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questionanswer&andrew


Let Them Eat Creamsicles

Andrew Long - May 23, '04 - 00:16 EDT

SO ANYWAY, MY FORAY INTO MELODRAMA has served its purpose, and I return to write again, devoutly wishing that my little exercise in faulty anger management hadn't remained on display for three days solid. Nature, it seems, is a fickle two-bit proprietress from time to time, and the two-bit lightning bolts she saw fit to hurl at Google's house over the week were in fact sufficient enough to leave my rant up there for a fair bit longer than I had intended. Not that I didn't want it to be seen - I still stand behind a fair amount of what I said, but I have to concede that there were probably better ways to go about it, and I was rather unfair to a couple of the principles involved. To them I apologize, and assure you all that no animals in particular were harmed during the festivities, although I remain ardent in my general policy of extermination of mostly innocent june bugs during column time.

I have been assured, at any rate, that positive change is underway, and so I will remain to help ensure that it does, in fact, end up pulling through. To that end, I am pleased to roll out the No Squid Left Behind program, a vehicle which I hope will please angry squids the world over and keep them away from my precious hotpants, which to this day remain marooned on a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia. Full steam ahead!

Angry Squid, Feeling Left Behind

SPPLOOOOP! What are you talking about, pitiful creature? This program does not benefit me! I EAT AND WEAR AND USE YOUR HOTPANTS AND I LIKE THEM! TO TAKE THEM AWAY LEAVES ME BEHIND, SO TO SPEAK! I WILL INK YOU WITH SUCH FORCE THE WORLD WILL TREMBLE YEARS FROM NOW AT YOUR BLACK-SOAKED MEMORY! GRRRLLAROROOOOORP!



SEND LETTER




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Mommy, Where Do Chocobos Come From?



What level is Shoe? 38
Well doesn't that beat all
I feel unmotivated today!
Must be the excessive amount
Of sleeping last night
12 hours
Is too much for any man
Or cat!
Well
Not so much cats

Back on the subject of gunblades...


Yo. I hear this crap about Gunblades all the time. And I can answer the question by saying, "Squall was a terrible hero, he and all of his friends should be killed and never, NEVER remembered." Oh, wait, that's not it. What I meant to say was that I always thought that the "Shock" it meant was kinda like a recoil. I'd figured that the percussion caps in the chambers (or in the clip, in the case of slightly less homosexual seeming Seifer) simple jarred the blade forward, to be immediately snapped back by some kind of springloaded mechanism. The result would be simple. As the blade is raked across the enemy, the trigger is pulled, and it is sent forward, only about three inches, bu as such a speed that it would shatter any ribs or bones, and be recalled without getting stuck. So it's a slash and a stab all in one move. Of course, guns and swords should NEVER be combined, in any way, shape, or form, besides the actual melding of gun and sword (i.e, the bayonette, or that cool Spetsnas knife with the one shot bullet in the handle.) Anyway, Cast, I just wanted to put the debate to bed, or possibly cause more controversy. But if you look at the designs for the weapon, or just a hi res image of one (there are thousands floating around the interweb) you'll see that there's no place for a bullet to come out, and no power sourse for electricity. Well, I've got to go and have some fun with "The Virgin." Take care.
Kenny the C.

ANDREW
Thanks for sharing, Kenny the C. I think I do us all a favour when I don't ask what having fun with "The Virgin" entails, especially since you're probably not talking about making salad dressing.

Non-Sequitur


I read this in a GMR magazine the other day and I couldn't stop laughing!

"About eight years ago, my father sat me down at the kitchen table to about 'manhood.' He said to me, 'Mike, there comes a time in every man's life when he begins to have urges directed toward the fairer sex. Sometimes a man will have to say things he doesn't mean and do things he doesn't like to help satisfy these urges. But trust me, son, it's worth it.'

My daad then went into what I can only describe as an X-rated sign language demonstration of how various parts of the human anatomy function.

