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Nostalgia February 16, 2005

Googleshng - 4:00 EST

You know, they don't make Zelda games like they used to. Instead, they outsource development to Capcom, and Capcom is surprisingly good at making Zelda games like, well, they used to.




L E T T E R S
Oldies Vs. Newies


We hear a lot of people complaining the new RPGs are not as good as the old ones were. Did it ever cross their mind that, in their childhood, they had all that spare time they could use to play games, and now that they grew up a bit, this free time is amasingly reduced, stopping them from truly enjoying a game as involving as RPGs get?

I remember, back when i was only 14, i spent the WHOLE summer playing Ultima Online. I woke up, ate breakfast, got on the computer. Ate lunch in front of my computer screen, have an half an hour break to eat dinner and went back to my Online Identity untill bed time came. Today, i dont have the time to do that anymore, and i think that is simply why i do not feel as absorbed into RPGs as i did when i had a ridiculous ammount of time to spend on them.

I think RPGs never were any better, of course we've had our favorites, which can make us feel that way, but i think the RPG community is simply growing older and is gaining too many responsibilities to just go berzerk on a game when it comes out... so, here's the question : What do you think about it?

Googleshng

Well, not getting into the average age range and breakdown of free time of the RPG playing populace, we can pretty safely rule out this nostalgia factor of yours here in a number of ways.

The first of course would be, on a case by case basis, to take these people bashing newer games, and hand them some game from 15 years ago that they missed out on the first time around.

In a more general sense though, we have a couple factors to consider here. First, making an RPG used to be a bit of a gamble, especially when word of mouth was the only way most games really got advertised. So if a company is going to release one, they're going to make extra sure it's going to be a good one. These days, RPG is a bit of a buzzword, so you can sell some pretty darn lukewarm games on that alone. Not to mention the fact that manufacturing costs are way down, and the market's bigger.

On that note, the market's different these days. RPGs used to be targetted at a little niche market who liked'em hard, liked having to figure things out, and of course, liked having to make maps of caves on graph paper or get totally lost. Ever since FF7, RPGs have been targetted at a more mainstream audience, which honestly doesn't care for that sort of thing, and tend to prefer straightforward cakewalks full of high budget cutscenes.

That being said though, there are in fact a few developers who make RPGs just like they did back in the early 90s, so if you're the sort of person who goes around saying "all new RPGs suck" you're just not doing your homework before buying your games.



For the record, I'm not big on bashing people like this.


Hey there Goog,

Hope ya post this...

In regards to the G4TechTV thing, my answer to them not showing anything about RPGs is to play the G4TechTV RPG Fanboy drinking game, it makes their horrible FPS fighting popular bull crap programs watchable, here's what you do.

First when they mention an RPG you own or like, take a drink of your favorite beverage, I chose chocolate milk.

Second if they mention it in a favored light take another drink.

Third if it is a 2-D RPG take a third swig.

There's also the OMFG they pronounced blah blah from yon RPG correct o.o drinking game, just thought I'd inform the RPG populus of my favorite pass time.

Do you Googleshng cosplay at conventions? If so what do you cosplay as?

Arros Raikou

Also why did that one chap the other day prop me for??

Googleshng

Unfortunately I don't. While I once made a deal with some very bored people where I would attend an upcoming convention dressed in an excessively embarrassing/uncomfortable/ungainly costume, with a group of sponsors paying my way to it in exchange for the chance to laugh at me and take humiliating photos, it fell through. As for halfway sensible costume notions, well, these days I don't hit any cons that really do the costume thing, and back when I did, they didn't focus on the proper things for me to get a costume I could really pull off.

First chance I get though, I'm throwing together a pretty darn outlandish costume for something or other.



Graphics of The Future


i've been hearing a lot about the (very) possible appearance of both ps3 and xbox2 this year, both boasting about ultra high tech-specs and life-like graphics and so on...i really don't wanna sound paranoic but, if they really do achieve al the "life-like"ness they're aiming at, creating the perfect graphic engines, what's next? what I'm trying to say is, it's not like we can expect a change like the one from 2d sprites to 3d polygons like before, only "enhanced 3d" (again)...meaning graphics will soon finish evolving (or just looking nicer), simulated 3d on tvs can only go that far... gameplay can still get better (which is good) but still, i can't escape the thought that the end of videogames might be near. (btw, I do NOT intend to start yet another debate of graphics VS gamplay here....) What will ps4 offer? VR helmets ala-80s? 3d hollographic chess like the one on star wars ep4? if so games'll no longer be on good ol' tvs...nintendo claims to have something different to show this year, I really hope they won't try anything like THAT...! anyway, my Q is, what do you think about all this? I too am looking forward for ps3, I'm not really saying developers shoud stop, maybe just slow down a bit...
thanks for your time ^_^
alex

Googleshng

Interestingly enough, the whole "VR Goggles" notion is ancient history as far as videogames go. I'm not even talking about the whole Virtual Boy thing here either. The Sega Master System (circa NES) had'em, and even then nobody really cared. The holographic thing is also old hat, and was the driving force behind a truly AWFUL arcade game I've been trying to block out for years. Then there's the whole 100% hand drawn animation or live acted gimmicks which also tanked.

