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ASK MATT
Postcarious Situation May 18, 2006

Matt - 16:33 EST

WOULDN'T IT BE FUN if real life had save points? Could you imagine having the ability to fly off the handle and do something absolutely insane, but then just have the ability to reset and try again if life went awry as a consequence? If I had only one wish, it would be for such a thing, because then you'd get to experience absolutely everything that life has to offer. Life is like a choose-your-own adventure book, in a way... if you live the way you're supposed to, you only get to see one sequence of events happen, but you're always wondering what would have happened if you had made this decision or that choice at one point or another.

Why get philosophical? (Is that even philsophical?) I dunno. Rain outside pattering away, perhaps.

On that thoughtful note, I'll turn to some letters now.




L E T T E R S
PS3 supporters, unite!


I believe I am the only one that was actually impressed by sony's PS3 at E3. After seeing some of the game content (heavenly sword to be specific) I couldn't believe it was actual gameplay...in fact on the G4 coverage they actually had to show someone playing what I was seeing.

And the trailer for FF XIII (which SE says was actual gameplay) looked absolutely amazing.

Matt

Nah, you're not the only one. My problem with the G4 coverage was that they acted as if Nintendo wasn't even at the show. I sat down and watched the show for an entire hour with them after spouting to my parents about how Nintendo was the hottest place at E3, and I looked like an idiot, because they didn't mention a single Wii game during that entire hour, putting all of their attention on Sony and a little on Microsoft. What REALLY ticked me off was when they talked about the pricing: "The PS3 will be all yours for just about six hundred bucks-- that's chicken scratch!" At that point, I couldn't help but wonder if G4 had been partially funded by Sony itself, but that's just the conspiracy side of my brain talking.

Anyway, yeah, there's no denying that the graphics look amazing, but let me put it this way: If you met the hottest guy or girl in the world and he/she had absolutely no personality at all, would he/she still be worth going out with? I guess it depends where your priorities lie.

The question to you is, why isn't there a lot of excitement over the PS3. The thing, although expensive, looks absolutely amazing. And even though they stole the motion sensetive technology from Nintendo, it's still a great idea to steal.

I am not a fanboy, but I thought after seeing what was coming up for the ps3 there would be a lot more people hyping it up...guess I was wrong.


Matt

Nope, you were right...there are hordes of excited people out there, don't you worry. You just happen to be reading a column written by someone who was really wowed by Nintendo at E3 last week, and honestly, if you were watching G4 the entire time, you missed half the show, from the looks of it.



Another backroom (long-winded) Sony supporter... or Wii? Or PS3? Or Xbox? Or ALL!?


Hi Matt I Read a few of letters you've answered dealing with the PS3 price, the Wii controller, the problem with today's FF and how they have drifted away form its roots, and lastly the issue of advance graphics verus game play. Well, on the PS3 price $599 is a lot but look at what your getting, your getting the best that there is to offer in this point in time. $599 does seem insane but I though $200 was a lot for a PS2 when it was out but I eventually got one anyway. I think PS3 will do well as long as the games are enjoyable and fun. I never had a problem with a PS mine have always lasted, my PS1 still works just as well as it did the first day. My PS2 is still going strong with no problem once so ever. Sony's stuff has never gave me any problems, Nintendo's stuff however is a different story. Speaking of the all mighty Nintendo, these new controller dose sound interesting but the only games I really like from them was mainly the Zelda games, I just don't see many action/rpg games on Nintendo that interest me. Sony seems the best bet for any action/rpg lover if you ask me, more variety of games that could fit anyones taste. So even though the new controller seem niffty its not enough to get me sold, Sony will proberbly make something like it anyway. Ok now for FF, my first Final Fantasy was 4 I remeber playing it awhile back and farily enjoyed it when I rented it, the frist Fainl fantaasy I owned was FFVII and that game was amazing to me. All the other FFs that followed along after it I have bought played and really enjoy with the excepion of XI since I personly am not into online games. Each FF brings something new to the series which change is always good in most cases. I think its good whats being done with these new games however there is one major exception which bugs the heck out of me and that deals with the worlds themselves. Whats happen to the worlds? Is it such a small world after all? I really like how the worlds where done in FFVII Through FFIX, they just seem more realistic in terms, I swear I felt like I was walking on one massive long road on FFX and X-2....it just didn't seem right. I enjoy exploring things and journing over the worlds in a game, feels like an actually journal. I just hope those kinda worlds will make a come back soon in any upcoming FF. Now I did enjoy the puzzels in FFX, FF sould throw more stuff like that in plus more ways to interact with the characters and world. The Stories behind each FF is what keeps me going on likeing them, and if the newer ones deal with more action then I think it'll help gameplay for it. THat in term would draw more people to play FF, the biggest complant I hear from people who hate FF is that they dislike the turn base battels which seems kinda dumb to me since I always enjoyed it but the fact is people like the more realistc approve in a battle. Speaking on realistic. the graphics do play some role into how well a game will be looked at by gamers. Most die hard gamers are not concerned with the graphics and thats cool and all but ya gotta look at the big picture most people now adays want to really be amazed by what they get and see in a game. The more realistic it looks the more appealing it is to people, me I'm happy with an old fashion 2-D game as long as its fun and keeps my interest. But any ways graphics do play a major role but so dose gameplay, story, and even the music you hear on the game. Ultimately I think the graphics will go on and improve but you can only go so far, then the graphics will no longer be an issue and the issue will revert back to gameplay and story. So dose graphics matter more then gameplay? Well what matters to a gamemaker and the company behind it is that what ever they do make it most sell or they won't accomplish nothing and lose money. So they must take in concidration on what will make a game sell, some scarifies gameplay for better graphis and some the other way. But both are improtant but I would say gameplay will have the last say over all. Why buy something that has awful gameplay? Any way thats my ideals on the topics at hand.


