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questionanswer&andrew


COPS... Fighting Crime in a Future Time!

Andrew Long - July 27, 2004 02:04 EDT

THERE IS NOTHING QUITE SO IRRITATING as the theme song for that old cartoon, COPS. Though my search for the appropriate .wav file has turned out to be fruitless, I'm sure you all know which one I'm talking about... and if you don't, the catchphrase "Fighting Crime... In a Future Time!" should ring a few bells. If it doesn't, consider yourself lucky; everyone else who has seen the cartoon now has the theme stuck in their head, where it will remain for the next week or possibly month.

Speaking of random lapses in updating, I apologize for the lack of column on Sunday. Unfortunately, there have been standards put in place by my boss (otherwise known as "Big Boss", the master of the crime syndicate here in Metro City) that demand I have at least five letters, and my fifth rolled in at 3 AM Monday morning. Through some magical time warp effect, an additional nine somehow found their way into my inbox over the course of the day, so although I have managed to skimp you on two columns, I'll avoid the hat trick of disaster, since if there's one thing that's more annoying than the COPS theme, it's anything to do with Five for Fighting.

Incidentally, if you're wondering where Google is, he has experienced some unfortunate troubles IRL that require attending to, and so he'll be back as soon as they're dealt with. Also incidentally, there are an inordinate number of quickies today, so if you've been missing that good old-time quickie action, today will be your day!




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Hey Andrew,

Someone wrote in the other day and asked why they charge for MMORPG's and not FPS games. Although I have never played either online, I think I do know the reason.

With an FPS you are usually dealing with 2-16 people at a time. This is a reasonably light load that is not too difficult to handle a server on a home system. In addition, the game is started, played through, and once it is done, the data disappears.

With an MMO, you are dealing with hundreds to thousands of players, and a persistant world. How much fun would the MMO be if everytime you logged on, you had to start the world fresh all over again? Remember, in an MMO, the character data, property, changes to the world etc are all persistant. In an FPS they are not. This means that in the MMO you have hundreds or thousands of characters, changes to the world, property etc that has to be stored on the server side. This is a very large consumption of resources, and it costs money to do so. Not to mention how problematic it would be if you had user managed servers that were cutting in and out occasionally. This would make it very difficult to keep things running smoothly. I have also been told that the additional fees allow the developers to continue to provide new content in the way of quests etc.

That being said I don't entirely agree with the pay to play method for one reason. If I am paying $10-20 a month to play your games, then why do I have to spend another $20-30 every few months to buy the latest expansion. They at least should be free.

Anyway, hope that helps.
Eggman

ANDREW
There's also the small matter of games like Diablo, which store character information server-side and yet don't charge a penny for play. Granted, this is still much less complex than the dedicated worlds in MMOs, but it raises the question of just how expensive this data storage really is, since there's a whole whack of Diablo characters last time I checked. That said, I really don't know very much about the finances of the situations, and so I'm inclined to accept your argument, in the end.


"Uncle Stom" concurs


While your answer on yesterday's question about "paying for MMORPGs" does have some merit, I thought I'd take the opportunity to clarify this just in case there was some sincere curiosity blended into that sarcasm daquiri.

ANDREW
Hey, my sarcasm daquiris never have anything but the finest garnishes, be they bitter hatred, sweet delicious spite, or the ever-elusive dash of sincere curiosity.

The main technological difference between MMORPGs and online shooters is that online shooters tend to have less than 100 players in one game. Because they are limited, they do not need heavy-duty dedicated shooters. The majority of the servers they are played on are run by other players. Heck, if you start up a game that others join, you are acting as the server yourself. There's no real costs for a publisher to maintain a server they don't own.

On the other hand, MMORPGs are constantly changing, evolving worlds. There are thousands of players who interact, and hundreds of thousands of creatures, NPCs, items, etc. to keep track of. The information flow in and out of thousands of PCs just to keep them updated on what other players and NPCs in that vicinity are doing is so massive that MMORPGs have servers just to handle that activity, and the bandwidth cost is not cheap either.

As for the financial side, it is true that successful MMORPGs make a ton of money, and it doesn't seem fair that they continue to make so much more money beyond what their costs are. The thing many might not realize is that besides those upkeep costs, it was also a huge risk to make an MMORPG. The average MMORPG takes at least $5 million if not closer to $10 million just to get into operation (correctly). If they flop, there is little that can be done. You can't just lower the price per month, as expenses in running the game will have stayed the same.

