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   Embrace the Darkness!  
Googleshng - June 29 '01- 3:00 Eastern Standard Time

It's not every day I get to use a column title that sounds like a reference to the occult. Today, looking at this thermometer and doing some quick math, it struck me that the only time of day lately when I can sit down and write the column without boiling to death is from about 2 AM to dawn. So poof, I am now a nocturnal freak for your benefit. There's other benefits from screwing up my sleep schedule like this too. At this time of year, it really is nice to look up in the sky and not see a gigantic flaming orb, you know?

Anyway, Traks won't be guest hosting today as it turns out, since he had to go somewhere at the last minute. So, it's just me for now.

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How much work does Working Designs do?

Am I the only one who realizes that Working Designs does not do a single damnned thing except translate? Why do people praise them so much, they just do *translations.* No one in the company has had a hand in actually *making* any single game released under the WD label. This has infuriated me for a long time, since people go on and on about how great WD games like Lunar are, when GameArts (the actual publishers) get no Credit. Did anyone even know that Sega actually made Dragon Force (and the not-released-in-the-US Sequel, which is amazing)? I really don't have anything against WD (Alright, I happen to find placement of pop-culture refrences in anything that is not set in pop culture to be inane, but that's just me), I just don't see why they get tons of praise.
</rant>

Googleshng:
Before I begin my response, let me just point out that you meant to say developers, not publishers. Developers make games, publishers bug the developers to hurry up, put the games in boxes, and take a decent chunk of credit. They also handle translations. I'm not knocking publishers mind you. There comes a point where having someone tell you to hurry is a handy thing, putting games in boxes costs an insane amount of money, and since most publishers are quite picky, when one takes credit for a game, you know that game lives up to their standards. Plus the publishers are the ones who get stuck talking about the games to people like us. In any case though, in the US, WD is the publisher of Lunar, GameArts is the developer and I believe Japanese publisher.

Now that that's off my chest, on with what WD does. First of all, they don't just translate. Look at the last page of the instructions to just about any Working Designs game and you'll find notes about all the other little things they did. With Lunar 2 and Vanguard Bandits, they spent a little extra time coding to make their saves take up less space. With VB they also added in the entire support concept themselves. With Dragon Force they set X Y and Z to oh so useful command shortcuts, and with the Saturn Rayearth game, they pretty much rewrote the graphics engine from scratch to alleviate some slowdown problems. Those are just off th top of my head. Then of course there's the extra little goodies they cram into games. Aside from that stuff, which is quite a lot, they translate games. Granted, that doesn't sound too impressive in and of itself, but they ARE very very good at it. A lot of other translators still manage to leave in a good share of head scratching errors and typos. On top of that, most translators these days have this nasty habit of doing direct word for word translations. While that sounds like it'd be a good thing to do, there are a LOT of concepts for which only one word exists in one language, but in another there's ten each with a very different context. For example, there are about ten different words for "you" in Japanese, one of which more or less implies a "must die!" after it. Then of course in translating between English and Japanese, there's whole parts of speech that just disappear, like verb conjugation and things like "-chan" after someone's name. When you translate directly you end up dropping pretty much all the emotional content and you end up with something like Legend of Dragoon. WD manages to bring that content through, leading to much livelier dialog. The only other translation I can recall of the same caliber is Skies of Arcadia's, pretty impressive in light of some of Sega's earlier translations. It's particularly impressive for WD to translate so well when you look at the fact that they tend to bring over games with as much text crammed in as possible, like Lunar's 3 lines per random towns person. Then finally of course, Working Designs sticks in jokes. Sure, this occasionally includes a pop culture reference or five, but they're generally quite dated and never really clash with the setting. Can you honestly say that after hearing nine people in a town all say "The cows in this town have been disappearing." you wouldn't be amused if the tenth just said "Where's the beef?"

So just to summarize, WD does a darn good job, and they get recognition for it. No reason you should be upset over that. Feel free to get upset over other people not getting credit for stuff though. You never hear any mention at all of most people who do graphics for games, the writers of most movies, or the inventors of most board games for example. Quite a shame on all three counts, although that second one may change soon.