Matt

AH!! Let me introduce you to our friend, the Enter key.

There! It helps to break up our speech quite nicely, allowing me to do such things as interrupt and answer questions as you go. Just so you know for next time. ^_^

Now, to discern what you were saying... you think that the PS3 is worth the money because it's got some pretty funky specs. Fair enough; you're not the only one. You also think that the Nintendo lacks a really great library, too. I guess that can be true, especially if you're not into Mario or Zelda like I happen to be. See, I also really don't get along well with first person shooters, racing games, or sports games, so a lot of the "big" titles on other systems don't really turn my crank anyway. Sure, the RPGs are probably going to come out for the PS3... but hopefully not until later in its lifespan when it's semi-affordable.

What else have you said? Final Fantasy rocks for many reasons, but lately, Final Fantasy worlds have been getting suckier. Well, from what I've heard, Final Fantasy XII will not be quite as obviously linear from a world-map standpoint as FFX and its spinoff were. I don't really know this personally, but I've heard through the grape vine. I like a nice overworld, myself, but I guess it's a pretty minor thing at the end of the day.

Hmmm... and yeah, graphics again are important to suck gamers in, but as I mentioned above, gamers ought to look beyond the eye candy and realize that, you're right, we can't go much further, so why don't we make what we've GOT more fun? That's what Nintendo is aiming for, and it's up to gamers to determine that company's success. And will gameplay really win out? I think it might be wrong to just assume that the gameplay for Nintendo's Wii will necessarily be better than the rest (though I certainly hope so.) We shall see in a few short months!

In any event, thanks very much for writing in! I hope you will do so again soon.



Watch me get heck from a fellow staffer!


Matt, Matt, Matt...

Hmmm, was this you?

"...with Final Fantasy XIII looking more like a action/shooter than an RPG."

Matt

Ha ha, yep! That was me. And not long ago, too! What are you gonna get me in trouble for this time?

Here we go again. I'll take a fanboy badge if I have to on this, but I don't believe FFXIII will be any more of an action/shooter than I believe the new Duck Hunt game will be a tactical RPG.

I saw the same video you all saw and 99% of it was cut scenes. The 1% that you are referring to was not an action/shooter. I'll stake my life on it.

Matt

Hahaha, of course not! BUT, there's no denying that it looks like the action has been turned up a notch even from Final Fantasy XII, and there are guns and shooting. Surely I exaggerate for humour/emphasis' sake, but I wouldn't just randomly throw that out there without any grounds for doing so!

Of course, Final Fantasy XIII is far, far, far away. There's no way that I'm going to make any actual, serious judgments on it until a few details are revealed. A little trailer isn't going to cut it, so I can only make cute little jabs in the meantime, since my dream at this point would be for a hypothetical Final Fantasy XIV to pull a FFIX and go back to what the series sprouted from. Wishful thinking, huh?

*goes off to write an ed*

That being said and an ed forthcoming, what do you think of the Wii's potential for gaining mainstream RPGs? Do you see mainstream RPGs even coming to the system or do you just see original RPGs using the wiimote coming? Answer me! : )

- Macstorm

PS: Are you really excited about FFIII now? I know that I am!! Freelancers unite!


