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Andrew Long - November 1 '02- 00:42 Eastern Standard Time

It's kind of annoying when it hits the last week of October, because the only Simpsons on TV are the Halloween specials. Don't get me wrong- there are some wicked segments in a lot of those episodes, but after seeing them six times each due to the rotation through the three or four channels that carry the show around here, you kind of get to wishing that they'd mix in a conventional episode here and there. Think about it-- some of the newer episodes have become more farfetched than the Halloween ones anyway, so who'd notice? Well, probably everyone, since most people who watch the show in syndication are junkies, but that's aside the point. What we're really here for is the children. Or was it the victims of balcony collapse... Bah. You can't expect me to use A material for charity, so let's just get on with the letters, shall we?

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Is this the end of zombie Shakespeare?

Hey Andrew.

I got a serious question here, and maybe you or one of the readers has the answer.

Ive been playing Grandia Xtreme a lot lately. Ive found some of the "Spirit" equipment, but I cant use any of it! Its super powerful but no party member can wear it. Is there something special your supposed to before before your allowed do done the ultimate goodies? And while I'm at it, does anyone have any idea what those one or two stars orbiting the mana eggs mean?

Neither of these two questions are answered in any faq I can find.

-Doug

Andrew:
Admittedly, I'm not the best person to ask about Grandia Xtreme, having never played the game, but some diligent searching has turned up a couple of possible answers for you. From what I gather, there is one piece of Spirit equipment for each character in the game. However, in order to be able to equip it, you need first to have finished the game. As for the stars, it appears they denote mana eggs that also impart special abilities to the characters using them. more specifically, they seem to corrolate to how many abilities are on a mana egg, although there is a chance that they're just there cuz they look real purty.

Anyhow, if that still doesn't ease your qualms, try checking GameFAQs. There's a thread on their message boards concerning the Spirit Equipment, and it's even recent, so you can find information and maybe even love. Well, not so much love. But definitely answers.

Play vs. Replay: Cagematch Edition

Hey Andrew,

So, I was sitting here thinking about games that I've played and would like to play again. How often do you replay games, and why do you do it? I have to admit, I find it rather hard to play through a 50-hour game again when there are so many other games worthy of being played for the first time. I understand that not everyone can afford new games all the time, but there is always the rental option.

Seth

P.S. Who is your favourite Simpsons support character, and what is your favorite line that they said?

-HP

Andrew:

Hmm. Replaying games is a bit of a problem for me, based mostly upon the fact that I do most of my console gaming at ungodly hours now (School, work, slave labour... I mean, the hands-on enjoyment festival that is RPGamer, and fiendishly addictive games from Blizzard suck up most of my time). There's also the small matter of ten or so unfinished games I have kicking around, so chances are, I'll usually end up playing one of them, regardless of how terrible two or three of them happen to be.

That said, sometimes I just have no other choice cuz my newer systems are at school and I fall back to the good old SNES, the only thing I have kicking around at home. So replay for me is usually out of necessity more than anything, although I do entertain the dream of playing through FFVII properly one day.

As for the Simpsons character... Well, there are so many to choose from, but for consistency, I'd have to go with Grandpa Simpson or Mr. Burns, and there's far too many lines to pick a favorite, although "You're gonna blow it!" "A little from column A and a little from column B" "We wore onions because it was the style at the time..." "We had to say dickety because the Kaiser had stolen our zero" are among my favorites for Grandpa, while Mr. Burns' speech before giving the carbon rod the employee of the month award or "We'll take the Spruce Moose! Hop in!...I said, Hop in!" are among my favorites there. Still, you just can't top the Sea Captain, with "Arr... I don't know what I'm doing -_-" for pure goodness.

 
"Remember kids... Math loves you!" -Doug Annan

I would like to point out to that guy who wrote in about C being average at school, yadda yadda yadda (Q&A on 10/31/02), the following:

Average is defined as the sum of the values of something divided by the number of somethings there are. But most people already knew that.

C averages come from the teacher expecting to give a C for the average score. In my high school, this usually ranged from 70 to 80 (65 as always passing in my high school), but that was because the teacher decided beforehand where the grade range was going to be. Note that I said my high school, because I don't have either a) hard data about other high schools and colleges or b) experience with other high schools and colleges.

Right, well, as for my college, they're smart enough to set the passing grade *after* everyone's taken the class. If it's C averaged, the average gets a C, 1.5 std. dev's down (uhm... I'll skip explaining this.) gets a D, more than that fails, and above that is the B and A distribution. Since I don't think I've gotten a B or an A on a test that did this since ... uhm... well, maybe ever, I'm not going to comment on where the std. dev's fall. I do know of one test (not one that I took, thankfully) where maximum score was 100, average was about 30, and passing was -1. It should all depend on the test and the people taking it...

