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ASK MATT
Double Back
March 7, 2007

Matt Demers - 17:05 EST

I HAVE TO SAY, it's nice to see such an emphasis placed on RPGs at the GDC this year. Perhaps RPGamers really do have a reason to think about the 360. Sony and Nintendo are going to have to work hard if they want to match the Mistwalker multitude that's on the way. Oh, I guess one of those games is for the DS, anyway.

Gragh. I'm having a bajawful day, mostly because I got way too little sleep last night. I did get an offer of admission for the PhD program at the University of Waterloo, though, which made me a little bit happier. Yay torture-life! Bring 'er on!

OK, let's do some letters. On fait quelques lettres. Ou quelque chose comme ça.




LETTERS
Gather, all dogs from Japan!


I'll bet you feelings for your thesis equate to my feeling for my overdue enormous coding project. grr...

Matt

Oh me. Get cracking. Get coding. Crack the code, but don't get cracked by it. Aha, I'm so funny. This isn't working.

Anyway, vote for GRAAAAWK. Meh, what can I say. Otherwise, I'm enjoying watching my uncle work his way through FF VI for the first time. I'm so glad I introduced him to it. Yet another converted!

Have a good one!
MagRowan ^_^

Matt

See, GRAAAAWK just sounds a little bit too much like a crazed chicken to me. As much as I love the idea of a crazed chicken, the alternate choice just fills me with nostalgic memories of Dragon Quest dogs. <3

Anyway, I'm glad you've added another to the roster. RPGs are destined to take over the world, at this rate. It's cool that your Uncle shows some interest. Really, I'm pretty sure that my Uncle (Don) would be just about the last person on earth to ever consider playing any video game. And an RPG? Hahahahaha... humour is funny.



Remakes... of the future!


Hey Matt!

I feel for you living in Canada. I just spent the better part of a week in Chicago, and it was blasted cold. The highs during the day hovered around the mid-20s, with a lovely wind and some snow and sleet. I knew there was a good reason I live in Arizona...

Matt

I knew there was some reason that my body screams at me every single time I go and wait outdoors at the bus stop for fifteen minutes. Monkeys are tropical creatures. TROPICAL! How we ended up here is a mystery to me, though it's quite obvious that our ancestors had very small brains, perhaps leading to the mysterious decision to settle down in a place that becomes utterly inhospitable to humankind for a quarter of every year.

And don't you dare send me an e-mail yelling at me for implying that humans evolved from monkeys, either. Yes, I'm talking to you.

It sucks, because it was so warm right up until the middle of January, before it became absolutely deadly until pretty much now. But it's supposed to warm up next week by muchmuch, so that makes me a happy Canadian. Now, enough with the weather update... let's talk some gamez0Rz.

Alright, to peruse your new topics...I don't do handhelds, so scratch 1 and I think 4, I've never played a Pokemon game, so scratch 5, and I'm done worrying about what stupid things Sony is doing next, so scratch 2.

Matt

I hate to break in here, but I just have to mention that it does seem like the vast majority of RPGs are now coming out for handhelds. By "vast" I mean "more than five-sixths." I don't mean to exclude anybody from the topics, but that's the way the RPG world has evolved. For now, anyway. My apologies, but 'dems da breaks!

This leaves the great SquareEnix debate, what is next? Well, they've openly admitted they are going to focus on remakes, so they've got to have something tucked away in their pipeline. But, why wouldn't they have announced it by now? I'm going to take a leap of logic (and fire up fanboy fantasies everywhere) and suggest that the fact that they are not announcing anything may be a sign that they are going to remake Final Fantasy VII. Think about it: If they announced it now, it would completely overshadow the games they have coming, and probably put a serious dent into their sales. But, if they wait for all of their other remake stuff to get out of the way, they can pop it out and let the frenzy go, and in turn extend the life of their mass FFVII related games program (it has some fancy name, but I can't remember for the life of me).

Pipe dream answer? Chrono Trigger remake paired with Chrono 3. Woohoo!

BigWook

Matt

See, I feel like you can't be too far off the mark, because they're running out of things to remake. Secret of Mana, as I've mentioned before, I could also see, but, we'll have to see. See, see, see.

