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     The Front Lines of Moronic Insanity

Andrew Long- September 24 '03- 01:55 Eastern Standard Time

I've been called a lot of things by a lot of people in my day, and a lot of it has been terribly unflattering, like "jerk" and "moron" and "Miss Peru 1995". Even so, there is no disparaging remark quite so irritating as the one that is made by the person who thinks he's saying it behind my back. At least, I'm assuming he thinks it was behind my back, since I gave ample evidence to support the theory that I never read Google's column, ever. This, however, is false. Thus it is that I am now aware that I have been dubbed a purveyor of moronic insanity, and all the joys entailed by that distinction.

I do not object to the right you guys have to disagree with anything or everything that I say - obviously, if we live in a society where furries and goths can coexist, then there's something seriously wrong with the moral fibre of Rush Limbaugh, who I hear can hear again, which is very nice I suppose but not terribly relevant to this particular column. Then again, it can be argued that little in this column is of particular relevance, so that's nothing new. Where was I? Ah, yes. As Miss Peru, I hope to end world hunger and bring the Peruvian soccer team to new heights of glory in CONCACAF or UEFA or Al-Quaeda or wherever they play. I also plan to regulate our currency so that someday, that magical donkey that makes all that sweet, delicious coffee can ride his ass (tee hee, I made a clever play on words!) over the Himalayas or Andes or whatever that mountain range that makes Chile look like a broken-backed eel is called.

Which is to say, if you're going to throw insults around, kindly direct them at the person they're meant to reduce to tears.

Now that we've got that out of the way, it is Wednesday, the new Monday. Midweek isn't a terribly natural transition, but then again, I never was one for natural cycles and all that jazz. Also, it gave me an extra two days to develop a horribly impacted wisdom tooth, so I'm that much grouchier now because of the delightful burning pain that periodically emits from the side of my mouth where my soon-to-be deported wisdom tooth lurks in pustulant glory. Since that's disgusting, however, I think my choice to dedicate my life to peace and even play "Mary Had A Little Lamb" on the Sousaphone is adequate defense of my title, so viva la Peru y entonces, ¡todos leamos mi columna y miremos mis pechos gigantes!

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Procedural Moments and so forth

Long time, no talk Andrew,

Whooa, that was weird. I was expecting to read your column Friday, but it turns out to be Google and Duff?? That is just plain weird. Although I did enjoy reading Google again, I was disappointed in not reading your column with kupomogli. Ah well, at least I know the C.I.A. didn't figure out those hobo-related deaths, so that means you aren't rotting in an Argentinian cavern, with a sick-o who dresses you up like Coronet and makes you dance for him. *shudder*

Andrew:
Well, of course they didn't... I'm hiding out in Peru, sillyface!

So, what is the whole Q&A deal now? Is Google back for good? So does that mean that it'll be you, Google, and Duff?? I hope they don't do away with your wittyness and humor. I wouldn't know how to make it through the day without it!! (plus it's good to know there are other people out there who can be humorpus and cynical all at the same time)

Til the midnight moon rises once again,

O' Shrouded One

Andrew:
Rest easy: they've dealt away with Duff, not me. For those naughty souls who didn't scroll down past the top of my column (which is to say, those naughty souls who actually managed to read it, since I was a tad late in throwing it up due to a tremendous temper tantrum I threw together in the late stages of Friday night, in which I was writing down all sorts of nasty things) Googleshng is back for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday updates, while I'm rounding out the week with Wednesday through Friday. This will hopefully be the last change for a while, although I do have dark suspicions about a certain megalomaniac slime over in sector 7-G.

 
Arrr!!!! I'll never get tired of saying that...

To Andrew,

Arrrh me hearty. Blarst ye, ye lubber, I'll not be writin' this way throughout this 'ere letter, for it makes me 'ead 'urt tryin'.

You put up a discussion topic this week (by the time this is posted, last week), about how long RPGs take to start, that I don't think anyone responded to. As I'm always at least a day behind in responding I'll go on and talk about it now.... :)

The topic made me think about the beginnings of Chrono Cross and FFVIII. CC has that stupid quest to get three lizard scales for a spoiled twit of a girl, and in FFVIII you can easily spend over an hour doodling around the school and reading boring-but-important tutorials before ever heading outside to your first fight, where Quistis kindly advises you on various combat commands.

In both cases I think the designers intended to ease the player into the game system, giving them some easier tasks to do before hitting them with the full complexity and/or strategy of the game. Actually, in FFVIII, even after several hours the plot doesn't move significantly forward. I can see the idea behind giving the player small hints of future plot threads that become important later, to build suspense, but there's the risk that they will get bored and move on to a more exciting game before "later" happens.

