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ASK BIGWOOK & MATT
Stand Tall and Watch Your Head on the Doorway! April 26, 2006

Chris - 12:09 EST

The average doorway is approximately 6 feet 8 inches (203 centimeters for those of you metrically inclined). I am 6 feet 7 inches tall (201 centimeters). Thus, being in a good mood and having a spring to my step is a potentially dangerous situation.

Why is this important? Because I have the sneaking suspicion that Iím the tallest person to cohost (or host, for that matter) the Ask RPGamer box, and I needed an awkward segue so I could tell you that. Iím sure someone will burst my bubble, but Iíll savor it for now.

Anyway...due to the kindness of Matt, and the entertainment of Sock, I get the opportunity to cohost today. The irony is that Iím not even playing an RPG right now. After burning out on well over 100 hours of Dragon Quest VIII, I needed to clear my mind with a little Jak 3. But, on to the letters!




L E T T E R S
Well, so much for an easy warm-up letter...


Hello again Matt,

Chris

Pssst, take another look at the first paragraph of yesterdays intro.

Hm.† Seems I exceeded your tolerance for banal banter with the last message. † I'll constrain overly verbose tendencies this time around. World of Warcraft - where is the appeal?† A friend had it for a 10-day trial four months ago and still swears by it to the exclusion of everything else. Thoughts?

Chris

I have never had any interest in any MMORPG. I loved the first two Warcrafts, but even the brand name and good reviews couldnít draw me in to WoW. So, I understand your thinking and lack of interest.

I think the appeal is that you have a built in name brand and a game that was apparently very well done. The Warcraft fans got pulled in, the MMORPG fans got pulled in, and from what I hear, most of the people liked what they got and stayed put.

The paltry presence of facial hair on heroes (clearly not heroines - that's just wrong).† I recognize the impracticality of having a good beard at 17, which seems to be the mode age.† Some guys try it just for the sake of novelty regardless of how well the hair comes in - why not reflect that with any characters?

Chris

Heh, I can remember some of the bad facial hair that my friends and I grew when we were younger. I had one friend who grew a full beardÖexcept for the fact that he couldnít grow hair on his chin. Some sort of botched facial hair could be entertainingÖon a supporting character. Youíre right about not having a good beard at 17, and somehow I think it would undermine the drama a bit to have a hero with a patchy goatee.

Riviera you will enjoy greatly.† I just completed it, and will play it again shortly.† It might just have been me but some of the fights pack a good challenge also - be wary.

As a (presumably) longtime Sony console owner, what are your suggestions for making certain said consoles keep working?† I am not ready to invest in a PS2 due to my tendency to go overboard on software acquisitions but whenever the giant leap is made I want to be sure the console doesn't die prematurely and prompt splenetic fenestration!

Chris

Iíve babied my PS2, and I still had to have the laser replaced. After having it for about a year and a half (I got mine about a month after launch), it stopped reading DVDs. I called Sony Customer Service, and they quickly gave me an address to ship it too and having it repaired. A few weeks later, I got it back, and itís run ever since. I keep it out in the open where it can get plenty of cool air, and I almost never move it (or jar it).

The one good thing is that time without my PS2 led me to get my GameCube. Not a huge library, but some fun stuff.

Batman in an RPG - would it work?† Taking all the Gotham vigilantes of the comics together a good party could be easily constructed, an oversupply of villains in the city....

Chris

I dunno, I just canít see it. Batman has always been loner (Robin notwithstanding), and I just canít see him traveling with a group. Thereís plenty of opportunity for storylines, I just donít think it would have the right feel.

Did you follow the Audio Atrocities link I supplied previously?† Good for a number of laughs to me (please tell me Grandia is better than its voice acting - please!) but humor is highly subjective.

'Snort' - cutting into my life?† Too much Law & Order has been inserting itself into my life lately.† I thought the murder rate in New York had dropped since the early 90's anyway - but when 80% of the people I knew well during high school have moved away and the remainder are either the people I never liked or busy working all the time, my incentive to go outside is reduced.† Usually my leaving ends up wandering fruitlessly around the pathetic little mall, contemplating how small town life is not for me.† And of course it would all be so much better if not for one ENORMOUS BLUNDER Sega of America committed 8 years ago - although endlessly harping on this subject without new content will probably start to grate on everyone who reads.