What better time to mention a Final Fantasy VII remake than at E3 2007? Even if it's going to be a scaled-down event, there are no big console launches or anything to overshadow an announcement like that. A remake of Final Fantasy VII could literally make or break the next-generational race for Sony, especially, and since I have a twisted interest in what will happen there, I will be so excited when and if an announcement like this is made.

Your Chrono-flavoured idea is one I've hypothesized about before, and I wouldn't be terribly surprised, given that it's now been -quite- awhile since Chrono Cross came out. But, maybe Square Enix has some bigger ideas in store...



This will be a changing day in your life.


Dear Dr. SlimeyPhil,

I have this problem, and I don't know who else to turn to. Since you seem to be so very knowledgeable - I have decided to turn to you for some much needed sage advice. You see, for the past several years now, I have been dealing with this problem that is becoming something of a hinderance in my eveyday life. It has gotten so bad that it feels as though chunks of my life are missing! It's as if they never even happened, or I simply never got to them. I feel like I've been building up to something big over and over again, but I can never quite make it to that grand finish.

Dr. SlimeyPhil

Well, it's time that you reached into yourself and found the answers you're looking for. Tell me... what it is that your problem is, and I will do my best to help you. But I can only help you if you are WILLING to work at this.

As I'm sure you can tell by now... my problem is..... an acute case of non-finishers disease (feel free to rename it something much more technical sounding). And by non-finishing, I of course mean those good ol' rpgs. Mind you - this isn't just one or two games - we're talking just about every single rpg I've ever played! I can probably list off the rpgs that I've actually finished on my father's right hand. And also - I should mention that it's not that I lose interest somewhere in the middle - all of these games I've played - I play right until the very end (aka - I find out I can go to the *final area*), and then I'll do everything else BUT finish it! And then sadly... it fades from memory so I get to the point where I don't even know what I've spent those sometime 100+ hours fighting for. Off the top of my head - here's a sample smattering of the games I have NEARLY completed (aka, finished everything but the boss of the game): Earthbound, Tales of Symphonia, Guild Wars, Mario RPG, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Fable, Final Fantasy IV, V, VII, IX, and most recently - XII. Other games that I actually managed to finish even took a great deal of effort and more time than they should have - Final Fantasy X sat around for over a year before my brother forced me to sit down and finish it before he'd let me play anything else. Dragon Quest VIII took about 6 months between getting to the point where I could go to the final boss anytime the time that I actually WENT. I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture. And think! Those are just the RPGs that have been subject to my disease! Sadly, I know there are games that I've played to near-completion that I can't even remember anymore because it's just been so long.

Dr. SlimeyPhil

Okay. Okay. All right. Now... have you thought about getting professional help for this?

Non-finishers' disease strikes more than one in every four RPGamers, according to something, and you don't have to be a victim. If you paid for these games and you want to see the endings, you should be able to see those endings. You should be able to finally beat that boss. You should be ABLE to put in those extra few hours just to finish off that final bad guy. I think... I think the problem is inside you, and I think you can overcome it. We'll be right back.

*theme music: doo doo dee doo dee dah dah....*

My question is - WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?? And am I normal?? It's not that I'm afraid, because I know by the time I'm done doing EVERYTHING else in the game that I'm usually more than powerful enough to finish it without any problems. I don't even think it's because I lose interest because I LIKE to see what happens at the end and how everything turns out. Are there others out there with this strange affliction, who like me, think that they have to deal with this all alone? Are there support groups for this? Or how about a 12-Step program?

Please Dr. SlimeyPhil. I'm at the end of my rope and I need your help!

Sincerely,
Premature Evacuater

Dr. SlimeyPhil

It is a very common ailment that afflicts many gamers. Why, my sister even has that difficulty every single time that she tries to enjoy herself. It is important to know that it isn't a bad thing. Yes, you might never get past the game. Yes, you might have spent your money and never see the final credits. Yes, you might never gain the courage to fight the final boss. But, if you had fun playing the part of the game you DID play, and if you're getting fulfilment from these games, then did you ever think that this is just the way you are? And if you are, why are you so worried about being like everybody else?

