Common Misconceptions about “AURO”

Since we announced our upcoming game, Auro: The Golden Prince several months ago, some questions have repeatedly cropped up.  Today I’d like to quickly address some of these to clear things up.

  • Auro is CROSS PLATFORM.  A lot of people still seem to think that the game will only be available on iOS (probably because 100 Rogues was an iOS-only game).  Auro will be available on iOS, Android, Windows, OSX, Linux and possibly more.
  • Auro is NOT AN RPG.  It’s easy to understand why someone would think it is an RPG:  the game takes place in a dungeon, it’s got a fairy tale setting, has Japanese RPG-inspired music and pixel art.  But Auro is most certainly a strategy game, not an RPG.  There are no experience points, no inventory, no equipment, and a very minimal story.
  • Auro is NOT A ROGUELIKE.  Although it is high-score based, turn based, and has randomly generated content, Auro will probably not be considered a roguelike for the same reasons listed above.  There is no “exploration” in Auro – the dungeons levels are totally linear “courses”.  Some will probably call it “roguelike-like”, but I think the solitaire card game Klondike qualifies as a “roguelike-like”, which to me means that the term isn’t super useful.
  • Auro is TURN BASED STRATEGY.  Those who are looking for a well-designed turn-based strategy game should be very excited for this game.  Fans of games like Advance Wars, Final Fantasy Tactics, Fantasy General, or abstracts like Chess will really love Auro.
  • Auro will have VERY LIMITED DLC/IAPs that are ACTUALLY TOTALLY OPTIONAL.  When you buy Auro, you’ve got the complete game.  There may be additional expansion content available, but unlike most games, it’s not a scheme to sucker you into spending more money on the base game than is immediately visible.  None of the extra content will make you “better at the game”, only provide new ways of playing.  Examples would be new game modes or playable characters.
  • Auro is NOT A CLONE OF ANYTHING.  I am comfortable saying that there has never been a game quite like Auro.  It is unique.  The closest thing to it would probably be “what if you turned Diablo 2 into an elegant turn-based strategy game?”


Anyway, I hope this clears some things up for people!  Please let us know if you have any more questions and we’ll add them here.

keithburgun • 01/29/2012

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  1. Kdansky 01/30/2012 - 10:53 am Reply

    I don’t think your second point holds: Computer-RPGs are strategy games, it’s just that the likes of FFTactics or Disgaea are just plain better games, because they know what they are and embrace it.

    • keithburgun 01/30/2012 - 11:03 am Reply

      Well, *all* games *are* strategy games, and so sure I agree. But the point is, RPGs are about many things, strategy being only one of them.

      Most people would not be comfortable calling Auro an RPG.

      • Kdansky 01/30/2012 - 12:27 pm Reply

        Oh no, not all games are strategy games at all! Pong is not a strategy game at all, and neither are race games, or puzzle games, or jump&runs. Those are first and foremost about dexterity, or mathematical skills. Sure, all games have some strategy-elements of the “what will I do next?”-kind, but that is not how we define strategy games, is it?

        So let’s break down Final Fantasy (7, if you want, because it’s the one everyone knows). What are you doing throughout the game?

        – Reading text, mostly dialogue.
        – Watching cutscenes.
        – Walking around the world/local map. While you can actually interact with the game, your choices boil down to “go to the spot where the next text/film happens and press X” and “prepare for combat” and “Combat”.
        – Minigames, like Chocobo racing.
        – Shop, to prepare for combat.
        – Equipment screen, to prepare for combat.
        – Combat vs random encounters.
        – Combat vs bosses.
        – Combat vs scripted encounters.
        – Combat vs optional encounters.
        – More combat.

        In fact, you’ll spend the vast majority of your time in combat. As for this combat, what kind of game is it? Well, a tiny turn-based (~ish) strategy game, of course! FF[n] does not actually have any central rules or systems for anything besides combat at all*. Disgaea and Final Fantasy really only differ in the quality of combat engine offered.

        * Well, minigames. But you can put minigames into any bigger game, and it won’t change the nature of the big game. Starcraft is RTS, even if there is a bullet-hell minigame included (there really is), and FF8 won’t change its genre if you remove the (fun!) card game.

        If Auro is not an RPG, Final Fantasy is not an RPG. Which is what I completely agree with.

        • keithburgun 01/30/2012 - 4:20 pm Reply

          Why isn’t Pong a strategy game? Can one not choose a strategy and go for it in Pong?

          I’m not a huge Pong player, but if the answer is: “no, you cannot choose a strategy in Pong, because you actually have no decisions to make at all in Pong”, then I would say Pong is a contest, not a game.

