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ASK ANDREW
Float On January 22, 2005

Andrew Long - 9:00 EST

THIS WINTER IS OFFICIALLY THE WORST WINTER in oh, quite some time. I had predicted as much back in October after a less-than-scintillating summer left me suspecting similarly miserable weather would occur, but somehow it's less than gratifying to find out you were right in the midst of a week when the temperature never really managed to creep about -15 degrees celsius (-25 with the wind chill!) And now? Now it's snowing, so I clearly won't be leaving my apartment today.

Except, of course, for a sweet delicious Big Baby Breakfast. For the uninitiated, the Big Baby Breakfast is an awesome concoction put together by Mel's Montreal-Style Deli, a restaurant down the street from here that styles itself as, well, A Montreal-style Deli. I'm not quite sure what that entails, other than the fact that there are various bagels and sandwiches that involve differing quantities of Montreal Smoked Meat, but hey - whatever brings the people in. At any rate, this fabulous breakfast, which I will partake of as soon as I'm done here, starts off with a big pancake, which comes with this awesome coffee-flavoured syrup. Then you get your choice of toast or a bagel with rhubarb jam, three eggs done any way you like them, two types of meat out of sausage, ham, Montreal smoked meat, and bacon, a sexy hashbrown and a fruit cup just to make you feel a little better about eating enough delicious fat to lubricate a seal for a couple of winters.

So while I may be whiny, don't cry for me; in a short time, I will be most deliriously happy. And now, strengthened by visions of breakfast, I can press on.



Ramblebox
Yay! The snowplow is here, the snowplow is here! On the downside, it's still snowing <.< Conclusion: salty shoes

-AL  


L E T T E R S
Conspiracy with your morning coffee?


In regards to the mail about pre order prizes, as an Assistant Manager at a GameStop, I can tell you exactly why 90% of customers do not get their pre order bonuses for games.

If the employees are collectors, or at the very least, game fans (most employees either are, or should be) then they typically snatch up the prizes for themselves, and save the remaining for their friends that shop there.

We didn't hand out one single Tales of Symphonia or Suikoden 4 artbook, as the employees themselves took them. The same can be said of the Baten Kaitos wall scrolls, the Resident Evil 4 bonus demo discs, and countless other pre order goodies.

The even worse part about this, is that the stores who's workers are guilty typically never receive any replenishments because they don't properly ring them through. As a result, our warehouses have no indication that we are even OUT of the particular item, and never send replacements.

And for anyone interested in working at your local game store, for the love of God don't.

Hope this helps.


ANDREW


Thanks for sharing, magikor, but I'm afraid the blame lies squarely on your useless assistant-manager shoulders. You're in a position of power - bust these people up when they steal stuff, or at least rat them out to your manager so he can do what a real authority figure should. That's what assistant managers are there for - to be two-faced bastards, and I'm really rather disappointed that you would care so much about your underlings' good opinion of you that you wouldn't stand up against this sort of thing (though then again, you're probably complicit in this scheme). You have nobody to blame but yourself for the woeful state of affairs at your store, and I hope you take a long, hard look in the mirror next time before you come crying to me about your inability to control your rogue staff.

Seriously, dude. What do you have to lose? Put your foot down! Most gamers who work in game shops are hardcore nerds anyway, so it's not like you're going to get beaten up, and you'll be doing both your career and RPGamerdom a huge favour.



I declare today "Disgruntled game store employees" day


Regarding that whole preorder "prize" thing someone spoke of on Thursday.

I also happen to work at a game store. Company policy forbids me from telling you which one because I'm not supposed to speak on their behalf on message boards, in chat rooms, and on the internet in general. Suffice to say, the person writing in saying that they didn't get their "prize" got it about half right.

Take for example yon new Resident Evil game. Bottom line: we're encouraged to get preorders. It helps the folks at yon warehouse decide how many copies of the game, system, accessory, or whatnot, to allocate to each store. The more preorders you get, the more you get when the game, system, accessory, or whatnot you get when it's released.

