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ASK MATT
Worn Out Socks
November 10, 2006

Matt Demers - 22:54 EST

THIS IS IT! This is the last day of my not-so-famous, not-so-fantastic, but pretty fun anyway little contest. We've had lots of winners, and a few losers, but in general, I hope that everybody had as much fun as I did with it!

Congratulations go to Boojum who walked away with the best haul: A brand new copy of Final Fantasy XII, an Arc the Lad collection generously donated by Sean, six co-host positions, and a full host position!

Also, congratulations to Aurelius for snagging Suikoden, generously donated by Ouro, to BigWook, who won one of the Full Guest Host Positions, and to both MagRowan and Bainick, each of whom won an astounding four Guest co-hostings over the past year. Of course, there were lots of other winners in there too, but if I mentioned them all, I'd be going on for quite awhile.

In any case, there are many details to be found on SOCK II, down in SOCK's usual section. For now, it's time to dig into the mailbag. You guys came through yesterday when I needed you the most... <3




LETTERS
Today's first letter, like yesterday's, is NOT about Final Fantasy IV Advance


Hi Matt!

It's been ages since I've written in, but I saw this in a recent column of yours and felt obligated to respond: *flashback* And to all of you out there: There's an illusion out there that at Q&A, we only talk about the games that are just coming out, or the games that are really old. However, if you're one of those people who are just getting around to the great games of months past, or even the games of yesteryear, please feel free to write in and share your experiences with us nonetheless! We'll be listening. The average gamer can't play everything as soon as it comes out, after all. *end flashback*

Matt

Yep, I said that. Or my evil twin did. One of us said that.

Thanks Matt. :) I haven't been able to pick up anything new since DQ8, and now with FF12 out, I'm kinda bummed. Especially since I'm hearing everywhere how awesome it is. Not that I wanted the game to be anything less, or *ehm* delayed again. But it's good to know that the ancient gaming days of 2004 are still accepted. I guess I just don't really want to cover ground that's already been tread, know what I mean?

Matt

I think, though, that there is a common misconception that most people play through games as soon as they come out. Of course, everyone rushes out and buys certain things on release day, but I think that a majority of us don't actually get around to playing/beating everything until months and months have passed. Between school, work, other games, and similar things, how can everyone be expected to instantly get past a game and be able to chatter excitedly about it within a week's time?

If you want to be excited about an old game, then by all means, go for it!

I just beat Star Ocean 3 last week. It was the first Tri-Ace game I've played, and I had a pretty good time with it. Cruised through most of it, had a pretty tough time at the end though. Didn't really have any major AI problems, I had been concerned about it before I started playing. Every now and then they just stood around, but if I used a HP or MP healing item on them, they'd usually snap out of it. Never cost me any victories, maybe a few "1 min or less boss win" battle trophies though. :)

Matt

Ha ha ha, yes. The problems with my AI occurred exactly when I'd need the support most, it seems. There were so many times when I'd face something big and nasty and mean, and suffer a crushing defeat with two of my characters. Where was the third? Well, it would be exactly then that I'd notice number three valiantly standing still in the back left corner. Ugh!

I'd like to check out some more Tri-Ace releases, how did you end up doing with Radiata Stories? Anything you liked better/less about that game than you did Star Ocean's?

Matt

Radiata Stories was a mixed bag. I beat the game close to the end of the summer, and I have to say that while on the whole, it was a positive experience, there were many things that I wasn't so fond of.

My favourite part of the game was most definitely the miniature world that was painted in such great detail. Wow! I thought that the atmosphere of all the different sections of the central city, as well as all of the different surrounding places, was just fantastic. The races, the backstory, the music, and the graphical style all tied the game into a really neat little package.

On the other hand, I found several things disappointing. The battle system was interesting, but I never found much use at all for most of the features, such as the formations, etc. With something like 150 characters in the game, I really would have liked to have the option of controlling some of them at some point, too. Also, I thought that all of those characters could have had a wider range of abilities, since you can't even (from what I found) upgrade their weapons or armour at all. That said, from a storyline standpoint, I think they did a really neat job of including each and every one of those potential allies into the everyday goings-on of the world. In true tri-Ace form, though, the game fell on its face at the end, as far as I'm concerned. The final dungeon was, honest to god, the most stupidly frustrating thing I've ever tried to do since the last time I attempted to balance an egg on a toothpick. Ugh. And for such a neatly detailed game, I was rather put off by the fact that the ending lasted about thirty seconds.

