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This Secret Reads Backwards
October 12, 2007

Matt Demers - 22:39 EST

.........

Eh, I thought I'd throw in that extended dot-chain for fun. Everyone's been talking about the dot-chains lately, so why not?

As well: Oh my GOD, I want Edge to be a real person so that he can come and give me a big hug. That new FFIV propaganda is way, way too amazing.




LETTERS
The RPGaming Elite


Hi Matt,

Colleg life is catching up to me, so I haven't been able to read QnA as much as I would like. Before I forget though, I had a comment about the October 3rd column. In mrwheaters's letter and in your response, the overuse of "..." was mentioned. Weird as it may be, I actually use that a lot in face to face conversation by saying "dot, dot, dot" or "dot, dot, dot, question mark". I think you are right in saying that it is somewhat of an RPGamer thing though because I once said "dot, dot, dot" and the person told me they didn't know anything about computer language. We weren't even talking about computers! Oh well, if everyone said "dot, dot, dot" out loud then it wouldn't be as much fun. Do you think there are other real-life, RPG related things that only RPGamers notice? Or maybe things that are seen differently as a result of being an RPGamer? I'll end this letter here because I need to catch up on several columns of QnA now.

Bye for now,
Annalou

Matt

Well, dot-dot-dots are definitely part of my everyday language now, just because they're so incredibly versatile, thanks to their overuse in RPGs. I've got my whole family doing 'em.

I often find myself noticing how similar certain music sounds to RPG themes, which is certainly something that only our kind would think of. Otherwise, I don't know that it's things we NOTICE as much as things we KNOW. I think that my knowledge of random mythological trivia and my vocabulary itself is larger than that of the average joe, and I'd attribute a lot of that to RPGaming. I've always thought this, but I'll bet that if you took a sample of the IQs of a bunch of RPGamers, the average score would be higher than it would be for other groups.

How much would I bet? Mmm, 10 GP.



On main characters... and accidentally, on FFXII.


Ah, now here we go! Here's a topic that has come up recently when talking to one of my friends.

I rarely like the main characters in RPG's. Be it Cloud, Alex, or Jack Russel. My favorite Final Fantasy was part 6, which arguably has no true main character. I don't like many main characters because i don't associate myself with angsty japanese schoolboys. The angsty emo kids inside many games these days is a real turn off for me. I actually like silent protagonists more than the typical lead role. Chrono didn't whine endlessly, Suikoden 1 and 2's protagonists didn't dwell on their self worth. They shut up and got the job done. Tidus irked me the most recently, I couldn't stand him at all. Not only did he cry through the whole game, he didn't really grow any through the entire story. He went from a angsty crybaby to an angsty crybaby that thought he was in love. After Jecht's great speech and emotional dialog near the end, he totally kills the mood by reverting to the little kid he's always been. You would've thought that after all he had been through, he would've grown a little and see points of view outiside his own limited angsty self. If it wasn't for Auron bringing some masculinity into that title, I would've sworn it was Final Fantasy: Metrosexual edition.

Matt

The only thing "metrosexual" about Tidus is his hair. That annoying brat with an even more annoying voice actor, he drove me crazy too. Ugh, the infinite stream of squeaky "Huh?"s made me go absolutely nuts. Yuna's awfulness was almost as bad, and she was, coincidentally (maybe not so much), the second-most-main character.

While main characters are rarely "terrible" for me, and sometimes, they're even pretty awesome (Shion, yes!), there are a few that are just terrifyingly bad. And I agree wholeheartedly with your pick of Tidus as the most irksome, as you delightfully put it. OK, now in advance of your next paragraph: Which main characters have you liked?

What main characters have I liked? I am currently playing Grandia 2 and the main character is so far AWESOME. He's sure of himself and his abilities. He doesn't take crap from anyone, and he's interested in moving the story along without having to be goaded by another character. I really liked Ashley Riot from Vagrant Story for the same reasons. He was confident and knew he could do what needed to be done. When confronted with questions about himself, he didn't curl up into the fetal position and cry until the main love interest acted more like a man than he did. While the average age of videogame players has expanded into the 20's, it seems many RPG's are still catering to that teenage angst crowd. I am not suggesting RPG's should take the GTA route, "Adult Story" does not mean it has to be sexual and vulgar. I just want something that doesn't insult my intelligence, and doesn't have me pretending to be a 13 year old boy trying to prove the world wrong.

