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  Ask Mistress Nightshadow  

   An unexpected return  

The Mistress of Illusion - December 16 '01- 8:00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (4:00am Ameerican Eastern Standard Time)

Well, it seems that life brings me back to RPGamer at least one last time. Even though I've been up and at the horrible monstrosity that has been life, I managed to sneak back here just so I can cover for Cheshire Catalyst. It'll probably be my last appearance, although you never know. It's been fun to be around, particularly running all the way up to E3.

Well, the reason why I had to give up Editorials full time was fairly simple... the fact that I don't have the 10 hours a week to read and discuss submissions and the 10 or so extra hours with the actual section work for... well, long enough.

But enough on me. Xeria is back and will be answering some of these questions because of the fact that... well, I promised her. So... shall we get on with the letters?

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The obvious question...

So... well... what now for the Mistress?

-TSG, RPGamer Fanfic Editor

Xeria:
Which Mistress are we referring to? I know at least ten. Lessee..there's Mistress Malicia, aka, my old boss at Publix. She's still working there last I checked. There's....Lore-sama, who really isn't a "Mistress" per se, but she owns me just the same. She's still doing lots of artsy stuff. And *then*...

Uh...MN's giving me weird looks. I guess I'd better stop now.

Rydia:
*Ahem* I believe that question was aimed at me. What will I do? Well... I'll be here and there of course. Chasing moonlights, playing games and talking about them of course. I'll still be around #edscorner although I might not be available all the time, so if anyone wants to find me there, they can, although I've been proven rather elusive. If anything I'll be in places you might not expect.

Your explanation for today.

Hmm... I haven't really played many RPGs lately, but I've been putting a lot of time in on Vandal Hearts (the first one). For anyone not in the know, it's a very very well balanced game that's loads of fun and not at all easy (especially if you're a perfectionist like myself who doesn't like losing people in a fight--it's nearly impossible at times in this game). Best of luck to you. What happened, anyway? The editorials section kind of dried up...if you had to say, would you say is that because of lack of submissions, or lack of time to do the updates?

Xeria:
Vandal Hearts. That's a fun game. I never did get...whatever it was that Ash's last class change was. Vandalier? Sounds right...

Mistress Nightshadow:
Well, here's my take on what happened to editorials and opinions generally. From what I saw generally (and just not at RPGamer) there's been a general slowdown of opinions across the board about topics new and old, due to the fact that currently there's other events which people would like to talk about. It was kinda disturbing to see in the Sydney Morning Herald a editorials column about the lack of opinion generally, that it was all too similar. That and personal factors required me to be constantly on the fly.

And while we're on the point of editorials, if you have eds, send them to Rico at editorials who should handle the section just fine if you want to discuss anything in depth!

I'm still an editorialist you know. I'll be around watching if I can't do anything else.

 
A classic editorials question...

My favorite game is MGS2. It oozes quality from every pore. It laveshes its bounty of badassitude on me as tho it were a Mother, and I a newborn hungry for milk. ...okay, so maybe thats a bad metaphor. At any rate, it does everything, in my opinion, perfectly. I don't have the problems with it that others have.

Which leads me to the FFX demo. Given, it's not the final game. But also given is that it has the features of the final game, given how long thats been out in Japan. I will now compare, and contrast the qualities of these two games. At least as much as was seen in the FFX demo. Don't worry, it won't be long ;)

Graphics - There is just more attention to detail in MGS2. In reality, when you look at something in the distance, it's lighter. S'do to the oxygen in the air. This is in MGS2. Look at struts in the distance, and they're lighter. FFX's backgrounds look like wallpaper by comparison. Almost N64ish. Blury textures in places, ESPCECIALLY in battle. Character animation isn't nearly as fluid. Character models aren't as polished.
Voice acting - No comparison. MGS2 is a movie, FFX is an anime. That's my quality comparison. FFX voices aren't bad. I know a lot of people like them, I've got no problem with them. I like them, just not as good as MGS2.
Engine - You know, I have a feeling this would rub me the wrong way even if I hadn't played MGS2, where you can look around at anything, at any time. But the moving camera in FFX, and its movement as you walk...it's REALLY frustrating that you can't look around anytime. You really need to either have a Grandia/FFT style camera, an MGS2 style camera, or a fixed camera, like the PSX FF's. A moving camera that you can't control at all is utterly frustrating.

