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Domes of Fire

Andrew Long - May 8, '04 - 03:46 EDT

IN WHAT CAN ONLY BE A DISASTER for what vast amounts of spare time I have, Farcry is horribly, horribly addictive. I'm not just talking about its insanely good single-player mode, either. The multiplayer is variously fantabulous, and I haven't had this much fun with a shooter since Quake III (if you're counting, that's at least a year, or something like that... the past decade is kind of a blur, to be perfectly honest.) Anyhow, it was all I could do to pry myself away from the pure, efficient German gaming goodness and come here long enough to scrawl this out, which I have done on a bunch of sugar packets which I then converted into pure data through the use of some horribly unnecessary machine, which by some crazy coincidence also sends its data through means of packets. I think there's a difference between the two, but I'm sure it's something like the difference between Equal sweetener and Splenda, so we needn't concern ourselves with it here, now need we?

So it's Saturday, and for some strange reason nobody liked my lame topic. I will take this to mean that you're all plotting against me, and so I must reluctantly throw up a line of bunkers and snipe at you from the deadliest of positions: this creaky old chair. Fear my wrath, for it is largely fake, and fueled by cookies (by absurd chance, my browser is also fuelled by cookies, but let's not even get into THAT bag of chips!)

Something tells me I'm hungry...



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There seems to be something
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Let's just end this mess, no?

A cutting riposte

"RPG: Involves menu-based combat. (e.g.: Final Fantasy, Neverwinter Nights)" cuts out the star ocean and tales of games but puts in games like radical dreamers and the silent hill game for gba. So what kind of games are the Tales of games then?


Actually, it doesn't really cut out the Star Ocean games, since technically, the spellcasting and items are selected from a menu, as well as the ability to run away from a battle. As to Radical Dreamers being included, well - Radical Dreamers is covered by RPGamer, last I checked, although this is the first I've heard of this Silent Hill game (and lest I receive a flood of "OMG SILENT HILL LOL" letters, I'm referring to the GBA title.)

And your most important question, what type of games are the Tales games? Why, they're Tales games, of course! Geez, sometimes I wonder about you...

Now serving: on topic

'sup Castmasta.

Well, that's a weird question for today. It was probably FFVII, what with Barrett and his ebonics, that got me and countless others thinking about the surprising lack of black people in RPG's. It doesn't bother me much that there's so little diversity in RPG casts, but it is a little bit odd. The important thing, certainly, is whether the game is awesome and fun, but I mean, you could totally have an RPG in which everyone was black, and as long as the game still had a good story, battle mechanics, graphics and sound, etc., it would be a good game. And it's not something we've ever seen done, so you know, it could be new and exciting if handled well. I guess something as extreme as that would likely come off as a parody of the genre's conventions...seeing as how pretty much all other RPG's go the opposite route, where everybody's white.

-Jackson Ferrell

P.S. Redheads.

I guess the main reason that there's so little diversity in RPGs is probably because it's not as big a deal in Japan, whereas North American history tends to make us more sensitive to such concerns hereabouts. There's also the fact that up until recently, the bulk of RPGs were set in a medieval milieu, which again is not a period in which much diversity was present, either in Japan or Europe. It's interesting to note that the first game that did bother to include a visible minority, FFVII, was also the first RPG that was marketed widely towards a broad audience, busting into television advertising as it did. Perhaps Square was being mindful of the sensibilities of a wider market when they decided to include Barret... or maybe the writers just wanted to see how similar they could make a character to Mr. T without getting sued for infringement.

It's also kind of interesting that in KotOR, the majority of the population is black, especially since it was developed by a North American company. Diff'rent strokes for different folks? Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted to obliquely refer to as many bad 80s TV shows as I possibly could. The world will never know... Never know, I tells you! Ho ho ho...

Kisses and Auron's sweaty pits... Oh, this will end well

Hair, hair, hair. This is quite a hairy situation. Ok seriously, I could care less. I'm more interested in the storyline. But since you asked, I'd have to go with brunettes. Simply because I've been seeing a lot of blondes lately. I'm always up for a red head though. Mainly because I am one. Of course, ever since Chrono Cross and my friends heavy fixation on blue haired people from Xenosaga (Never play a game with someone who screams, "Blue Hair!" at the television every FIVE SECONDS.), I've taken quite a liking to blue haired people. All that aside, I think we need more Rpg's with rainbow afros. That hair style/wig will never die! Plus everyone would have their favorite color! Problem solved! I mean, how can you not be taken seriously when you're bobbin' multi-colored hair around? But you know, I'd give all that up if it would mean that Auron would have some armpit hair, at least in FMV mode. It's not normal for an old, tough, sword toting man to not have armpit hair! IT'S NOT NORMAL! When did he have the time to shave his armpits anyway? *shudder* Now on the delay on FFXII, Squeenix can take its good 'ol time with this game. As long as it's excellent in the end. I'd rather wait for a great game than get a crappy game right away. Plus I think it's fun waiting for the game. I like anticipating things. That makes it all the more fun when it finally comes out. And as an added bonus, I get to see rabid fanboys have tantrums! Wee! Oh and before I forget, dare.

