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ASK ANDREW
Son Of Submariner February 18th, 2005

Andrew Long - 2:13 EST

I AM IN MOURNING THIS WEEK, for the immature sacks of crap that run the NHL and NHLPA have managed to scuttle the season over six million dollars or so, which seems an awfully slim margin to be squabbling about in view of the fact that skipping even an abbreviated campaign will cost them much much more. Oh, well. Now none of you guys at all south of the border will care about hockey, which will make my obscure references that much more delightfully oblique, and if we can't be oblique, then what fun is there in life?

Either way, it seems that either the mail server has died a miserable death or its failure during the week has prompted an utter stop to the flow of mail. I certainly hope this doesn't persist into tomorrow, because if there's one thing I secretly love, it's complaining about lack of mail!

At any rate, it is with heavy heart that I announce the miserable failure of my proposed scheme from last weekend. You see, when noting that I lacked everything saving a PSX in terms of entertainment, I failed to notice that I also lacked sufficient cables, controllers, and memory cards to operate said PSX. As a result, I won't get to start Wild ARMs until Saturday night, but I will make my best effort to get through it, since I said I would and all. Anyhow, it's leftover time!



Ramblebox
Tuna or macaroni? You be the judge! The casserole judge, that is!

-AL  


L E T T E R S
A timeless concern


What are your thoughts about the changes that Square Enix has undergone before and after the merger?

Currently, I get the nagging suspicion that if Square Enix focuses more on publishing and less on in house development, the company will rely more heavily on established brand names rather than taking more risks to create innovative experiences. For example, Kingdom Hearts combines two successful franchises. The game mechanics are for the most part really just a cluster of ideas that have been done before, though with good execution.

Do you think this has anything to do with their relationship with Sony? The success of the Playstation and Playstation 2 relied heavily upon the marketing of established franchises. Why wouldn't Square Enix follow Sony's example to maximize profits?


ANDREW


Why not indeed? Unfortunately, Square's executive seems to be following the business philosophy you've so lovingly summarized here, and while it still turns out the occasional good game, creativity is definitely at a premium in terms of radical departure from the norm. Even stuff like Radiata Stories doesn't really inspire the same glee that a new Square title would have in the old days, simply because Square Enix has demonstrated little inclination to do anything beyond go with the flow and crank out the same sort of stuff other developers are doing.

That said, for production values, you still can't beat them. Square Enix has the resources to put out very polished games, which is why they haven't really declined in overall popularity or success. Despite the fact that they really haven't done much to advance the genre in years (and some would argue that even older Square titles in large part borrowed from games made by others, although to that I would say "Square did it better") the people at Square Enix do at least do much to keep it running along at its current state.

You also have to remember that over the past few years, Square Enix has seen a great deal of turnover in its development division. Brownie Brown, Mist Walker, and Monolith are all software outfits that employ significant numbers of former Square Enix employees, and to lose the number and calibre of workers that Square Enix has and still remain as prominent as they have is no mean task. Hopefully, once the current gang get a few games under their belts, we'll begin to see improvements in the gameplay and mechanics.

Bottom line: Square Enix hasn't really been shooting the lights out over the past year or so, and time will tell whether or not that trend continues. By no means has the company stopped producing playable games, however, and I certainly have no inclination to write them off... yet.



Hmm.. A chunk of such talk in the ol' backlog.. convenient


Shofizzle the mizzle dizzle!... *looks around* Izzle? Don't punch me!

But enough of that. Personally, I think Mistwalker is going to be the most awsomely company ever. That one RPG they're making... the one with levelups based on... what was it... oh, yeah, EMOTION? That's shiggity shiggity shwa! Anywho, I will now stop my obsessive obsessing, whilst you post YOUR Mistwalker-related comments.

Second, even though I don't really like S-E too much nowadays, I STILL think they've made a few pretty sweet games. Methinks FFXII will rule. Why, you ask? If you've seen the trailer from the last Tokyo Game Show, you'll know what I mean. The part toward the end, with the flower and the white room. See Vaan's face? You don't even know who the creepy person is, but it's still sad for some odd reason because of Vaan's sad face of extreme sadness... ness? That's what I meant when the characters seem real. Not LOOK real, but seem real. Eh, nevermind.

Lastly, I would like to inform you of a little online RPG called the Kingdom Of Loathing. www.kingdomofloathing.com. It is the coolest RPG ever. No, seriously, go check it out, and please post the el linko for the peoples to see and click on.

-Spiffyness


ANDREW

You shall have your linkage, but only because of your fine execution of shiggity shiggity shwa. In regards to the Mist Walker emotion stuff: I view this as more evidence that Hironobu Sakaguchi's brains are slowly melting into a little puddle of syrup, but we shall see... Things haven't quite been the same without him at Square Enix, so hopefully he still knows what he's doing.

I feel trepidation when I think of FFXII, because quite frankly the battle system, which alleges to be similar to FFXI's, does not sound like something that I would particularly enjoy, in view of the fact that I didn't enjoy Final Fantasy XI very much.



Boingy, Boingy!


I've been reading your readers' gripes lately about how there is a lack of 'good' RPGs. First off, as an aside, I'd like to point out that everyone would have better luck finding their 'good' games if they were to sit down and define what they meant by 'good'. I mean, literally, pull a game proposal type document off the Internet, and fill in about 60% of the blanks with what would generally be a good game.

