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Okay, first off, the new layout. I've received an extremely good response, even better than I'd expected. In fact, out of around 25 emails about the new layout, 2 said they didn't mind it but liked the old one better, and only 1 person hated it. Not bad. I've talked with Thor and together we made a few slight changes as you can see, making it look even better. The "Ask" section has revealed its true form. Of course, comments/gripes/whatever about the layout are still welcome, I'm all ears.

Moving on... Yesterday's column was a little short because of the work on the new layout, but today I've got all sorts of good letters for you. And hey, even a couple of questions, too. Enjoy.
I Want Shadow Madness. With a Side of Mad Cow Disease.
Hey there, this is probably one of my first serious letters where I have an actual question. What's with the Shadow Madness delay? I'm getting tired of waiting for something I was anxiously anticipating in January. I may be forced to buy SimCity 3000 instead if this keeps up, or even...Quest 64? *shudder*

-Neoguardian
Well, you know how it is with game development... things take longer than expected. Shadow Madness is Crave's flagship title, so they want it to be as good as possible. Besides, SimCity rules, what's wrong with that? :)
 
Life on Saturn
Howdy dude, it appears from what I've read that I can trust your opinion. Now that the Saturn is dead in America, I figure it's time to get one. :) I'm the type of guy who prefers FF VI to FF VII, so with that in mind, what are the great RPGs that I need to get on the Saturn? Please enlighten me...

-Jean-Luc Pikachu
Hehe... "dead" systems rule :) Anyway, some RPG's I highly recommend for the Saturn are Panzer Dragoon Saga, Shining Force III, and Albert Odyssey. If you're into old school RPG's, you'll dig Albert Odysey, and Panzer Dragoon Saga just kicks ass.
 
Final Fantasy Late?
Hi Drew, i was just wondering about something. It was written on monday's column that square releases ff8 in september because its the best time of year. Are you sure it would be the best time THIS year? After all, the new generation systems, like DreamCast (PSX2?) are suppose to be released this fall. Oh well, i'm not sure if this would play a major role, or not, what do you think?

- No name given
Absolutely. First off, many Playstations are already in the homes of America, so the average parent that wants to buy something for their video game lovin' kid is going to buy a $50 game rather than a $250 system without a game. Secondly, the PSX2 isn't going to come out in America until at least next summer, so titles like Final Fantasy VIII are key to the Playstation's success against an increasingly strong Nintendo 64. As for the Dreamcast, well I know that I'll be right there in line for mine, but I have to admit I'm not so sure what's going to happen there.
 
Just Call me Something Simple. Like Almighty Soverign and Lord of the Universe. Nothing Fancy
As soon as I saw that Thor was on vacation, the first thought in my mind was let's heckle the substitute. But you're cool enough. Heck Thor was getting to cute for himself (thundergod, sexypants. ) but enough of that... Besides the next Lunar when will there be another more than 1 person rpg?
Thor, getting too cute? Yeah, I suppose next you'll try telling me that the Olsen twins aren't cool. Sorry, had to excercise the ol' saracsm muscle there for a minute :D As for a multiplayer RPG, haven't heard of anything. RPGs don't lend themselves to multiplayer particularly well. Unless you want to stretch it bigtime and call Gauntlet Legends an RPG.
Is it me or is the psx2 gonna be twice as good as my computer?
Have you seen the PSX 2's specs? The PSX will rock mightily, so sayeth the Lord.
what's up with the huge rants? Monday's letters were all rants. It doesn't lend itself to interaction. You got to talk with the people.
Sorry, I spent a lot of time on the new layout so the letters column was a little small yesterday.
it's good you brought some organization to the rpg gamer page, try to do lots of diffrent stuff, while you're here. i would hack you pic, but that so feburary. You've got some weird pupils, dude.

-Derob
Yes, I suffer from "Annie Syndrome".
 
And now for what you all came here for today: Hardcore nudity. Er, I mean debate. Same difference.
 
FMV: Friend or Foe?
In the first corner we have:
Concerning the words about those of a certin age growing out/having an realtively biased view of videogames. There is one part of a game that I have seen work, at least once, to bring such a person onto a 180' realtively quickly.

FMV/CG.

Yes, I can hear the screaming now. But for a good quanity of the "Non Gamer Denomination" out there, what's the true selling point? 70 spells? 60 hours of game play? Squaresoft, I belive, learned an invaulable lession: You have to lure the masses before you get the good ones.

True story: When Wing Commander 4 (yes, I know it's not an RPG) came out on the computer how many years ago, it's graphics...espically it's cutscenes were state-of-the-art. The acting utterly blew away anything on the computer to that date (I hold opinion that it's still some of the best, but I digress). Most of my friends whom have been playing WCs for a while had at least one family member who, in base, described it as "blowing stuff up." At least in half those folks I know, at least one of those "biased" people were in the room when the opening sequence started. An sequence simply *about* someone "blowing stuff up."...yet, the entire mix of it was enough to draw attention. I'm told from one friend that it was their date that had seen part of it, and that she talked about it during most of the evening.

The shock value of good FMV to the uninitated in our strange and twisted arts can be akin to blasting an soup cracker with a sand blaster.