Actually, the thing about armpit hair is, it's illegal in Japan to display any form of pubic hair, which I do believe armpit hair counts as. Thus it is that an oldie such as Auron is as smooth as a baby's backside, although I suppose you could try and pass it off as an unfortunate side effect of his rather unique corporeal state. Then again, Maester Mika looks like an ambulatory shrub, so that idea probably goes right out the window.

I will take your request for a dare to mean that you have kissed your mother recently. I'm sure you made her day.

The Eggman cometh... could a blonde be involved somehow?

Hey Castomel,

Okay, so I was reading the column the last little while and I noticed everyone trying to come up with an appropriate definition of an RPG. I figured I would take a stab at it.

Yesterday's definition which stated menu based combat has it's merit, but it does have flaws. You suggested that it would fail to exclude some games that should be excluded. I notice it also fails to include some games that should be included (Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance).

For that reason I have come up with a term. The term is Primary Gameplay Mechanic. What is a Primary Gameplay Mechanic you ask? First, if you remove the Primary Gameplay Mechanic from a game, then it no longer fits into it's appropriate genre. Does that mean that any game possessing that Mechanic is classed in that genre? No, it has to be the Primary Mechanic. That means that it is the focus of the game. It is the end goal in the game. Of course this is ignoring plot goals since they are present in almost every game. So the PGM of an Action Game would be the combat. The PGM of a Shooter (which would really be a subset of Action Game) is to shoot things. The PGM of a Platformer is to run around collecting some kind of item (coins, rings, whatever).

So, moving specifically to RPGs. What is the PGM of an RPG. I would say it is the ability to improve your character. The ability to "Level up" if you like. Sure, other genres allow you to level up, but if you take levelling up out of an RPG, can it really be called an RPG anymore? Also, if you ignore the plot of an RPG, the primary goal of any RPG is to build your character up to super powerful levels, and then go crush the bad guys.

Using this definition, Final Fantasy is an RPG, Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance is an RPG. Zelda is not an RPG since the PGM is puzzle solving, not character improvement. Zelda is an Adventure Game. Harrvest Moon is not an RPG since the PGM is micro-managing your farm. This makes it a Simulation.

Anyway, I could go on, but I hope you get my point by now. I am sure that many people will respond and say that I am completely out to lunch, but I think this definition does the best job of including those things that should be RPG's, while excluding those that should not. If someone can give me an example of an RPG where you can not "Level Up", then I will happily throw this definition out the window. And just so we are clear, giving me examples of games where you can "Level Up" that are not RPGs does not invalidate the definition.


Hmm... Well, while PGM is a really fancy way to rephrase the idea of levelling up, at the end of the day, I'm not quite sure if you've done anything beyond come up with new terminology for "defining element." Thus, while you seem to have quite a nice little list of defining elements, I think you'd have to do some cross-referencing to make this particular idea workable - for instance, taking Zelda and saying "Hmm.. do I collect items in order to further my goals? Why yes! But I also complete puzzles..."

Which kind of makes your definition of platformer inseperable from puzzle solving, actually, but ignoring that for the moment, you would then have to conclude that although you certainly collect items, solving the puzzles is the overriding goal of the game, and therefore, while collecting items certainly improves the ability of your character to complete his objective, at the end of the day, the level-building is secondary to the completion of the puzzles. Of course, this still leaves games like Metroid hanging in the middle, but you can't please everyone, I suppose.

Who cares?


State Farm! Actually, scratch that. They're just there, which doesn't really imply caring - why, for all we know, they could be laughing sadistically!


Well, then. Guess I'll have to come up with a more loveable topic, lest we return to the terrible days of three-letter columns. I'm sure nobody wants that, so for tomorrow, let us discuss the Uematsu concert, now scant days away. Hoping for a CD release of some description? A concert tour? What songs do you hope get played? Do you even care about the concert, or are you just fiending for E3? Do you hate me for even mentioning this concert, which you will never get to see and therefore must plot against? I know I have a secret plan! I'm going to fly in on an airship and snatch Nobuo from the stage just as the show begins, cementing my position as a world class gambler for some reason. Then I'll have his name changed to Maria and fly off to defeat the Empire! Huzzah!
Andrew Long is a black jack-playing, world-traveling, casino-dwelling free spirit...



How low can you get? I love it!

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