Now, as he asked the question, I'm going to make the assumption that he would like to try out an MMORPG but doesn't want to pay the fee. Since this is a Q&A column, I'll go ahead and asked: Have you checked out Guild Wars yet? It is an upcoming online RPG that will not have a monthly fee in North America. Now, after I've said all this, how can there be an online RPG with no fee? The founders of ArenaNet are ex-Blizzard guys, and one of them invented BattleNet. Take that, Al Gore!

And so ends an important lesson from Uncle Stom.

ANDREW
Thanks for sharing, Uncle Stom. I realize now that in my haste to take potshots at one of my most hated RPG variants, I forgot about the most important thing - the love. Actually, I remembered the love - I just figured the sarcasm would be easier, and besides - daquiris are the most delicious of the girly drinks.


An exciting update


Mr. Long-Johns,

In Suikoden 3, I'm at the point where I finished each of the 3 main characters three chapters, and now I'm at the point where I can play Thomas's Chapters before going to Ch.4 and picking the Flame Champion. When I was playing Hugo's Ch. 3, Fubar became an optional character for Hugo, but I didn't see him at the entrance of the castle like you said. I guess he doesn't show up until after the Flame Champion is selected, and I haven't gotten that far in Suikoden 3 yet. Crap.

As for the FC selection, I think its Hugo because in the opening cinema he's seen fighting the Fire Dragon solo, so I 'd just like your input on this.

BTW, my first name in real life is Kevin...that's what you get for being Mike Ditka's illegitimate son/rare RPG collector before they turn green as Greatest Hits titles for the PS2.

Signing out.
Trigger

ANDREW
Thanks for sharing, Mike Ditka's Bastard. In order fore me to share my thoughts on the Flame Champion business, however, I have to know exactly why I should care who the Flame Champion is. The biggest mystery I usually encounter in a Suikoden is whether or not a character is male or female, so the prospect of another quandary is intriguing, to say the least; however, I have yet to start the game, so if you spoil it for me, I will gut you like a fish. You have been warned!


Cellphones, cellphones, roly poly cellphones


I am soooo glad you asked that question on Cell phones and games. Unless I misread, in which case I'll look like an idiot on these columns.......but lets get on to my points on cell phone games.

1) Cell phone screens are entirely too small. Seriously, you will NEED a magnifying glass. And anyone thinking they won't, will feel really stupid as they squint there eyes trying to adjust them to the crappy graphics.

2) If I wanted portable gaming, I'd whip out my GBA. I don't know if anyone has told you but the N-gage isn't all that engaging. From what I hear, it hasn't sold well. And rightly so, the buttons are screwed up, to switch games you have to perform some ritual to get past the batteries, and you look like a dork speaking into the sides of the N-gage. But this is all speculation on my part.

3) Most cell phones have buttons that are close together and in gaming, that is a problem. It's like have a Microcon Controller (a small controller, great for people whose hands are smaller than average), only smaller.

4) Let's just face it, Cell Phones are for talking not gaming.

5) Cell Phone Games are part of a conspiracy from the phone companies! The truth is out there!

I will not entertain the thought of having a cell phone game in my purse. The PSP and NDS are coming out soon and with those power houses, the crappy cell phone games don't have a chance. Alright next topic.

Younger sibling Rpg horror storys? Actually, I'm the youngest in my family. My older sister and brother aren't into gaming all that much. So I guess I'll just have to take Jo Jo's storys (By the way, 'Keven' was a cute cover up name! Bite me, Jo Jo!).
-The Lizard

ANDREW
It's too bad he blew your cover, but on the other hand, his email address does claim to be from a "Joey", so maybe your cousin hasn't been as honest as you think about his shady past. Or maybe I know nothing, which seems to be the likely option. Either way, one thing is clear - you're bang on with number five. Why, you ask? Because, generally speaking, most games that are marketed for cellphones in North America exist for one reason - to sell the crappy phones. There has never been, and presumably will never be, a market for games on a system that is inferior in all respects to other handhelds, and so it amazes me that they've caught on to the extent they have in Japan (although from what I hear, cellphones are more like personal companion/pets/lovers in Japan, and so it makes some sense that there would currently be a market for this sort of thing.)

