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ASK SEAN
Column 5: Sunday Afternoon Solitude
August 26th, 2007

Sean - 10:56am EDT

Today looks to be a quiet day full of movie watching and game playing (or better yet, both at once!). I hope to get through some Overlord and some more Brave Story before I pass out tonight. It would be cool. Oh and my vacation ends today. I need to return to work tomorrow. *sigh*

Anyways, on to the letters!




LETTERS
A secondhand interview


Hello Sean,

Right off the bat, I have to say thank you for answering my last letter. I did not expect a response from anyone else but Matt, but you did offer some hope that anyone can fall in love or at least get a girlfriend. Again, thanks...

Sean

Cool. I'm sorry if the formatting is off, but all of my word processors showed a lot of unreadable characters, so I needed to guess what to replace them with.

Okay, so like everybody else here (hopefully), I get gaming magazines to catch up on the latest news and what-not. Looking through them, I see in one of them an interview with Hironabu Sakaguchi, the Final Fantasy father himself! Since your site started out as a shrine to all things Square, before they became the remake machine of the century, I got some quotes I wish to share with you.

Sean

I am not a big fan of print magazines. I just see them as too expensive. Why should I pay for stuff that I can get free (and legally!) off of the Internet?

First, when asked about what would be the next big RPG evolution, he said "direction technique is a huge factor and it can really change the way that role-playing games are played." For example, he enjoys playing Gears of War, especially the way the camera bounces when your character starts running. MY question to you is what do you believe to be the next evolution of RPGs, Matt?

Sean

Sorry,I hijacked this letter again. ^_^

I expect RPGs to adopt the more advanced style of graphics seen in FPS games. Wider worlds with more details, etc. Storytelling will be done more with spoken dialogue than written text.

Second, when asked about the Final Fantasy/Dragon Quest crutch, he said "Square Enix pays too much attention to these two franchises." Why aren they creating new ones instead of just focusing on Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest? Now, this interview took place in Japan, so obviously DQ has not gotten enough love here in the US enough to warrant a million remakes on every platform possible other there in Japan. We might be getting there with the latest remakes with the DS, but we still have a way to go. Anyway, MY question here is what older RPG franchises would you like renewed interest in?

Sean

I would like to see compilations of older series. I dislike repaying to replay new mixes of old games. Now, if they get redone like FFIII, I don't feel as bad. But FF and FFII separated is a crime. A Soul Blazer/Terranigma/Illusion of Gaia compilation would rock. Also, a WiFi version of Secret of Mana would too. But... why can't we just get some new games for a change and leave these to the VC?

Third, when asked about his dream project, he said that he wants to "make a surfing game that's truly a simulation, a game that actually calculates the swell and the waves." He also wants the gamer to feel the threat of global warming. These days, he lives in Hawaii and there are a lot of weird climate changes happening, and he want the gaming community to feel that. MY question to you here is what dream RPG concept would you like made into an RPG one day, or is it just SOCK2 made into a game one day?

That's all from me, and pray I never write a noveletter again,

BLG

Sean

You mean letters with substance, right BLG? Thanks for writing in!

What dream RPG? I would like to see a dynamic MMORPG that is not split into servers. A shared world, not instanced. Planned events and random things that DMs can throw into the world. Just imagine playing as normal and then seeing an army on the march through the valley below. Needing to run to town to raise the alarm to stop the invading army from who knows where and then having a server wide event to find out what the hell is going on. In other words, make an evolving game that changes with every day and cannot be played the same way twice.



Why can't I remember the endings to almost all the games I have played?


Hey Sean,

How goes it? I saw you complaining about the lack of letters so I abducted Mattís last topic - that of RPG endings - and have hence written this letter.

Most of the endings that have left me a long lasting impression, RPG-wise, belong to the latter day 16-bit and the 32/64 bit eras. Perhaps the older RPG's from the 8-bit days didn't really do much for me as they were rudimentary at best. I didn't play much computer RPG's when I was a child so I never did finish any Ultima's until later in life; maybe they would have make a bigger impression on me back when they were originally released.

