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ASK MATT
One Man Show March 7, 2006

Matt Demers - 09:04 EST

DON'T ASK ME!

It was under my impression that someone was gonna step in again this weekend, but I guess things didn't pan out that way. One-man show? I dunno. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, so at least you can go to bed with that happy (I hope) thought sticking in your mind.

I dunno what else to write here. My eraser is sitting on top of my pencil case at a most peculiar angle. Oh, also, I dreamt last night about a very strange trip involving my professor/supervisor, Herb, and my own family. We were in a... van, or something, and driving along (I'm not sure where) but the road started to get ridiculous as it twisted through woods and up hills at precarious angles... it was kind of scary. The road kept getting worse and worse and more and more dangerous, until inside a tunnel, we had to take flying leaps across big black gaps. What happened? I dunno, that's about when I woke up. Exciting, eh?

Now that you've taken a peek into my subconscious, let's take a peek into the mailbag... they're pretty much the same thing anyway.




L E T T E R S
The good and bad of long and short


Now for collumn stuff regarding the short game versus long game, my problem isn't the length of a game based on what others think mainly because a game that most people blow through in a 10 hour sitting I somehow manage to get lost in a dungeon or a town or on the world map... ^^''' or I get caught up gaining levels, powering up magic and skills etc so everyone's 10 hour game becomes my 20 hour game, with the exception of Star Ocean: TteoT which I blew through in under a hundred hours because the story just drug along and I tired of going between the same five or six towns on that on f---ing planet so I skipped the bonus cool stuff leveling etc, I'd say the ideal time it should take to get through a game is 50-60 hours that can inflate to 80-100 if someone wants to place extra effort into it

Matt

I'd say that on average, I agree with you. The thing is, though, is that it really depends on the series. 50-60 hours is a really long time if the game you're playing isn't that exciting. On the other hand, 50-60 hours can go by in a flash if the game in question is really enjoyable.

Also, yeah, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time really should have lessened the amount of time you spend farting around pointlessly on that planet and moved on with the storyline, which seemed rushed and abrupt-ending afterwards. It's too bad, because the central plot is one that they could have developed SOOOO much more spectacularly.

Also I've found that part of the length of a game is stumbling through learning the battle system and leveling scematics, which is why my runs through Disgaea, and later Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom went much smoother and faster thanks to my working knowledge of the battle system and it's scematics from La Pucelle

Matt

Perhaps so... but not significantly so, I don't think. What did you think of La Pucelle, then? Did you feel that it "felt" longer for those reasons? If so... was that a good thing or a bad thing?

Now on the subject of magic in RPGs, in my opinion magic is underpowered in 4 out of 5 RPGs, as far as I've seen magic used by the party is usually less strong than a sword strike from the hero, and if it is very lucky it is as strong as the hero's attacks, but only in rare circumstances does magic deal tons more damage than a physical attack to make up for it's limited nature, which is why in RPGs where you assign stat points I always make my character into a physical powerhouse because I know that magic will eventually grow to suck and very few games have physically immune enemies

Arros Raikou


Matt

Well, I know I bitch about it a lot around here, but this is one place that Final Fantasy X really came through. There was a broad assortment of monsters that were specifically weak to magic, this person's attacks, that person's attacks, etc etc, and it worked really well. The only problem for me, I think, was that the artificial damage limit of 9999 damage is reached far too quickly in that game, so half of all effective attacks end up doing that exactly for a good fraction of the time. By the end, half of Lulu's spells for me were equally effective, even though she would spend many times more MP on some than others. Yuna, in contrast, could give a little whistle and have her sweeties do absolutely preposterous amounts of damage, all for the low low price of absolutely free! Good girl, Yuna... you're SO strong, you killed the game!

*clubs Yuna over the head*

Now that's disasterrific.