It isn't the best game ever, but I think it's worth a shot, especially if you're a fan of other tri-Ace works. As for a comparison with Star Ocean, I'd have to say that generally, I felt like I had more control over battles, when compared to Till the End of Time. I'd also have to say that I liked the world better, too. Elicoor II was boring, sometimes.

...yeah, I'll probably read some reviews too. :) It might sound weird but review scores rarely affect whether I buy a game or not. There's no particular reason, but I do enjoy talking about games with people and getting personal insight, rather than an edict for the masses. I read reviews and impressions mostly just to get the bare basics on a game. I'm a pretty open minded RPGamer, and have had good experiences even with a game like Unlimited SaGa, something that I wouldn't have touched with a 40 ft pole if I had adhered to review scores. One guilty pleasure of mine is reading REALLY bad reviews though, some of the games that get less than a 3 on Gamespot are just damn funny to read. Kind of like watching a really bad horror or sci fi movie, know what I mean? :)

Matt

Oh yes. Thems are fun, I agree. Because half the time, they're entitled something like: "Mary-Kate and Ashley's 21st Birthday Shopping Spectacular!" (with the exclamation point, I might add)

I pity the people who actually have to sit down and play those games, but hey, someone's got to do it!

That's all I've got for now, thank you and keep up the great work. Congrats on your 200th column! 200 columns * X hours per column = a LOT of RPGs you've sacrificed to help us all out. Thank you for your time. :)

Jeremy


Matt

Oh yes, time consuming it is, especially with all the other chaotic things life has to offer. But, it's a pleasure, and I love hearing from all of you!

It is *I* who should be thanking you for your time though. Good to hear from you, Jeremy, and please, write back again sometime soon!



Never did I think I'd see the day...


Hi Matt,

I'm glad TV's Adam brought up the 1up review because I was going to send you (and everyone else I know in the gaming community) a similar rant about it, although I'm certain mine would have contained ALOT of F-Bombs. I was pretty ticked until I read Jeff Green's explanation at this link: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=7592798&publicUserId=5380367

Basically, the review was of a genre rather than of a game which is a common mistake reviewers often make. Jeff and company caught it and then somehow let it slip through anyway. I understand his dilemma and will forgive the lapse in judgment. Should the review have been pulled? I'm not so sure. When I make mistakes in editing that get to print, I live with them. Having my f-ups made public serves as a bulwark against making the same mistake again. I think had I been editor I would have commissioned a second review for the game but would have left the first one stand as a reminder to remain vigilant in my standards. What do you think?

Matt

Given that the magazine is a fairly major one, I have to say that they've probably received enough in the way of pain; it's probably for the best that they did pull the article. You can tell by that blog entry just how passionate he is about the whole thing; Jeff went on for a really long time in a lot of detail, so it's quite evident that because he cares a lot, he has genuinely taken this mistake personally. Perhaps that's a good thing, but I don't think that he made a terrible decision to pull the review, no.

Of course, a strategy like yours might have been a neat idea, too, though perhaps the time constraints to get another review finished in time for the same issue would be a little bit tight.

It's unfortunate, but things like this are bound to happen from time to time.

Yes, FFXII is no cake walk. I've found that Death (capital "D") is literally around every corner. Elementals, ubermonsters, groups of strong monsters, and doom spells that work really, really well combine with the lack of truly effective healing magic early in the game make for an honestly challenging adventure. I haven't enjoyed gaming this much in a long time, Matt. A long time...

cap

Matt

I definitely agree with you! I've been telling my interested friends in class about the game. See, they're really old-school gamers, and haven't played Final Fantasy since the Playstation era, but stopped out of disgust at where the series was going (don't get me wrong, I really liked all of the PS1 games, as well as FFX; this is just their opinion). Anyway, I keep telling them that Final Fantasy XII is, incredibly, the first FF since FFII in which you can walk just a liiiiiittle bit too far away from town, and get -destroyed- because the monsters are too powerful. There's something a little bit intriguing in that to an old-school gamer, for some reason, and my friends have expressed much interest in the fact that magic is NOT just trivial to use any more, with high MP costs and less return than you'd expect from a FF spell.

Challenge is good. Perhaps this game will inspire other games to crank up the challenge just a notch, too. Final Fantasy is incredibly influential in the RPG world, after all.

Thanks, Cap!



Baten Kaitos Origins did not originate at Gamespot, evidently


Matt my good man.