I got exactly enough copies of RE4 to cover my preorders the day it came out. The "prize" in question was a making of DVD, which I got exactly enough of to cover my preorders. Everyone who preordered from my store also got a free copy of the RE4 demo. Everyone.

My store is not in a large town, but it is the only one in the area (i.e. county). We don't get a lot of stuff allocated to us. But to say that most stores get 2 "prizes" and big ones get 5 is absurd. Companies try to keep customers happy so a: they'll preorder again, and/or 2: they'll buy their next game. It does me no good to tell someone "Sorry, you're number 6 and the bonus disk was only for persons up to number 5." That loses me business, and that loses me money. And as we all know, companies want your money. It's kinda why they're in business.

As for other preorder goodies, I did run out of Punisher shirts, but I got more in the next day, so I got to cover those preorders when they came in to pick up their game, or when they came in to pick up something else before the game came out.

Now yon PSP. We're supposed to get allocations of that bad boy based on our preorders, and if history teaches us anything, Sony loves to not send out enough hardware. If you don't preorder your PSP, you ain't getting one this year, unless you're crazy lucky and catch one not preordered on the shelf (which is unlikely), or you're crazy stupid and spend $1800 on a nameless auction site. Either way, $10-$30 down on a system you wanted to buy anyway ain't a bad deal.

Hey, I should have sent this to the Rants section, shouldn't I? Hey, that covers my question portion of the letter, doesn't it? Oh, a two-fer.

Captain Modifier.


ANDREW

The... rants section? This IS the rants section, fella. Apparently, it's also a sinkhole of evil, but I guess it's not your fault that Sony is sucktastic when it comes to filling orders. At any rate, I'm not sure this shortage deal will actually end up being a problem, because Ken Kutaragi recently announced that Sony would be ramping up production of the PSP to the tune of a million units. Since the Japanese launch moved 800,000 units, I think a million should safely see them through the first couple of months, although you're not the only one to muse about this issue...



HERE's the one i was thinking of!


So, I visited my local EB to get my saliva gland flowing regarding upcoming releases of games on systems I don't currently own (I.E. X-Box, PS2, NDS), and since I know the saleswoman fairly well, was discussing the release of the PSP, a fine looking piece of hardware if ever I saw one.

They had a video playing on their AD-TV, showing some Japanese lady playing Ridge Racer on the handheld, and the graphics were impressive, to say the least. The saleswoman was like, "Well, you need to pre-order one...it's only $20." But I have neither the time nor the money to devote to such a nice system, and I told her so. She proceeds to tell me that, "The system is only going to be made per order."

"What's that mean?" I ask.

"Well, the [EB] executives have stated that we aren't allowed to inform customers that the PSP is only going to be a pre-order system, at the present, so only people who pre-order will have access."

"What, is this to create a panic?" I say.

"Probably, because there are going to be alot of people hoping to find the system when it comes out, only to realize that without having pre-ordered, they are left in the cold."

I'm not sure how accurate this information is, but she has been reliable on the information she's given me in the past, and it wouldn't surprise me that Sony would force a panic of this sort to boost attention to the fledgling handheld, to which the BIG-N has total, complete, and utter power in the market. IF this happens to be true...well, I just fear for my life, I suppose.
ANDREW


There's "boosting attention", and then there's "shooting yourself in the foot." Every day that Sony goes without PSPs to sell is another day that Nintendo moves a few hundred NDS units, and that's something that Sony has to deal with if it hopes to make even a dent in Nintendo's dominance of the handheld market. To me, it doesn't make any business sense at all to produce something "to order" because a)console or hardware production tends to be at a loss to begin with, and the best way to minimize that loss is to make more units, since the more people with the hardware, the more software moves. B), I highly doubt that EB and Gamestop and all those other fine establishments would want any part of a scheme that a) causes them to dissatisfy their customers, and b)benefits them not at all. Companies tend to want profits now now now, and waiting till next year for people to get into a fever pitch and buy... maybe a few more PSPs really doesn't seem like anything I'd wanna touch with a ten-foot pole if I ran either company.