*audience applause*

Now, if you feel you aren't being fulfilled by your RPGs because you don't feel like fighting the final boss, I think you have a bigger problem. Perhaps your attention span just isn't long enough, in which case, I recommend that you buy a PlayStation 3 and a few dozen racing games for it, all of which look basically the same. If you can find 'em, of course... Sony reports that they're really hard to find these days.

I'm out of time for today. Bye bye, y'all.



Time to get Monogatorized.


Konbanwa, Matt-san!

Well, when last I wrote in... what, two months ago now?-- I was considering the purchase of a greatly discounted copy of Rogue Galaxy (\1500). Then, I came across something else which, if not as graphically impressive, has turned out to be a lot more entertaining : Devil Summoner Soul Hackers (\1000) for the PSX. This is one I wish they'd brought over, if only to see what the heck they made of the demon conversations you sometimes get. So far, I've given demons fashion advice, dating advice (word to the thing in the back, the problem is your breath), talked about comic books, been mistaken for a comic book hero, and caused existential crises when discussing that hot new game, Devil Summoner Soul Hackers. I'm just happy I understand enough to get by.

Matt

What a delightful-sounding combination of Disgaea and the Sims. I love it already. Unfortunately, I'll bet that I'll only ever be able to hear about it from you, thanks to my complete lack of skill in reading Japanese. Lamentable.

The new game market is looking really nice though. Heroes of Mana should be in stores tomorrow (3/8), Yoshi's Island DS has commercials all over, as does the new Fire Emblem game (pretty...), and the promo material I've seen for MegaMan ZX2 is making me wish my pocketbook was not quite so thin these next few months.

Oh well, c'est la vie.

Matt

No kidding. Being a gamer is really damn expensive. Why, oh why, didn't my parents introduce me to some cheaper hobby at a young age. Say, juggling?

Yoshi's Island DS was OK, but crappy compared to the original Yoshi's Island- and I don't mean to sound snooty when I say that. And from what I hear, this new Wario: Master of Disguise game sounds downright awful. Nintendo had better be damn careful with its big names, or those names might lose their lustre.

Fire Emblem, on the other hand... ahhhhh. Ahhhh. Ohhh. :)

About the connection between liking the game music and liking the games... I must admit, there's one game now which I shall never be trying, simply because of the music. It's an online RPG called TalesWeaver (maybe with a 2 attached to the end, not sure) which is just one of many to be played from the net cafes of Japan. My local net cafe has been playing the minute-long intro video to that game on infinite loops for the past month, and I find myself loathing the music with a deep, burning passion. Perhaps it is only the fact that it's been repeated so much within my hearing (I don't dig repetition that much), perhaps it's the fact that the singer sounds like he's trying to make country-western J-Pop, and failing at almost everything but the twangy accent as he sings "Light on Yooooooo". Whatever, though the game looks interesting, I will not touch it with a standard-issue D&D 10-foot pole.

Matt

Well, if you hear it on and on for a whole month, it's likely to drive you crazy, especially if it's as twangy and strange and bizarre. Sometimes, when I want to get into a "study groove" or something, I'll put an MP3 that I really like on loop and forget about it, until an hour has passed, and I realize that it's driving me absolutely mad. If great music can do that to me, then it's not really that surprising at all that you're going nuts because of an awful awful theme. My condolences.

Now, to respond to your Hot Topics for this month:

Matt

Yay... somebody listened!

1 & 5 -- I have neither excuses nor reasons to wait, since I've owned the one since July and the other since September, and beaten both with far too much time on the clocks. I could only wish that either of them gave more challenge. And I miss the fun burrowing trick from the original Slime Quest game.

Matt

Hum. That's a quest that I'll never know, sadly. And yeah, the game is definitely not one you play for the challenge factor. I have to admit, though, that the final boss is driving me absolutely nuts.

2 -- I have no idea what a PS3 home is, and since I rarely buy a system within five years of its creation, I probably never will need to.

Matt

It looks like a cross between Xbox 360's achievement thinger, the Nintendo "Mii" other thinger, and The Sims. The screenshots look so chic, they make me gag. Or maybe I'm being unfair, I don't know. I feel like I'm on autopilot for Sony-dislike these days, though I really hate to not present a neutral opinion. Oh well.

