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questionanswer&andrew


Nostalgia - Now in Cookie Form!

Andrew Long - May 22, '04 - 1:24 EDT

CHRONO TRIGGER is not a game I consider my favorite of all time, and yet, there is something about it that can send a delightful thrill of nostalgia through my spine like no other game there is, compelling me to start up a new game in the middle of activities as diverse as sitting at work, sitting at home, and sitting in a pool of my own filth. I think it was the story that did it for me, because let's face it - before CT, the best you could hope for in an RPG was "evil empire does something evil, evil emperor turns out to be puppet for even more evil henchman, henchman turns out to be henchpuppet for even greater evil" (Kefka kind of broke the trend, but you get the idea.) CT made you care about the characters and the world, and I don't think before that I really did in any RPG.

Anyhow, this has nothing to do with my highly ironic topic of the day, lack of innovation in games. Why ironic, you ask? Well, in part, I had all these spoons kicking around and yet all I wanted was a fork with which to stab Alanis Morrisette in the eye, so I had to settle for stinging her to death with my legion of bees and then crashing her whole-damn-life plane into the Azorks to cover their tracks(her lawyers will be talking to mine and a hefty cash settlement will be worked out, under the terms of which I get to burn the lyrics to her entire discography). More accurately, however, is the fact that I myself am now suffering from a lack of innovation, having now harped upon this topic not once, but several times.

Lest you think this is no big deal, let me tell you a little something about that shady several character. For one thing, it's often associated with nebulous numbers relating to criminal activity; for instance, when police don't know just how many hookers are buried in the concrete ditch outside that pig farm, they say "Mr. X is allegedly responsible for the deaths of not one, but several vagrant street walkers." Then they warn you about the unsafe pork products emanating from said farm. Now I don't know about you, but when I hear about somebody being in cahoots with murderers and ladies of the night, to say nothing of tainted bacon, it makes me question their reputability. Then again, you will find fully five separate terms for "prostitute" in this paragraph, and I didn't even have to break out sexetary, so perhaps I'm just as seedy as several can be.

Secondly, however, several just doesn't manage to convey things as well as "two" or "five" or "a truck filled with cheese burritos". You just can't get by with this thing, and I should never have inflicted it upon you. I promise, there'll be a brand spanking new topic for tomorrow. In the meantime, all your brand-spanking needs can be fulfilled by reading today's column, wherein I have included a badly behaved Coke logo.




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You'd think Europeans would be used to getting shafted on releases by now


Allo CastoMcDohl,

First of all happy birthday for the other day and I wish you a truck full of WWE wrestlers...Oh,female ones(gotta watch what you wish for).

Anyway,I checked out the article you linked yesterday and I think that it underlines what many of us have thought now and then but mostly overlooked.There isn't much improvement in the gaming technology and innovation is becoming a rarity while at the same time sequels flood te market(and our shelves). However,I believe that when a new field of activities emerges (like the gaming field/industry) ''innovative'' and ''revolutionary'' things will come up more frequently at the beginning than at a much higher point of that field's evolution later.What I'm saying here is that it is expected to make a revolutionary gaming discovery when the gaming technology is at NES level but as it goes on the technology has become so complicated that it takes much more time to take it a step further.Thus,we see many improvements on graphics but less ''revolutions'' like the jump from the SNES Metal Gear Solid to the PSOne one. Personally though,I believe there will be an end to the progress of graphics at least ,as we'll have to select at some point between totally realistic visuals or very beautiful artistic graphics.

ANDREW
The thing I agreed with in the article is how it sort of suggested that rather than focusing on innovation of necessity, developers should be concentrating on making gameplay enjoyable. That's why I got a GameCube before I got anything else, and that's why I'll continue to pour money into the giant pit that is the Nintendo handheld scam, although I must admit, the GBA hasn't exactly seen a stunning succession of gameplay oriented titles.

Anyway,I was checking out the E3 info on Suikoden IV and remembered what great things KOnami can do when it doesn't feel like doing things like NOT RELEASING SUIKO 3 IN EUROPE or NOT RELEASING SUIKO 3 IN EUROPE!!But at a time old dissapointments have to be hidden in the closet of time as well as stained murder knives thrown at the sea.So,what do YOU think of the suikoden series? Oh,anbd what do you think about the new Brave Fencer Musashi?Have you played the original?Do you dream of neon yellow clouds that smell like plastic?

Cheers,
The Love Doctor of Love

PS:I check frequently on the site with the article( www.pointlesswasteoftime.com )and has some killer fiction interviews!

ANDREW
Well, this three-part question requires a three-part answer, of course. First, I'm a big fan of the Suikoden series, and hope to eventually start Suikoden 3 some day, which Konami did release in North America for some reason, possibly operating on the theory that embittering Europe will make you guys that much stronger when the time finally comes for the rest of the world to descend upon us wasteful bastards. Brave Fencer Musashi is one of my favorite PlayStation RPGs, and if I ever get around to reviewing it, I'll even tell you why in detail! Finally, last night I dreamt I was in the entourage of a queen from some book I'd read, and I had to protect her from a bomb which had been planted somewhere on the premises. The hotel turned into the train station from Balamb at some point, however, and branched off into a geological display from the Ontario Science Center, so I really can't vouch for the accuracy of my sleepy vision. I'm pretty sure there weren't any clouds, though.


