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ASK MATT
Twilight Zone
March 28, 2007

Matt - 18:09 EST

OK, SO LAST NIGHT was a rather strange night of announcements. Not only have we learned that Microsoft is coming out with a rather unattractive PS3-ishly expensive package and calling it "Elite" (*cough* after criticizing Sony for a high pricepoint for months), Nintendo announces that Sonic and Mario will star together in the same game? What in blazes is going on here?!

About that Xbox 360 Elite, I just want to say that as someone who has considered investing in a 360 lately, this package holds almost nothing for me. For an extra $80 US - that is, on top of a system that's already $499 Canadian - I get more hard drive space that I probably won't need, and graphical capabilities that I'll never be able to use/will likely never really care about anyway. Sounds like a bargain, if by "bargain" I actually mean "waste of money."

And the beat goes on, right? The drama keeps coming, the strangeness keeps unfolding, and hey, it's only March.

Let us read some letters.




LETTERS
A Q&A conspiracy? Shhh.


Hi Matt!

My first question is, when sending you/QnA a letter which link should I click, the personal e-mail or the QnA e-mail? I've sent a letter to you before but I don't remember which one I sent it to and I didn't want to send it to the wrong place.

Matt

Either inbox is fine. Generally, I pick letters out of each every day to answer. The qna e-mail is good if you want to send to "anyone" because every host has access to that one. If you really, really want me personally to answer something, then you're guaranteed to get me by mailing to my personal slimey account. It's up to you!

Also I have a theory about your inbox getting full/filled, it seems whenever you get in the single digits BAM! the next time you have 20. Therefore, if you really want your inbox overcrowded, lie and say you only have 3 or something ^_~

Matt

Shhh!! Don't say it out loud.

Actually, it kind of sucks when I get a super-overload of mail. I mean, it's fun, because I know how many people are reading and interested, but it's awful simultaneously, because it ends up taking a week or more to get around to everyone. People get pissed off, and etc etc, and then life sucks. (I actually have received a few messages before demanding a reason why their letter hasn't been posted yet, no joke.)

*Minor FFXII Spoilers here, beware*

I wanted to write in to comment on point that Jeffrey made about FFXII, easily 50% of the story development happened in the last part of the end. Which is why I felt very disappointed by the game as a whole.(Plus if the game was in development for 6 years, shouldn't they have a bit more story?) Like you mentioned, I wanted to know more about the rogue Occurian Venat and would have liked to played the game from Gabranth's eyes (which a majority of the scenes in Archades had him in it so why not?) I guess my biggest complaint is that I can almost see the game for what it could have been, not what it was... *sigh*

Matt

The thing is, that the game was still a remarkably polished, incredibly well-produced game. "What it could have been?" Yeah, it had lots of faults, but you're right- a few not-so-minor changes or additions, and the game could have been absolutely stellar.

I think that the main reason the game took such an unearthly length of time to develop was because they decided to scrap what they had for a battle system halfway through. If you look at early screens, the game really looks like it had a traditional ATB-style battle system for awhile, and the company itself announced the delay on account of that factor back in 2003 or 2004. The storyline was likely set into stone a long time ago, but it's too bad they didn't flesh it out a bit more, I feel.

Topics? Oh um, my favorite type of hero? While I'm perfectly fine playing as teenage boys, the bad-ass approach is kinda flawed as well, for instance, if I play as said bad-ass and then get my ass kicked(which has to happen at least once in every RPG ever!!!) I would then lose my bad-ass reputation. But if I am a wimpy teenage boy, this is perfectly acceptable. Being a girl myself I someday hope to play an RPG with a strong female whose strength is not measured by the size of her boobs, but that's just me.

Matt

Well, if it's any solace, Final Fantasy XIII looks like it might do just that. Lightning will be the first female protagonist of the entire main series, and suffice it to say, it's about time.

But, might I suggest to you the Xenosaga series? Shion is, in my opinion, one of the most likable heroes of all time, and well, she's definitely a girl. She's strong, intelligent, and don't sport a ridiculous cup size.