3 -- Looking at the game lineups, spinoffs and series extensions all around. I'm just hoping they drag Second Division back together again to do a Romancing SaGa II remake.

Matt

See, you're damn lucky because of your Japanesery. It's hard to imagine that a remake like that would see the light of day beyond Japan, but I guess stranger things have happened, I suppose. Why, SOME people have spontaneously combusted before. It's true.

4 -- GRUUU, because it takes me back to my Zork days. Flatheads Uber Alles!

Matt

I'm totally "down with the GRUUUU." I think the vote tally stands at 3-1 now, doesn't it?

Well, got to sign off now,
Talk at you later, perhaps (once SOCK makes a reappearance!)

Gaijin Monogatari

Matt

Oh, it will! Just you wait.

It's good to hear from you, Gaijin-san. Stay well and such!



A little-mentioned spring release...


How's SOCK 2.0 progressing? April will be a big month packed full of neato premieres (in a sense) in every aspect of my life, so I'm looking forward to it! Blue magic had better be neato keen!

Matt

There will be lots to find and do in the shiny new game. Lots. It's going to be so big that I'm worried I won't be able to keep track of it all, to be honest, depending on how many people decide to join. Of course, now that nobody reads the column, we might not have to worry so much... but if I can pull the right strings and get some funky prizes, perhaps I'll have my work cut out for me after all.

I began doing this yesterday, but in case you didn't notice, there is now a tidbit-o'-the-day revealed with every update. Just click the new Sock 2 link in the sidebar, and find your way to what will eventually be the new home of about six people's favouritest game's sequel!

And if you really want Blue Magic, you'll just have to figure out how once we begin. There is waymuch to uncover. ^^

Anyway, I finished Tales of Phantasia. Not bad, especially for its time, but the thing that really killed me (sometimes literally), especially at the end, was the encounter rate. Sometimes I'd reset a game from a save point, and get attacked at exactly the same step as all the previous attempts. This leads me to believe that there was some sort of (relatively inflexible) internal algorithm for determining encounter rates, and this bugs me. A lot.

Do you happen to know if I'm right? Either way, what other aspects of RPGs, if done poorly, can ruin it for your experience?

Matt

I don't know, no, but I know that some games likely work from some random seed number determined from the beginning of the game that is saved when you saved, so you can't really get out of things. Other games work differently, and I can't really say for sure how any specific game would operate, especially because I've never had the pleasure of programming a game myself. But yeah, that would be annoying.

If done poorly? I think that dungeon design is a big one. Bland, boring dungeons that all look the same make my mind numb, and randomly-generated dungeons accelerate the process remarkably. Actually, randomized anything pisses me off, except for random battles, which I don't mind as much. This is why I really can't stand Final Fantasy XII's bizarre treasure system. As much as I love/am addicted to the game, that aspect drives me up the damn wall.

Thank you, Mr. Leaper! Get back to me soon.



QUICKIES

Noooo quickies today! Not much mail in general, actually. Get with it, people... I want some letters!

IN CLOSING

Okay! So, what is your opinion on the revelations that are taking day-by-day, hour-by-hour, at this year's Game Developers Conference? Any surprises? Is the 360 really going to be our new home over the next few years?

I really want to hear your thoughts on things, so get writing! And don't worry- a letter can just be a line or two long, if you like! But a Q&A section without mail is like a snail without a shell, or an ocean without water, or something like that. So get writing, or I'll yell at you louder.

I'll be back tomorrow for more. See you next time in Q&A!



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 3 - DANGER



slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is now ExhaustoMatt.


Gururururururu... where are my letters?

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What I Want to Play:

1. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl

2. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

3. Metroid Prime 3

4. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

5. Super Paper Mario



What I'm Playing:

1. Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime

2. Final Fantasy VI

3. Final Fantasy XII



Hot Topics:

1. So what's YOUR excuse for not having played Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime?

2. GDC 2007: What do you think?

3. Uh-oh! Square Enix only has two announced remakes left to release! What are they going to do?

4. GRAAAAWK or GRUUUUUU?

5. Who, like me, can't WAIT for the new Pokémon games?



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