I'm not saying that it isn't possible that there will be launch shortages of the PSP - if the PS2 is any indication, there will be, and in spades - but I doubt this will come as a result of any grand scheme on Sony's part. As I just mentioned, production has just been increased over what was previously planned, which does not sound like a "to order" situation to me, and again, it doesn't make any economic sense whatsoever. Besides, at this point, I'm not sure there's sufficient interest in the PSP to create such a panic.

Or hey, here's still another thought: you know what would be a great way to boost preorders of a system? To insinuate to all your people that there was going to be a shortage of something because it was going to be produced on a pre-order only basis, and to tell them not to feel shy about mentioning this to every customer that stops by and asks about it.

Oh, and she's preordering two, just so she can put one on E-Bay...I dunno if that's added emphasis on the truth or not, but it's an interesting statement.

Okay, now for the question:

I am a die-hard Chrono fan. Some long time ago I heard rumors that a third, slightly off-story sequel would be made, something regarding a blend of the Chrono Cross story and the roots of that story, from the short-lived and shorter-existed game "Magical Dreamers" that went out on S-Famicon's in Japan (and to which a translation exists, for you ROM seekers out there...AHEM).

So, the question, restated, is: "Is there a potential tri-quel in the works? Or are the unfounded rumors I am either wishing for or fantasizing about non-existent?"

Thanks...oh, and I hope ya'll have more quotes I can recognize in the future. I loved that one from SM-RPG. When I saw it, I had a wonderful flashback to a sword on a spring...oh well, don't ask.

~Syshonblast~


ANDREW


Arrr... This question pops up every three months, and every three months the answer is the same. You can't blend CC and Magical Dreamers. CC's first few hours IS Magical Dreamers, right up to the mansion on the beach, so it's already been done; CC is like Magical Dreamers Plus or something, if you wanna get buzzword about it. Moreover, Square Enix had trademarked the name Chrono Break. Then it let the trademark expire. Conclusion? No CB, at least for now. Don't worry, we'll let you know if it gets revived.


OH NOES! THIS MUST MEAN NUCLEAR WAR IN 2003!


I've noticed a pattern in the Final Fantasy games. (SPOILERS AHEAD)

In Final Fantasy V, a major character dies.
In Final Fantasy VI, no major character dies.
In Final Fantasy VII, a major character dies.
In Final Fantasy VIII, no major character dies.
In Final Fantasy IX, a major character dies. (yes...VIVI did die at the end)
In Final Fantasy X, no major character dies. (Auron was already dead....and no, Tidus didn't "die")
We'll skip Final Fantasy X-2 and Final Fantasy XI. Let's just pretend they never existed.
The next "true" Final Fantasy in the series is XII. Looks like a major character is going to die in Final Fantasy XII.

Okay...that wasn't question...just an interesting point. Here's my question. Wasn't the response towards that guy about racism a little harsh....just a tad?

an RPGfan


ANDREW

So I gather we're just going to sweep General Leo under the rug, then? And no. No it wasn't. I have no patience for people who make random accusations just because they're feeling peckish.



Okiedoke..


Ok, Im gonna conjure up enough motivation to express my ideas of gaming and gaming habits on this possibly public question/answer board.

How is it possible to love a game so much to qualify playing it for years or replaying the game several times. I love games, but I stress GAMES as the hobby not the obbsessive nature of one game. yet its equally logical to love all games obsessively thus confirming my stumped state of mind of not understanding how some people never get bored of one gameor some gets bored of many games but desires to play new games all the time.

Tis a confusing hobby this is, but regardless I am still stumped...

...probley a bit un clear, as my ideas have a hard time conforming themselves to simple words.


