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ASK MATT
Brain Explosion February 9, 2006

Matt Demers - 16:28 EST

ONE OF THE SHOWS that I just have no desire to see anymore is Lost. Does anyone else share my opinion? When it first came on the air, I thought it was a really interesting, exciting show; however, thanks to a few exceptionally annoying factors, my opinion has changed dramatically.

My biggest problem is the fact that it is scheduled so awkwardly. How am I supposed to follow the show when they play two new episodes before inexplicably re-running an episode from two months back, before showing the season premiere again, one more new episode, and then the one from four weeks ago? This jumping around nonsense made me feel like staying on top of things was nigh-impossible. When coupled with the supermelodramatic and already-drawn-out plotline, I'm sorry; my patience just runs out. My apologies, ABC!

*flips the channel*

So, instead of watching that show tonight, I'll instead dig into ye olde inbox to see if any geese laid golden eggs, or if any of you laid me a letter or two. In the latter case, I might just answer them.




L E T T E R S
Now we're talking ba-a-a-a-ad, like sheep or something.


Hey Matt, I've never sent a question before, but the topic of "Worst RPG Ever", and the fact that people are mentioning some rather well made games, has compelled me send one. The "award" for worst RPG ever could only go to Eternal Eyes for PS1. I was searching through the piles of PS games in EB when I found it there for $2. I figured it couldn't hurt to buy it. I was wrong. The translation is on the level of(maybe lower than) er... whatever the game with CATS was. I could barely decipher the instruction booklet. The battle system is an extremely basic SRPG-type, with a kind of pokemon system added in. You move forward, attack, move forward, attack. After winning a battle, you are fully healed, and go through another long and slow battle. The camera and map move all the time, so even moving your character is difficult. I didn't get much out of the story, as I could barely understand what they were saying. The music was just... there, I guess. Nothing special. So, yeah, Eternal Eyes sucked.

Matt

Well, it sounds remarkably bad, to say the least, though if you paid a measly two dollars for it, you shouldn't have expected all that much. It is an interesting notion, though, that the ink and paper used to print the manual probably made up a significant fraction of the price you bought it at. It sounds like great eBay fodder, by the way; if you embellished the quality a little bit, you could make a killing; you should look into that, and then send me some royalties...

Oh, and just to throw a question in here, do you know how similar Yggra Union will be to Riviera? As in story, not battle system.

-TakerRulez


Matt

Check this out. This is all we know so far, as far as story goes; having received this piece of news in October, it has been a little while. It looks fairly typical of a TRPG, centered around a Queen named Yggdra and a bunch of wartorn kingdoms. The game is allegedly coming to North America sometime in the future, though it has to make it to Japanese stores first; that's slated to happen late next month. I'm sure that if it does indeed make it all the way here, we'll hear more specific details.



Scheming with Iterated Functions


Hello Matt,

I have to start out by saying that I enjoy reading your columns, and I also went out and bought Dragon Quest VIII on your recommendation and I have to say that I am really enjoying it thus far. The answer for the SOCK #109 at least is E) A head of iceberg lettuce of course from King's Quest VI, a great game IMO, way ahead of its time as far as gameplay and graphics. I am also a math major (undergrad) and i also enjoyed my chaotic dynamical systems/fractals class.

Matt

Keen eye, my friend! Who knew that a vegetable so devoid of nutrients could be so helpful in the end? Ah well. King's Quest VI was indeed a wonderful game, though I think I talk about King's Quest too often in here. I'm glad you picked up on it though and decided to write in; Q&A could always use more math majors! Dynamical systems are, like, Liapunovy, you know what I'm saying?

Anywho, an RPG question: What was the hardest boss you've ever faced? Personally, I was stuck for a month on the bridge where you fight Id in Xenogears. Also, what do you think the RPG genre will look like on the PS3 and Xbox 360?

Thanks,
-Josh


Matt

The hardest boss I've ever faced, hmm? This is the type of boss that you start fighting, thinking "Oh my God" initially, and then after a short bit, you change your mindset to "Oh, I'm not supposed to get past this, am I?" until you hear the GAME OVER theme, upon which your jaw drops.

