Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Lady Has Bustle!

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 21, 2013

The world is happier with more steampunk stuff.  Just my opinion.

So with that in mind… a parody of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s notorious classic, “Baby Got Back”, “Lady Has Bustle!”

Some words that can apply to RPGs as well (I should take this advice myself):

Steampunk is most sublime
A lot of punks won’t like this rhyme
For they’re too busy trying to define it
While the rest of us want to play

You know what the world also needs?

More Steampunk RPGs. Just sayin’. I mean, we have Arcanum. And the Torchlight series is kinda demi-Steampunk. While airships – a staple of Steampunk – are pretty popular in a lot of JRPGs, it ain’t enough. Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness qualifies. Am I missing any other significant entries?

Actually, more “warped history” RPGs in general would be a cool thing, going outside the standard medieval or dark-age eras. I had this weird dream for a fantasy western the other night …

Filed Under: Geek Life - Comments: 13 Comments to Read

  • Robert Boyd said,

    Ever played any of the Wild Arms games? They’re generally pretty good and show that the fantasy/western genre is one that could definitely use some more love.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    You know, I played one briefly a LONG time ago… I’d borrowed it with several other games for the PS1 for a couple of weeks, but I got hooked on Suikoden instead.

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    I agree. I’d take more RPGs in ANY setting outside of medieval and dark-age eras. It’s why Obsidian’s Kickstarter for their RPG so intensely disappointed me. I feel like, at this point, you have to be an uncannily gifted genius to write something in the medieval fantasy setting that isn’t tired and overdone. It’s almost gotten to the point where everything done in the setting feels like a parody.

    I loved how SIMPLE the gem of an idea Arcanum was. Simply take one of those traditional fantasy medieval worlds and visit it hundreds of years later in the middle of it’s industrial revolution. I think one event in that game sums it up better than anything else – you hear about a dragon’s lair, a great cave filled with treasure and guarded by a ferocious beast, then arrive to find it a tourist exhibit. The dragon’s skeleton is mounted on display, the species extinct from centuries of marauding adventurers. Brilliant and fun stuff.

  • Rachel said,

    I was playing Tales of the Abyss, which is very much a JRPG, but it also had steampunk elements that weren’t airships (people dressed in lacy fancy clothing, machines doing weird things to people, etc.).

  • Cuthalion said,

    I never really get tired of medieval fantasy, but steampunk just has a really fun aesthetic. If it’s any consolation, the CRPG I’m working on could be called ancient/fantasy/steampunk. So, like… not-Persia and not-Babylon meet magic robots from the moon. Or something.

  • automata said,

    I’d certainly like more variety in game setting, but it kind of bothers me a little when people equate a fantasy setting – even the medieval-based one – with the generic medieval fantasy world-based stories we usually get. I think the bigger problem is that it’s usually the same story, rehashed over and over.

    Last year I played Ultima 4, and it struck me how much fun I could have piecing together clues from talking with people, and being mindful of the virtues.

    Meanwhile we get a lot of games where you go up to fight against “the big bad”, regardless of setting (Dragon Age, Mass Effect, etc.); which to me seems the more boring feature.

    (Well, that and the fact most more modern games can be played on autopilot, but that’s a separate issue.)

    But even that can be done enjoyably if it’s well-told. That’s just not done very often.

  • Picador said,

    Dishonored is an action RPG/stealth game set in an original steampunk setting. The gameplay was fun, and the art direction was very good, but the setting was the best thing about it.

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    Part of the problem is that it is the same story, rehashed over and over, yes. The other big part of the problem is that is most of the originality in the setting is non-existent or “fake”.

    By this I mean they all have their versions of dwarves, elves, and orcs. They may call them purple-people-eaters, but they almost always have a wise, long-lived, arrogant race in tune with nature; a hard drinking “earthy” race that digs too deep; the small diminutive race that make good thieves, but have good natured dispositions, etc. etc. Far too many medieval fantasy creators are just riffing off Tolkien and all those that have followed after him.

