Googleshng - July 12 '01- 2:00 Eastern Standard Time|
Holy cow has today knocked my timing off. I had to get up 6 hours earlier
than usual, so I've been tired all day, plus various things that happen around here on a regular weekly
basis have been thrown off a day in various directions. Looking at this clock though, I see that this
is Thursday's column I'm writing, so I'd better remember to stick a guest host plug in it.
On an unrelated note, tonight's supply of mail is pretty darn odd. Many many questions about things that
I thought were common knowledge at this point. Strange.
Common Knowledge #1
Wanted to write you about this a while ago. I signed up with
PlayOnline (Yuk) when I got Final Fantasy 9, and was sent an email from
Square a few weeks later. They gave an address and a password, and I ended
up filling out this very long survey, but in it was a bunch of questions
about whether I had heard anything about a Square/Disney team-up, or whether
I thought such a team up would be good. I quickly answered no to such
question, my head already filled with horrible nightmare images of "Micky's
Magic Adventure RPG" But, I was wondering, has anyone else heard any rumors
on a possible Square/Disney team up, or taken this survey?
It's called Kingdom Hearts. You don't play Mickey though, just Donald and Goofy. It's screwed up in so
many ways that I'm actually looking forward to it on some level.
Hey, remember me? Probably not. Heh heh. Anyway, I recently beat Orphen after
just getting it. Only took me 9 hours. Could suggest a REALLY good RPG that I
should get next? Well, Ophen is the only game for the PS2 I have right now,
and my brother has a whole lot of games for the PS1.
Thanks for your time.
"I am the weaver, and you are the threads with which I knit"
P.S. Do you know this quote from anywhere? It sounds familiar, but I swear
I made it up.
- Lord Kaiser
People ask me for RPG recommendations all the time. While I'd have no problem answering this sort of thing,
they always tend to be way too open ended. I need at least a specific console or something. Even then
though I can't stress enough that RPGamer has very good reviews
section. I personally pt all of our reviewers through hell to make sure every review they write
is as fair and comprehensive as possible. Now granted, I haven't been doing this forever, but I have been
doing it since something like a month after the decimals came off the scores, so that's close enough to
the border between anything goes and strict. In any case though, read some of those, probably starting
with the biggest numbers, and you should get some much much much more detailed recommendations than what
I could give you here.
I know this might seem a bit dumb, but I cant find a link to your
website, The Slime World Archives, anywhere! You, along with my obsession
with Dragon Warrior, caused me to love slimes as much as I do. I would really
appreciate it if you could let me know where it was, if its still up. Er...
um... To make this RPG related... Final Fantasy Tactics rules!!! Erm, yes.
Thank you for your time! Slimes forever!
~Derrick (Forever addicted to Diablo II) the slime~
Heh. This reminds me of my little E3 story. Enix was giving away little plushy slimes and other monsters
to people who stop by their booth. I stop by with a couple other RPGamer staffers, they get slimes, I
get a Watabou. I give Mr. Enix PR guy a Don't You Know Who I Am?!? look which does no good. Nobody would
trade with me either. So now I'm just really hoping an enix employee I know well can
arrange for that giant slime balloon to be sent to me. Subliminal messaging aside
though, my page is currently located here.
Emulation is bad, m'kay?
Quick and easy question, i just downloaded the ROMs for both PS 2 and 4 and i
was wondering if you could explain how the battles work, it seems that if i
say attack my guy just keeeps attacking.
First of all, shame on you for emulating. Second of all, shame on you for not starting with the original
(unless you already played through it of course). Now then, in PS2, when you first get into a fight in PS2, there's
2 options. FGHT and STGY. Pick STGY, then ORDR, and you can give commands to all your characters. When
you're happy with everything, pick FGHT and everyone will start attacking. Hit a button and after the
current round you'll get your menu again. Is this an unconventional interface? Heck yes! Once you get
used to it though, it's pretty darn handy. Everyone's commands are saved between fights, so once you have
everyone doing what you want, you can go through an entire fight only having to push one button. Considering
that you have to do a LOT more character building in PS2 than modern RPGs, this is a Good Thing. Of course,
random monsters in PS2 are also REALLY hard as I recall, so you'll have to break in pretty often to heal
and such. Oh, and does that obsession with 4 character limits get annoying fast or what? PS3 uses pretty
much the same system, but mixed in with out and out insane status conditions. PS4 has a nice polished
normal looking combat interface where you can either issue commands manually, or pick one of 8 or so
macros you can set. You can use these just like the shortcuts in Lunar 2, and better yet, you can use
them to activate all the spiffy combo spells. The original PS for the record just has the simple give-everyone-a-command-at-the-beginning-of-every-round
system any random RPG is likely to have.
