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Great Bouncing Icebergs December 19, 2005

Matt Demers - 00:41 EST

IT'S THAT WEEK AGAIN! The week that I look forward to every single year for one singular reason and one only. Yes, that's right; It's the beginning of a three-week holiday filled with family, games, laughter, food, food, food, and sleep. And food. I've spent the last while at home, so I apologize for not being present last week. I shall do my best to bring you the Weekday Q&A as regularly as I can, despite the terrible dial-up connection speed and general holiday issues that a Christmas vacation tends to bring.

In any scenario, I hope everyone's holidays are looking bright and I wish all of you the happiest over the next couple of weeks.

Now, let me dig into my inbox (Santa's sack?) that I haven't dug into for quite some time, and see what you people have granted me...




L E T T E R S
Ahh, rumour seeds! Yum yum.


Just a quick check. FFXII is not coming out on january 8 is it? because EBgames seems to say so here [at an EB games website]

Not quite sure if I should be thrilled anyway. I can't wait to get a PS2 in order to get DQ8.

Thanks.

Jean-Francois, Québec.

Matt

Now, wouldn't that be something? I know that Québec is a little backwards on a few issues, but you Québecois might get some serious tourism over the next couple of months if what you say is true! Unfortunately for you, there's only about a 0.0000000031% chance of this being true, considering that the game isn't even near its release in the ol' land of the rising sun yet. Really, too, I'm not even sure where those thirty-one ten-billionths of a percentage come from in the first place. Obviously, the date-putter-inners at EB games must have been asleep, though EB games tends to put in arbitrary "release dates" into their systems months in advance, whether an official date has been set or not. Don't ask me, I'm just a mouthpiece. Actually, forget it; you're supposed to ask me, aren't you? Blah, I'm going to go eat a baked good.

Sorry if I disappointed you!



Final Rantasy (and Dragon Quest too)


Perhaps this is all the liquor talking; Maybe it's a stint of temporary insanity... I just feel so inclined to say this with all the hate on the matter being hurled around like a monkey throwing feces: I like the new battle system in FFXII!
Matt

*gasp*

Please share!

So many people are fussing and whining over a demo and so many people have this bleak, pseudo-nihilistic view--hey what else is new?--that if Final Fantasy changes in some way then it will suck and when you look at it as a series, it harbors an awful lot of hate no matter what's done with it. Rabid playstation-generation FFVII fanboys shunned by fans of the old classics, anyone (myself included) who loved FFVIII might a well be sent to the gas chambers as far as most are concerned and somehow IX is a terrible splotch on nature or some such drivel... Even though it did practically everything right. Close emulation to FFIV with the return to set character-classes, fantasy settings and last bosses that have nothing to do with anything until the last minute.

Matt

You make some valid points... very valid, might I add. Being a big Final Fantasy VIII lover, I have had to defend my opinion about sixty-six times per year on average since its release back in the day. You are certainly right, too... Final Fantasy has always changed from game to game to game. Surely, if Final Fantasy were always condemned to stasis, we'd still have sprites attacking in little windows for flawed and grossly misbalanced Hit%/Damage calculated by imperfect means. Does "13Hit" really mean that your character is able to get in 13 hits in a row? I only saw the sprite swing twice! Mysterious thing, that.

Final Fantasy IX did SOME things right, but not everything! I thought, personally, that the characters were less likable, the magic system was a bit detestable in comparison with the systems of previous games, and other cheap things: The fact that time still flows through spell/skill animations is particularly bothersome; a terrible, horrible spell that does 2000 damage to your characters isn't very troublesome when Auto-Regen/Auto-Haste restores every party member by 2500 WHILE the attack is being displayed in all its graphical glory. Ugh!

