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   AKA Stom  
Stom - March 30 '02- 6:40am Eastern Standard Time

It is entirely too early in the morning, but a meal over at a friend's house turned into many hours of Smash Brothers Melee and Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. Good games, good friends, and good times. Unfortunately, around 3:30am Central time, I remembered that I was doing Q&A, so I rushed home to work. Ok, so I played another hour. When I got home, I was dismayed to find very few letters. I had forgotten that this is a holiday weekend. Oh well, on with the show. By the way, I'm Doug "Stom" Hill, and I'll be your host for today.



Stom - March 30 '02- 1:10pm Eastern Standard Time

Well, I was hoping someone would fix this for me, since I didn't know who to forward tomorrow's mail to last night when I did the column, but when I got up, it still wasn't up. Now I have been informed that tomorrow's host was never actually decided, so I nominate myself as the new columnist! Constructions: Wait, the Constructicons form Devestator, the most powerful Q & A host. We should rule! Stom: Stom superior! Constructicons inferior! Ok, enough of that.

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Interesting Kickoff

Hey DOUG, welcome to Q&A! I have three things of moderate interest I'd like to discuss with DOUG. Does DOUG like that?

1. Not really a question, but I'm reading a book called "The Ultimate History of Video Games." It starts with pinball and goes all the way up to Playstation 2. Definitely a good, in depth book, not a piece of fluff and absolutely worth a look.

Stom:
I'll have to look it up sometime. I have an awesome book on game design, filled with tips and advice from the best in the industry, such as Miyamoto and Sid Meier and Peter Molyneux. Sadly, it is currently in a box somewhere, and I don't remember the exact name. I'll try to find out for later.

2. Have any of you people at RPGamer actually met each other in real life? I know you're spread out over the US and a few other countries, so I wasn't sure.

Stom:
I have had the privelege to be at the last two e3s, so I have met quite a few of the staff members. I have met the almighty boss Dragon, along with Aegis (twice), Merripen, Slimey, and many others. However, that is the only time I get to see them. Aegis and I have talked about doing stuff for awhile, since we live only a few hours away from each other, but it simply hasn't worked out yet. I'd say we'll do it this Summer, but.. well, I'll let him tell you on Monday.

3. I'm not sure how old you are, but do you remember old Nickelodeon? Shows like You Can't Do That On Television, the Mysterious Cities Of Gold, Pinwheel, Today's Special, Spartacus, Star Trek:The Animated Series, Dangermouse, Count Duckula, Inspector Gadget, and even later stuff like Hey Dude, Welcome Freshmen, Fifteen and stuff like that? Those were the days.

Stom:
I am 23, and hardcore old school. I remember when Nickelodeon first debuted. I was a bit old for shows like Pinwheel, but I used to watch most of those shows all the time. Also, they used to play episodes of the Monkees. That show ruled!

4. OK, this is kind of a cheap plea for help, but anybody who can help me find episodes of these old shows (ESPECIALLY Spartacus), whether it's on tape or avi/mpg/rm/whatever, PLEASE send me an email at whereitsat24@hotmail.com.

Stom:
I cannot help you except to pass this on. I hope you get some helpful responses.

Well, DOUG, I guess that's all for today. Have a very DOUG day.

Robust Stu

Stom:
First of all, the caps locked name is somewhat crappy. Second, I've done a few columns over the years, and no one that I cam remember has brought up Nickelodeon until now. I'm just rather glad he only hinted at that hideous show that should've gone away years ago.

 
Another Variety Pack

Dear Stom-type-person,

1) what do you actually do at this here? Journeyman? Dragoncatcher?

Stom:
My main job now is behind the scenes work. I help design many of the new features at RPGamer, such as the new sidebar on index, with the upcoming and recently released games. I also handle some PR, help out in sections that need it, and even handle a bit of RPGamer's business side.

2) Since you are a baby princess, should we know address you as your royal highness?

Stom:
This is one of those things that was taken out of context, of course. At the hotel room in e3, I was sitting on one of the beds playing either Mike or Aegis's imported Game Boy Advance, and was playing Super Mario Advance. It just so happened that as a bunch of staffers arrived for the first time, I got hit by something in the game, and yelled "I'm a baby princess!" Hence, the e3 quote list was born (but for staff only, sorry) and I have yet to hear the end of it, and we're about to have another e3.

3) DW or PS?

Stom:
This one is easy, sadly. I have heard many wonderful things about the Phantasy Star series, but the only time I have played it was PSO on Gamecube at e3 last year. I have not played any of the other incarnations, although I am looking forward to their release on Game Boy Advance in the future.

As for Dragon Warrior, my name is in the credits of DW7. Of COURSE I'm a fan.

4) What nonrpg Square game is your favorite? I'd go with The Bouncer, since that is what I amplaying right now.

Stom:
I have not played many non-RPGs from Square. Of the few I have played, I'm going to have to go with Tobal No. 1, strangely enough. It pales in comparison with some other RPGs, and I fully admit to buying it mainly for the FF7 demo, but I did get quite a bit of enjoyment out of it while I owned it.

5) umm... Is college worth the money?

TRC

Stom:
Yes. While it is true that you can get some jobs without degrees, those with degrees are more likely get to promotions, and it makes it much easier to get hired in the first place. I definitely think my first five years have been worth it, and when my sixth year is done and I finally have my bachelor's degree, I'll be SO happy. (Note: I am getting a double major.)

 
Avast, Ye Scallywags!

Sup,

So what do you think of the upcomming "3D RPG" Sea Dogs 2? I think it looks awesome. It is very reminicent of that old Commodore 64 game Pirates! Ever play that game? It was awesome. Anyway, do you even cover games like this on RPGamer.com?