Although that conversation was the source of many of my most menacing nightmares throughout my early teen years, I think I finally understand the messafe he was trying to convey.... Nintendo, it's about time you and I sat down to have a talk. There comes a time in every consoles manufacturer's life when it begins to have urges. It desires a more mass-market appeal to a broader age demographic. To satisfy these urges, sometimes you have to say and do things you don't like-- trust me, I know this lesson all too well. Let's take a look at a few examples. Remember the time when you decided that the compact disc format just wasn't good enough for you? And do you remember how that two-bit hussy Sony used the compact disc to lure most of your important third-party developers and a large portion or your fan base into her loving arms? You sure dropped the ball on that one, kiddo. I know this is hard to hear, but there's one last subject we have to talk about: online gaming. This is one area where I feel you have the most potential for growth, but I also think it's an opportunity you're on the verge of completely missing out on.

Just imagine the possibilities: an Animal Crossing that encourages users to on virtual online road trips through other gamers' towns, all the while exchanging goods and making new friends. Or what about a Pokemon MMORPG game that not only lets gamers 'catch 'em all,' but also gives them the option of battling the world's greatest trainers or the ability to join forces with them and set up gyms? Mario Kart, Final Fantasy: Crystal Cronicles, Pikmin 2, Metroid Prime 2, Super Smash Bros. Melee...the list goes on. I can't even begin to imagine what other ideas you and your teams of brilliant video game minds could come up with. My loins burn with a fiery lust just at the thought of such things.

I think what I'm really trying to say is, I want to have sex with you, Nintendo. And when I say, 'have sex' I really mean 'play your games online and not have to deal with that cheap excuse of 'connectivity' that you're trying to push off on gamers with GBAs.'"

-The Lizard

ANDREW
Sadly, this article ignores the fact that Hiroshi Yamauchi, and indeed his successors, are all prudish old bastards when it comes to the highly titillating world of online gaming. They're also intensely evil old men, which is why they will continue to favour selling dozens of GBAs to every gamer over the prospect of money-losing online play. I mean, it kind of stands to reason - if all you cared about was money, which tends to be the case with shareholders and the fiendish marionnettes that are their CEOs, what would you do?

Besides, while I do object to having to purchase a small army of GBA units, I do think the attempts to innovate by Nintendo are laudable, if a trifle unnecessary. While the GBA features were underused in FF:CC, I think the upcoming Four Swords will make much better use of the added possibilities using GBAs for controllers offers, especially since that's basically what all the information surrounding the game points to - making much better use of the added possibilities.


Mmm.. fallout


I am gonna talk about my thoughts on RPGamer.com, and its going to be somewhat long so bear with me and feel free to edit things if its worthy enough to be put in the lettercolumn.

Why are there so few letters? Well, maybe its because RPGs just aren't all that and a bag of chips. You have the Animetard obsessives on one side, the MMORPGers on another, the casual players which probably aren't even visiting this site, and the PC/Oldschool players on another. The reason I rarely write or post to the forums is because I am in the PC/Oldschool category, and this site from my viewpoint primarily caters to the Animetards. Part of the reason I even started visiting the site was because it was covering ALL RPGs, not just the linear anime angstfests. (Yes, I am being unfair and stereotyping here. No direct insult to anyone is intended.) Well, look at the forums, and look at most of the mainpage newsbits. Its mostly console RPGs, with the odd bone thrown to the MMORPGers and PC RPGers. Well, the MMORPGers have much better sites to go to, and the PC RPGers have very little reason to visit here at all and end up hanging at the MMORPG sites which usually have as much or more info and discussion of the other styles of electronic RPGdom.

ANDREW
This is true, to an extent; however, we've never really been anything but, much as it's nice to pretend we cover all RPGs equally. The fact of the matter is, this community grew up around games like FFVI and CT, and the natural offshoot of that was to continue covering games that followed in their footsteps. Besides, do you really think we'd be better off having devoted significant coverage to titles like Might & Magic X or Ultima: Ascension? Better to stick with NWN and BG, I think, which we do have fairly extensive coverage of.