Matt

There, there, it's all right. First of all, Guelph's mall is probably just as tiny if not tinier, and my hometown, Chatham, has a "mall" called the Downtown Chatham Centre that is absolutely laughable in size. It's kind of embarrassing, actually.

Also, people often obsess over traumas for long after they happen, so don't worry. I must say that your constant reiteration of the Sega-hatred is a little bit humourous, and reminds me greatly of movies set in mental hospitals where people sit quietly in their rooms suffering in rage for years after some event. You know what I'm talking about. Oh, and I definitely don't mean that you're a mental case at all. DEFINITELY not... I actually like you. Quite a bit. And your letters. Okay, back to the BigWook named Chris, after so rudely limelight-taking.

This is where the fish lives.
JuMeSyn

P.S. - Mystery Science Theater 3000 must return to the world!† Every time Michael Bay wields a director's chair tens of thousands of children could be saved with the money he hemorrages from the world!


Chris

Yes, but could you see MST3k doing a Michael Bay movie? Or even a shot at any studio movie? Heck, one of these horror movies like Slither or The Cave.



Let's talk about *gasp*!


WHAAAAAAAT? People are talking about SEX on rpgamer?

.....I'm in!

Actually, I remember in an old game informer (or maybe it was a website) talk of Xenosaga having a sex scene involving Shion and one of the 'bad guys,' although i'm not sure if it was real or a dream sequence in the game (you'd never know -- they're so trippy). Obviously this was edited from the American release, but it's something I'm curious about!

Matt

How fascinating. I have no idea how it would happen OUTSIDE of a dream sequence, though I suppose that anything was possible inside that big ol' Gnosis that you're in for the middle third of the first episode (it seems that long, anyway).

I too remember a character or two of opposite genders sharing a bed in Xenogears, although I'm pretty sure there was no mention of the matter, and being a fairly old game, it's understandable how that could have been a big deal with the game getting released here.

Matt

Yes, though I haven't seen it myself, there are sexual happenings in Xenogears, or so I've heard. I don't know why, since I haven't played that far, and I don't know how- er, well, I guess I probably do know how, come to think of it, but we won't talk about that.

Oh yes, I ALSO remember the whole symbolism of Terra's conception in FFVI, which is obviously much more tasteful than two people going at it over a table.

As it seems, RPGs tend to stay away from sexual CONTENT, but definitely don't mind pressing the boundaries with sexual humor and nudity in some cases. However, I'd rather have zero sex at all than gratuitious sex.

Matt

Exactly my point from yesterday; while sex isn't necessary in every single RPG at all (we've done fine without it in 90% of our games so far!), I think it's fine to use it now and then if it will really have an impact on the plot progression or character development. By absolutely no means do I think that players should be treated to pornography every time they visit the inn to restore their MP. ^^;

Oh! I just remembered another. I think in Wild Arms 3 that one of the characters (the main one actually) had a father who had another family illegitimately. Spicy! The game didn't end up with any ESRB listings outside of violence though, so whatever.

Matt

Spicy indeed, but perhaps not as spicy as the peppery stir-fry I'm planning on constructing tomorrow night. It's gonna be downright hot! The ESRB rating of "Violence" is applied to just about every single game on the market, though, these days. I mean, Super Princess Peach was slapped with a Comic Violence rating, for heaven's sakes, if I remember correctly!

Considering you didn't enjoy Wild Arms: ACF, you may not want to give WA3 a try since they are VERY ALIKE. I would suggest you try the originals though, as well as WA4 which is a very cool departure (I enjoyed WA3 and ACF though...so sue me). Although people consider the first one to be great, which it is, I can guarantee you it has more bugs than WA: ACF and also has a much worse translation.

I'm starting to just talk about whatever comes to mind, SO I'm going to be leaving now. Bye!


Matt

And the "we do not speak of WA2 curse" continues! I do believe that if I were ever to revisit the series, I'd be most inclined to play WA3, just because my brother already has it. If I were to BUY a new one, I might give 4 a try, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Also, just because a game isn't perfect doesn't mean you can't enjoy it, so I have no intentions of suing you at all. Be proud of your enjoyment; stand up and sing its praises, and I promise I'll stand up just as hard to try and be your antagonistic badnews bear. Deal? RPGs are all about having different points of view, and this is one place to discuss the differences between them!



