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LETTERS WITH AEGIS
     February 11, 2002 "if i am made to get married, i will marry a girl like this: a kind of golden vixen"     

COLD AS ICE:

Yeah, Foreigner rocks, just for the record.

Welcome to this week's edition of Letters with Aegis. It's late and I'm tired, as I just got done working later than expected at good ol' Papa John's. But money's good (right?), so at least it hasn't been a lose-lose situation. Regardless, I'm going to make both the intro and outtro relatively short, as my will to remain awake is waning.

Some of you, I'd hope, are probably curious about my game's progress. I'm happy to say that things are progressing along rather well, with no major stumbling blocks yet. However, I'm going to have to once again delay the debut of my battle system by one more week. I got sidetracked into programming other parts of the game, so the battle engine still isn't done, and, just as importantly, some of the battle sprites have yet to be drawn.

Speaking of sprites, I'd like to show off some of the recent works of my game's character designer, Matt Fairchild. For your viewing pleasure are the following:

Please keep in mind that some of these images are relatively early in production and will receive a bit more detail before completion. However, what you see here gives a good representation of the game's character art style and what the final sprites will look like.

Keeping on a graphics-related note for one more paragraph, the artist I had signed on to draw the game's background tiles will be unable to complete the task by himself due to unforeseen circumstances. Because of this, I need another artist to work with or perhaps take over for the aforementioned artist. If you think you might be interested, here's the skinny:
  • You will draw 16x16-pixel 256-color tiles for the game's backgrounds, such as grass, water, trees, etc.
  • You will need to have enough time available to complete the necessary tiles by approximately March 10.
  • Your work will be seen by representatives from game companies such as Konami, LucasArts, and THQ.
  • You will be credited for your work in the game's credits, but you will not get paid, as I'm making no money from the development of this game.
If you want a piece of the action, mail me and we'll see if we can work something out. I look forward to working with one of you (or perhaps more than one... I wouldn't object to multiple artists as long as you could work together and blend styles well, but we'll cross that bridge if we get there).

So much for making this intro short... Now on to the letters.

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    Guess the Quote Contest
    Try to guess (be specific) the quote towards the top of the page. If you're the first one to email me with the correct answer, I'll mention you in my next column. An individial may not win the contest twice in a row.
     

     
    guess the music
    "i'm willing to reach out, get into your head" is from a Guided By Voices song called Surgical Focus. If you like GBV, you chould check out Modern Income at mp3.com/modern__income. They (well, really its mainly one guy, with a rotating band) are currently in negotiations to sign with Amy Ray's Daemon Records and have quite a similar Lo-Fi Pop vibe.

    Sullivan
    (whose own work can be heard at www.soundclick.com/sullivan)

    Aegis:
    Indeed it is. I bought a Rio 600 mp3 player at Best Buy the week before last, as it was only $50 after the mail-in rebate (yeah, it only had 32 megs of ram, but it was still a great buy). One of the "prepackaged" songs on the player was "Surgical Focus," which I like quite a bit. I think I burned myself out on it from listening too much, though. Oh well.



     
    listen to the music
    Hey Aegis.

    Someone sent me this today and I thought I'd pass it along since it is pretty cool.

    Open either Media Player or Real Player. Go to File-->Open URL or Location (depending on the program). Then put in one of these addresses.

    http://66.28.48.74:17374 -Zelda Radio
    http://66.28.49.149:12916 - Mario Radio
    http://66.28.49.148:17090 - Nintendo Radio

    I think at least some people will get a kick out of this.

    Also, do you like turn based, action based (Zelda), or a hybrid (Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story) battle system best?

    Aegis:
    I've yet to try any of these stations out, but I'm all about letting folks know about cool new stuff, so there you go. Regarding your question, though I've yet to play Vagrant Story, I haven't played any hybrid battle systems that I thought were all that great. That said, I'll take action-based over turn-based any day, as turn-based (or just menu-based in general) seems too boring and stagnate for my tastes nowadays.



     
    listen to the music... again
    Sup Aegis!

    Back in your Jan 14th column you said that you'd like to feature other people's work. Well, I write trance and techno music wich can be found to download and stream for free at www.mp3.com/planet3. My stuff is generally pretty melodic, so if you're scared of the genre, you should give it a try. I'm trying to get some exposure on mp3.com and getting this link posted at such a fine site as RPGamer (butt kissing) should turn out to be a huge help.