Just listen to me go on about this... I'm one of those quirky fans of this series that sees IV, VIII, IX and X above the rest. Even at that, I really don't even care for Final Fantasy... XII has sparked some interest though. It's different and change is good. Also, being an FFXI player (blech) for a good amount of time, it isn't really even comparable. It's so silly really, to hear it on a regular basis. Personally I would rather be running around trying to avoid attacks and such while my little bar charges up to full; It's about time Final Fantasy had an action battle system and hey, seamless battles in the environment, monsters that aggro? That opens up a lot more strategy. Time will tell, but I've got a feeling I'll be right and even if I'm not, it will be a bastard child of the series to all the VI/VII lovers and I'll hold it close to me at night... Hah.

Matt

I'm not sure I agree totally, just because WHILE some other strategies might surface, I just worry that the game is going to stray a bit too far away from a certain "feel" that I've grown very fond of over the years. I've been trying my best to remain completely open-minded about it, though, and I hope that everyone who has been reading my columns has too: Don't judge a game based on a demo alone! We all know that whatever form Final Fantasy XII debuts in, it will excel somehow. Perhaps the battle system is something that requires getting used to over some time. Maybe not! It's hard to say now. The lack of battle music though? OHHH, I just don't know if I'll get over that.

Ah but the game the demo cam packaged with..

It's Dragon Quest so I can't help but loving it, but there are still some things that are getting on my nerves. A lot of the changes for the North American release irked me greatly. As soon as I heard Trode speak, I turned voices off, the changes in spell names are a massive irritation to me when i'm learning new abilities (they are for the most part, discernable, but still, god, these changes just reek of Square, not Enix, ne?), certain in-battle sound effects that have been removed (spell casting, attack sounds including criticals) and for the love of god why didn't they include a classic menu system for long-time fans of the series? I'm sure the extra hundred kilobytes of data that would've added would really have knocked back the release date. Options never turn anyone off.

Matt

I was one of the people that was just grateful for the fact that this game underwent a lot of work for the translation in the first place. You hated Trode's voice that much? Poor ol' guy!! My honest opinion is that the voice acting is the absolute best I've ever heard from a video game. Yes, there are a couple of annoying ones here and there... but some of the other voices are surprisingly delightful. I just could NOT bear to play with any of the sound off in that game. Better, though, to be SANE than sorry, no? Wahahaha... I'm so clever.

I'm familiar with the other issues you've outlined; I'm a long-time member of Dragon's Den, one of the best Dragon Warrior/Quest websites around (in my opinion) and there was a bit of an uproar when it was discovered that names were to be changed and menus were to be messed with.

It took a few hours to get used to everything, but in the end, I don't really have a problem with the changes. People complained to no end that the old menu system was nigh-innavigable, and while I tend to disagree, I don't see any reason to gripe about the new one (which is also better than everyone says... for some reason, MANY people say that it's "awkward", and to them I say "you're silly"). Also, the spell names are silly, meaningless words in Japanese, largely; it's only fitting that they are silly, meaningless words in English too. Perhaps Sizzle, Kafrizzle, and Thwack are closer to what the original creators had in mind.

Of course, you're absolutely right... keeping the option there wouldn't have been a bad idea. The oversight, though, in my opinion, is a negligibly bad thing that shouldn't be held against the rest of the game.

Maybe I'm a purist in a sense. Dragon Warrior III was my first videogame (post-mario) and so far every game in the series has that to live up to. DQIV almost did, not quite, something close though. I even loved VII for it's faults and happily put nearly two-hundred hours into it without blinking, but it didn't come close to that game. The thing about DQVIII, is that it comes the closest; Nit-picky aesthetic details aside. There's that sense of adventure that was prominent in DQIII coupled with the sense of story that was used in DQVI--not to mention that it remixes a bunch of tracks from DQIII beautifully. I must say, that last boss theme-song... I think I felt the shivers travelling up and down my spine for a solid hour. Is that how videogames are supposed to feel?

Matt

Ack! NOOOOO!!! Don't talk about it!! BLARGH!! I'm not there yet!!

A final boss? I don't want to know that there's a final boss!! The game can't really end, can it? Oh sigh...