All you can really do to raise eyebrows with graphics when you get down to it are to improve the way things look, and to up the number of those things you can fit on the screen at one time. With those, the current hardware is more than good enough. Take a look at, say, Resident Evil 4 if you don't believe me. Could characters look more realistic? Yes, but it's all a matter of finding the right textures, or lighting techniques, or adding more frames to animations. None of those are limited by the hardware, just by the skills, creative decisions, and obsessive-complusiveness of the artists. This with all the snazzy lighting effects you can think of going on too. How many on screen at a time meanwhile? "Enough" I'd say. I think I've seen maybe... 20 characters on screen at once, with this level of detail, and any limits there are for the sake of gameplay really.

So... when would you need more horsepower than consoles like this? I suppose if you wanted to have 20,000 characters with this kind of level of detail it would become an issue, but that situation is never, ever going to crop up. Ever. First off, you can't even fit that many characters on screen at once, at a size where that level of detail would be remotely visible. Let's say though that you want to be constantly zooming the camera in and out with that insane level of detail visible on the closeups. You can do that now just by switching between high detail and low detail models when it's zoomed out too far to notice the switch. People try this as is, with obvious tells, but those are just due to the artists not taking the time to get it right. It's plenty doable.

For argument's sake though, let's say you want to do it just so you can be lazy and not spend the time on any sort of tricks to save on the console's workload. First off, you are now officially making a tech demo game, and nobody is going to care after looking at it for a few minutes. Plus you're asking a team of artists to create 20,000 unique highly detailed characters, each with their own personalized animation routines drawn from state of the art motion capure. The time and/or money involved there isn't going to pay off, and finally, at the end of the day, people aren't ever going to play a game you'd want this sort of detail for at the max zoom. They're going to pull the camera up quite a bit, to a point where all these high detail graphics are going to look kind of nasty and make it hard to identify important information.

For what it's worth though, this is all on behalf of the hardware makers, developers aren't in a position to be pushing for new platforms when they aren't even using the full potential of the current batch.



Mixed Messages


Yo!

Well, that's an interesting list of games there. I, for one, would play nearly all of those games through again.

Wild ARMs - This was the first RPG I owned for the PSX, and I remember sitting in the local PX and playing it on their console there from the moment the store opened for another 2 hours. The game was just really cool at that point, and it was totally worth annoying all of the 3-year-olds waiting in line who just wanted to push buttons. While the game isn't the best, I thought it was a ton of fun, and there are plenty of little sidequests and things to play with. Alter Code F is coming out soon, though...so you might just want to play this for the nostalgia factor, without having to worry about more characters screwing up the mix.

Wild ARMs 2 - Um...stay away? I really didn't like this incarnation, but Wild ARMs 3 is a huge favorite of mine.

Parasite Eve - Once you get past the first day where Aya runs slower than I crawl, the game gets pretty interesting. The plot was cool, the battle system was pretty innovative, and all in all, it was a pretty bloody good game. Just pass on the Chrysler Building. Way too long of a retarded subquest.

Xenogears - Well, where to start. This is my favorite game on any system, so I'm clearly a little annoyed that you haven't played/finished it yet. It's got a great story (and it doesn't take years to explain it...stupid Xenosaga), a fun battle system (deathblows kick ass), dynamic characters (ok, MOST were), and some of the best music to be heard on the PSX. The only issues I had with the game was the sharp difficulty curve halfway through the game when bosses were incredibly powerful (but I like have a challenge, so it didn't bug me too much), and the fact that you can't speed up the text. The graphics aren't the best either, but they do the job. I'm not much of a graphics whore anyway.

Dragon Warrior VII - Never played it, but I haven't really heard anything positive.

Vandal Hearts - Most linear game I've ever played. But damn was it fun playing it. While I didn't really care to much about the story (which was ok, I guess), the battles were a lot of fun. And who doesn't enjoy seeing a fountain of blood spew out of the enemy's hewed corpse?

Um...questions...

What do you think of Guild Wars? I was never much of an MMORPGer, but this game looks like it will rock. I played the World Preview Event, and it was a ton of fun. Gotta love a system that forces you to work together to win. I can't stand just sitting around and levelling with no strategy other than "run through mindlessly and kill everything" (cough!Diablo2cough!).

Ourobolus

Googleshng

As amusing as the blood geysers are, I'd say the real appeal of Vandal Hearts is how, unlike nearly all other TRPGs, when you see winning and losing conditions at the start of a fight, you frequently see things that aren't just "Kill all enemies!" or "Kill this boss!" Extremely creative battles there... and uh... how many TRPGs can you name that AREN'T totally linear anyway? Maybe 1 out of every 15?

The main appeal of DW7 meanwhile is having your characters learn all the skills from one class, move on to another, and not have to give up on using any of their old abilities, as opposed to FF games with similar gimmicks where you only get access to 2 classes at once.

As for Guild Wars, I find it odd how you're comparing it unfavorably to Diablo 2, since essentially, it's a very similar game, by the same people. Looks fairly nifty though, yes, but it isn't really my cup of tea.





C L O S I N G
Googleshng:

OK... there still seem to be some issues with the mail around here, but things should be running smoothly for tomorrow.

googleshng@rpgamer.com
googleshng@rpgamer.com


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