Elves and Dwarves Don't Define Fantasy

Terminate421

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I'm still up for the idea of "new" race ideas

Elder scrolls lets you pick lizard people and cat people while world of Warcraft lets you pick zombies, ox people, aliens with glowing eyaboard hooves, and wolf people. (I am not a furry but beast races always are far more interesting than others in fantasy games)

At this point in time, having elves and other like human races is fine but you HAVE to introduce something interesting to look at or the game is just stupid
 

Falseprophet

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Preach on, Brother Yahtzee! It's all the more ridiculous considering most literary fantasy finally stopped bowing and scraping in Tolkien's shadow about 20 years ago, and elves and dwarves are almost non-existent in any current epic fantasy novel not based on D&D or WoW.

Say what you will about JRPGs--their settings are a whole lot more imaginative and unique than the endless run of Tolkien clones we can't escape in Western fantasy RPGs.
 

scnj

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I've been reading a trilogy by an author called China Mieville. It's set in his fictional world of Bas-Lag and sets out to basically be the anithesis of Tolkienesque fantasy. There's even a part where a generic D&D party turns up, but everyone thinks they're weirdos who are "only in it for gold and experience".

The prose is a little... robust, but I recommend them highly for fans of urban fantasy or steampunk.
 

unwesen

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scnj said:
I've been reading a trilogy by an author called China Mieville. It's set in his fictional world of Bas-Lag and sets out to basically be the anithesis of Tolkienesque fantasy. There's even a part where a generic D&D party turns up, but everyone thinks they're weirdos who are "only in it for gold and experience".

The prose is a little... robust, but I recommend them highly for fans of urban fantasy or steampunk.
Yup, to all of that.
 

Sylocat

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You know, we like to rag on the Final Fantasy games around here, but for all their convoluted clichés and art design, the primary entries have been pretty damn good at getting away from the LotR-ripoff settings.
 

Yahtzee Croshaw

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I don't think steampunk in space could work simply because you really couldn't reach space with steam technology, but i like the whole idea of contemporary fantasy. One of things that always confused me about modern fantasy settings in other mediums, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the show) to the Harry Potter books, is why they always feel the need to keep the magical world separate from "our" world. Sure it makes sense narration wise, having to explain everything to the audience by cluing in the main character. But do magic and mystical creatures only get to be a part of regular daily life in medieval settings? Why can't elves be newscasters and minotaurs be substitute teachers? Why can't alchemy be offered as course at trade school and inner city youths rent warehouses on Friday nights to have "spell"-offs?
 

Yahtzee Croshaw

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Terminate421 said:
Elder scrolls lets you pick lizard people and cat people while world of Warcraft lets you pick zombies, ox people, aliens with glowing eyaboard hooves, and wolf people. (I am not a furry but beast races always are far more interesting than others in fantasy games)
WoW and Elder Scrolls aren't that original, really. As you've said, the Elder Scrolls had Cat-people and Lizard-people. Sure they're not really ripped of from Tolkien, but Bethesda just just a human body and added an animal head, and a tail.

WoW on the other hand, instead of taking from Tolkien they take from several mythological creatures. The undead are obviously undead, the Tauren are Minotaurs (crossed with Native Americans), the Worgens are Werewolfs and the Draenei look a lot like the protoss from Starcraft.

Sure it's good to have other things than elfes and Dwarfs, but you could really add more features than just a humanoid animal.
 

Bostur

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Setting is simply a framework for telling contemporary stories using anthropomorphed humanoids. A familiar setting helps putting focus on the meat of the actual story, instead of confusing the reader/player with fancy new Fantasy settings. Thats the reason for all the Tolkien reuse. Tolkien made a setting that was good enough for the purpose, so why reinvent the wheel.

I would love to play a game where I can attack another spaceship with a blunderbuss. But thats not really creative, thats just reusing Jules Verne instead of Tolkien. Still it's sometimes nice with a bit of change.
 

hermes

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I know I am in a minority here, but that was the reason why I liked the Tidus character in Final Fantasy X (design aspects aside). He was a strange that got send to a weird world and need to have a lot explained to him.

Of course, its a convenient plot device to justify a lot of exposition, but I felt like I was learning about the world with the character, and I appreciated that they skipped the main "exposition trope" (the main character wakes up with amnesia).
 

Jorpho

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Contemporary Fantasy? That would be Night Watch and its sequel, Day Watch. Alas, whatever might be said for the rather good novels and interesting-looking movies, the games both sucked, apparently.
 

hermes

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Bostur said:
Setting is simply a framework for telling contemporary stories using anthropomorphed humanoids. A familiar setting helps putting focus on the meat of the actual story, instead of confusing the reader/player with fancy new Fantasy settings. Thats the reason for all the Tolkien reuse. Tolkien made a setting that was good enough for the purpose, so why reinvent the wheel.

