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Googleshng - November 25 '04- 4:00 Eastern Standard Time

Actually, I'm writing this column in the middle of the night, having not eaten for 4 or 5 hours, so that title really doesn't apply to me at the moment. Odds are it applies to you though... unless I'm grossly underestimating the number of foreign readers, or grossly overestimating how many people are prone to eating half their weight on Thanksgiving before doing anything.

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Fun with coding.

First of all the attached rar file is a plugin I made for mozilla firefox, it allows search of RPGamer from within the browsers searchbar, unfortunately I did not have time to include a readme file on how to install it. If you do not trust the content of the compressed file please feel free to email me requesting it be sent as plain text ... or not at all if you dont want to include the plugin.

Anyway onto the subject of my letter. Recent PRG's have all had very simplistic storylines, couple this with the fact that they mainly are starting to ignore character development and we are getting some very ordinary RPG's. I know the problem is nothing new but it seems to be getting worse, I wish I knew what developers were thinking sometimes so I could smack it out of their stupid little heads and tell them what people really want.

Other genres are starting to see the importance of storylines and character development, just look how many racing games are getting them nowadays (sure they are crap but how much can you do with racing?). I fail to see why RPG's are starting to ignore these important elements, is it because Square Enix is dying and just rushing games off without much effort in them? I know the RPG market has always watched square but everyone knows that they are dying.

Perhaps the situation will improve soon, maybe I have just hit the wrong RPG's of late and the problem isn't as bad as it looks.

~=Seraphic22=~

Googleshng:
Fair warning, I haven't tested yon plug-in (as I use a freak of a browser).

Anyway though, I'm generally inclined to agree with your assessment, but it's hard to make a call without pinning down the boundries of "RPGs" and "recently" here. Recently we've mostly had TRPGs (which tend to be pretty all or nothing on the character development front), and Action/RPGs (which aren't big on story). Out of the remainder though, yeah, you have to go back pretty far to hit some decent depth of character.

Like you said though, it isn't a recent thing. I can count on one hand the number of RPGs I've played with any real character development, maybe two dozen I'd say have legitimately interesting stories. Here's the interesting thing though. I'm not talking about my all time favorite RPGs here. I'm not talking about the average person's favorites. There's a little overlap sure, FF6 for instance did a surprisingly good job of adding some depth to almost all of the many characters it had floating around. For the most part though, honestly, the games people love have astoundingly dull characters.

Perfect example: Chrono Trigger. The main character doesn't even have a speaking part. He doesn't really have any compelling motives either. The rest of your party is almost as bad. You can describe just about any of them in one short sentence... and when you can't it's just due to one five second scene thrown in there. This doesn't stop just about everyone from adoring the game though, now does it?

Meanwhile, if you want character driven, you really should look into Nippon Ichi's games.

 
I am NOT touching this FF8 bit on the same day as that last letter.

Been living under a rock... has there been any word on maybe a remake for Terranigma coming to the DS? I had to find a ROM to play that one, was really fun to me. Also, a question of opinion about FF 8. Would you say that the game kinda "Jumped the shark" after the First disc? I think the first disc is creativity and excellence form S-E that has since been unsurpassed (excepting Squall, a slightly-tougher Cloud who's a mute with brown hair), and the last three disc delved further and further into identity and plot confusion. Just my opinion on that flawed yet interesting game. Last question, have there been any "Excellent" console RPG's for the next-gen (PS2, XBox, GC) besides the tactical RPG's like Disgaea and Phantom Brave? I didn't care for KOTOR, call me crazy. Hell, just simply your recommendation of something other than those three titles listed above. Thanks, Ian L.

Googleshng:
Discussing the merits of any given FF game is going to get a big flame war started nine times out of ten I find, but as for the gems of this console generation...

Skies of Arcadia. Hands down.
Shadow Hearts Covenant (and possibly Shadow Hearts, but it hasn't aged well).
Paper Mario 2.

There's some others I'd like to list, but people are somewhat split as to their appeal. Those ones there nobody ever has anything but compliments for, unless it's one of those things where they're saying "What do you mean, everyone loves game X! It isn't nearly as great as you make it out to be!" but you'll get that about anything from one or two people. Heck, I've had people say Parasite Eve 2 is the best game they've ever played when provoked.

 
Following up on something from earlier this week...