I mean, why talk about issues or thoughts of games the locals don't care about anyhow? Its rude of me to try to change the opinions of people who don't want their opinions changed, and I can get a lot better discussion of System Shock or Wasteland on many other sites. Why write an essay about things you would like to see improved or changed in RPGs when it seems that the majority of other essays are babbling on about Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy, and oh snap, Final Fantasy?

ANDREW
I guess it's cuz I'm a bright-eyed optimist, even in the face of all those delightful message board posts about which FF girl I would most like to get in the sack (it's a toss-up between Quistis or Lulu, incidentally.) I like to think that somewhere, even in the grubbiest of 14-year-old souls (and I stress "grubbiest"; I know this stereotype of mine is not a universal thing), there is a small spark of rational thought that can be directed at things other than jerking off, listening to bad music, and/or watching the OC. It's an uphill battle, but hey - I have nothing better to do.

Communities, both electronic and real, tend to try to make things homogenous. Here, its mostly seen as a console site in an Internet packed with console RPG sites. Those of us into other things either come in with an ego and get booed out, or see that it isn't our kind of place and move on. Unless you want to talk about console RPGs here, you are better off going elsewhere. Heck, just look at some of the "BEST GAME EVER" polls held at various gaming sites. Half Life won out easily at Gamespy's, because that site tends to be PC gamers with a side of console play. At Gamefaqs, its more the console and anime fan, so every year predictably has a Nintendo classic squaring off against, well a Squaresoft game. Sometimes its no fault of the site about what kind of crowd takes nest.

ANDREW
Actually, we're pretty much the top console RPG site on the internet. The trouble is, our interaction side isn't so hot of late, so yeah, chances are there may currently be better places to go, especially if you want PC coverage (and seriously, Half-Life? What the heck does that have to do with anything?)

A big problem is that much of RPGgamer's content is reader submitted or seemingly cut and paste news. Reader submissions aren't enough to truely make a site thrive. The place needs some active writers to do (semi)regular stuff. There are lots of talented and passionate gamers out and about. Encourage them to contribute to the point where they are regularly sending in things. Most of the staff wanted info here is for HTMLers or newstrollers. What the place needs is writers, not more coders. (Provided there is enough to keep the place from falling apart.) Newsposts should be more about what the writer thinks. I can get more gaming news from Gamespot. And get a variety. Not just a couple people who only play the console games. Grab a couple cranky old farts who want to tell all the damn high school and college kids what a REAL game is, and who use language that would make Quentin Tarantino blush! Get a die hard MMORPG "catass" who spends as much time in Norrath, Vanadiel, Paragon City, or Brittania as they do in the real world. The site could use these sorts of people sending in their stuff. Get people PASSIONATE. Get em pissed off. Scott "Lum the Mad" Jennings did it so well he now works in making MMORPGs, and has left a legacy of sites inspired by his work where the developers of these games go to find out what the hardcore gamers think, and have hired other writers from these sites to work on their games or in their magazines. It does work with the right talent.

I dunno though, I could be totally wrong and off base here. I am just going by my impressions after all.

Or maybe its just the genre overall has gotten so tired that nobody cares anymore.

I would like to think people care still.

-----Bloodcat

ANDREW
Nah, you kind of pulled it out at the end. The trouble is, I've been trying to find just the types of writers you're talking about for years, and the fact of the matter is, they're a rare commodity. Most people are content not to get on the nerves of the general public, and I have to admit, I'm hard-pressed myself to be really annoying, since I've had all these annoying good manners drilled into me. I try to ignore it when I can, but again, it's another uphill battle. Anyhow, I think you're misconstruing somewhat what our coverage is defined as, but you are right when you say we could use the Howard Stern of RPG coverage.


RAD? WTF


Woo hoo for no subject! That means I can ramble on about whatever I want. And so I shall! I just started playing Tales of Destiny 2 again, or Tales of Eternia if you like, or someone else likes. CYA right? Wouldn't want people writing in just to correct something that's technically correct already. ANYWAY. I think the only game with voice acting that made me cringe more than ToD2 was R.A.D., which is too bad because other than that R.A.D. was a great game.

