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ASK WHEELS
Blackout Edition
November 4th, 2011

11/04- 12:00PM EST

Welcome to another edition of Q&A! This week will be a bit short as I had a pretty crazy week. Also, I will be away next week, and  Becky "Ocelot" Cunningham will be filling in. Please send her some good Q&A questions. You can e-mail her at ocelot@rpgamer.com. Please include "Ask Ocelot" in the subject. You guys are great, and I'm sure will provide her with some good questions!

Anyway, on to your letters!





The Letters
Completion Time : Approx. 40 hrs.

Yeah, that's how long this letter will take you to finish reading! And the sidequests are mandatory!


Wheels

But...but...I don't wanna do the side quests! If they're mandatory, doesn't that make them main quests anyway? I bet it does!

Want me to come up with an even awesomer movie pitch and soundtrack? FINE! But I am not happy about it! I will do the honourless thing and include some songs already present in my previous list, just because I love them. Not this time though, or my letter is going to be far too long. Think of my list as good wine. It needs a bit more time! Heheh.


Wheels

Oh, very well, I will grant you more time, but just this one time! Don't expect my next challenge to you to be so easy. (Pro-tip: brush up on your favorite music of the 2000s)

Yes, I am a child of the 90s. Worse, I am a Dutch child of the 90s, together with Germany basically the birthground of techno hardcore (not to be confused with the rock version) and happy hardcore. I should've known you wouldn't know Dune, but they are one of the best, in my opinion THE best, happy hardcore group ever existed. I say worse not only because this has affected my taste in music in a seriously bad way (the aforementioned happy hardcore, which you might know by the name “rave”), but it also meant MANY RPGs never found their way on my SNES, or found their way through difficult (and some may say illegal) means.


Wheels

Oh no! Europe is much better off now, but I know you guys missed a ton of great RPGs back in the day. I will have to do some research on techno though, as I have no reasonable idea what happy hardcore techno is. Anyway, back to games...

To this day I have not finished Final Fantasy 6, because I knew that the screen would turn black during the ending sequence, because a british magazine told me so. I had to use an adapter to make it work on my European SNES, so there you have it. Sure, I now have it on GBA (and had it on PSX), but life is getting in the way these days. Getting Super Mario RPG to work was also a choir, and just looking at the adapter meant you lost your game saves to most games. It did create an error once which gave me 99 economizers in FF6, but when I gambled one in the Colloseum it threw away all of them...

I will finish FF6 one day! I WILL!!


Wheels

Dang straight you will! That really sucks, and makes me wonder what the heck the point of region locking things is to begin with. It's not like importing (to my knowledge) is massive business, so why punish the few customers that want to do it? I've never really seen a great explanation. Anyway, please for the love of all that is holy find the time to finish Final Fantasy VI, and I'm not just saying that because it's my favorite game (yes I am).

The only good things that came out of me living here compared to the US, game-wise, were Terranigma, perhaps the second best action RPG ever, after Secret of Mana, and the prettier box art for Suikoden. HA! Sometimes we get cool stuff.

Sorry, where was I?


Wheels

You do! Just look at the current Xenoblade situation and the Europe-exclusive special editions for Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2. Though I've imported the first two, and plan to do so for the latter, Xenoblade obviously required extra work to play in the US! I've heard great things about Terranigma but have yet to play it for obvious reasons. I should probably get on that while you're busy finishing FFVI.

Ah yes, Chronicles. Indeed, it is going to be a tabletop version of console Tactics games. Story is, like all tabletop RPGs, something that can be affected by the player, but to a much lesser (and different) extent than with D&D. Indeed, Shining Force, Fire Emblem, those are the types of games and, more importantly, stories I want to emulate with this game. For example, there is also no character creation. You pick a character, and you can choose which skill you gain at intervals from a kind of “talent tree”. You can't equip weapons or armour, only upgrade them, but you can equip things like rings, necklaces and that stuff. So very different from other tabletop RPGs. This will ultimately be to console RPGs what D&D is to PC RPGs. Does that make sense? Your interest spurs me on to continue though. I hit walls every now and then and need some motivation to keep going. So thank you!


Wheels

Please, keep it up! I feel like D&D can be too complex at times, just like some PC RPGs, so a tactics-based game with fewer complexities could find a larger audience. I think a lot of older RPGamers with less time available would appreciate a game that is easier to pick up and play. Please keep me updated on your progress!

Anyways, I came to a shocking conclusion, but I am glad I did. You have probably seen the pattern of my RPG interest. They are all SNES and PSX era. At first I thought it was just nostalgia, but I know now it is not just that.

