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Challenge December 5, 2005

Matt Demers - 03:02 EST

I KNOW IT'S BEEN quieter than usual on the Q&A front in the past little while, and for that I apologize. I promise you all that I haven't killed my partner-in-crime, Andrew, and no, I haven't locked him in a dungeon, tied him to a pole, or anything of the sort. I promise you that you'll hear from him sometime soon!

Me? Shouldn't I be studying for my exam which is TODAY (in fact, tonight at 7:00 pm EST)? Well, of course I should be. Writing this is my break-time from studying, so in a way, you're getting a sort of LIVE cross-sectional look into my academic life, except that it's not really live, and right now, it feels more like "academic death" would be a more suitable term. Details, details, I know.

So, you're all going to be thinking of me tonight, I trust? You'd better be. Either way, though, I'm sure that I'll be in a smashing mood for Tuesday's column, for no matter how tomorrow goes, I will never have to rest my eyes on a PDE again, ever! Hopefully, that is.

Ask Dr. Matt


Here is my dilemma. I have been playing games for almost 20 years, since I was about 5. During this time I have developed a taste in all genres, though principally RPGs. However, after graduating college and entering law school I have seen my time devoted to RPGs dwindle. In fact, the last true RPG I finished was Final Fantasy X (well Kingdon Hearts if you count that). RPGs aren't the only genre that this phenomenon effects. I still haven't finished MGS 3 yet! In fact, the only time I found myself making for games were for quick 30 minute tune out sessions in racing or sports games.


Yeah, it's tough. You get older, you get busier, and the time goes by faster. Gone are the days that you could get home off the big yellow school bus, throw your booksack and coat on the floor, and turn on your SNES for a good six-hour gaming session, mom 'n' dad yelling at you all the while. I remember recording Final Fantasy VI music onto cassette tapes with my sister Diane years and years ago, and on one of the tracks, you can hear my mom's shrill voice in the background: "TURN IT DOWN!!"

As an addition to my time struggles I have recently become engaged to a woman who, bless her heart, doesn't enjoy games. She will tolerate me playing a GBA for a bit, but playing anything on the tv drives her nuts!


Okay, now that can be tough. I know from experience that being partnered is a giant drain on potential game-time, and I HOPE that that's a good thing, for the most part; however, you should still be able to do the things you like! If RPGs are one of your favourite pastimes, you should be able to enjoy them from time to time, for optimal happiness, just as your fiancťe should be able to partake in her favourite hobbies as well. I don't claim to be a relationship therapist or anything, but I don't think that you should have to give up the things you like to do to have a healthy relationship (unless of course, "things you like to do" include murdering baby seals, or other unmentionably horrible acts. Then, yes, you should give them up.)

Also, I am graduating law school soon and will be entering into a certain um, 'governmental service' which will take up a significant amount of time (60 - 70 hrs per week). All is well and good, but I have to say, I am missing playing games, specifically RPGs. I know I can convince the wife to be of letting me spend some time with FFXII if and when it ever decides to come out, but in the mean time there are plenty of RPGs that I would like to devote my time to, such as DQ8, Grandai 3, and the new Wild Arms (4 not Code F, though I would play it if I was back in college). I realize that I probably will never get the time to play these with work and a family quickly approaching. So my question is thus, can you ever imagine a time when your RP gaming days will come either to an end, or at the least reduce your gaming time to one adventure that lasts nearly a whole year to complete? And if not, how do you plan on making such time? Oh how I yearn for the days when I could game freely....



Not at all. I'm just way too attached, Ben! I can guarantee you that as long as this genre is around, I'll be an avid gamer. Sure, life will get busier, more stressful, and I'm sure that I'll have less free time. The way I see it though, everyone has their favourite distractions in life: Some people golf (or try to), some plant herb gardens, some take up lawn bowling, and some collect collectibles. Every "adult" I know has something they do for pleasure, and I figure that role-playing-gaming will be mine, one day.

Also, I'm sort of leaning towards teaching/professoring as a "life path"... at least, one day. What do you think summer vacations or sabbaticals are for?

I say: Give yourself some "you-time", three or four nights a week, to just take a block of an hour or two to sit down with the games you want to play, almost as if you were making time to watch a favourite TV show or something, scheduling around the rest of your life. Hopefully, this way, you'll find the time you're looking for; I just hope your fiancťe understands.

Good luck with your situation, in any event!

