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ASK OLIVER
As Night Gives Way to Morning
May 10, 2008

Oliver Motok - 5/09/08 02:11 CST

BWAHAHA, Lusipurr is not here. Only me, your friendly neighborhood Currents columnist. Hopefully I'm familiar to you, but if not, I will be soon enough. Lusipurr generously offered me the opportunity to host a Q&A column, and I was happy to accept. I've wanted to host Q&A since before I started working here, frankly.

It's late, and I'm trying to get this done before tomorrow. Why? Because tomorrow I depart for Florida with my family. We're taking two vehicles this time around for purposes of added storage space, and I have been graced with the task of driving one of them. It's a solid six to eight hour drive, and the mere anticipation of sitting in the driver's seat for so long is causing soreness in my behind. Hopefully I'll actually find this to be a relaxing experience. After all, relaxation is the purpose of these little escapades. Right?

UPDATE - 5/10/08 Okay, so I wasn't able to index before leaving. I'm sorry, but I'm only human, and my body CRIED OUT for sleep. Seriously, it did. I'm currently in a beach house located on a private beach somewhere between Panama City and Destin. I found a secured wireless connection floating around called "Great Escape." Care to guess what its password was? That's right, it was "greatescape." How original can you get? Oh well, I'm grateful to them at any rate. It means I can index this column!

Let us move onto the news--er, my apologies, the letters. There aren't many of them unfortunately, but I did what I could.





The Letters
HOHOHO, I AM THE MYSTERY GUEST-HOST!


Hello Mystery Guest-host,
I have no clue who's hosting this column today, so these questions should be appropriate. Plus, I donít know if you've been given complete control over the column (for today) or if you're sharing questions with him. Depending on how Lusipurr lets you answer them, he can answer them too if he desires.

Oliver

I, Oliver Motok, am hosting this column today. I have not been given complete control, I have taken complete control of Q&A. Lusipurr is ill, and I struck whilst he was weak and unable to defend himself. As you've likely realized at this point, he will not be answering any questions today, in part or in whole.

I'm just rambling now, so here are my questions...

First, how did you get involved with RPGamer in the first place? To be able to guest-host here suggests you perform some function or role for the site, so... what is it?

Oliver

You think that just because I'm here right now, I actually work for this site? Presumptuous, aren't we?

But you are correct. For better or for worse, I do work for RPGamer. The story of how I got here isn't too terribly interesting, but since you asked, I suppose I'll share it anyways.

'Twas back in November of 2007 when RPGamer posted a hiring call, for the purposes of seeking out a game previewer and a Currents columnist. Having frequented RPGamer for the past two years or so, I had seen these hiring calls before. However, for one reason or another, (mostly out of laziness) I had never taken the time to apply. At this particular time, however, I was actively looking for a way to get some writings of mine published, for the purpose of building a portfolio. (I am a Journalism major, you see, with the intention of writing about videogames for a living). So, I cooked up some writing samples, sent them in, and waited. It wasn't long before Andrew Long, our Human Resource manager, contacted me requesting an interview... on IRC. Now, I had never used IRC before. In fact, I barely knew what it was. So, I quickly realized that before I could attend any interview, I would have to give myself a crash-course in IRC usage. It was... rather painful, to be frank. And when I finally managed to get into #rpgstaff and talk to Mr. Long, (or Castomel as he's known in those parts) I still didn't know what the hell I was doing. Cast kept inviting me to different channels, I wouldn't realize it, and he'd have to kindly point me to the invite. When he had to do it for a fifth time, he wasn't so kindly anymore. It went from "join the channel I invited you to :)" to "join the channel I invite you to :p" to "JOIN THE CHANNEL I INVITED YOU TO!" Somehow, after all that was said and done, I ended up with a password of 12345. I am not joking. And no, you can't come and ghost me, because I CHANGED it. Sorry. Kinda funny in retrospect, and in all honesty, I'm still an IRC noob. I can perform only the most basic of functions, and little more.