... but that would lead to the review of games being based on all the games reviewed thusfar, which would be silly. Since it is a subjective qualification, reviewing should probably be done on a linear scale with a center mark, sort of the way you see those "please rate this product/class/thingamajig on a scale from 1 to 10." Assuming that's the case (which it seems to be on rpgamer) then you can say something about the average game getting some set of scores, but that doesn't say anything about a particular game being good or not, just that it fits the numerical average of all game reviewed so far. IOW: Nothing. It does say something about the person reviewing, though ... like whether s/he tends to rate games high, etc.

Well, that's my rant on statistics and such. Now to go back to praying that I got more than 1 std. dev below average on my test yesterday.

-Meghan, gaming girl and total math nerd.

Andrew:
Weighing in on this particular issue, I'll freely admit to using the seven standard back in the day. Then our excellent chief reviewer Jake Alley converted me to the 5-is-average mindset, which I would tend to suggest makes more sense- in fact, PCGamer has a similar scale, where a five is "merely okay".

This change of heart, incidentally, helps to explain some of the scores I've given in the past- Chrono Cross a 9? Yeuch. If I reviewed that game now, it'd be lucky to get a five. This isn't to say that I'm controlled by numbers; rather, I've now learned to give crappy games correspondingly crappy scores- see FFA for reference, a game I probably would have scored through the roof back in my uber-Square fanboy days.

Note: I'm still an uber-Square fanboy at heart, lest I appear to be some sort of pompous suckazoid trying to be preachy. I just can't reconcile mediocre games like Vagrant Story and FFIX with my previously untarnished image of Square. For the record, I largely blame Sakaguchi, but that's a whole other can of worms, and not one that I should open here, since I'm rambling as it is. So, in conclusion, Libya is a land of contrasts.

 
And a multiparter for gusto!

Casto, you Basto (that's "bastard" rhymified),

A few Qs, my boy:

1) Chrono Cross, SaGa Frontier 2, or Valkyrie Profile?

Andrew:
Loathe as I am to choose CC over anything, I haven't played the other two. Still, loathe as I am to choose CC over anything, I'll herefore (heretofore, perhaps?) choose VP, cuz I really wanna play it.

2) You've been at RPGamer, wageless, for a long farkin' time. What's wrong with you?

Andrew:
While I may have extorted this letter, I didn't extort this question :P Anyhow, I got paid once, so I'm happy. It helps if you consider it a logarithmic pay scale- which is to say, every story I write becomes proportionally less valuable, something along the lines of experience in Suikoden. So I'll be down to pennies per story before you know it! Yep, I'm human long-distance savings.

3) Trying to get further under the RPGamer skin, I've noticed a bunch of newish features, not least a search engine thang and a Reaction message board thang for news updates and stuff. RPGamer got any other cool new things in the works?

Andrew:
We've got a few things up our sleeve that you should see before too long, but if I revealed any of them, I'd be killed, or at least eaten, on the spot. Let me just say that you'll be seeing a lot of us in Switzer- Okay, nevermind. Big things. Yes, big things. Think 80s commercial chorus singing "Big things" big things, that's how big these things are. ...run

4) Wanna do coffee this weekend? It's been too long.

-tuinte, That Guy Who Knows How Special You Really Are (~Fin)

Andrew:
Yes, coffee... Coffee will do nicely. Mmmm... donuts...



Quickies

Fed up with those annoying skips and jumps when you use your mouse?

Why yes, yes I am. I wipe down my desktop and clean this cursed thing almost daily, but it just won't come clean ;_; Oh, if only there was a better way... Ah, well. *delete* Stupid bulk mail.

I think that the singing animals that Googleshng was referring to were the Brementown Musicians.

Zach.

Not the Brementown Musicians... they're so dreeee-amy! *swoons*

The Last Laugh:

And so ends another Thursday night. For tomorrow, since my first love is news and all, let's talk about recent events. What do you guys think about Yoichi Wada's stated intention to "carefully assess" the state of the FF series, and what about Square's mystery MMORPG? Or Sony's online setup? Or, how about all that nifty bric-a-brac like ToD 2 memory cards and stuff that we never get to see except from companies like Working Designs? I know it gets my goat that I'll never have a FF1 miniature figurine to put on top of my monitor. I guess I'll just have to settle for a tragic expression and this novelty miniature gumball machine I stole from work when they were giving out free stuff last month. Ooh, and theatrical sighs. You have to love theatrical sighs. So yeah. Show me love, people... I post every letter I get, as long as it's reasonably coherent.



castomel "I AM the Lizard Queen!" @rpgamer.com

"Give her these... and these... and, then, these. Oh, I'm not a doctor..."

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