Well, I think this letter might be getting too long so I'll quit while I'm ahead.

Whitney

P.S. I picked up DQH: Rocket Slime and I love it!

Matt

Good!! Score one for Dragon Quest! I'm convinced that if more people went out and tried it like yourself, they'd be won over, too. It's not the most serious game ever, but don't we all need a break from time to time?



More on Lufia!


Hey Matt,

I have a relatively silly question. I have noticed people mentioning that they plan on buying, or have already bought, both a DS Lite as well as a GBA. I can understand getting a DS lite second if you bought a GBA in the past, but if you already have a DS in any form, why would you invest money in a GBA later? Is my DS the only one that is capable of playing Game Boy Advance titles? I guess I just don't understand the logic behind buying a system that can exclusively play only one medium of games when a later model is backwards compatible. What, pray tell, are the benefits to owning both a GBA and a DS, besides making Nintendo richer?

That's all. Keep up your question-answering goodness.

Seth

Matt

There are none, and those people are just whacked.

The only thing I can think of is that these people might really feel the need to play multi-player GBA. The DS, not having the proper private parts, can't hook up to others using the GBA's link cable, and thus, multi-player GBA gaming with a DS is an impossibility. Is it really worth the $80 or whatever GBA SPs go for these days? That's debatable, unless you're seriously Poké-crazed, but even then, I'd say just wait for Diamond/Pearl in a month.

And that, my friend, is my answer.



Tough but tasty... like, ah, chinese food meat.


Hey Matt,

Zohar's letter about bosses and random battles vs. non-random was quite interesting. Here's my take on the subjects. I also believe that non-random battles aren't all they're cracked up to be. Although they give the player some semblance of control over fighting, I find that since the tendency is to avoid battles where possible, one isn't helped along with leveling and item-collecting in the least. It's almost like, 'oops, that boss slaughtered me. I wonder how many levels I should've been at before challenging him?' If a game has random battles, usually one is strong enough to beat whatever's coming without a huge amount of power-leveling. I find with non-random battles, I have to power-level quite a bit, since the mentality is that if you can avoid battles, then why not?

Matt

Indeed. You're going to have to work at some point to gain the strength to overcome your challenges, so instead of just having to suck it up and face the enemies when you see them, why not just have the computer do it automatically for you, every so often? If you really don't want to battle that much, cast Repel or use some Fairy Water, or whatever the equivalent might be in non-Dragon Quest games.

What game developers need to do is like Zohar said, make random encounters fewer and farther between. Another idea is actually making the battles fun so that you don't mind battling for the umpteenth time. :P I kid.

Matt

No you don't! When games have a boring-ass battle system, of course things get bland quickly. For a recent example, this was one of the many problems I had with Wild Arms: Alter Code F, when I played it last year. Almost every single battle featured some wicked loading time, and then the same damn monsters time and again, almost all of which you could defeat in a single blow, for real. Of course, you could avoid battles by timing a button-press smartly, but you couldn't do so infinitely, depending on where you were. Really, really irritating.

Actually, what I think would be great is if developers made it so that the game measured the strength of your party against the strength of the enemy. If in an area that strength was relatively equal, there would be the greatest percent chance of encountering an enemy in that particular area. Being in an area with weak monsters carrying weak items, that chance would drop drastically so you aren't wasting time in battles that aren't rewarding with gold/items/experience. You'd still fight the weak monsters, but it'd be a one-or-two time deal per area. If you wanted to collect items in weak areas but didn't want to spend all that time wandering around forever to encounter monsters, all you would have to do is remove people from your party to lower the strength of your party and thus raise the encounter rate, or use an item to artifically raise encounter rates for a time (these would be readily accessible and cheap). For enemies that are quite a bit stronger than your party and having a relatively easy time with giving you a game-over screen, that encounter rate would also drop, although not quite as much as with weak areas since it's quite rewarding to challenge strong monsters at times, but it would also give you a chance to escape the area if need be. Anyhows, that's just my two-cents on the matter.

