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R P G A M E R   -   R O U N D T A B L E

Topic I: An RPG Revolution?
09.25.2005

Jordan: I'd like to welcome you all to another of RPGamer's Roundtable discussions

Jordan: I'm your moderator for the night, and we'll be discussing some of the more radical news at TGS

Jordan: Quite possibly some of the biggest news at TGS was that Nintendo has finally showed us what the Revolution's controller will look like

Jordan: What does everyone think about it? And how will it affect RPGs?

Stephanie: Which I am sure made everyone have to do a double-take.

Jerry: Some of the biggest? Try THE biggest.

Jerry: First RPG effect: Slashing the sword "for real"

Thomas: It's fantastic news: Nintendo is proving that they don't care about the now-anachronistic console wars. This can only be a good thing.

Rebecca: mmmm, Legend of Zelda...

T.J.: Free thought is a good thing.

Stephanie: I am looking forward to it, its exciting to see that one handed gameplay will no longer be a major effort.

Jerry: Second RPG effect: Pointer-based interfaces.

Stephanie: Minigames!

Stephanie: Like Wonderslime's Yuna idea. *laughs*

Thomas: Single-handed RPG play is far from impossible, either. There are several existing examples of single-handed controllers for rpg play in Japan on the MegaDrive and SFAM already.

Rebecca: Think of the impact on potential MMORPGs.. free hand for the keyboard.

T.J.: If I'm not mistaken, one feature of Earthbound was its ability to be played one-handed. Also, I seem to recall a slew of 1-handed PlayStation controllers specially designed for RPGs.

Jordan: Do you really think it will 'revolutionize' games?

Stephanie: I never really tried to play Earthbound one handed. I should try that.

Jerry: Indeed. Third RPG effect: One-handed play.

Thomas: You're not mistaken, although a PSX model is news to me.

T.J.: I don't think it's going to be a "revolution" in the literal sense of the word.

Rebecca: C'mon guys, think of playing something like FFXI or WoW with a controller like that.

Jerry: Game makers will have to actually think about how to use this effectively. That's a revolution in itself.

Rebecca: well.. they didn't quite hack it with the touch screen, as far as effectiveness goes.

T.J.: I believe that, while Sony and Microsoft are chomping at the bit to provide more teraflops, more memory, and more realism, Nintendo's working laterally to produce more -experiences- in games.

Jordan: A lot of people have been jumping at the idea, acting like it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Nintendo is always good with innovation, right? What about the Virtual Boy? Does anyone think the Revolution will go down a similar path of being 'almost.... but not quite?'

Stephanie: Yeah. I agree. Instead of making it just a "Gimmick"

Thomas: Of course it will be a revolution: Nintendo popularized and streamlined the concept of the dual-gripped controller. If anyone can make it work in ways unimaginable, it would be them.

Jerry: Ah, someone brings up the Virtual Boy. It's like Godwin's Law.

T.J.: The Virtual Boy was a small revolution in and of itself. The technology just needed tweaked a little more.

Michael: So that it actually was portable.

Stephanie: I've never even heard of the Virtual Boy. ~_~

Thomas: Not at all: the Virtual Boy's failures were myriad, but innovation was not one of them. Seizures leap to mind, as did the cost and uncomfortable set-up of the unit. The Revolution is proving that is is nothing but adaptable, something the VB could never pull off.

T.J.: I recall being amazed at the Virtual Boy take on Wario Land, and being able to jump into the background at points. Because there wasn't anything else that let you -do- that.

Jordan: yeah. But will using your wrist for so much of the gaming get tiring?

Thomas: I still love my VB, but I will be the first to admit that it was never going to be a runaway mainstream success.

T.J.: The Revolution Controller is a new form of input, and will let developers create experiences that just haven't existed before.

Jordan: I've got pretty well-developed thumbs, so I'm safe with those

Stephanie: Nah, not if they designed it ergonomically.

Rebecca: my Hands are pretty much too small to play the DS.. and the way they set it up was very uncomfortable..