 
Dusty knowledge

Hey Google, I've been playing Final Fantasy VII again lately. I'm near the end of the game, and I got the item needed to learn the Omnislash limit break for Cloud.
It won't let me use it, though, until I have the last level 3 limit break, Finishing Touch. It seems to be taking forever for Cloud to learn it, though. What determines how soon they learn limit breaks, and is there a way to make him learn it sooner? Thanks.

Mage of Moo

Googleshng:
Hey, here's another perk to nocturnality. It seems to improve my memory! The best way to learn limit breaks is to kill things with the newest one you have. At this point for you, that would be meteor strike, one of the best limits for killing stuff with. So just buy a dozen hypers to make sure you're always in Fury status, equip a maxed out counter, and find some things that can really hurt you. If you're really in a hurry, cut back on your armor too. After killing a couple dozen things with Meteor Strikes, you should learn the new one.

 
Look who it is.

Hiya guys =^^=

I have a question for each of you :)

To Google, because he hasn't written a review, what is it you look for when proofing?

To Traks, what was the hardest part about writing that review for Dark Cloud?

Oh, and to everyone who reads this, write reviews, they are a fun and a good way to express your opinion ;)

-Paws =^^=

Googleshng:
Well, Traks isn't around to answer that, but here's the things I always wind up harping on when I proof someone's reviews. First, there's lack of segue. 99% of all the reviews on this site are a collection of unconnected paragraphs along the lines of The graphics are... The music is... etc. You don't need a separate paragraph to deal with every aspect of a game, and you really shouldn't even think that way if you want some nice flow. The other problem is people almost always over score things. Since our scales are all relative, 5 does not mean blah. 5 means average. If three games come out with nice catchy music, then a game with a decent but not memorable score creeps in, everyone's instinct is to give it a 5 or a 6. However, since the actual average quality of music at the time is nice and catchy, that game is actually a good deal below average, and should get a score of 3 or 4 there, despite the fact that in absolute terms it is enjoyable. Most people can never seem to get into that mind set.

 
"That's where I'm a Viking!"

Hey Google,

What's with the Norse stuff? I'm not mad, just confused, why Norse?
From what I've read Square uses Norse names and such in their games, but then again Square takes from all over. Why Norse?

Googleshng:
I personally have been a fan of Norse mythology for as long as I can remember, just because quite frankly it has the most amusing myths of the lot. Lately though it seems to be becoming a bit of a fad. The FFs have had Odin forever, but they pulled the various summons out of a wide variety of mythologies, so that doesn't really count. Xenogears struck me as drawing an unusual amount of names from our forgotten frozen friends (Ygdrassil, Heimdall, Fenrir...), Valkyrie Profile is flat out based on Norse mythology, and I think a naming scheme fan may be sneaking in based on a few other things whose names escape me at the moment. On the other hand, it should be noted that pretty much every single work of fiction in the world that has a fantasy setting makes reference to norse mythology. Elves, dwarves, every other common fantasy race, and a few not so common ones, the concept of living in giant trees, etc. etc. For a dead religion, it really has a huge impact on modern culture. Plus it sounds cool.

 
Final Fantasy Too Zoggin' Many!

This isn't really a question, so I'm not sure that you'll put it up, but during my insomnia last night I was thinking about this. People keep saying how tired Final Fantasy is, and how Square should try something new. But what exactly is Final Fantasy besides a title. I don't see how people can be tired of it when it is just a name. There is no actual formula to the games except the save the world bit, which you find in almost every game anyway. What I think is really the problem is that Square has lately lost sight of what really matters. They have begun to put eye candy in front of plot. Of course people now and days seem to think a game isn't quite as good if it doesn't look like a movie. Not that I don't like the eye candy myself, but without a plot you just get a very expensive movie. Anyway that's about it. Even if you don't put this up, I'd like to hear what you have to say.
Lady Oriana

Googleshng:
People keep saying that? I thought it was just me! Anyway though, Final Fantasy is actually quite a bit more than a name. For starters, it's about two hundred names. Final Fantasy, Cid, Chocobo, Moogle, Biggs, Wedge, all the summons, Masamune, Excalibur, Ragnarok, all the monsters, all the spells, all the special abilities, and all the items. Final Fantasy is also a set of game mechanics (ATB, the exact way in which all those special abilities work, the fact that summons are always the best way to beat bosses). Final Fantasy is also extreme easiness except for 1-5 optional bosses towards the end of the game which are ridiculously hard, mainstream appeal, a couple pieces of music, astounding high quality graphics, an ultimate spell whose animation is a very long affair with most of a galaxy getting destroyed, getting an airship, and a plot about some insane and powerful person manipulating an evil empire for half the game then doing something really evil, making plans to destroy the world, and usually making a good start towards that goal.

