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ASK SEAN
Column 47: Happy New Year!
December 31st, 2007

Sean - 3:43pm EDT

I hope everyone has a safe evening and a lot of fun! Tonight I will be dining on sushi with my girlfriend, Georgiana. The two of us will then likely see a movie before retiring for a quiet evening at home. Neither of us are party animals, and even if we wanted to, we couldn't. She has a broken foot and can't dance. Sigh.

I've been busy in the last week. Let me run through my accomplishments. I finished reading Peter David's Darkness in the Light and it turned out to be a lot better than I thought it would. I will definitely be picking up part two when released. I also started and finished Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study. This was one of the books that was recommended to me by the staff at Chapters. I loved it from start to finish. It was enthralling. I need to pick up its sequel, Magic Study now. I would give it a 4.5/5. Yep, that good.

I finally finished The Witcher and its review. It is currently in the proofing stages, so expect it on index soon. I won't go too much into details, but it turned out to be a lot better than I expected it to. Read the review, if you desire to know more about it.

I've played a lot of FFXI over the last weekend. I've made a lot of progress in that game. First of all, my brother reactivated his character and moved it over to Alexander, where we staffers play. I now don't need Lusipurr to help me farm anything, as he already has all the items he needs. As for progress, I finally finished leveling my White Mage job to 37 (the highest I want to get it to). I beat all the Prime Avatars (Ifrit, Titan, Garuda, Shiva, Ramuh and Leviathan) and proceeded to beat up Fenrir. I also acquired a pair of Carbuncle Mitts. All this to prepare for Summoner. I just need three more Avatars and I will feel complete. This is a lot more than I expected to accomplish!

I've been mucking around with Warriors of the Lost Empire. As I believe I am the sole staffer playing the game, I will be reviewing it. That is, if it ever ends! It just keeps dragging on and on. Ugh. It isn't very good.

I've outfitted my 360 with a trio of games. I picked up FFXI for it, Eternal Sonata and Mass Effect. It took close to three hours to sign up for XBox Live. It sucked. Every time I filled in my info, it would spin and then disconnect. It was then followed by four hours of installing FFXI and patching it. It was a horrible experience that makes me wonder if it is even worth it. I've progressed another hour into Blue Dragon, but I turned it off in favor of The Witcher.

It will be a short column today, as I only have three letters. Alas, sometimes having no letters can be a good thing!




LETTERS
Item!


sean,

you can turn off the "annoying" voice that says "item" in blue dragon. try options sometime.

Sean

Yes, I found the option. I only played about 30 minutes or so and didn't dive into the options at all. It is now off, although it doesn't matter much, as I think I will be playing the game with the sound off. Why? I am not a fan of the music in that game,

So, do you always have complaints about things no matter what? Are you the typical modern gamer that expects games to please them according to their exact specifications of what a game should be, as opposed to meeting the game halfway as the work of art that it is and NOT getting annoyed by some little voice that can be turned off? Seriously. The game is beautiful, with lovely music, a fun and long RPG, and all you have to say is some comment on some insignificant aspect of the game that you don't have to subject yourself to in the first place. Need help finding the options/config menu?

Sean

Ugh. I don't think I deserve that kind of a comment. I do complain a lot (I always have), but I just needed to say something about the game (as an initial thought anyways). Now that I have put a few more hours into it, I have a bit more to say. I am not a fan of the voices. While the graphics are nice and crisp, I find that they hurt my eyes. The thought of finding poo is not something that I enjoy. I find it immature. I am not a fan of the Earthbound style of games. And why does the cast have to be full of children? Ugh. Why can't adults save the world for a change? I will continue playing it in my fashion, but let these complaints be known!

I am tenacious. It really takes a bad game (*cough*Persona*cough*) for me to put it down without finishing it. Just because an initial view of a game is negative, it by no mean means that I won't like it in the end! Look at Darkness in the Light: it was boring at the start, but I got hooked towards the end!