Cousin love rears its head again


I know this is an rpg site but, um, I don't have an excuse. So post it if you want or not.

My cousin and I were playing Fatal Frame 2 the other day and someone screwed up the writing. What I mean is, there was a typo that produced interesting results. I was reading a page from one of the clue things from a characters dairy and it said, "...there is a assageway in the cave that twins once tried escaping in..." Catch the typo? It was supposed to be "Passageway" I assume. Unless, of course, their is a giant rock shaped butt we're supposed to run through. I paused before the word and my cousin started to laugh then I joined him. Since then, I've been deleting letters here and there ever so often to remind me of the funny event.

Later! I've gotta go lay with my cousin.

ANDREW
Thanks for sharing, Julio. I've never heard of Fatal Frame 2, but I'm sure it's a laugh adventure. Speaking of missing letters, have you ever tried ADDING random letters? Nintendo did that back in the day, with Zelda II: "And they have monsters in them tool!" Yes, that one kept me wondering for months... Damn, I was a dumb kid.


Ah, zee fatal flaw


Castomel,

I'm writing in response to the article that predicts the videogame industry's demise in the next couple of years. Although it was clear this guy did a great deal of research to support his arguement, he obviously didn't do enough.

He states that middle aged people do not play video games because life gets in the way, and the focus is on buying things for their kids. My mom has been addicted to the Legend of Zelda since my parents surprised me with a NES for chirstmas in 1989. She's beaten almost all of them and still plays (I got her the Wind Waker GCN bundle for mother's day last year and she went nuts). Guess how old she is? She'll be 55 in october. In fact I have a lot of guys friends whose parents enjoys video games now and then. Granted it's not as much as I play, but to make a blanket statement that old people don't play video games is a load of crap.

He worried about impressing girls, which I can understand. I think the reason why girls don't like video games is because it's something that they don't understand and guys don't bother to let them in. Stupid boys... being a female gamer (which this guys also assumes that there are none) there's nothing more fun for me than playing Mario Party or Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles with my boyfriend, and it's something we do together. That's usually all that girls want.

Now he also says that the future will be in online gaming, which will result in turing lots of gamers away from the industry. Yeah I think he's right that if the gaming industry actually did that it would keeps people away, but does he really think that the video game industry would be stupid enough to stop making non MMOG's? Did he pay attention to E3 this year... at all? I don't recall that many online games being promoted (though there were some). I think everyone was too busy drooling over the new Zelda game (as was I).

Okay so I apologize for the length of my rant, but this guy makes too many assumptions about his audience. I plan on playing video games until I can no longer hold the controller in my hands. Even if (God forbid) I have kids, that won't change. I figure I just introduce them to the games I loved as a kid and teach them eye-hand coordination and problem solving skills. He makes some good points, but I doubt it will result in the downfall of video games. I'd be interested in your response.

-Naia

ANDREW
Well, that's part of the problem with any sort of doomsday theory - you have to assume the worst case scenario, or at least a delightful arrangement of worst-case scenarios, in order for the theory to have any chance of success. Take www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.com. While there will undoubtedly be unprecedented strife due to the exhaustion of readily available cheap oil in the near future, this particular site assumes that nothing can possibly happen that will prevent his doomsday scenario, and that it will have the most destructive effect imaginable, which ballparks fully 90% of the world's population perishing. Perhaps I'm just incurably optimist, but I find that scenario just about as hard to swallow whole as this one since like you, I have a parent in their 50s who loves to play video games.

And as for the online issue, well, I think that the online market probably will account for a fair percentage of the market, but I also think there will always be a market for standalone titles, since there's just something about playing a game alone or with friends that the internet can't match.


The under-the-wire letter sneaks up in the order


"The more control the gamer has, the more the pacing is ruined by brainless repetition (leaving the task to the gamer presents the possibility the gamer will fail 30 times in a row).

If they make the game tasks easier, the gaming experience becomes much too short to justify the $50.00 pricetag. And the more interactivity is taken away in favor of pacing and pre-rendered cinemas, the more they stop being video games."

This is exactly where RPGs have been headed for quite a while. And I personally like it. It's exactly the reason why I only play RPGs. I don't really want a game; I want a thirty hour long movie that's just interactive enough that I don't get bored from watching it.

Since you didn't ask, I picked up La Pucelle today, and so far, three or four hours into the game, I'm very disappointed. Oh, not with the gameplay. The gameplay is great, and surprisingly, not so similar to Disgaea that I get bored. What I'm disappointed in is the dialogue. The thing that made Disgaea so great was the humor. La Pucelle is relatively lacking in this department. I mean, compared to Xenosaga or something, it's comedic gold. But there are still very few funny parts so far. I hope it gets better.

