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ASK SEAN
Column 1: Introductions!
August 20th, 2007

Sean - 5:00pm EDT

Hey everybody! I'm Sean, the new weekend Q&A host! You may remember me from the horribly formatted columns from the competition. Why am I here? I don't know why either - but I am enjoying it anyways! I'm on top of the world! What happened to the contest? I don't know either - they won't tell me, but I think it had something to do with a nice set of strategically placed bribes and free suppers. Or it could just be because I am the best. Anything works!

I have a feeling we will get to know each other quite well over the next few weeks. Feel free to ask me anything and everything about me! No holds... errr questions barred! I promise to only evade the most personal questions!

I don't know, if I will be doing anything SOCK'ish yet, but I do like to give away stuff, so I will think of something. If you had seen my third round contest column, you would see what I mean! But since it is no longer necessary my blatant bribes will need to remain a secret!

Anyways, on to the letters!




LETTERS
Man, I love this guy - my first personal Q&A letter!


Dear Team Psynergy (aka Sean),

First off, kudos, Sean, on holding down the fort all on your lonesome thus far, I'm rooting for you! You're a one man team and while we all know there's no 'I' in 'team' it is an anagram of 'meat' as in 'meatpie' and while you can't have your cake and eat it too there's no such rule about pie! So go to town on that pie, you deserved it!

Sean

This was my first personal letter I received during the contest. It really needed to be posted, and I included the original answer I gave!

Actually, I had some help later in the evening as my new friend MagRowan showed up to help lengthen the column. She's great! I just wonder why she is not on our roster, as Cast clearly added her to our team in the first place. And she is great. We love her!

In other news, after reading your bio I have to say you're a breath of fresh air simply because you play computer games! I don't entirely understand why but there's always been a huge lack of computer rpg information on rpgamer. Sure there's crpgs listed under the game section but they don't seem to receive the mass amount of updates the console rpgs do and even Matt admits he just doesn't play them and thus can't comment on 'em. So you're already bringing a nice balance to the force (I'll let you and Matt fight over who's the darkside)

Sean

I won't argue with him - I'll let him pick whichever role he wants.

But! For all I know you could be spending all your time playing 'Hello Kitty' or something so I figured I'd write in this letter and test you out, see what you play and what you don't. So here come the questions.

Sean

I saw this one webcomic for Hello Kitty online adventures that made me crack up... Click here!

We'll start out with the MMORPG since I know you play those. Which ones do you play though? I know FFXI from your bio but any others? The only one I'm currently playing is EQ2 because my brother and his wife coerced me into playing (okay and it's a fairly enjoyable game too) but I've been looking into the new one Sword of the New World. It has some pretty interesting concepts in my mind, being able to control three characters simultaneously seems pretty awesome and the fact that the 'healer' is actually the scout class is just funky enough that I have to give it a try. The only problem is that I rather hate starting MMORPGs on my own and I'm not sure my brother is ready to give EQ2 up. What's your stand on playing these massive multiplayer games without friends you already know?

Sean

I have played a few MMORPGs over the years (in no particular order):
1) Dark Age of Camelot (played for many years)
2) World of Warcraft (3 weeks, didn't like)
3) Star Wars Galaxies (fun game for a while, got boring)
4) Guild Wars (played until midway chapter 3, then started FFXI again)
5) Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (played a few months until the bugs kept me out of the game - couldn't log in)
6) Final Fantasy XI (played off and on for years, and may still go back)
7) Lord of the Rings Online (currently playing - trying to get the Undying title for all the members of my guild)

I haven't looked into Sword of the New World too much yet, as I am happy with LOTRO at the moment. Guild Wars Nightfall (Chapter 3) gave you henchmen to play with. You could actually play yourself with three others at the same time. I think I had a 20 monk in Factions who I copied over onto a henchman in Nightfall. It was a *very* good skill build, but then I ended up playing the guy too often and I missed the actual monk.

I have a decent gaming group that tends to follow each other around. I used to play mainly solo or with my younger brother, as the two of us would share a character, but as soon as he got a nice PC, we started playing COOP. Of course, right now he doesn't play as much (he has no time), but I did find a few friends at work. We've changed games a few times in the last few months to find the right one. Right now we are split: 1 on Vanguard, 3 on Lord of the Rings Online and we are all enjoying ourselves.