In response to your comment about reviews that don't take into account an entire game, I'd have to say that Baten Kaitos: Origins seems to have received that treatment. Many reviews criticize the card battling system it uses, which doesn't make a lot of sense given the much more sensible evolution (compared to BK1, which wasn't a whole lot of fun til about 25 hours through) In case you don't know, the Straights/Pairs system of the first game was replaced with a shared deck, ascending-straight system which really works a lot better and doesn't take nearly as much micromanagement. I played through this game and was absolutely smitten with it right until the end, which was one of the more rewarding endings I've seen in recent history.

Matt

Good to know! Perhaps this will be worth the wait for thirsty Gamecube owners who played the first. Baten Kaitos is one of those games that not many people talk about, and I think that largely, it's because a lot of people never really felt like giving it a chance. For me, I'll admit it: From the start, the idea of a card-based battle system is a turn-off. It does sound, however, like the original's system managed to be enjoyable nonetheless, and if the sequel has done things to refine it and make it even better, then hey, why not give it a chance?

I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Case in point: Gamespot (the bane of all gaming existence) rated it lower than the first BK, when I can't see how any reviewer wouldn't find it to have outshined the original in every aspect. The first game contained entirely too much of what I call "missable content" meaning things the player isn't even informed are possible and cannot really find out without a walkthrough/strat guide. Has anyone even played this game? I can't figure out why it's so ignored, as its the only good RPG that I've played aside from Fire Emblem for the cube (Symphonia just didn't work for me).

Matt

Yes, exactly as I said above, I think that relatively few people played this game. On the other hand, I think that a majority of people who DID play it really did find it to be enjoyable.

I have to say that I agree with you on Gamespot's reviews. I find that they're really inconsistent, and heavily overemphasize graphics. Of course, that's probably NOT a mistake; I think that unfortunately, that's what many people are into gaming for, never mind little things like game quality. Grrrr.

Damn....question time... how do you think the role-playing genre will be adapted to the Wii's new control scheme? Not to doubt the console as I'm insanely pumped for the release, but it seems that the somewhat "passive" control scheme can't really be updated to fit this new motion-sensing frenzy. Maybe I just lost my imagination after I hit 20....

-Dan, who will miss SOCK greatly...

Matt

You have to remember one thing, Dan: Just because the controller is loaded with new features doesn't mean that all games will make use of all of them. The remote can be turned on its side to resemble an old-school NES pad, which could be more than enough to control many RPGs. Now that games are often three-dimensional, though, I could see the remote being used to, say, change your point of view. For instance, I can see a sort of "while holding the trigger button on the remote, you can move the remote to adjust the angle at which you view the landscape" sort of thing happening. I guess that's a pretty minor thing, really, but I'm not at all worried that we'll be condemned to flailing about with our remotes every time we want to attack an enemy in all Wii RPGs that are on the way. And who knows? Maybe the games that do employ something like that will be just plain fun. :)

Thanks, Dan! Your questions will be best answered in the months to come! The Wii is just a few days away, now.



Moping over Mana... and Mother


Hiya Matt!

*Sigh* I know I said that I said I would be picking up Children of Mana on release, but sadly things didn't go as planned. I was short on cash that week and my sister reminded me that it would be silly to buy a game when we have little time to game these days and the Wii and Twilight Princess coming out shortly. It may be handheld, but since it's an RPG we play them together. Ah well, my birthday's in the month of December along with a certain gift-giving holiday. I probably won't be Mana-less for long. I know that many people are talking about Final Fantasy XII but me being my PS2-less self, I'll just throw around my usual random subjects.

Matt

Aww! I'm sure you'll get your hands on it soon. I want it, too, so we can mope together.

Well actually this next one is rather important. It seems that in a recent interview with Planet GameCube, Nate Bihldroff, head of America's Treehouse Localization pretty much stated that there are no plans to localize Mother 3 and there probably won't be in the immediate future. You can check out the whole interview here: http://www.planetgamecube.com/specialArt.cfm?artid=12337

You know, I was trying to hang on to a shred of hope, however small that Mother 3 would reach our shores. I mean they seemed pretty set of releasing Earthbound 64 in North America until that project was canned, and since Mother 3 is just EB64 on the GBA, it seemed more than likely it would be heading our way. Little did I realize that the game was sadly released too close to the GBA's dying days. Sure there'll be a few more good games to come, but maybe NOA thinks it'll be too much of a risk to translate and create a game that they feel wouldn't sell well. Still, even if Earthbound originally sold poorly, look at the legion of fans now! As much as I love the Big N, this is just something I can't ignore. I've bought their games for years and this is the thanks I get? :(

Matt

It's true, and you know that I have similar feelings on the subject, since I'm such a huge fan of Earthbound. I don't think that Nintendo is worried that it won't sell well over here. However, have you noticed that Nintendo itself hasn't really released anything at all for the GBA since the DS came out? Nintendo has really pushed to rid itself of its past in order to try and redefine itself for the future by heavily focusing on the DS and development for the Wii. It's really a shame, though, because as a result, we're going to miss out on one of the titles that some of us were looking forward to the most.

