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ASK DRACONN & MATT
Forward March
November 21, 2006

Draconn - 18:15 EST

GREETINGS! TIS I, Draconn, also formerly known as "The guy with the record for earning SOCK points the most quickly." After losing that title, I decided I would trade in my points for a co-hosting instead. So, who am I? I am Donn Hardy from Ohio, a graduate student at Case Western Reserve University in Computer Engineering/Science. My graduate studies and relatively recent marriage to the most wonderful woman in the world have kind of curtailed my gaming a bit, but I still love it and do it as much as I can.

My only regret at this moment is that my co-hosting was unannounced, so I will receive no letters addressed to Draconn :( Oh, well. On to the letters!




LETTERS
Feeling left out :(


Hey there Matt

Draconn

Matt? There is no Matt!! Only, Hyde! ... Er... Only, Draconn!

I thought I'd drop you a note just to say that I'm still around and didn't jump ship when SOCK I ended. I did actually skip several columns in the last couple of weeks, however. The two main reasons were a) because real life got quite busy and because b) I didn't want to read everyone else's opinion of Final Fantsy XII before I had a firm opinion of my own. Sadly, after twenty- something hours of playtime I still do not have a really solid opinion and this rather distresses me. I was quite relieved, however, to read a letter on Wednesday whose appraisal of the game was similar to mine.


Draconn

Man. I havenít gotten to play twenty hours total of anything since FFXII came out. Iím actually hoping to win it from THONG, so I havenít gotten FFXII yet. Yikes! Itís amazing how that seems to completely leave me out of almost all conversation here on QnA.

Matt

It's unfortunate, and I'm sorry about that. I can only respond to the letters that people write me, though, and lately, it's been all about Final Fantasy XII. I guess we could have predicted that a long time ago. Just tough it through, and eventually you'll be "in the know," as they say, or conversation will finally progress to some other topic.

The graphics are of course very pretty and I'm enjoying the gameplay just fine, but the plot... There definitely is a plot, but... I just feel like something's missing, perhaps in terms of the characters themselves. I feel like I hardly know anything about them. For instance Balthier's partner in crime... I can't remember her name (which I think says something about her character development right there). Ah yes, Fran. So far her role seems to be to function as the scantily clad female with mysterious magical powers (sensitivity to Mist or whatnot). No backstory so far. I feel quite disconnected from all of the characters and since I'm a story-oriented gamer this is a problem for me.

Draconn

I can completely relate. I am very story-oriented myself. It saddens me a little to hear so many say that the story of FFXII is so limited. Not that that will keep me from checking it out anyway. As my 300+ game backlog can attest to: "Gotta catch 'em all!"

In any case, it's a decent game but I've been feeling like I should finish playing through VP: Silmeria; I left off at a plot-critical point and would very much like to find out what happens. I just don't feel that way so far about FFXII; I don't feel very emotionaly invested in the story which is hugely disappointing to me. Almost every other FF game I've played I've felt like playing over the moment I finished just because I enjoyed the game and story and characters so much that I wasn't ready for it all to be over. FFIX was a notable exception since it, too, just didn't grab me, though I know some people do like the game a lot. Have you (or anyone else for that matter) noticed this at all about the characters in FFXII or is the gameplay the main concern of late? In any case, my apologies if this is just a rehash of what's already been discussed; I just really needed to say my piece.

Draconn

You... didnít like FFIX? Iím sorry. I canít answer your letter any more. In fact, I hearby ban you from ever writing in to QnA again. Hey, Matt! I can do that, can't I?

Matt

Uhhh.... ^^;;;

No? Drat... Fired from yet another job. On a more serious note (but only slightly), FFIX was actually one of my favorites. I prefer the style of FF where different characters actually play differently. Unfortunately, that limits me to FFIV, FFVI, and FFIX, oddly enough my three favorites.

Best,
Erika

P.S. I'd completely forgotten until this week that the PS3 was coming out-- which says something in and of itself. There's still too much going on in this generation of gaming to worry about the next.