As for playing them solo (ie without real life friends), it really depends. Playing with friends is nice and all, but sometimes you just can't schedule playtime for when everyone is available and then the characters tend to stagnate. That is one reason why I disliked Vanguard - with 4 of us it was impossible to keep everyone at the same point. Playing solo lets you go at your own pace, but can get lonely (even if you play with others). Of course, nothing is better than being able to chat about the games at will!

I prefer playing with friends than solo, but also like it when we aren't necessarily stuck playing with only each other.

Okay, on to non-online computer rpgs. I'll begin with what I think of as the classics: the Baldur Gate series. Ever played them? If so what'd you think of them? If not, why the hell not? As a computer science person could you tell me how to make Windows Vista stop let my computer run the games? I want to play them again (you don't have to answer that, but you'll get bonus points if you do). What about Planescape: Torment? As an aside, that's arguably the most epic game I've ever played and you don't really change the course of the world at all, but you have a great deal of control of the final fate of the protagonist.

Sean

Baldur's Gate? I might have played them... ^_^
Click here
And then here

Anyways, I really enjoyed those games, but had a little problem with the high level wizard fights. You know those fights where the enemies have every single protection spell in existance cast upon them at the start of every battle? And you would need to Pierce and Breach (I think that was what they called them) every last layer of them and hope your party was still alive by then? Other than that and a little gripe of Demiliches not being able to be killed via regular D&D methods (casting Power Word Kill when ethereal), I really enjoyed the games. Look at the above pair of documents for proof.

As for Vista... how about I give that OS a try first. I tend to not replay many older games, so I haven't seen a need to try some of my PC games on XP, let alone Vista. When I do get a chance to try them out, I will let you know how they turn out. If it is anything like Windows XP, there would be a tab for compatibility in the executable/shortcut's properties where you can toggle some options. Let me know how it all works out!

I have Planescape: Torment. I ordered it from EbGames.com, and it took like three months to arrive (I lived in a small town at the time with zero computer game stores!). When it arrived I was in the middle of exams, and by the time I was ready to play it... it was gone. Needless to say I got it back a few years later when a friend found it in his apartment while moving out after graduating. I also got back three other games. And... I haven't played it since. It is officially the oldest game in my backlog. Maybe I should give this one a spin soon...

What about the newer crpgs out there? Are you looking forward to this Two Worlds game that's coming out? From the sound of it, it will be exactly what you're looking for in terms of epic, seems that your every action has the potential to wildly change the course of the world. When I first looked at the game it was yet another reason why I wanted an Xbox 360 (Mass Effect is the other major one right now) but when I saw it was for the PC too I was deliriously happy since I don't have the cash flow for the 360 atm.

Sean

Two Worlds... isn't that like a hack and slash game? The videos I have seen of it remind me of one. I think there was a demo of it on the overhead tvs in EB Games the last time I was there and it looked like the guy was just flailing his swords about in the hopes of just hitting something... I did consider preordering it, but then decided against it - this is a game I can wait to hear the reviews on, and possibly pick it up used or discounted later. Of course, this is not a new game (it was released in Europe a while back) and reviews (from what I saw) were rather negative. But, that doesn't mean that the game is still in the same state as some repairs might have been done in the meantime.

I also want Mass Effect. Desperately, and I don't know why. I guess that BioWare is that strong of a competitor for my love... Now just release it for the PC and I will be a happy gamer.

I want to give you a chance to answer a bit before I continue my onslaught so I'll leave you with just one more question: what do you think is the defining difference between computer roleplaying games and console rpgs?

Didn't say it wouldn't be a toughie.

Koala Bob out!

Sean

Defining difference? Well other than the typical western/eastern split, I would say the overall style of the game. Typical console RPGs have you using pre-defined characters as you unravel a predinfined story, most often told in a linear fashion. Comnputer RPGs tend to leave the characters up to you (which in most cases can leave them flat), and let you explore the game at your own pace and in whichever order you want to (for the most part story elements are still done in a relative order, but usually there isn't really a predefined sequence of events to follow). I really like this customization and it leads to games that can be replayed quite a bit. I know I have replayed Might and Magic VII at least four times, which for a game of its length is a first for me.

Right now I find myself devoid of quality computer RPGs that aren't MMOs. I'm an avid player of the Heroes of Might and Magic series, as well as anything Might and Magic, so I got those last year. I know there are new Heroes and Neverwinter Nights expansion packs coming out this fall (well scheduled at this point), but other than possibly Two Worlds, do you know of anything that will be out soon or just recently released that would be worth taking a look into? I was looking at Spellforce and possible Silverfall - are they any good? Have you played them? Has anyone? If so, let me know what you think!