As for the function I have on this site, I believe most of you know already: I'm your friendly neighborhood Currents columnist. Currents is a weekly column in which I gather what I consider to be the more potent and interesting bits of industry news, and present them all in one easy-to-read, heavily opinionated column. I write about hardware news, sales figures, videogame legislation, and best of all, Jack Thompson. (Seriously, writing about that guy never gets boring.) In essence, it's the one section of RPGamer that isn't necessarily RPG related. Sometimes a tidbit of RPG-related stuff appears, but I'm pretty sure I'd piss a few of our news writers off if I started posting news about upcoming Square Enix games in my column, since that stuff kinda belongs on our index. If you really want to know what Currents is though, then you need to go read it for yourself! There's a link to the latest column at the top of this page.

Second, what was your first gateway RPG into the RPG genre? For example, the first RPG I played was Zelda: Link's Awakening, but it was FF3/6 that REALLY got me hooked into committing to the genre. So, what got you hooked in the first place?

Oliver

For me it was also a Zelda title that got me into the genre. To be specific, it was Ocarina of Time, which I continue to regard as the finest game ever created. I don't technically consider Zelda to be an RPG series, but Zelda is what made me into the gamer I am today. Before Zelda, all I really did was play any of the licensed garbage that caught my eye as a young chap. After Zelda, Final Fantasy came, and so began my love for the RPG genre.

Finally, what is your opinion on Super Smash Brawl being overshadowed by Grand Theft Auto IV? Seriously, they're both great games, but I could see Brawl pushed aside for GTA since its more popular than Brawl as a franchise. I just call that bad timing, donít you?

Oliver

Er, not sure where you're coming from on this one. From where I sit, Super Smash Bros Brawl was released on March 9 - almost two months before the recent release of Grand Theft Auto IV. So no, I don't see any bad timing here. And also, I think that GTA and SSBB tend to attract two very different audiences, so that makes it even less of an issue. Personally, I'm with the SSBB crowd, as that's where all the classy people hang out. Well, Lusi's here too, but it is what it is.

Hope these questions suffice, and have a nice day,
BLG

Oliver

Oh, I suppose they sufficed. That much I can give you. Thank you for the letter, BLG! You have the honor of being the very first Q I've ever A'd, which I'm sure counts for something. Just don't ask me what.



I-I wasn't crying!


Dear Kitty Kat,

Oliver

Ugh, there are no CATS here. Cats are abominable, and I can't stand them. They're even worse when armed with a megaphone and riding atop a stuffed mog.

I Just wondering what game/games have made you really get emotional. Examples would be tears, anger, laughter, etc. I'm pretty sure you get the point. Even if you didn't quite get to the point of the emotions I described, I'm sure some game tugged at your emotional heart string in some way. If I'm even remotely correct (which I know I am), tell me the game and the predicament/event in said game that tugged at ur emotions. The most recent game for me like this was Tales of Legendia. Loved that game! Inform me!!!!!!!!!!!

Mr. Snuggles

Oliver

Please... don't abuse the exclamation point. It works hard for us, and deserves respect. In this case, you used approximately ten more than was necessary to get your point across. Oh, and it's best to save slangish contractions such as "ur" for message boards, chat rooms, and the like. Just letting you know.

Anyways, on to your question. What games have filled me with emotion? Where do I begin? I suppose I'll give you a few examples. Aerith's death in Final Fantasy VII is, of course, monumental. It wasn't so much the fact that she died, per say, but how the entire scenario was handled. It gracefully avoided being overdramatic or drawn-out, and in fact, came off as very fast and very... cold. The fact that Aerith didn't gasp out any final, dramatic dialogue was a brilliant thing, as was the very brief verbal exchange between Cloud and Sephiroth. I could devote many paragraphs to dissecting that scene, but I'll stop here.

Funnily enough, another example that springs to mind is the ending to Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. In all, Crisis Core's storytelling didn't measure up to the emotional depth found in VII, but the ending to the game was possibly the most emotionally gripping sequence I've ever witnessed. Of course, I can't describe it in detail, but I will simply say that it is the finest union of storytelling, gameplay, and music I've ever seen for an ending.

Moving past Final Fantasy and its offshoots, Lost Odyssey is one of the most emotionally gripping games I've ever played, and is truly impressive in that respect. What the game seeks to convey is how fragile, fleeting, and precious human lives are, and succeeds brilliantly in doing so. This is largely seen in the dream sequences that pepper the game, in which we are given a look back across Kaim's one thousand year existence. However, the single most emotional scene in Lost Odyssey occurs during the main storyline, and takes place at the end of Disc 1. While many games have invoked a sense of sadness within me, this particular scene practically brought me to tears, which is no mean feat. I'd love to describe the scene in detail, but ZOMG SPOILERZ.

