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gloop gloop gloop
Alanna - July 2 '01- 06:00 Eastern Standard Time

I am currently sitting at my desk chair with a shower cap on my head. Yes, there's a point for this; it isn't just because I'm odd. I might be odd, yes, but this is because my roommate and I just spent an hour and a half covering my hair with purple hair dye. And as anyone who's ever dyed their hair odd colors knows, with "semi-permanent" hair dye, the longer you leave the dye on, the darker the color winds up being.

At any rate, this is leading to all sorts of interesting "gloop gloop gloop" noises. I find it funny that nearly every hair-dye manufacturer whose products I've ever used apparently goes out of their way to make their dye smell precisely like those colored markers that everyone used back in kindergarden. You know, the ones that the art teacher always had to tell you not to sniff, because then you'd get marker on your nose. Every time I crack one of those bottles, I sniff it, and it takes me right back to elementary school.

Considering that I'm 24, this is a long trip.

I find it very funny that there are a large number of people in the world, including my co-workers at my usual corporate job, who have never seen me with any color hair but purple, except for that one time a few months back when I decided to dye it blue. You know. Just for the change.

Anyway. It's good to be back on Q&A for a day or so, though I don't know how Goog does it full-time. On to the letters.

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"I'd like to cast 'Detect Penguin'..."

Hello Alanna,

I'm sending you this question mainly due to the fact it just popped into my head. It deals with Planescape: Torment's creator.

Any idea who it is?

Any idea what he (or she) is doing now?

Mainly I'm asking because after playing that game I want another game with such a great story. Thanks for you help if you give me any.

Also on the subject of Planescape, is there anyplace you know where I can find more information about the history of the planes and the dead nations and the like?

-Sanchez

Alanna:
Oh, man, Planescape. Planescape. For those of us who got into RPGs via AD&D, "Planescape" conjures up images of sitting around a table in Jamie's basement at four AM, surrounded with dice and Mountain Dew, haze of smoke in the air, throwing M&Ms at each other and trying to come up with some weird trick that the GM had never heard of ... ahem. I'll stop being nostalgic now. It's gotta be the grape-marker smell.

At any rate: Planescape was originally a creation of TSR, Inc, the company that published D&D. TSR was bought out a few years back by Wizards of the Coast, the company that publishes Magic: The Gathering. For more games like it, you might want to take a look at the other AD&D games, such as Baldur's Gate. You can find more information on the game setting at the Unofficial Planescape Homepage, or if you're feeling really ambitious, you can probably pick up the Planescape source material in your local gaming store or your local Borders.

 
I generally stick with "Lady of Temporal Termination", actually...

Greetings, mistress of reality. (or would it be fantasy?)

This stinks, I lost the contest. Anyway,

1. Do you think that fanfiction could influence various developers to change or use elements from Fics of their respective games for use in their own games?
2. In the current state of the console RPG market, what would your suggestions to the hardware companies, game developers and publishers be, individually?

Thank you for your time,
Starsickle

Alanna:
1). Fan fiction is a really touchy subject for most companies. You'll read all the time about American TV producers and production companies that try to shut down online fanfic for copyright violations and trademark infringement; the most frequently targeted fandoms are Star Trek and the X-Files. Most RPG and anime fanfic authors are lucky in that Japanese companies are used to fan fiction and fan work; Japanese copyright law is signifcantly different than US copyright laws.

That having been said, very few game designers and game companies read fan fiction, for a number of reasons. The chief reason is that if a game designer or author uses something that they found in a fanfic, they can be held responsible for copyright infringement -- for using something from their own world! It's a horribly complex and tangled situation, and it makes for some fascinating cases. If you're interested in further research, go and look up about the time that Marion Zimmer Bradley, the fantasy author, had to scrap a book she'd planned -- because someone who wrote fanfic about the world Marion created threatened to sue.

2). Really, my one bit of advice -- not like anyone ever listens to me around here -- would be for companies to do things out of artistic integrity and not out of the desire for profit. A lot of times, you'll hear gamers bitching about games because something was done to make a profit, and not because it was what the game needed. (A good example of that would be FFIX. Say what you like about it -- I hated it, which is a topic for another rant altogether -- no one can dispute the fact that it was a deliberate attempt to capture the "retro" market.)

While I can't fault a company wanting to make a buck, I still have to say that things should be done because it's the Right Thing To Do, and not because they want to increase their profits. I'm an idealist; I think that if companies do the right thing, they'll make money anyway.

 
I just beam the games to my brain from the company that made them!

Hey Alanna......

Doh, I seem to forgotten what department you work with on RPGamer. Sorry.

Where do you buy your games and gaming stuff? Recently, we (finally) got a EB where I live. Does EB kick Microplay's ass everywhere else because it seems like that's going to happen here.