    If this does get posted, I would like to say that I would love to have my music featured in any kind of game you or your readers may be making. I could change existing songs or write new stuff. If anyone is interested or would like to comment on my tunes(which would be greatly appreciated), send an email over to planet_three@hotmail.com. Thanks, and enjoy!!

    -SuperGreen aka Danny Adler

    Aegis:
    I did say that, didn't I? *wink wink*

    Actually, you had sent me this link before, but you didn't specifically say that it was your music or that you were submitting it to be posted. I meant to write you back and ask you, but I guess I just forgot about it. But that doesn't really matter anymore, now does it? I'd personally recommend for everyone to check these tunes out. I'm a music connoisseur of sorts, and I thought pretty highly of what I heard, so take that for what it's worth. I especially liked "Soul Shift." Good stuff.



     
    now shake to the music
    I got a question for you, although it doesn't relate to RPGs. Since your a Samba de Amigo fan, I'd assume you play using the maracas rather than the controller. Since I can't afford the Sega brand ones, I may resort to the 3rd party imitations. Do you know if they work just as well as the original, or will they break in a couple months like the 3rd party DDR pads?

    -Vic

    Aegis:
    You came to the right guy for this question. You're right, I do use the maracas, and I have the official Sega ones (two pairs, actually). Samba de Amigo with the DC controller alone is a good game, but with the maracas, it's more than twice as good.

    I haven't actually used any 3rd party maracas, but I have heard less-than-stellar things about them, pretty much equating them, as you're guessing, to the quality of 3rd party DDR stuff. However, I stand by my statement above, so if you can get these 3rd party ones for cheaper than $40, I think it's in your best interest to do so, even if they are kinda shoddy. That's my two cents.



     
    the name's holmes
    I was reading Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express and I saw one thing that caught my eye. One of the passenger on the train is a German Lady's Maid, her name is Hildegarde Schmidt. I thought maybe that is where the name of the airship for Final Fantasy IX came from even though it is spelled Hilda Garde. I was just wondering if there is any German women name Hildagarde or did the game made it up?

    Aegis:
    Nice detective work. Though it's possible the name came from another source, that's probably unlikely. Your next question should be who's the culprit? The Japanese development team or the translator? I bet somebody knows...



     
    enter the composer
    Dear Aegis,

    In response to your question about how far games should be spaced apart, I think that Squaresoft is pumping them out all too fast, while Enix is taking too much time inbetween. The Final Fantasy games are great, I love them... but they are produced so fast these days that it seriously hinders the quality of them. For example, they try to push a little over/under a year to relase a Final Fantasy game... that doesn't seem like enough time to make a quality game in my mind. As a composer, I can vouch for the fact that Nobuo Uematsu is probably feeling pretty pressed for time when he's got to write 300+ minutes of music in under a year... after all, most film score composers do that in 5 years to 10 years. I can't speak for the art of the game, but all I can say is that if I composed the music to FF8, and then Square told me they wanted another game out in under a year, I'd probably freak out. A two year or even three year gap inbetween games is optimal, I think -- both for the gamers (who probably won't lose interest if they liked the previous one), and for the producers, so they can make a quality product.

    Also, I would think it would be cool to see a sequel to Parasite Eve -- a real sequel, one that doesn't suck, and on the PS2! I played Parasite Eve when I was younger, and I had such a crush on Aya!! Parasite Eve 2 was stupid and played up on Resident Evil's sucess. But a true sequel would be just so cool. Not to mention I'd hire Yoko Shimomura to do the score again!

    Chad

    Aegis:
    There's not a lot I have to say other than the fact that I agree with that timeframe. Three years may be a bit too long, but anything less than a year and a half apart at the bare minimum would be too close together, if you ask me. Unless, however, you're dealing with an episodic game or something; that would be an entirely different case.



     
    quantum leap
    Hey Aegis,

    Remember the good ol' days when we had to wait years in between video game sequel releases? And in those years there were giant leaps in development and presentation? I am talking specifically about Final Fantasy (and more specifically the Stateside releases): In between FF2(US) and FF3(US) there are incredible advances in both visuals and sound, and again in the three years between FF3(US) and FF7, HUGE advances in graphics and sound (keeping in mind that there was a system change, but still...)

