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Next Quiz Date: January 11, 2014
Subject: 999 (Nintendo DS)
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327367 Posts in 13404 Topics by 2163 Members
Latest Member: KashelGladio
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3391  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Shinji Mikami - JRPGS were "never really popular" on: June 11, 2010, 02:07:26 AM
Not anymore. The AT2 game crashing bug was pretty much the last straw. I refuse to touch anything that's passed through their hands now. I'd rather pay more to import.

Ouch, so much hate for NISA.  The AT2 fiasco aside (come on, the game was still quite playable), I think they did a pretty good job on Sakura Wars.  But anyway, I really can't wish them ill because most of the games they handle would probably never be localized otherwise.  Sure importing is fine if your Japanese is good enough...I'm still working on that, myself.  I have an import copy of AT3 but the amount of dialogue in that game is intimidating.  I'll happily purchase it again when we get a localized version.
3392  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Is Square-Enix out of talent? on: June 10, 2010, 07:37:31 PM

TLR is a poor example.  That game's biggest problem was that it was a technical mess, almost to the point of being unplayable at times.  That has nothing to do with risk-taking in game design.  Actually, I think TLR had some good ideas and I wish they had managed to build a competent game around those ideas.

Ultimately, with AAA game budgets hitting the $50 million mark it really doesn't make financial sense to take risks.  Smaller titles can take risks because it doesn't matter if they fail.

3393  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Shinji Mikami - JRPGS were "never really popular" on: June 10, 2010, 06:24:53 PM
I don't care if they stay niche forever, so long as they're never so niche that they stop making or translating them...

The future of JRPGs in the US is in the hands of companies like Atlus, Xseed, and NISA, not S-E.

3394  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Is Square-Enix out of talent? on: June 10, 2010, 04:13:50 PM
I 'truly enjoyed' Final Fantasy XII.  It wans't a perfect game, but it did more right than wrong.  I'd even rank it above the PS1 FF games that everyone seems to love, except maybe IX.  But then, the last Final Fantasy that I really fell in love with was VI...

XIII was garbage, though...
3395  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: E3 2010 and RPGs; Which of these games will you play in the future? on: June 10, 2010, 01:26:06 PM
If Skies of Arcadia and Shenmue are among the Dreamcast games to get PSN/XBLA treatment then I will crap my pants.
3396  The Rest / General Discussions / Video Games: Abstraction vs. Immersion on: June 09, 2010, 11:01:29 PM
Here is a colossal topic that relates to everything from whether RPGs are a 'dying' genre to the recent trends in motion controls.  In some sense I suppose it could be considered the driving force behind the whole video game industry.  So I'm sure I can do it justice off of the top of my head in a few paragraphs.

First, let me define what I mean by 'abstraction' and 'immersion'.  By 'abstraction' I mean the symbolic representation of entities within a game and their abilities in the context of the game.  You might have something that represents your character and rules that guide how that character can act and these things can be completely unrelated to your own physical abilities.  By 'immersion' I refer to the desire to create more lifelike experiences, and directly mapping what happens in the game to the actions of the player.

Immersion has always been limited by technology and not our imaginations.  In fact, given that the ultimate goal of immersion is to reproduce a life-like experience, immagination isn't even an issue.  In the old days your 'character' in a game was a vaguely-person-shaped blob of pixels that could move left or right.  Now we talk about 3D displays and motion controls.  These things (when used right) really can increase immersion, but I think we are also sacrificing something along the way.

Imagine, if you will, at some point in the future we have technology on par with the famous Star Trek holodecks.  That is the 'holy grail' of immersion.  Some might argue it's the holy grail of gaming.  Certainly it would be a novel experience that I would be happy to try out if the technology existed, but one must also consider the limitations of this approach.  In this scenario you have increased immersion to the point where the 'character' is only capable of doing what the 'player' can do.  But part of the whole appeal of video games is being able to do things in them that we could never do in real life.  If you take that away then what is the point?  OK, the holodeck would be really cool to be able to see and experience things that would be impractical otherwise, but if that's all there is to it then it's no longer even a game.

Abstraction in games predates video games by thousands of years.  Classic games like chess or go evolved out of abstract simulations of warfare.  Compared to modern video games these are incredibly primitive representations indeed, but are the games actually worse off for it?  Make no mistake, the abstractions were developed out of necessity.  This was long before computers and there was no other way to do things.  But the games live on because people have found intrinsic value in those abstractions.

Of course you can go too far in terms of abstraction as well.  If the player isn't deciding something then it's a simulation, not a game.  Some might argue the early parts of FFXIII were kind of like this, since you could basically 'play' it just by holding down X and running forward.  That's bad game design.  A game designer needs to think about precisely what kind of challenge to present to the player.  That challenge can be cerebral (strategy games), reflexive ('twitch' shooters), or even purely physical (not that there are many video games like that...).  Different choices here lead to different kinds of games, but I'm not going to decide that one category is 'better' than another.  That's an issue of taste.

Now what does this all have to do with RPGs?  RPGs have traditionally been an abstraction-heavy genre.  Indeed, pen-and-paper RPGs were developed the way they are again out of necessity.  Computers were still something of a rarity and not nearly as capable as they are today when D&D was created.  So the development of traditional RPGs is closer to the development of board games than computer games, though the goal is different.  A traditional strategy boardgame is a strictly competitive match between two (or more) players, while something like D&D is a cooperative experience in which players and DM work together to tell a story.  The DM can also serve as a kind of opponent, though, so it's a fairly unique experience.