I only hope this sacrifice is worth it in the end, and you never know; we might be treated to a translation ONE day. (Always the optimist, I am.)

Ah well, maybe, just maybe, they'll decide to bring it over here at some point. There is a good chance a Mother 3 character will be on the Super Smash Bros. Brawl roster, which may entice people to demand for the game much in the same way Roy and Marth did for Fire Emblem. The GBA shouldn't be completely dead by then (I think). There is also the possibility that they could release the game over the Wii's Virtual Console. They may not make most GBA games available since the DS can still play them, but it would be slightly cheaper than releasing it in cart form.

Matt

Enh, I think that the chances of them bringing over a GBA game now are nearly zero. My only hope is that perhaps, we'll be treated to some sort of Mother compilation for the DS, or even the Wii. The Virtual Console? Hey, you never know. Perhaps we'll get that lucky!

Since there is no guarantee, I'm going to import the game along with Mother 1+2. Everyone talks about Earthbound and Mother 3, but what about the game that started it all? It looks positively primitive, but it does have that wackiness the Mother series is famous for. Heck it started that wackiness! Also despite being from the NES era, it's story is arguably better than Earthbound. It's music is also pretty catchy, though that may be due to Mother Original Soundtrack, which sports a few songs from the game that have actually been given lyrics. Of course in order to understand these games I've began playing the infamous "Earthbound 0" *coughromcough* and am awaiting the translation patch for Mother 3. An RPG is not the same if you can't understand it, but I still need to get these games legally, you know?

Matt

Yes, you do. I can hardly blame you for going to such lengths, though, because we've been tantalized time and time again by Nintendo only to be left wallowing in disappointment. I've never played the original, and I haven't dabbled with the ROM either, so I don't really know anything about the game, but to spawn something as great as Earthbound, I'd expect big things from Mother I!

I know I talked about soundtracks last time, but RPG music never ceases to amaze. I've heard a Swedish song for the first time in the ending theme to the PS1 game Legend of Mana. It's just absolutely gorgeous as are a few other tunes from the game I heard. I don't know if I'll ever be able to play it in full, but since the upcoming Heroes of Mana is suppose to have the Composer as LoM so that'll be something to look forward to. And of course the aforementioned Mother 1 soundtrack. I don't know about you, but it's the first time I ever came across a CD with game music that has been given lyrics. The songs themselves are cheesy to the point of being childish, but at the same time still capture the quirky nature of Mother. I wouldn't sing them out lout, but I've been unable to get the songs off my playlists. ^^

Also with my birthday and the holidays approaching, I should be able to pick up two more CDs. Baten Kaitos is a must, but I've split between the Children of Mana OST and Riviera: The Promised Land OST. Which one would prefer? Neither, or perhaps I should try to aim for both with BK?

Matt

Heh heh, I see. The theme songs of a few Final Fantasy games have been given lyrics, of course, but still, that's a rather uncommon thing to include. They'd be fun to hear!

I haven't heard anything from Children of Mana yet, and I'll tell you, it's so loud on the floor of E3 that you have no hope of hearing anything that comes from the game demos. HOWEVER, I absolutely adore the soundtrack of Riviera: The Promised Land. It's so upbeat and exciting and dramatic; exactly the style that I enjoy. If I were you, I'd pick that one up, I think, because that was one of the highlights of the game to me.

Ah yes, one more question before I end it here: What's one of the oddest things you do while playing RPGs, if you don't mind me asking? In my case, I along with my sister will actually "voice-act" for games that either lack VA's or for scenes that don't have any voice acting. This started with Paper Mario on the N64, when I got tired of hearing no voices and decided to "fill them in" but it wasn't until Tales of Symphonia that my sister got in on it too. It's must seem silly for two girls to be acting out and trying to sound like certain characters, but it's a lot of fun. If you don't do anything of the sort, then that's fine. I know I'm an oddball. XD

Well that's all I've got to say for today. Until next time, Matt!

-Strawberry Eggs

Matt

Oh. My.

I do the same thing occasionally, especially when my brother is playing through a game that I don't intend to play myself. He mostly gets quickly irritated, but I love doing it. I get really into character, too; so much so that I've actually nearly lost my voice in the past. Yeah, I used to be really into drama. What a different life I'd be leading now if I had continued in that direction...

