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   Flying in your BRAIN.   

Andrew - March '1- 12:00 Central Standard Time

So much for the funniest RPG moments. I should just throw up cute little online games from now on and challenge people to beat my score. Mmm, content-free columns!

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What's Andrew watching this week?
Can anyone else say cool flash?
What's Andrew playing this week?
Fly The Copter!

Manly men DO NOT WEAR TIGHTS.

Hey, first time I actually had something to write in about. After spending about 2 and a half hours on the game, I finally got a 2279 on the Fly The Copter game. It didn't make me curse at my monitor as much as I'd thought it would, only during the times when the game gives you those unbelievably narrow passageways to manuver your way through in both the top and bottom (which I obviously couldn't do). Thanks for the link.

So, now that all four games that you had people vote on are now out, did you pick any one of them up yet? I would really like to get Xenosaga, but since my bro currently has the PS2 up at school, I'm stuck here to wait for Wind Waker to come out, which brings me to my next question. From what you know of Wind Waker right now, what do you think of it? I believe the cell shading looks pretty cool, it gives good detail to Link as well as the environment of the game. The game play seems like what you can expect from a Zelda game, so that should be good. I just hope that the game still impresses me when it comes out.

Well, thanks Andrew.

-Dave

Andrew:
Glad you liked the game, Burger king.

As for the game choice, I realized something important. I can spout nonsensical crap from here to eternity, and picking up one of the games would only further the nonsense. So screw it, Iím going to get the games Iím actually looking forward too. Ironically enough, that game is now Wind Waker, which, like the rest of the world, I pre-ordered and look forward to. The graphics change is welcome, since the idea of a guy wearing a night cap, tights, and a freaking dress drawn realistically is enough to give me nightmares, thankyouverymuchTorneko.

 
Sad. Or typically nerdish. Whatever!

I have been playing this game for months, My highest score is 3072! and now i have never been abe to get any higher than 2500! I was the best day of my life...... well not really.

if your looking for some other flash games check this site out, http://www.addictinggames.com/, more flash than you can shake a stick at!

Have fun!

Ilian

Andrew:
Sorry that your score came no where close to the new reader high, found in the quickies, but thatís a pretty sweet link. Thanks.

 
I wouldnít be surprised if this letter was written by a computer. A STUPID computer.

Greetings.
I would like to correct a mistaken impression you seem to have about AI. In your column Friday (today for me, yesterday if this gets posted!), you told someone that there's not much AI in RPGs. Well, then, how do you think the computer-controlled opponents know which moves to use? Who to attack, and what spells to cast? RPGs are a big area for AI?hough most people don't realize it, thinking that AI just means making computers that can hold conversations with us, or take over the world. In fact, AI is simply any program that simulates, in whatever way, human thoughts/actions, and the computer opponents in RPGs do that. Granted, sometimes it's no more complicated than "Use attack 1 until at 50% HP, then use attack 2 until at critical HP, then use mind-blowing deadly attack", but that's still AI.

That said, I doubt there are too many people in the industry who would exactly enjoy being pestered by a high school kid for stuff for an essay for his diploma. He's on the right side of the tracks, but it's his job to hop on a train at full speed.

Timothy Collett

"Logic is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't always beat actual thought."
--Terry Pratchett

Andrew:
While itís always nice to see another Terry Pratchett fan, your letter doesnít correct my impressions about anything. I was telling our high schooler in need that RPGs arenít the best examples for great AI, which your letter makes further example of. Thatís why I suggested he change his topic on RPGs, or change his gaming genre to perhaps FPS which have rather complex Ais, and would be better at helping flesh out his research topic.

 
Ah. A useful, interesting letter. What are the odds?

I know that you already told AK that AIs in RPGs isn't really a very good topic, but I figured I'd explain why. The sad fact is that almost all RPGs simply use a probability table for most, if not all, of the computer controlled enemies and characters. Essentially, it's something like this:

60% chance of walloping one of the player characters with the weapon. 30% chance of using special attack to REALLY wallop one of the characters. 10% chance of healing self.