          According to my definition of games, all games are strategy games. I have a Gamasutra article coming out any day now that goes into detail, but there are essentially three layers of interactive system that lead up to “game”:

          Interactive System Layer 1: The Puzzle. This adds a PROBLEM to the system that must be solved.

          Interactive System Layer 2: The Contest. This adds COMPETITION to the puzzle. Now there is a possibility of winning and losing the puzzle.

          Interactive System Layer 3: The Game. Games have both PROBLEM and COMPETITION, and become unique by adding THE DECISION. Specifically, the endogenously meaningful decision – the decision which matters in the system.

          Your classifications up top are sort of all over the place. What is a “puzzle game”? And I might agree that racing games are not games but are contests, but what about racing games like Diddy Kong Racing or RC Pro Am that have items that can be used? Then you’ve got a game it seems to me.

          And on Final Fantasy 7, the reason it is a “strategy game” (albeit not a very good one) is specifically ONE of the elements you listed:

          – Equipment screen, to prepare for combat.

          This is where you make decisions in that game. You can choose which characters to use, what equipment & materia to equip them with, etc, which honestly is where 90% of the strategy in the game comes in. Combat uses a small amount of strategy but is mostly no-brainers.


          Auro and Final Fantasy are so, so different. What do people expect from an RPG?

          – An “experience” system

          – A complex system of stats, usually based on D&D: stuff like Strength and Armor ratings

          – A complex system of inventory, involving potions, swords, armor and other items

          – An extensive use of text and story

          – Usually, a long single player campaign

          There are more things that people expect from an RPG. Auro has none of these. This is why Final Fantasy *is* an RPG and Auro is not.

          I appreciate the discussion! :D

          • Kdansky 01/31/2012 - 6:10 am Reply

            I will throw the “fuzzy categories!” argument right back. ;)

            Auro does have an experience system, albeit one that is thankfully broken down to its core, and does not bother with codifying “kill 10 monsters to gain a level” into multiple complex exponential (but pointless) formulas.

            Stats: Auro has 6 stats, the 6 skills you can choose from. That’s just as many as D&D, albeit again way more abstract and sensible. No need to explain why I get a power at 13str, 16str and 18str. You just gain three powers. Done.

            Inventory / Potions / Equipment: True, that’s out.

            Story: How much is “a lot” of story? Where do you draw the line? Dungeon Siege or Diablo are called RPGs, yet they have no story (are we talking plot or narrative?) at all. Advance Wars games generally (I “only” played three instalments) feature a large cast of characters, and a ton of text. They are not RPGs, surely? And I claim one could make a silent RPG just as well as a silent Movie.

            Long single-player campaign: Length is again really arbitrary. I would call Portal a “long single player campaign”, because it takes up 100% of the game’s time, which is all of an hour or so.

            I think your definition of RPG is at least as unclear as mine. But we agree on the fact that Auro isn’t one. I would put it like this: The player has no meaningful choices to influence the narrative or the plot.

            • keithburgun 01/31/2012 - 6:34 am Reply

              >Auro does have an experience system

              It really doesn’t. There are no experience points and there aren’t character levels. You get a new skill each dungeon level, but you can also get them from meeting other conditions. Of course, if you want to say “any game wherein the player powers increase over time”, then I guess Puerto Rico and Checkers both have experience systems.

              Auro actually has 5 skills, and that is so NOT as much as D&D. Firstly, D&D has the 6 BASE stats, but then there are all the secondary stats. And if you’re counting “abilities” as stats for AURO, you have to do the same for D&D! Have you looked at all the abilities in D&D? Between all the spells and feats, you’re talking HUNDREDS of “stats”, by your definition.

              I will agree with you that “a lot of story” is fuzzy. However, most people would argue that Super Mario Brothers has less story than Final Fantasy. I am telling you that Auro has less story than any game I’ve ever heard called “an RPG”.

              I also agree that everyone’s definition of RPG is fuzzy, and at the end of the day if people want to call Auro an RPG, that’s fine by me. I just don’t want to send the wrong messages with the promotion.

  2. copy 02/02/2012 - 7:37 pm Reply

    Hey! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I really enjoy reading your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thank you!

    • keithburgun 02/02/2012 - 9:25 pm Reply

      Thanks copy! It means a lot to hear that; I get a lot of flack for posting a lot of the stuff I do here.

      Did you check out The Expensive Planetarium? I wrote for that blog for 5 years; there’s a link on the right panel.

      The Lost Garden is pretty good, and Hardcore Gaming 101 isn’t a blog but it’s also a great site to learn about games.

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