Fun people who donít come along for the ride


Hey Matt,

Inspired by the nostalgia in your columns, I have been playing through some of my rpg collection in effort to recall exactly the elements I love most about them.† I have mostly been one of my all time favorites Star Ocean 3.† As I've played I rediscovered the reason I love that game so much.† The battle system is great, the graphics are sharp, and the story flows well through the first disc at least, but I really like about the game are the NPCs.† The NPCs in this game more than most any other game I've played seem to be four-sided characters who are integral to the growing plot.† They often give helpful clues, tone-setting comments, and change their responses as the plot dictates.† I also like the fact that the name of the NPCs help to establish the character(i.e.The Dangerous Eyed Girl or Anne Who Hates To Waste Food).† Plus, the supporting peripheral characters in SO3 are really well developed.† Claire, Count Woltar, Duke Vox, and King Airyglyph XIII are some of my favorite characters period.† What games had great NPCs in your opinion and can you remember any of them by name?


Chris

You know, I have heard a complete variety of opinions on the Star Ocean games. I really donít know what to think about them, except that it seems that SO3 is considered to be better than SO2. I think.

Itís funny, as soon as you asked about games with good NPCs, I thought of Shadow Hearts: Covenant. Some of it was characters who flowed in and out of the game (and some that you would fight at points), and some was just random characters you passed. I donít know if the historical context helped give it some extra depth, but it seemed to do a really good job. Plus, they did a fine job on the main characters, as well.

Now that I think about it, though, I canít think of a single name of an NPC that you donít fight at some point in the game. HmmmmÖ

And since it keeps coming up I'll say it again, Gruga is NOT black.† Seriously.

cap


Chris

*scrambles for his game box and booklet*

OK, at the very least, Gruga is a very dark Native American. I really canít argue with anyone who feels that he is black, although the hair doesnít seem quite right.



Why? Oh, WHYYYYY?


So you were talking about favorite battle music. Do you remember the one from Earthbound, that fight with both Pokey in his mech-thingy and gigas? I don't know what it is called, but that one was amazing. The transition from old-school NES sound to heavy metal guitar blew me away. As for other entrees, one-winged angel is pretty much a given alright, and though you've probably never heard it seeing as you've never played the game, but the battle theme Lucia Vs. Zophar is pretty sweet as well.

Matt

You know, ALL of the themes for each of the final boss stages of Earthbound deserve wide rounds of applause, in my opinion. The music that you speak of is really well done, indeed, but when you get into the actual fight with Giygas, the music becomes less "musical" and really surprisingly scary-sounding. I remember being absolutely excited the first time I started whittling him down; do you remember how the screen slowly became more and more distorted with a really really almost dramatic staticky sound that built and built and built until BOOM! It was all over. Wow! AHAHAH, now I want to play it again, now, in the worst way.

Anywho, is it just me, or is anyone else a little worried about the release of Mother 3 on this side of the Pacific? We've been getting a lot of pictures lately, but no solid news of any localization process. And hasn't it already been released in Japan. I swear, if they fool me again I'm gonna have to start slappin' some people around. Oh well, I'm sure everything will be fine in the end. Maybe E3 will shed some light.

All the best,
KnightTrain


Matt

Knighttrain, that's all we can really hope for. I'm not crossing my fingers, but after waiting more than ten years, I think it's the least they could do for their loyal fans over here. What a tease, to bring such a fantastic game across the globe only to snub us when it comes to sequels! Minus twenty points, Nintendo, if that happens...

Thanks, Knighttrain! Hopefully we hear from you again soon; perhaps in a co-hosting column of your own soon!