Some are a little more advanced and actually are set up to consider some things about their situation (such as heal self if HP is less than 20% or something), but still, most of the actions in most RPGs are determined by this ridiciously simple algorithm. Action RPGs are a little more interesting, where enemies may have some different "states," such as an "aggressive" state where they advance and attack, or a "defensive" state where they try to get away from the player. Still, the AIs for these are still generally pretty simple. I don't know how long his paper would need to be, but unless he wants to try developing something more complex, he'd probably be lucky to get a page or two.

Now, AIs in modern first-person shooters and strategy games: those might actually be enough for a paper.

Anyway, I suppose I should throw a question in . . . do you have aspiritions of entering the game industry (either working for a game company or designing your own games)? I did myself for a long time until I began writing (although I'm still thinking of trying, but I can finish books far more quickly than entire RPGs).

DumpShock

Andrew:
Thanks for the well written response to RPGís AIs. Now I just hope our high schooler doesnít rip it for his essay.

Good question about my future career. Iíve been designing, and writing about, amateur RPGs for over five years now, Iím a journalism major with an addiction to fantasy novels, and I really enjoy doing all of the above. So Iím pursuing all of the above. Who knows? Maybe at E3 Iíll accost(beg) Victor Ireland for a summer job, and weíll all finally be able to play a nicely revamped Popful Mail.

 
Random generosity, or another jerk of man playing with my fragile heart? Does it matter?

That was a damn impressive 40 minutes, though. If nothing else, it's got presentation to spare. Story-wise, it already threw a good bone or two to the overly-into-Xenogears types. Eh, whatever, I'm happy, looking forward (even more, now) to sitting down with it.

Christ, sorry; my point:

Scenario: Bored person on a payday needs to have a copy of Xenosaga shipped to an entertaining & sincere weekend Q&A host. Where does s/he sent it to?

~Rayme

(Addendum to scenario: Theoretical Q&A host would just claim s/he found money for two games instead of just the one, I imagine. ^^)

Andrew:
If you honestly wanted to send me Xenosaga, I could guarantee a complete review of the game, and plenty of commentary. Oh, and Iíd actually go ahead and beat it, no matter how painful it may be. So come on and change my mind. Oh, and if youíre serious, send me another email. I donít hand out my address that easily.

 
Drunken role playing.

My high score on the copter game was 1026. I blame it on the fact I was drinking an Asahi at the time. Good beer. (GASP! Ribby is over 20!)

My favorite funny line is from Golden Sun, when you're mind reading a lumberjack in Kolima: "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay (brief pause) with that." Other funny things I like are from Lunar Legend: after Ramus gets the Dragon Diamond and we found out it's Dragon Poo; Kyle in drag and the "Dragonmaster" saying that he visited the Salmon Pink and Sparkly Colored dragons.

My all-time funniest laugh-out-loud moment was when I was trying to do the ninth Sword Orb trick in Secret of Mana. It involves you starting a new game and then pressing the L, R, Select and Start buttons for five seconds during the first fight with the Antlion, and then when you released them you just played with the regular game file, fought the thing, hopped on Flammie and flew away. Well, since I wouldn't be using the new game for anything, I played around with the name selection screen and came up with the name HHJLPT. The time came when the hero encountered the sword in the stream, with the voice saying "...HHJLPT...HHJLPT" and that's when I completely lost it.

(Yeah, my idea of "funny" differs from yours. Live with it.)

Card Captor Ribby

Andrew:
I generally look down on drinking alcohol, since the idea of a human needing to block out the world by depriving sections of their brain of nutrients seems ridiculous. Oh, and for all you people who think drinking makes you more sociable, it just makes you sound stupid, lucky everyone around you is drunk anyway, so they canít tell.

Yeah, the Lunar series was a hilarious couple of games, and naming the protagonist of a game something embarrassing is always good for a laugh. Me, Iím always overcome with the powerful urge in Chrono Trigger to rename everyone to their actual names.

 
Changing classes. I wish an arbitrary title change could alter my strength by several dozen points!

So, we meet again, rabbit...

For funny game moments, I'd stick with Wall Market from FF7 and the classic "Ratchet vs Nelsha" bout from Thousand Arms. I got slapped so many times that day...

I also thought that Dragon Warrior 7 had a lot of.. er, stupid-funny moments, too. Isn't it strange that practically every town has a drunkard in it? Given the amount of towns there are (past and present), that's saying a lot. Looking back from the first four from NES, it's very peculiar... where did it go wrong? *sob*
And don't get me started on the GBC remakes...