But, you may be saying yourself, "FFX is an RPG, with a far greater scope and thus requires more focus on things here and there than MGS2 did!" I will accept that in characters only. MGS2 only REALLY had to deal with Snake, Raiden, the guards, and some characters here and there, whereas FFX has many designs to keep track of. But graphics, backgrounds, engines, the rest of it, naw. It could be better. Especially since many people touted FFX graphics as being better than "the almighty MGS2."

"Okay, fine, what's yer point?"

Well, it just seems to me, and maybe I'm off base, but FFX should have had more detail and polish put into it. I still look forward to it, but it's losing luster. Which brings me to Dragon Warrior 7. Pure utter old school. Back to basics. And it's great. Why is that? Why is FF slowly faltering like this? What's lacking?

-Xardon

Mistress Nightshadow:
I have no idea, although I begin to suspect that there's been a growing trend within games these days, well, more accurately two trends. There's the school of thought which likes to give enjoyment more on the 'wow' factor (you know, athestics, graphics, music, plot etc), and those which would like to try keep a player playing, or what I personally refer to as the 'entertainment' factor.

Neither side's really wrong, and neither have to be both exclusive either, although in the end you tend to find that eventually they'll favour one side a little more than the other, and often at times it's just cause of programming issues and/or redunancy. (You might not need to look around at will in FFX but in MGS2 being aware of your surroundings is a must.) There's examples of successful and good games which sit on both sides of the fence, and it's in the end a matter of personal preference really. Some people like their games to have a certain amount of sparkle, some want a certain amount of playability and some want a combination of both.

I wouldn't say that anything is wrong with Final Fantasy yet, it's just a matter of balancing really. Maybe the next one will have the spectacular presentation you were hoping for (which was brought by your expectations), or maybe it'll have enough of the fun factor to tide you over. We'll wait for the day where it seriously fails in one or both parts. I'm not exactly a walking psycharist (Although I'm currently doing some psychology classes), but there's my one and a quarter cents. (2 Australian cents of course)

 
Dragon Questing across the univers... Wait, that's not right...

I've been getting into Dragon Warrior 7 a lot (between other games) lately, and just reached the part where you can change character classes. I honestly expected to dread this part, as the only sort of "class system" I ever enjoyed was FFT's--and even there I only gave everyone the same three abilities (dual sword, counter, and...something else) so that they could mutilate any enemy quickly. FFV is a nightmare of fighting endless battles...so I wasn't expecting much.

But DW7's system seems so perfect...I'm actually looking forward to mastering useless classes, just to see what abilities I can pick up. Have you gotten to play DW7 yet down under? Have you heard Goog going on and on about it? What's your favorite class system, or what type of system would you look for in your ideal RPG?

-Tomm

Amelia:
Dragon Quest/Warrior VII will NOT be seeing Australian shores from my investigations. Simply cause no one's crazy enough to agree to distribute a PS game here for some reason, and all the stores I talked with were asking what Dragon Warrior/Quest was. I've read and heard a lot about DQ though, and it's interesting. It might change of course, but I don't plan to hold my breath.

As for a favourite class system? I'm somewhat inclined to take the 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons rule myself, although that really needs to be hacked out still. I'd personally like a class system which has more bearing outside battle, you know like the fact that a real thief would find it easier to steal something if the target wasn't dying to beat the living daylights out of you... your local unsuspecting shopkeeper would be an example of that.

 
Computer RPGs? ... What's that?

Hello, dear Mistress!
Why is it that my friends at work are addicted to these Diablo and Baldurs Gate games? What makes them better than, say, Final Fantasy or Suikoden?