Hmm, what else do I do that's a bit silly? OH, I know. Sometimes, if I have a bowl of potato chips or Doritos or some other snacky food to accompany me in my adventuring, I'll only treat myself to a bite every time I, say, win a battle. In Xenosaga III, I was playing the mini-game, HaKoX, and I would only take a chip if I managed to beat one of the levels. Strange, eh? I have no idea how that even started, but hey, that's that.

Thanks for your letter, and take care!



A Triple-Whammy of great gaming!


Hey matt how are you doing? i hope you are doing very well.

Matt

I'm doing just fine; thanks for asking! I've made no secret of the fact that this semester has proved to be very challenging on many fronts, but I'm thankfully handling everything decently.

Well i will just start by talking about Valkyrie Profile2, i have completed VP2 and i found it to be one of the best games i have ever played.

the battle system was awesome and very hard it was actually one of the hardest games i have ever played, but there is maybe too much grinding in the game for some, the dungeuns where very fun to go though and the puzzle where hard too. and the story was also very good so overall it is an awesome game but it has a few flaws.

Matt

Great! I'm very much looking forward to my own copy, which I believe is on its way...

Note that this is not really a good thing at all. I've got Disgaea II, Xenosaga III, Final Fantasy XII, AND Grandia III all on the go right now, and adding something else would be highly, uh... highly bad.

There hasn't been a lot of negative fuss over Valkyrie Profile II, and I liked what I played at E3, so I'm quite looking forward to being able to pass judgment myself. It's about time I wrote a new review or two; it's been awhile.

and i just completed Tales of the Abyss yesterday and i found it to be a game EVERONE must try. it is so good the story is really really good and the charcters where so good and it has a real world map and many towns. but the battle system was lacking i think because it was so much of the same all the time just mashing the X button and O button and it was very easy too. but it is a very long game it took me 71hours to completed it.

Matt

That's... a whole lot of good! Indeed, it sounds like Tales of the Abyss reversed the misfortune that was Tales of Legendia, which is great for all fans of the series. I know there are a few RPGamer Staffers that were really, really excited about this game too. The button-mashing isn't really my style, but it takes all sorts to make this world go 'round.

and lastly i started playing FF12 today and i was blown away at how good the game is, and i really like the battle system it is very much like the battle system of FF11 but the battle system in FF12 is better because it is more complex and deep. and i love those mob hunts i have already done 3 mob hunts with vaan and penelo the last one was very hard. i like the licenses board too it is very fun to mess around with i think.

Matt keep up the very good work you do here i will see you soon.

Take Care Matt.

grandiaerbest.

Matt

There is quite the learning curve to the game, isn't there? It's really deep in that it takes you a good while to get really good at managing your allies. There have been so many times where I've accidentally leapt into battle myself to try and give someone else a special command, but left my previous character's gambit turned off, causing them to stand around and make things awkward. Argh! Sometimes I feel like I'm just not "good" at the game, and others, I feel like I just have a lot to learn. In any case, the game is a really enjoyable one, with lots of stuff to do that should be appealing for all types of RPGamers. Long live Final Fantasy!

Take care yourself, and thanks for sending in the letter!



And now, we say goodbye...


We are gathered here to pay our respects for our dearly departed friend, known affectionately by all of us as SOCK. SOCK was with us a relatively short time, but in the time we got to know it, our lives were enriched far more than we would have initially thought. I do not know if all of us would've been here, if not for its positive influence on us.

Some of you knew it from birth, and to you I say, I envy you. I wish I had gotten the courage to be one of you, but alas, I was afraid. I was afraid of what SOCK may or may not have grown up to be. For that, I am truly ashamed, as I now know what SOCK has become. I do not regret finally stepping forward and being accepted into SOCK's close circle.

I know I will miss SOCK dearly, but I know that SOCK will not want us to be unhappy. A son of SOCK has been mentioned, and I for one look forward to seeing its presentation to the great kingdom of Q&A.

And so today, we honour the short but eventful life of one such as SOCK, a contest like no other, a competition unparalleled, and ultimately... a force that brought all of us together.

I cannot promise I'll be around always, but I promise I'll be in the crowd on that fateful day SOCK II will be presented to us all, and I will be cheering and celebrating with the rest of you. I must say, I have had fun here, and I wish you all well. I also say, congratulations to whoever wins on this, the last day. You have played well.

