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ASK MATT
End of an Era
October 18, 2006

Matt Demers - 18:35 EST

MY COUSIN IS GETTING MARRIED! Thus, I'm heading home tomorrow, and leaving good old Q&A in the hands of RPGamer. I'll be back next week, of course; I could never just abandon this place entirely.

Final Fantasy XII and Arc the Lad: Collection have both been claimed in the contest. Congratulations to Boojum (who else?), and thanks to the nearly 200-strong out there who have participated in my game. I won't make a secret of it: I'm more than a bit depressed to see it wind down already, but the conclusion was inevitable. There are, however, a few other prizes remaining, and as many co-hosting positions as I can dole out, but the last day of the Spectacular Ongoing Contest of Knowledge will be November 10th, 2006. If there's a good side to the whole thing, perhaps it's that these darn columns won't take me as long to do, and we'll be able to concentrate on discussing all of the great newsworthy things that are set to happen over the next little bit. After all, here we stand, just a few weeks away from two of the most anticipated console launches of the decade.

The future is bright, and onward we march!




LETTERS
Try to piece THIS letter together!


Hey there, Matt!

I have a rather off-beat idea: jigsaw puzzles in RPGs. Maybe 250 pieces, so that the player doesn't feel too overwhelmed with a 1000 piece puzzle. Make it a side-quest to track down all the pieces, and when they're all in place... I don't know. Maybe some added bonuses? Like, if you find certain pieces and put them in place, you'll gain more stats, better spells, etc. I guess it sounds like the Sphere Grid system from Final Fantasy X, except you're not limited to where you start from.

Of course, the most powerful pieces would go in the middle of the puzzle (so the player could work from the edges, and gradually move inward), and would be hidden away in the far corners of the world. And, so that players don't get too disappointed, each piece would probably have some sort of bonus associated with them, even if it's only +10 HP, or +1 Strength. Later on in the game, the player might have common pieces that say +30 HP or +3 Magic Defense, etc. Maybe each of the corners could be starting points, being already present. Or the entire frame, or something like that.

Now that I think about it, it would have to be part of the main quest to get the majority of the pieces, and the most powerful spells would be part of the side quest (like maybe the most powerful of each elemental spell, and some super powerful non-elemental spells). As well as pieces that give huge stat bonuses. +150 HP, +50 MP, +10 Agility, etc.

I guess I should add this to my CW's RPG Idea Vault, for if I ever get off my tail and start to create one.
-CW


Matt

What a positively wonderful idea, CW!

It would work fantastically, too, from a "customization" approach; you could have certain regions of the puzzle dedicated to white magic, black magic, physical skill, or other types of abilities that change gradually as you work your way around. Perhaps those border pieces could make up a roster of basic abilities accessible to every single character. How interesting; that sort of idea could be especially neat if applied to a tactical RPG too, don't you think?

I guess this just goes to show you exactly how many different and creative ideas there are out there. The next time I hear someone say something about how "everything has already been done by this point in RPGs," I'll just have to give them a swift kick in the derričre.

As you might know, CW, coming up with theoretical skill systems is one of my favourite bored-during-class pastimes, so it's neat to hear from someone like yourself, with your own ideas swirling around in your mind.

Thanks for sharing!



A rival to JuMeSyn in length? LET IT NOT BE SO...!


Hey Matt, long time reader/lurker first time poster. Just thought I'd share my views on the RPG world and hopefully get some of your own back too. I apologise if you've answered many of these before :) You'll be pleased to hear that I have "no opinion" on the FFXII action RPG debate.

Matt

Ah, sweet. Honestly, few North American people should have opinions on it, since it hasn't even been released here yet. I had no problem with debating the issue, though. I think that by talking about it, eyes are opened. I learn something from you and readers might learn a bit from me, too. Q&A is a place of many points of view, and it's not even in the form of a daytime talk show newly featuring the, uh, timeless Rosie O'Donnell.

I started Xenosaga 3 a couple of weeks back (after forcing myself through part 2.) I played the first few minutes and stopped - now it's been pushed back to my Christmas backlog of games to clear. Why? I was so impressed with what an improvement over XS2 it˘s been within the first few minutes - it's like being back in XS1 but with music! It was the same return to form that was witnessed in the Suikoden IV to V transition. I feel I can only devote myself to this game fully during my Christmas hols (3 weeks off); the game simply "feels" too good to be wasted on evening and weekend "slots" when I can find time. I'm hoping for ending that actually makes you think like "gears" did back then.