I do look forward to playing this game (as well as the other HD games that I have), but I require the use of a HDTV game to do so. I won't rob myself of the pleasure of playing these games as they were meant to be played. That means that I will either need to wait until I move, or play through them a bit at a time whenever I have HDTV access. Thanks for the letter, Martin! I won't stop being negative, by the way. It isn't a resolution, or anything.



As if Geralt needs even more love...


Hi Sean,

I'm a regular reader of RPGamer and have also listened to the podcasts since inception. I've noticed that there is definitely a console slant to the site, though PC games are not exempt, with a few reviews popping up each year. As a gamer, I'm non-partisan - I love both console and PC as long as they have a long, involved story-line. Ultima 4 and FFVI being my respective faves.

Sean

You are like me then. Console RPGs are just more accessible to the common people. In any case, PC RPGs are not very numerous so it is easy to see why not many people play them. Why keep a PC upgraded when there is only one or two games per year that you may be interested in playing? Of course, MMOs are mostly PC-based and this is what most people spend their time on now anyways.

I just finished possibly one of the best RPGs of the past few years, called The Witcher. I'm sure you've heard of it. It was built off of the NWN engine, though it's been tweaked beyond recognition.

Sean

Yes, I have heard of it. I've spoken about it in this column a bit over the past couple of months. I just finished it this weekend too!

The story and gameplay is fantastic - you play this hybrid monster hunter who is hunting down a corrupt magician. What I enjoyed most was the fact that I never quite knew whether I was making the right decisions. The Witcher incorporates various decision tangents that really do affect the outcome of the game. They're not always obvious and nor is there always a clear good/evil choice - sometimes it's choosing the lesser of two evils.

Sean

Or the lesser of two goods! I love that about the game. You never know just what will happen! Want to save the peasant from being raped? Go ahead! But it turns out that she is not quite what she seems and should have been left for dead. Mwahahahaha!

This is the main story-line, but like all great RPGs, there are plenty of diversions. I really enjoy unexpected scenarios that you can just stumble upon. Early in the game, I met a bard who was lamenting the lose of his lute. Later, while I was exploring the main town, I entered one of the many unmarked generic houses. Inside was an young woman crying over a one night stand she had with a bard. Searching her room I found a lute. I brought it back to my bard friend who gave me xp, and further conducted an impromptu performance. This whole scenario would have been missed had I not fully explored the city environment.

Sean

I remember that. The house was marked on the map, by the way. In any case, I walked into her room, convinced her that by sleeping with me she would hurt the bard, and then picked up the lute on my way out. I then gloated about it to the bard, who is a good friend of mine, by the way. It was fun! There are lots of moments like that in the game.

Anyway, enough mooning - I honestly feel this is oe of the best RPGs in years, which brings me to the subject of this email. For months now, I've been looking for some trace of mention on RPGamer, on the site and on the podcast. It seems like The Witcher has passed by the whole writing staff. Because Atari did such a poor job promoting this game in the west, the only way it is gaining any kind of steam is through word of mouth in the US/Canada. You all need to play this game. Interestingly, it is topping all kinds of year end review charts on generalist web-sites - it was IGNs RPG of the year, questionable Gamespot's readers choice RPG (Persona was their official top choice - also a fantastic game, but having played both, The Witcher is better) and was in Gamespy's top 10 PC games of the year. It's getting the populist vote and hopefully RPGamer can take a look, since it looks like CDProjeckt (the dev) needs the exposure and I'd love to see more content.

Sean

As I said earlier in this column, I wrote a review on the game. It will get some exposure. Not all of the staff here have gaming level PCs or PCs at all (some use Macs), so I am not at all surprised that I am the only person to have played it. Lots of people want to, but they simply don't have the hardware for it. Now, if only they were to release a version for the 360...

There is one downside to the Witcher which is the load times. They are horrible, sometimes taking up to a minute to transition. The devs say they are fixing this in an upcoming patch so hopefully it won't be an issue by the new year.

Sean

I got the patch. It worked wonders and is mentioned in the review.