Have you ever played Star Ocean 2? The battle with Vesper and Decus near the top of the final tower is so unearthly difficult, I'm pretty sure that I had to gain more than ten levels before I was finally successful. Their spells were shockingly powerful, and remarkably damage-causing, given what my Max HP was at the time... the main saving grace was that their voices were pretty hilarious. But yeah, I'd say that THAT battle is one of the hardest I've ever fought and won after much perseverance.

As for the next-generation RPG world, I don't expect that the landscape will look a whole lot different than it does right now. I have the sneaking suspicion that while the XBox 360 might feature one or two good RPGs, the PS3 will hold the majority of must-plays. I actually wonder at the current rate if Sony will actually steal some of the market share from Microsoft, ultimately... but that's pure speculation. RPGwise, I'd place my bets on Sony's Playstation 3; whether or not that's a good thing is up for debate!



Some of this and some of that from a certain Mag


Hiya Matt!

Long time on submit of a letter. Just thought I'd write in to express my uber happiness of KHII finally getting an official release date and on top of that Christopher Lee as a VA for it. I am so looking forward to it! And yes I know, I know it is not the most popular RPG series going out there, but I guess you can't help what you fall in love with, right?

Matt

Are you kidding? Kingdom Hearts is one of the most popular new series there is, and Square Enix should be commended for coming up with such a spectacular success. Sure, I didn't really enjoy the first Kingdom Hearts very much, and a lot of people share my sentiment that it's a bit simple and shallow, but it IS nice to see big companies trying out new names, new games, or new series-es. We need SOMETHING other than "Final Fantasy XLVIII" in our future, after all.

So yeah, anyway, enough of that. I know you're still on about worst RPG or some such as that. I'd have to say the worst one I have ever played is Illusion of Gaia, and only by virtue of the fact that the first major boss is just too dang-nabbed hard to beat. Never been able to do it. He's difficult to strategize against, you have few items, and there's no way that I know of to go back out and resupply/build up before fighting him. Grrrr... Otherwise the game is okay, didn't mind the rest of it from what I played.

Matt

Sounds unforgiving! Illusion of Gaia was actually supposed to be the next old game for me to play after finishing Chrono Trigger, but wouldn't you know it, this semester happened, putting most everything on hold. Ah, reality, how I hate thee...

Worst game ever played? Haven, but that's a platformer, so must remain unexplored here. Needless to say it met the fate of a very sturdy pair of scissors...

Matt

I've hated a lot of games in the past, but I've never actually destroyed one as a result of my hatred. If we ever meet one day, I'll make sure to get you scanned for pointy objects; I'd be scared to make a bad impression...!

I did, however, get rid of a horrible platformer once, myself, by giving it away to some idiot in my class. For Christmas one year I received a copy of the wonderful "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York", where you had to jump over alive suitcases, and well, yeah, that was about it. It was the sort of game that made you feel stupider by the minute, so I had to get it off of my hands as soon as possible. (Sorry, Aunt Erin & Uncle Paul-- I know you meant well and I still love you.)

As for RPGMaker, I only ever briefly owned the first one. Bought it used, had no manual. Yep, didn't get far with it without a manual. Ended up trading it back in. Sad to say though, I haven't had the urge to go back and buy anything from that series. I truly got bored even just putzing about with it.

Matt

Mmhmm... it doesn't seem to be very involving. The idea is spectacular; my dream job would be to create RPGs, no matter how realistic that notion might be. At the same time, the people who would want to RPG-make the most are the people that possess the most creativity in the first place; the result is that RPG Maker ends up being way too constricting and not nearly flexible enough for the large majority of its potential users.

I do entertain the thoughts of working on RPGs though, but I guess I shall always be more interested in writing the code for the back end of one instead of designing the front end. Don't have enough patience for design. Guess that's what I get for being a code monkey.

Matt

Hey, I love coming up with designs for graphics and music, so if you ever start up your own company, keep poor little me in the back of your mind!!

