March 9, 2006
Matt Demers - 17:14 EST
THERE'S SO MUCH SCHOOLWORK TO WORRY ABOUT, so much research to do, so much
cleaning I should do, so many games I want to play, so many places I want to go...
...but right now, all I really feel like doing is eating chocolate! Do you ever get into one of those
moods? I'll tell you something... Chocolate Brownie Blast ice cream with Smuckers' hot fudge topping stuff
instantaneously increases serotonin levels to excessively wonderful heights. Maybe, just maybe, I'll have
to partake sometime this evening.
Until then, I'll have to withstand a couple of hours of homework, and a lovely Math & Stats club event
which I'm obligated to be at... but I shall procrastinate first by answering a few of your letters, as I
do every Tuesday through Friday**.
**subject to change without notice, as many of you might indicate.
The XX-sporters deserve some love too!
What's your take on female main characters in rpgs? Can you even think of any? Yuna from FFX-2, Chris from
Suikoden 3, Virginia from Wild Arms 3 and Eirika from Fire Emblem:The Sacred Stones are the only ones that
come to mind for me and they are vastly outnumbered. I know Terra is considered to be the main character of
FFVI by a lot of people but I always thought of Locke as the main character when I was playing it. It's
certainly open to debate so I'd like to see a "proper", serious Final Fantasy with a female character who
is definitely the lead. I know it doesn't make a huge difference but I think it would be a refreshing change
and might provide a different take on the usual types of main characters you get in the series and in rpgs in
general (the gruff Squall/Cloud type or the happy-go-lucky Zidane/Squall type).
I assume you meant to write "happy-go-lucky Zidane/Tidus type", instead of what you wrote... but yes. A few
things to note:
Final Fantasy VI is so cool because there isn't really a main character at all. I think that you could argue
that there are central characters- Locke, Terra, and Celes, and MAYBE the (Super) Figaro Bros- but not any single
MAIN one. Interesting... Terra and Celes are both excellent characters, too. I often wonder why they chose to
make Celes the "main character" of the second half of the game... or what it would have been like if they had
chosen to start you off with someone else in the World of Ruin.
Yes, Yuna was the main character of Final Fantasy X-2, but the problem is, the RPG was just not... the same.
It was silly and funny and cute and more silly... why must a female lead character be accompanied with such an "attitude
change"? FFX-2 was enjoyable, but it wasn't in the same league as other FF games, I don't think.
Um, another obvious female main character that comes to mind is Shion Uzuki from Xenosaga. I really like
her character a lot, because she has a great set of heroic traits... a strong will, a sharp wit, but personal
insecurities as well. I liked her better, looks-wise, before they made her all "kewl" in Episode II, but alas; you
can't win 'em all.
Most rpg designers probably try to make their main characters similar to their target audience which explains
the large number of heroic young boys in games but you don't always have to be able to identify with the main
character to enjoy the story. Which female character would you like to see get a game of her own? For some
reason I'd like a game starring Freya from FFIX, she's a cool character and she received the least character
development out of anyone in that game so it would be good to see more of her and I'm sure they could come
up with something interesting for her to do.
You're right... Freya was severely undeveloped, receiving only little blips of concentrated story here and there.
Otherwise, she was just good for jump-jump-jumping on enemies heads.
I also think you're correct in why many game companies choose to "go guy" when choosing a main character, too. It
seems like it's a shame, though, in that after 12 Final Fantasy games, we have FFVI as a "kinda", FFXI as a "whatever",
and that's about it, as far as female characters go. Even in Final Fantasy V, when you're leading a team of women,
the main character is the one out of the four who is indeed endowed with a Y chromosome.
You should play Xenosaga, if you haven't already...you might really like it. Oh, and by the way,
in Dragon Warrior IV, you could select your hero to be either a male or a female... the female hero sprite
was soooo cool!
With regards to previous commentary weighing a developer's merit in
"re-imagining" a previous title, I have one comparison, albeit parallel
media, to illustrate such potential enjoyment to many:
Battlestar Galactica; inspect the ratings.
The what, TV ratings? I've never watched Battlestar Galactica in my life, but I have a little
bit of Star Trek knowledge under my belt.
