Humor Drought
Okay, I might as well warn you right now: Today's column isn't very funny. I gots lots of good questions and not enough stupid ones to have fun with. What's with you people, don't you know how to write idiotic questions? ;)

In other news, this will be my last day filling in for Mr. Antrim. A lot of you sent me letters telling me what a great job I've done, and how I'd make a good Ask guy full time, and I truly appreciate them. I've had a real blast the past couple of days, and chances are I'll be seeing you all again soon enough. Thor will be back on Monday to fill your lives with glee and jubilation, with a healthy dose of insanity thrown in, so be sure to tell him how much you love the new design. Er, but you didn't hear that from me ;)  I'll be seeing you guys later.
In the Beginning...
Hey Drew. I have two questions. First, do you know if the demo for FF8 that was included in Brave Fencer Musashi has everything that the actual game has in the first part of the game(besides the obvious fact that you should have a menu screen)? Second, if you ever had to compile a list of your top 5 favorite console RPG's, what would they be?

Thanks! -Steven Vegh (aka Starkiller)
Actually, the part of the game on the demo wasn't the beginning of the game. Go figure. As for my top 5 favorite console RPG's, that's tough, but here goes:
  • Final Fantasy VI
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Brave Fencer Musashi
There you have it, more or less. Feel free to totally disagree with me, those choices are wholly my own opinion.
Hard Labor
I would just like to say that I totally agree with your view on art. Yes, you can find anything beautiful, but beauty doesn't mean it's art. If I happen to fall in a mudpuddle, splatter mud all over a nice canvas, and it ends up making an INCREDIBLE design, that isn't art. That's beauty. Art involves making a conscious effort to create something that isn't just a nice splotch of mud on a canvas. You need insight, thought, creativity, and a good work ethic. I couldn't agree more saying that it needs to be more than the average Joe can do. And in other news, Andrew says that the PSX with his cost analysis will be $300-400 dollars in cost. Is there really no labour/development costs involved? I think it's the same theory behind why a CD which costs 2 cents to make ends up costing $4 blank. People designed them, people produce them, and so they cost more than just 2 cents.

-Hoenir Aesir
There is, of course the labor that goes in to designing the actual machine, but once that's done with the things are pretty much put together solely by machines.
You Can't Handle the Polygon Count!
In honesty, I think I know the answer to this question, but people won't believe me, so I'll ask you. Why does the playstation need to be able to render 66 million polygons ber second, when, in both american and japanese televisions (except HD TV's,) the number of pixels that are displayed in one second is 11,796,480, around a sixth of the playstation 2's capabilities. I believe that the answer to this is that, if you're doing very complex renderings, like maybe a video on the side of polygons, or rendering exact curves, this would be when that extra processing power comes in handy. Am I right?

Thanks, K_os
Well, yes and no. Obviously yes, the more power the better, developers will always find uses for all the power you give 'em, and naturally more polygons equals smoother curves and surfaces. But 66 million polygons is only with options turned off that pretty much every game will use, such as mip-mapping, anti-aliasing, bi-linear filtering, texture-correction, and Z-buffering. In the end you're only looking at 8 million polygons per second, plus you have to factor in the polygons that are hidden from view.
Could You be a Bit More Descriptive?
Hey Drew,
(Obligatory praise starts here --->) You've been doin' a great job in Thor's absense, keep up the good work, yada yada yada...

Okay, now that that's out of the way, I wanna discuss the recent uproar over Baldur's Gate being an RPG. Really, it's about all RPGs... You see, the term RPG is one of the worst names in the history of gaming, for two reasons. The first is it's meaning... if you clasify a game as racing, you know what it will be like in general, but connoting something as an RPG is extremely ambiguous. Because you have games from FF to Zelda to Azure Dreams to FFT... all of which are inherintly different, classified in the same category.

But this isn't so much the problem as is the term they decided to use to describe them... a role-playing game. RPG has to be one of the biggest misnomers of all time. Why? Because when you get right down to it, most games, computer, console, or otherwise, have you assume a role... whether it's a racing game, a fighting game, and "RPG", an adventure game, or any other type of game.

The solution? Find another name to call such games as Final Fantasy 8, Lunar:SSS, Septerra Core, etc. Or alternitively, stop classifying games altogether. After all, these categories were invented to describe the game in a word or two. It's not like games don't have misleading paragraphs describing them on the back of the box 8-). And despite their misleading information, they are pretty good indicators of what the game is like overall...

