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Blue In My Heart
Monday, November 4, 2002

I love shopping for clothes. I really do. I hadn't done it in almost a year, and I was kind of getting sick of my wardrobe. Unfortunately it kind of went over my original spending limit... and er, I still need more. Boo for not being able to find your winter jacket... yay for finding tons of cute shirts. It's so rare that I get this girly. *sigh*

In other news, I sort of kind of gave in and created a Fire Emblem community on LiveJournal. I came up with the idea a few weeks ago, but it wasn't until a FE fanatic/friend also suggested it that I actually made it. I'll spam the URL later, since it's er, still a work in progress. Now only if I could beat a FE game, that would be just awesome. With my work schedule somewhat calming down for now, I actually have time for a side project like this. Go me.

But you guys came here to read some letters, right?

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Mmm, Xeno rants-- wha, cel shading?

Hey Hey Liz! Been meaning to write for a while but you never have topics that I really wanna talk about. I COULD just rant with ya about KH, FFX, Xeno, etc, BUT...you bring up cel-shading.

I totally agree, cel-shading isn't necessary at all...in some cases it works but in others it just seems forced. GCN Zelda looks like it works well, but if it becomes a trend to make every game cel-shadded I think I might have to cry. It looks great, but if it starts poppin up left and right (as it is beginning to seem) it loses its initial flair.

Anyhoo, you mentioned you want someone to buy you Suiko3. Make you a deal, if you purchase or at least barrow a copy of 1 and 2, I shall buy you (no joke here) a copy of Suikoden III. You've been putting off the series for how long? Like two or three years! (At least since the second one came out if I recall). Gimme a hollar when ya do it, then we'll make arrangements.

Dade

Well, the thing is that cel shading isn't exactly in a hugely significant number of games as of yet. Still, I'm hearing people about it being overused and/or unnecessary. Now, I've not seen every single game it's used in, but I like how it looks in, well, Wild Arms 3 for example. I think it can work, or it can't, depending how it's used and works with the overall look of the game. I like how Zelda looks even more. I wouldn't yet consider cel shading overused, but if/when it gets to that point, it'll definitely lose that 'different' feel.

So, about Suikoden III... well, if you're really are serious, then I quite thank you for the gesture. But a) I wasn't all that serious, as I'd feel bad accepting free stuff (especially that pricey) from readers. And b) I might be able to acquire it by other means. Not free, mind you, but I can't really accept a $50 US game from someone. Unless it was for, say, my birthday or Christmas and even then I'd only ask family or Mike for something that expensive. :P And I know I did borrow Kingdom Hearts off someone, but that's still only a loan. By the by, I do own the first two games, though only burn copies... but I do still plan to play them! In fact I've played a fair chunk of the second one!

 
Yes, sir. Right away, sir.

Liz,

Hey, buddy. It's been a long time since I've written, but let me be one of the millions to say, BUY SUIKODEN III, if it takes the sacrafice of a few shitty PS2 or Gamecube games, so be it! While I loved FFX, I didn't expect this game to kick it in the balls...twice! Well, I hope you're willing to part with the crap that is Luigi's Mansion, or something, and come to the realization that you want this game. Good luck finding light, my friend.

Love,
Jimbob Ferdinand Antwain the Ninja

Wait, I own Luigi's Mansion? Wow, that's news to me... I'd remember owning a mediocre game like that, but then, I also owned a shitty game like Shanghai True Valor (don't ask, okay?). If you read my response to my previous letter, I'm acquiring Suikoden III... no, not stealing it either. I do need to sell some stuff though, and I keep eyeing my DVDs... except the one I have yet to watch. Oh well, time to dig around some more.
 
And all the random subjects are clashing...

Hi hi! It's the Koolaid fellow again, this time in grapey goodness. Mmm... grape koolaid... *ahem* There's some sort of topic or something that I'm supposed to adhere to, right? Two of 'em too...