Matt

Hey! Believe it or not, but somebody already thought of this. Have you ever played Breath of Fire II? The game, overall, was highly average. However, they adopted a system nearly identical to the one you describe. The more powerful you get, the more active this little onion-dude gets on your menu screen. The little onion-dude indicates the battle frequency, and the stronger you are, the less often you have to endure combat, on average. A smart system, yes? I think that that was the only game of the series to adopt the onion-dude system, sadly.

As far as bosses go, I agree that lately gamers have been really babied as far as difficulty. However, there has to be a good balance. There's nothing more frustrating than a terribly difficult final boss. For me, I hate multiple-form final bosses for the sole reason that the first time I encounter a boss, I don't know what to expect, and if I manage to survive and have to deal with a second, I'm back in the 'unknown zone', and am so afraid that said boss will wipe me out and I lose all that time spent on the first form. But as a long-time role-player, I wonder if I'd actually be able to accept an RPG that had just one final boss, and once that's done, the game's ended. That'd be wierd after all the RPGs I've played that have multiple-form final bosses.

Matt

Yeah, too weird. I'm left dreadfully unsatisfied in games like that, to be honest with you. The original Xenosaga kind of had that, and it just shocked me to see the credits start rolling after fighting a single big battle. I say that if you want to see the credits, you'd better make damn sure that you work hard for them! Part of the experience is seeing the game over screen and getting frustrated, right? Aww.

As a final note, I just finished a game with one of the hardest, most frustrating/scary final bosses I have ever encountered in an RPG- Xenogears. Deus with his 4 'pre-fights' and two forms afterward with no saving in-between. Brutal. If I died on the last form, that would mean a waste of at LEAST half an hour, probably closer to an hour. I think I clocked in 106 hours in that game when everything was said and done. An excellent game, Xenogears.

Matt

See, the thing with challenges like those are that... sure, they might be scary or frustrating, but imagine just how accomplished you'll feel once you've actually overcome that challenge! It's the best feeling to know that you pulled through and vanquished the baddies, even if they were brutally hard. And if you're playing a game like my pet Dragon Quest, you don't have to worry about a "Game Over" screen because there's no such thing. You get to keep any experience and items you've obtained since your last save, and you're transported back to your last save point. Not a bad deal, I'd say. (So why exactly people call DQ "unforgiving" has always been completely beyond me.)

Take care,
~animetayl

P.S. I live in Canada and your 'Mooseaga' comment in the quickie section was hilarious. :)

Matt

The funny thing is that I've never actually seen a moose in person. If I did, I'd probably scream and run away, but they don't exactly live around these parts anyway. Thanks, animetayl!



Random Question o' the Day


hey matt,

i would really like to find out the three endings from ephemeral fantasia. also if you have to type an e-mail back to my address i won't receive it because my e-mail thing is messed up. so please post it somewhere or send it to me on the site i just became a member

signed stephen

Matt

I can't help you there, having never played the game myself. I'd suggest that you should hunt around online, though. YouTube has just about everything under the sun nowadays, so you never know what you might find there. Take a look, and maybe you'll get lucky.



Random Question o' the Day


Hey Matt Nick again

Sorry to hear about Andrew's foot.. but i've broken my ankle a few times walking down this one set of stairs.. Bleh. tell him to get well if you can.

Matt

Andrew accepts your apology and requests chocolate and/or money, since money is apparently the best cure for a fractured foot. Actually, what am I saying? Money is the cure for everything, evidently.

Now on to my questions rants and weird commentary. I saw the little discussion about hero types and i'll agree with most of that. But in all what kind is your favorite? I personally love the gungho "lets go killem all and be cool" hero. The most recent that i know of of this kind is Jack from Radiata stories. i mean it was refreshing to see a hero that wasn't the "do we have to save the world today?" and whine every step of the way.. I just love how he's always sooo happy to walk into a horribly dangerous area hoping to run into horribly dangerous monsters that will maul him and put him in the hospital on a feeding tube. And speaking of that game. and its been awhile.. I really should actually finish it... but at about hour 90 i got side tracked... I hate when that happens... I'm easily distracted by shiney things.. :sees Rogue Galaxy: ooooooooooo shiney...