Sean

The 8-bit endings were usually not so good. I remember Castlevania's still. All he did was look as the castle collapsed. Yay.

Here are my absolute favorites off the top of my head (SPOILER WARNING):

FFVIIís, though highly criticized in the way that it leaves things open to interpretation - or rather did until the coming of FFVII Compilation - is easily one of the most interesting endings this side of polygonal graphics. Cloud overcomes Sephiroth, the team manages to escape from the crater and the player is treated to what were, at the time, the best CG sequences that had ever graced a videogame. Rampant destruction the world over and then you see the life-stream and holy coming up to prevent Armageddon. Then everything goes black. Then we see 500 years into the future, with Nanaki (Red XIII) leading a litter of cubs up a cliff, from which they peer at a Midgar that has been reclaimed by nature. A flock of birds flies by and once again the screen goes dark and if you listen carefully, youíll hear childrenís laughter.

This last bit of audio made it quite evident that humanity survived. Itís funny how so many people seemed to have missed it. I guess most RPGamers want everything clearly stated, but I found it to be very well done; itís there for those who pay close attention.

Sean

I vaguely remember those bits. Once again, the journey to end is more important that the end in these games. The ending was cool the first time I saw it, but I wasn't pushed to see it more often. Of course, I had no clue that old Red could live that long.

Another great ending, though technically not an RPG, is Zelda: A link to the Pastís. You get every single issue in the game resolved and everybody you met along the way gets a bit dedicated to them in the ending. The player is basically treated to an update of every NPCís situation, leaving no loose ends whatsoever. This may very well be my favorite ending of all time.

Sean

I like ending like this. I just finished up the Time Spiral series. It takes place in the Magic: The Gathering universe, and it ended in this way. All the surviving characters had a bit dedicated to them. I need to read all of its prequels now.

FFVIís is much like AlttP; the player is treated to a nice bit for every character recruited in the latter half of the game.

Wild Arms had an amazing ending. It almost brought me to tears. It has this bittersweet quality to it, that coupled with how endeared I became with the characters and youíve got a recipe for long-lasting nostalgia.

Sean

FFVI was nice of course, but I would have liked to have seen something past the escape, but that is just me. I want FFVI-2, damnit! I don't have any long-lasting memories of Wild Arms or its endings. I just remember the overly powered ARMs. *smiles sheepishly*

I did see Alter Code F in Game Stop yesterday. It was like $6, but was disk only. My girlfriend wanted me to get it, but I just couldn't. The personal reviews I heard were just *that* bad.

Vandal Hearts had a nice ending, too, come to think of it!

Funny thing is, I keep trying to think of other meaningful endings to recent RPGís and I canít really come up with much. It would seem that, as of late, most RPG endings arenít quite that impressive or they just donít seem poignant enough to stick in my memory. This only reminds me of the dire need for better writing in light of the myriad improvements in presentation and overall production, technologically speaking. Storytelling needs to be on par with visual and aural presentation and that is something that is still not being achieved in general. Do you see writing for videogames improving substantially in the near future?

I guess thatís all I have to say!

- brokenclavicle

Sean

I will never touch another Vandal Hearts game. The second one pissed me off just way too much.

The endings don't stick with me as much as they should. I have very little memory of past games unless I play them multiple times. I can remember everything about the games of my early childhood, but if I were to replay Twilight Princess now, I would be lost trying to find my way around again. I guess that is what happens when you cram so much "useless" knowledge into your head.

I do see writing improving in some cases. Look at FFXII. It was pretty good. The head writer for the Guild Wars games, as well as for BioWare are both accomplished authors. R.A. Salvatore (my favorite author!) is working on a game with Curt Schilling and McFarlaine. We'll see some good writing come out of that particular camp, I promise!

Thanks for writing in BC!