Matt

Nope. Nothing mainstream, and especially in the short-term. If the Wii becomes an enormous success, then I could see some big titles making a splash one day, but no; RPGs are going to be new and different for the radically different console, to be sure, and so we'll probably have to fall back upon Sony once again for our more traditional RPGs. The problem IS that in the biggest RPG series in existence, we can't even get traditional anymore. :P

I guess that's what else makes the Wii attractive; even if it won't have the best RPG support, it will come with the virtual console, which could very well allow me to pick up Ogre Battle 64 that I started playing long ago and never finished, or Zelda: Majora's Mask, for that matter, along with a huge number of even older games. I like old-school, and Nintendo is granting me the opportunity to be a current gamer and play old-school games at the very same time. What more could an NES Dragon Warrior fan ask for?

In the end, every console will definitely have its strengths and weaknesses, and for most RPGamers, I'd guess that Sony's PS3 would be the most likely home of most new RPG experiences over the next few years. At the price of your first-born son, of course.

Thanks for putting up with me, Macstorm. You know me too well, I think, by this point! Oh, and Final Fantasy III looks absolutely wicked. I only wish that the demo had shown off a little more of the class system or pretty movie sequences!! It won't be long now, though.



Thunk, indeed.


While I was watching the various presentations, watching as Nintendo fans were practically leaping from their chairs to slit there wrists in joy, hearing the massive *thunk* as Sony dropped the price and people went "Uh - $500? Really?" right before they looked at the table and went "Wait - $500 doesn't even get you HDMI or Wi-Fi - not that I know what HDMI is, but why don't I have it?" And Microsoft fans went "Yes! We finally get Grand Theft Auto first - we are hard core roxxors!"

So what's your take on it? Based on media reactions, it appears that Nintendo made one heck of an impression on the reporters there. I swear, I couldn't hit sites like Slashdot or Digg or Washington Post without getting a face full of Wii. (Though, in the case of the Post, they were more curious about NSA spying on people, but I just stuck my fingers in my ears and chanted "lalala" until it went away.)

Yours,

John Hummel


Matt

Well, everyone knows who made the biggest impression on me by this point, and I think that if Sony hadn't made their system so expensive, they would have had a much more positive reaction, too. For me, it's just that six hundred dollars just excludes so many people. It's already difficult for most of us to shell out two or three hundred bucks, but six hundred is a quarter of a semester's tuition for me; two months' worth of rent! Even if it's going to be "top of the line", it really feels like a slap in the face, after being loyal to them for the past five years. After investing a lot of time and money into playing PS2 games for so long. Isn't it a bit of an insult to turn around and say "You can't play our games as of next year unless you're rich"?? It's the sort of thing that I've laid awake thinking about over the past few nights, really.

PS: Was it just me, or did Blue Suit Samus look like she was wearing a suit about one size too small? I mean - would you feel comfortable wearing a suit that rode up the back like that? Imagine trying to shoot space pirates while fighting a wedgie. No wonder she's so aggressive.

Matt

Oh, you bet. I hike my boxer briefs way up before any big test or exam, because I feel like I can take on anything. You should try it sometime!



I'm Matt, the evil game-reviewer! All fear me!


Matt,

I'll just start off by saying the quote is from Riviera, although I think it's a bit more long winded than that...I would know after beating the game for the 3rd time last night!

Matt

Ah, this would be last week's quote? You would be... possibly right, I don't know, because it doesn't seem to have been added to the quotes archive yet. I'll trust you're right though and congratulate you on a job well done.

Anyways, I'm in the middle of Atelier Iris 2 right now, and honestly it's a much better game than the first all around (not to say that the first was bad at all...I loved it), especially the story and characters. One of the major problems in the first was all the graphical glitches and slowdown, and this game has none of those. BUT it's still a bit tough to make jumps, but also there aren't quite as many of those to make. The battle system is hard to say whether it's better or not...it's like a cross between Grandia and Valkyrie Profile, which is good, but also the game is extremely easy (whereas the first had some pretty dang hard boss fights). You should definitely give the series another shot if you have the funds to do so!

Matt

Well, it's not so much a funding issue as it is a time issue! I'm finding it difficult to grab any RPG time lately, though perhaps that's just because life has been somewhat more chaotic than normal over the last two weeks. I already have so many games to work through!

Many people would definitely agree with you that Atelier Iris 2 is better than the sequel, though. You'd be surprised at how many e-mails I've actually gotten in which people have coaxed me to give it another shot. Perhaps one day!