ANDREW


Nah, I hear you loud and clear. Let me put it this way. Suppose you're really gung-ho over chess. You've played chess since you were a wee thing on your daddy's knee, watching those old televised matches with him and generally living for the day when you would finally beat him. Chess will never cease to entertain you. On the other hand, you could care less about Backgammon, and Checkers? What do you look like, a taxi fare? So you see, it is much the same way with games; while obviously chess has much more room for variability than your average RPG, the same sort of principle applies.

Or you can look at it as though a game is your favorite book. You've got other books by the same author, but somehow, that one book speaks to you more clearly than any of the rest. As a result, how can you help but read it and re-read it until the corners are dogeared, the spine is decaying and there are various remnants of various lunches smeared across six different pages?

So too is it with replaying games ad nauseum.



Yay! On topic... More than I can say for the rest of you lazybones...


Hello again, first of all, I'd like to state that I am an african american and, that Christian Pete is a moron. That said, on to the real topic.

I, personally have no beef with Blizzard. These problems couldn't have been anticipated, I'm sure they, like the rest of us were amazed by the astounding number of gamers who bought WoW. 600,000 copies sold...in less than two months (thats about 1,000+ new users a day), and all of them have to play somewhere, most even have multiple characters. They set the record for most simultaneous users online, that is really unexplored territory, that many people online could make even the hardiest server spontaneously combust. All I'm saying is, give it awhile, most MMO's have catastrophic failures in the begining. If the complainers ("OMG BLIZZARD IS TEH SUX0RZ!!!111!1oneoneeleven!!1!") still want to leave, fine, go ahead...It'll make room for me. Oh, and while you're at it send me your copy.

-Toran


ANDREW

Amen to that. I have personally yet to experience any real server issues, other than a strange graphical glitch that causes my character to disappear if things slow down too much. Anything else has always been solved by credit for downtime, and I conveniently missed the troubles last weekend with a bout of utter disinterest in the game, so it really worked out rather nicely for me.

I just find it funny how people are so quick to turn on Blizzard for virtually any reason at all. I've seen it time and again on their boards; the very people addicted to the games they make sitting there bitching about how awful it is that Blizzard would create these games, let them play online for free with one of the best matchmaking systems I've seen, and then have the temerity to take a few days extra to do some balancing, or tweak that matchmaking system slightly. It would appear the same noisy whiners are still much in evidence, and I really do wish they'd go away. Granted, it sucks when you can't play your favorite game, but you know what? Life goes on, and if people were smart, they'd move to less populated servers.



Well.. I almost managed to avoid this


Dear Andrew,

Its not to hard to see that there is more in common to Jesus and Aeris than their inevitable deaths. Not only did they both "sacrifice" themselves to save the world, both became alive again, for Aeris she became alive in the life stream and guided it to save the earth from the meteor that had been summoned by the evil Sephiroth which could be compared to Satan. Christians believe that Jesus Christ too rose from the dead, it is said in the bible that his spirit came back to earth and he even gave some good old advice and assurance to his desciples before actually going to be with God the father in heaven. Just thought I'd point that out, and make sure to ask a good question so you post this. How many times have you beaten FFVII all the way through? Don't tell me only once, cause that game is to RPGs as CIV2 is to Turn Based strategy.


ANDREW


Le sigh. Aeris didn't rise from the dead. At the end of FFVII, the following happens: Cloud uses Holy, which stops the meteor, while incidentally wiping out most of humanity in the process. Because the use of Holy summons the lifestream, fanboys get to see a little flicker of Aeris, just so they can wet themselves with joy. That's because Aeris is part of the lifestream, just as Cloud was briefly part of the lifestream when he fell in. Cloud came back. Aeris didn't. And anyway, Aeris didn't do much of anything to save humanity, so unless you're somehow intimating that Jesus has failed to make humanity an enlightened, peaceful, and altogether friendly lot of hombres, I fail to see the connection.