Sexy Women, their voices, and heroes without them (neither)

Hi Matt,

I have a few DQ8 comments and questions for you. First off, the biggest and best surprise in the game so far is Jessica's voice. When I first saw her picture I imediatly assumed her voice would be high pitched, and annoying. Instead she sounds like a woman, huzzah. Do you know what I mean though, I was expecting her to be the typical game/anime ditzy airhead snob chick, and was instead pleasantly surprised with the games overall excellent voice casting... with the following exception.


I agree totally. I was taken aback by Jessica's voice acting, which is nothing short of superb. It's so "hearty", like almost every other voice in the game; it's filled to the brim with believable character, without so much as a detectable glimmer of overacting. Also yes, given her "va-va-voom" bosom, I agree that they could have done things much differently; I'm quite glad they didn't!

Although the silent hero bit doesn't detract from this being an awesome game, I still feel like it could've been better if they just gave me a voice. The main character is going to be the only one I won't be able to identify with, or understand what his story is. Why am I on this "Dragon Quest", what's my motivation? To help my king? Why am I so loyal to him? Am I secretly in love with Princess Medea? Jessica? Random babe walking about Farebury? When did I become the boomerang wielding super soldier? It's these questions and more that could have been answered if the hero was a character and not just there.


Mm, yes. I'm not entirely sure what the hero's role is yet, but we'll see how well he gets developed by the end of the game. Dragon Quest heroes have never really been developed in the past to any great extent, but maybe we'll find out what his purpose is by the end. I have to admit... I'm taken aback by the story in this game so far; in comparison to Dragon Warrior VII, the plot is really progressing in a most interesting manner. While there are several smaller stories involved, they're all connected in a way that makes sense. Some of these stories are funny and anecdotal, and SOME of them are, incredibly, downright tear-jerking. Unlike this game's prequel, though, these stories all make sense to the plotline, and the game on the whole seems to flow much more gracefully.

Yes, I know that had nothing to do with the main character, but I like going off on tangents when I speak of this game. In the end, I can't make a fair judgment yet, but I'll be happy to tell you once I've finished the game! I'm still not entirely convinced that a voice is needed, but perhaps the addition of one wouldn't hurt either.

Now with the question, whats the deal with Yangus' steal skill. I have a scythe equipped and I use the skill in battle, but aside from doing damage no message pops up saying, "Yangus has stolen ______". Ocassionally after the battle a monster will drop a chest, is that my steal skill in action?




What IS with that? Actually, Yangus' steal skill works exactly as you think it should; if you manage to successfully steal an item, you'll see a little shiny thing pop out of the enemy during the attack, and it will tell you that you managed to burgle successfully. The success rate on the steal, though, has to be 10% or lower; I've used the skill many times and I've only been successful a couple of those times. Undoubtedly, they want you to "earn your share" of rarer-than-usual goods. Keep trying!

Six! Six! Pick up sticks! Seven! Seven! Go to heaven!


I admittedly only read your column a few times a month, but I have both a opinion and a question. As for my thoughts on the Final Fantasy VII sequels, well; VII was never my favorite, but I enjoyed some of the characters. If the sequels/spinoffs give some reasonable (and well constructed) insight into those characters, I do not see a problem with them. I think they are going to end up stretching the VII part of the franchise too thin, however.

As for my question, I was wondering your thoughts on Final Fantasy VI. As far as I am concerned, if they dropped all the FFVII sequels and did a fabulous remake of FFVI, I could die a happy woman. FFIV would be wonderful, but not quite to the extent FFVI would make me wonderfully gleeful. I have replayed VI around once a year since it's release, and it bothers me a bit that it does not get at least a tiny bit of the recognition that VII gets. Do you have any opinions on the game? Do you share any of my FFVI-love? ::laughs::



Of course! Final Fantasy VI is one of the greatest games of all time, and I think that almost anyone who has played it will agree with us both on that. The game spins just as epic of a tale as Final Fantasy VII does, and I think the characters involved within the story are more likable, all in all. I only wish that more FFVII fanpeople would open their eyes to the games that led up to it; as I've said in the past, I've got many a friend that refuse to play any older RPG at all for pretty much no reason at all. I usually try to fight with them about it for a few minutes, but then I remember that they're just stupid. How can you judge a game that you haven't even played?