Okay, out of curiosity, what is the freakiest enemy you have ever come across in an RPG? Just down right gives you the chills seeing them or even thinking of them. For me it would have to be the black creatures from ICO or those head looking things on the Moon in FF IV. *Shivers*

Anyway, laters! MagRowan


Matt

Freakiest enemy, huh? Play Earthbound and you'll fight some pretty freaky enemies, let me tell you. One of the scariest monsters comes from that game: "Ghost of Starman flashes a menacing smile!" Ooooh! ...Gives me goosebumps!

Other contenders, though... Intangir, FFVI, which scared the crap out of me the first time I ever un-inviz-ed him; Demon Knight, DW1, which was just frightening- you knew you weren't in Tantegel anymore, Toto, when you saw one of those; the whirlwind-causing all-black demons in SO3 that talk in sped-up speech: "THOU SHALL NOT BE FOR-GIVEN!" Eeehee, I remember being truly creeped out by their undeniable weirdness! Damn, damn, damn, that game had so much untapped potential...



I give what I can give


Hi there matt (or...Andrew?),

I've been reading your column since you've been challenging for it, though I havn't bothered sending a mail, despite your despering attempts to bait us (...like I care about a tilde)

Matt

Ohhh... ouch... :(

I'm sorry, I'll try and do better on my acting budget of ZERO DOLLARS. If you have any better ideas, I'll gladly take them.

Well, I guess the biggest reason is that english is not my native language, and that you might find some spelling/grammar errors.

Furthermore, this is same reason I didn't bother with the column until you came in, since I don't get somthing like half of Andrew's references (though I'm getting more used to it now)

Well, it's not your fault Andrew, I guess you don't care a lot about poor little people abroad, battling with their broken english trying to figure out what the hell you're talking about (I don't have any example in mind, but it might include obscure references to politics, TV shows or something like that we never heard about here in Europe, or at least in France)

Matt

Bah, my language isn't completely free of allusions and references, either, but we try to cater the column to audiences across the globe to the best of our ability! We must be doing something right if you come back to read regularly, wouldn't you agree?

Well, enough with complainig, feel free to cut this part if you're up to answer my mail in your column.


Matt

Oops. Oh, well, I've already answered half of your letter already, so there's no point in eliminating it now. I hope you don't mind too much. Anyway, let's get to the meat of this message...

In fact, I'm sending a mail because Matt mentionned RPGMaker in today's column. I have somewhat make something you could call an attempt to make a game with that old "RPGMaker 2000" thing that was THE big thing, few years ago, when the program just had been translated (well...hacked) to english.

Matt

Right, I'm familiar with the scandalously unauthorized translation and the resulting commotion it generated. RPG Maker 2000 looked like yet another very restrictive RPG-making environment, though it appeared to allow for things like inserting files, so that you could create games with custom graphics or music. It might have been reasonably successful if it had actually been released officially in English, but I never would have bought it anyway, thanks to that feeling that "I wouldn't be able to do everything I would want to do".

Since the program run on PC, memory never was a problem but limitations got in the way. A "default" combat style was to be used (a poor attempt to copy dragon quest's) but you could still manage to make your own "CBS" (Cutom Battle System like we used to call it - nothing to do with the TV channel, this is for Andrew :D). But by using the terrain and the "plot event designer" at your own advantage you could make the game look more like you wanted it to be (although 90% of the projects aimed at Final Fantasy's battle System, to be honnest)

Well, the fact is, the CBS became THE thing, and couldn't release an amateur game with even thinking about implementing your own CBS. The fact is, it became really tedious, and "RPGMaker 2000" was really not made to allow design such CBS. I tried to do so, I managed to mine work, but never bothered realeasing after seeing how much pain it was to add a single magic animation to it once the basic were finished. Something you can really do an easier way with real programing languages.

Matt

Ughhh... why go to all of the effort to gut an existing inadequate game engine if it requires expert programming skills? Why not USE those very skills to create something that is free of the limitations of the RPG Maker, something that you can call "your own", and most importantly, something that is not illegal? I won't pretend to understand.