Xeria:
Diablo is keen for a while, but it gets pretty old before long. I love my amazon in D2x, but shift-clickclickclickclickclick, etc. gets really, really tedious.

As for the Baldur's Gate series, I think the appeal of having so many characters that are *well*-developed, instead of just simply there to be there(as is frequently the case in most RPGs) is what draws a lot of people to the games. Each NPC has at least one fleshed out side-quest, and many of them intertwine with each other.

There's also the substantial amount of other quests and goodies to obtain, dragons to slay, etc. The series as a whole, though particularly BG2/Throne of Bhaal, is simply put together extremely well. As for what draws me to it...well...et's just say Jaheira keeps me on a tight leash. Scary, huh?

Reika:
I wouldn't say better than Suikoden or Final Fantasy myself... but I would say they offer different elements. The first element that is present in Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, Fallout, Arcanum and other PC RPGs that I've never really seen offered in most mainstream console RPGs is the fact that yes, a lot of the time if someone asks you to do something plot wise, you usually have at least one more option which usually involves not being nice and doing the good thing. (Which usually involves stuffing the requestee over.)

An example of this is in Arcanum where you can agree to help a guy protect his money from an incoming robbery and get a reward, agree to help the robbers and get a split, just sit back and watch them do the dirty work, and loot their corpses if you want to, join a side and let the people who hired you die and take all the glory for yourself, or you can join one group, kill the other, then backstab them, then if you're feeling particularly evil, you can then backstab the original group and then take everything for yourself. Keep in mind that Computer RPGs like this have consequences... you know like having people looking for your head for a reward.

Although within the Baldur's gate series, it can prove difficult and plain not worthwhile to be evil like that, I've seen cases in Fallout and its sequels where evil sometimes works, and being good can... well, get you into more trouble than being evil, or at least prove not to be worth it.

I can name a lot of people who don't particularly like the sheer amount of options that can be offered by most RPGs, (One common reason cited is the fact that most Computer RPGs you stand about a 10% chance of experiencing more than 50% of the entire game on the first walkthrough, and don't want to play the game again to see the other 50%) it's all a matter of personal taste really. Some people like a more game driven plot rather than weaving plotlines where you have a fair few choices of just which way you'd like to go, and more importantly how you'd like to get there. And anyway, name any console RPG which allows you to choose to date whoever or whatever you wish (or just have a one off fling), act like an imbecile or a psychonut, and have NPC reactions reflect that?

I'm aware that there's a couple of RPGs which allow deviations, such as the Ogre series, and Langrissser, but their dialogue tends to be limited. (and they're both tactical RPGs incidentally) Most commonly known ones tend to stick towards the 'common' console RPG format.

As for Diablo? It's simply all about having the strongest character in the realm and finding the best items to match that. What else is there except the power? You know to find the weapon that little bit stronger, that swings faster, with more magical bonuses... It's kinda like an extended treasure hunt. Didn't you love treasure hunts when you were little?

 
Is this the illegal chop shop?

If you were stranded on a desert island with an infinite supply of only one type of food, what historical era would you choose to live in?

If you could meet anyone who is alive today, what is the average flight velocity of a swallow from Ninevah, the capital of Assyria?

If one hand claps in the forest and no one is around, which CD of which Baldur's Gate game would you throw off the top of the Empire State Building, injuring late night talk show host Jay Leno or David Letterman?


Chimerasame

Xeria:
Way to go, Chim. You just zapped all my creative and funny juices. Now what am I gonna do?!

Amelia:
For some reason this reminds me of an update that he did for me when I burnt my hands last Christmas. Maybe his panceas does produce crack, which incidentally makes him a permament lawbreaker. But anyway....

1. Does the era determine the type of foods I can pick from?
2. Well, it depends where it's going to and why. For all we know it's swallow hunting season and it's flying to the Arctic to hide, and hence will be trying its very best to get the hell out of there.
3. Assuming I can install the game in question before tossing it at a talk show host, I'd say the first CD of Icewind Dale, since I won't need it after installing it.