~Tetsuhara

Stom:
I have to admit, when I got this e-mail, I said, "What in the blue hell is Sea Dogs 2?" Well, I looked it up, especially after the comment about Pirates!, and I immediately added it to RPGamer's list of games to add coverage for. This game looks AWESOME, especially if you know anything about the old Westwood game Pirates!. I never got to play the game on Commodore 64, but there was a very nice 8-bit Nintendo version that I used to play to death.

However, looking at the page also made me sad. You see, my computer doesn't even meet the required specs, much less the recommended specs. Five years of college has made me very poor, and while I used to keep my PC at top-of-the-line status, I've had to concentrate on other financial concerns lately, such as eating and paying rent. Being grown up sucks, guys. Soak up the free ride while you still have it, and SCHOLARSHIPS ARE YOUR FRIEND.

Oh, I would also kill to have Pirates! on Game Boy Advance. Nummy!

Addendum: We just added coverage. Yay! If there are any games you think RPGamer should add coverage for, I am one of the people you should e-mail. I also didn't realize the game was coming to Xbox. I will have one of these systems by the end of the year. It's true, it's true. Between this, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Project Ego, Microsoft's big black box of doom will soon dominate entirely too much of my shelf space. Granted, I already own the other two systems.

 
Nonexisting Paradox

is it true there will be another sequel in the chrono series called Chrono Break?

Stom:
Square owns the name. That's all we know. There is a decent chance that this could be a new Chrono game, but for all we know, this could be the name of an e-novel that Square plans on producing. Until we know for sure, we're not going to speculate. When you report on news, then have to retract it, things get confusing, since a lot of people will miss the retraction, and continue to believe that it is true, then three months later they will be asking why they haven't heard anything in the Q & A column, and Goog will come bug me, becase Goog tends to miss the retractions also.

How do you prove that you exist? Maybe we don't exist...

Stom:
You're talking to someone who took the red pill and the blue pill at the same time. I have friends that claim I don't exist, which is rather convenient for getting away with schenanigans. Overall, I'd say we do exist. This steak is too tasty not to exist. Hey, wait a second..

 
The Stuff that Flames are Made Of

Kamikaze made a snide comment about FFVIII yesterday that really pissed me off. FFVIII had a very complicated and well thought out battle system. In fact, it is one of my favorite systems in any RPG, and it's probably my favorite game ever. So, next time, I suggest to whoever is hosting the letters column, don't make such general statements about how a game was "botched" unless you can speak out of something other than your ass.

Thanks!
X-WEAPON

Stom:
I saved this e-mail for last for a reason. Yes, Kamikaze, our guest host, did make some general comments about Final Fantasy VIII and its battle system. He did say it was botched, and didn't really say anything else. Shame shame, Kamikaze. You really should defend what you say. Luckily, since I love sharing my opinions, I can spend pretty much the rest of the column blowing that POS battle system out of the water.

There is a certain pride in knowing that you have reached a point with a character where he or she can do things that he or she was not able to do before. In Final Fantasy IV, you have to work your butt off to get Rydia to learn Meteo. In Dragon Warrior III, you cannot change classes until you reach the 20th level. In Pokemon, you have to get a Dragonair to level 55 to evolve it into a Dragonite. Heck, in the original Final Fantasy, a Master, the evolved Black Belt, at level 50, can take out Chaos in one shot, easily doing well over the 2000 HP damage needed to get the kill. There is a sense of getting a job well done, and a bond is formed between the player and the characters.

In Final Fantasy VIII, the characters have pretty much nothing to do with anything. All you have to do is take the Guardian Forces you had on one person and put them on another, and voila! All of the sudden, this character which might have never been used before, is about as strong as the character you've been using the entire game. I have the same complaints about the use of material in Final Fantasy VII, although it isn't quite as bad. The ability to move the abilities and power between characters freely destroys the bond between the player and the characters. There is no feeling of accomplishment.

Final Fantasy VIII is the only Final Fantasy that I own that I have not finished. I only got to the end of disc one, honestly. Why? I was more interested in the card game than the RPG itself. In fact, if not for the card game, I wouldn't have likely made it that far. I hear that the story gets much more interesting around disc three, but I'd rather not play over halfway through a game to get to something interesting when there are other games that are interesting right away.

Am I anti-change? Hardly. I actually like the Sphere System for Final Fantasy X. Even though it does somewhat de-individualize the characters by giving them the ability to do almost all the same moves, I still get a sense of accomplishment as I move their pieces around the board. Plus, for so much of the game, they are still individualized, so I bonded with them early, and even now that they are branching out, the bond is still there.

One word sums up the gameplay of Final Fantasy VIII: impersonal. I have no desire to raise guardian forces when it doesn't matter who has them. I have no desire to just draw magic instead of earning spells. I have no desire to spend most of my time in an RPG playing a card game because I know the game can get me all kinds of good stuff when I should be finding the coolest weapons in treasure chests and other places around the world. Heck, I didn't even have the desire to see what happened to my characters.

Ok, so I wrote an editorial. You might flame me for this. I don't care. If you like Final Fantasy VIII, good for you. Many of our staff enjoy the game too. Everyone has a different perspective, and everyone likes and dislikes different things. I'm glad you feel your money was well spent. All I can say is that it could be worse. It could've been a rant about Xenogears. (Ha, now THAT will get some flames.)



Quickies

What are the chances of this quicky getting posted?
-el mariachi

Stom: Not very good.

The Last Laugh:

Stom: Well, tomorrow is Easter, and I'm looking forward to relaxing and spending some quality time with my Modern American Literature paper. If I don't get some sleep, I'm going to die. Hopefully next time I guest host, there will be more to work with. Oh well. Have a happy holidays.

      stom I have no sig pic, and that makes me sad @rpgamer.com
Unlike Goog yesterday, I'm going to bed around sunrise.

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