Draconn

I hear you. If I get anything at all in the near future (this depends on my wifeís charity), it will be a Wii, but even that wonít be for a while. (See comment about backlog). I would love to get both (not an Xbox 360, though), but I can't quite deal with paying out that much money for the first run of a system. Maybe a year from now... Thanks for writing in!



The big day has come and gone...


Hey there, Matt!

Ugh. This last week... well, I did get some good gaming time in, and I have less than 10000 words left before I finish NaNoWriMo, but when I tried to acquire more games for myself, I didn't have much luck. There isn't a proper brick and mortar store near me (I live in a small town), so other than the local Radio Shack (which seems to have a deliberate bias against stocking Nintendo stuff, but has no problem special ordering it in) or the Sears catalogue (which rarely has RPGs and doesn't have anything from Square-Enix), I pretty much have to go out of town or shop on-line.

Matt

Oh, I totally know what you mean about the Radio Shack anti-Nintendoness. Grr! Actually, speaking of Nintendo bias, I saw a piece on the news on TV over the weekend about the release of the Wii. I'm always excited when video games make national news in a good way, but I became more than a bit enraged when I saw this one: The first and only person to be quoted was some random dude who said something to the effect of "I don't think the Wii will be as good as the PS3 or the 360, but it'll be great for little kids." "As good," huh!? It doesn't matter what Nintendo does; there's just no way they can shake this "only for kids" reputation, and it bugs me incredibly. Very interestingly, though, the same quote was published online in an article on ctv's website, but when I went to show a friend last night, I found that the paragraph containing that quote had been removed. Hmmmm...

Anyway, that went slightly off-topic. Sorry about that.

I did find a cheap Suikoden auction up on eBay, but the game lacks the original case. No problem, there's also an auction offering a Suikoden case... but it's part of a large lot of game cases. Also no problem: bidding starts at one penny for the whole lot. But it's a good thing I hesitated and didn't just blindly bid: the listed shipping cost is out of this world. I would end up paying about $100 total, Canadian, to get the lot, and all I want is one Suikoden case; the rest are useless to me. I know I'm not going to be able to find a case-less copy of Final Fantasy X that isn't scratched up to death. I wonder if I can ask the seller if I can buy just the Suikoden case if no one bids on the lot.

Matt

Ugh, yes. Some of those eBay shipping costs are absolutely exorbitant. Buyer, beware.

What really ticked me off this past week: over on a video game selling LiveJournal community, someone posted a pretty cheap copy of Xenosaga, Episode I, among other items. So I left a comment in his own LJ (I figured I'd read his rules and follow them as closely as I could) and waited. He posted to the community again a few days later with updated listings. The games I was interested in were still listed, so I posted another comment. When he finally did get back to me, he said that Xenosaga's already been sold to someone, but if I send payment for the other game I was interested in (Star Ocean 3) before someone else does, I can have it. It sort of reminded me of a used car salesman: we've got someone else who's ready to buy the car if you don't! So I told him to forget it, and that I was more interested in Xenosaga than Star Ocean anyway. I also pointed out that I'd posted a few days ago, and he said in reply to that, that his E-mail account was always full.

Not only did the person who supposedly bought Xenosaga not pay for it at the time the seller posted his comments to me (the potential buyer, I discovered, mentioned that they were waiting for a payment from someone else for something before they could pay for the game), but if I was offered a race to buy Star Ocean 3, why wasn't I offered a race to buy Xenosaga? He certainly didn't inform the other potential buyer that there were other people interested in Xenosaga. Also, if he knew that his E-mail account was always full, and he was trying to sell stuff through LJ (the post with his rules in it was dated very early this year, so it's unlikely to me that he's just starting it up now), why didn't he make the effort to get an e-mail account that's more reliable? Gmail invites are being given away like candy these days (if anyone wants any from me, I have fifty I'm not using). It's a known issue that he's ignoring, and it's frustrating to those who're trying to buy from him. Ugh. Do you run into these kinds of problems acquiring games, Matt? I would like to think this is an isolated incident, but then I would hate to think that I'm the only one who runs into these kinds of frustrations.

