that other players (or non-players who happen to be around), give you, a la fan mail. This, along with all the invitations to add Color (designing your theme, picking entrance music, etc.) is what leads me to think it might be a roleplaying game. But interviews are only here-and-there; mostly it's driving and shooting, then spending your cash.

    But, then, a lot of D&D is like that, isn't it?
  • Exactly.

    Another way to skin this: How much does character personality and motivation play into how one plays the tactical driving game?

    In a D&D fight, you might choose not to fight "dirty" (either by avoiding choosing "dirty" abilities when you level up, or by refusing to use them when available). In a MotorClash race or car-build, are there similar character choices to make?
  • Y'know, I've been thinking about a wrestling-style division of Faces and Heels. Faces are the good guys, who fight fair, and who the crowd cheers for. Heels are the bad guys, who fight dirty, and who the crowd (loves to) hate.

    In wrestling, there's also little nuances like Tweeners, who fight dirty but are loved by the crowd (ex: Stone Cold Steve Austin), and then there's the whole issue of Turns, whereby a Face suddenly becomes a Heel or vice versa. Sometimes a Turn sends the audience into a frenzy, and sometimes they just feel cheated.
  • I just posted over in another thread about how my friends and I, when we played a Formula Dé league, made up shallow and idiotic characters to drive our cars, and wound up getting some freeform RP out of the outcomes of conflicts that played out on the board. Just for the record, this is a blast.

    We played freeform, but of course you can have rules that modulate players' ownership and interpretation of the simulation's outcomes, and other rules that plug story events back into the simulation if you like. Even in the freeform case I mention above, we allowed our characers' shifting relationships to influence the teams we formed for the next race, which has mechanical consequences in the sim.

    My thought is that if you take a simulation as if it's an oracle, telling you facts about an SIS, and then you deglaze those crunchy bits with some stuff that humans relate to (kin, struggle, will, frustration, triumph, and so on), you make story game sauce. To the extent that your players identify with a particular person in the sim (or in the sim's world, at least), and take that character's side in storytelling as an actor or an advocate, it's useful to call your game an RPG, because it sets expectations in a reasonable-seeming way.
  • edited February 2009
    I don't think we can make judgements about the game without seeing specific rules. Also, I don't think you need to categorize your game when there are so many people on the Internets willing to do it for you.

    Are there any subjective elements to the game that are not just color, that feed back into a game mechanic?

    EDIT: I see the Kudos mechanic there, that would be subjective.

    -Grant
  • Aside from Kudos (which applies to interviews and to stunts), the only mechanics that are subjective at all are how you spend your Cash (could be argued to be objective) and how you spend your Clout, which you use to get the matches that you want (title matches, grudge matches, big-ass free-for-alls, whatever matches you want).

    Here's a thing I've been thinking about. Other than interviews, which only do one thing mechanically (alter your Pop), there are no mechanics for what happens outside of your car. You could use this outside-your-car time to freeform, but there's no mechanics there to resolve any sort of conflict.

    But what if you use the matches to resolve conflict? Like, you and some other driver have a dispute, and he's like, "Yeah? Why don't we settle this on the track, bitch?" and you're like, "All right, bring it!"

    That's pretty much the way that storylines work in professional wrestling, and that seems to be what's happening in movies like The Fast and the Furious (at least as far as I can tell; I do not understand those movies).
  • Yay, let's fight over classifying terms that we all have an identity stake in! Again!

    If the fiction can influence the gameplay, then yes, it is a... game where the fiction can influence gameplay. Whatever the fuck we're allowed to call those.
  • The answer, in my opinion, though i'm loath to add to this mess, is that roleplaying games are dead anyway. Call it a game. If you have some bits where people pretend to be other people, that's cool. If you have some bits where little things move around a board and shoot each other, that's cool. If you can do the whole thing while drinking a beer and talking about TV and girls and the state of the american economy cool.

    It sounds to me like you have a game. A game is just a fun thing that people do that's sort of a catch all for a lot of different activities.

    Don't call it a roleplaying game. Roleplaying games are stupid.
  • Posted By: Kevin Allen Jr
    It sounds to me like you have a game. A game is just a fun thing that people do that's sort of a catch all for a lot of different activities.
    Now THAT'S something I can work with.
  • Do you want to call it an RPG? If you do, I'm not going to argue. If you don't, I'm still not going to argue.

    Whether or not it would be fun to play with my friends is much more important.
  • What are the ramifications of calling it a role-playing game? What are the ramifications of not? Pick the list that is most advantageous. My gut feeling is that the term carries no useful information except as a shorthand to target a certain demographic.
  • Urchin labels itself a roleplaying game, but acknowledges late in the text that it really exists in a space sort of between RPGs and boardgames. I think the most important thing is what you decide it is, however it plays. That's how people will approach it, and that's the tradition they'll see it from. "How do I want people to approach this? As a wargame or RPG?" is the question you need to answer.
  • The decision whether to call it an RPG or not is mostly a marketing decision, isn't it? Or will it inform your design in any way?
  • Posted By: MatthijsThe decision whether to call it an RPG or not is mostly a marketing decision, isn't it?
    Yep, pretty much. It's not going to change the way I design it, but it will probably affect the way I write it.
  • Posted By: Marshall BurnsPosted By: MatthijsThe decision whether to call it an RPG or not is mostly a marketing decision, isn't it?
    Yep, pretty much. It's not going to change the way I design it, but it will probably affect the way I write it.
    It will also shape the expectations of players. As pointed out above, people have identity stakes in the term "RPG". If you tell them it's an RPG they'll expect to play characters; if you don't, they'll expect to play battle wagons.
  • Posted By: ccreitzPosted By: Marshall BurnsPosted By: MatthijsThe decision whether to call it an RPG or not is mostly a marketing decision, isn't it?
    Yep, pretty much. It's not going to change the way I design it, but it will probably affect the way I write it.
    It will also shape the expectations of players. As pointed out above, people have identity stakes in the term "RPG". If you tell them it's an RPG they'll expect to play characters; if you don't, they'll expect to play battle wagons.
    I couldn't have summed up better myself the reasons that marketing is a part of (good) design.
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