So what challenges does a good RPG present the player?  Certainly there is some strategy.  Not just in the actions the player takes in combat, but also how they equip themselves, develop their character, find clues, etc.  Things like being clever and avoiding an enemy encounter should be rewarded.  That's not the case in most computer (using the term generically here: can also mean console, handheld, whatever) RPGs, which often effectively punish the player for avoiding an encouter by making them miss out on experience, money, items, etc.  However, most of them do a good job of rewarding other things like exploration (finding secret rare stuff), conversation (gaining side quests, etc) and the like.  Note that FFXIII fails miserably at those things too...

Computer RPGs have a bit of an identity crisis.  RPGfan's podcast last week talked about this:  What actually is a computer RPG?  Literally it's a game in which you play a role, but that's practically meaningless.  Any game in which the player takes on the role of a character within the game (i.e., practically all games these days) could be considered an RPG under that definition.  But consider the history.  The term was coined in reference to pen and paper games during a time when the kind of abstractions (stats, hit points, etc) we expect in an RPG were necessary to make the game work.  These days in a video game a lot of them don't seem necessary any more, which is the source of all the confusion over the definition of an RPG.  However, as I have been leading up to through this entire long rambling rant, there can be inherent value in those abstractions.  Even if they are necessary, they can still be fun.  That's why we play RPGs, after all.  So don't stress about the literal name, as that's a historical oddity.  An 'RPG' should be defined by exactly what we know and love them for:  The abstractions (stats, experience, etc) and mechanics (strategic combat, exploration, puzzles, etc).

These days there are more and more game borrowing RPG mechanics, and that's fine.  But what I dislike is the decline of the 'pure' RPG.  Seems like everything is an action-RPG or some kind of hybrid these days.  Well, that does seem to be what sells.  Maybe it's that immersion factor.  However, personally I enjoy the abstractions and I don't particularly want to see them go away.

And I think I wrote enough...

3397  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: E3 2010 and RPGs; Which of these games will you play in the future? on: June 09, 2010, 09:30:58 PM
What's that?  Free peanuts with copy of Xenoblade?  I'm double-sold!

Seriously, though, I'm in the same boat.  I have no Wii, but there is starting to be enough available for it that it seems worth getting one now.

3398  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: E3 2010 and RPGs; Which of these games will you play in the future? on: June 09, 2010, 06:08:50 PM
Kind of sad how few of these games are traditional RPGs.  Action-RPGs and hybrids seem to be the way things go these days.

Back to the topic, I don't have a Wii but I will buy one for Xenoblade.  The Last Story should be good, too.

Deathspank is also intriguing, whatever it is.

Valkyria Chronicles 2 is an instant day-one buy for me.

How about Atelier Rorona?  It's not on the list, and is probably too niche for E3 but it should be out this year and I'm certainly going to get it.

The thing I hate about these lists, though, is that they can inherently only talk about things we already know about.  What I'm really hoping to see at E3 is something new and unexpected.
3399  Media / Miscellaneous Games / Re: Yakuza 4 on: June 08, 2010, 02:49:28 PM
Yakuza 4 localization announced

And hostess clubs are returning.  Great news.  While I have been enjoying Yakuza 3 there are definitely times when it's quite obvious that content has been cut.  It's still worth playing, though.

3400  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: A thought about "Trophies" on: June 07, 2010, 04:03:47 PM
ITT people completely misinterpreting hyperbole, missing the point, getting trolled SUPER hard, and not even giving games a decent try.

Bravo, gentlemen. Bravo.

If somebody shows up at a party, climbs on the furniture and proclaims himself king of the world, berates all of the guests at length, and then takes a dump in the punch bowl I'm not going to forgive him just because he tries to pass it off as being ironic.

I don't care whether Dios really believes the crap he's saying or not.  Either way he's being an ass.
3401  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Hexyz Force (PSP) on: June 06, 2010, 03:55:36 PM
I was just looking on Amazon...they still don't have it there and have now idea when they're going to get it.  They do link to two third-party sellers that claim to have it: one for $75 and the other for $93.  This is absolutely insane for a brand new game.  Crimson Gem Saga was nothing like this.  I don't know about brick and mortar retailers but it was easily available online.
3402  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley (PSP) on: June 05, 2010, 01:14:56 PM
I'd like to know this too. But buyying the DL version when I've already bought it on UMD is a bit too much, unless it improves a lot. As a related question, does a PSP 3000 load faster than a psp 1000?

The PSP 2000 introduced a faster UMD drive, I believe, so there should be an improvement there.
3403  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: A thought about "Trophies" on: June 04, 2010, 09:58:42 PM
For the most part I ignore trophies.  I get the ones I get when I play the game normally and that's it.  Not surprisingly, I've yet to platinum a single game this way, and I probably never will...

I play games to have fun, not for bragging rights in some virtual dick-measuring contest.  Also, my game-playing time is extremely limited these days and I consider it an achievement (no pun intended...) if I can even finish the games I buy.  Once I have finished a game I will move on to the next game, as lord knows I have a large enough backlog.

Side rant:  If you are going to have trophies/achievements with requirements like 'kill n dudes with weapon x' then those requirements should be listed in-game.  Half of this trophy/achievement business seems like an excuse to sell guides to me...
3404  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley (PSP) on: June 04, 2010, 01:43:19 AM
I'm hearing a lot of complaints about the load times.  Has anyone tried the downloadable version?  Is it any better than the UMD?
3405  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: X-Seed partners with Nihon Falcom on: June 03, 2010, 04:06:00 PM
OK, I'm sold (even though I hate handhelds ;) ).  I am going to be preordering that limited edition as soon as it becomes available.

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