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Pander Panda

Andrew Long - May 30, '04 - 15:33 EDT

I'M FEELING LAZY TODAY, and as such we will be skipping directly to the part where we hand out the complimentary drinks and sandwiches - except, they're not actually sandwiches, they're those little chunkers on toothpicks that you need five or six of to feel even remotely satisfied. The trouble with this is, of course, that you kind of look like a pig if you keep going back, so in a related gesture of politeness, this column will now contain 50% less carbohydrate, so all you crazy Atkins people can read it without gaining too much weight. That's right - if there's one thing I can promise, it's that this column won't make you any fatter, unless of course you choose to consume an entire box of chocolate chips while reading it, in which case I must point out your foolishness for failing to include them in cookies of some description. For shame!



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Derek returns

Andrew, In response to Soul, I wholeheartedly agree that games have become too lengthy, as advertisers really push the "100+ hours of gameplay" thing. I don't WANT 100+ hours of gameplay, I want 15-30 hours of SOLID, breathtaking gameplay, not stupid fetch quests and minigames (see recent FFs or the triforce thing in Wind Waker...) I beat the original Suikoden in 15 hours and loved every minute of it. The story had me so engaged that I didn't want to go find all the characters, but the extras were definitely there for those who like to explore. THAT is how a game should be set up. To Soul, well, there is one place left to turn: Game Boy Advance. Every RPG I've played on it recently has managed to hold my interest the entire time without taking a month-to-year-long break (bad habit of mine), and overall they've been some of my favorite RPG experiences. (I am referring to Fire Emblem, Mario & Luigi, Tactics Ogre, & Sword of Mana, despite its clunkiness).

On another note, I am playing through Ocarina of Time for the first. time. ever. on Zelda Collector's Edition. It is great, though I am spoiled from WW's free camera mode and alternate L/Z-targeting method. Obviously this game has been a fan favorite for six years and is still considered a greatest game of all time... do you think it and other games currently transitioning to 'classic' will hold their own the way games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Tetris have, throughout the next decade? What recent games do you think will be considered classics or 'greatest games ever' in the upcoming years/decades? My one prediction is that while FFX may never gain the obsessed fanbase that FFVII has, it will stand tall in the videogame hall of fame. I guess that sort of relates to old school vs. new school... My simple definition is that old school is 2D, new school is 3D. So even though Golden Sun is relatively 'new', it's still old school. And FFVII may be a bit 'old', but it's new school. Well, that's all for now.

Derek, the Editorialetter Inspirer

The thing about that 100+ hours business that's got you up in arms is that developers have been hyping it for years. Take a look at Final Fantasy VI, for example; as I rolled into hour number 69 and finally beat it my first time through (what can I say? I was a slow learner), I was actually expecting it to go on longer, and thus it came as quite a shock when the credits had the temerity to roll. In retrospect, the snazzy graphics they lavished upon that closing airship sequence sort of tipped me off, but the box promised me one hundred hours of gameplay, and here I was, at a piddling seventy, and already I was finished? Outrageous!

As to the classics transition, well - becoming a classic game takes a certain special something, and at this point, it's not easy to join that number. That said, I think you're right when you suggest that FFX will stand tall, but I don't see too many of the games released in the past few years taking on the sort of status that Tetris or Mario 3 hold for the simple reason that those games were pretty much it when they were released, whereas the best games of the past little while, be they Valkyrie Profile or Skies of Arcadia or Breath of Fire V, have suffered either from limited publicity or limited runs, hampering their ability to garner a wide-ranging audience the likes of which Tetris and Mario 3 pretty much enjoyed by default. Thus, it seems likely that the only games likely to achieve such status are those that pretty much everyone has played or heard of, and I'd limit that to a precious few titles like Starcraft or OoT.