That whole thing in yesterday's column about Gran Turismo 3 reminded me of an old game Square was making. I don't remember what it was called, but do you know what happen to that "Racing RPG." I remember you played a car or something and gained levels as you won races. I seem to be the only one whoose heard of it. Maybe I'm insane...
Also, can you tell me any conceivable way the menu system in Dragon Warrior has ANY positive value. It's the number 1 reason I hate the series! I absolutely can't stand to go through a menu to do ordinary things, like open a door. It frustrates me that Dragon Warrior 7 looked really cool for a long time until I found out they used that menu system.
P.S. Tell me what airplane flying RPG character said this quote and win my respect: "Shoot! I dropped a contact!"
Driving Emotion Type S. By all accounts it sucked big time, and wasn't an RPG by any stretch of the
imagination. As for DW's menus (stand on the staircase, pull up the menu, choose the stairs command),
well, that's pretty much the worst interface for an RPG I've ever seen. Even Sega Master System RPGs
all had MUCH smoother interfaces, and they didn't even have start and select there to play with. I was
under the impression they'd eliminated or at least steamlined that by now. Rico, want to defend your
work for us?
Comings and goings
Last Friday you mentioned that most of the Chrono
team was working on Xenosaga. Does that mean that
they're part of Monolith (or whatever that team that
broke off from Square is called)?
If so, then does that mean that those people DIDN'T
work on Chrono Cross? That would explain my utter
hatred of that game.
Also, a couple of somewhat game-related questions.
1) Am I a loser for hating Final Fantasy? Really...
2) How many really popular Squaresoft games were made by
both Square and another company, but released by Square?
(for instance, I think FFT was made by Square and the
Ogre Tactics team)
Actually, everything you asked here is really the same question. A company like Square is a complex
organism, so let me just disect it for you. On the outside, there's the publisher, in this case Squaresoft. The primary
functions of a publisher are to crack the whip of making release dates, and to plaster their name all over
the place. Behind the publisher is the development teams. Development teams are the people who actually
think up and make the games. Usually they have no real connection to the publisher, but usually a developer
will just take the first publisher who actually helps them get a game out and sticks with them for life.
Some development teams manage to make their names well known, for example, GameArts. Plenty of others
just don't seem to have the ego for that though, so you'll never see their names unless you watch the
credits closely. On top of that, most publishers have their own core development team, which in the case
of Squaresoft is just Square. Furthermore, when a developer gets REALLY big, they will generally split into a few smaller ones in order to work on various games at once. These little
subteams usually aren't stable enough to have their own names, and various employees tend to shuffle between
them quite a bit.
So, to give you some examples of how Square runs things, I'll use some examples that cover your questions
better. The unlabelled little subteam of Quest that made Tactics Ogre left, went over, and got hired all
in one batch by Squaresoft's big internal dev team. Then, with the help of some longtime Square employees
for the FF bits, they made FFT. After that, this little clump of people struck out on their own again,
and this time actually formed their own developer, Maxfive, and started in on Hoshigami. Of course in
order to get it into people's houses, they had to find a publisher, Atlus, SO, when the game comes out,
Atlus is the name you'll see plastered all over the box. Of course, like I said in an earlier essay like
this, you really shouldn't go by the impression I'm giving that publishers are big evil megacorps that
steal all the credit. Publishers put their butts on the line by paying for everything, and shove the
games into the faces of the press, so we can point out that these games exist to you, and the long hard
work of the developers doesn't go to waste.
The problem with the developer-publisher-press relationship of course is that the press almost never
gets to talk with developers. So when 5 or so clumps of sub-developers leave Square to form their own developers
(Monolithsoft, Sacnoth, Brownie Brown, Lightweight, etc.), it takes quite a bit of digging to notice at
all, let alone find out the nitty gritty details like what percentage of the Chrono Trigger/Xenogears
team left to go form Monolithsoft and start Xenosaga, and what percent stayed with Square to make Chrono
Cross. I'm fairly sure most left though. I'm just glad that Mitsuda, god of music, is currently floating
around and doing the soundtrack to everything.
Anyway though, while no publishers ever tell people things like this, it seems to me that at least 90%
of the people who made all the wonderful classic Square RPGs for the SNES we all love no longer work at
Square. Heck, it seems like everyone but the very core FF team has split and been replaced with new
blood, so being a bit jaded is certainly forgivable.