Light the fires, baby!


dear, whoever is currently doing the q&a


Chris

I, BigWook, would currently be doing the Q&A. However, I would also be very temporarily doing the Q&A, so donít grow too attached. Until I get a lot more Sock points, at least.

long time reader first time...questioner?

first off i have some intresting complaints about console rpg's that have been bothering me and i was wondering what you think

now this one may suprise some of you but, rpg's where all the girls are hot. i mean come on there isn't even proper dental care in most of these rpg worlds. what do they have special spells just for vanity purposes? i'm just as shallow and superficial as the next guy but i would give a rpg these days points just for haveing the balls to make the main love intrest of the main character being some fat, average to below average looking chick. then again i suppose sex appeal sales

Chris

I do believe you are seeing a trend that is reflected across not just games, but TV and movies. In the minds of those with decision making powers, unattractive men are allowable, and often good comic relief. Unattractive women are just not allowable. Is it realistic? No. Do I agree with it? No. Itís just not a problem that is limited to RPGs (or gaming in general). Thatís how we end up with the male/female pairings in most TV comedies, or just about any Woody Allen movie.

rpg's where the main character is 14-16, which is bascily all of them (japanese ones anyways). i'm 25 now its getting harder to really relate not that they should stop makeing the main character young but mixing it up some more would be nice.

Chris

Hear hear! I agree whole-heartedly with the thought of older heroes in RPGs. Iím not saying they have to be fifty (although that would be a creative twist), but something in the late 20s would be nice. Heck, when I was in my teens, I was barely motivated to do my homework. Saving the world just wouldnít be likely.

preachy rpg's that tell me western religion is bad...yhea i get it already. although i hear la pucelle tactics is somewhat of an exception to this.

preachy rpg's with evil empires andbeing told in every cutscreen imperialism is bad. it wouldn't bother me if it wasn't so overused. i want an rpg where i serve in an imperial army and i conquer other nations....er i mean "liberate" other nations as part of the story line. and i don't mean those kind of rpg's that are kinda non-liner that you choose to be good or "evil". i want a liner rpg that forces me to play as an emperial officer and shoves the idea that empires are good down my throat in every cutscreen. you know, like a george bush speech. (btw, is there any games out there like that?)

Chris

Didnít Vanguard Bandits have a story path you could follow where you conquered the world? Itís been a while since I played it, I just remember it being more entertaining than it had any right to be.

I have to say Iím impressed. Youíve managed to pair both religion and politics in one set of paragraphs. Just the thing to stir up some interest. Outstanding!

Given the way that western religion has a history of trying to push itself on the rest of the world (I donít say that to be anti-religion, but itís a simple fact), I can see where eastern cultures might have a bias against it. And, seeing as Japan is our key supplier of RPGs, youíre going to see that reflected in the RPGs that we get.

I like the imperial conqueror idea, somehow that seems to be a very entertaining game idea. Weíve seen it in strategy games, but an RPG with a juicy storyline could be great.

In fact, I think everyone should write in with ideas for a game along those lines. What would be the political leanings? How could you weave religion into it, either positively or negatively? Heck, what are your views on politics and religion in general?

*runs from an angry Matt and his club*

Matt

*smiles weakly*

Actually, you know that "mortified" look that Flonne gives from time to time in Disgaea with the white-circles eyes? THAT is more like what my current expression is. Oh, I love that one.

A rotten can of worms is now open. AHHH!!

*runs in terror tossing Q&A to Chris forevermore*

*executes superfluous third-person actions to the irritation of all readers*

whats the next half decent pc rpg thats going to come out?

-soviet conscript


Chris

I have no clue, Iíve never played a PC RPG in my life. Help, anyone?

Matt

I have no clue, Iíve never played a PC RPG in my life. Help, anyon- er, damn. Time to step up! Plus, that's a bit of a lie, since I did play Final Fantasy VII and VIII on the PC, as I didn't have a PSX. Those PC ports were just atrocious, though... out of all the ways they could have stepped on the game, how could they MIDI-ize the music?!?

PC RPGs... the next one to be released looks like Guild Wars: Factions, which appears to be a sort of update to the semi-popular MMORPG. Guild Wars, by the way, is one of the few games that I'm being told by external forces to play; in this case, it would be my sister, Diane, who thinks it would be "SO COOL" to play it alongside me. The problem is, such an action (purchasing the game) would be deleterious to my productivity, I believe. Hopefully, that helps.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Nothing like stirring things up on my one day on the job, and then blissfully running away. Always leave them cursing your name, I say. Iíd like to thank Matt (and RPGamer) for the opportunity, and Matt for his patience with my schedule. I didnít even know what night Iíd be able to do it until Saturday night.

Matt

Oh yes, it's definitely time for one of those out-of place response boxes!! This has only happened once or twice before in the history of "Ask Matt", so value this moment with every ounce of your RPGaming souls.