Matt

You're approaching your backlog like I approach my dinner plate. Get rid of those pesky green beans first so that you can sit back and really enjoy the steak at the end!

The only small I found was as you said, battles end abruptly - but compared to Episode 2's loading farce, I'm not complaining. Have you ever deliberately put off playing a game through anticipation and wanting to give yourself enough time to be fully immersed in the game world?

Matt

Not really! That's why I say that your approach is pretty uncommon. Over the last couple of years, I've just taken any time I can get my paws on and used it for gaming. I just don't have the time to put off the games that I really want to spend quality time playing, and it's a shame. I'm kind of hoping that next summer will provide me with a great opportunity to relax a bit, because wow, I'm going to need some RPG catch-up time one of these days!

A similar thing has happened with Valkyrie Profile 2- I've put it off till my week off work in late October simply because I've been looking forward to the sequel to VP for such a long time (and also looking forward to seeing Hrist again!) Sorry to hear you've never played the original, any chance you'd look into getting it in the near future?

Matt

I really should, shouldn't I? I wish I had a friend with a PSP, because it would be fun to play through Lenneth (which I've heard is fairly true to the original), and hey, we all know that I'm not about to run out and buy my own PSP anyway.

Well, as it stands the Christmas Backlog List comprises of the following must-complete games in this order within 3 weeks:

XS3

Lunar 2 - started it twice, completed and loved the original many times -it˘s going to be completed this time!

Tales of the Abyss

Dragon Quest VIII (Heard a lot of good things about it)

Devil Summoner

Fire Emblem: PoR - (2nd playthrough)

Matt

In the next three weeks!? I'd be lucky to get through that many games in an entire year, you lucky bum you. That being said, I plan on utilizing my own Christmas vacation to get as much gaming time in that I can as well. If I'm going to get a Wii sometime over the holiday season, half of my break is going to be spent playing WiiSports with my family members, after all! (I can't wait, either... yay!!!)

Disgaea 2 has been crushed; hopefully you've done the same by now. I had to complete that 1st or I'd have spent my entire 3 week holiday levelling up - it's so addictive. After a tedious weekend I've finally acquired all the damn treasure maps and have reached the Land of Carnage 80 hours in- and what a difficulty hike!

Matt

Welllll... I certainly haven't progressed that far, and I doubt I'll ever crack open all of Disgaea 2's secrets. It seems to be absolutely chock-full of them, though.

Enemies in CoO4 have now gone up 5000 levels! Anyway, the only things left to do now are the various incarnations of Baal, which require some more levelling (Adell is level 4000~ Rozy, Etna and the rest of the crew are 1000-1500.) I know I should really max the specialists and what not but I simply don't have the time, so D2 post-game stuff is now on the backburner. What did you think of the ending - assuming you got the "normal/good" ending, and how do you think the endings and the game as a whole compared to its predecessor?

Matt

I'm not there yet! >_<

I just started Chapter 12 last weekend, but my party is quite underleveled, so the progress is relatively slow-going. Overall, though, I'm enjoying the tweaks to the gameplay a whole lot. There are a few little things that have made it into a more polished game than the original in that aspect; however, the writing isn't as good, and so far, the story isn't quite as great either. The spelling mistakes riddled throughout the game are pretty embarrassing, too.

Overall, I'd say that it builds nicely upon the original, and anyone who enjoyed the original would almost certainly like this one too.

I'm currently waiting for my copies of Tales of the Abyss and SMT: Devil Summoner to make their way to the UK to join my backlog, are you excited about either of these titles and have you played the previous titles in either series.

Matt

I've played a tiny bit of both, but I've "observed" much more; my sister played through Tales of Symphonia and my brother is a big fan of Shin Megami Tensei.

I'm not sure what to expect with Devil Summoner. I've heard mixed reviews, and much talk about how the game loses a certain something with the transition to Action-RPG. Tales of the Abyss, on the other hand, looks like it's the game to get the Tales series back on track, after what most people considered to be a disappointing Legendia. Good luck if you're living in the UK, though... you might have to wait a little while! Hopefully they are worth the wait in the end.

Onto Fire Emblem I guess - I've began the series with the Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, which I loved. I was like a throwback to the good old days of Shining Force 2, but more mature - those were the days! So looking back and being somewhat of a FE connoisseur, which other Fire Emblem games would you recommend on the previous formats?