So basically, something that was supposed to make it easier to make a game finally became something harder to use than real C++ code (I know what I'm talking about, programing is my job now)

You could still make a game using the original battle mode, but since there were to many demos, unless you had enough graphic skill to make your game LOOK interesting, no one would really bother trying it without the infamous "CBS".

Matt

That's unfortunate, but I suppose it's a natural consequence of having a boring, blah, bare-bones battle system to begin with. People, in general, aren't interested in playing boring games, as far as I can see, which is understandable. I think that this is an issue that extends beyond graphics only, though, in this case, doesn't it?

Well, that's how I ended using RPGMaker, after using it for something like 2 years. Like yourself (Matt) I have a lot level-design, scenario and any game-related stuff ideas that are hanging somewhere on a little piece of paper or brain, only waiting to be used one day...

Well I guess, that was "my" story of RPGMaker use, I guess not everyone had the same level of expectation with it.

Chipstouille


Matt

Thanks for writing in, Chipstouille. Granted, RPG Maker-related stuff is something that not everyone is interested in, but it's nice to see the different types of people out there with different perspectives.

Might I send out a warning, though, that if you're interested in RPG Maker 2000, you're playing with legal fire, because the story of the game goes something like this: The company actually found out that RPG Maker was being translated without their permission, and once it was distributed, they actually hunted down websites offering downloads of the translation to get them shut down. I'm not sure if actually possessing RPG Maker 2000 is illegal or not, but if you're interested in creating games, I'd find a team of people to work with and code your own engine; you could do so much more that way, anyway.



Yikes... someone just learned the spell of Death, I think


Okay I'm tired of all these morons who complain about RPGs. FIRST of all, if I don't like a game, I'm not going to play it the whole way through. MAYBE half...but definitely no more. All you people who are like "I hated (game X)...but I played it all the way through" OBVIOUSLY found some sort of enjoyment if it kept you going for the 30+ hours it takes to beat an RPG...now die.

Matt

No no no, don't die; just live, and learn. We do not condone violence here at RPGamer, nor do we promote senseless death. Violence/death for valid reasons, though, well, that's another matter altogether.

I do tend to agree with you in that people really SHOULD try games out before they knock them. This is increasingly common, I find, with games like Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy X-2, both of which were rift-causing titles. You can't judge a game fairly unless you've experienced them first-hand, and no; looking at screenshots doesn't count, either.

That said, I have often played games through to the end that I haven't really enjoyed much. I'm not going to pay $50 for a game just to have it rot on my shelf for the rest of my PS2's life, after all, and besides, when you actually see the entirety of a bad game, your opinion against it becomes that much more powerful, I think.

SECOND...to the person who was like "i'm going to petition square-enix." PETITION them? Nice sentence idiot. Also, they don't give a rat's ass about one whiny fan who dislikes a game or two they make...because chances are it's already (and rightfully so) a greatest hits and they've cashed in on it plenty...die.

Matt

Hrmm... two things: Firstly, I think that he was joking about petitioning Square Enix, but not because he didn't like one of their games; it was because he was pining for a FFVII remake, if I remember correctly.

Secondly, "petition" is a verb as well as a noun, m'dear. Sorry about that, but I think his english is just fine in that case. I've got to defend my beloved readers from attacks, just as I very likely could be defending you from attacks come tomorrow (unless Ouro assassinates me before then).

THIRD...to the person who said "FFX-2 might be my least favorite game of all time...oh wait I've never played it." Enough said. Die.

No questions. :)


Matt

Right, we dealt with that above. I'm glad you chose Q&A as a steam-blower-offer; I hope you feel better now. I hope you don't want me to die though... that would be really sad. Would any of you come to my funeral? You'd get to meet my mom and dad, and maybe even my famous grandma!



The last questioner was homicidal, and this one is suicidal! What's with this today?