Matt

In all honesty, I resort to the internet for video gaming purchases only as a very last resort. If I were looking for older games like Xenosaga: Episode I, I'd rather buy it from the used section of an EB Games (stinky) or some other store before I'd ever hunt around online. There's some "old" in me, and so I'm still the slightest bit suspicious of this newfangled Paypal business; besides, I would be paranoid that the package wouldn't end up getting sent or that it would get somehow lost in the mail due to my bad "Luck" stat. Sorry this has turned into such an unfortunate experience for you.

In the end, I figure he can forget about doing business with me. If he's going to ignore that I was first in line, so be it. And if I really want to play Xenosaga, I can always borrow it from my girlfriend the next time I visit her.

Matt

Oh, your girlfriend has it? Well, then. You're all set!

To change the subject, wow. I've noticed on my LJ friend's page, not counting communities, two of my friends have already posted that they have a Wii. Zero friends posted that they have a PS3. Counting communities, the number of Wii first impression posts vastly outnumber any sort of post (positive or negative) about the PS3. It may be that no one wants to admit that they bought a PS3 for thousands of dollars on eBay. But when all is said and done, I think I know who won their release date this past week, and it ain't Sony.

-CW
Sony: All 400000 PS3s, sold. I see you still have lots of Wiis left. Take that, Nintendo.
Nintendo: Sorry, can't hear you. Just sold Wii # 400001.

Matt

It's very clear to me, too, and all you have to do is take a quick look at the "most popular" lists on sites like 1up.com or Gamespot to figure that one out. They are dominated by Wii titles, which is a testament to the number of big PS3 games that were released on opening day (hint: That number begins with a "z" and it isn't "a zillion"). I've got a few friends that have picked up Wiis, and every one of those friends is buzzing excitedly about how fun some of the games are. In contrast, I don't know anyone who has a PS3, and I haven't really heard any impressions at all. If word-of-mouth really catches on, Nintendo could do really big things with this generation. Only time will tell!

And by the way, I do think that the first shipment of Wiis completely sold out. They're completely gone from this city, anyway. I really, really hope my mom was in the line on opening day... I want one for Christmas!!

Thanks, CW! 'Tis good to hear from you.



Look into the future...


Hey Matt,

Haven't written to QA in a very long time. I was reading it and noticed some of the negative press being given to the PS3. I am working as a Game Programmer and people at work debate it all the time. There are many people who seem to feel that this is the end for Sony. Like the letter I read the other day they cite price, lack of systems, lack of games, and broken promises.


Draconn

Hold on! Stop the presses! You're a Game Programmer? Can you get me a job? I'm reliable, I swear. Pay no attention to my earlier comment about having lost a lot of jobs. Matt made me say that. ... No! I tell you it's not true! ... *Sobs*

But you know, I wouldn't count them out at all. A lack of systems could benefit them more than hinder them. The reason is that a lack of systems increases the price on E-bay etc. There were E-bay auctions as high as $10,000 or more. It creates massive line ups at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Future Shop etc. Even in smaller centers like where I live, there were people camped out. All of this creates news and publicity. News and publicity makes people think this must be a big deal, and this further drives the demand.

Draconn

Mm-Hmm. Mm-Hmm. You make a good point. Of course, Sony will never see that $10,000. I can't argue that there are plenty of fools out there that will pay what it takes, though. *Hides from the angry questioners with PS3s*

As for the lack of good games at launch, look at the PS2. I personally can't think of a single launch title for the PS2 that was particularly interesting. Yet the PS2 was extremely successful.

Draconn

Oh, yeah!? I think you'll find that ... Oh, who am I kidding? Like I had a PS2 at launch. Continue.