Soon it will be back to trudging through the bonus dungeon. I've made my entire playthrough without using tension, just to retain that feeling that nothing has changed too much in the series (lol, hypocrisy!) and now it's getting a bit tougher. Maybe when I'm done I'll make another golden claw equipped run through DQIII with a fighter and two goof-offs. Masochism is fun.

Matt

Nah, I don't think that you're being hypocritical at all. The reason that Dragon Quest is so popular in Japan is because it is the only RPG to grow and develop from game to game without ever sacrificing the "feel" that it has come to possess over the years in any way at all. It seems that with this game, more North Americans too will finally be able to acquire a taste for it as well.

Also, I'm playing my way through Final Fantasy IV Advance. There seems to be a lot of controversy over this port, something to do with slowdown/lag/sound effects... I've hardly noticed the afformentioned and the sound changes have in no way affected my opinion on the game. I could care less if 'Virus' (see: Bio) now has a different set of bleeps and bloops. I think the complaints over these minor issues are mainly the ramblings of some retarded people over on the gamefaqs message boards, perhaps the old-school-squad squaking about it. These are the people that cry over things like 'Lit 3' being changed to 'Thundaga'. Sigh, there really is no pleasing some, is there? Personally I'm enjoying the nostalgia and the chance to knock off everyone in my party except for Edward before I take on Zeromus. I don't think I'm crazy enough to try solo Palom/Porom runs yet, but one day... Anyway, I'm happy to be able to own this game, particularly in a portable form, as will I be pleased with V and VI most likely (they should consider upping VI's difficulty a bit so I don't have to work harder to make the game harder). Personally though, I would much rather see a couple ports of Dragon Quest V and VI... Or even the PSX IV remake (DS I suppose). Wouldn't you? I mean Final Fantasy is good and all but... Dragon Quest! Maybe the sales of DQVIII will promote this. Here's hoping.

That's it for now. I have a Zeromus to (try and) kill.

Regards,

Moonstruck

Matt

Thanks for your thoughts. A few people are complaining about some sound effects... and I dunno, don't YOU think that Virus was originally the coolest-sounding spell ever? It was also the most useful spell of all time, considering that it didn't seem to NOT work on anything, and it had almost zero casting-time. What a sweet mass of magical yum! *Nuhnalunna-neeeeeer*! I thought Final Fantasy IV was easier than VI, myself, but oh well. You're right though, in that a Dragon Quest V or VI port would be pretty much the sweetest things ever. My mood would definitely go up by about 110 if that particular piece of news were to be announced one day!



"Working" no more...


Hey matt,

Working Designs is no more? what is this blasphemy? These are the guys who localized Lunar 1 and 2 for us, two of the greatest games ever made! How can they be no more, is the world coming to an end? What do you think about this? Have you ever played the Lunar games? If you havn't they are amazing, everyone should give them a play through at least once.

Matt

So I hear, though the later offerings I've heard are downright detestable. I guess all great things must come to an end, but from the sounds of things, the truly "great things" CAME to an end a long time ago as far as that company is concerned. Ah well. I do, one day, plan on playing the originals. Somehow.

The second thing I want to bring up pertains to the recent issue of the remakes of the oh so amazing Final Fantasy games. I just have to say that I think VI was much shorter than IV, I beat VI in 17 hours(world record I hope), and IV took me so much longer to beat than that. On top of the length the final boss was amazingly difficult - of course that has nothing to do with the fact that I was nine or anything...

Thanks for listening to me rant

-chaoswolf

Matt

Yesh, you are silly. Final Fantasy IV is clearly a shorter game than VI. The only way that it COULD be longer would be if you went out of your way to get EVERY single secret thing in the game of IV and compared that to zooming through VI without doing much too special in the second half of the game. In my two recent playthroughs, I got "most" of the special things in both games, clocking 17 hours on FFIV in comparison to 30 for FFVI. All in all, though, neither game is particularly lengthy.

