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Insanity March 20, 2005

Googleshng - 4:00 EST

Seriously, did someone spike the punch when I wasn't looking this weekend? Today my inbox is full of all sorts of incoherent nonsense for some reason. There's a few sane letters in here too though, so I won't just be replying to everything with "What the heck are you talking about?"

Where's the beef?

It was the Far Side.

First of all I have to agree that games are becoming mostly visual and lagging in the gameplay and story department. Look at Final Fantasy 10. By half way through the game, not only was the rest of the game's plot painfully obvious, but the sequel's as well. (And there will never be an excuse for Yuna's acting.)  
Whatever happened to storylines that worked with the gameplay? Since FF9, most games I have played have fallen into two distinct catagories: The Xenosaga type, and the FF X-2 type. In the Xenosaga type, the entire game is a vicious cycle of running up and down a beatifully rendered corridor, beating the hell out of 3 or four kinds of enemies, and, if you are really lucky, inanimate objects as well a (a practice which makes up about 90% of Kingdom Hearts: CoH). Your reward for making it through is an hour- long cut scene followed by another corridor of slightly more diffcult monster (same ones, different colours), and if the video game gods are smiling, a save game point. Off the top of my head I can think of four games I have played this pattern all the way through.
In the FF:X-2, you are given random missions that occassionally fit into a bigger plot. Although they don't tell you, you have to complete the missions in a specific order, or else 3/4 of the way through the game you won't get special bonus ______ (insert characters, items, skills, etc). Also, you don't get to see the "special ending," As a result you have to go through and play the exact same missions over again in a different order unless you get the guidebook. Not exactly replay value. It is like pixel hunting on Monty Python's "a complete waste of time," but much much longer (and without the benifit of being Monty Python)
Whatever happened to the happy medium, like FF7or CT, where the gameplay and the plot actually worked together? The only game I have recently played that seemed to have a good balace is Tales of Symphonia. Please tell me more have been made since the Playstation became obsolete! Buying games these days is like being woken from a pleasant dream by a swift kick to the groin.
Stupid stupid rat creatures!


I hate to tell you this, but welcome to the minority. There's still people out there who make what you'd consider nicely paced games, but when said games come out, people tear them to pieces. Meanwhile FF10 and the like are adored by the masses.

So uh... go check out the Wild ARMs games, and if you dig'em, spread the word.

Making me dig out old games.

Hey Andrew or whoever gets this first, whatever. That title was from a farside cartoon, I can't really remember what the panel was about but in all probability there was a chicken.

For some reason, this has actually incited me to write and there have been many things I've meant to ask you guys over time so I'll try and be succinct and stick to one topic.

I fell in love with RPGs with Final Fantasy 1, even though I'd played some others before that and the Nintendo erased my game twice when I was right near the end ,and I didn't have a chance to beat it till Origins, and even though I swore a life long hatred to the game for it, none the less FFI awoke something in me. I was now a fan of this odd little time sucking genre.

When FF VII came out I saw something odd, a lot of complaining. "FF VII didn't deliver what it promised!" "Cloud was a jerk!" "It was all graphics and no story!" "FF VI was the king of RPGs forever!!!" I will admit this was about the same time I began using the internet regularly the internet so the complaining may have gone on long before. But it seems to me that's when RPGs stopped being the odd little games that a relatively few people played and became more widely appreciated. RPGs were now for the great unwashed masses, not the awesome hardcore who had fought ogres outside elftown for months on end to buy a new sword. FF VIII came out, and all the sudden it sucked, not VII. "Squall was an even bigger prick!" "I don't want to draw magic!" "All RPGs are these days are flashy graphics! No substance!!!"

(I'm using FF references here just cause it's convenient but all sorts of other things could be substituted. I am getting to a point here btw)

I've been largely ignoring the naysayers for years. Partly because what I like or dislike in games seems odd to other people (the amount of greenery is very important for example), but mostly just because I don't care what other think. I loved all of the PS era Final Fantasies, and if I had a decent amount of fun playing Chrono Cross and everyone else hated it, whatever. All the while people were complaining, the PS1 era game me most of my favorite RPGs of all time. Tales of Destiny, Breath of Fire IV, SaGa Frontier 2, Final Fantasy IX, Persona 2 etc etc

Finally getting to the point, after not paying any attention to the world of opinions for quite some time, I started reading your Q&A section and once again began hearing about how RPGs these days usually just weren't the same. I scoffed. Same old rambling, I told myself. But then something occurred to me. With only one or two exemptions, I haven’t actually really liked or enjoyed enough to finish a single RPG that's come out on the current generation consoles. Actually until I played Boktai 2 I was really starting to wonder if I even liked RPGs anymore. And now I'm replaying Secret of Mana, recently purchased, having a ball of a time and wondering what happened.

