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Andrew - December 6 '02- 12:00 Central Standard Time

Well, I hope weíve all realized that weíre all going to pre-order Zelda, so I donít need letters on it, míkay? Speaking of míkays, contest entries have been picking up, so I expect to announce a winner sooner then later. Perhaps next weekend. Now, on to the blathering!

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For love of the level.


Regarding my letter about leveling to 99, I was just trying to point out to the person who wrote about how pointless level gaining can be that in some games, leveling to 99 is lucrative. Namely, FF6. True, modern RPGs are commonly too easy for leveling to max to be necessary, but there are a handful of games out there where powering up is essential (DW7). Also, to address rushing through games, I prefer not to do this for 3 reasons.
1) Games with long battles like Final Fantasy Tactics are a pain to rush through because it isn't fun in the least bit to play through the same battle over and over, especially when battles commonly take more than 30 minutes to finish
2) It is not a matter of skill that you win battles when rushing, only a matter of luck. Just keep trying, cross your fingers, and hope that the bad guy doesn't use the attack that kills everyone in one hit. Personally, I prefer the challenge of looking for items and such that help you survive, and gaining levels as a safeguard. Sure, anybody can do it, so it's not truly hard, but it does require a lot of work and patience.
3) I like my games long. That's why I play RPGs. There are, on the other hand, games that are good for rushing, as the battles rely less on luck and more on moving around. Action RPGs are good for this. So are games with action-oriented battle systems like Star Ocean and Tales of Destiny. These games require you to be fast with your fingers, not just crossing them and hoping the boss doesn't kill you. They are based on true skill rather than chance.
Oh, and a Square-Enix merger isn't necessary for Erdrick references in FF! There's one in the first FF game. Check all the tombstones in Elfland.
Thanks
Tim, the keeper of useless Final Fantasy trivia

Andrew:
Yes, Dragon Warrior 7 is an RPG made for level busters. I enjoyed it immensely, since few games let me become a sheep-herding warrior that can cast mighty magic spells.
1. I played roughly 40 hours of my time in Final Fantasy Tactics in the first chapter, and some crazy stuff happens if you keep level busting. Chocoboís who befriend you, really odd high level battles, and the incredible surprise at how deep the game gets after the first chapter.
2. Okay, only if you really suck at a game are battles a matter of luck. Skill at low levels really comes into play with the majority of RPGs out there. Ever wonder why you pick up mega-elixirs so early in the Final Fantasy games? And Star Ocean 2 is all about managing your skills points. I bet you put them all in cooking, didnít you?
3.Even going your fastest, I doubt you could beat the majority of RPGs in under 30-40 hours. Sure, if you want to spend double that time, go ahead, but many players, including myself, simply canít devote that much time to one game.
All right, let me make this clear. If I get one more damned letter on the level busting vs. rushing argument, Iím not printing it. This a stupid subject, since itís impossible to convince people one side is better than the other. Take it to editorials, people. They just love this sort of thing.

 
Game Designer 1- Conformist


Hmm...not too many people I know have ever asked me about what I want to do specifically for my vocation. I've made up my mind that I'm going to attend Digipen Institute of Technology. For those readers that don't know, Digipen is a college that specializes in Real Time Interactive Simulation (video game programming, in other words). It's a rigorous, 2-4 year program that involves many classes in math, science, literature, mythology, and art appreciation, as well as several workshops in which the class splits up into groups and designs their own video games using the knowledge they've gained throughout the year.
However, I don't plan on stopping there. I'd also like to spend a few years in Japan, maybe even eventually live there. It's a lofty goal, but I think the ultimate job would be working for a Japanese video game company, producing the original games (not working to localize them in America). This would require several skills, including fluency in Japanese, exceedingly good programming skills, and a very artistic mind to come up with all those great ideas.
I've already come up with several ideas that could be incorporated into a video game, most of them applying to RPGs (of course). Some of them are entirely new and original, while others modify existing aspects of Role-playing games. One of my ideas involves setting up a two-layer battle field - one group fighting on the ground, and another group fighting in the air. Each character, whether in the air or on the ground, would possess certain advantages/disadvantages when it came to attacking an enemy on the opposing field of battle. There are plenty of ways you could toy with this, and it would provide the player with more of a challenge, having to keep track of both fields at the same time.
There's no real questions in this letter, but since you said you wanted some input on video game design, here it is.
~Afwe
P.S. Just as I finished writing this, I found out that I got something in the mail today about the GDC (Game Developer's Conference) in March! Now I just have to convince my parents to let me go ^_^
www.afwe.blogspot.com