SOCK, you will be missed. In death, may you continue to find the joy that you have brought all of us in life. Rest well.

-CW

Matt

Yikes! Such a poetic goodbye. You almost make me teary-eyed!

I think that you hit the nail right on the head, though, with one thing: SOCK really has brought together a whole lot of Q&A readers, and turned them into a family. Because we hear from people in the competition every day, and you've seen the names on the scoreboard repeatedly for so long, I think that most of you have gotten to know each other really well; way more than if we had a just-letter-writing column in place. It's kind of cool, isn't it?

There'll be more where that came from, but for now, I'm only glad that you enjoyed the first one while it lasted.





THE NEXUS

I played a little bit of Final Fantasy V Advance last night, and wow! It's so cool to finally have a worthy translation. No more awkward "Princess Reina"... *shudder* The close-up shots are really neat to see (Boco is SO unearthly cute) and I'm really enjoying the redone music. Two thumbs up, so far!


Caption


For complete contest rules, click here!


Answers to November 9th's Questions

#370. e) 44 - 3,500 points
Incredibly, the original DS had 56 speaker holes, while the DSLite has only 12. I really think that the sound quality was slightly better on the original, though with headphones on, it obviously doesn't make much of a difference.

#371. b) Vegnagun - 3,500 points
Oh yes. It was one of the best summons in the game, too. The formula to produce it was actually this:
"Three of Demiga-ja/Point Quad-Sext/Apocalypse/Diamond-Metal King Armor/Flare/Holy/Meteor/Ultima/Hyper Beam"

And here is the final round, live:

MagRowan casts Thundara!

Belthasar2 is hit, but his Frozen and Force Field statuses cause him to gain 2,000 points!
BigWook is hit, but Radiant status spins the damage to William T.'s Gold Armor for 1,000 EN damage!
Purelunatic takes 1,000 damage!
Laurie takes 1,000 damage!
Kanato takes 1,000 damage!

Kanato casts Thundara!

Carabbit takes 1,000 damage!
DDX takes 1,000 damage!
Leaper's Diamond Armor takes 1,000 damage!
Arpijy takes 1,000 damage!
Gaijin takes 1,000 damage!

Kanato casts Flare!

Belthasar2 gains 30,000 points, due to his Frozen and Force Field statuses!

Kanato casts Firaga!

BLG gains 1,750 points, due to Force Field!
Belthasar2 gains 3,500 points, due to Force Field and Frozen status!

Kanato casts Drain!

It has no effect on Erika!


LufiaLvr casts Holy!

Erika takes 30,000 damage, due to Freeze status!

Boojum casts Merton!

Boojum's Mythril Armor shatters!
Macstorm takes 10,000 Damage!

Boojum casts Meteor!

Erunion takes 7,500 damage!
Leaper's Diamond Armor is hit for 7,500 EN of damage!
Genjuu takes 15,000 damage, due to Freeze status!
Boreas takes 7,500 damage!
Belthasar2 gains 15,000 bonus points, due to Freeze/Force Field!
Gaijin takes 7,500 damage!
Boreas takes 7,500 damage! Boreas is slain!
Draconn takes 7,500 damage!
Gaijin takes 7,500 damage!
BLG gains 7,500 points, due to Force Field!


Phew! Add to that the fact that BLG used a POINT QUADRUPLER, and things got awwwwfully close in the end. Take a look to the right, if you haven't already! What a climactic final day!! How fitting!

Note: You have until next Tuesday to claim any prizes with the points you have obtained. This is your LAST CHANCE!



Behind the Scenes

So, you want to hear about the details of this little game? I've been wanting to share so much over the past year, and now's finally my chance! There's lots to tell, so I'll get started.

Keeping Tabs on Everyone

First of all, by the end, SOCK involved almost two hundred contestants. Of course, that's a bit of an illusion, because some of those only submitted their answers to one day's questions. Still, though, I think that the number is quite something!

How did I keep track of everything? Well, you guys get to see the great Top 35 Scoreboard every day in the right-hand sidebar, but I in fact have a Master Scorecard on my own computer that keeps track of absolutely everybody as well as what major prizes have been won and what items are in everybody's inventories. This was actually accessible to contestants, believe it or not; by sacrificing a Scan Staff (the upgrade of a Scan Spell), you'd have summoned Pram the Oracle, whose auto-ability was to allow the summoner to see that Master Scorecard every day. Anyway, here it is, if you feel like seeing what everyone's scores looked like in the end. (You'll also be able to see what other summons and items people had up their sleeves too.) Here it is!

