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Messages - Dincrest

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Single-Player RPGs / Re: Top 10 Story-Driven RPGs
« on: February 23, 2018, 06:11:20 PM »
All good, all good.  My aim with my post was to bolster the list thread of "whats" with "whys."  Why do folks value the stories they put in their top 10 games? 

I think something else that sticks with folks is when a story challenges us in some way.  Like, for me, Gabriel Knight's story challenged me because the titular protagonist was not a pleasant person.  But because he was the kind of person who I normally wouldn't associate with, I found myself more intrigued by him because his world view and interactions differ so wildly from mine:

Single-Player RPGs / Re: Top 10 Story-Driven RPGs
« on: February 22, 2018, 05:38:03 PM »
@Grainofariver Sweet food for thought, man.  It's because what makes a story "good" or "compelling" to each of us is so idiosyncratic that I wanted to open up the discussions as to why we value the kinds of stories we do. 

Single-Player RPGs / Re: Top 10 Story-Driven RPGs
« on: February 21, 2018, 07:50:35 PM »
My obvious answer would be Planescape: Torment. 

My complicated answer would delve into the crux of what is it that makes a story "good" to us?  Events/event scripting?  Compelling characters/relationships?  Pacing?  Comedy?  Tragedy?  Philosophical bents? 

Is it a bombastic larger-than-life epic that compels us (e.g. Xenogears) or something more subtle and introspective (e.g. To The Moon) that moves us? 

Is it the storytelling that compels us more than the story?  After all, a good storyteller can make even a mundane story engaging, right? 

Even the concept of "writing" is pretty nebulous.  Take a look at Lost Odyssey.  The "Power Point" scenes were the most compelling because they were written by a novelist, whereas the majority of the game was JRPG cliches written by a JRPG scenario writer. 

And though we're focusing on RPGs in this thread, bear in mind that RPGFan also covers graphic adventures, both western point-and-click style and Japanese visual novel style.  I would argue that those genres of games are more driven by story than RPGs, which are also highly dependent on combat gameplay/mechanics.  After all, during an RPG, we spend more time in battle than anywhere else.  Grandia Xtreme and Grandia III both fell flat in the story department, but their combat mechanics were incredibly fun.  Some of the most compelling video game stories I've experienced come from graphic adventures, like Gabriel Knight or Ever17.  Not RPGs, but still games within RPGFan's coverage. 

General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« on: February 20, 2018, 05:47:38 PM »
Only a French woman could say, "I broke my ass and need a painkiller" in a post-event interview and make it sound incredibly charming; almost classy and dignified even.  (I refer to halfpipe skiing silver medalist Marie Martinod.) 

General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« on: February 18, 2018, 09:39:41 AM »
Cutest girl this Olympics is Esmee Visser. She was a true underdog (well, relatively speaking anyway), couldn't believe she qualified for the games in the first place and is probably still surprised she won a gold medal. And how she's both modest and so incredibly genuinely happy about her victory is adorable.

I feel the same about Ester Ledecka of Czech Republic after she won gold in super G.  She was in such utter disbelief, even standing on the podium, it was adorable.  And what put her over the top was when she did a news conference in her ski goggles after her upset win saying that she didn't even expect to be at the ceremony and hadn't even put on makeup.  She's primarily a snowboarder, so she definitely seems to have that more proverbial "laid-back" snowboarder personality. 

This has been an Olympics of surprises.  Chris Mazdzer winning the first men's singles luge medal in US history was pretty sick (dude seems to have a great personality).  And the overwhelming favorite, Felix Loch of Germany, didn't even medal. 

Brush and Quill / Re: Book Thread Continued
« on: February 17, 2018, 09:47:31 PM »
I finished the first half of Return of the King, which was all about The Fellowship gearing up for their last stand.  I also just started the second half of it (which focuses on Frodo's errand) and hopefully finish Lord of the Rings before spring. 

General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« on: February 17, 2018, 09:21:36 PM »
If we're going to go there, I think the most attractive Winter Olympics athletes are the alpine skiers.  In womens' super-G skiing, all three who medaled were quite striking, especially bronze medalist Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein.  And it's no surprise that snowboarders Chloe Kim and Red Gerard are popular among the high school students I teach. 