Andrew:
Interesting. Have you considered just skipping the whole Japanese step though? I mean, Iíd like to spend a year or so in Japan and see the sights, but why not stay stateside and make great games? It seems stupid to conform to societies idea that the best RPGs come from Japan, when this really doesnít have to be the case. Anyway, good luck. I would have attended Digipen myself, if it hadnít hit me that my math skills are sub-par and I have no intention of being a programmer or a artist for any game.
Your battle system sounds like it would work much better for a game featuring armies as opposed to the traditional system of a few characters engaged in battle with a couple enemies. Ground forces vs. air forces? What a novel idea!

 
Sequels? Ha! Square is milking us like chocobos!


Hey Andrew,
Why has the addition of sequels suddenly become the equivalent of stagnation in RPG's? So many people have been complaining that Square has lost their touch with the addition of direct sequels. It is understandable if the game was finished in storyline, such as FFX, but Kingdom Hearts? Anyone who beat it would know that it wasn't an ending, and if it was, it was a crappy, depressing one. Same goes with Vagrant Story, but that didn't get a sequel. So be happy that Square is actually continuing a game whose plot wasn't finished, and make sure peopel save their criticisms for reviving stories for money sake alone (such as FFX). At least FF7's ending was vague and mysterious, FFX was quite specific and memorable. Remember, that in the end, we love long drawn out stories, and sequels are the best way of continuing them. Companies wouldn't make so many if they weren't absolutely sure we'd buy them.
Modix

Andrew:
This whole letter is like one huge run-on sentence.
All right, next time you feel like running your mouth off, send it to editorials.
VIDEO GAME COMPANIES ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF MAKING MONEY. This is why the Army Men series is alive and kicking so long after it should be dead. (after the first game) If games are made cheap and crappy but still make money, then the creators will continue to make them, until public hatred reaches the point where game sales hit the red, and they have to think of some other awful ideas to throw at the public.
I suppose at some point Square had a moral grudge against making sequels that were in any way connected with each other.. The time has simply come where Square is making so little money that it has had to spread itís game creating resources from a few good games to puking up sequels, remakes, and of course, a MMORPG. And then Enix swallowed Square whole. Now, who doesnít the love the video game industry?

 
Game Designer 2- Whiner.


