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Topics - Dincrest

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Brush and Quill / Standalone fantasy novels thread
« on: June 21, 2015, 04:12:09 PM »
It's clear that many of us here on the forums are avid readers of fantasy novels.  Heck, RPGFan is the reason I read (both present and past tense) series like A Song of Ice and Fire, Coldfire, Mistborn, and currently The Stormlight Archive to name a few.

Now, as much as I like series and I'm currently invested in the still ongoing The Stormlight Archive and A Song of Ice and Fire, sometimes the thought of investing time and money into a big series (even a "manageable" trilogy, which us voracious readers can easily tear through) seems daunting.  Like an obligation or a chore.  Sometimes people only have time to read maybe one book a season and the idea of a 10 book series elicits a "yeah... NO!" reaction, even though they WANT to get into fantasy.  Kinda like how several of us only have so much time to play RPGs that we only play a small handful a year or favor shorter (15-25 hour) titles than 50-75 hour epics. 

So while the "standalone fantasy novel" is a rarity these days for several reasons, what are some of the good ones you folks have read?  The ones that start and end between two covers.  That don't have sequels.  That aren't part of a larger series.  That stand alone as independent entities.  I know several of our favorite authors have had standalone books (like Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, Guy Gavriel Kay).  How have those works been? 

The Soundroom / Album cover art thread- is this a dying art?
« on: March 29, 2015, 02:49:11 PM »
Those of us who grew up with LPs and CDs remember the days of really cool album cover art and liner notes.  I particularly liked White Zombie's Astro Creep 2000 liner notes with all of Rob Zombie's artwork.  And those of us who grew up in the 1980s or 1990s will remember the album cover controversies with stuff like Guns 'n Roses' "Appetite for Destruction" or Nirvana's "Nevermind."  With the advent of digital music, I feel like cover art is becoming a dying art.  So, let's talk about our favorite album covers.

My all time favorite album cover is easily that of "Gentlemen" by Afghan Whigs.  The boy's face... wow! / The album itself is great too.  

Another album cover that just screams cool to me is "The Black Halo" by Kamelot.  I can't put my finger on why I dig it, I just do.  I haven't heard that album yet, save for one song, but I'm sure it's just as good as its cover since Kamelot is a pretty consistent band:  

And although it's vulgar and disgusting (much like the band's music), the cover art for "Sperm Tsunami" by a local punk band called Sparklefight is really well drawn.

So, yeah, what are/were some of your favorite album covers?  

General Discussions / "Their early stuff was better" discussion
« on: March 19, 2015, 06:22:59 PM »
We say this all the time, right?  About music, games, authors, and other media.  So I ask, was the early stuff truly better? 

I say yes and no.  With music, I often say a band's early stuff is better because it's more raw, gritty, heartfelt, and material written when they were struggling so it's from a place I can relate to.  Later stuff might be better musically, but it lacks that "heart."  Like when a band breaks, they start living high off the hog, partying at the Playboy mansion, get the red carpet rock star treatment, and the second album is not from a place of struggle.  That's why so many abuse drugs and alcohol to make their lives all f'd up so they can return to that place of struggle, but it's artificial. 

We can think of many game companies whose earlier works were inspired but later became insipid after they peaked and it's been a downward spiral. 

What exceptions do you see out there, where something  became better later on?  (One band I see that way is Testament.  They were an excellent thrash band in the 1980s, but were overlooked.  But when all the other 1980s thrash bands kinda wussed out, Testament went death metal and became heavier and now I think they're a million times better now than Slayer or Anthrax.) 

So, yeah, let's talk the "their early stuff was better" sentiment regarding games, music, etc. 

Anime, TV, and Movies / The movie was better than the book. wut?
« on: February 17, 2015, 07:58:33 PM »
When it comes to movies based on books, we always say or hear, "the book was better!" But are there any cases where you thought the movie was better than the book?

In this conversation, I always mention The Whale Rider, because the book and movie serve as good companion pieces to each other. The movie is told from the perspective of the girl whereas the book is told from the perspective of her uncle. So scenes that were in the movie couldn't be in the book and vice versa, since those were times when the girl and the uncle were in different places.