    I want those days back, when you had to wait for a product and then it knocked your socks off. Nowadays there is one a year, and even though there are noticeable differences in what you see and hear, instead of the magnificent leaps and bounds it is merely a slow trickle.

    I am purposefully avoiding FF11, both because it is online and because I've had my fill of Final Fantasy for now. I'll be back for FF12, and I hope that I'll be pleasantly surprised.

    Good day to you, Aegis.

    --Chris

    P.S. I just noticed that this turned out to be one giant rant about the Final Fantasy series. My apologies...

    Aegis:
    Ah, don't worry about it. If for nothing else, the FF series is good for making examples. Kidding, kidding, don't stone me. But seriously, I miss the old days too, though I don't necessarily wish for them back. There are tons of games coming out now at a decent pace and I can actually afford most of what I want, even if I don't have time to play most of it. But you can't have everything, right?



     
    enter the artist
    Heya Aegis, since you got me reading the column again I guess I should say "thanks" by sending q's.

    RPG in most need of a true sequel in my opinion is Illusion of Gaia. Terranigma just doesn't count, I'm sorry. I want big armored knights, amorphous blue warriors, and fuzzy headed little boys with flutes!

    I also want a good addition to the Lufia series. I haven't played Legend Returns yet, but heh... lacking a GBC...

    Hmm, those aside, there is one game that, if I ever see a sequel, I will be sent into convulsions from happiness for the next straight week. Stonekeep. If you've never played Stonekeep, find *some* way to get it. It is basically a first person slasher RPG, and is one of my all time favorite PC games. Die Khuul-Khum die. *does the little elf-dance* Wahooka Wahooka Wahooka!

    Oh yeah, I have a question too. What takes up the most time during a game's development? Programming? Bug testing? Script writing/adjusting? Sadistic producers changing their vision every few minutes? It would seem to be programming, since you have to have people coding and testing the battle sequence, running around sequence, movie sequence, etc. Of course, character designing takes a heckuva lotta time too... I look at a game like FF9 with a different sprite for nearly every person in every city, and dayum, I'm impressed.

    -Matt F
    Scavenger382

    Aegis:
    I was nearly shocked to open your letter and find your choice for the game in greatest need of updating. It wasn't but a couple nights ago that I told my friend Marshall how much I would like to see a 3D Illusion of Gaia. I mean, the 3D Zelda games are similar to what I would envision, but they're not nearly as fluid or action-packed. Plus the feeling is completely off. But yes, I agree with you fully on that account... but is Quintet, the development team, still together? Hmm...

    You're not missing out much by not playing Lufia: the Legend Returns, so I hear. Random dungeons and more supposedly nullify most of the good points of the series.

    Regarding your question, that can't really be answered in general. For a specific game, it could, but in general, there are too many unknowns. For example, the majority of development time for the game I'm working on will be spent programming. However, the game's content will only last for 20-30 minutes. If I wanted to use the game engine for a 20-hour game, it could be done with very little extra programming, although script-writing, character designing, and other facets would eclipse programming time in that case.



     
    up next on courtv...
    I just read the article on Mythic being legally attacked for disallowing item sales. Now I'm not entirely legally oriented, but I get the feeling when a company has a service they provide, they are allowed to make whatever restrictions they feel on it. Add that to the fact that they require you to click "I AGREE" to: (excerpt from DAoC EULA)

    "You may not sell or auction any Game characters, items, coin or copyrighted material. The selling of items, coins or any copyrighted part of the Game's player character whether through online auctions (for example Ebay), newsgroup or postings on message board is in violation of this EULA as well as Mythic's Player Code of Conduct..."

    and I don't get how Blacksun has any foothold whatsoever in this case. Any idea how they could get by with something that blatantly violates an agreement like that?

    - Colin

    Aegis:
    Wow. Craziness. I don't know what to think, but I doubt Blacksun's argument will hold up in court. I've seen nearly everything now.




    End of the Road:

    It's been real, folks, but now it's really late. I'm off to bed. Have a safe and productive week, and I'll see you all next Monday. Write to Google in the meanwhile, it does a body good.

    Andrew P. Bilyk bought Sonic Advance last Tuesday and will buy Super Mario Advance 2 this Tuesday. Hooray!


    Until next time,

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