Anyway, there will be a Final Fantasy VI remake released for the Game Boy Advance within the next year (or two?) sometime, and I'm sure you know of this. I doubt, however, that it will be any spectacularly huge redesign like the Final Fantasy III DS one in the works. Why? Well, the GBA can't really do much that the SNES couldn't. I guess we'll have to wait and see, won't we?

Ugh, I hated Vincent

Hiya, I actually tried to send this email yesterday but your email thingy was so kind as to reject my email.... so I'm sending it to the qna address instead, hopefully it gets to you. I didn't change the email except I took a whole huge thing about Grandia out because I think it's already been talked about enough... lucky for you too because it was REALLY long and probably not of any use to anyone. ^_^ Now here's my message.

I just got done reading the last Q&A column and I think I can fill in some holes for everyone about Dirge of Cerberus.

Here's the list of CONFIRMED characters that were in the original FFVII and will be in DoC:

  • Vincent Valentine (duh)
  • Cid Highwind
  • Yuffie Kisaragi
  • Tifa Lockheart
  • Barret Wallace
  • Reeve Tuesti
  • Cait Sith

I'm also pretty sure Cloud is in it though he hasn't been confirmed, there is no reason that he would not be in it. In one trailer it shows his motorcycle, Fenrir, but it does not show the driver. I'm also pretty sure Lucrecia will be in it as well. So.. yeah only two characters from the main cast have not been confirmed, them being Cloud Strife and Nanaki (Red XIII)


There ya go, all ye Doc-lookers-forward-to. How does one pluralize that term, anyway?

I guess that's why I'm in MATH and not in english. I guess that's why I have an exam tomorrow that I don't want to worry about!! Auntie Em, I'm frightened...

Also, yes... my mail hasn't been functional in many moons now, which is most unfortunate. is where you all must send until further notice! If you DON'T, you will be punished from above. That mailer-daemon guy is scary... I SEEN him, as my eight-year-old cousin would say.

Anyway, thank you for the insight... 'twas verily out of sight.

Some FF name changes...Fire: bbq; Fira: bbq!!1!; Firaga: wtfbbq!!1!

Sorry if i send more than one, my MS outlook is buggering up at the moment.

For Matt:
(whoo! first time writing!)

I hear ya on the college vacation thing. Looking forward to mine as well. Anyway, my question..
I played the FFXII demo, I was impressed, I had fun. (still need to play DQ8, it was at a friendís house.. Iím thinkiní Christmas) But the summon you get, which seems to be some Ifrit-Titan fusion thing, uses an ability called roxxor. wtfbbq?


Double-you tee eff barbeque indeed? While rolling on the floor laughing my ass off, laughing out loud, laughing out loud, laughing out loud, no less. See, Dragon Quest has converted to rapster-sounding spells: "Swoosh the Sizzle to my Kafrizzle. That's Whack! Deceleratle, go Crack!" It's only fitting that the Final Fantasy series follow in its footsteps, since that's how the series was born in the first place. I guess instead of silly nonsensical rhymes, they've decided to go with popular online pseudovocabulary, for a reason that currently escapes me.

Of course, there's the outside chance that they're actually going to change it in the end to something more appropriate; that would be ideal.

Also, what do you think Square-Enix had in mind when they decided to make this many FFVII sequel projects? Some, like Advent Children, Before Crisis, and Crisis Core make sense, since they flesh out the story more. But Dirge of Cerberus just seems like a way to milk the cash cow, no?


Ha! Just that one? The only reason that they've decided to make ANY of this slew of add-ons is for one singular reason: A GAJILLION FFVII fanpeople cried out like hungry-for-barf baby birds after the announcement of Final Fantasy X-2 occurred. Frankly, it would be stupid of them not to take notice, wouldn't it? With the amount of hype that has been generated to this point, Square Enix is guaranteed to make a mint off of these titles.

I personally have a grander theory that I've alluded to a couple of times in the past, but I won't say it today. Nahh. I'll save it for another time... I don't like to spread rumours, after all.

A million questions! If you have to go pee, do it now, before you start reading this one

Evening, Matt
Just thought Iíd a drop a few cents about the current topics.

As a question was posed as to what we thought about it, Iím going to do something I donít do very often: Defend the Xbox.



You may proceed.

Now, I know the cool thing to do is badmouth Microsoftís clunky, overly large system, and in this particular role-playing crowd, itís generally looked down upon. Its main offerings are aimed at sport fans, shooter fans, and whatís generally viewed as ďcasual gamers,Ē itís understandable. But there are a few must-own titles in its library.