Reading what Wikipedia has to say about it, though, I see what you mean!! It was revived on cable a few years
back and was the greatest draw for ratings of any cable program, if I'm reading this correctly. Bizarre...
Battlestar Galactica was taken in a different direction entirely with the series, apparently, from its 1970s roots,
so I'd agree that this would be a very good example of a "re-envisionment". Good job, sir/ma'am! Now, here's the
trick... can anyone think of a video game example akin to this?
Looking forward to the next of the new!
Arrgh me matie,
tis good to see that Suikoden 5 be looking jollier then a chest full o'
treasure, arrgh. It be having the best graphics I can be telling on the PS2, along wit its
revamped Duel system, and an army system to upsurp that of Suikoden 2's, arrgh.
Anyway me harties the new Battle system, with different Formations, could
make a pirate cojole all night, arrgh.
Bainick be having cabin fever!
Yeah, I was complaining to a friend last night that I was going a bit stir-crazy myself, since I've been
nowhere except for Guelph and home with the family for the last long while. Hence, a Toronto trip is in the
works for the weekend after next! I'm most excited indeed.
Suikoden V does look really pretty... I'm going to watch for a review carefully and then I might actually
jump on the opportunity to have a real experience with the series. My hour and a half with Suikoden II back in
the day just didn't cut it... and I haven't been inspired since. I think that "cautious optimism" is always
the best default strategy when it comes to anticipating games. That way, you won't be AS disappointed if you're
disappointed in the end, but there's a good chance you'll be delighted and surprised as well! After the iffy
Suikoden IV, I think that the caution is warranted.
A continued conversation.
Two Ts said more: "Are you serious?? What's the purpose of Intelligence, then? Spell defense?
- Unfortunately Intelligence does nothing in FF1. (Beyond sitting on your status screen looking pretty.)
Its purpose should of been to boost the power of spells. But the formulas are apparently using an empty bit of
Note: This problem was finally fixed in "FF:Dawn of Souls".
Crazy... that's an interesting factoid that I really didn't know; it's definitely something I could include
in a SOCK question one of these days...
"And, in my experience, "Ultima 11" did like 400 Damage on all enemies by the end,"
- FF2's Ultima is a special case. Its power also gets boosts, from the caster's other skills being trained up.
(I.e. It wouldn't be enough to have just Ultima 11 itself. You also want the other 15 spells and 8 weapons nearing 11 too.)
Someone trained as a jack of all trades, might get good use out of it. But maybe this is a spell which takes too
much effort to power up!
Yuck! I never would have known. Even if Ultima is a little excessive, I really don't mind the idea behind the
system for any of the spells in Final Fantasy II; my only gripe is that the points should be awarded a little faster
and thus spell levels should come a little bit more quickly, to even up the playing field a little bit. The
weapons-users get to increase their skills on a certain weapon-type very quickly, but at least they can upgrade to
new and better weapons of the SAME type; mages can't ever do that. If you want a more powerful spell, you have to
start from scratch! Looking at it from a damage point of view, which is most important at least "much" of the time,
mages are just outclassed by their weapon-toting cohorts.
"Also, you're absolutely right that damage spells aren't the only spells. The thing is, though, that if I
had the choice between putting an enemy to sleep and KILLING it by a well-placed physical attack, well,
there's no choice to be made!"
- And if the choice is between that physical attack, or a spell which kills(or KILLS?) over half of the enemy
(Otherwise yes, those affliction spells are pretty poor. Especially when an instant-kill spell would work on
the same targets!)
Hee hee, don't mind my randomly placed majuscule-of-emphasis. I think more people should exercise their
right to write "creatively", don't you?
Also, I'll give you that one... you have a good point, because I argue the exact same thing about Dragon Quest to
other people. Whack/Thwack/Kathwack (Beat/Defeat/DefeatMax) can be so incredibly effective... you just have to discover
which monsters to use it on. It's generally the stupider-looking monsters that are most susceptible to such tricksy
spells. There are many spells in FF2 that do the same thing, if I recall... Break, Toad, Mini, Death... are there
any I'm missing?
"I never understand WHY indirect "strategic" spells fail to work at least MOST of the time. If they're going
to do nothing half the time,"
- Well in FF2: It is either due to the monster having better Magic Defence or an immunity. Or due to severe
interference from the caster's equipment. Whilst FF1's problem was that Intelligence-bug. (I can't really say
for other games!)