Aside: Sledding events (e.g. luge, skeleton, bobsled) and alpine skiing events (e.g. slalom, super g, downhill) are my favorite Winter Olympic events to watch. 

General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« on: February 17, 2018, 09:19:56 AM »
So curling is a "hipster" sport then.  As for  winter Olympics, my favorite events were always the sledding events: luge, skeleton, bobsled.  I particularly like luge and skeleton.  Skeleton sliders always have the coolest helmets. 

General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« on: February 16, 2018, 04:54:05 PM »
When I was a kid in the Netherlands, my friends and I practically lived on our bicycles.  It was a bit of a culture shock coming to the US and it not exactly being the most bicycle friendly place.  To this day, it still irks me how many bicycle riders don't know/follow the rules of the road.  You're supposed to ride to the right, WITH the flow of traffic. However, when I visited my cousins in Colorado last summer, I marveled at how that state had fantastic infrastructure for cyclists compared to where I live in New Jersey. 

Anyway, haps... Winter Olympic coverage has been going nuts in covering curling.  Apparently there is a massive fascination with the sport and people are absolutely mesmerized by it.  I'm trying to see what the big deal is, but I simply can't.  Like, I respect the sport for being very much about subtlety, which is in stark contrast to most sports out there, but I fail to see so appealing about watching it.  I don't even understand the game at all, really, and I think it's almost as boring to watch as baseball.  I guess curling is one of those sports where people either love it or are uncultured/uncouth heathen like me who just don't get it.  Then again, I do like watching cricket (which is a sport I don't quite understand and most people think is dreadfully dull) so what do I know? 

Song of the moment is "The Silent Life" by Rivers of Nihil.  This is from their upcoming album Where Owls Know My Name.  I've seen Rivers of Nihil live before and I was sledgehammered by their insane musical skill, but felt that their music was kinda robotic.  It was like a tech demo with mindblowing tech but hollow as a game.  Anyway, something in my brain decided to give them another chance and I absolutely LOVED this song.  It actually has me looking forward to the album.  I love it when bands change my mind about them, because that means they're experimenting, evolving, and not just relying on tried and true formulas.

Single-Player RPGs / Re: Things you can't bear in a JRPG
« on: February 11, 2018, 04:53:34 PM »
I'm okay with random battles, since they make it easier to grind if need be.  (I'm not a fan of excessive grinding, but sometimes you have to.)  However, being thrust into a battle every 3 seconds is excessive so the encounter rate needs to be balanced.  Wild Arms 2 had a nice mechanic where, if you were about to go into an encounter with lowbie enemies, an exclamation mark would appear over the avatar's head and you could press a button to avoid it. 

And let me tell you, Lufia: Ruins of Lore had visible encounters and made me wish for random encounters instead because it was done in the most maddening way possible.  This RPGFan review says it better than I could:

Even straightforward, basic RPG action is terrible in LROL. The game sports a very basic overworld approach, in which all enemies are visible at all times and, theoretically, avoidable. In reality it isn't so cut and dry. Whenever you move, the monsters on the map move as well, except they seem to know where you are going. Have you ever played hide and go seek with someone who knows exactly where all the hiding spots are? You will with LROL; the enemies cheat all over the place. Combine this with the fact that some enemies can move 2 spaces for every 1 you take, and that they re-spawn when you leave the area and return, and you have an exercise in frustration.

Single-Player RPGs / Re: Things you can't bear in a JRPG
« on: February 10, 2018, 12:07:46 PM »
And this is not even getting into those cutscenes where a narrator is speaking over a montage and his/her words aren't subtitled.  Even worse is when the narrator's voice is mixed too low and I hear the montage's sound effects more than the narrator. 

In other words, subtitles are good for everyone.

Single-Player RPGs / Re: Final Fantasy 16 (survey)
« on: February 10, 2018, 11:51:16 AM »
FF13 also had an incredible soundtrack; possibly one of the best in the series.  Between that and perhaps the best pieces in FFX's soundtrack, Masashi Hamauzu's contributions to FF music have been wonderful.