I realize this is long, but I think you at least should read it through, you can cut and paste if you wish.
I'm in college right now starting my long crawl that will ultimately end up in the videogame industry.
I've had quite a few conversations with people in my class about future plans, theirs and mine - though I always have more to say, see I'm a rather intelligent person taking 'Art Fundementals', I hope I'm not the only one who sees the drastic irony involved there. Anyway I find it hard to say, "I want to make videogames" because 1) It sounds childish to the unenlightened and 2) It's followed up by, "How do you get into that?" Which I always follow up with the proverbial, "I'm not sure."
Idealy I want to start a company out of college and start making games. In my spare my spare time since grade 11 I've been working on one huge game (so far single-handedly writing the story, designing the characters, organizing the plot, designing the enviroment concepts, and even conceptualizing the gameplay, none of these aspects are even close to being done either) and have 3 others floating around in my head (one of which interests me greatly and have got the initial art and backgroind info down on paper).
Realisticly I know that this is next to impossible. I also know that in order to break my way into the videogame buisness I need to start as a tester (I think...am I right?). Which would involve moving to the States (I'm Canadian). Which is something I'd rather not do. I also know that it's still hard. I think the best company to test for would be Working Designs since North American RPGs are piss poor, dungeon crawl, create your own character, choose your own adventures and since we suck at making them working for the best translation company out there is the best place to start.
...
Which brings me to an unrelated point, when Hemmingway wrote, 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' did he let you create the characters out of extremely stale and defined archetypes? No. When Dickens wrote, 'Great Expectations' did he let you control what Pip's actions and exact words to his over bearing sister and lovable brother in law Joe? NO! And when Tolkien wrote 'Lord of the Rings' did he let you control Frodo to the extent that you can travel to the Lonely Mountain and beyond to the land of Khand when you should be in Mordor destroying the ring? ...no.
So, tell me why is it that North American RPG developers feel they need to make a game's characters so customizable that they lose their soul -or, indeed, their 'character'. While you are at it please tell me why they make it so you can do absolutly anything you want no matter how outlandishly retarded it may be that the character and everything surrounding it becomes so un'believable' that they become unrealistic - something NA dev teams strive for in spades - to even the most non-conforist personalities in the world we, today, live in. And finally, why 'o why do North American development teams in the most xenophobic land in the world create worlds where for little to no reason you can go anywhere in the world no matter boring and stupid the environment may be. Never has any one group of people displeased me as much as the common North American RPG Development team.
...
Now, I intend to get into the videogame buisness by by either, as I stated above, becoming a tester at WD and developing skills and earning money to, in the end, start a company myself. Start a company right out of college (if I take animation I'll be working for Disney in my last two years anyway). Find a entry level illistration job at a good RPG developer, work my way up, then start my own buisness in the same scenario as before. Or try to get into the videogame industry by gaming journalism (this is only if my portfolio isn't good enough to get into illistration or animation).
As for what I'd like to be, that definetly varies. If I end up working the ladder up to the top of a company my dream would be to be the director of a game with a hand in every single department (visual, musical, literal, and technical are the main 4). Or and executive producer where I would pick which person to be appointed to which post (in other words, a director with the ability of choosing my team). Or the head of a company, like Monolith. Monolith would be a good example of something I'd like to do.
And fianlly the dream RPG for me would be the RPG I have been working on since grade 11 and is no where near being close to complete, nothing except that is my true dream.
Good Day Andrew
Douglas Dunlop AF11
Sheridan College at Trafalgar
Oakville, ON

Andrew:
This is depressing. There are quite a few free RPG creation engines out there, including the one I use, OHR, at-
www.hamsterrepublic.com I mean, really. Youíve got that idea for a dream RPG, why not make it? Sure, it wonít be perfect if you canít create the game from the ground up, but for me, itís a hell of a lot better than spending years of my life learning programing to create an engine that will let me express my great idea that Iíve probably half forgotten or turned into a book.
Have some balls man. Get out there, find an engine that suits your tastes, and go and make a great RPG. Then when that day comes to crawl into the gaming industry as a lowly tester, you can pull out a CD, tell your new boss that youíve got the best idea for a new RPG, and youíve made it. Then hand him your game, and wait for the promotion to come in with the position you want, which will probably be making your dream RPG for a console. PS- I know OHRís graphics are extremely old school. If you want an engine that works with 3-d polygons and poorly designed camera systems, then go shoot yourself in the face, you worthless dreg on humanity.

 
Really stupid Zelda question.