And recently, I'd have to say I preferred the film version of Divergent over the books (I read all three; enjoyed the first two, hated the third.) A big reason for that is that some of the event scripting makes more logical sense in the movie than the book. For example,
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when Four takes Tris into his Fear Simulation and they're in his fear of heights, she says, "This is not real. Let's just jump." In the book, she's encouraged to jump and break the simulation. But in the movie, Four stops her and says, "No" because a divergent would jump, break the fourth wall, and that would give her away to the enemy. So he trained her to think like a Dauntless and overcome the fear simulations in the more narrowminded Dauntless way.

The analogy I've been using the most this year is the one about dating a girl who's totally your type on paper, but on an actual night out that chemistry, that intangible "spark" just isn't there.  You have to keep justifying and rationalizing all their good points to yourself objectively and it kills you.  You know you should be happy, but you're not and that cognitive dissonance stresses you out.  

Of course, there's the converse situation where you're set up with a girl who's not really the type you usually go for, but that chemistry, that intangible spark, that "oh YEAH!" feeling is there.  You're not questioning your joy, you're just enjoying it.  

I've used this analogy a LOT this year talking about games, books, movies, music all kinds of things both old and new.  For example this year, I eagerly anticipated Bravely Default because it was totally my type of game, but I couldn't get into it.  That "spark" just wasn't there.  On the other hand, I had little interest in Lightning Returns, but I tried it out on an "eh, why not" whim and I enjoyed it more than I thought.  More than Bravely Default, that's for sure.  

So what are some of the games, books, movies, music, etc. that have fallen into these paradigms for you?  The "totally your type and everything you want, but you don't 'want' it."  The "Not really my type but eh, why not?........ hey, I'm really diggin' it!"  


Game Journals / Dincrest plays Chrono Cross (and Chrono Trigger DS) PlayLog
« on: December 11, 2014, 05:22:54 PM »
So with the insistence of everyone, I'm making my Chrono Cross journal.  I'm making a Cliff Notes version of my progress so far and will put in more details later.  

With all the talk about classic games and some of our idols wanting to return to form (e.g. Dice playing FF7 and reminding us why we love it and JRPGs in the first place, the news story of Uematsu wanting to do a 2D RPG like FF6, Legend of Legacy), I decided to revisit Chrono Cross on a whim.  I've had a love/hate relationship with Chrono Cross.  I didn't get into it at first, but later on I loved it, but never finished it.  I think part of it was that I like character-driven RPG storylines and many characters in CC get little development.  But when someone pointed out that the game is really about the world/setting, the El Nido Archipelago, I viewed it that way and had a better time with it.  Final Fantasy VII is another game I had a major love/hate relationship with, but I eventually fell into the love camp.

Oh my goodness, I forgot how freaking cool that game was!  The colorful no-holds-barred style and the music.  I could listen to this overworld theme for days:  It and FF6 definitely had two of the best JRPG soundtracks ever and oddly enough, the only track I dislike in either soundtrack is the normal battle theme.  Go figure.

Because I'd forgotten a lot of the game so I'm playing it from a semi-fresh perspective.  

I like how in that first sequence of the game in the tower, the third party member who goes with Serge and Kid is always random.  This time, I got Miki.  Dreaming about going through a dungeon with a hot chick and an annoying Kid I kill at the end of the dream?  Sure why not?      

Doing the Arni stuff, all I'm thinking is "Man, Leena is one high maintenance, pushy, and demanding girlfriend who has Serge completely whipped.  He ought to dump her carcass and play the field."  I didn't want to do the komodo scale hunt for a girl I didn't like and tried to pass off a found scale to her, but no dice.  I also wanted to shove the people out of the way of the save point in Arni since they have no use for it.  

So after the Arni stuff, it's dimension-switching time.  Bringing Home World people to Another World (and vice versa) and having them meet is fun.  I did that with Poshul since I had her.  I also later did that with the poetry girl and a bunch of others.  

After that battle at Serge's grave, I let Kid tag along.  