As for the coptor challenge, I scored only 987. DAMN YOU, FUN-YET ANNOYING GAME!!! This reminds me of Volcano Run... damn scorchio...

NeoCarbuncle

"Who pissed in YOUR cheerios?"

Andrew:
We didnít meet again, you crazy shield rat. You sent me a letter. You ALWAYS send me letters, and I always print them. We donít meet, I just print your craziness.

Dragon Warrior 7 always baffled me with the vast number of banal townsfolk. In most RPGs, a few NPCs stick clearly out in my mind, but in DW7, I draw a blank. Worse though, was the amount of stuff these NPCs could say, and me being the sadist that I am, would actually read through all of it.

You shall send linkage to this Volcano Run game, so we may all feast on the annoyance!

 
The undead should be more terrifying and less whiny.

The PS2 is probably the shodiest piece of machinery I've ever had the pleasure of paying 200 dollars for. Firstly it dies after a Xenosaga marathon. I suppose my first generation PS2 didn't like the duel layered DVD and just decided to fry itself. This was confirmed by the guy in the laser physics lab at my school who also happens to be one of my good friends. He happily took the machine apart and used a photometer-type device on the laser, which confirmed that it was in fact fried. Well, I didn't feel like sending it off to get fixed, the waranty was long gone anyways and it had lasted much longer than the average (which I've been told is around 6 months, but undoubtedly some people will write in to tell me otherwise. Here's a clue, I don't care) so I bought a new one. Brand spanking, new PS2 smell new! And guess what? The disc tray doesn't function correctly. You press the button with the little blue light to open the tray, it opens. You press it to close the tray...it doesn't close. It's now a 200 dollar paperweight until tomorrow when I take it back to the store. If I didn't have Xenosaga to beat every game I own would be going with it. Sony should take some lessons from the other console makers and put some heart into their machines instead of shody machinery.

*end rant*

Now for a question. Does anyone know what the name of the large colony ship which gets destroyed in the opening movie of Xenogears? I'm curious if it has made a camio appearance (in name) in Xenosaga.

Sincerely,

The enraged Lich King, esq.

Andrew:
Boohoohoo. Iím unlucky with gaming systems, I like to take apart consoles, my army of zombies keeps stealing my knotted up panties.

No really, that sucks Lichy. Go back to the store where you bought it and demand some satisfaction! In the way of a free gift card! The undead shall rise again!



Quickies

In regards to A.K.'s question about AI in video games, here is a site to start looking arount (http://aima.cs.berkeley.edu/ai.html).

Thanks for the helpful link, reader! Have a tilde! ~

My score is 4756.
Probably won't be the highest score you receive.
Oh well.
Rob.

Actually, it would have been the highest score the column has received, but since you didnít take a screen shot of it, we canít just take your word for it, now can we? /evil

http://forum.withthewill.myrmid.com/3809.jpg

A picture is worth a thousand words, heheh.

Oh god I have too much free time...why won't anyone love me? I thought the copter score would gain me respect, but the women still won't flock to me! Damnit, a hobo WILL die for this!

A WINNER IS YOU!

2062!

~BobbyRobby

Pathetic!

~ Andrew Duff

how do you get through the desert in breath of fire IV?

By eating Nina. Mmm, roast bird woman.

In response to the person who pointed out that 2/27/03 dictionary.com word-of-the-day was "spoony" ...

My god. It wasn't just a bad translation. My notions of badly translated games have just been shattered.

Thank you.

Meghan

Quick! Find another word for ď*&^%ingĒ that hasnít been offensive to anyone for the last thousand years!

Ughhh... 2 hours... stupid walls.... annoying random walls.... died... died again....... @#$%^ GAME!!!! You were right, Andrew .... you were right, it did have me cursing at my screen. My top score's 1747 by the way... that sucks, it was just below Choco's.

Seifer_us

Must resist temptation... can't continue... playing........ well, maybe just one more time....

This quickie shares the general sentiments of everyone who played the game, with the possible exception of the gameís creator, who shat himself with happiness.

The Final Grumble:

Wee. Great batch of letters today! Big thanks to everyone who sent them in. Itís columns like todayís that make my job really worthwhile.

Andrew "Ides of March" Duff

And then your emp-Q&A column shall fall! Woohahaha!

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