i'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
     Monday, September 24, 2001 "misery loves a symphony"     


Since we last met, I bought two music CDs. I usually don't buy music CDs; I usually just download my music. However, two artists that I really enjoy both released CDs on the same day last week, and I was in the mood to spend money, so I went store hopping and picked them up. Just which CDs were these, might you ask? A Funk Odyssey by Jamiroquai and Rockin' the Suburbs by Ben Folds. Both are great CDs in their own rights, and I might encourage anybody who likes either artist to at least check out the corresponding CD.

I know I've mentioned this before, but I'll reiterate, as what I'm going to say builds from it. I'm a computer science major, and my plan is to land a job as a video game programmer after college. Some of you might scoff at this; "another programmer, bah," I can just imagine, but that's the plan and I'm sticking to it. However, instead of trying to jump straight into the industry after graduation, I want to take a couple more gradual steps -- namely, I want, perhaps even need, a game programming internship for next summer. Not only will it be good as far as public relations goes, it will help me to develop my skills.

I attended and helped to provide RPGamer's coverage of the Game Developers Conference 2001 this past March, and it was really a great experience. The job fair they had there was incredible, with numerous big- and small-name companies ready to interview you, and though I wasn't ready to pursue an internship at the time, next March is going to be my time. I've already got a decent résumé, but I've decided I want to have quite a bit more to show off to my interviewers. Namely, I fully intend to have three (3) small games ready by next March, and I've already started on the first one.

The first game I'm going to do -- the one I've started work on -- is an RPG, albeit a small one. I'm programming the basics of the battle engine before doing anything else... even before starting the graphics engine. Considering that, I'm displaying the battles, temporarily until the battle engine is about done and I move on to the graphical engine, in a text box. Can you say "ascii art"? I know I can. The adventurous can even take a peek at the work in progress right here. I've got a lot of work to go on this one, but so far I'm pleased with my progress.

I mentioned that I plan to do three games, but I've only shed light on one of them. The other two, in no special order, are 1) a racing game which I envision will turn out somewhat like R.C. Pro Am and 2) some sort of platformer which I've yet to give much thought to. Since this is my forum-of-sorts, and you are my audience, I thought I'd bring this to your attention. If I don't receive too many objections, I'll keep you all abreast of my current progress in creating these games and I may even provide some keen downloadables for your perusal sometime in the future.

Moving on towards today's topic and the column itself, it's really hard for me to choose the one game I'm looking forward to the most. It's a toss-up between ICO and Super Smash Bros. Melee, but if I could only choose one game and had to forego the other forever, I would have to pick ICO. I played the demo and I loved it, and though SSBM really is that good (I played it, I know), when push comes to shove it is only a sequel (albeit a fantastic sequel, to a fantastic game no less).

As far as my intended game purchases for the near future go, here is the list, in what should be an approximate chronological order:

  • ICO, PS2
  • Metal Gear Solid 2, PS2
  • GameCube system
  • GameCube memory card (or two)
  • three extra GC controllers
  • Luigi's Mansion, GC
  • Wave Race: Blue Storm, GC
  • Super Monkey Ball, GC
  • Rogue Leader, GC
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Advance, GBA
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee, GC
  • Pikmin, GC
  • Eternal Darkness, GC
  • probably 2-3 random games I'm forgetting about
  • possibly an Xbox, peripherals, and 2-3 games... possibly

    I haven't even calculated how much money that would all cost, and honestly, I don't want to. Let's move on to the letters, shall we?

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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.

    parker & stone, inc.
    Eric Cartman. I don't remember which episode and I don't think anyone knows what he was really talking about. (Something about crawling up his legs at night? I don't want to know what he was talking about.)

    Joshua Cole
    Software Engineer
    Midway Games West

    Ooh, a Software Engineer. See kids, I could have a fancy title such as that in a couple years. Anyhow, you, Joshua, were the first to mail in guessing the quote. You're right, a quote similar to "Rainbows? I hate those things" was indeed said by Eric Cartman in an Episode of South Park.

    In theory, I should be more picky and require a bit more information than that, but considering the fact that, as several people pointed out to me, I actually paraphrased the true quote from the "Weight Gain 4000" episode of South Park, in this instance I have no grounds to do so. So, cheers to the both of us!

    pc game gets much love
    Hey (monks sing) AE-GIS

    What I really look forward to is Civilization III. It comes out in less than a month and I can't wait. What I really want also is a PS2 this year since I also need a DVD player. Well, hopefully I'll get something for my birthday since that's on the 6th of October when I'll turn 20.

    Imperial Mog

    Greetings, Imperial Mog. I'm not much of a PC gamer, well, at all, and I've never played the Civ games, but I do know folks who practically worship Sid Meier for them, so you've probably got good reason to be excited.

    mega man batt-ah what?
    Hello Aegis!