Isn't it plausible that the characters make sounds when they take action because it relates to the old kiai breathing technique in martial arts? I might be a bit off (since I just looked this up on the Internet), but whether fighting with your body or with a sword, kiai (spirit convergence) is used by giving a resolute shout to show your enemy your commitment to attack and to scare them. Since kiai is widely used in many martial arts, that's probably why they put it in video games. It makes since with the video games that originate in the Asian countries >_^

Googleshng:
Right. A combination of that, and the fact that with current sound technology, people feel weird using beeps and such to indicate sword swipes.

 
Slightly dusty...

Bonjour, Monsieur Google!

I am most certainly not french, but I decided today's greeting should be in french pretty much for the heck of it. The holiday season is quick approaching, and I personally have spent the month of November resisting the urge to spit on each and every much too early Christmas ad/decoration I encountered. However, with the coming of Thanksgiving this Thursday, the Christmas creep will soon hit its high. What has your panties in a twist this holiday season? And am I the only one who despises watching old episodes of Full House? Or is the rest of the world fully content with an insanely hug-happy family and a girl who moves into the bathroom? Oi.

P.S. I think the quote on the main page is from one of the Breath of Fire games, with those crazy little fairy colonies...

Au revoir,

Tommy T.

Googleshng:
I make it a personal rule not to even think about Christmas until Thanksgiving is out of the way. Uncomfortably close to the wire this, but anyway...

I have had some truly strange luck with money this month. So my current wish list is pretty much just anime, card games, and old arcade cabinets. Otherwise though, it would look something like this:
Paper Mario 2, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, Growlanser, Baten Kaitos, Metroid Prime 2, and Resident Evil 4.

 
Mentioning things briefly to push through an unrelated rant.

Ever have your RPGamer tendancies spill over into other genres? I find myself playing eveything as if it were an RPG. I greatly preferred doing missions in Vice City to random rampages, and ended up loveing it for its story and characters. Things that other people complain about, particularly long cutscenes, are normal fare to me. Metal Gear Solid 2, for example. People went on and on about how many lengthy conversations there are, how incomprehensible the plot is. It was complex, to be sure, but nothing on par with, say, Xenogears, or Evangelion for that matter.

I bring this up because, as you know, Metal Gear Solid 3 has just hit the shelves. Having loved the last entry in the series, I snatched it up as soon as possible. I had set my hopes very high, and they'd had a good long time to percolate there and become absolutely impossible to fulfill. It exceeded them. That's all I can say. It's a beautiful, amazing game, at the peak of the art form (yeah, art form. It's not a popular conception of the industry quite yet, but Cthulhu willing people will come to understand someday). Masterpiece that it is, it pains me to see someone as influential as the folks at Penny Arcade disregard it, though obviously having played little more than what was available in the demo. (A quick note: the first hour or so is admittedly very heavy on cutscenes. However, at this point, the game hasn't even started yet.) Which brings me back to the original point: does having RPGs as your standard point of comparison have an effect on your appreciation of other genres?

Okay, all I really wanted to do was provide you with a letter and gush about how great MGS3 is. Sission Mucceeded.

-Dahne
Somehow, it seems appropriate that the character named Eva is the source of a good deal of fanservice...

Googleshng:
Oddly enough, I do more roleplaying in non-RPGs than in console RPGs. For instance, if I'm playing, say, Resident Evil Outbreak, whichever character I'm using, I'll play to their personality. If I'm the grizzled old security guard, it's keeping everyone's back covered, helping Bob along even when I'm on Very Hard, etc. Then if I switch to the Useless Dork, I'll just run around whining at the other characters, steal all the decent weapons for myself, and every so often go get myself killed by being an idiot.

I think the real important issue with this letter though is, you have been playing a game for an hour, and say "the game hasn't even started yet." You say this in a fashion that implies you have no problem with this.

I'm all for having some flashy cinematic stuff at the start of a game, but there's this little thing called moderation that a lot of people don't seem to get. I can name entirely too many games where you spend the first hour watching movies, sometimes broken with a little walking around, and entirely too few people seem to have a problem with it.




The Last Laugh:

Remember a while back when I said you should bookmark my main page because I was going to start throwing up some daily content there? Took me a while to get around to it, but there are daily updates going on now for those who care.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving all. If you aren't too tired to type, toss some letters at this here evil warlock who lives in a frozen wasteland where they don't celebrate Thanksgiving in the proper month.

Ah, Canada. So fun to arbitarily pick on... probably because that's the only way you can really.



Googleshng "Big change from seasonal updates, no?" @rpgamer.com

I've really been neglecting that page too long.

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