 
Never get me started on the Koalas...

Mistress Nightshadow,
I have seen the Gamecube that I am getting for Christmas with my own two eyes. And it was good. I played Pikimin at the mall the other day. And it, too, was good.

Anyway, how do you think the Gamecube will fair RPG-wise? Already, a good number of RPGs have been announced/rumored for the system in the year to come, which is a LOT more than the N64 could boast in its entire LIFESPAN, much less its second year. Will we be doomed to play games like Quest 64 or Aidyn on our GCNs? If so, there is no hope for humanity.

Zelda and Metroid look cool though. They're... kind of.... RPG-like.

Dekude, who wants his house to be infested by Koalas. The cutest infestation ever.

Xeria:
I don't know about you, but if there was ever any game/series that could make me get a GameCube, it would be Harvest Moon. Isn't that series brilliant? There should be a GCN port of Save the Homeland, if it can be done.

Mistress Nightshadow:
Assuming that they didn't change the GameCube from E3, I would certainly hope so, otherwise something VERY wrong went on. Anyway, there's supposedly Phantasy Star Online, which I'm definitely looking forward to and I remember others which I hear will prove interesting. So I wouldn't say we're doomed to just medicore RPGs on Nintendo's Cube yet. Compared to the other consoles? Well, that's kinda hard to derive right now. I'm not an expert fortune teller you know.

As for the Koalas? Um, you DID know that a Koala has about a 60% chance of beating off and injuring a cat its size right? You surely didn't think that those big claws were totally useless... And think about it for a sec. What would you do if you had huge claws to climb up trees and you were constantly petted and harrased by people?

I rest my case.

 
And now, for your daily choir curtesy of Imperial Mog

Greetings (carolers sing) MIS-TRESS NIGHT-SHA-DOW
I wonder since you mentioned it in editorials, I wonder where you are going and what will you do? I don't want to see such a pretty lady leaving. I am trying for the third time to start school next month in Florida. I just have a hard time dealing with others. That and just being a rather depressed person.

I wonder what RPG or anime cliches would you love to have apply in real life? I would like to have save points, I'd like to reset to about September 1998 to reverse the disaster that my life has been since. Also the idea of our world with a swords and sorcery flavor added would be rather odd. I'd be the type that'd fireball everyone that causes problems with me which considering I have a hair-trigger temper.

I wonder what's the most embarrasing thing you've had to deal with? Try having parents wanting me to have a girlfriend. The scariest is how I had an ex-girlfriend who looked and acted almost exactly like Lina Inverse. I was losing money everywhere with food bills and had to learn to never make a joke about a small bust. I have to get my own website soon. I want to put a fanfic on a concept that you probobly remember. I have to say it since it's in two weeks but happy birthday.

Imperial Mog.

Xeria:
Ugh, don't go to school in Florida. It's the worst. I know from personal experience. As for RPG cliches, I'd definitely have to go with the save/restore feature. That would be INSANELY useful, especially right now. Though, if you think about it, the whole space/time continuum would probably be pretty borked if everyone was constantly saving and restoring...

Miss Deep:
The shadow leaves behind no traces. I'm like that when I have to be in fifteen places at once. As for where I'm going? I mentioned where I could be above. Just say I'll be places.

If I had to apply one RPG convention it's the well known burning house rule. You know, how a burning house or any other dangerous structure won't actually collapse or be remotely dangerous till you enter it? That way I can get a cup of tea, bring my fireman gear and probably a toolkit before I wander inside.

Most embarrrasing thing to deal with? Well...
...*makes a quick gesture a little to the right at Xeria* Long story. You didn't see that though, so keep it a secret!
Nothing, nothing at all I can think of really...

As for the comment concerning that event... I must wonder, you still can remember it from that long ago? And more importantly... why?

I'm surprised anyone remembered my birthday. I'm willing to bet that no one knows it off their heads though. Nice to know someone can still remember.