Alrighty! First off, Mr. Koolaid's thoughts on... Cel Shaded Graphics. Ok. Now, I think I understand Zelda's use of this graphic style. I remember reading somewhere a while back that types of emotion and visuals that they wanted Link and his environment to sport just came together a LOT more easier than the results they were coming up with in the more Ocarina of Time-esqe style. And I can believe that. It's a good answer, I mean, from the viewpoint of Nintendo (not you sick purist fanboys or you people just LOOKING to vent on something non-conventional) their reasons for using the technology justifies its use and helps them realize their creativity the way they want to. I mean, cel shaded graphics are NOT bad at all. In the case of Robotech, Sly Cooper, and a couple others, it fits the overall style of the game. Makes you feel like the developers had a reason.

Lizzy gal, you made me think about WA 3. You know... I kinda like the game. But I really can't answer why in the heck they decided to go for Cel shaded graphics. I really can't. I wish I knew why... maybe the developers found the need to be 'different' just a little too compelling. See kids, WA 3 shows little to no reason as to why you'd use das Cel Shading over regular old whateveryouwannacallit graphics. But as long as there is a real reason as to wanting to use Cel shading, I'm all for it. It's kinda like having someone ask you why you blew $50 on a game. Note how "because I've played the game and liked it" makes more sense than "bcuz I herd it was teh kewl l33t shiznit ev4r!".

Now, Mr. Koolaid will relate his thoughts on... True RPGs. You know... I hate this arguement, because people tend to forget that this is really a subjective question. If it's an rpg, it's an rpg. Period. Like you said earlier, it just depends on what you're accustomed to. I'll take it a step further. It's also about what you have time for and what kinda game you like. I'll be darned the majority of GTA 3 lovers will also comment that they have a healthy obsession with Everquest (crack) or Dark Age of Camelot. And not every FF X lover is willing to hop on the FF XI bandwagon. There are really just different categories for rpgs, and we should all be thankful. You have your Everquest like rpgs (focusing on interaction with other living people) your FF X rpgs (focusing on a small group of protagonists vs epic odds).

Really tho, the key element of an RPG is having a multitude of stats to screw with. On top of that, some semblance of a story and plot, with a plethora of different characters. Different people will like different things. I hate EverCrack with a passion (bad experience, AND it just takes too much time and effort to feel satisfied), but I like Diablo 2 and PSO (which are more about, admittedly, items and building up a powerhouse and less about interaction). And I love console RPGs (because they effectively put me in the shoes of someone who is not me, and structured or not, makes me live as that person(s) for 40+ hrs of my life). It just depends on what you're all about, and what gives you your entertainment. Times are changing, and so are games... the more people that play, the harder it is to please the majority, and the more IMPOSSIBLE it becomes to define absolute, definitive lines on what a true RPG is. Hell, hasn't anyone noticed that Sports games and Wrestling games have certain RPG elements?

So yeah. Mr. Koolaid has rambled on too long already. I have Suikoden 3, Wild Arms 3, and FF X to play. Oops. Forgot something! Strategy RPGs. Liz, again, you make me think *shakes his finger disapprovingly*. It IS odd that I never noticed that I like strategy RPGs from which I see things on almost all sides of the story (good and bad). Like FF Tactics, or even better, Ogre Battle for the GBA. So very odd indeed. . Ah well, back to playing I go! Hope no one gets mad at me for writing so darn much... college life makes me want to express myself so much more when I'm almost sure that I actually know what the heck is being discussed...

Yeah, the cel shaded style of Zelda definitely brings out emotions, expressions, blah blah in Link, and you know this if you've seen (and heard) his spin attack in action. (Man that thing is hilarious). It definitely gives off the interactive cartoon feel, which is Nintendo's intention anyway, but expressions are much easier to see - and exaggerate - in that kind of graphical setting. I've only heard of a certain number of games that use cel shading, and I'd imagine the majority of them have a good reason, and the cel-shading being a nice touch to the game's graphics engine is a good enough reason for me, if it actually works.

