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ASK MATT
Hint, Hint
August 31, 2007

Matthew Demers - 13:40 EST

BIG DAY TODAY. My mom's birthday was two weeks ago, but today is the day that we're going out to a fantastically nice place to celebrate. It's apparently a super-fine-dining place rolling in an abundance of seafood and prime rib. Why is it that every time I head home, I end up feeling like a cow?

Ah well. In gaming news, I didn't do any RPGaming last night. However, I did manage to snag myself a copy of Metroid Prime 3, and after playing through the intro stage, I'm really not sure that I like it as much. The fact that you're constantly facing in the direction the Wii Remote points almost makes me ill. The C-stick controls... at this point, I think I like 'em better. We shall see.

What of food and "FPS-like" games, though, when we have RPGs to talk about?




LETTERS
It's all in the numbers.


Hey Matt,

I have to say, I'm sort of a centrist when it comes to points. Games like Paper Mario drive me insane, because even when I gain levels, I don't feel like I'm gaining much. At the same time, a game with hundreds of thousands of hit points would make it feel almost trivial. Give me a tradition game: Three or four digit hit points, and none of this Final Fantasy overages.

Of course, I'm a stick in the mud: When it comes to baseball, I hate the DH, interleague play, and homefield advantage for the AllStar game.

Thanks!

BigWook

Matt

Yeah- just wait until the day that they roll in video replays to determine outs instead of going by the decisions of "less reliable" umps. A can't imagine a baseball boy like you would be terribly gung-ho about that, heh heh.

Hmm, I think that in many cases, I tend to agree with you on this. The problem is that my number one issue with numbers is having limitations of 9999 or 999. Even though I don't like HP/damage to get astronomically huge, I really don't like the artificial feeling that a cap gives (on damage OR on HP). Thus, I guess my feelings are complicated. I'd rather have games with the games that are designed with HP that goes up into the hundreds rather than the thousands, but in either case, if HP gets to 999 or 9999 and threatens to push beyond, I think it should be allowed to float naturally above rather than be squashed artificially at that level forevermore.

Perhaps it's just me, though- a lot of people really love the 9999 cap, from what I've learned over my tenure here. I don't know why, they just do.

Thanks as always, good sir!



This is not a quickie! This is a regularie!!


Two things I didn't explain adequately about SRT: one is that Spirit commands use SP, which works like MP. If a character has SP Regenerate, it is insanely helpful. Second thing: when the most powerful attack I've ever dealt (with Valor doubling its power) did something like 23,000 damage and it was on a boss with over 200,000 HP, these are long fights. Plus that was not an attack I could use again the same turn.

JuMeSyn

Matt

Owwie. Sounds rough! Funny though, it kind of fits into our numbers discussion after all. You know, that's another reason why I haven't minded five-digit HP or damage in the past. I mean, bosses get to have huge amounts of HP- why should your characters be limited to 999 or 9999 if you have the capability of going higher? For example, if you have 7000 HP and HP Plus materia that would boost it to 10500, then damn it, I say you should get the 10500 and not 9999; you *earned* the right to every last one of those 501 extra HP!



Sex 'n' RPGs... sounds a little crude.


Hey Matt!

When it comes to the subject of sex in games, I only ask that it is done in a tasteful and believably set up way. Now, I am not saying I am against it, far from it. If the story of the game is leading up to the consumation of a relationship between two characters, then it makes a lot of sense.

I have seen some games that have had sex as a part of the overall world. In Arcanum:of Steamworks and Magick Obscura (one of my favorite PC RPGs of all time), you have the opportunity to spend a night at the local brothal in the city of Tarant. You are given the option to actually do the deed with one of the ladies that the madame provides, or even the sheep in the back if you so choose. The game does not show your character even doing it, choosing instead to let your immagination do the work for you. Because they decided to put something like this in the game, it makes you feel like you are more appart of the world because you could avoid temptation and not go in at all or decide to get it on if you so choose.