Anyway, FF Chronicles isn't out yet in some places. Have you or anybody on the staff played it yet? I know most ppl have played CT and FF IV before but what i'm talking about is - what's different? Is the translation better or worse? Are loading times terrible or tolerable? Are the added movies really worth it if you've already own both games? (I guess i'm hoping to get a first impression type-thing....if that's possible)

--Rahlious

Alanna:
Hey Rahlious! I work as the fan fiction editor, though I've been slacking horribly over the past few months; my life's been horrendously busy. I feel horribly guilty about that, but what can you do.

I live in New Jersey, which is a fairly metropolitan state; it's also the Land of the Strip Mall. (Neal Stephenson, the sci-fi author, once postulated that someday it would be possible to enter a strip mall parking lot in New Jersey and travel all the way to California going from parking lot to parking lot. I think he might be on to something.) This means that I have a lot of choices on where to buy games. I tend to pick mine up at the local Software Etc, as I have friends who work there and that gives me the chance to hang around the store for half an hour making a nuisance of myself. I'll stop into EB if I'm in a mall that has one, though. It all depends on where I am when I decide it's time to get the game.

As for the impressions... well, see below for what another Q&A reader thought. :) I got a few minutes with Chronicles at E3, and was really impressed with the load times and translation on FF4. Chrono Trigger was pretty awful in terms of load times, though. I think it has something to do with how complex the SNES game was.

Didn't see any of the movies, so I can't tell you one way or the other. I'd suggest, though, that if you have the cash, pick it up. Buying Chronicles will indicate to companies that there is a market for next-gen console releases of older games, which will give newer gamers a chance to play some of the old classics.

 
Answering the question before it was asked

I bought Final Fantasy Chronicles today, and I decided to write in and give everybody the lowdown. Let's begin with Final Fantasy 4, shall we? Let me just say the retranslation is spectacular. It has a lot more emotion and a feeling of realism that wasn't there in the original translation. Additionally, the music, which came out sounding a little strange in Anthology, came out perfectly emulated in FF4. Plus the part everybody's going to love the best...the load times are practically nonexistent!!! That's right, no more five second waits when starting a battle. Then there's Chrono Trigger. Hey, I love the game as much as all of you, but they pulled a FFA on us here. If you can believe it, the load times are even WORSE than in Anthology, plus the music and sound effects are not quite up to the original. Same translation as before, so nothing to really speak of there. The packaging is basically the same as FFA, except it doesn't come with a music CD. So I guess I'll just give the cop out overall rating...if you don't own either game, definitely buy it but otherwise skip it.

By the way, Alanna...YOU SMELL LIKE A VIKING!!! YOU'RE WELCOME!!!

Robust Stu

Alanna:
I've never been told that I smell like a Viking before. I'm not sure quite how to take that. Hm.

Anyway, Stu seems to have answered Rahlious's question, so I won't comment much further, except to say that if you've only played the US version of FF4, you might want to take a look at the Chronicles version of it, because it really is a whole different game when you put back all the stuff that they cut out of it.

 
How much text would a writer write if a writer could write text?

I'd just like to react about the case "17000 pages of text in Dragon Quest 7". If it's 17000 sheets of paper, it's impossible, even for an enormous team of human beings (or the writers at Enix are something else), to write such an amount of text. Moreover, the full script of FFVIII seems to be only 800 pages... What I think is most reasonable is to see a page as a dialog screen, and a new page appears each time the player presses a key to see the new part of the dialog. Or maybe is it just possible to write 17000 pages of text, a.k.a ten times Tolstoi's War and Peace...

Faizon

Alanna:
That number seemed a bit high to me, too, but if you think about it, a RPG's text is actually in script format, which chews up a lot more space, as you need to keep indicating who's talking. A game script also isn't linear; it's possible that that figure includes directions for how each individual line is invoked, such as the condition codes.

As a side note: it's entirely possible to write 17,000 pages, even for one human being. You just need enough time. I hardly get to write full-time, with all the other stuff I do, and I still produce about 500 pages a year -- and that's just counting my writing, much less the email and random Q&A columns. Which would probably quadruple the figure. I get way too much email.

 
Fashion Fanfic Editor

Hey (monks sing) A-LANNA

I was wondering, isn't the fashion in Vagrant Story the oddest in gaming. I called it Equal Opportunity clothing since both genders are scantily-clad. Also I think there's a grimore just to perserve Ashley's hairstyle since that's something I've never seen.