Of course, often what you're accustomed to might also be what you like, in the case of the Lizard and her cousin. The former was accustomed to, and enjoys Square RPGs as presented in her letter, and not everyone accepts change easily. Not that she doesn't in particular, but I can assure you there are many console RPG lovers out there who dislike or are even afraid to try PC RPGs because they're so vastly different. Same goes for your GTA comparison. On the flipside, I know plenty who have the oddest choice of game genres, but to each his own. Or her. As for the FFX fans, 'not every' could very easily be changed to a small percentage and still be true in that sentence. I know not one person who plans to buy FFXI... and no that statement doesn't encompass all 545 of our board members. :P

But, yeah. Those seem to be the two most definite groups of RPGs as I pointed out, and obviously a reader and her cousin were split over those exact definitions of RPGs. And stats is a very valid point - how many non RPGs break down a character's statistics into so many little things? Not those wrestling games, I assure you. I have to admit that wrestling games with RPG elements is quite... er, something, anyway. And hey, there's a reason I didn't give a definition of a true RPG.

...and PSO is like crack, just less expensive. Addicting little bugger. I guess it's a good thing I couldn't afford it. Though speaking of types of RPGs, yes, strategy RPGs are fun. Now. kick my ass if I don't play FFT sometime in the next year. (Though with FE taking as long as it is, I wouldn't doubt it...)

 
Guy or girl? You'll never know.

Dear RPGFan,

First off I have to say I love your site. As you well know, this isnt my first time writing to your site. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. In a letter written to you guys about RPGs, there was this one dude who said he was arguing with his cousin about what "true blue RPGs" are. So, I figured I'd help him out and prvide my opinion on the subject.

First off, I agree with the guy completely about the point that RPGs are, in essence, interactive storybooks. You assume a character(whatever his/her name may be) and participate in all his/her adventures to complete the game. That is where the term RPG come from, because RPGs are Role Playing games. The Final Fantasy series is basically one of the true RPG series out there. This is becuase you assume a character, delve into his life, and in the end, take part in all sorts of adventures along with your character and his friends. To say that games where you assume multiple roles for a main character are "true RPGs" would be incorrect in my opinion. To me, assuming the role of a single character is better because not only is the story easier to follow, but you really begin to connect with that character throught his struggles in the game.

He also mentioned something about his cousin not liking a story that was previously layed out for your character to play. Yes, it WOULD be nice to have your own storyline and characters, but think about how difficult it would be to get a true experience out of your own made up storyline. This also brings up the argument about some games being too linear. Yes, some games are, but think about if games werent linear at all. We would all be roaming around our RPG world, looking for something to do that would progress the story. Thats my input on that subject, so I'd like to hear others as well.

The last thing I would like to address is the turn based battle system constantly found in various RPGs. My first turn based RPG was the ever awsome Final Fantasy III for Super Nintendo(also known as FFVI in Japan). This battle system happens to be my favorite because it's a lot more strategical than the basic hack 'n slash battle system. Sure real time action is fun, but many people nowadays prefer their RPGs to be tough. No one wants to spend 40 or 50 dollars for a game that they can hack their way through in less than 20 hours. Games like Kingdom Hearts though, are incredible no matter what battle system they incorporate. Although Kingdom Hearts uses a real time action battle system, it manages to maintain a really good difficulty, as well as a fairly decent length for an Action RPG.

Overall, there are many RPGs that many different people prefer. Some like the hack n' slash, others prefer the more strategical turn based. It is up to us in the end to determine our preference. So, i'll end this letter saying one fact that cannot be argued. RPGs are the best games ever made :) Until next time!

Sincerely,
ExpertGamer30134

Plenty of RPGs, especially console ones, are definitely interactive storybooks, however I doubt that the likes of EverQuest have enough of a story to be compared to an interactive storybook, so RPGs as a whole can't really be classified as such. Now, console RPGs on the other hand...

Well, I'm not totally sure what you mean by multiple roles for a main character... most console RPGs, while some having a huge cast, often have a central character. In online RPGs, you create your own character and normally use just him or her... I mean, you can only be one character at once, even if you make several, right? I doubt online players would create too many characters, and if they do they use single characters for a long time, at least.