Just plain silliness, I reckon. I suppose the developers want to keep things from "becoming cheap", but coming
from a company who likes inserting special abilities that do 9999 damage fifty times over randomly into
their games, well, it seems a bit silly. I think it would be cool to have ULTIMATE status spells, like a sleep
spell that works with 90% probability and isn't curable by a physical hit. How about a spell that reduces attack
power to ZERO? A spell that causes the target to absorb physical damage as HP? Now THESE are fun ideas for
non-attack magic!! Alas, though, no one wants to hire little old me, crazy talk or none...
"Grrr... you people and your strategy guides. Or, if not:" (etc, researching data, etc.)
- And: Grr... you people and your ability to listen to those people who know more than you do!
(I guess I do make use of all 3. Although the very first time I had made my own similar mistakes, only learning
more and getting much better since.)
I suppose so, through message boards, word of mouth, and other things like these. I generally go
ballistic when someone gives an unsolicited tip away, especially if I haven't finished the game yet.
"What kind of mage knows six stupid spells? Not any mage under *my* control, that's for sure."
- If it helps, they may still of had 16 spells and just that most saw little use, or were there for the really
(It was mostly an example of what little, a "powerful Mage" might need. Not a definitive strategy for their best
Yes, yes... and admittedly, my most-magical character of FF2 had a large fraction of spells that were never cast
more than two or three times over the course of the entire game. It would take... a LOT of time to have a full list
of high-level magic in that game, but as you said last week, it would also take a lot of time to have your warriors
with a lot of skill in every single weapon, too.
(Better add in a) BONUS QUESTION:
What is your favourite ever spell or spell-type, which you like (or would of liked) to have in any game?
I was thinking MP-absorbing is nice and so are the Cure-types. But for now I will favour the "Return" spell from FFV. (It res tarts the battle, as if nothing happened.)
Good if you want to test something first, or when your schemes go awry. (Would also avoid the cut-scenes from normal reloading!)
Return is a very fun spell indeed, and I'm surprised it hasn't come back at all. I gave a few ideas for my own
spells above, but how about a few more? In a Final Fantasy context, how about "Drainga", which would instantly kill
an enemy in order to revive a fallen ally? How about a spell that increases the effectiveness of the party's special
abilities, like Steal or Control? A spell that causes an enemy to become weak against physical attacks? A spell
from my own game series, "Blast", that deals a certain percentage of MP damage to an enemy and causes their own
spells to cost randomly between 5-10x the expected MP per casting? There are so many great, untapped ideas out there!!
Anyway, thanks for the banter! I'm enjoying this little back-and-forth thing we have going. :)
Co-host no more, but writer for shore!
When is the next co-hosting day? I didn't see any
announcement in today's column but I thought there was
going to be a few more soon.
Hmm, good question. The answer, I hope, is tomorrow! Rexy is warming up in the metaphorical green
room... I'm sure she'll be delighted to jump into the limelight at long last.
Also might want to remind people that we have an IRC
channel. I only recently started hanging out there
myself, but its where I first saw the link for the
Absolutely! If you are an IRC user, please come on to the #rpgamer channel to meet other readers and the
quasilegendary staff. Even I'm around there from time to time... imagine; you could say "hi" to me in REAL time!
Oh yeah I wasn't sure if this came up before but have
you watched the show Numb3rs? I am just curious is
math geeks support or cringe at such shows like
computer geeks(like me) cringe when other shows
fictionalize the way computers work. Personally I
like the show but as you probably have seen from my
sad attempts at answering advanced math questions I
don't know anything more advanced than grade level
math, so I can never really tell if what's being shown
is based on real world equations or just fiction.
Xlash the dwarf berserker
Hee hee... I saw a couple of minutes of the show once, but it's generated a lot of conversation among
friends and professors of mine in the math department. I think they mostly watch it so that if any
mistakes are made on the show, they can point at the TV screen, laugh out loud, and then parade around touting
how little society knows about math... it's a rather popular thing to do among math-minded folk, which is
perhaps why we're so UNpopular. I try my best to restrain myself. ^_^
RPG applications of graduate study... eehehehehee!