    Good topic choice :-) It's funny that you are mentionning game buying, as I'll be concentrating on that on the next days.! The game I'm looking the more forward to is Mega Man Battle Network. In case you don't know (shame on you if you don't!), it's a spin-off of the Mega Man games, this new game being an RPG. It's gonna be fun! The sequel is already being worked on in Japan...

    Oh, of course I've heard of Mega Man Battle Network. I'll admit I haven't kept a close eye on it, as what I have seen didn't seem to excite me too much, but if it floats your boat, all the more power to you.

    There are a few games I'm 70% sure I'll get before the end of the year:
    - Dragon Warrior 7. About time this one's coming out!
    - Dragon Warrior 1 & 2. I know, it was released a while ago, but I needed the GBA to play it...
    - Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 (the 2 carts). Yes, I love DW. So what?
    - Sonic Advance. I need to hear the GBA yelling "SEGA!" when you boot it up! And if it doesn't say SEGA, I'll throw away the game for 2 weeks. Seriously.

    You seem to like Enix games, eh? And as far as Sonic Advance goes, you'll note that it's on my list as well. I played it at E3, and while I must admit that the bit I played didn't feel very Sonic-ish, if you will, I have high expectations regardless.

    The rest is pure speculation, but I would like to get:
    - A Game Cube, with what will be out before the end of the year... (Luigi's Mansion!)
    - Possibly a Dreamcast with Skies of Arcadia, Sonic Adventure, and Marvel vs Capcom. (Maybe some others)
    - Mario Kart Super Circuit. Another Mario Kart game, yay!
    - Dragon Warrior Monsters. Just to complete the set ;-)

    Ah, I'm talking too much already... From that (big) list, any idea about what I should buy?

    - Dr. Cossack

    From your above list of stuff you'd like to get, I'd recommend you get the Dreamcast and games while you still can. Skies of Arcadia isn't easy to find new nowadays, and new Dreamcast systems won't be available forever. On the other hand, if you don't mind buying used stuff, you may wanna wait on the DC so you can get a GameCube ASAP. I know I can barely contain my anticipation.

    bookz 'n' stuff
    Hey Aegis,

    I'm a freshman in high school, and I need some books to read. I've read all of the Redwall and Dragonriders of Pern books, and they're starting to bore me. I generally like fantasy stuff like dragons and such, but I'm willing to read anything interesting...Do you have any suggestions?

    I must admit that I really haven't read a whole lot, but I can give you some suggestions based on what I have read. The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis are fantastic; they were the first fantasy books I ever read, and I still regard them highly. Also, if you don't mind your friends calling you a "crackpot" (mine label me as such because of it), you might wanna try the Harry Potter books. They're not medieval-style sword 'n' dragon fantasy, but they are fantasy in their own right. Plus they're relatively short and easy to get into. And the movie of the first book comes out in November!

    Tapping into the literary tastes of some of my friends, I should suggest to you the Lord of the Rings series (assuming you've yet to read them), especially with the movie coming out soon. I haven't read them yet, and I really need to get the first one done before the movie hits in December. Also, I've heard good things about the Wheel of Time series. I can barely call myself competent when it comes to knowledge of literary works, but hopefully that helps you a bit.

    Also, the game I'm probably looking forward to most is Hoshigami, because I really liked FFT (even though when I was at the end, my brother took it to college with him, and I don't know anyone who has it). Games I'm probably going to get: Hoshigami, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy Chronicles and Anthology, Suikoden 1 and 2, Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, and maybe some PS2 games. Do all of those Playstation games work on the PS2? And what are some good PS2 RPG's? The only game I have for it is Dark Cloud...

    Thank you, or as us Inupiaq say it, Taikuu!!

    For fans of Final Fantasy Tactics, Hoshigami is most probably taken as a godsend. I'm just getting into FFT now, so I may develop a desire for it later on. As far as I know, all the PSX games you mentioned will work on the PS2. In fact, as far as I remember, all PSX games work on the PS2; just a small few of them have some minor glitches. As of right now, I think Dark Cloud is the only decently good PS2 RPG.

    Dear Aegis,

    I have a question for you, although it doesn't pertain to the question at hand. I was wondering what your favorite game soundtrack currently is, and which composer do you think is most talented in the field of game music right now? A lot of people feel Nobuo Uematsu's quality has dropped since his most recent scores, how do you feel about that?


    Gosh, that's a hard question. I think I'm gonna have to cop out and pick Chrono Trigger's soundtrack. I really haven't played many recent RPGs, so I'm quite possibly unfairly disqualifying better competition, but from what I've played, I think Chrono Trigger had the best and overall most memorable music. Mitsuda did the majority of the Chrono Trigger score, and he did the entire score of Chrono Cross, including "Scars of Time," my favorite song from an RPG. Those two facts considered, I'd have to say I think he's the most talented of the professional composers I'm familiar with.