Matt

No! Radiata Stories totally DOES that to a person. No matter who you are, that game is just hard to go back to. I had a lot of difficulties keeping it up for some strange reason; while I had a lot of fun actually playing the game, it took much effort to actually put it in the system and turn the power on. Bizarre.

Jack was fun and all, but he was one of those brash types that I mentioned yesterday. Yeah, he'll march into just about any situation in this happy-go-lucky way, but it's because his IQ seems to be considerably low. He's not my favourite kind. My favourite kind is probably the smart, introspective type; admittedly, a bit of a rarity. Not the "emo" type, necessarily, but heroes like Shion Uzuki and, not quite as much, Cloud and Squall.

ahh well have a fun time on twilight princess.. i'd love muchly to play but A i have no wii.. i'm broke.. B. i have access to a gcn... if my friend will let me borrow his but it won't help since its always rented out..

welp laters

Matt

I shall have fun! I'm up to the fourth dungeon, and I'm having great difficulty understanding how so many people can go on about it being such a mediocre game when it's clearly not. Ugh.

Thanks! Good luck stealing that Gamecube back, and maybe you'll be able to play Twilight Princess one day yourself.



Socking me some suggestions.


I'm just wondering if guilds are able to build buildings (at a cost of course) that will help those that are involved with the guild.

Example
Bank: Can store guild members money
Trader: Allow the trading of equipment with each other
Pub/Inn: Not quite sure as I don't know all the rules for Sock2 yet but....

These buildings could also have HP and can be destroyed (like in Makai Kingdom).

Just a suggestion but it would make guilds more accessable. Maybe allow each guild one special building or something.

Bainick wonders if everyone in the competition casted haste, would it start next week?

Matt

Ah, it's a great idea, Bainick, and I loved the concept in Makai Kingdom. I think I'm going to do without for Sock 2, though, and I'll tell you why: This thing is gonna be dang complicated enough! I'm worried that all of the competitors won't be able to keep things straight to begin with, yargh. Thanks for the suggestion, though!

As for the Haste... well, if you cast it on me, there would probably be no effect. The main reasoning for it starting in May is because I've only had bits and pieces of time here and there to work on organizing the darn thing. It would have been fun to start it earlier, but I might have had to really rush things, and that wouldn't be good for anybody. I'll let you know in the next couple of weeks when the exact starting date is! Until then, I'll be revealing something new every day through the link in the sidebar. Anyone who is interested is more than welcome to join or change their class/nickname until the game begins!

Merci, Bainick.



QUICKIES

Foul, Matt! Canada has Bio Ware, meaning it is already developing RPGs (even if neither of us has played them!) What EUROPEAN country would you like to see start making RPGs?

JuMeSyn

Matt
Luxembourg. Why? Because Luxembourg isn't known for anything else, at least in my database.

Since there was no column #0, shouldn't you be concerned about the 256th column?

--

Alexander M. DeMichiei

Matt
Ah yes, that's a good point. Alas, though, for that was also missed last week. We should concentrate our efforts towards the next power of two... the great 511th (or is it 512th?) column, coming to a Q&A column to you sometime probably at the end of 2008, assuming I don't get gobbled by giant geese before then.

IN CLOSING

That's all!

So, what do you think about these bizarre, out-of-the-blue new announcements from both right and left? Is the world going to crumble? I'm afraid it might, so if it does, remember me. Also, what are your thoughts on Twilight Princess? Are you one of those people whose opinion is that the game is just a mediocre one? If so, I want to hear from you, because you need to help me understand why you feel this way! I'm loving it so far, so jeez, maybe I need to see the light.

I s'pose you'll be hearing more from me tomorrow! Have a good day until then.



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slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is feeling the crunch of external irritation.


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On my Wishlist:

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2. Super Paper Mario 3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. Metroid Prime 3

5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl



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