But I can't imagine Square is the only perpetrator. These two games are just the ones that came immediately to mind when you brought up the topic. What are some games you've played that have had this pacing problem? What do you think the designers have in mind trying to mire us in slow-pacedness right at the beginning?

On a different subject, there's Valkyrie Profile. I got it for $35 (US) used at a local game store, no instructions but I had gotten a strat guide for free from the same store a few months earlier, before the game became rare and/or trendy. (I took it 'cause I liked the art work.) Having said all that, in the most non-gloating way possible... since I haven't played it yet, I wouldn't give it to you unless you had something really nifty to offer in return, but since I don't see myself playing it soon, I could loan it to you. I wouldn't even try to extract a guest-hosting session out of you for it, just 'cause I'm that kind of gal, me hearty.

Beth.

Andrew:
Arrrrr... yer pirate speak does me heart good, lassie. Your kind offer is similarly heartwarming, although I do believe I have a willing link in my brand new chain, if the next letter is any indication. Anyhow, I think you've hit the nail right on the head by saying that the early game sluggishness is a result of the desire of most developers to fill gamers too lazy to read their instruction manuals in on the finer details of the game they're playing. That said, I also think that this should not be necessary; that's what level 1-1 is supposed to be all about, for pity's sake.

There are many games that manage to throw you into the action without boring introductory segments, although to be honest, there aren't any Final Fantasy titles among them, save possibly for the original Tactics (snowball fight indeed...) Chrono Trigger managed to get things kicked off fairly rapidly, while Breath of Fire V, the current title I'm struggling through, takes all of three or four minutes to begin the action. There's such a thing as an easy dungeon, and I think it needs to be used more, because sitting through a half-hour (or longer) sequence only serves to disincline me to ever play through games a second time.

Still, this is by far less irritating than Nintendo's habit of constantly repeating tutorial-style messages to the very end of its games. My favorite examples of this would be the blue coin garbage in Mario Sunshine or the constant explanatory crap for almost every item you pick up in Wind Waker regardless of how many hundreds of times you may use certain things.

 
The aforementioned next letter, which kind of isn't next now, but time is for the birds anyway

Sure, I'll give you Valkyrie Profile for a shot at guest hosting and a shot at getting a game I've been searching for. If you're actually serious about it, just e-mail me back.

Jamie "I got nothing" Harper >8^()

Andrew:
So here you have it: the first willing participant in the great chain of life or beans or games or whatever it was I'm trying to link together here. Jamie is seeking out barely legal copies of Guilty Gear for the PSX or Megaman X3, a SNES title. Anyone with either of these titles and a burning desire for something else, come on down - you're the next contestant on Let's Trade Games Faster Than STDs In The Red Light District Because Our Five Year Plan Must Stop At Nothing To Defeat The Capitalist Imperial Dogs!

Wow, that's a really lousy name for this exchange... I think I'd better go back to the drawing board and come up with something less offputting.

Quickies

ok i have a question, how does it feel to have such an awesome name? from Andrew

On a scale of 1 to Awesome? Super great!

ok not entirely random but uhhh could you convence Googleshng to let me guest host with him. I don't entirely perticularly care for the free game bit he's doing.....I just want to answer random people's questions... :(

You know, I get random people's questions too. Besides, the last time I tried to give Google advice I was damaged for 1 hit and quickly rendered "art dead" on the lawns of Tantagel, thanks to that stupid Magidrakee that softened me up back by Garinham. In retrospect, I really shouldn't have been playing the silver harp with so very little health left, but I never was the keenest blade on the rack, especially after putting on that stupid cursed belt.

Damnit all to hell! How is Andrew going to tell me if he will marry me or not if he's magically dissappared.

~rudyxx

Through the magic of third-party intervention. The answer is no.



The Final Grumble:

Nobody's guessed the quote yet, so there's some sugary tildes just waiting to be won. For tomorrow: Square Enix has pulled FFXII from TGS for reasons that have no doubt been vaguely explained away by now. Are you irritated? Want to gut Hironobu Sakaguchi with a piece of rusty barbed wire? Looking forward to the game? I know I am, since I seem to be one of the few people that actually enjoyed the other PS2 offering in the series. With that in mind, let's talk FFXII, or better yet- let's just talk. I hereby vow to print everything I receive tomorrow, so feel free to deluge me. Or don't - I haven't been horribly embarrassed in awhile, so now might just be the time I've been looking for to undergo a public shaming.

Nah. Better not.

Andrew "Penicillin" Long

Meh.

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