I believe the reason I do not care much for modern day RPGs is the fact that many of them make mistakes that I now find unforgivable. They are the same mistakes the old school RPGs made. I don't like these mistakes in my favourite old RPGs, but I can forgive them for being older, pioneers perhaps, and many of the mistakes probably (possibly) had an element of technical boundaries,


Wheels

Even before sneaking peeks at your following paragraph I can see where you're headed, and I perfectly understand. It's almost like some of these mistakes get so ingrained in the style of these games, that they become features and people don't get that they aren't very good. I could go into a list, but I'll let you do the talking.

Things like small world maps with only a handful of towns, a general world population of which approximately 50% are the heroes and villains, shops that sell items that scale with the level of the heroes, all that stuff. I don't really mind playing a young village boy turning legendary hero for the hundredth time, having to defeat yet another evil emperor. That stuff is why I love RPGs. I think developers need to concentrate on changing the silly tropes of RPGs. I loved Suikoden for having a “country” map instead of a “world” map, for having characters that kept their weapons and only upgraded them. I loved Final Fantasy Tactics for having a map that made you FEEL like your party actually took several days to travel from one place to the next. Also, I don't really care for fancy graphics as long as the story is strong. Of course, these feelings come from a person that enjoys Dwarf Fortress, so graphic junkie is not something I am, but for some reason I feel that I am not alone. I probably had a reason for writing this, but I kind of forgot.


Wheels

You are far from alone on not caring about advanced graphics. I think this is kind of the norm for the RPG genre actually. While I love graphically-great RPGs as much as the next person, I have no issues playing games like Etrian Odyssey that focus on making the gameplay brilliant and do not worry as much about graphics. I'm not quite sure why more RPGs haven't gone the route of Suikoden to be honest. I mean, aren't developers as bored with save the world stories as we are? Also even though I have some friends that love Dwarf Fortress, I could never figure the thing out myself.

You know what you should do? Check out the following songs:

Dune – Hardcore Vibes (original)
Dune – Rainbow to the Stars (just don't listen to the lyrics)
Dune – Are you Ready to Fly
Dune – One Day in Glencoe (something completely different from them)
Dune – Can't Stop Raving (Club Mix)

And just to round off your happy hardcore 101 education:
Charly Lownoise and Mental Theo – Wonderfull Days (yes, with double l)
Charly Lownoise and Mental Theo – Stars (original)
Rave Nation – Going Crazy
Scooter – Friends (original)
Party Animals – Have you ever been Mellow

That should keep you busy, and make you happy at the same time.


Wheels

That should keep me busy. I'll give you an update the next time you write in about what I think.

Dave A. stated he would like to see a sequel or remake of Secret of Mana. You know what, of all the RPG games, that one is probably one of the easier ones to A: program and B: recreate graphics wise. I smell an indie project coming up! I just hope that they won't make those silly mistakes too many RPGs make. Just make it episodic without any upgrades. Yeah!


Wheels

You'd think so, but I dunno. I'd love to see an indie project like this, but I have a feeling they may stick too closely to Secret of Mana if they do. Secret of Mana was a great game, but it certainly wasn't perfect. There's plenty that an indie project looking to be like it could fix, such as quicker access to spells. I'd be up for anything that plays like it. It'd be cool if Square-Enix reached out to indie developers and got them to make Mana games (unlikely).

I promise next time I will actually have a point to make, or a quesiton to ask, with my letter.

Yours truly,
Other Daniel X – also known as D-Bro X
(the X just makes it cooler)


Wheels

Ha, you had plenty of points and questions hidden in this one, so no worries! Look forward to hearing from you again.


Old School

I'm looking for an old school style RPG.  I used to really enjoy Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale and the like.  Everything these days seems to have gone to first person and hack-n-slash.  I like the idea of going on missions/quests, controlling multiple characters, finding and upgrading weapons, etc.  I don't need the movie quality video, and top down point of view doesn't bother me.  Any ideas?  Or am I just stuck in the past? 

-Chris


Wheels

Well you are stuck in the past a little bit, but luckily I can help you out regardless. For starters I would check out the games by Spiderweb Software, as they are likely exactly what you're looking for, especially the Avernum series. I would of course recommend Dragon Age Origins as it is close in many ways to the Baldur's Gate games. I think Drakensang is also similar to those titles of old, though probably not as good. Other than that, try some newer titles too! They won't bite!
IN CLOSING

That's it for this week! I'll see you all in two weeks, and don't forget to send some questions to ocelot@rpgamer.com for the guest column next week. I'll probably still use twitter while away, so feel free to bug me there!

-Wheels

P.S. Those connection challenges original intended for this week, along with a great question from TwinBahamut, have been delayed till next time.

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