Jerry: Tell me: Didn't the first time you play games end up tiring your thumbs? Blistering them if you played too much? Nintendo thumb, anyone? Do you see that these days anymore among the main gaming populace?

T.J.: Imagine an RPG where you're a sorcerer, and you actually cast spells by waving the controller around. Certain patterns make certain spells.

Rebecca: I got a huge blister on the palm of my hand from Mario Party :P

Jerry: Basically, you'll get used to it, or you'll give it up. Simple as that, really.

Stephanie: I really don't remember if I got "nintendo thumb" I've been gaming since I was like... three.

Michael: I got a blister once, and that was it.

Jordan: I've never had one, but my fiancee gets blisters.

Rebecca: Yeah, but what system did you start on?

Thomas: We don't know if there will be provisions for that kind of play, though, Sensei. Nintendo has not standardized any control scheme on any title yet...the promise exists, though, for truly adaptive interaction. Still, Nintendo's main theme has been consumer adaptability, so I am confident that they will make provisions for people with less...physical interest in games.

Jordan: I've never had one, but my fiancee does

Stephanie: SNES. Well, NES for one game

T.J.: I don't know about Nintendo Thumb, though I do get Guilty Gear thumb from time to time. RPGs just don't have the button-mashing demand.

Jerry: Not trying to kill the subject, but wouldn't it be prudent to wait until there are some concrete examples of gameplay?

Stephanie: Guilty Gear thumb?

Thomas: You've never tried the drinking game in Chrono Trigger...

Rebecca: My hands went numb from playing Katamari...

Jordan: yeah, I can't finish the drinking game in CT I can only get 9 no matter how hard I try.

Rebecca: There's a few demos, Xero

Stephanie: I managed to do the drinking game once. And could never do it again.

Jerry: I said concrete.

Michael: Have to agree with Xero.

Rebecca: But yeah.. for all we know, it could be similar to the eye toy :P

Michael: I'm fairly skeptical about the controller, but we've yet to see it's full capabilities.

Thomas: Demos, but no solid titles. Still, we can extrapolate, Xero, on what Nintendo will do with the controller...and I STILL want to know how the DS will "pillar" in with the Revolution.

T.J.: Imagine it like this. Say Namco releases an over-sized trackball controller specifically for the purpose of making Katamari games -that- much more tactile. It'd take off in a second.

Jerry: I'm in love with the premise and promise of this device, beyond anything that came before, but I still know to wait it out for sure.

T.J.: Nintendo's just created a situation in which the "controller" is a much more fluid idea.

Thomas: I agree.

Stephanie: Well, the add-ons for the controller make it that much more interesting.

Jordan: yes, but how many of these 'controllers' must we buy? Each one will require the attachments

T.J.: Yes. And those add-ons are probably going to run you some decent cash.

Stephanie: This is true.

Thomas: The fact that there is an input device on the controller is also intriguing in and of itself...who says that they will be limited to the optional analog stick? There could be countless innovations for that port alone.

Rebecca: Well.. were previous add-ons very successful sales-wise?

Thomas: I hate coming off as a gushing fan, but I am actually excited about gaming again like I can only remember before the launch of FFVII...

T.J.: The Rumble Pak.

Stephanie: They include the analog stick at least. There's a plus.

Jerry: Look at it this way: By not including all attachments at the beginning, it gently forces developers to actually give the damn thing a shot.

T.J.: Oh, they're bundling the analog? Well then. Strike one off the list of stuff you've gotta buy.

Rebecca: Well, rumble paks are all built in now.

Thomas: Most add-ons have been fairly cosmetic...and were never directly related to the primary control interface. This is a whole new arena.

Jerry: Instead of just saying "use the controller shell for our game"

Jordan: Yeah, I think they need to include at LEAST the analog

Thomas: That would be nice, but as I hear whispered, they are most likely going to be selling the Rev for a song...