Dear Matt (or whoever is doing the column this week)

One of your readers mentioned a certain disdain for the art of DQVIII, having been done by Akira Toriyama. I myself and lividly opposed to anything DragonBall-ish, and had much the same reaction. Until my girlfriend pointed out something very important. Go get your old SNES games. You know you have Chrono Trigger. Look at the art. Yeah. Same guy. I actually felt shame for being so judgemental.

Matt

There, there. We all make mistakes now and then... Toriyama has done a vast amount of artwork for games, and I think he's done a great job with Dragon Quest VIII, regardless of how similar it might seem to Dragon Ball Z. Graphical style is so secondary in an RPG, I can't believe that some people would make it into an issue that would render an RPG "unplayable". A lot of people did this with Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, too, and while I didn't play much of it, I would have liked to. I learned my lesson after feeling bitterness towards Nintendo for Paper Mario, until I actually played the game and was blown away by how wonderful it was. I've been a changed man ever since!

I will also share his hatred for Snowe Vingerhut though. Five minutes into Sukoiden IV had me wanting to find a nice half-brick to take to his head. Mind you, an hour or so later and I was on my first real ship voyage, and I wanted to take a brick to my own head. Good story but....Worst. Travel system. Ever. I am however looking forward to Sukoiden V, which seems to be putting the Stars of Destiny back on track.

Matt

Hopefully so! You and thousands of other Suikoden fans are hoping for big things, and perhaps the big things will happen soon; Suikoden V's release is really not that far off at this point, so your wait is nearly over. Time to get excited, everyone!

Had a chance to look at Tales of Legendia yet? I'm curious, as Tales of Phantasia still ranks as one of my top RPGs ever (along with the likes of Terrnigma and FFVI). I remmeber TOP (and the ToDestiny games for the PS1) having one of the most inventive and fun combat systems I ever played.

Matt

It looks interesting, but no, I haven't had the pleasure of purchasing it since its official release earlier this week. I doubt I'll get the chance to anytime in the next couple of months, too, since my horrible RPG backlog is growing ever longer. It's time to put DQVIII away and concentrate on something new!!

Oh, and guilty as charged on the "play till the last dungeon" bit. I did that with FFVII. Why? I knew how it ended, and I just lost interest in the game. That and my many failed attempts to create a golden chocobo incensed me to no end.

Matt

Enh, it happens to the best of us. Well, not me. It's never happened to me... I don't think. No, I really can't think of a time where I made it RIGHT to the end without actually finishing things off. You people are weird... ;)

Oh, and you mentioned Megaman in your last column..have you had a chance to played X Command mission yet? Thoughts?

-Terr


Matt

Yes, I have, and I've made it through much of the game, but I haven't had the chance to get back to it lately. My opinion on the game is mixed, and I hope to write a review of it sometime in the near future, once I get the chance to finish it off. To me, some things are done well; the battle system has the potential to be quite good, though I don't think it lives up to that potential. The "final attack" deal should never have been included, because it seems like such a tacked-on, ugly feature. Plot-wise, well, it's what you'd expect from a Megaman game: Nothing really coherent, that is, so if you like a great storyline, look elsewhere. I actually really enjoy some of the music in the game, and the challenge is very good. Random battles occur a bit too often and they are very repetitive (two or three possible random battles per area... yeee) so that's certainly not one of the better features of the game. In the end, it's a mediocre game that Megaman fans, but few others, might be able to stomach.

Is that enough for you? Thanks for writing in, Terr, and please, write back sometime soon!



They're supposed to have really big eggs...


You mentioned emulation in the title of yesterday's column but did not address it any letters. Well here's one for ya:

Matt

Well, actually, the Q&A title the other day of "Emu Kid" actually referred to something a good friend of mine said to me on MSN Messenger the other day ... it actually had nothing to do with emulation, since well, there is a creature called an emu out there. In fact, there are emu farms very near where my parents live, down in good old Chatham-Kent; crazy, huh? In any case, now that you've written in, I may as well take a look at what you have to say.

What do you think of this?? For those too lazy to follow the link, its an original Genesis game coming out this year (maybe), made by a US development company.

While you can play it on a Genesis, emulation makes it accessible to many more people.