This is a bit of a delayed reaction, but I remember
correctly, many columns back you mentioned a course in
"Biomathematics". This sounds both incredibly
interesting and horrifying at the same time. What is
it actually about?
Better yet, to make it RPG related, would a
character's HP be an example of a biomathematical
- Sean Acid
I only wish!! A major area of study in Biomathematics has to do with population dynamics: i.e. "if you put these
x number of species in a certain ecosystem and forget about them, which will be alive after a thousand years?"
Problems like these are modelled by systems of ugly differential equations. Other areas of Biomath, though, include
genetics, pattern formation (how do zebra stripes form?), models of biorhythms (like heartbeats), diffusion of
materials across organic tissues (like in your intestines/lungs), etc, etc.
I suppose that in an RPG context, HP would be a definite candidate for study. What causes HP to increase in
the manner that it does? Why does poison influence the body to cause exactly xx% HP-loss per turn? What exactly are the
logistics of bringing a dead person back to life? If ONLY I could do my Master's thesis on stuff like this... I'd be
undoubtedly in happy-land!
Revolutionary hopes and hard-to-find RPGs.
I should like to point out one thing about yesterday's sock answers.
" If you had actually played the game, you would know that there is another mini-event that takes place in
the town where the whole party tastes a little bit of a chef's dish."
Maybe you should amend that to "if you had played the game *recently*". Lufia's a wonderful series and I
loved both SNES games when I played them-- ten or twelve years ago. I never had the chance to own them and
the Ebay prices are quite inflated (some people are setting their "buy it now" option at nearly $100 U.S for
a used copy. That's more than the original price of the game!). There are so many games I'd love to play again
after seeing them mentioned on Q&A. I'd love to get my hands on E.V.O.; that was a favourite of mine. I tell
you if the Revolution really allows us to play classis NES and SNES games I'll be ordering the system in advance.
Sure... my apologies. Lufia is a really old game, after all, and even if you have played it, it might be
difficult to remember every single thing that happened in the game. I DID remember that there was a dish that everyone
rated; for some reason that stuck in my mind. It took a re-play from my brother for me to remember exactly what
Aguro rated it, though.
I'm telling you... I will WHOOP with joy if the Revolution allows us to play classics like this and E.V.O...but if
you're thinking about selling one of these oldies on eBay or something, you might want to think about doing it
sooner than later, just in case. If all of these games are suddenly available for a low price or free, you're not
going to be able to get $100 for a copy over eBay anymore!
Wow... Canada just beat the U.S. at their own game. What's next?? Canada losing in the quarter-final round
of Olympic hockey? Oh, wait a second...
I'm frankly surprised at the number of people who got #133 incorrect, considering that the answer was in the
very title of the column, which was "Day Eighty". Anyway, the question was worth 100 points!
Erika's question had to do with an Ogre Battle game, and the correct answer is c) XV. Thanks, Erika,
for your submission! 110 points to everyone who managed to get it right, and twice that many go to you, as
always, for submitting it.
Which videogame monkey did yours truly have the hots for at the age of thirteen? (humbling question) (140 points)
a) Donkey Kong
b) Candy Kong
c) Dixie Kong
d) Funky Kong
e) You were a *@%#-ed up kid, Matt
Every controllable Princess in a Final Fantasy game save for one wears an article of clothing with what colour?
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!)
Tomorrow, barring any unforseen circumstances, Rexy will be stepping up to the plate and taking her best shot
at co-hosting alongside myself! I hope it'll be a lot of fun. Regardless, keep sending in your best queries,
questions, inquiries, or whatever you feel like calling the stuff you interrogate me with. There is much to
***Matt prefers white meat.
As long as people don't cook the crap out of white meat, it remains juicy and
wonderful... MMMM I'm hungry!
Mar. 8 - Matt
Mar. 7 - Matt
Mar. 3 - Matt
Mar. 2 - Matt
About the Host
Matt's Newest Unhealthy Addiction
Another Unhealthy Addiction
Matt's Top 3 Current Games:
1. Dragon Quest VIII
2. Mario Kart DS
3. Wild Arms: Alter Code F
Matt's Top 3 RPG Desires:
1. Final Fantasy III
2. Mother III
3. Disgaea II
7. Arros Raikou
9. Erika Wolfraven