Did I get jaded or did the RPG industry just run out of creative juice? Why are the games these days by and large just now fun? I know these are sentiments that have been expressed by many many people. And this has got me wondering. What exactly is that you'd like to see in an RPG? If you could make said game, what would do? How would you make an RPG that would truly be fulfilling to those aging jaded folks who have been playing them for years and years and want something that both rekindles what we loved but is also doesn't feel like a rehash of every RPG of the last two decades?

And, do you want to make that game? I'm serious. I'm sure with the number of people irate at the crappy state of games, enough could be found to fill the various jobs that would need to be done. I myself am a decently accomplished illustrator (go here for a bit of my older stuff and here for REALLY old ) and I've always wanted to work on a game. A game made by fans, for fans. I think Alien Hominid has proved that a fairly small group of people not affiliated with huge companies can produce a great game and sell it to the public.

So what do you think?



The RPG industry isn't running out of creativity and talent, no. It's just that the creative talented people keep moving around. When you and your make a hit game or two and don't get your names on it, you tend to get ticked off and leave to form your own company. Of course, since nobody knows your name, you're going to be a totally obscure new company, and the company that you left is going to be replacing you with, well, whoever applies.

So, if the companies you expect good games from stop delivering, either look for their offshoots, or new developers just breaking in.


heya andrew
um...about this "polymorphic content that can be accessed from anywhere" thing...i dunno really what it *exactly* means, but have u ever played half-life 2 for the pc? i know HL2 isn't an rpg, but my point here is about the way the game starts...every time u wanna play the game, it takes it about (with luck) 5 minutes downloading the software, and another 10 "deencrypting"'s really annoying, everytime u play it, it's the same. I'm really worried that in the not-so-distant future of games, developers might like the idea of having games on the internet, and forcing u to download them everytime u wanna play, just like HL2. This means we'll no longer have the "real thing" on our hands...(the HL2 disc works only to start up the my Q is, what do u think about this? it really kills the whole "i just wanna play" felling, not to mention the obligation of having a (fast) internet connection and the absence of the physical game (I've always liked to keep the boxes and manuals of my games...of course, the cart/disc too ¬.¬). For games on the pc, you wouldn't be able to play on your laptop if there wasn't a connection nearby. I really dunno if they mean we'll be able to continue our games on terminals everywhere or something, but it sucks that they think we're internet-addicted junkies, we just like the fun in our games, right?
I too am quite afraid of the things I've been reading (in the HL2 case, experienced!) about the direction games are taking, but I guess you're right in saying that we'll have to wait till the e3 to see the way videogames are going (or better said, "being pushed")
thanks for your time ^_^
PS- I'm a fan of BOF5 too ^_^ my d-ratio is still 1/8 though...


Uh... what the smurf are you talking about? Not only would there be no benefit to what you're describing, it would take a lot of work. There's people who can't afford to release games in stores and thus have online stores where you download everything, and there's people who release additional downloadable content for games here and there, but there is no reason you'd ever have to download a game more than once, ever.

Context is your friend.

Hello. i have 1 other question the remake question i asked. do you mean seiken densetsu like in final fantasy adventure for the wonderswan? as i never seen secret of mana for the wonderswan color as i collect all square-enix games in japanese

  please fill me in. did they cancel it? im curious on what you have to say about this game




No, none of the SD games were ever remade for the Wonderswan that I recall.

There was an... incident... involving zombies.

Andrew used the word "incidentally" FOUR times in his column yesterday! What's up with that?   - Feep "FOUR!"


Uh... darn. I already used my only joke on the title. Pass.


There. Columny column go up. Tomorrow there will of course be another, ideally one featuring me answering, you know, questions about RPGs. The sort you may be inclined to ask.

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