This can do one of two things, if they are impressed.: Make them want *more* FMV (to which the answer is to simply push them towards "Parasite Eve" and lock the door). Or, make them interseted in whatever game that came from...congradulations, you've just hooked a new fan.

-Conskill
And in the other corner:
Hey God of ....Drawing?

My biggest gripe today is with the latest RPG's I have seen coming off of the assembly line lately. Now I know all the cool FMV gets everyone excited, but lately I have just been so sick of it. Companies have just caught on to the FMV fad way to much because all you need is a cool intro FMV and you're selling a game. Where the heck is all the gameplay? The original PSX games were different (I swear, I don't mean Beyond the Beyond) like Suikoden. The movies in Suikoden were just the characters moving around and interacting with each other. To me this is a special treat because it doesn't feel like all the aspects of the game are tied together, but instead they flow. When I see FMV come up, I know that it's going to be cool, and yet I am disappointed because most companies find it difficult to appropriately put in FMV. Well I have an idea, how about putting FMV at the beginning and end of the game. During the game though, I think all we should see is cut scenes where the characters just move around and talk to one another. Personally I would like to see another "original" Final Fantasy without all of the FMV packed into the plot.

-Chezni
So there you have it. On one hand, the general public digs FMV. We can't help it. It's hard wired into our brains. Why do you think things like THX exist? There's a little part of our brain that says, "Oh my God, that explosion KICKED ASS! I could hear the shrapnel stabbing that dude in the head in the speaker behind me!!!" That's the superficial "glitzy-stuff" portion of our minds.

But as Chenzi points out, it seems like FMV is becoming a requirement for any game to succeed, which really kind of stinks since FMV isn't cheap (at least good FMV), and thus smaller companies that may have made a good game can't afford it.

My take on the matter? Heck, I admit it, I'm superficial to an extent, and I dig my FMV, and I agree wholeheartedly that FMV helps draw in new crowds. And as a larger crowd starts getting into games, more hardcore gamers will emerge, and more hardcore gamers will be around to support the smaller, less schanzzy but still good game companies and their products.
 
Mindless, Schmindless
I totally agree that there should be a term for videogames other than, err, videogames. People hear game and think "child's play." Furthermore, the letter sent in by J has many valid points. One sentence that disturbed me, however, was this one:

"Adults are perfectly content reading their works of literature, and have gotten the wrong impression of games because the ones that are advertised on TV are mindless shooters like Goldeneye or simplistic adventures like Zelda"

The reason adults see games as merely child's play and not a real form of entertainment is because of a word called ignorance. They themselves aren't ignorant, but they are ignorant of the possibilities of videogames. In fact, I bet none of them have ever PLAYED a videogames. That was a point you made. But then you go on and say they are turned off by "mindless games like Goldeneye and Zelda". Heh, funny, those would be some of the "smart" choices in my eyes. Before I go on, if you've played both of those games and think they're mindless, forgive me, but if you haven't played these games and simply saw some guy play it or whatnot, listen up.

Many people are ignorant of the possibilities of games. You believe that, that is obvious. But if you haven't played these games and label them as "mindless", then that would totally contradict your argument! They are ignorant of the entertainment value of videogames. You may be ignorant of the entertainment value of Goldeneye and Zelda! At first glance they seem like button mashers, but play on and you could discover how intelligent and immersive they are. If you played them and didn't like it, ignore this, but if you haven't and just saw the commercials or something, give them a try. You may find that they may very well be one of the games that will attract adults to gaming.

-Clyde Hudman
Okay, first off, I agree that Zelda and Goldeneye are by no stretch of the imagination "mindless". Go ahead, try mindlessly blasting through bad guys in Goldeneye. I gaurantee you they'll lay your lead-filled carcass out on the floor so fast your post-humous head'll spin.

As for the adult gaming aspects of this letter, I think that many adults feel that most console games because of their often "kiddy" appearance (Mario 64 is a good example here) are just for kids and couldn't challenge them mentally. That's why a lot of adults are into PC strategy games. The hard part here is going to be convincing adults that looks can be deceiving and the underlying gameplay is far worth accepting (and in my case liking, so sue me ;) the childish appearance.
 
Toasted
Hi, I'm officially flaming you saying that Xenogears hasn't fully drawn you in yet. ;)
Damn.
 
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I know there's some more of that cool FMV in here Somewhere
 
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Thoughtlets
Legion007 asks, "If I was a McDonald's Value Meal, what number would I be?"The #1 meal, baby. I'm the real Big Mac! :D
Cloudy says that I look like Brian from Quest 64.Hey, no I... dammit I kind of do.
Psycho Mike wants to know why Cecilia dances after some of the battles in WildARMS.She's got happy feet.
Hoenir asks me, "If you could be any RPG character, who would you be?"What is this, the dating game? I'm not Jay Boor here. ;)
Finally, many people have written to tell me they love the new layout and hope Thor keeps it.Don't worry, Thor worked with me on the new layout already, pretty sure he digs it.
 
Drew Stuff

Okay, Today's column should be all you ever wanted and more. I'd love to stick around and babble humorously about myself, but I have to run off and pay a ^&*# speeding ticket... Cars suck, why can't humans just run 75 miles per hour?
Here's your invisible text, Mike.

- Drew Cosner

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