Overlooking my previous post of Aura Kingdom and how I detailed my first experiences with the game, and with the overall JRPG sub-genre. I have chosen to look at how my first experience with Aura Kingdom has shaped my understanding and perspective of JRPG’s and perhaps why I might think certain ways about the genre of game. I have also conducted further research into the game, to get a further and a clearer understanding on the genre and game itself.
Aura Kingdom is a game produced by the Taiwanese game developer company X-Legend, it is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The game has a big following in China, Taiwan and Japan, and is free-to-play on steam. My personal experiences with the game were more nostalgic, with essences of déjà vu. I found a lot of instances of the game, aesthetically and mechanically to follow in the footsteps of big title WRPG games like World of Warcraft and Runescape. However, in saying that there were a lot to this game that remained unique to JRPG and to Aura Kingdom itself.
In my first blog post, I had stated that it felt very aesthetically like World of Warcraft. It had a similar fantasy setting, and similar low polygon art style. Through further readings and research of other games, I have found this is because most RPG’s follow this kind of framework. Most likely this is to the success that WoW has shown throughout its years of running, it would only make sense for another company to replicate a lot of its successful features. This is so that the fans have some sort of familiarity with the game, and are more likely to play it. I had also realized that the low poly art models and textures in the environment, would be simply so the game could run a lot smoother, seeing that each player would have to load HUGE environments, making the game more accessible to people with…not so good computers.
I had also said that in my first blog post that the characters felt very out of place, because they had this kind of anime visual in a sort of WoW environment. Obviously this is to appeal to the audience that plays JRPG, they prefer to play games that are similar to this and it would also be familiar to them. I believe it is in their culture to have this kind of art style, whether it be anime or games or artwork. Having it be consistent into JRPG games, just makes sense to them and their culture. It is not something I am used to however, as I have always grown up with games where you can customize your avatar to look like yourself for the immersion.
There was also noted in my first experience with the game that there was a lot of flashing colours, and animations going on the screen. I have played a lot of games where this kind of information is important, in calculating how much damage is needed to kill an opponent or boss etc, but the sprites and flashing colours seemed excessive. Notably a lot like the arcades that we see in japan, where there is a flurry of text, information and colours in the games. Perhaps in order to appeal to this audience, X-Legend has adapted this kind of craziness into their game to bring in players.
This is where I delve into the blurred lines, between JRPG and WRPG as mentioned in my previous post. In many WRPG games we have seen a lot of aspects, from JRPG be adapted into gameplay and vice versa. Importantly the style of gameplay we see being merged into western culture, is the more linear storyline styled RPG being brought into WRPG, games like Fable, where the storyline seems more linear and has seemed to adapt to this kind of JRPG style of narrative. In Aura Kingdom we see the likeliness of open world gameplay from WRPG, being brought into the game and being mixed with traditional JRPG gameplay. Not only is the storyline being mixed with open world like aspects, but the character customization seems to have been adapted into what would seem like a traditional WRPG feature. The reasoning behind this is simple, with games being more and more accessible and the market for these games growing internationally, people grow more accustomed to these styles and features of games that are new to them. People then have this demand for the features they see in JRPG games, or the features they see in WRPG games. The developers tend to the consumer’s needs, which shows how powerful the consumer really can be. Not only is this voice of change seen in JRPG or WRPG games, but games like CS:GO. There is this kind of universal voice of change for gaming in general, and it has shown through games like Aura Kingdom. However, with that being said JRPG games still stay true to their nature and stick to its traditions, otherwise it wouldn’t be labelled a JRPG. The Western cultures and Asian cultures, have massive influences on both sides, and generally we see this kind of merging of the cultures through gaming, more specifically through the JRPG sub genre of gaming.