Hidden secrets Sony didn't want you to know about


Wow,

I just tested this out on my PS2 thanks to the advice of that one reader... and the results are pretty amazing. There is a very noticable difference between the "standard" option and the "smooth" option when playing FFIX on the PS2. The screen appears less busy and the charecters look like they can actually stand or sit still without appearing to be shaking all the time.

Derek


Matt

Amazing... I'm really going to have to try this out one day when I actually think about it, because from the sounds of it, it's pretty exciting. "This," of course, is the smooth feature that was mentioned last week, for anyone who is wondering out there; it apparently exists on all PS2 systems, though it somehow slipped past me. I wonder how it works... if it just "blurs" the existing graphics, so to speak, in order to get a better "averaged-out" picture with better resolution. Since I'm studying some graphics-related applications for my grad studies, I find it interesting.

I won't see it on FFIX soon, though, of course, since my brother has it perpetually at home. It's his favourite of the series, and he'd never give it up... I'd have to steal my own game sneakily from my house. The problem is, I'm not really a "Thief" class character; I'm more of a... a... what am I?



There's nothing as violent as violence... profound, no?


Hey Matt,

You know, I may have a slightly unpopular opinion when it comes to violence in video games but here goes. Iíve been following the recent controversies on the topic and I really think itís important to keep in mind that there have been two major trends: 1) there are those who want to limit childrenís access to M-rated games by fining game dealers for selling them to anyone underage and 2) there are others who wish to put limitations on game content. Hereís the thing... I have no problem with the first of these two propositions. The second is basically censorship (you can see this especially in Hilary Clintonís proposed legislation) and I do have a problem with that; I certainly donít feel the government should be controlling what is permissible content for games and I think they need to realize that M-rated games were never intended for children in the first place. That is, I believe, the crux of the matter.

Matt

It is my understanding as well that part of the uproar involves taking commercials for M-rated games out of children's programming on TV. These commercials, of course, ARE a trifle eyebrow-raising, because if, as you say, they were never intended for children, then why, pray tell, would they be trying to market the game to them?

I'm with you 100% though, that the government shouldn't have control over what things appear in games, just like the government should have no control over what things appear in music or movies. It should have nothing to do with any government. Governments SHOULD be spending their time and money running countries/provinces/states/what-have-you smoothly, not meddling with specifics in our everyday lives.

M-rated games arenít made for children. Iím 95% an RPG player so GTAís not really my thing, but I did rent it once to see what all the fuss was about and it *is* a violent game. It contains more than just gore; among other things it allows you toĖ well letís not mince wordsĖ it allows you to play at murdering random people and itís reasonably realistic in terms of graphics. San Andreas (which I have not played) also has a degree of sexual content (and I mean in the regular game rather than the Hot Coffee material); from what I understand the player restores his health with the help of prostitutes, right? This game was not made for kids and I donít think itís really appropriate forĖ letís sayĖ an eleven year old to be playing it.

Matt

I concur.

Now I donít think playing this game will turn you in to psychopathic killer, but I do think that these games, and others like it, require a certain amount of maturity on the part of the player. Violence in children isnít directly caused by exposure to media violence, but there is reason to believe such exposure can cause increased aggression and a desensitization to violence in general. I do think parents should be responsible for monitoring what their children are exposed to and I find it mind-boggling that parents can be oblivious to the ESRBís rating system, but I donít think it would hurt to put limitations on the game dealers either. Putting limitations on selling games to minors probably wonít stop M-rated games from getting into childrenís hands if their parents are so oblivious as to purchase them for their children in the first place, but there is a slight chance that it might draw to their attention the fact that there is indeed a little "M" in the left-hand corner of the box and that it does indeed mean something.

I hope Iím not too off-topic here, but itís an issue Iíve been thinking about for a while now and I find it tiresome when all I see from gamers is a knee-jerk reaction. Some of the proposed legislation is bad news, I agree, but is it so bad to have fines for selling to minors games which were never intended for them in the first place?

Anyway, I think Iíll go fight some slimesĖ the innocent bystanders of the RPG world. Poor things, but at least they always look happy.