Right. This is an RPG site. I know...lesse...ah! La Pucelle. I've actually been enjoying it, when I can work up the energy to go over to my PS2 and actually change discs and start it up...*yawn* See, just thinking about it makes me tired. It's a lot easier to just leave the DDR disc in. But...I've been getting the feeling that a lot of people don't like La Pucelle as much as Disgaea, because they wanted more Disgaea. Well, that's too bad. Pucelle has it's own strategy. Once you've figured out how things work, it's extremely entertaining. It's no Disgaea, but it's a worthy purchase in its own right. Oh, and for the people who can't find the humor...make sure you're talking to everyone. In every chapter there's new comments to be seen.

...guess that's it. I'm rambled out.

HolyDragon

ANDREW
Thanks for sharing, Holy. I still stand by my stance that La Pucelle is too close to Rhapsody for my comfort, and so I refuse to touch it with a ten-foot pole.


Eets'a regular!


Casto of the Hill People,

I think the RPG industry as a whole has been in a slump. When you think about it, Final Fantasy 7 marked the beginning of the end. Many great games followed it in the years to come, but it solidified a template in which all RPG's followed, if not in mechanics then in story.

If being a greedy, gun-toting capitalist American (minus the gun part) has taught me anything, its that competition is good. Competition breeds ingenuity and quality from companies who find themselves actually being forced to make endearing games just to survive. Companies that half ass it will fall in such an environment. Sadly, Square has routed or merged with all of its competition (kind of like attack of the Blob) and thus the silicon Darwinism no longer applies.

Plus those who were original console RPGers are getting older. We've discovered other vices to advert our attention and steal our hard earned cash (also some of these vices can actually talk :O ) The newer, hipper Mountain Dew crowd seems to lack the attention span and imagination that their predecessors did. I blame it on their poor quality of action figures growing up.

That's my two cents. It would have been nice if I could have devoted this paragraph to making a concise closing argument, but I have no such thing to give. I don't really know if there is a point to this letter. True Rock n Roll is dead, a victim to corporate punk, the unhealthy desire to forsake all consumer groups for the beloved preteen girl and your darn Canadian toilet humor (sorry, irrelevant South Park reference). True RPG maybe dying as well. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Tad Ghostal

ANDREW
Eh, I don't necessarily think RPGs on the whole are in any danger; this is just a bit of a down period, as you say. Things have always been pretty cliched on the story side, and it's the rare RPG that can actually think for itself, in my experience. You're right about that Mountain Dew crowd, however; they really haven't had the outstanding wealth of action figures our generation got its hands on, like Transformers, or GI Joes, or the entire He-Man set, or Star Wars or even those crazy hologram warrior things that I only vaguely remember from the commercials, which went something like this: "Fire BEATS Water! Earth BEATS Fire!" Now that I think about it, that ad probably planted the seeds for my love of RPGs, since one of the hallmarks of an RPG battle system is Water beating Fire, and Fire beating Earth. Granted, they got it backwards, but it was the 80s, and nobody really knew what the hell they were doing back then.


Shroudie: Not a crook


Castoadmiral,

Well, I hate to say it, but I didn't get presidency, nor did my plan B for vice presidency execute well either. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to declare myself dictator and rule everyone in the world. Of course, you can be my sexy assitant dictator, but then that would ruin the point of a dictatorship. "Proclaimed leaders of humanity" sounds pretty good, eh? It would seem that after 8 long hours, I could not get off without writing you a love letter for the column because I could never forgive myself if I didn't. Woo, lucky day it is, I just heard thunder! Oh what joy it is to have your electricity going off with such a high potential! Errr..damn these no topic days, I haven't prepared myself for the fans. Why, my Castodove, must you tease me with your topicless sexiness? I would rant some more, but I lack the motivation to drug up on some randomopium. Perhaps we'll have a topic by the end of the column? I hope so, if not, I'll have to hide in the freeze r again.