Plate Tecticana


Oddly enough, I have no gimmick for today's episode. Nope, no tantalizing story of bravery nor misadventure of my own. In other words, everything seems to be going terribly ackward. Where's out schemes? Our secret rendezvous? Well, it seems that once again, you've stolen what I was going to say about the topic. You know, sometimes I wonder if we were seperated at birth. Of course, this would have to happen in an alternate dimension, but who says we aren't in one now? Then again, I have some more to add.. Simple enough, "old school" rpgs are those with simpler graphics. The story was the main thing focused on and characters recieved little to no development. Characters were also born with a destiny or recieved a destiny to save the world from a greater source (ie. crystals, prophets, etc.). None never question why and fight because that's their job. This would apply to FF-FFV. FFVI changed in which characters had more of a history and developed during the w hole story. It was also a first in which no one told the characters that they must stop a great evil and restore peace to the land. The only ones urging to fight on were the party members. FFVI was a turning point, in the FF world, from old school to new school, but not classified in one or the other. FFVII-FFX-2 are "new school" because of their graphics, of course, but they expand the ideas introduced in FFVI. Characters have 3D structures in which they have can exhibit more human physical expressions and reactions. Characters also develop a sense of what's going on in the world by first-hand experience, rather than someone telling them that "an evil is spreading" or "maybe you should go on a quest to save the world". They also interact with each other and have their surroundings in unique ways. Their personalities aren't flat either, but have substance and some sort of structure. Well, I hope I covered everything, but you know how it goes when you're terribly tired and mu st get sleep. If my explanation wasn't good enough, blame it on my lack of focus. Before I forget...

Caring friend you are,
And your self brightens the day,
What more can I ask?

O' Shrouded One

Hmm... A fine definition, if a tad FF-centric to be applied universally. I shall therefore not blame your lack of focus, but instead your excessive focus on the Final Fantasy series. What I'm blaming it for isn't entirely clear, but I'm sure I can redeem it for half a sandwich somewhere if I try long enough. Speaking of delicious restaurant treats, you really must mail me a packet of this ranch dressing your LJ speaks of.

Oops.. Somehow, this got left behind on Friday


Thank you for printing my long-winded letter in the column. I didn't even feel the need to mention the donation campaign, though I definitely do not agree with it. It's not that I don't agree with donating money to websites that I would like to see thrive, but... well... as you said so bluntly and honestly yourself, RPGamer is not quite what it used to be. I still read the Q&A on a fairly regular basis, but it's almost becoming more of a nostalgia thing than anything else, seeing as there aren't all that many Q's to get an A these days. However, I would not in any way blame yourself for declining readership or declining quality. You are an excellent and entertaining host, and you definitely know the answers to questions people have... when people have real questions. Seeing how I am writing this on Monday and your column is still there, I'm hoping that freedom of the press has prevailed and the big wigs are letting you have your say, even if it is directly against them.

I remember that Gaming Intelligence Agency (GIA) went under a while back, and seemingly from the same circumstances that now are plaguing RPGamer. They started up a last-ditch campaign drive, and for a while it worked, but in the end, they went under anyway. I don't know what it is about the industry or the internet these days, but something is definitely different. It seems that the online gaming news circuit is becoming dominated by online versions of gaming magazines, or offshoots of mega-corporations like Microsoft and such. When it comes down to it, it's like Wal-Mart coming into town and smashing the Mom and Pop grocery store out of business because they can't compete. RPGamer is a free site, run by people who are not paid to do what they do, and how are you honestly supposed to stay cutting edge when your budget is zero dollars? It worked when the internet wasn't as common as toasters, but it just doesn't seem to work anymore. Not to say that I think RPGamer is little... I wouldn't visit the site regularly if I thought that. But you don't have the financing that the big guys have, even if your staff is better and capable of producing better stuff than the competition. When MEGA BIG GAMING opens up with a billion dollar budget and sends a bunch of representatives and dancing girls to E3, it's hard to stay on top of the ball.

Alas, this is not a flame. I truly enjoy RPGamer and I want to see it thrive and return to what it used to be. But I can't contribute money... especially not after what I saw happen to the GIA a few years ago. By the way, it's funny how I started by talking about lack of innovation in modern games and segued into this tangent. Regardless, don't fault yourself. I applaud you for standing up and really saying what you feel about the whole thing. I certainly didn't want to be the catalyst that gets you canned for honesty (and here's hoping you don't!!), but for what it's worth, I am proud that you did what you did.