Anyway, to get to Viper Manor... I decided to do Nikki's path since A) Miki was in Serge's dream and that felt "right" and B) I remember Nikki being more plot-relevant than the powerful-but-underdeveloped Guile and useless fop Pierre.  

And when Harle was hitting on Serge, I wonder if he was thinking, "I should've gone out into the world sooner and find cooler chicks who don't have that 'big fish in small pond' entitled mentality like Leena."  Sure, Harle'd probably pump him and dump him, but you know what they say about crazy chicks, so Serge would've had crazymonkeyfun with her for a night.  

After Viper Manor, I decided not to save Kid.  If there was nothing that could be done, I'll cut my losses and more forward.  In NG+, I'll save Kid.  So I ended up with Macha (an underrated red innate), Doc (who sucks), and Glenn (who's Glenn).  It's kinda like the choice in Star Ocean 2.  Do you recruit Ashton, or do you forego him for Opera and/or Ernest?  I've done both, and much preferred Ashton.  In the case of Chrono Cross, if you save Kid you get Korcha (who sucks), Mel (who's usable), and Razzly (who's good).  And since I went the "Ashton" route, I chose Glenn over Razzly.  

I also recruited Greco, so I have an overabundance of red innates.  

Pirate ship dungeon was annoying since I got poisoned a lot and didn't have a lot of poison cures.  I recruited the mascot creature thing that I let out of Luccia's lab.  


Water Dragon section.  I could have sworn one of the dwarves looked like he was peeing in one of the fairy cave springs.  What a filthy creature.  It was fun to wantonly slaughter them all.  And I like how Chrono Cross went really creative with the dragons' designs.  They don't look like traditional dragons at all.  The water dragon looks like a frog, fire dragon was tiny...

Then I got philosophical:  I can't remember who it was, but someone made an interesting point about Chrono Cross- that the characters who seem like they'd be complete jokes are actually surprisingly good.  Macha and Poshul spring to mind first.  Macha seems like she'd be a joke character, but is one of the strongest red-innates and she can be a beast.  And while Poshul is easy to dismiss as a stupid mascot character, she's quite the tank and she's a yellow-innate, which are underrepresented.  

Then, I did the Fire Dragon dungeon and got to Fort Dragonia, which got a little annoying in places so ADD got the better of me and I fired up the ol' SNES and played some Chrono Trigger with my awesome save (everyone with levels in the 90s 'cept Magus who's in the 70s).  Still a killer classic.  Bringing Crono's friends home to meet his mom never gets old, especially Frog and Ayla.

And my thinking about Chrono Cross spawned a new discussion thread about sequels and follow-ups:

And I realized that what makes Cross so good is that it's pretty much the opposite of everything Trigger was.

Anyway, I'm 3/4s done with Fort Dragonia now (some of the status effects are a pain in the neck) and my party has mostly been Serge, Nikki, and Glenn.  I like my Serge, Nikki, Glenn team.  
And the battles.  I dislike the standard battle theme music, but battles themselves are pretty creative and fun.  Back in the day, I felt like there were too many things to keep track of, but now that I'm used to Idea factory and Compile Heart games from reviewing them for the site, Chrono Cross's battles are quite manageable.  And, so far, the bosses are pretty easy.  Then again, I do have Glenn.  

The graphics have not aged well.  The prerendered backgrounds look fine, but the polygons look rough, even with the PS3's texture smoothing on.

General Discussions / On the subject of sequels, follow ups, etc.
« on: December 08, 2014, 07:57:38 PM »
In replaying Chrono Cross, I kept thinking about it and Chrono Trigger.  Chrono Trigger captured a certain type of magic that's made it a timeless classic.  Chrono Cross followed it and while it could be considered the better game, it left a lot of people feeling cold.  I didn't like it, initially because I was expecting Chrono Trigger part deux and got something that felt out of left field.  Replaying it now, I love it for that.  I love that it's the complete opposite of everything Chrono Trigger was and is brilliant for that. 