And no, I haven't beaten FFVII more than once, but I have played to varying points in the game up to the end of the second disc numerous times, so I have a fair idea what I'm talking about. Besides, when I have to deal with nonsense like this particular debate, it pays to have done some reading on the matter, which I have. So please, spare me your condescension and crazy theories. Only I may talk down.



Anime antics


Hello there

How rude, you didn't answer my last letter, but maybe I sent that to the other guy.

Anyway, here goes...I've been watching full metal alchemist for a while now and noticed that the SquareEnix logo appears at the end of every episode and it was also mentioned in the review of the game that they were involved in the series. Exactly what did they do....did they write the story or what?

/Thorulf


ANDREW

So far as I am aware, Square Enix developed the concept, produced the show, is currently working on the game, and has control over all marketing / evil plans relating to Full Metal Alchemist. It's kind of like Bandai and .hack.



You know you have too much free time when...


Andy!

This is a question/conundrum for the gaming philosopher/hoverdynamics engineer.

If float makes you hover 1h (abouts) over the ground, what's it like 1h up? Is there an invisible plane that acts like the ground and enables you to feel the texture of the surface you're floating on (hard air theory)? When you move to a surface normally 1h, do you have to physically climb up the air as you would on the ground? or is there some kind of gradient thing where you AVERAGE 1h in height? Is there any grip at 1h, or do you have to manage it like ice? What about people? If someone walks under your 1h of air, are you jerked up and possibly fall on the person/spike in the air? If not, could a wall of dead bodies be engineered to be impenetrable to a floating warrior(s)? What if someone dies up there? Are they going to float 1h and be obstacles for horses and other 1h floating warriors to trip over? If you cut their body into pieces would they fly away on the wind? How DOES wind affect a floating warrior?

what does a float gem (assuming it's a gem; could be anything with added bonus of float) do when it's not equipped? Hover 1h in the air? That would suck for short people that want to be taller. And how can you carry a float- bestowed object without equipping it? How much weight can a float-object support? Could you make your pack wieghtless by casting float on it? That runs into the friction question again, so think of that... Could you stop heavy objects from falling on you by casting float on something and hiding under it?


ANDREW


Your first mistake is attempting to apply actual physics to a video game spell. Your second mistake is asking me to give anything approaching a reasonable answer. Fortunately, your fellow readers probably have a better grounding in physics than I do, so I will throw the question open to them. Fellow readers, what are your thoughts on this float conundrum? All answers will appear in tomorrow's column.


Squoingy, Squoingy!


The iQue is a version of the Nintendo 64, not the NES. Therefore, the Mario games that are coming out would be Super Mario 64, Yoshi Story, Mario Kart 64, Paper Mario, Dr. Mario, etc... So, it's not SMB and SMB2.
ANDREW

Forgiveness, please. My source indicated that Super Mario Brothers was going to be one of the first games; I guess they got their nomenclature messed up. Seven kittens will be executed as atonement for this error.

Anyway, to make this actually RPG related... my brother was thinking about picking up World of Warcraft, but then I read that Blizzard wasn't shipping any more copies to stores. Is there any ETA as to when they're going to be shipping out more, or anywhere I can get a few copies? He and his friends all want to buy the game at the same time, so they can start together...

--
R. Bemrose


ANDREW

Unfortunately, they won't be shipping any copies until they have the server issues under control, which will probably take another week or two at least, anyway. That said, stores haven't actually been told to pull copies off their shelves, so if you do some diligent hunting, you might be able to turn something up.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

So, we have a dilemma. How does float work? Do you have any other metaphysical RPG-style questions that just need answering? Tomorrow will be a day of ridiculous geekery, so break out your pocket protectors! Regular questions also welcomed, though they will be forced to don horn-rimmed glasses and to memorize the lyrics to at least three (3) TMBG songs or Monty Python sketches.

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long is, in fact, the boss of you.


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