Where this subject can fall off the rails was what happened with that Hot Coffee mod in GTA: San Andreas. By now, I think everyone knows what this thing was about. I personally thought it was a little gratuitous because it gave you way too much freedom. Granted, these scenes were only available if you kept one of your character's many girlfriends extremely satisfied, but it was the way they handled it that made me feel dirty. If you played the game unmodified, they did something similar to Arcanum where you don't actually see what happened, but you could immagine what was going on behind closed doors. With the mod in place, it made the build up to these scenes feel kind of pointless. If I want to see something like that, I'll go to the local adult video store and buy a DVD.

Should sex be in games? Personally, I would not like to see it. I play a game for the story or the in-game action, not for titilation. Let's hope that if the developers out there decide to pop this stuff in there, they take a cue from Arcanum or even Final Fantasy VI in their tasteful depictions of it.

Witecat

Matt

Oh, I totally agree with you. Don't get me wrong: When I say that I wouldn't mind themes of sexuality being explored in RPGs, I don't by any way mean that I want to get off on XXX hardcore porn-FMVs. It is possible, of course, to include these themes/ideas/situations in ways that are tasteful and thought-provoking, like any other RPG plot elements. This is exactly why I thought that FFVI's representation was clever and interesting, though that little mini-scene is really just scratching the surface.

I thought of another fun example last night, and it's one that we all might get to see soon: Dragon Quest V! I won't go on about it, because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't played the game before, but... it's cute. Augh, just thinking about some of the game's aspects just makes me want that DS remake more than ever!!



Tragedy!


No natural disasters for this loss of data. Let's just say, long battle in FF6 to protect the Esper in Narshe from Kefka and cronies... successful... followed by minute power blip just upon reach of save point on the mountain. XD

2 hours lost in a void...

Laters,
MagRowan ^_^

Matt

Augh!! You were almost at the save point, too? It's like a tease! A big, terrible tease!

That reminds me of glitchy, glitchy, Star Ocean 2. I was in one of that game's really long, annoying dungeons featuring really awesome music, and I had gone about the same length of time (2 hours, give or take) without a save- simply because I didn't have the opportunity to do so. I had achieved what I needed to achieve, and I was on my way out of the cave. I got into a battle, and when the battle screen faded out upon victory, the map screen failed to fade back in. Nay, the TV stayed black, and I sat staring wide-eyed at my TV for the next ten minutes hoping that something would happen. It didn't, of course, and I turned off the game. I think I made my brother do the dungeon for me afterwards; I was SO frustrated.

Thanks for sharing, Maggie!



This is going to be damn hard to do.


Hey Matt,
Say it ain't so. Its just so sad to think there will be no more Ask Matt columns or SOCK 3.0. You made a rather bland column fun and even got a lurker like me to write in and even co-host. With winter fast approaching I will have contact the fiends and start a time loop...I mean if Garland could pull it off how hard can it really be?

--
Xlash the dwarf berserker

Matt

We go way back by this point! You were one of my first writers-in, first contestants, and first co-hosts ever. It's been fun, but we still have months ahead of us. All good things must come to an end, though- for more, see Seinfeld or Xenosaga.



From another long-time reader!


Hi, Matt,

So people are sending you nastygrams?! Well, forward their letters to me, & I'll zap them with a mudo (Persona death spell) for you.

Matt

Excellent. I wish I had the power to rip someone's soul from their body instantly, all in the palm of my hand. I guess I'll have to live with my dubious ability of pretending to know what I'm doing with math.

You were pretty accurate about the Persona games except save points, when you're in a dungeon, are not frequent (your love of struggling with your last ounce of energy to reach the exit would be fulfilled), & it's not that you lose turns, but if you use an attack/magic that the enemy is weak against you gain turns. This also works for the enemy; so if you get surprised by a bunch of enemies, & they hit you or another of your party with your respective weakness you can get wiped out without ever getting a chance to retaliate. I'm playing 3 now & really loving almost everything about it. The only thing I'm not thrilled with is that you only control the main character & the others are AI controlled. What's annoying me with this is that while the enemy AI is great, my party's AI seems to have a much lower IQ. That & I just love being able to control my entire party.