Flamethrower


Matt

Wow... that's insane! That's pretty hardcore, to be honest... the amount of money the developers will end up getting out of this will probably not be worth the time they've put into it, but that seems to be a really ambitious project.

Might I note that I personally wouldn't "pre-order" any game at all from such a small, unknown team, until I was absolutely sure I was getting what I was paying for, but that's just me. As for emulation, boys and girls, you know the rules there: RPGamer does not support emulation at all, and downloading emulators and games is illegal outside of exceptional circumstances!

All of that said, it's encouraging to see that some people out there really do care enough about the old-school style to put a lot of work into a project like this, even if it doesn't feature flashy FMVs or famous voice actors.

Thanks for the pointer, Flamethrower... I honestly don't know where you guys find this stuff!



Des chaussettes, s'il vous plaît?


*has never even heard of maniac mansion before today*

A question for you, what is the grand total number of SOCK writer inners?

Arros Raikou


Matt

You really should; Maniac Mansion was a really funny adventure game in which you had to break into a creepy turquoise-skinned scientist's house with a group of three teenagers in order to rescue some babe. It was released for the NES sometime just after the Precambrian, er, 1990, I think. I thought it was a lot of fun, anyway.

Also, let me do a quick tally: While only ten participants show up on the scoreboard at any given time, I actually have 77 people with SOCK points on record. As time goes on, I hope to see even more! Sooner or later, I hope to have some REALLY COOL PRIZES; you might want to start saving up now, so that you aren't left behind once these REALLY COOL PRIZES are announced.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Phew! More letters than usual today, but I felt like getting to a few more of you than usual. If you're going to take the time and effort to write to me, I feel like it's my job to get back to you, and when I have to pick and choose who gets into the column and who doesn't, I feel bad! Anyway, great job guys... there have been many excellent letters lately, so keep up the great work. You're making Q&A better by doing what you're doing.


Flashay!


Let's look at yesterday's questions, both of which were a bit "out there".

#109 asked about how to travel through a pool of boiling water. I could have been more explicit, but I didn't want to give it away; I was referring to a path in King's Quest VI that is submerged in boiling water. To get safely across, you have to immerse a head of iceberg lettuce in the water to cool it down, and so the answer was e) Using some sort of lettuce, of course. Some of you got it, and some of you didn't; the question was good for 95 points.

#110 was submitted by our resident MagRowan, who gave out a doozy of a question. According to her, the correct answer is c) Owl Jornan, and the reference is from Breath of Fire II. On the battle screen, the character is known as Algernon, but he is referred to as Owl Jornan afterwards, possibly as a result of the horrible BoF II translation (one of the MOST horrible translations ever). Getting the right answer got you 85 points, with the exception of MagRowan herself, who obtained a cool 170.

Question #111:
If you were to model the money received during each step in the Gilgame cave with a difference equation, how would you do it? (100 points)

a) Xn+1 = Xn

b) Xn+1 = 2Xn

c) Xn+1 = Xn + 1000

d) Xn+1 = Xn2

e) Xn+1 = Xn + Xn-1

Question #112:
Ask Dermot!-->What is the name of Lakilester's girlfriend in Paper Mario? (75 points)

a) Lakilaura
b) Lakilulu
c) Lakilisa
d) Lakilavender
e) Lakilily


Things to work for (the SOCK item shop!):

400 points: Tilde (infinite number remaining!)
2,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #2 (5 remaining!)
5,000 points: Guest-co-host Opportunity #3 (5 remaining!)


That's all for today, everybody; it's been fun. Tomorrow, Ourobolus is co-captaining again at last, so if you've been saving up your love for him in letter form or otherwise, now is the time to mail in and get his attention (distract him from taking me out)! Any subject will do.

Whatever you decide to do, I'll see you then!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt's apartment is currently tundra-esque.


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Matt's Top 3 Current Games:

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SOCK standings:

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1,492 pts

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1,329 pts

8. Arros Raikou
1,231 pts

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1,006 pts

10. Knighttrain
797 pts

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