So my question is...the only reviews I've read by you are sucky ones. All 2s and 2.5s. How about you review a game you like, or even your favorite game maybe?! I'm pretty sure Riviera is a great game, no doubt the most underrated (and underplayed) game of last year...maybe it's a good candidate?!

That's all. Bye!


Matt

It's definitely true, but then again, I've had some uncharacteristically dull RPG experiences over the past year or so. If I were to rate Dragon Quest VIII, it would probably get a 4.5, but before that, the only real "above average" game I played all last year was Xenosaga: Episode II, which I probably would have given a 3.5 to. It's interesting, though, because while writing a review and thinking about things long and hard, I can end up realizing that a game deserves a very different score than I might have "forecast" beforehand, so it's hard to say. Riviera is quite enjoyable so far, and believe it or not, I am planning on writing a review for it upon its conclusion! So, watch for it in the coming weeks, and hopefully, I'll be able to shake this sub-par funk.



Um, yes. This was really in my inbox.


hello frends

bye bye


Matt

Bye bye yourself, if you're not spam, which you may or may not be. (Sorry about that, everyone else, this letter just made me smirk.)



More on the 255 problem from Nwash, the Saving Throw guy, and our own MagRowan!


It's not just games. It has to do with the design of microprocessors. Why eight bits was decided as the size for a byte, I'm not entirely sure.

But a byte is very significant for microprocessors since it is the smallest area they can address by design. More than likely, this was done to increase the amount of addressable memory. To understand why, consider that a memory address is also an integer value. Thus, an eight-bit processor could only address 256 bytes... imagine if each bit was addressed independently instead of eight at a time. It's almost certain that a power of 2 would be chosen, but why eight was chosen... I'm not sure.

As a programmer, I actually can't read a single bit without reading the entire byte; to get the value of a single bit, I must read the byte and apply a little bitwise Boolean algebra to it. Basically, if I want to know if the lowest-order bit is set, I read the byte and apply a bitwise AND 1 against it.

Also, 255 is only a frequent maximum because they are using unsigned integers (variables that can't hold a negative integer). Otherwise, you'd be seeing a lot of maximums of 127 (with minimums of -128). I can say that it's because one bit is now used to indicate a negative sign, but in most systems, that's not technically true, though the high-order bit will tell you whether the stored number is negative or not. While positive numbers can be read normally, negative numbers are usually stored in a two's complement format. (If I recall correctly, this is applying an XOR to each bit of the absolute value and adding 1.) It sounds weird, but it makes any addition or subtraction at the binary level work without any additional logic when positive and negative numbers are used. Add a positive number and a negative number in two's complement, and the answer comes out correct every time (though negative results will still be in two's complement form). Of course, actually reading the negative value requires a little bit of Boolean math, but oh well.

Anyway, thought you might be curious after peeking at your column. There's the full answer, or at least what I know.

- Nwash


------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------

Just FYI,

About the 255 thing, and it being 8 bits, the 8 is because there are 8 bits to a byte, and typically the byte is the smallest accessable group of data in a computer. Can't usually move anything around smaller than 1 byte. Of course you probably already know this since you deal with programming to an extent.

So, a byte is the standard measure of size for storage in a computer. In C++, char, byte, and bool variables are all 1 byte in size. short is 2 bytes typically, and int is 4 bytes typcially. I think sometimes long is also 4 bytes, depending on the compiler...

Other data groupings that are fun:
nibble - 4 bits
word - 16 bits
double word - 32 bits

Here's a nifty site I found that goes through the data groupings, if you are interested: http://webster.cs.ucr.edu/AoA/Windows/HTML/DataRepresentationa2.html

Laters,
Maggie


Matt

Thanks, guys, for your technical prowess! I guess in the end, my "powers of two" explanation was only a vague version of the truth. Hopefully, though, that answers yesterday's questions much more thoroughly. It's like I always say... Q&A is awesome, because it serves as an information exchange from reader to reader, from reader to me, and from me to reader. It's made even more effective because of the vastly different kinds of people that come to this site. Pretty cool, huh?





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Hopefully this column has demonstrated very well that while I strongly support Nintendo in its next-generation bid, I definitely want to show all sides of the story. I want to make the point that this is a column where anyone can submit their point of view and have it be put up for serious consideration, because there is no universal right and wrong in this area of discussion, is there?


Flashay!