Matt

Wow! I've been a Fire Emblem player for all of five months, and I'm already a connoisseur!!

The only other Fire Emblem games that have been released outside of Japan have been the pair released for the GBA. I'd recommend either one, though The Sacred Stones is far and away the easier of the two. I find that the first Fire Emblem has a lot more "meat" to it, and I think I've enjoyed it more overall, but there are certainly strengths to both games. Unfortunately, they're getting more and more difficult to find at this point, unless you turn to shadier places like eBay.

Moving onto Final Fantasy, I've enjoyed reading peoples opinions on the remakes but have to admit I am a little bit concerned with the trend and would prefer new, fresh titles myself after being let down by Wild ARMs:ACF. I initially wrote off the DS remake of FF3 as I thought it was just another port ala FF1/2/4/5/6 on the PS. However on closer inspection I've now become quite interested in the game and may well add it to my DS collection.

Matt

You'd better! This IS the game I've been waiting for for a very long time, and for many reasons. This is the first time one of the original originals has been completely remade in 3-D! I'm so excited that they've chosen to keep the battle system, too, because in this day of real-time this and that, it's nice to be able to run to the bathroom between attacks without smashing the pause button, only to return and forget totally what the heck was going on.

On the subject of the future of FF though I'd made my decision long ago that FFXII would probably be my last purchase of the series if things didn't improve. Sure FF games were a cut above graphically but in comparison to other games I really thought the stories and characters were just being reused - Ashe (that was her name when I last checked) nearly looked exactly like Yuna the last time I checked - I'm really struggling not to prejudge the game before it comes out and I really hope that series will return to form in this outing. Final Fantasy Tactics remains the best as I see it and a merging of that and Tactics Ogre's plot branching system would make for the ultimate TRPG.

Matt

I know a few people who feel the same way that you do; that the Final Fantasy series has marched in the wrong direction over the past few episodes. I can't say that I totally disagree, but on the other hand, I can't totally agree either. That might sound like a wishy-washy statement, but it's true.

Chiefly, I don't like the fact that the games have gotten super-easy. Final Fantasy VIII, IX, and X were, to me, pretty lacking in the challenge department. Storywise, they've been okay, though I wasn't as fond of the characters in both IX and X; I didn't find them as endearing as those of VIII and prior, for some reason. IX seemed to try to hard, and X not enough.

On the other hand, IX and X had some of the most fantastic music from the entire series, the Sphere Grid was neato, and both games were, overall, of extremely high quality in comparison to the vast majority of RPGs on the market. How can I cry out against games that I really do enjoy, even if I might enjoy them as much as earlier games in the series?

I'm going to end there as I am starting to rant, lol. No time to round things off nicely so I˘ll just say keep up the good work; your columns are always an interesting read.

TerraBreaker


Matt

Thank you, Terrabreaker! It's good to hear from you.



If I had an Epoch of my own, I could TELL you what the answers would be without fail!


Hey Matt,

I was listening to a tune from Crono Trigger, and it made me wonder...why hasn't Crono gotten remade? I mean yeah...it was remade onto the PSOne, but look at Final Fantasy. FF1-FF6 are all getting remade on the GBA, and they're all already on the PSOne. Why can't Crono be on the DS...or the PSP...or the PS3...or somethin'? I personally think the game deserves it. What are your thoughts on this, my main slime man? I'll catch you later.

Lavos drakens skies
Friends fight fiercely for their fates
Epoch fords time's stream

~Donovan


Matt

You know, people used to stir about that idea more than they did about the possibility for a Final Fantasy VII remake, but the tide shifted somewhere along the way. A -full- remake of Chrono Trigger hasn't come close to being done. That pathetic excuse for a game on the PS1 was nothing more than a cheap port designed to generate some quick bucks, as far as I'm concerned.

With updated graphics, music, and a few extra features thrown in for good measure, you and I both know that there is huge potential here. Doesn't it seem, though, that Square Enix holds the Chrono series much, much closer itself than the Final Fantasy series? I'm 100% sure that we'll have more Chrono sometime in the future, because it's too big, too popular of a franchise not to. I think that like Final Fantasy VII, a remake of Chrono Trigger is inevitable, but far off: This is completely speculation, but perhaps once Square Enix decides to produce an actual sequel to the series, they'll follow it up with one. What are your thoughts, everyone?



Pokémon 102


Matt...help...me...

Ok, everyone's going to be asking this, so I have to know. 271,812 points in a day? How? Impressive, but inconceivable.