Any RPGamer worth his controller owes it to himself to have the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games. Not only for fans of the series, theyíre great games with solid game play, wonderful storytelling, and a very deep level of customization for your characters. I also here that Jade Empire is the beeís knees, but have yet to play it.


Yeah, I've heard that they're really good too. Since I never HAVE been a big Star Wars fan, it just doesn't instill the desire in me to pick up the game, whether you say it's great or not, for some reason. Maybe I've been burned by movie-to-games sooo many times before, the burning feeling inside me screams "DANGER! DANGER!" When the movie that the game is based on isn't really one I'm passionate about either, it doesn't justify a purchase, at least to me, much LESS the purchase of an entire console. Besides, isn't that a PC title as well...? Maybe, though, I'm just a stubborn old coot.

As for the Xbox 360, I donít see any reason to buy it now (I donít buy anything at launch, period.), but I have no doubt it will have at least a few quality titles. A new Knights of the Old Republic is almost a given, and theyíre doing better with third-party support, with support from Square Enix, and exclusives from Capcom (My top two favorite developers.), and Mistwalker.

Iím not saying itís the number one console of choice, but I do think people give it too much flack. I know I myself make many jokes, but itís not the hell spawn people make it out to be.


No, it's not... I think that Sony is equally evil, to be honest. It's just the evil that is more desirable to me and most others that frequent this site, due to its obviously superior RPG-richness. I would have given Microsoft more credit, though, if they hadn't resorted to releasing shoddy products too, in reference to the rocky launch. At least, though, they're willing to clean up their messes instead of passing the buck like certain other large electronics companies...

Secondly, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is indeed an awesome game, and is so far living up to my expectations. I shouldnít have bought it, as funds are low from opening my own business, but I couldnít resist, and Iím glad I picked it up.


Yes... and the more I play, the better it gets, too. I'm utterly shocked at how great the storyline is; if this keeps up, I'm really going to have to think about placing this title among the top few games of all time in my not-so-official ranking system. It is... absolutely wonderful.

The old school game play and challenge, the expansive world, humor, and superior audio and visual presentation all come together beautifully to create one of the best games Iíve played these fast few years. However, I donít think it will be able to secure my vote for game of the year. That vote is currently held by Resident Evil 4 (The Gamecube version, not the shoddy Playstation 2 edition.).



I canít say anything more about it that hasnít already been said, so Iíll leave it at that.

Third! I guess Iím in the minority here, but I actually enjoyed the demo for Final Fantasy XII. Shocking, I know. Yes, it bears some resemblance to online games (From what little Iím played of the genre, anyway.), but more so, it also strongly resembles the aforementioned Star Wars titles, and thatís a definite good thing.

I love the way the action is still on an active-time system, but is always in motion. It gives the battles a more fluidÖ flow. The ability to decide between a waiting and active mode, as well as the ability to set how your allies act during a battle makes for some interesting customization choices. In the end it still has the mechanics are still as theyíve been, it just doesnít look that way.


Heh, I don't think you're in the minority there. It seems that to my chagrin, everyone else really enjoyed the demo. I've heard so many people say that "the battle system grew on them". Well, poo. The only thing growing for me was my desire to get to the end of the mission to hear how badly they massacred the victory theme of olde (which, mind you, was massacred in quite a manner).

The blend of action-time battle and real-time movement left me fumbling with the controls, the camera, and my patience. I'm sure that the play control will become more natural over time, but to me things just seemed really awkward and chaotic (rather than strategic, which Final Fantasy X's battle system certainly was). Also, not being able to control my own allies without putting forth massive effort is a bit of a turnoff. Add this to the lack of battle music, and the cheapness of auto-MP-restoration, and I was fuming by the end of the demo. Sorry, guys, I just was!

Lots of people seem to be really happy with these changes, though, so I guess my points just go to show you that different people have different tastes. I'm still going to try the actual game out; you never know, I might end up liking the final product.

Besides, itís from the genius behind Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story. It canít be bad. I may be the only one, but Iím very much looking forward to this title.


Hmmm... there's something not quite sound about that logical argument, but that's okay. Anyway, rest assured that you're not the only person squirming with anticipation.