Jordan: But, if a game requires attachment X, only people with said attachment can play

Stephanie: I read somewhere that they were.

Thomas: I think that would rely on the Third-parties...if your game requires the add-on, include it...not to the extent of say, Time Crisis...(grumble grumble) but at least make it an option.

Stephanie: Yeah, not having attachment X would be a problem, unless the game came with an option to get said attachment for a reduced price with the game?

Thomas: Hopefully.

Stephanie: It would make too much sense ^_^

Jordan: that wouldn't be so bad. Or if if games came with coupons.

Rebecca: wouldn't the game sell less copies if a pricey attachment was required?

T.J.: Another thing that we're overlooking is connectivity with the DS. It's believed that the Revolution will act as a router for DS play over the internet... I'm interested to see if the DS is another form of "Revolution Controller."

Rebecca: and the software maker wouldn't profit from the add-on...

Jordan: This is true

Rebecca: the DS sucks as a controller anyway.

Jordan: why?

Stephanie: It'd be interesting to use the motion sensor as a stylus on the DS.

Thomas: I don't know about that...the price might not have to be all that high, since it would not be the primary interface, but a secondary attachment that replies on the Rev controller to do the grunt work.

Rebecca: they'd have to make it more ergonomically correct

Thomas: A chip and a shell is all we would need.

T.J.: Not so much for the touch-screen aspect, but for the screens themselves.

T.J.: It's like Crystal Chronicles, plus a couple buttons and a screen.

Stephanie: Ergonomics will play a big role in the success of this controller with all its movement capabilities.

Rebecca: true.. but still, I think the DS needs a redesign. *

Thomas: loves his FF:CC

Stephanie: I think, if they're smart, they'll do just that, lgs.

T.J.: Really? From what I've played of the DS, it's working very well. But I'm not going to rule out a "DS Micro." But we digress.

Rebecca: Yeah.. I can't even play the DS properly, really. it's too big.

Thomas: See, I don't have a problem with the DS at all...I can't really imagine a different design...I'd be all for seeing it, but I'm not really sure that we're talking about a broken product.

Jordan: it's hard to use the stylus and play at the same time

Stephanie: I haven't tried it yet.

T.J.: (Granted, I'm also 6'4" and have fairly large hands.)

Rebecca: it's not broken to you guys, because you don't have tiny girl hands.

Stephanie: Yeah, I have tiny girl hands too!

Thomas: But I do have weak, spindly piano player fingers. ;)

Rebecca: yeah, but long piano fingers.

Stephanie: ^_~

Thomas: Won't argue with that

T.J.: Anyway. Before the actual announcement, I maintained that the DS -could- be the Revolution Controller, and that it'd be a real Revolution. But I didn't get my wish. ^^

Thomas: It still has room for that kind of connectivity, though.

Thomas: Even if it is not primary, it could still be a secondary control scheme.

Jordan: and fortunately, we don't have to buy a stupid cable

Thomas: Amen.

T.J.: Oh. I'm loving that.

Stephanie: Yeah. There could be a DS link to the controller as an attachment. Haha.

T.J.: Every time I get people together for Crystal Chronicles, it becomes a matter of, "Who's got the cords? Do you have one? I can't find two of mine!"

Thomas: $10 for a cable just so I could trade my POkem...er...link up with my buddies for a um...manly game of Advance Wars was such a pain...

Jordan: Yeah. We used ours for FFCC, but we were limited by people that had cables

Thomas: I just keep a set of four around at all times for all my friends.

Stephanie: I only played FF:CC by myself. I don't have enough friends that play games..

Thomas: If they are centralized, it makes it easier...but man do we digress...

T.J.: Getting back to the topic of controller attachments.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Stephanie: Like the Laser gun.

Jordan: So, aside from the ability to play one handed, sword-slashing action, and pointer-based interfaces, how do you think RPGs will work? Will they be mostly the same?

T.J.: By focusing less on polygons and effects, and more on experiences, I think one side effect will be that the Revolution-only games will have significantly lower development costs.