LockeZ

ANDREW
Bear in mind, La Pucelle represents the middle ground between Rhapsody and Disgaea. Since Rhapsody was such a bilious blob of death, it makes sense that La Pucelle would pale somewhat in comparison to Disgaea; even Laharl and crew occasionally slip into the sappiness that drenched Crapsody, so all things considered, I'm feeling more and more secure in my decision not to buy LP.

And I don't know exactly where this writer has been, but brainless repetition has been a part of games for as long as there have been games. Any first-person shooter has an element of this - run through an area, get killed, find a better way, get killed, repeat ten or twenty times until you can get through unscathed, continue ad nauseum. If it seems like I'm bashing this article I presented as a stunning backbone to my topic, well... I agree with his overall message and the comments from the Nintendo execs more than I do with his writing, which was obviously somewhat harmed in the factuality department by his emphasis on humour.


So it's agreed.. There's little controversy here


Hey, Andrew,

No kidding about the lack of innovation these days. It was what I was going to mention regarding what I miss from more recent RPG's. And it's pretty much why I don't play RPG's much these days...particularly with the battle systems. Battle systems are similar to the point where a handful of basic general tactics, mostly concerned with maximizing efficiency, are enough to give you an edge at the beginning and never lose that edge until perhaps near the end. Please, RPG developers, do not simply tack more zeroes onto the enemies' HP count, give me an innovative battle system that will challenge me to think. And I'm not talking another inane variation on the whole elemental-weakness schtick. I want to fight in new ways.

Once again, something that pencil-and-paper has up on console/computer. The GM can give you as much of a run for your money as he wants. He can tweak the battle system and add new mechanics, and even blow the doors off the system entirely to allow for any plausible course of action in combat. ...okay, so it's not without its drawbacks, like the fact that you don't have an automated computer calculating damage and running the show smoothly and efficiently. I remember back in junior high, when my friends and I invented The Card Game, which was basically a pencil-and-paper RPG without the plot, or a CRPG coliseum with actual physical dice. It was an RPG we could play against each other at lunch. Ah, those were the days...the days of innovation.

-Jackson Ferrell

P.S. Sorry about the Steve thing. It took me a week, but I finally got around to dying for it.

ANDREW
Glad to hear you took the Hamlet plunge, Jackson... Somebody had to pay for the proliferation of Steving. I think you're right when you say most developers just pay lip service to innovation in battle systems; even relatively original concepts such as the PETS and SOL from Dragon Quarter still feature fairly old-fashioned combat (BoF V's battle system was quite similar to CC and Xenogears/saga.) Ir would be nice to see people try something new, and for awhile, it looked as though T-RPGs would be the way to achieve this, until it became apparent that nobody was actually doing much to advance the genre, with the possible exception of Nippon Ichi, which still needs to do some more work. I guess the problem is that nobody's really very creative, when you get right down to it.


Hey! No pelting


::Rises to pelt you with sequels and creamsicles::

Castosequel,

Yeah, this year it looks like we're getting sequels-a-plenty. Not just in games, mind you, but in movies, too... Spidey 2, Shrek 2, and the Hairy Potty movie... yeah, I think the Well of Originality is starting to dry up, or perhaps they all just want to milk their cash cows for summer, we may never know.

Still, there are a few brand new games that have piqued my interest, namely Full Metal Alchemist. Sounds like an interesting concept, picking up anything you can find and mixing weapons... kinda like that old gameboy game, what was it called, Mysterium or something like that... ah, the name eludes me. Help?

Anyhow, I wish you a happy (belated) birthday. And if you need a cake, why not simply summon one? Demon Cakes from Hell are fun.

NeoCarbuncle
The cake! It burns!

ANDREW
No help for the one who would use Creamsicles as artillery. I will say, however, that even FMA isn't terribly original, since it's based upon an existing anime series. Thanks for the birthday wishes, anyhow.


YOU 'DREW
QUICKIE I
Hey Long,
I’m just curious; what’s the origin of your alias, Castomel? And just what’s that thing in your message board avatar, a moogle?

-Jeremy, the Duke of Otterland

Andrew:
Directly? See book 2 of the Dwarven Trilogy, Dragonlance. I stole it for my D&D'ing days. As to the avatar, it's definitely mooglish in appearance, though that wasn't my original intent. Call it what you will.



DA LAST GRUMBLE

Once again, I must confess I have lied about having a spectacular topic to shock and awe and shock you once again with. In lieu of a topic, therefore, I will present for your consideration one (1) guest host, named Harry Carey. Formerly a regular quickie contributor and more recently a former newsie with this fine site, Harry was moping about my news channel the other day, where I still haven't managed to sweep him out the door for some reason, and I decided to bring him in for the day, since he sounded so sad and forlorn. So if you want to make Harry cheer up, just send him sacks and sacks of oranges, with the occasional letter tucked inside. I'll be along too, so let's talk about that crazy new Witcher game everyone's so agog over. Or whatever, I'm really not too particular.

castomel@rpgamer.com
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