Erika Wolfraven


Matt

Thanks for your thoughts, Erika. It's a big topic in the world these days, and I just read a brand new article on violence, video games, and "the youth of today" on a Canadian news website last week. The media is sounding more and more like an annoying grandparent, honestly; perhaps this is the result of the aging masses of baby boomers all of whom are growing white hairs as we speak and furiously guzzling pomegranate juice in the hopes that they won't die someday. The debate continues, at any rate!



This topic might appear to relate to fungi, but it really doesn't. You'll see what I mean.


To Matt First of all, I would like to thank you for the brilliant reply on the whole Sikh matter. It made me smile.
Matt

Well, thanks! I'm just being brutally honest when it comes to matters like these, and I'm not going to keep secrets about the things I believe in most. This is an opinion column, and thus, you're bound to see my opinion from time to time. While the topic should remain mostly on video games, well, hey, I understand that we all need to vent from time to time, don't we? If you're going to vent, though, prepare for some counter-exhaust. ^_^

Second of all, someone mentioned E.V.O. Now theres an old school game to love and adore. Have you heard any news about a project named SPORE. It's done by the people who did Sims and looks absolutely brilliant. I personally think that game might be more of and roleplaying game than almost anything we have seen in years! The proplem is, I have only seen one video of it, have you got any news on the project?


Matt

Yeah, it really is... E.V.O. is such a random and uncommon game. My sister and mom brought it home one day from Blockbuster "because it looked cool," and so of course, out of spite, I scoffed and stuck out my tongue. It's remarkably creative, though, and very challenging, putting a new spin on Action-RPGs, because that's really what I'd call it: a 2-D action RPG. It's not the most polished or perfect game out there, and it's hardly built on sound evolutionary-biological theories, but it's interesting, fun, and different.

As for your SPORE, you silly thing, Xlash provided a link to a video in his part of the column last week!! You should check it out; it's over half an hour of video containing gameplay and such, so apparently, development is progressing at some rate. You probably won't find the most up-to-date news around here, since it ain't an RPG.



Who re-ally cares? Also, a fun rumour-starting question!


Hey Matt:

The other day I commented that Wild Arms Alter Code F was a remake and my friend wanted to dispute the point. After discussing it and citing FF IV Advance as an example of a remake, we decided to there should be categories: ports, remakes and re-envisionments. (but, there has to be word to use than that...)

Matt

Man, there are like... serious issues out there to worry about. Clearly, this is one of them! Re-envisionments, though?? It sounds a bit "out there," but I can't think of any other word you'd use. Redirections? Not quite right. Retakes? Sounds silly. Reconceptions? I like that one a little better...

The point would be that ACF is different enough from original Wild Arms that it shouldn't be in the category of all the games that get slight changes. Don't get me wrong, though, I like FFIV Advance a lot.

Matt

See, I'd call them BOTH "remakes," because many things were changed rather significantly. ACF was quite significantly upgraded and changed in many respects, but the newest version of FFIV is far more than "just a port"; it featured a full retranslation, slightly updated graphics, new bonus material, and other funky stuff. Perhaps ACF was "more of" a remake than FFIV, but you know, I think neither is a simple port.

So with the last category being "re-envisionments," I can't think of that many RPG examples of it. But, it something that may happen more in the future. The real question for you is: What do you think of re-envisionments? Should game developers stick to new, creative ideas or should they try to make the "Batman Begins" of the RPG genre?

Matt

It sounds to me like your "re-envisionments" are simply different kinds of those new, creative ideas. I guess if a video game company was going to come out with a "remake" of a title (for lack of a better word), I'd rather them have it capture the original essence of the game, because I think that's key. A re-envisionment, I think, would have a key property of changing that original essence, which might be good in some cases, but not if I was particularly fond of the original. Does this make rational sense? Or am I not following correctly?? I hope I've answered this adequately.