Reading over this, maybe I'm a little too gushy - I have no affiliation with this game other than as a hardcore gamer. As an RPG centered site I feel impassioned to share my thoughts on this great game and hopefully somebody (Chris.. Paws.. you?) spends some left over Christmas money on this overlooked gem and can then share teh love with the RPGamer readership.

Asmallpond

Sean

I picked this gem up on a whim while walking through a Walmart after Halloween. I wrote a review, so I think we are covered now. Thanks for the push to finish it!



Some PR mumbo jumbo


Hey there,

It's The Pezman. My name has shown up on the Q&A, editorials and news writer applicant section from time to time. College has prevented me from staying as involved as I might like, but I still make it to the site to check for news every now & again. This is my first Q&A in quite some time.

Sean

You should apply for a newsie position. I believe we will be looking for someone soon.

First of all, with a good number of other videogame fan sites out there (and a few of them devoted to RPGs as well), I can't help but wonder why you all function as separate entities. With professional review magazines and sites it makes sense: competition keeps standards high. However, in this case, it simply seems a matter of giving us the best and most accurate information that you, as fans, can. Why work on that separately, especially when the same story will show up on site after site? It seems to make more sense to collaborate and work together.

Sean

You should ask this of the bosses. As far as I know, we are fueled by our competition with our competitors. Collaboration is not always easy, especially on this scale. How would all this come to be? Which site would be the dominant one? Who would be making money off of it? For the owners of these sites, the sites are their full time jobs.

Furthermore, as a fan site, you have some opportunities that professional web sites don't. You can interact more directly with fans and consumers largely because you are fans and consumers. But I've never seen you at public events like MAGfest. It seems to me that you'd want to gain as much publicity as possible, and sometimes, in this techno-driven society of ours (and especially gamers) it makes sense to put in a little face-to-face time.

Sean

That is easy to say, but I can't really afford to travel around to all the big events to show off RPGamer. This is not my day job. In fact I make negative money working here and I do it simply for fun. If these trips could be paid for, it might make a little more sense, but we don't have the money to do so. It would be hard for me to justify going to local events, let alone bigger ones elsewhere. In any case, I don't really think it would be necessary to advertise the site in this manner.

Finally, have you considered allying/linking to more game sites than you do? I'm not sure how high-profile RPGamer is nowadays, but working with and linking to sites like OCRemix, PBC Productions, and other well-developed quality fansites that, like yours, have achieved much throughout their years will indicate that RPGamer is a team player in this wide wide world of video game fandom (as it should be).

The Pezman

Sean

You shoudl write an editorial about this. I am sure Macstorm would be happy and maybe Jordan would take note. I don't have any knowledge about this stuff, so I will leave it at that. Thanks for the thoughts though.



NO QUICKIES TODAY



IN CLOSING

Well, as promised, I will now go into my favorite games of the year.

Best Graphics: Folklore
Best Music: The Witcher
Best Story: Folklore
Best PC: The Witcher
Best MMORPG: Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
Best Console Game: Folklore
Best Portable Game: Brave Story
Best Dressed Character in an RPG: Keats (Folklore)
Biggest Letdown: Dungeon and Dragons Tactics
Best Non-RPG: Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
Game of the Year: Folklore
Most Fun I've Had With a Game This Year: Defeating the impossiboss in Dragoneer's Aria and gloating about it!

See you all next year! I want to hear stories about what you did tonight, but only if it is gaming related! I have one such story to tell, but I will leave it for next time. Happy New Year everyone!



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gorne@rpgamer.com
Sean will be eating sushi, lots of sushi.


Hmmm I need to send out the last of the contest prizes, don't I?

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Now Obsessed With:

1. Sly Cooper 2: Band of Thieves
2. Guild Wars (all four--Prophecies to start)
3. The Legend of the Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
4. Bleach (Wii)
5. Bleach (DS)
6. Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East
7. Monster Hunter Freedom 2
8. Blue Dragon
9. Metroid Prime 3
10.Final Fantasy VI Advance



Hot Topics:

1) What were the best games of the year, and why? Speak of graphics, story, etc.
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My Reviews

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2. Etrian Odyssey
3. Lord of the Rings Online
4. Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom
5. Folklore
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