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Andrew Long - June 21 '02- 00:55 Eastern Standard Time

There's this irritating field just to the south of where I work that's finally being paved over. Now before you all descend on me for raving unenvironmentalness, let me assure you- this field has no particular value to nature, other than spawning giant, disgusting hockey puck-sized beetles that spew green ooze when you step on them. Since these aren't very useful to food chains, posterity, or even for playing hockey with, I think I'm justified in wanting the accursed expanse of weeds eradicated, especially given all the various allergen-rich plant life that greets me each time I have to walk through to get to Burger King. Anyhow, the moral of the story is, some construction workers were putting tar on the roof of the building that's going up there, and they were doing it all day. As a result, I've been breathing in the fumes against my will for ten hours or so, which can't be healthy. Therefore, if your cat is found two streets over by a security guard at 3 AM, don't go pick it up; it'll just claw you like the miserable little rat it is, especially if you hold it at arm's length. This concludes our test of the emergency broadcast system; hi, I'm Andrew, and I'll be your guest host for today and tomorrow.

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Does Square's acquisition of Quest mean that from now on the Ogre Battle/Tactics Ogre series will be Sony exclusive, super-easy games that cater to softcore newbie gamers and graphics whores? If it does just shoot me now so I don't have to live to see such an abomination.

-IaachCaptain

Andrew:
Well, first off, I'm not in the habit of shooting people just because they're biased against Square. Personally, I tend to disagree that Square is all that bad, although I'm by no means apologizing for some of its recent titles - the past couple of years have seen a steady succession of stinkers and cash cows, after all. What I've played of FFX so far, though, has me hoping that maybe, just maybe, gameplay is becoming more of a focus again, which is what made Square's earlier titles the classics they're generally regarded as.

Square's own tactical RPG, FFT, was by no means an easy game, at least in the early stages, although I'm judging that by the standards of RPGs on the whole, and not those of a tactical RPG. Hardcore fans of tactical RPGs will probably be hard-pressed to name an easier title, but from my standpoint as an occasional gamer in the genre, Square showed admirable resistance to the graphics whores and softcore newbie gamers with FFT; in fact, the translation, graphics and gameplay of FFT were probably the best anethema they could have dreamed up for those two groups. Add to that the fact that a few people from the original Quest team will probably survive being swallowed whole, and I think you'll end up with at least a few people who want to make games that do more than just look good. Then again, Square is notorious for making easy games, so don't put away your suicide note just yet :)

Incidentally, if you really wanna get shot, I recommend a musket or a blunderbuss. Either one will open the door to a wide array of corny Bill Cosby comedy routines which continue to be shamelessly ripped off by no-talent hacks to this day.

 
I'm not sure that legality is the biggest issue here...

Can you answer my question on if it's legal to have Selphie, Yuffie, and Rikku inflatable dolls for sale? Because I've seen a Lulu doll with articulating fingers and gyrating hips, and no I'm not a pervert. I read it on a webcomic and my roommate asked if they seriously made it so i did a search.

-Stage

Andrew:
Well if regular dolls like that are legal, I don't see why ones based on characters wouldn't be, assuming Square licensed them somewhere along the way. That's a big if though. Still, I guess if you build it, they will come, even if it's not entirely legal, so your search may yet turn up results. Personally, I'd do myself a favour and steer clear of them. Would you really want to have to explain that sort of thing to anyone? Ever?

 
And now, a saving throw for classiness

Dear Q&A guy,

Recently I've been hearing that Sega Dreamcasts are becoming cheaper and cheaper. I was wondering if it's worth dropping the cash for one. I heard that most of the good DC games are being ported to other systems (such as PSO and Skies of Arcadia), so I'm not sure whether I should buy one or save my cash for other systems. So what should I do?

Thanks,

giampi

Andrew:
Look at it this way. You can pick up a Dreamcast at a fraction of the cost of a GameCube, the system which both titles you mentioned will be appearing on, and the software prices for the DC have probably dropped a bit too. Since SoA and PSO will probably look comparable, at least, to the GCN version, the worst thing that could happen to you is that you run out of people online to play PSO with. If that's a concern, go with the GameCube, since that has the additional advantage of not being a dead system. The GCN version of PSO also has a few extra features and will probably have better online support once Nintendo gets off its behind and releases a broadband adaptor. Otherwise, I'd say you're better off getting a DC. There's a number of other good games you can find for it as well, such as Shenmue, Grandia II(which my friend, who owns it, swears looks much better than the PS2 version), and Jet Grind Radio. In the end, though, it comes down to how long you're willing to wait to get a GameCube, PS2 or an Xbox. If you can drop the necessary funds on a DC and still come up with enough for one of those systems in a few months, then it's definitely worthwhile. Otherwise, you might want to consider whether five or six admittedly good games is worth shutting yourself out of the current generation of consoles for another few months.

Then again, as far as I can see, there's nothing particularly good on the horizon until Christmas anyway, so you're not really losing anything.

 
Here's where I smile and nod

Greetings.

I just canceled the download of the ~72MB download of the opening movie of Final Fantasy XI because it was crawling along at 1KB/sec and would have taken 15 hours to complete.

Not that this is bad, I appreciate the download and imagine the bandwith will clear up in a couple of days so I can get the file quickly. My question is regarding the DivX download that is quite a bit smaller and presumably the same quality but requires a DivX codec. What is a DivX codec and how do I use it to get smaller but equal quality movies?