Creamsicles are on the right-hand side,

O' Shrouded One

ANDREW
Oh, you'll get your topic... Aha. AHAHAHA. AHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Also, politics are for wussies, stick to cookies.


And to finish, a side of righteous indignation


::emerges wearing military fatigues::

Castoberg,

Someone complained about regular readers spewing filth? Not on MY watch! With my trusty Creamsicle Shooter 2600, I shall pacify the annoying regulars with deliciousness so we can all enjoy a slightly less insane column.

Unless Seth was talking about me...

Anythat, Hall of Harry suggested that Final Fantasy IIj had the worst battle system, with the whole "smack Maria up so she can has enough HP to survive a single friggin' battle" method of playing. I however, contend that Final Fantasy 8 had a far WORSE system. Examples of why:

1. At least FF2j is straight-forward. Use magic, gain magic- get hit, get HP. With FF8, to increase HP, you have to find a GF with the HP-J ability, teach it the ability by fighting, then junction a whole bunch of magic to it (which you CAN'T USE without losing max HP). Frustrating.

2. While both games suffered from horrible pacing, at least in FF2j you never had to rely on a "crutch" like you did with the GFs in FF8. What I mean is, rather than using strategy with developing your characters, about 99% of FF8 was "GF, GF, GF" ... until you got to the final castle, in which, abracastupid! you lose the GFs you relied on the whole game, and odds are, you got creamed. I laugh at strategy guides that don't recommend GFs as the first command unsealed.

3. FF2j's battle system made sense: you can't have high Magic and magic skills AND high attack power. With FF8, you don't even NEED to raise characters at all (except the aforementioned Final Castle of Doom). When facing the final boss, you could just as easily slap your GF configuration onto characters you never use (damn you, Selphie!) and STILL whup her with level 10 characters, as long as you have the insane setup!

I could go on, Castozilla, but I've rambled enough. What's your take on this? And to all those readers who have been too shy to write, I say to you: You owe Casty a minimun 3 paragraph essay on why FF8 sucks so much... or why Dragon Warrior 7 rocks so much, even today.

NeoCarbuncle
Oh, and La Pucelle is awesome... more on that next letter.

ANDREW
Heh. Actually, I didn't unseal GFs first, because hey presto - I largely fought without using them directly after disc 2. That is why I will never side with you on this particular issue; FFVIII involved strategy, if you chose to employ it, whereas FFII just involved mindless button mashing, with no real option for anything else. Sure, you could argue that beating on Maria counts as strategy, since by beating on her and not casting spells on her you're employing strategy, but that's like saying FFI involves strategy because you have to pick characters at the start. Besides, beating on women is wrong, you neanderthal bastard!


YOU 'DREW
QUICKIE I
Bought Xenosaga Tuesday
and hoped to start my list, but Roku's quite ahead of me. We shall see who's ahead of who when I cash my paycheck!
Shroudie

Andrew:
Yes, spend all your money on games! That's the ticket... notwithstanding that buying games doesn't necessarily mean beating them, as I can more than attest to, given my tawdry little stack of unfinished badness.



DA LAST GRUMBLE

So as you may have noticed, I'm still here. Accordingly, there will be a column tomorrow, and in that column we shall discuss... Four swords and Nintendo connectivity! Do you think Nintendo is just being greedy, or do you like the innovation involved. Do you hate me jealously for finding a battered old GBA at work which I can now use as my third control, or do you just pity me the skin contact with the black crud underneath the tape holding the battery door on (or, more horrifyingly, the Yu-Gi-Oh cart inside?) And if you're still not drawn by that, then let us sit upon the ground a while and tell sad stories of the death of kings! Something for everyone, I say.

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long finds the heifer dead, and bleeding fresh, And sees fast by a butcher with an axe, and yea, will suspect 'twas he that made the slaughter!

I'LL PROVIDE THE ANSWERS, YOU PROVIDE THE

QUESTIONS


Okay, I admit it - I slept through that entire section of the course, from Richard right through Henry. I still get to c&p random quotes, though!

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