I also have been asking this to everyone, what RPG cliche would you want to have in the real world? Also, I've come up with some interesting things in fanfic ideas. I was going in a social and political satire. I make fun of trends and issues of the times especilly boy bands. Dealing with 2 teenyboppers is driving me mad. Also I need to find a good anime or RPG character to battle Britney Spears in a really silly duel, any ideas? Still mixing magical girls and Bill Clinton is too silly and evil to ignore too. Is there any weird fanfiction cliches since those would be good material?

Imperial Mog

Alanna:
Ah, it wouldn't be a Q&A column without those monks singing. Anyway. One of my friends once said, about Vagrant Story, "They dress like it's fetish night at a club owned by the SCA." I noticed that too. Well, it's a nice change from, say, FF7, where Tifa got stuck in that little tiny outfit and Sephiroth got a bloody trenchcoat.

The RPG cliche I'd most like to apply to the real world would probably be that monsters give you treasure when you defeat them. I'd grab my roommate's poleaxe, go out and find a bunch of stupid people, and start whackin'. I mean, I could do that now, but in RPGs, you never get arrested for it. If I did that enough, I could afford the upgrade to my webserver and not have to beg people to show the love.

(My roommate, however, protests that I'd need to find my own poleaxe, as she'd be out there whackin' some stupid people too.)

The fanfic ideas: I'll never tell someone not to write something, of course, but honestly, nearly every single fanfic I've ever read that tried to use elements from our world in an RPG setting has, well, to put it bluntly, sucked. The worlds don't really mesh well.

 
Elven Decker

I was just wondering if anyone remembers SHADOWRUN for the SNES. I've been thinking about this game much of late, and can't understand how this game could just disappear. I've looked all over and can't find it anywhere. And why no sequel, huh?

So where can I find a copy and who was involved with this game?

In my opinion it's one of the most original and cool Action RPGs I've ever played! I've never played a game like it! To this day I dream of a sequel or a similar game.

Alanna:
It's apparently just been a day of questions about games based on tabletop RPGs. Anyway. Several people I know who played Shadowrun on the SNES also liked Resident Evil, and you might also enjoy Parasite Evil Eve 2. As for finding a copy, I'd suggest checking on EBay or at your local Funcoland. Bear in mind that SNES games are getting pretty expensive these days, though; the demand far outstrips the supply for any game that was even remotely cool.



Quickies

Are you as excited as me for Tactics Ogre Gaiden!?

Josh

I probably would be, if I had ANY time to play games these days. :(

Alanna!!

I just wanted to tell you that you're awesome and bewitching. Oh, and where can I find your impressions of the Gamecube and such from E3 this year?

DJ, the biggest dork in the world.

Flattery, sir, will get you everywhere. And my E3 journal can be found here, complete with gratuitous Fight Club references and discussions of all the cool swag I picked up.

Hey, I have a question for DWII. Do you know where I can find the Falcon Sword for the prince of Cannock? In DWII for gameboy, I'm not sure if the 'falcon sword' is the correct name, but I mean where can I find the best weapon for the prince?

Haven't played it and nobody's around for me to ask -- the hazards of doing Q&A at 6AM -- but I'd suggest a quick websearch for a walkthrough.

Hi
um... how do you beat that fire thingy in the cave
thanks
from,
little johnny age3

Dude, it would help if you told me what game you were talking about. ^_^

The Last Laugh:

Every time my head itches, I forget that I'm covered in purple hair dye and scratch it anyway. My fingers are purple. This means that my keyboard is going to be purple, too. The things I do just to be recognizable.

If anyone's going to be at Shoujocon in NJ on July 14 and 15, look for the chick with the purple hair and the Technomancy T-shirt. C'mon up and say hi. I'll probably be sleepwalking at that point, but I'll be there.

Aegis will be back tomorrow, so send him loads of questions.

Aegis: As I promised last week, here I am to give you some topics to write in about for tomorrow.

  • Final Fantasy Chronicles is out, and I'm sure some of you have already bought it. First off, does your copy of FF4 work? Apparently, Square's first batch of CDs didn't turn out quite right... Give me your overall opinion of the package, and let me know what you think of the load times on these once-cartridge games.
  • Final Fantasy XI has been officially announced to be a multiplatform game. Assuming it comes to all three consoles -- PlayStation2, Xbox, and GameCube -- and the PC, which version of the game would you be most likely to pick up? Explain.
  • Apparently, they're going to make a Crazy Taxi movie. Does that seem like a really bad premise for a movie to anybody else?
  • Bomberman Tournament for Game Boy Advance has shipped. It supports multiplayer mode with only one cart, too. As an RPGamer, are you into the multiplayer mayhem of the Bomberman games? Gonna pick this one up?

    In addition to the topics suggested above, feel free to write in about anything else, as usual. Catch you folks tomorrow.

    Andrew P. Bilyk wants you to send him some mail.


  • Alanna "It's not easy, being purple" @rpgamer.com

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