Thanks for writing in Koala Bob - I hope to hear from you again! And don't worry about an onslaught of questions - I'll answer them anyways!



And now for a rare treat... a letter from our weekday host!


Hey Sean,

Do you feel the stress like I do? Do you let your hobbies get under your skin? Sometimes, I feel like some inner-traditional-adult in me is screaming at me to just forget playing the games that I love and concentrate on the "important" stuff... that is, the work, the friendships, the relationships, and everything else. Sometimes, I feel like with gaming ALSO on the plate, the plate just ends up a little bit too full.

Sean

Hi Matt! It is really nice to hear from you!

Stress? I do feel it alot most of the time. Not so much this summer, as I am not currently taking any classes, but I will be come September. I have two courses left. Sometimes I see the "important" stuff creep in, and I feel guilty for not paying more attention to them. Things like... cooking, handyman stuff, etc. But, it is not because of my gaming, but rather rather the size of my backlog - I feel the need to finish it all, and it is adding pressure to my already dwindled free time. Add to that the crazy hours at work, and I have even less to spend on gaming...

Why can't they comfortably co-exist? What is my problem? I've talked to you for months (actually, years now, amazingly), but ever since the day you met me, I've been a basketcase about life and you know it, too.

Sean

I think we have both been in that state of mind. Working + school = little time for gaming. In my case I have recently added a relationship to the mix, and I have a real need for them to coexist. I just wish I could play games at work and have that problem solved. Or get my girlfriend into games - that would help too.

I would think our problems would be the amount of games we purchase. The more we have on our shelves, the bigger the pressure to play them. I keep saying I will move to a single-game backlog (per system type!), but I can't seem to break my purchasing cycle. Do you ever have similar thoughts?

I frame it like this in my mind- without my #1 hobby, I'm missing something to keep me sane in all of the other hustly-bustly parts of life. When I know that a little bit of time off means that I get to spend some quality RPG time, it gives me something to latch on and look forward to.

Thanks, Sean. :)

Matt

Sean

I know for a fact that my gaming time is what keeps me sane - even when it ends up costing me some major sleep. I just wish it didn't have to come with that terrible price. Work goes by so much quicker when not clouded by fatigue...

Does anyone else make this sacifice willingly? What is the most it ever cost you? If I recall, I had a quiz in a morning class that I failed once because I pulled an all-nighter (and forgot to study!). I think I was playing FFIX, but I could be wrong.

Thanks for writing in Matt, it was really appreciated! And FYI we should be thanking you, not the other way around.



A blast from the past


I may be betraying my horrendously low knowledge of electronics in general, but I have a question concerning a (hypothetical) MMORPG. By far my favorite game systems are my Nintendo DS (first in my heart) and my PSP (a distant second). Is there any reason why, with a fast enough internet connection and a dedicated server and so forth, a developer could not release an MMORPG for one of these systems? I feel that the DS is particularly suited to this, since it offers multiple convenient ways of communication: via microphone or touchscreen. Plus, since MMORPGs tend to be incredibly absorbing, the portability factor is a big plus; you can level up or find rare items for a bit while waiting in line at Starbucks. But are there any practical reasons why such a game could not exist?

Sean

This is an unanswered letter from January 6th - I think! If it was missed, I'm sorry... but at least it has finally seen the light of day!

There actually was such a game for the NGage. It used the regular cell phone connection and was supposedly pretty decent. But, I like most other gamers, never bothered to try the evil little system, so I don't have a personal opinion on it. And I prefer my PSP at the moment.

I agree with the absorbing factor, but making it portable will cause more problems that solving. Imagine being able to play WoW in the middle of class... it would just be horrible for your education. As good as it sounds... lets keep the portable games less addictive! Of course... laptops make WoW portable anyways, and has destroyed many educations already. But at least they are harder to hide under desks... Anyways, we have enough games to play while waiting in line at Starbucks.

Love Q&A; I always look forward to the next one.

Jeffrey

Sean

There will be many, many more, I hope. Thanks for writing in! It only took 7 months to post, so I will promise to answer your letters a bit quicker next time!



Is Rude the bald Turk? I keep forgetting... ^_^


It has probably been said in a couple of columns in the distant past (heck, I managed to work it into a title bar when I was doing my stint on RPGamer Idol) but it bears repeating: I have the hots for Rude. He is drop dead handsome, an impeccable dresser, and doesn't need Technicolor hair, huge flashy weapons, or gaudy accessories; he just walks into the room and lets his fists do the talking. To use the old anime cliché, the moment he took off his sunglasses in FF7: AC legions of fangirls probably fell madly in love with him right there.