I feel old now too... Thanks.


So, you got the job, eh? Sweet! Congrats, dude.

Sean

Thank you!

I love the Final Fantasy retrospective that Singh pointed out yesterday. Did I hear right when they said theyíd have 13 episodes? Wow! I watched the Zelda retrospectives last fall before the TP release and loved them; I had no idea they had were giving the same treatment to Final Fantasy and Metroid. Since the original versions of Zelda, FF and Metroid came out when I was a mere lad of 11 - 12, I feel a certain mix of nostalgia and horror when I realize how old I really am. Sigh.

Sean

Join the club. Yes, I think there will be 12 or 13 parts. Maybe less since they put two games into some of the parts. Of course, if they hit the spin offs... I only saw up to FFV.

DS or PSP? In short, if I had the money, Iíd get both. Since my wife would kill me if I did get both, I stuck with the system where there were more games that we both were interested in playing. Besides, between the DS and the PSP right now, Iím more impressed with the DSí projected library of RPG games (and other games). DQ IX alone would have been enough for me to spring for the system, and I was also overjoyed to hear about the DQ remakes coming to the system. Plus I get the added bonus of playing Phantom Hourglass, Mario games, FFA2, FFXII Revenant Wings, the DQ Remakes, the FF remakes, and on, and on, and on.

Sean

But you miss Brave Story. That is too big of a loss right there.

I would like to get my hands on the PSP to play several games, mainly the updated FF Tactics. I love the cel-shaded cut scenes and the atmosphere of that game.

Congrats on the pending uncle-hood. I can say that itís a lot of fun watching the new kidletís personalities start to emerge even after a couple of months. I have one niece myself, and I can tell you that itís fun. You can have all the fun of a parent without most of the personal responsibility. Iím looking forward to being a new dad myself in about six weeks or less. I look forward to the infant stage, but from what Iíve seen, I dread the part where the child becomes independently mobile. J

Sundoulos (aka Jeremy)

Sean

My new cousin is going to start the mobile stage soon. I am already training my older cousins (aged 3 and 6) to play games. I am such a bad influence. Since I think I will have a little niece, I will need to find some starter games to start the influencing.

Thanks for writing in Sundoulos. What does that nickname mean anyways?



I love Zoolander too, by the way.


Sean,

Zoolander is my favorite comedy. One of the best Will Ferrell lines in the movie is when he accuses Zoolander of only having one look, then screams "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" The Legend of Zelda is my "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" RPG topic. I recall being an impressionable, drool covered elementary school student forced to read Nintendo Power to get gaming tips and advice. My still developing mind soaked in all the "truths" Nintendo charged me to read. After my Nintendo Power influenced childhood, I never owned a single piece of Sega hardware. Now Sega is out of the hardware business. I felt responsible when the Dreamcast imploded, so I spent time thinking, dredging my brain for any other selfish lies Nintendo might have planted there. Then it hit me: Zelda is not an RPG! Am I the only person who realizes this? Are all RPG maniacs in the dark on this matter? Is there no way to help them? This filled me with sadness, but having just turned 21 I was able to drown my misery in alcohol. And now, years later, I read in your column this: What I would like to see is a Zelda RPG. Yes! Someone else gets it! I am not alone! Let us join hands and scream in unison that Zelda is not an RPG! The original Zelda games claimed to be RPGs because they were unusually nonlinear. Now that the series has moved away from non linearity (TP, while great, is completely linear), Nintendo claims that the Zelda games are RPGs because they have a plot. Huh? I agree that the Zelda games are masterpieces, however it irks me to see the series represented on "best of" lists for RPGs.

Sean

Zelda is an RPG because the big N says it is an RPG. For the same reason, Folklore is not an RPG. *sigh* But then again, maybe we are just being a little narrowminded here. The RPG genre has a large definition that lets many things sneak into its scope (read: Bioshock). But, yes, a "true" Zelda RPG would rock my world.