Thanks.

bean

Andrew:
And now, an answer, brought to you by the letters C, P, and the number Ctrl: Codec stands for COder/DECoder. It is a small piece of software that allows you to make/play movie/audio compressed in a certain format. MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX ... are all codecs. AVI, ASF, WMV are not codecs, but file formats. AVI is also a container format (see below for more information), meaning it can be made using many different codecs.

*eyes unglaze* So anyway kids, remember: eat your wheaties, and for heaven's sake, play nice with the FFXI video.

 
FFXI....costs

Let's say I have a PS2, memory card, controller, TV and DSL. How much is FF11 going to cost me?

-P-Air

Andrew:
Well, first you're gonna need a broadband adaptor for the DSL connection, which will run you $39.99 MSRP. You'll also have to pick up the PS2 hard drive and keyboard, which will set you back another $150.00 and approximately $32.00, respectively.Then there's the cost of the game itself, which is roughly $59.99 in Japan. There's also the monthly fee for PlayOnline service, $10.00 US a month, and if you want to have more than one character, that costs 78 cents per extra character, per month. So, to sum up, that's $281.98 to start with, followed by $10.00 a month, minimum. Happy wandering...and heaven help you the first time you run into l33t~35PhiR0thx0rzzz (yeah, I know... my l337sp33k sucks.) Personally, I'm hoping to avoid all these expenses, as well as that unpleasant eventuality, through the simple expedient of not buying the game.

 
The infamous multiparter

1. Will playing FF8 while eating Mr. Christie Vegetable Thins for 18 hours straight harm you?

Andrew:
I'm fairly certain that playing FF ANYTHING while eating Mr. Christie Vegetable Thins for 18 hours straight would harm you. Heck, doing anything while eating crackers for that long would be seriously damaging. Think of how many boxes you could go through...

2. Is Microsoft's Dungeon Siege as groundbreaking as the corporate bigwigs would have you believe?

Andrew:
Probably not, but that doesn't mean it's not fun. Nearly everyone I've spoken to who's had a chance to play it has said it's right up there with Diablo, so I'd certainly give it a try. Which doesn't really explain why I haven't yet. Oh, right. I'm broke. How silly of me.

3. Did you ever play Earthbound for Super Nintendo? If so, did you find it to be an interesting game, or your run of the mill rpg?

Andrew:
Nope, but it must be pretty good, since I get an email requesting I post a petition to bring Earthbound 64 or something to North America every other week or so. For the truly curious: No, we don't post petitions. Others have said it before, and I'll say it again: it doesn't accomplish anything, and if I post one for you, I have to post one for everybody else, which means I'd never get any real news done.

4. Do you get through the boring lulls that sometimes happen in RPGs through your years of experience in the furniture retail biz?

-Ian E.

Andrew:
Damn. This was bound to happen when I asked my friend to send me a letter, any letter, when I thought I was low on letters. Now I'm obliged to post this part too, and he goes and exposes my shabby pastime. You'd think I'd at least use it as an excuse to rant about annoying customers, like the old lady who came in today at the crack of closing and proceeded to keep me there a half hour late with her insistence that she'd asked us a question five times (that she'd never asked) and that we're lying crooks (which is only partially true), and then she ripped up her paperwork and threw it on the desk and stormed out in a huff with her daughter, who was wearing overalls and not much else, right nearby, mmm... Oh, wait. I used the excuse after all. Well, we really shouldn't let this happen. If I get sidetracked, I'll never finish up here.



Quickies
Warning: Minor Airborne FFX Spoilers

why couldnt Squaresoft not be stupid and actually let me fly the airship in FF10

-Meier

Why can't you remember to use punctuation, anyway?

Why is squaresoft being stupid and mixing Disney and FF7?

-Meier

Because money is an excellent catalyst, though not quite so excellent as the one I'm subbing in for.

Since it seemed that everyone on the page was talking about there birthdays I have a question sorta about mine. I got an Xbox for my birthday (June 20) and I was wondering if Morrowind was a must have game, does it compare to games like Suikoden, Xenogears, and the Final Fantasy series?

Ike C

Maybe not must-have, but if you've got an Xbox, you'll be waiting awhile for something else to come along, so you might want pick it up. Beware, though: Suikoden, Xenogears and the Final Fantasy series are all pretty typical console RPGs. Morrowind, on the other hand, is more PC-oriented, so if you don't like PC RPGs, avoid it like plague.
More Minor FFX Spoilers

"I have an idea for all the idiots who keep getting killed by Sin: build inland" -- Mark Jones

That's just asking for an earthquake, and you know it :P

And so on:

Well, thanks to Goog's intervention and the help of my friend, I've managed to scramble together a decent number of letters here, so hopefully this wasn't too weak. Tomorrow, I'd like to hear your thoughts on recent news stories, such as Square's buyout of Quest, or anything else currently riding the headlines. I can also answer questions, since I do run the news department and all. I've even played a fair number of RPGs both recent and old, so ask away...I'll take a stab at anything. Now, I've slept three or so hours out of the last 24, so I should probably get to bed. Then it's back to work and more of what we all came here for: hardcore tar fumes!

*cue Shake That Booty, exeunt*

Andrew "I can't believe they aren't paint fumes! " Long

Ohhh... I can see the music!

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