So when it comes to sequels, follow-ups, etc. of games, movies, books, albums, etc. that you really love, how does change play into your opinion?  Like if the follow-up to a beloved album does things completely differently than its predecessor, do you laud it for creativity or burn it for straying too far from what made the predecessor great?  But then if the follow-up is very similar to the predecessor, do you laud it for saying true to its roots or lament it for stagnating?  And if you revisit a sequel that you once reviled later in life and now find it brilliant, do you think to yourself, "Man, I wish I had seen the brilliance of it back in the day?" 

So, yeah, let's talk about our perceptions of sequels/follow-ups to beloved classics.

The Soundroom / Favorite albums of 2014
« on: December 05, 2014, 07:37:40 PM »
It's about that time again to talk about our favorite albums of 2014.  What were some of yours?  

I'll be honest, I haven't listened to as much new music as I'd like to, but one EP that's wormed its way into my head and I haven't been able to stop playing is "To Shape the Mold" by Divot.  Divot is an upstate NY band that I shared the stage with and thought were cool.  Stylistically, they're in the vein of Chevelle, Deftones, Tool, that sort of thing.  "Succubus" is my favorite song.  I like dat riff.

Game Journals / Let's write an RPG story- A Journal penned by all!
« on: November 22, 2014, 06:20:18 PM »
You know how Round Robins work- I write a bit, the next person writes a bit, so on and so forth to create an RPG style storyline.  Contributions could be anything from a sentence to multiple paragraphs.  Yeah, this could be in brush 'n quill or something, but those get no traffic and no participation, and this board does get traffic.  So that's why it's here.  I had a LOT of fun with that old "Let's create a cliche RPG story" one a few years ago, and I thought I'd try again.  Anyway, here goes.  

The kingdom of Strassle is on the eve of the Century Celebration festival!  After a great war ravaged the land 100 years ago, each year of rebuilding has been punctuated by a festival to boost and bolster community morale.  Over time, the once scorched earth grew into a prosperous kingdom.  This year, the festival will be extra special, because it marks 100 years that the kingdom has grown and stayed strong.  On the outskirts of Strassle proper (a sprawling and bustling castle city, where the festival takes place), dawn breaks on Madora- a hamlet renowned for its horse ranches.  Sunlight cascades through the window of an unassuming house on a modest ranch and onto the eyes of a teenage girl, causing her to blink awake...

Anime, TV, and Movies / Let's talk horror movies, shall we?
« on: November 01, 2014, 09:28:07 AM »
I know Halloween is over, but I know there are horror buffs here.  So what's your favorite type of scary movie?  Slashers like Texas Chainsaw Massacre?  Torture films like Saw?  Alfred Hitchcock style thrillers?  Monster movies?

For me, I dislike the torture films and could take or leave slashers, but I love me a good monster movie. 

General Discussions / The controllers thread
« on: May 31, 2014, 08:24:58 AM »
Ahh, the controller.  Source of great joy as it provides the tactile link between us and the action on a video game screen.  And also the source of frustration as several controllers have probably been thrown due to platforming pitfalls.  Many remember the evolution of the Atari joysticks to the iconic rectangular NES controller to the more ergonomic designs of controllers in newer systems. 

So which controller is your favorite?  Which one just feels right in your hands and allows you to play for hours without realizing it? 

So far, for me, Sony's post-DualShock controllers fit the best in my hands.  Nintendo's GameCube controller was fantastic as well, except for the piston-esque shoulder triggers that were sometimes hard to push.  Had the shoulder triggers been button-like as in the Dreamcast's controller, it would be perfect. 

General Discussions / World Cup 2014 (starts June 12, kiddies!)
« on: May 24, 2014, 04:51:44 PM »
Anyone else into it?  It starts next month.  When it comes to sports I prefer to be out playing them than watching.  I can take or leave televised sports, but when it's World Cup time, that's the only time I become an obsessive sports fan. 

I just think it's interesting that World Cup is the only time you can go to an American sports bar and hear nobody rooting for America.  Everyone is a fan of a foreign country's football team (usu. Brazil.)  