    As far as Uematsu goes, I don't know if the quality of his work is necessarily worse, but, to me at least, his recent works are a lot less memorable than his compositions from, say, FF6. You know what they say, quality is in the, um, ear of the beholder.

    cash overflow
    Heya, Aegis,

    Alrighty. You asked for the most anticipated game. Plus a list of all the gaming related things we, the readers, intend to buy before the end of the year. Here goes.

    Anticipation, ACTIVATE!
    My most anticipated game for this year would be none other than the glorious Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. No, it's not an RPG, but Metal Gear Solid was one of the greatest examples of just plain FUN games. It had some of the best gameplay I'd ever seen. I'm one of those people who have played the demo countless times just to see what all can be done differently. Even today, I'm still finding interesting things to do in it. Imagining all the things that might be possible with mind wanders.... However, my CLOSE second and third choices would have to be DW7 or the Arc trilogy, as I have played neither of those series in my time of playing videogames, and am looking forward to those.

    I, too, am looking forward to seeing what all Hideo Kojima has in store for us in Metal Gear Solid 2. You're right in that the game just spills with gameplay. I'm glad the game isn't being dramatically altered after the recent terrorist attacks here in the United States.

    As far as Dragon Warrior VII and Arc the Lad Collection go, I could really care less about Arc, but I wanna check out DW7 to see what all the fuss is about. A game doesn't sell 4 million units in Japan for nothing...

    List, COMMENCE!
    Gamecube, Waverace, Luigi's Mansion, Memory card to GC, One extra controller for GC, Smash Bros. Melee, Eternal Darkness, RE Zero

    Silent Hill 2, MGS2, Hoshigami, Arc Collection, Dragon Warrior 7, ICO, Soul Reaver 2, Devil May Cry, Evil Twin, Blood Omen 2, probably more.

    Dreamcast (yes, it's still alive!):
    Alone in the Dark, PSO v.2, Evil Twin(if not for PS2), Bomberman Online, Shemmue 2

    Game Boy Advance:
    SF2 Turbo Revival, Mega Man EXE, Golden Sun, Gradius Generation, Sonic Advance, SF Alpha 3, Phalanx, Boy and his Blob, Breath of Fire

    Homeworld 2, should it come out this year; Battlecruiser Millennium, again, should it come out this year.


    There's my list. Do with it what you will.

    A question for you, now.
    Question, EMBARK!
    What do you wish the Xenogears remake to be? If you have not played Xenogears, please disregard this question.

    Finally, I am finished. Nice to have you back, Aegis. Thanks in advance for possibly printing this letter.

    Xero "oro?!" Zohar

    Wow. That's a lot of games. If you actually plan to purchase all of that, you must be a wealthier individual than I, and I'm really not too bad off myself.

    Alas, I've not played Xenogears. I must apologize. I do hope, however, that it pleases those who did play the original. Too many remakes don't fix everything that needed fixed.

    ninja turtles flashback
    Hello, Shield of the Gods!

    Hmm... the one game I want the most that comes out before the end of the year... that's a toughie. The more I hear about Super Smash Bros. Melee, the more it seems like sweet, sweet candy. That's definitely my GC pick, but Silent Hill 2, Metal Gear Solid 2, and Ico are really high on the PS2. Out of those three, I'd go with Ico. Xbox... well, it'd make a nice coffee table. That's the only nice thing I can say about that horrid system. My game of choice for this year would have to be Ico. I've played the demo so many times it's not even funny.

    Now, for all the gamestuff I plan on buying/getting for my b-day/Christmas this year: GameCube, SSB:M, MGS2, SH2, Ico, WaveRace: Blue Storm, a new TV for my games, a GBA, Advance Wars, a GBA link cable, and a CD burner for all my video game music needs.

    Now for my question: Would you consider Super Dodgeball Advance a good enough game to warrant buying three extra GBAs so I can play against my family?

    ~Casey Edwards~
    "Found the legendary blade Potato Reaver. Reaved my potatoes."

    Well, it looks like you have your priorities pretty straight. You've got most of the really good stuff queued up to go, and you should most likely be able to afford it.

    Concerning Super Dodgeball Advance, I haven't played it myself, but I have heard pretty good things about it. However, I don't think there could exist a game short of Super Smash Bros. Advance that would warrant buying three more GBAs of your own. You've got friends, I'm sure. Convince three of them to get a GBA; that makes more sense.

    End of the Road:

    Folks, I had planned to print a few more letters, and I feel bad because I'm not going to, but it's nearing dawn and I have school tomorrow, so I've gotta call it quits. I'd like to thank everybody for writing in, and I'll see you all next week. Until then, write to Google, and take care.

    Andrew P. Bilyk has a one-way ticket to Sleepsville.

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