Other games include the Xenosaga series as a whole, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy VIII, and Final Fantasy X. Great question. Oh, and it's funny you should mention Tales of Legendia. I finally got around to trying that game, only to find that it's all but unplayable on the 80GB PS3, due to rather horrid graphical distortions that frequently pop up. If I want to play it now, I'll have to dig my PS2 out of its sealed tomb. And I'm too lazy for that.



Turn-based battles are so last-gen


To our honored guest,

Oliver

I believe you mean "To the regent." (That's me.)

I have been replaying a lot of the games of my childhood recently. It started with Final Fantasy VII and now I am replaying Final Fantasy VI as well. I also recent got myself a PSP and Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, not to mention my on going personal crusade to finish Final Fantasy XII sometime this year. I was thinking about the "evolution" that RPG's have undergone, especially the Final Fantasy series. They went from straight RPG's with a little something special in each one to give it a little more flavor to an outright change to live-action RPG's. My question to you is this: which style of game play do you prefer? The law and order of older RPG's or the fast-paced action of this new era of action RPG's?

Oliver

Erm, I'm unsure what you mean when you say "live-action RPGs." As far as I know, current-generation RPGs continue to feature digitally rendered characters and graphics. They are not filmed with a video camera. As for my preference of old or new? I have no preference, really. I have the ability to enjoy games for what they are, in most cases. This is why I've found a way to enjoy, and in most cases love, every Final Fantasy I've ever played. Most people have at least two or three entries in the series that they despise, but I despise none of them.

Every series that has stood the test of time has evolved, in some way, over the years. Final Fantasy, like you say, is a prime example of this. Without innovation here and there, I fear that the RPG genre will become stagnant, and unappealing to everyone outside of the pre-established niche of RPGamers. But, while I appreciate innovation, I'm not among those who stand back and regularly blast games that DARE stick to a winning formula. For example, the negative reviews I've read for recent titles such as Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn and Lost Odyssey filled me with ire. They are both very traditional games, and they were all penalized for being so by the mainstream gaming press. Never mind the fact that Lost Odyssey and Radiant Dawn both represented nearly flawless executions of their respective genres, they were blasted simply because they weren't shiny and new.

If you're simply asking me if I enjoy older or newer RPGs more, my favorite RPG of all time is Final Fantasy VII, which is getting on in years. I enjoy old games very much, but since I hold no emotional attachment to them, (i.e, I didn't play them as a young child) they are judged by the standards that are in place today. This makes a huge difference, because the ever-present nostalgia factor is gone. For example, when some old geezer tries to tell me that Final Fantasy IV represents a monument in videogame storytelling, it's all I can do not to laugh in his face.

Sincerely,

EndorForever

Oliver

Thank you for the letter, Endor. And good luck with your crusades! You really should finish FFXII, you know. It's been out for over a year now, and there's really no excuse NOT to have finished it at this point.



Winds of disappointment


Hi,

Oliver

Yo.

Is there any news about anyone localizing the latest entry in the Shining series, Shining Wind? It's been released almost a year ago in Japan, and it still hasn't come over to the US. Any news? Thanks, Kristian

Oliver

None, I fear. Disappointing for you fans of the Shining games, I'm sure; especially since the series seems to have a fairly decent track record as far as North American localizations go. I don't believe the game was very well-received in Japan, (Famitsu gave the game 27/40 - 7/7/7/6) so that likely has something to do with it. Sorry! If, through some twist of fate, the game does get localized, I can guarantee you RPGamer will be among the first to let you know.



IN CLOSING

So tired... and soon I will be driving. What an unpleasant thought.

That was pretty fun. Hopefully Lusi will let me do it again sometime. Go check out my latest Currents column! If you need some inspiration for a letter, I'm sure you'll find something that catches your eye in there. As long as they don't go changing the password on me, I'll be utilizing this here wireless connection to produce a Currents column! I'd forgotten how nice Florida is, to be frank. But it's even nicer when you have an internet connection on hand.

Until our next meeting!



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