Broken promises are nothing new to Sony, and they are not unique to Sony either. Microsoft said that when they released their next system, it would come out sooner and be more powerful than the PS3. It definitely came out sooner, but only time will tell if it is more powerful. By the numbers it is not. They also said it would be backwards compatible. Well it is...sort of...
Draconn

So, what do we learn from this? Trust No one!! Everyone is out to get me! I mean, you! Run and hide from all of the lying filthy dogs!

Priced too high? Depends how you look at it. Sony loses money every time they sell a PS3, so by that standard, they are too cheap. You get a lot of machine for your money when you buy the PS3. Is it more than the average consumer can afford? For the moment yes, but probably less that 10% of the people who buy one will be buying it around launch anyway. The majority will wait for at least the first price drop. Besides, the Gamecube was always cheaper than the PS2, but that didn't matter.

Draconn

I actually just got a Gamecube not that far back. It finally had enough games that I wanted to make it worthwhile. Yeah, while I am one of those disgusted by the price of the PS3, I agree that it is too soon to say that the high price will hurt Sony.

As a developer I can say that if there is a reason for the PS3 to fail, it is because Sony systems are freaking annoying to develop for. I would much rather work on Xbox than PS2. They are much easier to work with.

Draconn

As a game programmer wannabe (Please?), I would really love it if you could elaborate on this point. Any chance of you writing in again and explaining this point in a little more detail?

So, there it is. Personally, I want a Wii because it is fresh and original. But I will wait to see what happens with the games.

But remember, there are the hardcore gamers like myself, and there are the casual gamers. Who drives the market? The casual gamers because there are a whole lot more of them. Whoever captures that market will win this round of the battle. The casual gamers don't look at hardware specs, they are not interested in all genres of games. And they will likely just buy whatever is popular. If a media frenzy makes them think that the PS3 is the thing to buy, then guess what they will buy.

Eggman

Draconn

Well, I already said that I want the Wii more than the PS3, but for me, it's about the games. The Wii has more games that I want than the PS3. I doubt that that will last forever, but who knows? My personal bottom line? The systems have been out for less than a week. I think it is way too early to say anything about the relative success of the consoles. Anyone who says differently is a fanboy, hoping that they're favorite will win out and that they will influence people. I intend to ignore all of the discussion and wait and see what games are released in the months ahead.



One down, three hundred bajillion to go!


I'm feeling a little jubilant tonight, so I thought I'd share the news! I finished KHII! Finally!!! And with the extra movie at the end in the intermediate play mode! Yeay! Yeay! Yeay! Yeay! Yeay! ^_^

Off my rocker a bit, sorry bout that! Now to figure out what PS2 RPG to play now that that one is finished. XenoSaga II perhaps... or Shadowhearts? Or even a Final Fantasy title? Mayhaps not a FF title since I am 10 hours into FF4:A.

Okay, I'm done sharing! Have a good evening!
MagRowan

Matt

Whoo-hoo! Congratulations! Way to go! You rock! There's nothing wrong with being a little excited. I'm glad you found KHII to be a fun experience!

Any of those sound like good options, to be honest. I JUST finished Xenosaga's third episode, so I'm still quite excited about it; you might want to give Episode II a try! Of course, there are all sorts of other new games out if you feel like something different: Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria and Tales of the Abyss might be two different things for you to check out, too. Whiche'er you choose, I wish you much in the way of gaming fun!



Resistance is NOT futile! We still have stuff to do!


Hey Matt!

Wow, you get the column up a lot faster now. It's almost like you don't have to do tons of calculations for it or something...

Matt

I have to admit, not having to update SOCK everyday takes a huge load off my shoulders, especially at this time of dreadful and deadly-difficult homework. O, the final stretch of a graduate degree awaits...

Several years ago, when I got my new computer, I transferred all of my files from my old computer to the new one. Included with those were a ton of save files from my DexDrive (one of the few useful InterAct items). However, somehow, the program itself didn't make it over. All of my lovely save files, and I couldn't access them anymore. I had moved on to my PS2 at that time, but it was kind of frustrating.