Rebecca: lower? won't they have to expend money on the interface?

Stephanie: I would think that RPGs would remain, for the most part, the same. And use the new features for minigames and such.

T.J.: They will. But the game itself will cost less.

Thomas: I don't see why they would have to pay MORE...

Thomas: RPGs will be JUST fine...you can play any Final Fantasy game with one hand and use the other for eating pizza just fine, only now you won't have to grab the controller sideways or whatever to do it.

Rebecca: why would the game cost less?

Jerry: Nintendo is striving to lower the cost of development

Jordan: Yeah? WIll they cost less?

Thomas: I don't think they will cost less...nor do I think they will cost more.

Jerry: so that it's cheaper to develop for the Rev than competitors

Stephanie: I'd be happy if they cost the same.

Jerry: and thus draws them in.

Jordan: will they be priced the same as other next-gen games?

Jerry: and thus lower consumer-end prices

Thomas: It's just shifting your funding around to work within new programming boundaries...of which there are fewer now.

Rebecca: I think they'll be priced lower than the other next-gen games

T.J.: I suspect we'll see more RPGs with completely revolutionary interfaces, a la Crystal Chronicles (which I hate to bring up again, but it's so relevant!), things you can't do anywhere else.

Jerry: That's the idea

Thomas: It will be up to the developers to maintain responsibility for keeping their costs in check while dreaming up new ways to program... Although I still see the rush to the next gen as kind of a waste, considering that they are just beginning to really wring the most out of the current gen systems.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Jerry: Basically, with the Rev, you're not forced to pay out the wazoo just to develop for it.

Jordan: yeah, but FFCC was a pain in that you could NOT play it without the GBA if you wanted to play multiplayer. My 3 WaveBirds just sat around looking sad and lonely.

Thomas: The Revolution is different, though, because the new technology is not 100% of what it is all about: the ideas are.

Stephanie: Haha. Yeah. The GBA was a pain for a few games.

Jerry: Jowy: Good point.

Rebecca: ok, how will this controller affect.. Animal Crossing?

Stephanie: I'm talking the link between the GBA to the GC

Stephanie: Animal Crossing? I never played that one, couldn't tell ya.

Jerry: Forget Animal Crossing. What about Wario Ware!

Jordan: or Mario Party

Stephanie: Haha. Wario Ware. Haha.

Rebecca: Mmmm, fishing in Animal Crossing..

Thomas: Wario Ware...wow...GREAT point...

Stephanie: Mario Party would be AWESOME on the Revolution.

Stephanie: I can just see everyone running around the room like idiots ^_^

Jerry: Wario Ware with this new device is a gold mine waiting to happen.

Thomas: Now THAT already has me salivating...WarioWare on the Rev...

T.J.: Oh. "Here at Nintendo, we're proud to make sure that, no matter what new technology we roll out with, you'll have at least one Wario Ware game to abuse it!"

Thomas: Or strengthen it.

Jerry: Absifragginlutely

Stephanie: Remind me to add that word to my vocabulary.

Jordan: So, in an effort to keep this in a timely manner, are there any final thoughts about the Revolution?

Thomas: Final Thoughts: Unlimited potential! This system will be the Chrono Trigger of gaming systems. I really can't wait.

T.J.: Typically, I don't purchase a console until there are 5 games I'd like to own for it. The Xbox hasn't reached this. The PS2 did around the release of .hack.

Jerry: heheh

Stephanie: The Chrono Trigger of gaming systems?

Thomas: The egg, not the game. ;)

Stephanie: Ah.

T.J.: However, I tend to buy Nintendo systems out of principle, because there -will- be 5 games I would like to own for it. The Revolution will be no exception.

Thomas: And durability...you can build a bomb-shelter out of Game Cubes and SNES...

Rebecca: bah, both my BF and I's cubes broke.

Thomas: You were just mean to it. :P

Jordan: An interesting way of putting it.

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