I just hope that this year the refs are actually competent and/or they start using instant replays because last time there were just too many BS calls.  I still remember the last cup tourney being a "WTF refs!?!?!?!?!?!" cup.  Japan was totally robbed due to BS cards called on them.

Speaking of, Japan is a team I'm keeping my eye on.  Looking at their performance the past two cups, they're shaping up to be a dark horse team.  I don't see them getting any podiums, but they'll probably have some teams on the ropes.  Sure, now you have power players like Brazil, Argentina, Spain, etc. but I can see balance of power eventually shifting.  

With so many Kickstarters out there and games hoping to make the cut for Steam Greenlight, I thought I'd start a thread where we share those projects that have piqued our interest this year.  The ones that we hope make it because they appeal to us in some way.  

A few of mine:
Dragon Fin Soup by Grimm Bros. Workshop
This one looks like pure fun and it has style.  

Legena by Grandpa Pixel This one hasn't hit Kickstarter yet, but I did have a chance to try out a really brief demo.  Yes, the game looks very retro, but it plays fairly modern.  I had more fun with it than I thought I would and I liked the music.  

And though its Kickstarter is over and it was already funded, Revolution 60 by Giant Spacekat. This one's slated to release this year and the press demo I played last year appealed to me a lot.  This is the game I'm most excited about this year.  

I'm obviously interested in the new Shantae that was funded.  I was interested in Soul Saga by Disaster Cake, but it looks like the guy doesn't seem to have a solid plan in how to allocate his funds.

So, yeah, what are the games you've discovered that you'd like to see Kickstarter'd or Greenlighted this year?

Single-Player RPGs / Inazuma Eleven
« on: February 23, 2014, 02:29:12 PM »
You know, "the soccer RPG" by Level-5 that came out in 2008 and, over the years, spawned a manga and anime series.  

It came out on the 3DS eShop about 10 days ago and was a complete surprise to me and pretty much everyone.  Is anyone else out there playing this?  I'm only dabbling with it a little bit since I'm pretty busy with life, but so far I'm enjoying it.  I never expected to see this baby actually drop in North America and am even more surprised that it just appeared with no fanfare.  Kind of a "surprise launch."  EDIT:  In a sea of "me too" JRPGs, this one does offer a unique flavor and I hope/wish more people knew about it. 

I know that the flavor of the month is Bravely Default, but surely someone else out there noticed Inazuma Eleven as well.  

Brush and Quill / Storytelling discussion- when multiple authors write.
« on: December 24, 2013, 09:56:12 AM »
Seeing this meme ( reminded me of something: I enjoy round robins, and this tandem storytelling thing. 

I remember we used to do a ton of those here.  This one was especially fun until we ran out of gas. I love how it started out stupid, but then turned into a surprisingly good story.  I definitely had too much fun writing Taressa.   

I also remember that it was often difficult sometimes, because of keeping the integrity of what others before me wrote and hoping that what I wrote was clear enough that others would keep the integrity of what I wrote.  And when things got derailed, it was a challenge to work the derailments into the plot (e.g. the one time someone had Miles not pee in his interdimensional toilet purely for plot purposes so Taressa would spot him).  It was still loads of fun, though and it really kept my mind sharp to keep things cohesive.

I remember a professor in grad school once telling me that she and three other professors attempted to write a textbook thinking "four of us, less work" but it turned out to be more work since they all had such different writing styles; e.g. one wrote with more sweeping generalizations whereas another one wrote with tons of intricate detail and getting everyone on the same page was tough. 

So what do you think of stories penned by multiple authors?  Can you tell the difference?  And if you can't, does that impress you?  And what about book series when, say, one author is unable to continue and another one takes his/her place (like Sanderson taking over for Jordan with Wheel of Time.)  What about in games- like in Lost Odyssey where there was that vast disconnect in writing styles between Sakaguchi's penning of the game scenarios and the novelist who penned the "Power Point" cutscenes. 

So yeah, let's talk about stories with multiple authors and the fun of round robins and tandem stories.  Anyone think we should try the tandem story thing here?  Like each of us pick a partner and we do a tandem story?  Or try starting another round robin thread again?  SOmetimes those go hit or miss. 

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