That is a LOT. Without doing a single bit of research, I already know every single spell and special ability any character in FF10 will ever learn, what the overly elaborate animations for them will look like, what they'll do, and how much I'll actually use all of them. I can even write a rough plot summary and describe the exact flow of the game in terms of when you get to new towns, caves, bosses, etc. and have it be at least 90% dead on. So really, the only things I could possibly get from playing it would be witnessing a couple impressively rendered movies, and learning a few minor insignificant plot details. For the same $50 I could instead see 5 movies each matching that and hopefully then some, or a game that has a really original plot, original gameplay, spells and abilities I'll actually have to use to find out what they're like, and maybe even some challenge. If such a game were made by the FF team, that would be great, they do pretty good work. I wouldn't even mind if it had the words Final Fantasy in it's title, just as long as they cut out the ton of baggage that has come to be associated with that name. Unfortunately, doing so would tick off the droves of people just getting into the series, who outnumber long time fans like me by something like 10 to 1, and are constantly growing in number faster than people can become jaded and bored with the formulas that bring them in. It is a bit of a shame to be left out in the cold like that, but on the plus side, these days there's dozens of developers out there making games geared at people who are getting sick of the standard formulas, and which quite frankly rule. Plus a good chunk of those developers are made from people who left Square for various reasons, so if you have a really strong brand loyalty complex, you still shouldn't have a problem finding an RPG that doesn't make you yawn.

 
A lot of this sort of thing today...

Hey whoever this is,

Is it better to buy a system because of being loyal to that company or because of gameplay and games and stuff. I probably know the answer, but i want assurance.

-Chaz

Googleshng:
Awful lot of questions today that require me to babble on for half a page. I'm not complaining since that's generally considered the best kind of question one can get, but it is rather odd. Also odd is this question really. I don't know anyone who uses the logic "I own all of Sega's other systems, so I have to buy a Saturn whether any good games are coming out for it or not!" Actually, come to think of it, I do know someone who at one point did something sort of like that, but just because he and I pretty much shared everything either of us got so it was just plain economical to split consoles up that way. Anyway though, there really is only one question which should ever factor into any hardware purchasing decision. "Are there any really great games that I will never be able to play if I don't buy this system?" The only time you can ever definitively answer "Yes" is when those games are first or second party. Now that Sega is getting out of the hardware game, only Nintendo makes decent first party games, and for that matter, to my knowledge neither Microsoft nor Sony have any exclusive deals with anyone of note, so they have all the second party games as well. Therefore, at this point, the only console of the generation I must buy is a Gamecube, because I know it will have great games that won't be on any other system. There is nothing to stop the developers of any given decent game on any other system from porting it to something else. However, it would be unfair of me to not to point out that while first and second party games are the only games guarrenteed to be exclusive to one system, any game which you think is wonderful but everyone else hates will most likely never get ported elsewhere as the developers wouldn't make a noticeable profit doing so. For example, I personally am drooling over Shadow Hearts a bit, which most people haven't ever heard of. So if I want to play it, chances are I will have to get a PSX2 in the future. Unless of course it suddenly picks up enough steam to hop over to the Gamecube. It could hop over to the X-Box too, but that wouldn't do me any good since it doesn't have anything to keep it company. I hope that answers your question because it is now 7 AM.




The Last Laugh:

That column came out pretty darn long with all those essay type questions. Hope you enjoyed it. Oh, and tomorrow's column will be hosted by a random mystery guess since it's been too hectic to get a volunteer. So just address all your letters to Mr. X and I'll try to make sure a female staffer ends up doing that so she can get all indignant about the wrong pronoun being used. Actually the other way around would give better odds given the gender ratio of the staff, so use whichever feels luckier to you.

Googleshng "Morning=bed time" @rpgamer.com
Accursed Day Star! Why must thou torment me so!

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