Matt

Inconceivable, but possible! And yes, everyone has been asking this. I'd probably be asking it too. But it's simply the product of many things, and everything that happened, happened legally. I know that it's probably disappointing to a lot of people, but it's certainly intriguing at the same time. On November 10, the last day, I will talk a lot about many things, including many of the summons and secret items that were never revealed; I'll also tell the story of just how Boojum scored as hugely as he did. Stay tuned.

But back to gaming. I've notice Pokémon Diamond/Pearl on your "to play" list. I've never really played or even wanted to play any of the prior Pokémon games, but the fact that this one is going to have WiFi is awesome. Heh, I just said this "one" even though there are two games. I'm a Pokémon noob and am not afraid to admit it. Why in the world would I want to buy both versions? Just to "catch 'em all"? Screw that? Do players have an idea of what version offers what before you buy em? I know nothing about these, so please enlighten me.

Matt

Oh, Mac... it IS just one game, really. Only the most hardcore people will ever go out and buy both. The fun will be trading back and forth over thousands of miles with friends who do have the other versions in order to catch 'em all. Provided, that is, that Nintendo doesn't do something totally stupid like not including that feature. Pokémon is the RPG that was built for Nintendo's Wi-Fi, so it would be a huge shame for the big N to not capitalize on the great opportunities there.

Any Pokémon game out right now that are must haves? I own Pokémon Snap and my wife loves it, but that's it.

- Macstorm


Matt

Well, it's a difficult thing to say, right? Pokémon-crazed-people out there will be quick to tell you to play Pokémon XD for the Gamecube, but I've never felt much of an attraction to that; I'm too fond of the original formula. If you've never played a Pokémon game, I'd direct you towards (one of) Pokémon Ruby or Sapphire. They're quite substantial games in their own right, and I think they'd be a decent introduction to the series. Gold and Silver had some "niftier" features, though, and some of those are set to return in the next sequel for the DS, Diamond/Pearl. If you're not in any rush, I'd tell you to wait for those. If you're bored and looking for something new right now, then go blow the $30 or $40 on the GBA incarnations. I hope you won't be disappointed, either way!





THE NEXUS

My big sister had her birthday yesterday, so I'd like to announce it right here. Yes, she just turned... oh, that would be mean, wouldn't it? Happy birthday, Danielle!!


Caption


For complete contest rules, click here!


Today's New Questions

#348:
>Anti-Popularity contest<
For fun, I thought I'd go about doing this question, since all sorts of people wanted it, and well, the contest is ending soon anyway. Which of the following options will arbitrarily be chosen LEAST often? (Your answers will determine the correct response!)
(1,600 points)

a) Espers
b) Materia
c) Junctioning
d) Crystal Points
e) Sphere Grid


Reader-Submitted #349:
A circle is overlapped by equilateral triangle OAB, in which point O is also the center of the circle. The circumference of the circle also bisects sides OA and OB. If the circumference of the circle equals 24pi, what is the area of the triangle that lies outside the circle? (round all irrational numbers to two decimal points in your final answer, ie pi=3.14, etc.) (900 points)

a) 75.36
b) 128.29
c) 174.02
d) 202.74
e) 203.65


There we art.

I've had an awful lot of people who seem disappointed at the idea of having this competition come to a close, but look on the bright side. Starting anew will give all sorts of new people a brand new chance to get involved. Isn't it nice to start with a clean slate now and then? Ouro's looking for new Thong players, too, if anyone is interested, though I know many of you play his game already. ;)

I've already started to brainstorm ideas for the Second Sock, and there will certainly be many small changes in store, mostly to try and balance things a bit. However, rest assured that much will be familiar as well! Watch for it, sometime early next year. I'll likely provide you all with the first details on November 10.



SOCK's Item List

Obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!