Misewell tack on another question: Of all the RPGs (or RPG series) that currently don't have any sequels or new installments planned, what would you most like to see announced?

--Mike


Matt

SO many series have new sequels planned right now, it's difficult to find one that... oh, wait, I know. I'd REALLY love to see a new Breath of Fire game that builds on the magic that is BoF:Dragon Quarter. We haven't heard a whole lot from Capcom at all lately, it seems... and while I'm busy on them, I'd really REALLY love to see another Megaman X or Megaman main-series sequel, but "with longerness," since I hate it when there are a grand total of two stages after you buzz through the eight main robots. LISTEN TO MY PRAYERS (please)!!!!

Anyway, thanks for the letter in, Mr. Mike! May good fortune come to you.



This is a silly question to ask ME of all people...


Dear Matt-tress,

I just wanted to thank Xlash actually for putting up the Spore video. I have no idea of whether it even qualifies as an RPG but that game has made me giddy whenever I hear about it.

Matt

Yeah, I thought it looked pretty neat myself, but partly because I hadn't even heard of it before. Obviously, I'm not really on the ball when it comes to video-gaming outside of RPGs (and hey, I'm not always on the ball when it comes to RPGs either). Anyway, I get cautious when a site advertises a game in advance as "maybe the best game EVER," but perhaps this is one to look out for.

The only question I can give you to justify my email and my praise for a game thats probably a little off topic for an RPG collumn is this; What are your thoughts on playing God in role playing games. Are you the type to scorn the thought of being responsible for the lives and deaths of so many (even though the point of most RPGs is to save the world anyways) or are you the type to throw back your head back in a fit of Kefka-esque laughter and watch as you destroy a pre-programmed planet for it's insolence?

-Chris P.


Matt

You're asking a guy who used to build cities of 2 million in SimCity and then unleash disaster after horrible disaster upon it, only to SAVE the game with the city in dire straits to try and rebuild at a later date. I don't know what RPG, exactly, you play God in, but I can think of several strategy games. I remember, on a loosely related note, the first time I watched my mom play Black & White. It was, heh, yeah, pretty funny. What? ^^

So, what do I think of it? How could I best describe this...? Ah.

Need you ask?





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

My pot runneth over. Quite literally, actually; I was stirfrying some peppers with broccoli, onion, garlic, and a multitude of spices in too-small of a pot, and it was most difficult to keep everything from falling out and onto my clean white stovetop. The trials and tribulations of not-actually-a-chef-dom, I tell ya.


Flashay!


Yes, yes... SOCK time.

#129 followed a similar line of questioning to #127: What was the first Playstation game that I EVER played? Well, I've referred to it once or twice, but back in good old Grade 10, the teachers went on strike in Ontario for two weeks. During that time, I rented a Playstation and d) Final Fantasy VII; my family all sat around the TV, watching in awe as "the pink girl's footsteps ECHOED!!" 125 points, all ye who guessed right.

#130 was Xlash's crazy question that some got right (but most didn't). He dressed up in attire that made him most closely resemble a) Minwu, that character from Final Fantasy II. If you could deduce that from the hint in the hidden text (hee hee hee) or guess it arbitrarily, it was worth another 125!

Question #131:
How does Aguro rate a chef's dish on a scale of 1 to 10? (115 points)

a) 2
b) 6
c) 8
d) 10
e) He doesn't try a dish.

Question #132:
Ask FinalDelerium!-->Which of the following is NOT a sentient race from any Final Fantasy game? (90 points)

a) Shumi
b) Gurgan
c) Gargant
d) Lunarian
e) Nu Mou


Things to work for (the SOCK item shop!):

800 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
2,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #2 (3 remaining!)
5,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #3 (5 remaining!)


'Tis all for now! Please write in again, so that I may bring you more Q&A glory in the morrow! Possible subjects: Playing God, Kefka's maniacal laughter, games soon-to-come, and anything else you feel like.

Until next time!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt likes dual-host action!


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