I do appreciate, though, that you've taken this chance to make fun of the N-Gage, because let's face it - nobody buys an N-Gage except rudy, and that's just cuz he's compensating for his gnomelike stature.


So much for spreading the love


I think cellphones are absolute, pure evil. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that they're Minion Spawns of Satan. However, this analysis comes from the fact that I spend my entire day sitting next to a computer and a phone doing various tech support needs, so the last thing I want to do is have a cell phone irritating the daylights out of me when I get the opportunity to NOT be near a computer or phone. I suppose it also comes from seeing millions of people attempting (and I use that word lightly) to drive and chat at the same time, which is never a good combination even when the people are in the car with you let alone when you're trying to hold the cell phone with your neck angled and one hand on it. Oh and let's not forget the person at the grocery store in the middle of the aisle on the phone with their significant other or parent trying to figure out which brand, size container, and amount of product to get... and when after arguing over the decision they end up screaming so loudly that you can still hear them 8 aisles over in the frozen food section. And of course there's the private moments you get to spend with friends, family, or significant others that always seem to get interrupted at the most inconvenient times because someone's cell phone rings and they just HAVE to answer it right now, because we all know that whatever in-person conversation is taking place can never be as important as the phone call. Last but not least, let's not forget the people who sit at work never getting things done because they're busy talking to friends on their cellphones, because although they would feal guilty about wasting their employer's time and money on a personal call from their work phone, they don't feel the least bit guilty about wasting their employer's time and money on a personal call from their personal cellphone.

But I digress, because I won't even recap statements made by you and Google about how gaming on a cell phone is utterly retarded since the "control" factor rather limited... Cell phones are pure evil and are quite possibly one of the most heinous pieces of technology ever invented.
GoodThings2Life

ANDREW
I agree entirely, and you've forgotten the most irritating cellphone call of all - the loud, exasperated 40something bitch on a train, bus or subway shouting at her husband to make her kids behave as she natters on about her boring day at work, oblivious to the fact that there are fifty or so people within earshot who could really care less. Well, make that 49 - the fiftieth is entertaining thoughts of cramming her fat ass out the window and pushing her into oncoming traffic, though lamentably, he has yet to make this dream a reality.


Turning it up a notch


Castovegas,

How I love you, you sweet, sweet, buttery kernel. We shall roast the others fryers with our intense heat of passion. The passion burns brightly! Evar so brightly! Interpretive dances done to a beat of love. Of course we'll need a good orchestra to play that waltz. What was the name of it? We'll definetly have to have that at the reception. Ahhh, you make my heart flutter with each passing moment. Speaking of which, we have to plan the wedding party and who's taking who's name! Is tuinte still going to be the flower girl? I should hope so. Perhaps Roku can be the minister. Well, we can't decide it all by ourselves, so why not have the readers write in with suggestions? Come on, it'll be the RPGamer Wedding Celebrationaire!!

A Vegas wedding, of course,

O' Shrouded One

ANDREW
Hmm... Much as I'd love to plan my very own Vegas wedding to my crazed stalker, I think I'll just guard my tux and make sure nobody slips anything into my drinks over the next little while.


Unfit for Print


Hi,

I was reading Q&A of July 24 2004, the letter named "Operatic", when some of your words kind of upset me..

Xenosaga II in Europe in 2005 ?????
Damn, that's almost impossible.. RPG developers and editors often don't care about us, Europeans :/ The reason is, too many langages to translate to (Some of us would be happy with english games, though), and a weird TV standard, 50Hz(PAL) instead of 60Hz(NTSC) for japan and US.. So we mainly get poor 50Hz games two years after their first release in japan (Squaresoft loves to sell us its 15% decelerated and reducted FinalFantasy at high price, and the worst is, we all buy the games), and often don't get the chance to put our hands on goodlooking ( well yes, we only see screenshots ;) ) games like Suikoden 3&4, Growlanser, Sakura Taisen.. Okay, i suppose things are improving, we get more games than we used to, and recently got our dreams come true with the announcements of StarOcean3, .hack, FFXI...

I've had the opportunity to play an imported Xenogears, so i would love to play Xenosaga. We have awaited it for several years, but even with our prayers, not a single kilobyte of it has reached Europe in PAL standard.. So why would namco release Xenosaga II in Europe in 2005 if we dont even have episode1, and why would they announce it before they talk about an US release date ? Nonsense..