3,500 points:
Point Doubler (1 left), Mythril Armor (2 left), or Regen Spell (2 left)

5,000 points:
Any 1st-Level Elemental Spell (2 left), Point Halver (1 left), or Drain Spell (2 left)

7,000 points:
Slowga Spell (2 left), Float Spell (1 left), or Damage Deflector (2 left)

10,000 points:
Sneak Glove (2 left), Any Gem (4 left), or Biora Spell (1 left)

14,000 points:
Shuriken (1 left), Rename Card (1 left), or Scan Spell (2 left)

19,000 points:
Mythril Armor (3 left), Merton Spell (2 left), or Wait Mode (1 left)

25,000 points:
Vanish Spell (2 left), Sadness Stone (1 left), or Rare Candy (3 left)

32,000 points:
Mythril Shield (1 left), Drainra Spell (2 left), or A.P.G. (2 left)

40,000 points:
Toxic Waste (1 left), Sean's Dictionary of Doom (1 left), or Holy Spell (2 left)

50,000 points:
Rare Candy (2 left), Rebirth Stone (1 left), or Demira Spell (2 left)

61,000 points:
Dark Converter (2 left), Drainga Spell (2 left), or Item Destroyer (2 left)

73,000 points:
Rare Candy (2 left), Cloak of Evasion (2 left), or Point Tripler (2 left)

86,000 points:
Meteor Spell (2 left), Item Bomb (1 left), or Any Gem(3 left)

100,000 points:
Rare Candy (2 left), Diamond Armor (2 left), or Gold Sword (2 left)

STRAGGLERS:
(people who I love, but who still need to check their e-mail or somehow get in touch with me because they have unclaimed items- if you fall off the list after a week, it's TOO LATE FOR YOU! Check your spam/trash folders for my messages if you're not getting them, and I'll check mine, too!)

  • none to speak of!


SOCK's Prize Shop

Obtain enough points, and you may buy items, merchandise, or guest-hosting positions.

Click here for the current list of potential prizes!


QUICKIES

Hey Matt!

It's not nice to tease the guy from Louisiana with your spicy ribs. Arizona has it's spicy food, but I miss those New Orleans seasonings...

Matt
Hey, when you grow up on a farm that grows hot banana peppers, you have to adapt somehow! Unfortunately, some things are still off the scales for me. I like spice, but those ribs? Too spicy. Just like my games; I like difficulty, but 7th Saga? Nuh-uh.



IN CLOSING

It's been a quick week for me, but I have no choice in the matter. Now is the time that I fly, fly, fly, to the land of hot peppers and mom! And hopefully, a little bit of quality RPGaming somewhere in there (should I bring my DS to the wedding reception? Probably not, eh?)

Have a great week with whoever takes command, and be sure to fill their inboxes with more of your best questions and answers! Ah, and I almost forgot: When I return, DMJewelle will be at my side as the next cohost. Please send her a good deal of mail, since she really deserves a chance to strut her stuff!

Thanks for reading, everybody!



Send a Letter!

Inbox Status: Surprisingly bad.



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is beat.


Little did you know, but Matt is actually a HUMAN DRUM! *bong bong bong*

Most Recent

Oct. 17: Matt

Oct. 16: Josh

Oct. 15: Josh

Oct. 13: Bainick & Matt



Links

SOCK's Rule Guide

SOCK's Prize Shop

About the Host

Quote Archives



What I Want to Play:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. Final Fantasy XII

3. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

4. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

5. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl



What I'm Playing:

1. Xenosaga: Episode III

2. Disgaea II

3. Fire Emblem GBA



SOCK's Scoreboard

Dueling Glove Holder:
BLG
-----------

Summon in Play:

-BOREAS-
HP: 9,300
----------
1. Boojum
304,523 pts

2. BigWook
60,561 pts

3. Erika
57,036 pts

4. Aurelius
51,286 pts

5. JokingChimer
47,966 pts

6. Draconn
45,895 pts

7. Kanato
32,679 pts

8. Belthasar2
30,238 pts

9. Ourobolus
29,758 pts

10. Alexander
29,103 pts

11. MagRowan
27,384 pts

12. JuMeSyn
26,349 pts

13. TV's Adam
26,121 pts

14. MrMSty
24,930 pts

15. BLG
24,812 pts

16. DMJewelle
24,290 pts

17. Alan Tse
24,156 pts

18. Prismatic
24,110 pts

19. Thinkfreemind
23,336 pts

20. Kharamain
23,329 pts

21. Arros Raikou
23,264 pts

22. Erunion
21,535 pts

23. Leaper
20,165 pts

24. Hunter B
19,076 pts

25. Jwcooley
17,220 pts

26. Arpijy
16,257 pts

27. Dermot
15,336 pts

28. Sundoulos
13,405 pts

29. Gaijin
13,138 pts

30. Bainick
13,087 pts

31. William T.
12,090 pts

32. Laurie
11,950 pts

33. LufiaLvr
11,490 pts

34. DDX
11,098 pts

35. Waterfiend
10,950 pts

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