Well hey, it's possible to have your own storyline and characters - go play a D&D RPG traditional style or a MUD or something. I've been to something similar before, and I see people focus way too much on the story than anything else and even that gets rather out of hand, ruining everything. And nothing's wrong with linear games. Heck, we need them for the less bright ones among us who might not be able to grasp too many plot points, or something.

Eh... I think real time action provides a bit more of a challenge for some people, as opposed to turn based battles. The latter actually lets you decide your next move and take all your time in the world without risk, while action RPGs put you on the spot and you don't have much time to decide your next move.. it's all reflexes, I think. Sure, KH would be a tad easier if you didn't have oh, magic spells and the fact that you had to heal your party yourself... as well a a few other abilities that you gain while making progress through the game.

 
WTH is a gamebox?

One more thing to my last E-mail I asked my Brother in law to give me his imput and in case your intrested I sending it here. It makes alot of sence. But what I want is what you think.

Here is my input. An RPG as it is know today is this: A game where you have a character, and have to be that character you have to live their life. You usually have a quest, if you didn't it would be your life, not a fantasy. So you take this character, and go on your quest. You make choices, that gain experience, weopons or moves (leveling up) you eventually finish your quest, and this is the game. Most RPG's are Fantasy Adventures such as the FF series, Legend of Dragoon etc... This is what you will find if you do a search on RPG on the internet, on eBay, on any shopping website.

When you look a little deeper, many games are RPG's as the definition goes. Role Playing Game. In Tony Hawk, you have a character that you use, you do tasks, to gain experience, and moves (leveling up) you have many goals you need to accomplish the final task, which is to get gold medals in all the competitions. You cannot finish the game until you have acheived the goals, your character would be too weak. Just like FF if you do not level up, you cannot move on.

I would say that RPG has a huge realm of games that fit under the heading, it is not even limited to fantasy. Harvest moon is an RPG, but doesn't look like FF at all.

That's my take, and stop arguing with Joe, we both know that's useless, he has a gamebox for crying out loud!

-The Lizard

Yep, the term RPG encompasses a large amount of games, some vastly different, and that's why there's no solid definition of a true RPG. However, there's all sorts of differences between Tony Hawk and an actual RPG, but with my brain in shutdown mode, all I can say is that RPGs usually are bigger, much more epic quests than winning competitions. Of course, Internet searches won't show you an automatic definition of an RPG, just.. more popular things that might come to mind when one thinks of an RPG, which... again, doesn't equal a true definition, at least not always.

...That said, I still want to know what a gamebox is.

 
Yes, college will do that to you.

hey guys,

just thought I'd send you an email since i haven't done so in quite a while. as usual, i just wanted to say keep up the good work!

now, i think FFX-2 is looking like a good game, and i am interested in the story, but i am wondering what the battle system is going to be like.

now, i have a question for you...I'd a college student and don't have a lot of money, and i want to play all kinds of rpgs, but i don't have the systems or the games. i would like to know of place online where i could possibly rent these titles, seeing as how my local video stores don't carry them.

thanks a lot
Jon Baldwin

FFX-2's battle system definitely looks to have a few action elements, but with it being so early, I could be way way off, though something tells me I'm not. I'm really curious about the story, since that's the one thing we haven't heard anything about, even though we know Yuna's looking for Tidus. And Rikku's tagging along. And that there's a mysterious new character...

Anyway, from what I've seen, there's no such place on the Internet like that, and I think I would have come across it by now if there was. Of course, if I'm wrong, someone can be nice enough to let me know, I hope. Please? It'd be much appreciated.

 
Closing Thoughts

Well, I'm willing to hear more on this whole RPG defining business, since it became a popular subject before making it into my actual topic rather quickly. It sure got you folks talking, so it must be of some interest. So speak damnit. :P

~ Liz, ever so protective of her precious egg nog. Oh yes. (letters@rpgfan.com)



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