Matt

Or proving that despite your vulnerable and skinny thirteen-year-old exterior, you DO have it in you to do 9999 damage (and get the girl!), given enough time level-grinding, of course.

Vagrant Story is one of those titles lost to the past that I keep hearing about, but have never had the pleasure of playing, but given that it's supposed to have a lot of parallels with FFXII, it piqued my interest a lot last year. Hmm, hmm, just sayin'.

Responding to thinkfreemind's letter about changing the protagonist, it brought my Final Fantasy 12 experience to mind. In Final Fantasy 12 it was intended that Vaan would be the main character, and that he would take an "observation" role as the developers described it. It was meant to help the player associate themselves with Vaan, since they too were just observers of the story. I personally didn't care for that. As soon as I could, I switched to Basch, set him up as the tank(excuse the MMO term), and kept him at the front of the party for the remainder of the game. Everyone talked to Basch in the most important scenes, and Basch took action in most of the situations. I enjoyed the game so much more once I could set him up as the main character. We need more protagonists like Basch for us 20 and 30 somethings out there.

-Skypp

Matt

It's true. Damn, can you imagine what FFXII would have been like if told through the eyes of Basch himself? There could be such a... more interesting beginning. You could get to know more about his past, and about his brother. Details like that help you care about characters, hate villains, and really get emotionally involved in the storyline. I found that in FFXII, I felt like I was simply watching things from afar, and that I perhaps should have felt something more strongly about the Basch/Gabranth thing. Anyway, I totally agree with you: Vaan didn't really fit into the picture, much less his random I-would-be-a-white-mage-if-I-had-a-fixed-job-class "special friend" of his.

Thanks Skypp! I didn't mean to turn this into a FFXII rant, but my point is that I think you're right on the nose. Why can't RPGs feature more interesting heroes more often? What's stopping them from breaking the mold?



Oho, this will not be easy, given that I am definitely not a KH guy.


Matt/Sean

Just wondering, for the new Kingdom Hearts titles, which Disney and FF character who has not yet appeared in a KH game would you most like to see featured, and how prominently?

Matt

Oh jeez, I have no idea. I'll say Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove, because she's one of my favourite Disney villains of all time. As for a Final Fantasy character?? Let's go with Edge. That new 3-D overhaul makes it look like he'd fit in just fine anywhere he wants to be.



HA!


Hey Matt,

If I'm curious about Archaic Sealed Heat, am I just looking for a nice piece of ASH?

*slap!*

BigWook

Matt

Ooo, boy... careful where you slap!

BigWook, you truly have AWAY with words. Oh, and for more on Mistwalker's DS titles, hop in a time machine and fast forward a few years. (You know, that game has been in development for almost three years!? THREE YEARS IS TOO LONG for a DS game!)



QUICKIES

What's with all the news/trailers the last few days? Was there some game show I forgot about?

Matt

Yeah, it crept up on me too. I believe that Nintendo had a press conference - a very productive one - ahead of the E for All Expo next week, which Nintendo has basically made theirs (the others decided not to come to the party).

I just finished Mother 3 this morning! Until I have time to write out a full letter on my thoughts, all I can say is... It was awesome!

Matt

Aww, congratulations. I wonder when I'll get to play? *depressing silence*



IN CLOSING

OK, I'm done, and I pass you off to Sean, as I would a baton in a closely-matched relay race. Don't worry, I promise I won't drop you. In the meantime, I bought a squash for the first time in my life. This is truly a first in the spin-off game in the first person cooker starring yours truly as "MasterChef". How will things turn out? I'll be sure to report back next time.

Ah, how about a generic last new-question of the week? What are your thoughts on Nintendo's barrage of announcements? Is the long list enough to convince you that DS owners will be awfully busy over the next few months?

Thanks for reading, everybody, as always. I'll be back next week for more.



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