-The Dark Phoenix
I agree. The meaning of "RPG" has changed so much over time that people are even at the point of tryin to make categories of RPG's, such as PnP RPG (Pencil and Paper RPG), and cRPG (Computer RPG). This often leads to little disputes such as the one with Baldur's Gate since it's so difficult to place a finger on what really is an RPG.
PS2: Ultimate All-In-One Kit?
When you really think about it, the PlayStation 2 is giving consumers a DVD-player, a CD player, and a fully-funcional old PSX for snot-cheap when you compare it to the cost of buying those things separately. Sure, 400 dollars seems like a lot of money (and it is), but I think a lot of parents would give into little Billy's whining when they look at all that they're getting along with the system. (Kinda like if my parents had gotten a free VCR when they bought me my Super Nintendo many years back. Ah, memories...)

Also, what's with snuffing poor Andrew when he was looking for advice on how to fix his PSX? You could have at least told him to try turning it upside-down...

My $.02, Brendan
You know, that would be a great selling point, and yet Sony has announced that the PS2 will not be capable of playing DVD's out of the box. What this means is that possibly down the road at some point you'll be able to get an add-on that allows it to play DVD's, but when you first purchase it, it won't have these capabilities. I think it's because Sony wants to keep the market for their DVD players and PSX's seperate to make, they make more money that way. Sony is every bit the money-seeking corporate empire that any other large company is, everybody.
FMV Not Dead!... Or is it?
I think that all the people who think that pre-rendered FMV is dead I have 2 facts.
1]Why would Sony make a DVD drive if it didn't intend to use some pretty long movies DUH (FF7 & 8 could probably fit into one CD with no movies).
Actualy, Sony themselves have announced that they expect to see most games comeout on CD rather than DVD, anyways. Besides, things like artwork, rendered backgrounds, texture maps, and red book audio can take up a lot of disc space as well.
2] Although the Real-time cinemas from the demo's are very well done the quality is just not there. The camera angles are jumpy and if you look closely at the demo you can see that Squall and Rinoa aren't even holding hands while they dance. there hands are open and just kinda pressed against each other. It's these details that make pre-rendered FMV much better.
First off, that demo was made quickly and thrown together on hardware Square hasn't had much of a chance to work with yet, so of course it wasn't perfect. Secondly, prerenders start out as 3D renders, so making real-time 3D scenes isn't such a conceptual leap, although the differences are there. In fact, the main reason prerendered FMV has been used on the PSX is because prerenders look so much better than actual in-game graphics, but this is no longer the case on powerful systems like the PS2.
A Change of Character
I NEED a code that enables me to change Cloud to Sephiroth. He's just SO much cooler than Cloud! Or any other character in any other game for that matter. Only exception being Cecil from FFIV.

In any case, do you have one?

In order to change Cloud into Sephiroth, you have to wait for the next full moon, then at the stroke of midnight strip off all of your clothing, pour the blood of a turnip over Grant's Tomb, and then run through a crowded all-night strip mall naked. Hope that helps.
Thor's Quest
I bet you beat Thor senseless and you're sitting in his chair right now. You are as evil as sin.

Actually, Thor had to go retrieve his hammer from a band of giants by dressing up like a woman to fool them. He'll be back by Monday.
Standard of Living
You're absolutely right when you mentioned how ridiculously old the Xenogears characters look. Why is it that Japan is obsessed with overdeveloped 18-year olds who look at least ten years older than they should being the protagonist? I'm older than Bart and Fei and they still look much, much older than me. Living up to their standards would be pretty depressing.

Tell me about it! How desperately I want to be as cool and hip as chuchu, but alas it's just not within my reach. Damn you, Square!
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Neo points out that if you add an extra space to "therapist" it becomes "the rapist".Uh...
Chuck wants to know which handheld I would recommend for RPG fansGameboy Color, all the way. Gameboy Color rocks.
Jacki-O tells me I should "kill Thor and ascend to the throne"Sorry, I have a strict no-deicide policy.
Drew Stuff

Well guys, it's been fun hosting the column, and I hope you enjoyed having me. I'd like to think that I've made a positive contribution to the section in my time as the "Ask" man, and I'm glad to see by the e-mails I've receieved that the majority of you agree. Anyways, for those burning questions, send your mail off to the sages, and on Monday Thor shall return to dwell amongst you. Until Thor's next vacation, this is Drew "Indefensible and Reprehensible, but not Rising to the Level of Impeachment" Cosner, signing off. Ciao. Today's column has been brought to you by Mentos, the letter "A", and your mom. Hehe... Gomeboy Color Rocks, right Mike? :>

- Drew Cosner

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