Heyllo,
When I first heard about the bonus Zelda disc coming with the gamecube zelda if you preorder, I thought that ruled. Finally releasing a game that wasn't released before (even to the Japanese market) but had been planned to, and a port of another kickass game. I was seriously hoping the same bonus would come over here.
However, now that there IS news that it will come over here, there's something I'm wondering about. Ocarina of Time has an existing translation that can be used, but Ura Zelda would need translating, no? The thing that made me wonder if the bonus disc would come over here in the first place is whether Nintendo would bother to sit down and translate Ura Zelda when it's just for a 'bonus disc.'
Naturally, you'd assume the fact that it is coming over means that yes, it got translated... but another possibility has presented itself, so I thought I'd throw the question out if you or anyone else knew (since it isn't getting specifically stated in the news stories I've read): Does this mean that Nintendo IS translating the game then, or is the bonus disc coming over here simply an imported copy of the Japanese disc being done by stores like EB (a la them importing Shenmue 2 for non X-Box users by using the European version and so forth)?
Ismail

Andrew:
Well, why wouldnít Nintendo translate the game? While it hasnít been confirmed in a way that would make you happy, it has been confirmed to me simply by them porting it over. Gah, you sound like the type of person who touches electric fences to make sure that theyíre "really electrified".
If Nintendo decided to not translate the game, they would have a horde of VERY angry fans, and lose a large amount of potential customers. I mean, why would they ever extend such a great offer if they werenít going to bother translating the game?
...now giving us a bad translation to save money, that I could see...

 
Game Designer 3- Girly.


Personally, I would love to get into the video game industry. Many people I know consider this shocking, given that I'm a female, but there you go. Gamer girls *do* exist.
Anyway. My preference would be either writing storylines/scripts for RPGs or writing guides. I have no idea how I'd get there, but I would love to work for Square. Yes, yes, I'm a Final Fantasy maniac. So sue me. *shrug*
As to your inquiry about dream RPGs....Hmmm....An FF4/6/9 style RPG featuring Celes, Beatrix, Garnet, Zidane, Sabin, Locke, Kain, Cecil, Freya, and Amarant. :)
Lassarina Aoibhell
Webmaster, The RPG Place
http://www.rpgplace.net

Andrew:

1. No, this isnít shocking in the least. Maybe female game designers were considered freaks of nature in the 80's, but I donít think anyone has any problem or can see any reason for giving women a hard time getting into the gaming industry. As for gamer girls, theyíre pretty rampant. Heck, my hot girlfriend is a hardcore gamer.
2. Sounds great. Why not write it? I mean, itís not like RPGamer doesnít have a fan fiction section, or hell, why not try actually making an RPG? Give the link I provided in the Game Designer 2 question a look.
3. I had a lot of respect for you before I found out that youíre the one responsible for the awful Final Fantasy cross-over games of 2014. YOU FIEND!



Quickies


Hey -
Someone wrote in yesterday about whether or not they're the only ones in the world who enjoyed Secret of Evermore - I actually loved it, despite the fact that all the people I know now profess to have hated it. Ah, well. It was a complete ripoff of Secret of Mana's engine, so I found it easy to get into. Anyways ....
For all the RPGamer's out there who use a PC Gaming platform,(CUT FOR REASONS RELATING TO SCAMAGE) like me!

I really donít know many people who hated SoE, unless they were weirdos who hated the idea of an RPG with a host of unique worlds, a clever magic gaining system, and of course, the appearance of Cecil as a lowly shopkeeper.
Sometimes I hate Square. This is one of those times.


hey i was looking at the ps2 modems. and i was wondering if you can you a regular phone line. because on an xbox you need cable or dsl. and i was also wondering if you have to subscribe to anything. or can you just plug it in and play.
thanks alot,
Matt

You sir, are an idiot.

The Final Grumble:

Keep sending those letters in about your plans to work in the gaming industry. Who knows? Maybe some big-wig from a RPG company will see your letter and decide to hire you! And speaking of which, any big-wig company execs who want to write in, go for it. Weíd love to hear about your experience. Or hell, just hear from you.

Andrew "ROing" Duff

No really. $10 for two months? I wish I could rent regular RPGs like this!

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