I would love to play a game where I can attack another spaceship with a blunderbuss. But thats not really creative, thats just reusing Jules Verne instead of Tolkien. Still it's sometimes nice with a bit of change.
The problem with that is that its increasingly hard to separate your world with every other Tolkien-based, mining dwarves and magic elves populated worlds out there. That is even worst in the case of Amalur, which was publicized for the huge world and mythology Salvatore created, yet it looks really familiar from the outside.

I think the analogy with WW2 and Modern shooters is appropriate... They can call whatever they like, but there is little to visually differentiate Modern Warfare 2 and Homeland, Call of Duty 1 and Medal of Honor; while Prey 2 and Bioshock get a lot of praise for being fresh just by changing the setting.
 

KDR_11k

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JRPGs tend to have completely different fantasy tropes, probably because they don't read LOTR as much over there. The recent Xenoblade probably counts as fantasy despite having fairly high technology overall and it doesn't really invoke the usual Tolkien races (you could say that the snooty high-tech bird people are like elves but at least they have wing ears instead of pointy ears) and is set on a world that consists of two standing titans instead of regular continents. And for all the weird bullshit that Final Fantasy comes up with at least it's not Tolkien (well, not usually). Of course Yahtzee doesn't want to play JRPGs so that won't help him much.

I'm playing a game called A Valley Without Wind [http://arcengames.com/w/index.php/games/avww-features], it's an indie game from the makers of AI War: Fleet Command and about a world where humans have always been capable of using magic (instead of lumberjacks they have lumbermancers, for example) and the timeline got scrambled somehow so now all periods in the history of the planet can be found on the same continent. It's not pretty but the developers are insanely fast workers (AVWW gets more changes in a week than Minecraft in a year) and the gameplay gets refined extremely quickly.

I once thought about whether it would be awesome to have a space combat game where you drive a train through space (with tracks just magically appearing in front of you), instead of weapons you stick more wagons on your train with different cowboys and whatnot in them and deliver broadsides to other trains.
 

Clive Howlitzer

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I agree completely. I can't stand the fact every fantasy game tends to be the same. Worse than that, is people getting pissed off when its NOT the same. I recall lots of people raging about the design of some of the races in Elder Scrolls because they didn't fit Tolkien style. The elves weren't super attractive races, dwarves were just an underground version of elves, and Orcs were made of a gods poop.
Fantasy can be anything you can possibly imagine and yet it is always the same. Are we all just so uncreative?
 

Lord_Gremlin

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Well, we can always hope for the better. Even now we have shooters like Serious Sam 3, Darkness 2.. You know. I do admit - situation with fantasy RPGs is way worse, and to be honest this has a lot to do with large companies being unwilling to take any risks and fantasy games being costly to develop.
P.S. I consider God of War series fantasy. RPGs are the worst case here...
 

kyogen

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Considering that Tolkien himself ripped off the ancient texts he spent his professional life studying, I'd hardly say that copying is new. I wouldn't even strictly call it a problem. Creativity thrives on finding new ways to use existing material. If something is done well, it's done well. If it's clumsy or lacks a fresh perspective, then it's clumsy and lacks a fresh perspective.
 

Andronicus

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Yahtzee said:
a modern world where magic and monsters have always existed and are just kind of there. I can't think of many video games that do that, except maybe Shadowrun on the Genesis.
Umm, aren't you basically describing Final Fantasy VII, and several others in the same series? Which, hey now, I know isn't everyone's cup of tea, but regardless of your feelings on the game, it's not fair to disregard them completely. If there's one thing I love about the Final Fantasies, it's their ability to create a brand new world, each with it's own unique history and cultural context, to explore in each new mainstream title.
 

5ilver

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I would love a game set in the Dresden Files universe but Tolkienesque fantasy is safe and at the current moment, safe seems to be what everybody is looking for.
 

lord.jeff

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DVS BSTrD said:
I don't think steampunk in space could work simply because you really couldn't reach space with steam technology, but i like the whole idea of contemporary fantasy.
It's fantasy which means the rules are whatever you want them to be, so space ships can be steam powered, hell they could even be power by the bill from an Italian restaurant, but I agree with the rest of your post I always found it weird how the mystic chooses to cut itself off for the real world in modern fantasy setting, especially with wild animals, at what point in this world did someone decide any spider over two feet in size is to weird for regular folk but the animals that make up Australia's wild life are completely okay. I would love to see a modern world or close to that that just excepts magic as an everyday thing, what happens in the Tolkien verse 2,000 years after when computers and cars have been discovered.
 

Zen Toombs

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Toombs continues to stroke Yahtzee's ego, and repeats that Yahtzee continues to create extremely interesting game ideas.