Single-Player RPGs / Re: Things you can't bear in a JRPG
« on: February 08, 2018, 06:18:45 PM »
I obviously loved Thousand Arms, but man that battle system was a clunky mess.  It was FF's ATB and Grandia's IP systems gone horribly wrong.  I figured out a loophole/exploit to make battles faster and the back row more useful, but it took away all the cartoony personality that made the battles watchable. 

Another gripe- games on portable systems that don't allow anywhere/anytime saving or at least a quicksave feature.  When you're gaming on the go, the flexibility to save at a moment's notice is important.  Maybe you reached your stop on the train or bus ride.  Maybe your battery is running low.  Maybe you've just been called in from the waiting room.  Losing your progress is a bane of any RPG player's existence. 

Speaking of saving, I notice that a lot of modern games now only have one save slot.  Personally, I like to keep several saves. 

EDIT: I notice that some of my gripes are ones I've been harping about since circa 2000.  You would think that in the almost 20 years since then, some of these would have been 100% resolved.  But no, there are still games on portable/handheld systems these days that don't have anywhere/anytime saving or at least a quicksave.  Otherwise, yeah, my main gripes for the HD era of gaming are text fonts in menus and dialogue boxes that are too small and no way to make them bigger and menu interfaces that, while stylish, aren't ergonomically functional. 

I just remembered another one that one of our deaf/hearing impaired members told us about: Games that don't have subtitles during voiced cinematic cutscenes.  How is a gamer with a hearing impairment supposed to enjoy those scenes if s/he can't understand what the characters are saying?  We have a deaf student in our program this year, and he and I bonded because we both play video games.  (I've been wearing a Tekken lanyard with my work ID, he noticed that, and we started communicating about games.)

Single-Player RPGs / Re: Things you can't bear in a JRPG
« on: February 08, 2018, 01:41:22 PM »
Another one for me, personally, is pop culture references in fantasy RPGs.  Working Designs used to be a huge culprit here.  Pop culture references kill any immersion I have in the game's fantasy world and become very dated very quickly, eliminating the timelessness that fantasy is known for.  The only time pop culture references work in a fantasy video game is if it's set in a more modern/contemporary time or are period pieces like Saturday Morning RPG.  That game was a love letter to the 1980s and works because of all the 80s references. 

Oh, and I always have to gripe about sequences, be they puzzle or platforming or whatever, that require the most minutely pinpoint accuracy to get right.  Xenogears' Tower of Babel was one sequence that made me indignantly throw things in nerd-rage because it was such a poorly done slice of video gaming.  It was also a sequence that I couldn't cheat my way out of, either through grinding or using a cheat device (like a GameShark) or what-have-you. 

I'm also not a fan of the following: 

-when there is only "one true way" to get a task done.  Xenosaga 2 was notorious for that with Break Zones.  There was only one perfect sequence to kill or even damage a foe, and hunting for that sequence was a crapshoot. 

-vague plot direction.  That killed any enjoyment I was having in Elemental Gimmick Gear because if I have no idea where to go or what to do, it's pointless. 

-And then you have those rare cases that feature both "crappy direction on how to advance" and "one true way" like the infamous "cat moustache" puzzle in Gabriel Knight 3.  It was, in itself, a clever puzzle but it was 100% arbitrary and completely out of context, especially since the dude you were trying to disguise yourself at had no moustache.  (ASIDE: Dangit, why does this forum keep redlining me moustache?  That is a valid spelling!  Webster's dictionary says so!)

EDIT: And when it comes to tutorials, while most of us cringe at all the hand-holding tutorials that keep interrupting our play experience, I think Unlimited SaGa is one game that would have benefited from some hand-holding in-game tutorials.  I'm a hands-on learner so I get more out of in-game interactive tutorials than just reading a manual.  Like when I'm playing a new boardgame or card game, having a more expert player guiding my n00b ass through the rules of the game teaches me how to play more effectively than just reading the rules. 

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