Have fun with your games... er, whatever games you're playing right now.



Matt casts "Securaga!"


Dear Randomly Selected Person who answers RPGamer Questions for the sake of confusing me,

Just curious but, the fact that Working Designs closed down recently kinda worries me as I plan on being a game designer myself someday. Does anyone know/keep track of where those employees who got laid off will go to? Is it a high employment rate or something? Do they have unemployment insurance?

What kind of job security do you think a game designer has right now? Particularly for RPG design.

Do you know if there are any other Game companies that are currently "on the fringe" that folks should worry about? By that I mean, good publishing companies that aren't selling well and maybe need a little "boost" of confidence from their fans?

I've been noting that a lot of companies like Taito/Nameco and Squaresoft/Enix did mergers, but those that didn't most likely aren't doing so well. I'll be honest though, I'm not the type of person to read the stock market or anything, it's just something I'm concerned about.

Concerned RPG-fan
~Blade

Matt

Job security is just as insecure, I think, as it is for any business out there in the corporate world today. No matter WHAT job field you pursue, it's inevitably going to be more secure in a big, financially stable company than in a brand new baby company on fiscally shaky ground.

I'd say that because small companies are probably going to be looking harder for potential programmers/designers/whatever, they're the ones who will be most willing to hang on to the employees they have, but the company itself will be at greater risk of tanking due to poor sales. I wonder even now if Monolith Soft REALLY wanted to stop at Xenosaga III... but with internal problems and falling sales, the relatively small size of the company probably made it much more difficult to cope (of course, I don't claim to have ANY real knowledge about anything including the actual size of Monolith Soft, so you can also take this as a disclaimer in case everything I'm spouting is pure drivel.)

On the other hand, getting hired by a big company like Nintendo would be a far less risky thing, since Nintendo isn't about to go under. You're more likely to get fired, though, I think, if you happen to be incompetent.

In the end, if you're really interested, do your homework and take some post-secondary education of some useful sort, and get hired wherever you can. No matter the risk, the experience would be incredible... I would have LOVED to go into video game design, given the opportunity, myself. I just didn't know where to start looking, and now it's almost too late (not that I don't enjoy what I'm doing, but c'est la vie).

No matter what happens with company mergers and takeovers, you'll always have RPGs; at least, in the forseeable future. In the worst-case scenario, Square Enix dominates all and we end up with fifteen graphically ridiculous games of variable quality every year. It's better than, say, if lava bubbled up and melted the earth's crust. Look on the bright side!





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

Yous guys is gonna hates me. I did the unimaginably terrible!! I left my data in Guelph, by accident. What do I mean? Well, just you listen, and I'll tell you:

The snow was coming down in buckets. It had really picked up over the course of Thursday, and there was no escaping it now; three fresh inches were on the ground, playing havoc with the evening rush hour. It took me forty-five minutes to get from the school to my place by bus (a trip that usually takes twenty minutes) and I was strapped for time to get downtown to catch my train home to Chatham. In the great rush to grab my bags and get out, I forgot completely to do what I had been telling myself all day long to do: E-MAIL MYSELF THE SOCK SCORE LIST.

That's right. I did the impossible. I bare myself to you... stone me, whip me, or whatever. Just don't stop reading!! I am unfortunately going to have to go barefoot for the remainder of the Christmas holiday, which I'm sorry to have to do. No worries, though; the scores are certainly safe and sound, or at least they will be as long as my place doesn't burn down in my absence, OR unless a burglar decides to come in and steal my computer, which would be terribly unfortunate. Why do I say these things? Anyway, I hope you will forgive me. If you're a potential co-host awaiting direction, aka MagRowan or Flamethrower, we'll worry about that upon my return in January!

For now, though, I must leave for the night, before I turn into a pumpkin. I bid you all farewell and love.

wonderslime@rpgamer.com
***Matt is always waiting for his sister...


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