Summons
Actually, overall, I was surprised at how little people tended to attack summons. Now, a contest like this is always a bit experimental, since it's not like I've done this sort of thing before, but I figured that they'd be a bit of a conduit- a way to use your attack items. Also, there were many secrets tied up with the eighty-two summons that only a few of you learned about in the end. As those who attacked 'em found out, by dealing the finishing blow to any summon, an item was dropped and added to the killer's inventory. In fact, some hidden items (like Emerald Weapon's Earth Harp, Taloon's Silver Statuette, and Don Mole's Moonshadow Harp) could only be obtained in this way! Metal Slimes gave a bonus 1,350 SOCK points to anyone who could kill one... and the Metal King would have given a bonus 30,010!!

In general, my intent was to always ensure that the summons would be more useful than the items used to produce them. I guess I should have emphasized it more during the competition, but hey- you live, you learn!

Most summons had a formula that was based on item points, a rather hidden element of the competition. See, every single item had a point value attached to it, with the most useful items being highest in value. For instance, the basic Fire and Water spells had a value of 10, while an APG had a value of 50, Ribbons were worth 70, and so on. The highest-valued item was the Meteoja spell, which was worth an amazing 180 points.

In any case, most summons had an item condition and a point condition. Here are a few examples:

Golem: At least 40 points in armor (Summon gains an extra 250 Max HP per extra point)

Iifa Tree: Three Drain Spells; Total >= 105 pts (Summon gains an extra 200 Max HP per extra point)

Anima: Dark Converter + Light Converter + One other item; Total >= 130

Midboss: Dark Converter + Light Converter + One other item; Total <= 125 (Summon gains an extra 100 Max HP per point over 80)

In the event that a three-item sacrifice could fit more than one summon, the rarest one (or the one requiring the items with the highest point totals) would be the winner.

Since things will work slightly different in the next SOCK, I have no qualms about putting up the entire summon list for you guys to see: Here it is. If anyone is interested in hearing what their actual powers would have been, I have the whole list written down on sheets of paper that have been on my desk since September!

Hidden Items:
As mentioned above, one way to acquire hidden items was to defeat a summon. Another way, however, was to use the Rare Candy, introduced late in the game, thanks to an idea I got from Erika, I think it was (I apologize if it was someone else- just kick me!) There were somewhere in the neighbourhood of 175 possible items to obtain in the game, and about 50 of them were hidden. Some fun examples: The Apocalypse Staff, which was an upgrade from the Apocalypse Spell, could be aimed at a specific person to force them to use each of their items with a 50% probability on each item; the Legend Candy, upgraded from the Rare Candy, which advanced an item to its maximum level and did not get wasted if used on an inadvancable item; and the Paint Cannon, an upgraded from the rarely-used Paint Can, which allowed the user to paint over another Top-35er's score and status to anything, which would last for 4 days' time. A complete item list can be found here. Again, since there will be many new ideas in SOCK II, I don't mind giving this information away; it might give some of you an idea as to how my mind works for the next competition!!

Boojum:
So, the question of the hour: How did Boojum do it? He might go down in Q&A history as the SOCK-killer, but his strategy was very carefully-crafted and perfectly legal, and I'm a little bit surprised that nobody tried to do something similar earlier. In any case, my error occurred when I decided to add Gems to the SOCK Prize Shop. He jumped on the opportunity, and slowly acquired a specific bunch of items: Two Killer Swords, a Point Tripler, a Reflect Spell, Three Light Gems, and finally, a Holy Spell. I think you know where this is going: He cast Reflect on Dermot, and then blasted him with a Holy Spell amplified six times in power by using the pair of Killer Swords at the same time. Because of his Light Gems, he instead gained the points that would have otherwise caused him damage, and by using the Point Tripler, he changed the 90,000 points into something in the neighbourhood of 270,000. Wow. It seems so simple now, doesn't it? Contrary to popular belief, this had absolutely -nothing- to do with Erika's Apocalypse spell, which she just happened to use on the exact same day, incredibly. Anyway, that's the big story!


SOCK II

SOCK II is just around the corner! My mind is overflowing with ideas, and I'm going to share some of them with you.

Levels
Yes, SOCK II will allow you to level up and grow stronger. Every time that you reach a point benchmark that you've never reached before, you'll gain a level, which will be displayed alongside your score for all to see, if you're on the scoreboard.

Jobs
You heard me correctly. Every time that you gain a level, you may choose to gain a job level in a number of available classes! As your level increases in any class, you will gain abilities associated with that class! For example, a Fighter may receive bonuses to his/her physical attack power, a White Mage may learn spells to relieve status ailments, and a Blue Mage could learn techniques to deal efficiently with monsters. Yes, monsters.