***Answers to May 17th's Questions***

#194. a) Kid Icarus - 225 points (and roughly half of you got that one through watching Captain N episodes, if you can believe that)

#195. d) My father's 57th birthday - 275 points (you might have picked that up if you had looked through ALL of my pictures in Tuesday's column; that last one was there for a reason!)


***Today's New Questions***

#196: You cast the best Gravity spell against a Bad Rap with full HP, and it works. How much damage is done? (250 points)

a) 900 HP
b) 1500 HP
c) 4450 HP
d) 6750 HP
e) It is impossible to tell exactly how much damage would be done.


Reader-Submitted #197: Every cartoon and sci-fi/fantasy series has a "brain switch" episode. In the American Mega Man cartoon, which Robot Master did Mega Man swap brains with? (250 points)

a) Crash Man
b) Guts Man
c) Napalm Man
d) Pharaoh Man
e) Snake Man


SOCK's Item List

*You may obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!*

1,000 points: Your choice of Scan Spell (1 left) or Point Halver (1 left)
2,000 points: Your choice of Point Doubler (2 left) or Wait Mode (1 left)
3,500 points: Your choice of Blind Spell (1 left) or Point Tripler (1 left)
5,000 points: Your choice of Warp Stone (1 left) or Apocalypse Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Fire 2 Spell (2 left) or Drain Spell (2 left)
10,000 points: Your choice of Scan Spell (2 left) or Point Halver (2 left)


Click Here For Item Descriptions!

SOCK's Prize Shop

*You may SPEND points here in order to obtain any of the following prizes- new ones may appear at any time*

1,000 points: Matt's Mom's Cookie Compilation- 6 fantastic recipes right out of Matt's mom's amazing kitchen! Yours, upon request. (5 left)

2,000 points: Intro Paragraph Cameo- If you feel like having a piece of Q&A all to yourself for a day, but you're not up for answering a bunch of questions, this option might be just for you! Say the word, and the Intro Paragraph is yours to do whatever you want with for a day. (5 left)

10,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #3.5- Ah, why not? Cohost days are fun, so here are a couple of extra chances for you to snag, if you're so inclined. (5 left)

15,000 points: Nintendo Wii Canvas Carrying Bag- It's white with blue print, and two drawstrings; I picked this up while waiting in the nigh-infinitely long line to play Nintendo's new console at E3 2006. If you'd like it, I'll mail it to you free of charge! (1 left)

15,000 points: Pokémon 10th Anniversary game case- Not as special as it sounds, but useful for carrying up to 4 DS games or 2 DS games and 2 Game Boy Advance games. Translucent plastic with a silver Pikachu and print on the front. (1 left)

20,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #4- It might sound like a lot, but it'll be here before you know it. Your next chance to reign over Q&A with yours truly. (5 left)

22,000 points: Slime Keychain Dangler- Fresh from the Square Enix booth at E3 2006, this cute little guy can be yours. (1 left)

22,000 points: Slime Snail Keychain Dangler- Anyone remember Slime Snails from Dragon Warrior III? I managed to snag one of these, too. Strut with Dragon Quest pride!! (1 left)

25,000 points: Full Host Opportunity #1- This is it. Write your own Q&A section, without having me interrupt, break in, or steal your sunshine. Be RPGamer's new idol for a day! (1 left)

30,000 points: Nintendo DS Lite Carrying Case- This won't quite fit old-model DS handhelds, but it's lightweight and flashy. White and black with an extra zippered pocket for carrying games, and a hook to attach to clothes, backpacks, or whatnot. I received this at Nintendo's Pre-E3 Media Briefing. (1 left)

30,000 points: Your choice of Megaman X4, X5, or X6 for the PSX. If you're into the Megaman series as much as I am, and you don't own any of these, I don't need them any more, now that I have purchased the collection. You can take your pick, and I'll send it to you in the mail with a handwritten note of congratulations from myself. They aren't RPGs, for sure, but I'm working on it for the future. (Sorry, NTSC-format only) (3 left)

50,000 points: Suikoden for the PSX. Play the game that started off the entire series! Josh was generous enough to donate this exciting prize, so it would be cool to send this to a good and loving home. (1 left) *********************************************************


There are lots of letters left in the inbox, so if I haven't gotten around to your letter yet, don't despair! Now, we've heard about a lot of Nintendo supporters, and a lot of people who aren't ready to give up on Sony... but where does Xbox fit into this whole puzzle? Are they going to be the dark horse champion of this whole duel? And does that console have any hope of appealing to RPG fans anytime soon? Let me know!

slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt actually liked the 360's Enchanted Arms demo!


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