Lastly, the holiday season gift desires question. Hmm... I want Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, but itís still brand new, and my crowd doesnít roll like that. We buy our games used, baby! I have it on good authority that Iím getting Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and Final Fantasy IV, so other than that, thereís not much out at the moment that I can think of. I Guess I'll find out in twenty-six days or so if I forgot anything.

Too bad someone had to push back the newest Zelda title...


Yeah... silly Nintendo. They like to shoot themselves in the foot, don't they? Oh well; there's always Mario Kart!

Well, I guess thatís all at the moment. Have a good night, and Iím going back to questing for dragons...

~ J

P.S. Yeah, I think your copy of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is screwy. My allies handled themselves just fine in fights.


Have fun! I suspected my copy was defective, but then I remembered one thing: My brother is a psycho fan of the game and used the same game that I did to play through- allll the way through- and he didn't find many problems either. Quite obviously, the fates just want to make my life miserable!


This exam break is turning out to be a little bit longer than I expected it would. I'd better wrap this up shortly, lest I fail my entire course; it is needless to say that that would be quite undesirable.


Super SOCK submission sellout time is on, and I'm seeing all sorts of swell suggestions. I am in your debt! If you've given me some ideas, do not despair if yours doesn't come up right away. While I can choose several questions to answer every day, I can only pick one clever piece of trivia!

Now, to take up the answers from last Thursday:
I was a little bit shocked that more of you didn't get #61 correct. The Earthbound Town's name did NOT rhyme with orzo, you silly geese. It rhymed with a) Spaghetti, because Algetty was its name. Maybe I should have made that one worth more than just 25 points...

Also, incredibly, e) 50 years passed between the invention of the tin can and the invention of the can opener. Those silly 19th century people... they weren't always the brightest folk, now were they? Imagine how blunt their knives must have become! Anyway, that was from Jbumi, who receives 60 points. Thank you!! All correct guessers receive 30.

Question #63: Follow me!--> In Chrono Trigger, what would "La, la, la!" of Ayla's native language mean if it were translated into english? (25 points)

a) "Big, big, big!"
b) "Black, black, black!"
c) "Sky, sky, sky!"
d) "Dark, dark, dark!"
e) "Fire, fire, fire!"

Question #64: Ask Bucket!--> In the Nintendo DS Game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, what is the name of the prosecuting attorney you are up against in the first episode, ďThe First Turnabout?Ē (30 points)

a) Miles Edgeworth
b) Manfred von Karma
c) Jack Thompson
d) Winston Payne
e) Mia Fey

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

200 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
500 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #1 (5 remaining!)
700 points: The Final Fantasy 1 "Official" Crazed-Chipmunk-Hold-your-Ears Zipfile Soundtrack (5 remaining!)
1000 points: The Mattie's Mom Cookie Recipe Compilation (5 remaining!)
2000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #2 (5 remaining!)

That's about all, guys, so thanks once again for reading!! Wish me luck tonight, and keep the mail coming in! We should talk more, I think about the Final Fantasy XII demo. Who else is really, really excited about this game? Is anyone feeling crotchety and angry towards Square Enix besides yours truly? Well, let me know, and you might be featured in the next episode of Q&A!
***Matt can classify PDEs with grace!

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My studying is coming to a close now!! Ohhhh I'm nervous!


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Cookie o' the Week:

Mattie's Partial Differential Equations squares

The only study food while preparing for an exam with the coincidental same name. Tastay.

-1 1/2 cups of flour
-1 1/2 cups of butter
-1 1/2 cups of sugar
-lots of chocolate frosting
-1 set of Dirichlet conditions
-1 travelling wave front at time t = t0
-1 domain, D

Cream the butter and sugar, and add the flour. Mix until well combined, and spread into the domain D according to Dirichlet conditions, and place a travelling wave front at time t = t0 anywhere within D. Bake at 350 degrees; the heat will distribute according to the heat equation uxx = ut until t = 15 minutes. Remove from oven; the travelling wave front should have maintained its shape and the crust should be golden brown. Spread chocolate frosting everywhere and eat while studying differential equations.

SOCK standings:

1. Ourobolus
635 pts

2. Jbumi
583 pts

3. DDX
522 pts

4. Flamethrower
444 pts

5. MagRowan
370 pts

6. Bainick
331 pts

7. Arros Raikou
322 pts

8. ~Sean~~
319 pts

9. Jeremy
312 pts

10. Xlash
300 pts

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