    And when everyone is writing in essentially the SAME WORLD, of course you’re going to get the same stories over and over again.

  • GhanBuriGhan said,

    Rimelands: HoT (the iOS game) is a steampunk RPG, albeit a simple one.

    Dragon Knight Saga has Zeppelins, but that’s about the only steampunk element in it – althoug it looks like Dragon Commander might develop that theme a little more.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    The thing is – traditional medieval fantasy (riffing off of Tolkien) isn’t substantially different from doing, say, Steampunk … which would be largely the same era and setting (with some differences). I mean, there’s no end to the potential of historical fiction, is there? Neither should there be an end to the potential of “medieval fantasy” borrowing from European mythology and a healthy dose of Tolkien and a half-century of fantasy genre tradition.

    In fact, there really isn’t a problem – which is why medieval fantasy is an easier sell for RPGs than other settings. Players don’t need a ton of backstory to know what a dragon or a goblin is. Sure, there’ll be differences from story to story, but there’s a strong foundation already there to build on for most players. They just have to process the deltas from the norm.

    But then you’d need to build a strong story and characters – just as in plain ol’ modern or historical fiction, and too many stories (and most RPGs) don’t stray too far from flat-out tradition there. That’s one problem.

    I look at what Lois McMaster Bujold has done for science fiction (and I still need to get started on her fantasy, as I’m sure she’s done the same thing). Her setting is, on the face of it, pretty typical space opera. But the details make it interesting. The key is that her stories really run the gamut in genre… the sci-fi universe is just the setting that can add some really interesting wrinkles to a story of political intrigue, a murder mystery, or what have you.

    I think we need to do that in RPGs in general. We can make medieval fantasy RPGs until the cows come home so long as we’re not always on a quest to destroy the Foozle or recover the lost Knick-knack of Awesomeness.

    But I’m also a fan of variety, and I really, really want to see more RPGs set in other times and places. And steampunk is ripe for just that.

  • Xenovore said,

    Far too many medieval fantasy creators are just riffing off Tolkien…

    Agreed, but I can’t say that I mind that much. It’s been going on for a long time now. But in spite of that, I still can have fun playing in a setting with elves, etc. as long as it’s actually well done and fun to play.

    That said, I also completely agree that we need more variety. I’m not particularly fond of the steampunk/victorian setting as a whole, but in small doses it can bring a lot of flavor to a fantasy setting.

    For example, World of Warcraft got it right with the dwarvish and gnomish technology, which feels fairly steampunk (firearms, machines, etc.). It doesn’t overwhelm the game, but still provides a good counterbalance to the mysticism of the elves and the other magical features.

    Another good example: the Elder Scrolls games, where there are the Dwemer ruins scattered across the world. These are definitely steampunk, with their machinery and robots. What I think is more important, though, is how those evoke a sense of ancient history and lost technology, bringing a lot more depth into the world setting.

    So for me, I tend to get more excited about a setting that mixes some steampunk into more classic fantasy, than something that goes straight, all-out steampunk. I.e. I prefer steampunk to be just spice in the world setting, rather than main course.

  • CdrJameson said,

    Worlds of Ultima: Martian Dreams! Although that’s not so punk.
    Great game though. You could make minecart railways for fun, or indeed just because you could.

  • Anon said,

    The venerable “Thief 2 – The Metal Age” has many steampunk elements in it. Steam-powered robots, for example. However, there are lots of things missing like guns, aircraft etc.

    Picador mentioned Dishonored and it probably is for steampunk what Bioshock is for Art Deco: The best and probably most violent first-person game for that scenario. At least if you choose to 😉

    I also somewhat agree on Martian Dreams, too.
    Personally, I thought that the scenario was better (more original) than that of Savage Empire and the game, while smaller, was more fun than Ultima VI (for which I originally got a PC… ;-)).

    There’s also an old RPG called “Space 1889” by Paragon Software. I haven’t played it but reviewers usually consider it a steampunk game and it predates Martian Dreams.