So i fear you have been the victim of misinformation, and suppose the release date concerns an US release instead, which would answer NayanRoo's question; But, really, if you want to say i'm wrong, don't hesitate even a second, because i WANT to be wrong !!!

Michael

ANDREW
So basically what you're saying is, because you've developed this inferiority complex, you can't possibly accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, a company has taken Europe into account in its long-range planning? Sorry, amigo, I'm not going to change our release date information simply based upon your wounded ego. If you can come up with something more concrete than "omg zerg rush", get back to me. Until such a time, stop snivelling and get a real TV.


YOU 'DREW
QUICKIE I
I know! Why don't we rid the world of semi-colons;
no one uses them anyway!

Palladia

Andrew:
Oh, that Palladia! What a card!

QUICKIE II
So, there's going to be a
Sakura Taisen V: Episode 0 - Arano no Samurai Musume for some system. I guess I'm as excited as the !Kung people of Namibia are about Rambo 4: First Blood part 3 - Balboa's Constrictor.
drinkslinger

Andrew:
The Kung people of Namibia ain't got nothing on my levels of excitement about that particular film project - it could completely revolutionize the first blood numerical system standard!

QUICKIE III
what is the us release date for Final Fantasy 1*2 Advanced
thanks
Allen

Andrew:
It has yet to be announced; Japanese gamers will be getting it on Thursday.

QUICKIE IV
I have a game called Evergrace
and I am stuck there is a place were you have to unequieped everything I can do all of that but you have two weapons and I can only unequieped one of them can you tell me how to do unequiep the last weapon. please I really need help.

Andrew:
Well, it may be that you really do need help, but if you can't figure out how to unequip a weapon after playing a game for any length of time, then you're probably beyond my expertise. Besides, any advice I give you will only end up being derogatory!

QUICKIE V
I have a game called Evergrace
and I am stuck there is a place were you have to unequieped everything I can do all of that but you have two weapons and I can only unequieped one of them can you tell me how to do unequiep the last weapon. please I really need help.

Andrew:
Well, it may be that you really do need help, but if you can't figure out how to unequip a weapon after playing a game for any length of time, then you're probably beyond my expertise. Besides, any advice I give you will only end up being derogatory!

QUICKIE VI
we have a new computer,
now having trouble wirh installing mm8. Can not get past title page. says it needs a directx 7 driver and the drivers we have are newer than that version.. any idea where or how we can fix this problem..

Thanks Gregg

Andrew:
Don't play crappy archaic PC RPGs?

QUICKIE VII
Just a minor correction--
Haydn's "The Creation" is an oratorio, not an opera. An oratorio is narrated, and it is not staged as a drama.

Captain Faris

Andrew:
Okelydokely!

QUICKIE VIII
cell phones suck.
I hate cell phones. Yeah I dont have one. However my freind andrew has one. Its tight. He has a legend of zelda ring tone but its the actual song not a bunch a chimes that sound like it. I guess what we all really want in a cell phone is phone, flashlight, internet, AIM, chat, cork screw, screw driver, portable charger, tellevision, iintellivision,atari, mouse, printer, soda dispenser, and a nifty shelf for all you games. Yes it may be hard to fit all that in a 4" by .5" plastic shell b ut I have faith. well do that or free crappy serviceforever would also be nice

(no I dont diispise all portable things)
JOJO

Andrew:
You had me until the intellivision - I mean, those things rust up like nobody's business! Wait, Gil... Close the sale, close the sale... Ah, geez!

QUICKIE IX
Ah, celphone extras.
Honestly, I'm more than content with a phone on which one can call people up...although right now I really have to go to the bathroom. I'm not sure that I want such a thing, but I would at least be darn impressed if they made a celphone that doubles as a port-a-john.

-Jackson Ferrell

Andrew:
Yes, I can see the ads now - Urine and Cellphones - together at last!



DA LAST GRUMBLE

As the whereabouts of Googleshng are currently unknown, I'm on duty for the time being. As such, you'll be getting a steady diet of me at least until Friday. For now, however, we will discuss Final Fantasy remakes and their inherent ridiculousness, especially the rumours surrounding a third FFVII remake. Now flood my inbox with cheap booze and letters! Could you do anything less?

castomel@rpgamer.com
Andrew Long feels curiously like a placeholder...

I'LL PROVIDE THE ANSWERS, YOU PROVIDE THE

QUESTIONS


A surly, brooding placeholder!

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