On an unrelated note, your response to the unfit-for-print letter had me in stitches. Darmok on the ocean.

Hoping the future is a bright one,


Well, Seth, thanks again for an insightful letter, and while I'm not really going to explode into a ball of fury in response to this one, I do think you've made a good point about the magazine-sponsored sites having a bit of an upper hand on us. Nevertheless, rather than just folding up and admitting defeat, we're going to do our best to shore up our coverage and return this site to the level you guys should be able to expect from us. I know this sounds awfully optimistic, but as I said before, I'm willing to do whatever it takes, and I know my fellow staff members are similarly willing to do their best.

ASV on vs.

Alright, let's get straight to the point Mr. Dangerous. I don't believe in the New VS Old School Theory such as it is commonly known. Rather, I believe in the Newest VS New VS Old School Hypothesis. Elaborate you say? Ask and you shall receive.

Old School is the era of gaming - to which a player belongs if the majority of their favorite games fall into this time frame - beginning with Pong and its predecessors and ending at the dawn of the PlayStation and the N64.

New School is the era immediately following that time period, which begins with the PlayStation and N64 and ends with the GameBoy Advance and the Dreamcast.

Newest School is the current generation of gamers that began their career in the 64-bit generation on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Dreamcast, or GameBoy Advance (PC games are not taken into account because they span all three generations and have a much smaller divisory line).

Why do I feel the need to divide the 32-bit and 64-bit generations into separate 'Schools' of thought? For one reason, and one reason alone. I won't say anything beyond this one point, because if it's not self-evident of the difference, then nothing I can say to argue my stance will persuade anyone. My point is this:

Consider how different the mindsets of a 10-year-old playing Final Fantasy VII in 1997 and a 10-year-old playing Final Fantasy X in 2002 are.

~ Zachary 'ASV' Lewis

Hmm. Well, I don't quite see what you're getting at, but I will attempt your playacting scenario anyway. That 1997 10-year-old is enjoying the fruits of a prosperous half-decade of videogame goodness and a generally decent time in the western world, where the rise of the internet and its various evils has not yet taken place. The ten-year-old in 2002, however, is probably a furry anime cross-dressing goth conspiracy theorist in training who just happens to be mourning in the aftermath of 9/11 and feeling much less secure than that 10-year-old of 1997, who has just seen a gigantic leap in technology represented by the FF he is playing and thus looks forward to a boundless future.

I still don't see how this relates to schools, although if there are a number of bitter 17-year-olds out there, I guess I can understand why.

Hey Long,

I actually like cold KFC, to start things off. Secondly, you worried about La Pucelle being too close to Rhapsody. While La Pucelle’s a pretty good game, I should mention (its combo system is much better than Disgaea’s), it does take place in the same universe as Rhapsody (in the game, there are references to the Marl Kingdom, where Rhapsody is set).

-Jeremy, the Duke of Otterland

I'm well aware of LP's universal proximity to Rhapsody; it was one of my deciding factors in not picking it up.

Hey Andrew

This old school VS new school buisness really depends on the person. If you want simpler gameplay go for old school. If you want more complex gameplay and graphics go for new school.Just my 2 cents.

The Batman
P.S You seem pretty tired of coming up with topics, well I got an idea for next week, design a RPG battle system and send it in in your letter.

Thanks for the pennies, Batman. I think I'll steal your topic too!


You heard the man - since everyone is always complaining about existing battle systems, why don't you guys tell me what your ideal battle system is, without using one that currently exists. You can combine elements, of course, but unless what you come up with is at least 90% Frankenstein, I won't be satisfied, and may even fire off a disgruntled letter on your behalf to the Crohn's Foundation. And speaking of colons, it's almost Monday! That's my cue to leave, and so I wish you all a happy week, and remember - troubles = creamsicles, or else!
Andrew Long sees the day outside, and it is perfect.



Seriously... that crazy jetstream effect is keeping all the smog from Detroit and Chicago where it belongs, leaving the air up here cleaner than it has been in ages! Well, I can't back that up, but it sure has been a beautiful weekend!

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