Second, I don't want to spoil the bad mood, but what makes everyone so sure that there are fewer good games being made? How many RPGs had large releases in a year 10 years ago? 2? 3? Just recently Squeenix announced that they would be doing one a month. That's just one company out of the dozen or so prominent ones. It's not that fewer good games are coming out, it's that the good games look fewer in comparison, and they're harder to find and recognize.

That being said, the other major complaint has been, oddly, that people just don't want to associate with anything that's 'mainstream'. That's easy to solve. Don't. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of small game producers out there. They make really good games. Do some searching on indie game sites, and you'll find a ton of games that are right up your Alley (haha... really, I put that pun in on purpose).


ANDREW

I gotta tell you, I don't even subscribe to the theory that there aren't many good games anymore, because even in 2004, a year which I feel was pretty dismal all around for RPGs, you could still find Shadow Hearts II, World of Warcraft, KotOR II, and Tales of Symphonia, which is exactly three more good RPGs than you could have found in 1991, 1992, 1993, or 1995 (around here, at any rate.)

As to the mainstream argument, you're right when you say it's just plain silly. Certainly, there are now a lot more people around who like RPGs, but deciding you don't like RPGs anymore because they're also liked by kids whose idea of fun is skateboards and smoking is as dumb as only listening to music that comes in limited presses. While mainstream culture does get a lot of things wrong, that doesn't preclude the possibility that every so often, it can get something right. The trouble only starts when it devours that something completely, which is in no danger of happening here simply because RPGs still carry a fairly geeky stigma. Your solution is certainly a good way around things, though, for those of us who absolutely have to dissociate themselves with everything popular.



Robust Stu stops by to gloat


Hey Cast, Just wanted to drop a line while I'm taking a break from enjoying not owning a PS2. Actually, I had a thought I wanted your take on. I know Square-Enix has ownership of the domain names for all the Final Fantasy games coming out the next few years already, let's say up to Final Fantasy 15. Assuming they didn't already have it registered, I was wondering what the legalities would be if I were to go out and buy finalfantasy16.com, finalfantasyxvi.com, finalfantasysixteen.com, and any other variation you could think of. If I retained ownership of those domain names until they were actually looking to release FF16, is that something they could sue me over? I'm figure it could possibly be actionable if I just bought the domain names and sat on them doing nothing so that I could "hold them for ransom" once S-E came looking for them, but if I actually put something on the sites (whatever that may be) and the domain just happened to be finalfantasy16.com, could they take legal action against me for simply owning the domain names instead of them?

Robust Stu
Gold Reviewer/Swell Guy With Too Much Time On His Hands


ANDREW

As far as I am aware, I think you have to show that you have a legitimate purpose in retaining the name, and that you can in some way demonstrate a linkage between the purpose of your site and its name. Otherwise, it just falls under the category of squatting, although the profusion of squatter sites that masquerade as search engines is certainly an indication that actual litigation of this sort is either difficult to execute, not worthwhile, or else not widely pursued. I think, however, that you would have a hard time doing anything with finalfantasy16.com until such a time as Square Enix makes it clear that it will produce no further Final Fantasy titles.



madhtr decides to be irksome


Well, here I am.... emailing you and stuff...... and notice how I'm not even gonna mention my erotic LJ dreams I have listed over at my LiveJournal which is right here: www.livejournal.com/~madhtr
ANDREW

Hate.

So, now that I didn't mention that...... How do you feel about hockey being canceled? heh, you're Cancadian.... Go ahead and speak your mind, You know you want to. It's like there's this icecube and it went down your pants and melted...... and you thought you peed on yourself so you didn't tell anyone..... but then you found out everyone knew because you were really naked...... Ok, maybe it's entirely not like that...... But you start... NOW.

I kinda miss hockey and sure hope they'll be prepared for next year...... *shakes fist*
ANDREW

Apart from what I said in the intro, I think a quote I heard from a CBC commentator sums it up best: "I really can't believe that grown men could be so stupid."

I noticed you did news stories for the site the other day..... What's up with that? It's like you work for RPGamer again...... and by that I mean..... It's like you work for RPGamer again (Reads that over again *nods*.... Perfect sense)
ANDREW

You know, I can fire you :)

I hear there are rumors on the internet that Shroudie has taken over your mind and actually controls you like a mouse inside your head (Like in Sealab 2021). Care to speak on this?
ANDREW

I assure you, there are zero mice inside my head, although Shroudie has been known to attempt mind control tactics. He has never SHROUDIE IS TEH SEXY succeeded, however.

It would also seem that one of your employees, Billy Young, has turned out to be crazy. Is he always like that or is it like some kind of weird twilight zone where he looks crazy to everyone but himself where he thinks everyone else is crazy?

And so ends my...... first?...... email to Q&A..... Shhhhhhh....... firrrrrrssssssstttttttt.

-madhtr


ANDREW

I'm pretty sure this is a new development, but then, I can be pretty oblivious from time to time.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

So for tomorrow, I think we should all rejoice, because the makers of the Gauntlet series have given all RPGamers a golden opportunity. I refer, of course, to our newfound ability to mock John Romero for RPG-related matters instead of just the erstwhile and terrible advertising campaign for (and general lousiness of) Daikatana. Do you think he'll ball up this venerable title, or can he make a comeback from his horrible, horrible fall? Discuss!

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long's money is on "no."


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