Sean

Sorry, I'm not into the dudes like Matt is. Maybe I should have left this letter for him? It might have been nice. Sorry Bucket!

BUT - that doesn't mean I can't find him bad ass! He is totally awesome and yes... his fists can hold up a pretty good conversation! too bad he is such a pushover in the actual game. Wouldn't it be cool if he were in Dissidia?

For the female side of things, I have to agree that Marle from Chrono Trigger is not that bad looking. I'm a huge fan of Akira Toriyama and she is one of his best designs. I like female RPG characters with a rebellious attitude in general and it really helps when their rebellious side is worked into their character designs and animations.

If I can expand on the question: Who are the cutest and most adorable RPG characters? My answers are Arc from FFIII for the males (Freckles FTW) and Ann from Harvest Moon's various incarnations for the females.

- Bucket

Sean

I don't have any really fond memories of Marle. Ayla yes, Marle no. She was such a fun person to have around!

I don't really think about the cuteness factor of characters a whole lot. I would have to say Lion from FFXI for the females and Vivi for the males. Of course, I think Vivi would win it most often.

Thanks for writing in Bucket!



Man... he reminds me of me!


Hey Matt,

I haven't wanted to be a video game developer since I gave up the dream in 12th grade. Developing video games isn't remotely as fun as it seems like it would be, and professionally it is one of the worst programming jobs that exist. Everything is tied to the unrealistic deadlines of Game Show Conventions and holiday releases, 80 hours weeks (while being paid for 40) are the norm, and the bosses generally know nothing about what you do.

Nightwolf

Sean

Actually, NW, that sounds like a job. Mine is like that too...

My dream was to be a game programmer. An awful experience with a graphics class killed that hope. Anyways, I am a happy IT-type now, so it is all good. I always figured that making games (especially the ones I would want to play) would lead to general disinterest in playing them. I don't want that! So.. no game programming for me!



QUICKIES

Hey Matt,
Since you've already spread the gaming topic to first person shooters, let's expand it a bit more to the sports games. EA releases the new Madden (or whatever) every year, with minimal changes and they're like some of the best selling games in America. Does that make any sense to you? Why do people buy those games instead of just going outside and throwing a real football around? That's what I do anyway.
Nightwolf

Sean
It both makes sense and doesn't at the same time. A fan will want the roster updates, but I know a few that hate shelling out cash for the same game every year. Why don't they go outside? Because then they would need to move! I guess that would be like telling an RPGamer to go read a book instead of playing the newest RPG out there...

Story here! The bottom of this page talks about the Franklin Badge in SSBB, and some insight on what it could mean for Earthbound's presence in the game.

Sean
I am not too excited about that game at all. I think I am the only Nintendo fan that doesn't like the Smash Brothers series at all. I am sure Matt will be thrilled though. Sorry for the lack of enthusiasm!

The third Golden Sun (or Golden Sun DS) was a fake, if you're referring to this: Story here!
Sorry to break your heart, my friend.
-Jeffrey

Sean
*commence crying*
I really, really wanted that game... Why, God... Why must you be so cruel?
*end crying*

Hey Matt, you talked how FFXII's "consistency of the language, even among the most random NPCs, was, as Gordon Ramsay would say, "just spot-on!" (HK, anyone?)" SO I have to ask...what TV show would you like made into a portable RPG? I'd go with either Hell's Kitchen or House MD...your response?
BLG

Sean
I would like to see... a Bleach RPG. Or maybe a Heroes RPG. An even toss up.



IN CLOSING

Ok well, I am done for today. I need to game. I think I have a marathon session of Lord of the Rings Online tonight to look forward to. This is great!

In other news, I finally finished Zelda: Twilight Princess. I don't know what to play next. Actually I do - Overlord. But what is after it? Any ideas? I'll put my current backlog (or a seventh of it) into the sidebar - let me know what I should play next! Make sure there are no spoilers, and we can argue about it for a while! Thanks!

As for hot topics, please look at the sidebar. I decided to carry on the tradition that Matt started (I think he did anyways). I put a few starter topics in there for you all to have a look at. Or you can make up your own!

Oh and Brave Story rocks! See you all tomorrow!



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: Just a few. 13 or so.



gorne@rpgamer.com
Sean currently awaiting the reviews in the Tuesday paper about his column performance!


Today's secret word is "squaaaaawk!".

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