Draconn

O_o DexDrive? Analyzing context... Decoding... Is this some sort of device that allows you to back up PSX save game files to a computer? That would be really cool! Are they still around?

Well, this Saturday, I was cleaning out my desk, and I found the old floppies with the program. I had never gotten rid of the DexDrive itself, so I am suddenly able to go back to all of the fun stuff I had accomplished in dozens of games. I realized that I literally had dozens of files (each one representing a complete game card). I was a very happy man.

In honor of this, I'm going to go back and play through several of my old PSX games to mark time until I can finally get my hands on Final Fantasy XII. I've actually cleared out my backlog (holy moly!), so I've got a month until Christmas. Thanks to an unwanted schedule adjustment at work, I will have lots of free time (it sounds nice, except that it ruins my availability at the tutoring center I help out at). I should be able to barrel my way through a couple old school RPGs (original Playstation now being two generations ago).

First on my list: Final Fantasy IX. I remember being vaguely unimpressed by the game when I played it (ok, but not groundbreaking), but I really don't remember any of the specifics. It has started out with a lighter attitude than I remembered. A couple jokes and some silliness, it's pretty fun. It actually holds up decently graphically, too, although considering how cutting edge they usually are, I guess that should make sense. The load times may drive me insane, though, even on the fast speed on my PS2. It doesn't seem to make that much of a difference.

Draconn

I say again. FFIX was one of my favorites. I must be one of the few that thinks that customization can be a bad thing.

So, I call on everyone: Forget Final Fantasy XII! Play your old games! Enjoy them, and write in about them!

Draconn

Hear! Hear! Viva la revolucion! Down with current games that I canít afford! I really need to come up with a way to retire at 30. Thatís the only way Iíd ever get to play all of the games that I want to. Maybe I could sell MattÖ How much do you reckon he is worth? And would he go willingly to support a good cause, or would I have to knock him out? THEY will probably blame it on the violence from videogames. Ah, well.

Matt

Ack! I am definitely not for sale! Get away from me with that pricetag! Get! Shoo!

At least until Christmas, when I can play it too. I'm so scared of spoilers, I skipped almost all of Friday's column...

Thanks!

BigWook

Matt

Thanks for writing in, BigWook! Sorry about the minor spoilers lately; there hasn't been anything major, I promise, but I understand your reasons for being careful. We'll get out of this awkward time soon, I hope...



QUICKIES

FFVI Advance news may be sparse, but two new Espers have recently been announced. Guess who? Here's a hint: they're both blue.
Need another? One has 8 arms, and the other has none.

The link is here!

Alexander M. DeMichiei

Matt
AHHHHHH!!!! I knew it! Hahahaha, I knew it! Oooh, I'm so excited to see if they're going to introduce any new spells! Isn't it awesome that we can still be super-excited for GBA games, even after our journey into the next generation??


MOGNET MAIL

Yay Slimey!

Carlisle

Matt
Yay, me! Isn't Mognet fun on Wi-Fi? Get in on the action and submit any ol' question to Q&A by means of the moogle system if you have the fantastic Final Fantasy III DS! My Friend Code is 515 480 192 117. E-mail me to exchange numbers if you want to help make this a fun little section of Q&A!



IN CLOSING

Yikes. It sounds like there are actually a whole gamut of games that are at least affected in some way by the compatibility issues. I found this official looking link here and tried the PS1 Final Fantasy games, just for fun. Each one of them has some sort of irritating graphical problem, albeit minor. Are any of your favourite games affected? And how do you feel about it?

Anyway, the big "Super Weekend" of video game has come and gone, and the world is still standing. Though it might appear that Nintendo has had the stronger start, is it doomed to lose in the race? Or does it have enough in it to land back on top this generation? The heat is on. Hopefully, the side effect of all of this is that we'll see bigger, better, and more fun games than ever before. We'll chat more about this tomorrow, at any rate; write me, and we'll continue this discussion soon!



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slimey@rpgamer.com
Matt is about to fight the endboss of this semester!


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