Not only do you come in and stir things up, you even write up your own conclusion when that's always been *my* place during a guest column! How deliciously audacious of you. In any event, the fact that you did write one up means that I don't have to think as hard to come up with something fun for this annoying mini-section, because any reader will know that I often struggle to come up with anything clever. (I should charge a SOCK-point premium for this, wouldn't you say??) *wink*

Speaking of cursing my name, I think it would be highly entertaining to leave you with a Sock question that includes the joy I get from my job with an investment company, right around tax season and retirement deadlines. I swear, I could be a CPA if I really wanted to...

Flashay!


Well, there we go! I have my column back! Almost, anyway. Chris has to be congratulated on doing a fantastic job; writing up responses to e-mails can be time-consuming, especially if you're working all the time. Believe me.

OK, SOCKwise, we had a couple of questions that some people deemed to be very, very easy yesterday, which can only mean one thing: Today's will be murder! <3

#180 asked what colour Odin's cape is in Final Fantasy V; performing a quick summon or doing some speedy research will reveal that his cape is e) Red, for 235 points. #181 referred to the hero of Radiata Stories, whose name, Jack Russell, led some of you to guess "rabbit" as your answer (jackrabbit). However, a much better answer is clearly a) Dog, since there is such a thing as a Jack Russel Terrier. Good try, everyone, for 190.

Question #182:
In the Cave of Guidance, how many fish swim in the smaller of the two schools that swim by on loop in the background graphic? (300 points)

a) 30
b) 34
c) 39
d) 45
e) 54

Question #183:
Ask BigWook!-->On January 5, Matt calls his investment representative to sell stock in his traditional IRA so he can take a distribution to put a down payment on a house. The trade settles on January 8, three days later. A check is sent out that day, and Matt receives it in the mail on January 14. He deposits it at the bank that same day. Two weeks later, Matt comes into some money. What is the last day that he can rollover his money back into the IRA without penalty? (Assume all days listed are weekdays and not holidays. Also pretend that Matt would be able to contribute to a United States retirement account.) (250 points)

a) February 7
b) March 15
c) April 15
d) July 8
e) December 31


SOCK's Award List

*You may obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!*

500 points: Your choice of Point Doubler (1 left) or Quick Spell (1 left)
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10,000 points: Your choice of Scan Spell (2 left) or Point Halver (2 left)


Click Here For Item Descriptions!

SOCK's Prize Shop

*You may SPEND points here in order to obtain any of the following prizes- new ones may appear at any time*

1,000 points: Matt's Mom's Cookie Compilation- 6 fantastic recipes right out of Matt's mom's amazing kitchen! Yours, upon request. (5 left)

2,000 points: Intro Paragraph Cameo- If you feel like having a piece of Q&A all to yourself for a day, but you're not up for answering a bunch of questions, this option might be just for you! Say the word, and the Intro Paragraph is yours to do whatever you want with for a day. (5 left)

10,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #3.5- Ah, why not? Cohost days are fun, so here are a couple of extra chances for you to snag, if you're so inclined. (5 left)

20,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #4- It might sound like a lot, but it'll be here before you know it. Your next chance to reign over Q&A with yours truly. (5 left)

25,000 points: Full Host Opportunity #1- This is it. Write your own Q&A section, without having me interrupt, break in, or steal your sunshine. Be RPGamer's new idol for a day! (1 left)

30,000 points: Your choice of Megaman X4, X5, or X6 for the PSX. If you're into the Megaman series as much as I am, and you don't own any of these, I don't need them any more, now that I have purchased the collection. You can take your pick, and I'll send it to you in the mail with a handwritten note of congratulations from myself. They aren't RPGs, for sure, but I'm working on it for the future. (Sorry, NTSC-format only) (1 left)

*********************************************************


Well, if that wasn't a great Q&A column, I don't know what is! For tomorrow, write in about all of the politics and religion you want to talk about, HOPEFULLY in an RPG context; just don't expect to see any of it posted if you go overboard. As much as I love you all, the last thing I want is for Q&A to fall into the grips of a bloody, traumatizing war!


slimey@rpgamer.com
***Matt may go for a run tonight...


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It's not like there isn't ANY good Xenosaga Episode I music; it's just that there isn't much of it. We'll actually hear some letters about this tomorrow... I wonder how many people actually read this underground text, anyway?

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