The mechanics of how enemies react to player depending on approach and weapon choices in FPS is not much different than having NPC converse differently with you whether you are good or evil in RPG. It's just a branch of computer codes. RPG tell different stories from prerecorded dialogue trees and FPS offer different run through using different AI packages. (Of course if your idea of RPG is MMO style with stats and loot then choices don't really matter).
The reason FPS has gained popularity not because players are getting stupider but rather it is easier to offer "choices" in FPS than RPG. You can mix and match weapon/AI packages to offer unique varied action based role playing experience so a lot of the codes and assets that cost money to build can be reused. Storytelling on the other hand needs to be coherent so offering "choices" will result in many of the stuff that cost money to build likely to be played just once. In the old days where storytelling is text based this is not a big deal but it is very different today. Voice acting and animations ain't cheap.
Can developers offer many deep, complex interweaving RPG "choices"? Of course they "can" in a technical sense but not from a commercial sense, and probably not even creatively. So what afa is saying is that given the reality, do we want developers to spend money on more choices or more/better distinct stories? Afa also talked about the "illusion" of choices, which are slight detours of the same main path that offers different ambiances. The experience is different but it's the same road. He didn't say it was good or bad, he just said those are not "true choices" from the perspective of game designer/director.
Most of the debate between you two are really just different ways of using the word "choice". So a computer scientist, a psychologist and a theologian walk into a bar and debate the word "choice"....
So the choices in RPG are not real choices, they are just branches in the code. Brilliant. Thank you for enlightening me. I would never know otherwise. I though it was voodoo magic!
In the old days where storytelling is text based this is not a big deal but it is very different today. Voice acting and animations ain't cheap - Why do you need voice acting with lipsync, and cut scenes? Do they add anything to the story, or RP? Quite the contrary - this being added to the game at the expense of the RP element. In FO4 you don't even read dialogues any more - even your own lines. You just "choose" between 3 grades of Yes in the "dialogue wheel". Even that simplified, castrated RP element that still existed in Skyrim, is not in Fallout 4 any more. It's simply a shooter with some (again simplified) stats. No wonder you have an impression that this is the only way and form, and some consider it's better to simply give player "more content" - the one he or she could passively watch and take a couple of shots.
No, players didn't get stupider (I hope), they just can't read anything longer than a tweet. Or don't want to, at least, and get quickly tired when they have to. The same reason why these days most people make "YouTube tutorials" even when a text page or PDF could really do a better job.
So if I'd be asked a question - would I prefer multiple stats/skills/alignment based paths in a quest to a fully voiced acting and animated cutscenes - fuck yeah! Any day, baby. Why? Because I could play it over and over, several times with different characters. One is a rogue, another is a warrior. One is charismatic and smart, another is dumb as brick. And I would really notice the difference in how people react to my character - by refusing to talk, attacking on sight, being afraid, being helpful, giving gifts, offering jobs. Some refuse to cooperate or even talk if you ever committed a crime, others won't contact you unless you have a couple of murders behind your belt - so the consequences of your choices aren't just changed dialogue lines. Different ways of solving the same problems for different classes/builds - and I don't mean just choosing a way to kill stuff: where a warrior charges in killing everyone right and left, a rogue convinces a guard to let him in through the back door, sneaks in, picks locks and puts the whole place on fire with all inhabitants, getting some nice loot from a hidden treasury in the process. That would create replayability.
The only reason why Skyrim is being played over and over again is mods - so people try new mods. Other than that - it's really terrible at this. You could just join every guild in one play-through and become a sneaky assassin heavy armoured pickpocketing werewolf battlemage, thane of everything and your mom, Arch Mage of Dark Brotherhood. What would be the point of playing it again? In fact I've played Skyrim the only time when it got released, then forgot about it for 3 years, and returned to the game when modding scene became what it is now.
Speaking of the practical part of this: what's easier - releasing 1 mod that gets played several times due to multiple choices, or releasing 3 linear ones? Considering that people on average will spend about the same total time playing your mod(s) and will get at least equal amount of fun? I can understand why this tendency to release linear games prevails in commercial development (you can't charge people 3 times for a single "DLC"), but if you don't charge money for your work - what's the point?
The reason FPS has gained popularity... Kid. They have always been popular. And they predate RPGs. The problem is not that "FPS are popular". The problem is that RPGs are becoming FPS with stats. The problem with that? You can't create a living character any more. One with a distinct personality, making his/her own unique choices. One that you will like and remember and share his/her emotions. That's the whole idea.
The experience is different but it's the same road - yes, you could say the same about life. The real one. The path from being born to being dead. Just with a different experience for everyone. What constitutes a real choice then?
So a computer scientist, a psychologist and a theologian walk into a bar and debate the word "choice".... - I write code for 30 years, so I guess this kinda makes me a "computer scientist" (I hate this stupid term though). Which one are you then, and who is afa?