Quickies

wait, wait... Goog's a girl? What an odd FF9ish moment. If only goog's name was actually "Mog". Anyway, what?
- Sabduhhhhh

Reika: Well, I was thinking an FFV moment, but I only got a flare gun and not a gallon of water. Or we could try Ramma 1/2 of course...

Xeria: Of *course* Google's a girl. Where have you been? We've been dating for the past wee--erk! That was supposed to be a secret...Googie-chan's gonna be mad now...

Here's a simple question: How on earth do people find the time to beat Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, Pools of Radiance, and all their expansion packs, and still have time to do anything else without time travel or calling upon the powers of darkness?
- The FD

Xeria: The answer is simple, my dear FD. One must neglect all outside interference for at least 4-5 hours everyday. Jaheira demands such, and I humbly deliver. Of course, one is also presented with such trivial tasks known as "homework" and "job," but these are irrelevant! Irrelevant I say!

Himemiya: You forget sleep and social life Xeria. Even sleep and a social life is irrelevant compared to the mighty CRPG. Hail to the computer! The Computer will make us happy!  < /paranoia >

Who do you think would win a battle? A dragon warrior slime or a final fantasy slime?
-chocobo headed person

Xeria: Dragon Warrior slime all the way. They have the happy faces of DOOM, I tell you. But besides that, Besu-sama would rage me if I didn't say the DW slime would rage anything in its path.

Amelia: A Final Fantasy slime completely and utterly evades me at the moment, so I guess the DQ slime would win by default. But I would like to think the master slime from Lufia 2 would trounce all slimes. Only cause he thinks you can't deck him fast enough, and he's almost always right. (Although he's sympathetic if you commit mass seppuku.)

Where on-line can I find pics of Rikku?
Thanks! ^_^
-Sheepy

Xeria: Why..uh..at RPGamer of course! Seriously, I actually looked and I wasn't able to find more than a small handful of screencaps that she was in. One of them was linked to in yesterday's column, so go check it out!

Mistress Nightshadow: Um... everyone's attention has been focused on Yuna and Tidus. I hadn't had much luck either. All you fanartists out there, we have an audience for Rikku, so if you draw something, chances are you'd be worshipped... well, at least a short while.

Hey, since RPGamer seems utterly unwilling to post about Thor Antrim's current predicament anywhere on the main page, I thought the least you guys could do is put something up about him on the Q&A. I mean, after all, no offense, he IS the best Q&A guy RPGamer ever had and you guys ought to be willing to support him more. Check out his plight at http://thor.mirtna.org/savethor/index.html. Thanks.
-BluesMojo

Mistress Nightshadow: Ano.. didn't we mention that yesterday? I could have sworn we did. Well, I never met him through letters or through IRC, but I've heard of him and his exploits. I would say for each reader to make up their minds...

I can't exactly donate as much as I'd personally like to since a paypal or amazon account is out of my reach entirely, and it'd probably me about as much as I have right now to send it any other way. (Due to the restriction of having to have a credit card and that Australia requires you to earn about 13k US a year before any bank will give you one, and any sort of wire is VERY expensive here.)
The drawbacks of living in the middle of nowhere folks.




Closing thoughts from an Editor:

Xeria: I would just like to say there are two things that are perfect in this world: Tina Fey, and bananas. Thank you.

Mistress Nightshadow:

Well, that was one heck of a ride. Q&A still takes me as long as ever, but hey, it was all fun in the end wasn't it? And yes, I actually use all of the nicks used above. They don't call me the mistress of illusion for nothing.

In any case, take care all of you, and remember that Aegis wants your patronage and letters tomorrow, so give him plenty of both.

As for final thoughts? Well, it's been fun being here for a year, and being closely involved with editorials for about a year and a half... I wish I didn't have to go, particularly with the mad blast we had at E3 even though I was sick at the time... but all things have to come to an end I guess... I guess it finally finishes here, doesn't it?



Ja ne... RPGamer!

Mistress "Miss Deep" Nightshadow@rpgamer.com
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