Monsters
Monsters will be a part of this competition! Every so often, the Scoreboard will get into battles with monsters that will increase in strength as the competition goes on. These scoundrels will stop at nothing to cause serious damage unless they're dealt with, and may use different strategies to go about doing their ill.

Items
Items will no longer be awarded every single time a benchmark is crossed, and every competitor will have a limited amount of item space. However, there will now be Item Shops open, where points may be spent on new items that might give you the upper hand. Furthermore, every competitor will have bonus item slots, where a weapon, a piece of armour, a shield, and an accessory may be equipped. However, you'll have to be skilled enough to use those weapons! For example, a Nightmare Staff will be useless unless it is in the hands of a Black Mage of a high enough level.

Finally, this game will not just be about points, and the grand prize will not go to somebody who can instantly skyrocket because of clever item use. Of course, points will be a part of the whole thing, but only those who can succeed in all parts of the competition will walk away with the grand prize! It will be up to YOU to discover where you must come through.

Note that the contest is still months away, and some details might change before it actually begins. However, I hope that it turns out to be as good as the first one, and of course, I'd be happy to hear any feedback from anyone who has feelings on my big plans!

QUICKIES

After you do the final tallies for the final cohosting, are we still going to be able to cash in our points?

Matt
Yes! Absolutely! Otherwise, there would be no point to the last day of the contest. ^^ Please do.

Arros Raikou
*whipes a tear from his eye and does a double clap so the SOCK's soul rests in peace !.!*

Matt
Aw, pull yourselves together! It's going through a metamorphosis, for heaven's sakes- it isn't dying altogether. What on earth are you going to do when I'm actually finished as host!? (The day will inevitably come...)



IN CLOSING

Well, I'm sure that a huge number of people will be more than relieved to see the contest go for awhile, so that they don't have to listen to people (me included) blab on about it incessantly. Tuesday will be SOCK-free for the first time ever. Can I handle doing just Q&A? You'll have to tune in and see.

However, there is still much to look forward to! Next week will see the release of the PS3 across North American stores, and not only that, but Final Fantasy III, the game that many of us have looked forward to seeing for years, is on the way for Nintendo's DS. Please, tell me and Xlash your thoughts! Yes, Xlash will be returning to do the Guest Cohost that he missed out on due to personal reasons a couple of months ago. Please give him lots of mail!

And, of course, give Josh lots of letters for over the weekend, too. He's a hard worker and deserves your love!

Thanks, everybody, and have a great weekend.



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slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is ready for a rest!


I have a Xenosaga Episode to get past!

Most Recent

Nov. 9: Matt

Nov. 8: Matt

Nov. 7: Boojum & Matt

Nov. 6: Josh



Links

SOCK's Rule Guide

SOCK's Prize Shop

About the Host

Quote Archives



What I Want to Play:

1. Final Fantasy III

2. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

5. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl



What I'm Playing:

1. Final Fantasy XII

2. Xenosaga: Episode III

3. Final Fantasy V Advance



Final Scoreboard

Dueling Glove Holder:
CW
-----------

Summon in Play:

None
----------
1. Boojum
502,577 pts

2. BigWook
110,425 pts

3. BLG
107,612 pts

4. Belthasar2
90,293 pts

5. CW
60,814 pts

6. WereDMJewelle
35,343 pts

7. Laurie
34,050 pts

8. MagRowan
32,904 pts

9. JuMeSyn
32,709 pts

10. Bainick
30,079 pts

11. Ourobolus
29,638 pts

12. Alexander
28,883 pts

13. Kanato
27,925 pts

14. LufiaLvr
27,090 pts

15. Arpijy
26,587 pts

16. Prismatic
26,410 pts

17. TV's Adam
25,721 pts

18. JokingChimer
24,926 pts

19. Thinkfreemind
23,336 pts

20. Kharamain
23,329 pts

21. Dermot
20,146 pts

22. Arros Raikou
19,690 pts

23. MrMSty
19,630 pts

24. Waterfiend
19,355 pts

25. Hunter B
18,836 pts

26. Erunion
14,140 pts

27. DDX
9,908 pts

28. Cap
9,205 pts

29. Carabbit
9,015 pts

30. Weretiger Rei
8,935 pts

31. William T
8,790 pts

32. Xlash
8,094 pts


33. Colabottle
8,045 pts

34. Tabor
7,990 pts

35. Erika
7,840 pts

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