Back to your topic, I only want a Zelda RPG if it is not developed by Nintendo. Nintendo's definition of an RPG is a free roaming action game with fetch quests.

As for hotties in video games, I never had a crush on an RPG video game character. They tended to be too pixely and nondescript to be sexy. My preference in men is more toward the Western strong, badass protagonists then the annoyingly charismatic, leather clad boys in Eastern RPGs. Super Punch-Out is the one game I can remember playing and thinking that the guys were hot. The last two fights against the purple skinned, muscled up brothers... very sexy.

7thCircle

Sean

I would get Level 5 or their new Monolith Soft to make it. I am not wrong here, right? Nintendo owns the Xenosaga factory? I hate fetch quests. I revile Shadow Madness.

Heh. It is hard to be attracted to sprites, I agree. But with RPGs, there is not just the graphics, but the characters have personalities. With the new-fangles 3d graphics, it is harder to forget they aren't real (look at DOA's Kasumi) and get into them a little too much. Oh, muscle men (or women) are not my cup of tea. Give me a delicate flower any day!

Thanks for writing in 7thCircle! Since I am asking others today, where does your name come from? In my experience some of these stories can be rather humourous.



I always have such troubles with these titles. Nothing jumped out at me today...


Sean,

No, I'm not Matt Demers. Just Matt D #2 I suppose.

You mentioned FF VIII and having what sounds like a pretty powerful game going at the end. I wanted to do that game 100% in such a way last year, but got whisked away with some other RPG. Too bad. Maybe someday. I have a special liking for that game and I'm not sure why. Maybe because it proved to me that some games take a few chances and a few years to understand. I hated it the first two times i tried to play it, and then when i finally decided to beat it (cuz i have to beat all FF's), I loved it. It is misunderstood, which i feel is the case with many games that are different and get criticized too much from people who just don't truly give a game a chance on its own merits, and compare it too much to other games. Anyways, uhh, thanks for inspiring me to take another look at FFVIII. I may have to focus on that soon....as soon as im done with 100% Dragon Quest VIII. =D

Matt (D)

Sean

I didn't have a powerful game. I had a powerful Squall. The rest were infant-like in power. I missed one card in that game. Shiva--I am looking at you. Enjoy your replays of FFVIII. I have yet to get the urge to replay it.

I think I did the 100% thing in DQVIII, but not sure what exactly that entails. I don't remember the %-counter in that game? Was I blind? *confused*

Thanks for writing in Matt D. #2!



QUICKIES

Sean,
If you want more people to vote in your "Which Game is Next?" poll, you should make it an electronic poll, like the one on the RPGamer main page.
I've played 2 of the games on there, and I vote for Odin Sphere.
Flamethrower

Sean
I didn't really want it to be a poll, but rather a forum for you guys to make suggestions. It is not only for me, you know. I hope that some good reasons will come up to push some people to play some titles they didn't think they would ever want to play.



IN CLOSING

I am in a really irritible mood. I snapped at my dad for asking me stupid questions (but I think it was more for screaming at me to run upstairs to ask them). He deserved it anyways. I forgot to add titles for the letters. Be right back. Ok, back.

I am really mad at the HD format war. Blades of Glory and Heroes are both HD-DVD only. Why can't they just make them tri-format and let the formats speak for themselves? I might just start boycotting a lot of these things and obtaining them via alternate means. I refuse to buy a DVD now when I should be getting a BD instead. *sigh*

I have been asked by some people how I handle this column, so I decided to explain my process a little bit. I tend to like taking the oldest five letters in my mail box and answer them in that order. If I have more time, I take more. If I have multiple letters from the same person, I choose the older one. That's it. I hope this segment was informative!

Have a nice day! Oh and send me some letters. I can always use more!



Send a Letter!

Unanswered Letter Backlog: 5 letters. Letters seem to be needed.



gorne@rpgamer.com
Sean is tired and may nap for several hours.


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