Matt

Oh- REALLY? That was unexpected, but I guess that's what I get for not reading any reviews. It is true, though, that I love a good scare. That thrilling feeling of risk, when you know you shouldn't be pressing on, but you just need to see what's around the corner? I love it! I'm guessing, though, that in this game, "Game Over" doesn't mean "teleport back to town with a slap on the wrist," but instead "start from last save point, nyah nyah." That's even scarier.

I do have a series I've been reluctant to try. The Star Ocean series. Ages ago, I rented one (I don't remember which one, but it was for the original PlayStation). This was when I first was getting into RPGs & was trying everything out. The intro started & you meandered around for over an hour before you got into your first fight. I'd never played an "action" RPG before (the closest I'd come was Tales of Destiny) & got my hat handed to me. Meanwhile, you hadn't been given the ability to save up to that point! So I started all over, & got trounced again! I figured 4 hours wasted was enough & have never touched the series again.

Matt

That's anomalous- maybe you'd be better now with some experience under your belt. The game you played was Star Ocean: The Second Story, though I don't recall such a big gap before the first battle. Of course, it's been a very long while since the last time I played the game.

My biggest gripe with the series is one that I referred to earlier in this column: The inherent glitchiness of the games. Both Star Ocean 2 and Star Ocean 3 gave me big issues, including random freezes, corrupted save data, and more. However, if you can get past that aspect, they're pretty likable, I think.

Now to the important question. What's this you snuck in near the end of the column - you're retiring from Q & A this winter?! Well, I understand, life beckons & all, but you'll be missed. You've been a joy to read!

Jbumi

Matt

Thanks, Jbumi, for the kind words. It's the way it goes- after two years, it's time to move on. I can barely imagine how much free time this could make handy. "All the better for you to PROGRAM WITH, mwahahahaha," would say my thesis advisor maliciously.

Anyway, I hope to hear from you soon again!



QUICKIES

Quickie: Do you ever find that you leave games for no apparent reason, even if u really enjoy them, and go on to start a different one?

Matt

Really? Not me. If I'm really, truly enjoying a game, I'll only leave it if I do have a reason, like wallowing through too much awful awful work.

Just moved into a new place for the new semester. Coincidentally, they have an X-Box 360 and Blue Dragon. Have only watched it being played so far, but I have to say it's a very pretty game.

Vyselocke

Matt

It looks nice, that's for sure- I'm just really disappointed at the mediocre reviews it's been getting, left, right, and centre. This was supposed to be the RPG to change the fate of the 360 for RPGamers, wasn't it...?



IN CLOSING

That's all from me for this week, everybody. Fear not, though: We have our new weekend host, Sean, ready and willing to take all of your best letters. Don't disappoint him- send him something if you feel the writing bug take over.

A new hot topic? Why not. What are your thoughts on gaming glitches? Obviously, with such complicated programming, there are bound to be errors here and there, but have they ever gotten to the point where they truly interfere with your RPG experience? I have a couple of examples I'd like to share beyond Star Ocean, but they'll have to wait until next week, I'm afraid.

I apologize to those of you who I couldn't respond to, but please be patient and understanding as always. In any event, I'll be back next Tuesday. Enjoy the long weekend!



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Matt is looking forward to Labour Day gaming!


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On my Wishlist:

1. Dragon Quest IX

2. Metroid Prime 3

3. Fire Emblem: Goddess of Dawn

4. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

5. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker



On my Portable/VC Playlist:

1. Etrian Odyssey

2. Shining Force

3. The Legend of Zelda (NES)



On my Console Roster:

1. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

2. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

3. Tales of Symphonia



Hot Topics:

1. Have any blackout/fire/flood-related RPG-loss stories to share?

2. Why is the theme of sexuality never explored in RPGs? Is this a bad thing?

3. Is it dumb when characters or monsters have millions of HP? What is your favourite "numerical scale"?

4. How badly do game glitches affect the RPGs you've played?

5. Which RPGs have the best endings?



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