More stuff what I wrote

It’s been a rough few months, and it seems like the roughness is simply accelerating as we approach the end of the year. It’s like the Zeno’s Paradox of stress: As we approach the target point (hereafter referred to as “the holidays”) my anxiety doubles with each increment. Actually, that’s not really like Zeno’s Paradox at all. I blame the stress for my poor metaphor-making abilities. But soon the “the holidays” will arrive and we will be asleep. I guess that’s good! I can’t tell anymore.

Anyway, here is some stuff I’ve produced for work lately with which I am fairly satisfied. I don’t know if that’s because it’s good work or if I’m just so sleep-deprived I can’t tell anymore, but hey.

  • Why Do We Play Final Fantasy?: This is the second in what was supposed to be a regular series of features that examine long-running franchises, what their fans think, and what challenges they face in the future. Unfortunately, the first of these features appeared sometime back in, like, April. So that hasn’t worked out so well. But, I am happy with the results of this article; you don’t often see commentary from developers appear side-by-side with opinions belonging to regular gamers. It’s a nice effect.
  • Rocket Knight preview: This is why I was down in L.A. yesterday, and I have to admit I was a little reluctant to give a day over to covering a game we’ve already written about so extensively. But then I played it, and it was pretty great. The controls were completely intuitive, and I was bouncing around the screen (in a measured way!) within seconds of picking up the controller. It’s fast-paced and responsive. It’s pretty much what I want from a 2D game.
  • Active-Time Babble V: The topic is pretty dumb! “What is an RPG?” But it’s good to have gotten it out of the way. We don’t come to any real conclusions, of course, but the conversation was good. It was really about the journey rather than the destination anyway.

11 thoughts on “More stuff what I wrote

  1. I think Rocket Knight just went up the anticipation scale for me too. I didn’t like the original screenshots, but seeing it moving it almost looks like Klonoa to me. There’s something about the way the perspective causes the ground to roll under the player and the fact that the camera shifts subtly to give you slightly more cinematic perpsectives that reminds me of that series. I would love to see a downloadable Klonoa game!

    As for Active Time Babble I think it was the best episode yet… replacing last week’s episode which was the old best episode yet :)

    I try not to get pulled into semantic arguments, especially about genre distinctions, but I found the very intersting and TERRIBLY frustrating in a good way. I wanted to be in the room giving my own opinion.

    Haven’t read the Final Fantasy article yet but I plan to at some point.

  2. I’ve been playing FF since the very first one on NES. I’m one of those fans that has enjoyed all of them on some level. I think you really got to the root of its popularity, many people’s dislike for it, and its success in the future. It’s a really fair article.

  3. Very interesting read on the Final Fantasy article. I’ve found myself in that camp that you describe as having trepidation towards the next installment. Honestly, I’ve had it for years. Ever since FFVI, there seems to be no real consistent quality in the series. Of course, some of that may have to do with the entries we never got, as some of them weren’t that strong, either (FF2 and FF5, although many would disagree).

    I have to admit, there are exceptions to the rule. I enjoyed FFX, and FFVII, while I love to try to hate on it, is a mostly competently executed game, it’s just not Chrono Trigger. But then again, what is?

    Anyway, I applaud your fairly even-handed approach. Well done. Now we just have to wait for the comments thread to explode, if they haven’t already. ;)

  4. Despite what you folks seemed to think on the podcast, you managed to sort-of-define what people mean when they say “RPG” or “RPG elements” in a fairly coherent, cogent manner. What it boils down to for me isn’t just “numbers” or “stats” but whether my character(s) inherently get(s) “better” whether or not my ability to play the game does.

    Thus, I do think of Borderlands as half RPG, since your character’s ability to do things is as much a product of your skill at controlling him/her as it is about your stats, the abilities you chose, the weapons/shields you use, etc. BioShock, though, is merely a game with RPG elements, since all the times I died in it had more to do with my failing to play the game well than they did me not having a high enough Constitution.

  5. Great podcast/articles. I say, if it’s fun to play but boring to watch, it’s probably an RPG. (Or a sports game – but again, stats, strategy… where do you draw the line?)

    I’m definitely in the “wary about FF13” category. FF12 left me so ambivalent – it proved that Square could still make a great game, but it also showed a certain corporate tone-deafness and a seeming tendency of the company to drive away their greatest talents.

  6. I understand that you aren’t going to rip a game to shreds when the developer gave you special access to the work in progress, but the Rocket Knight article almost felt like an advertisement. I can’t imagine journalists who write about other forms of entertainment doing such kowtowing. The game clearly doesn’t have much of a budget and Climax is far from a top-tier developer, and even if they were, their regional difference would cause the game to follow fundamentally different aesthetics from the original. If a record company released a new album under a famous band’s name, but all of the musicians were different and most of the guitars were actually synthesized to save money, professional music writers would not be expected to be so polite.

  7. Sturat – I understand you aren’t going to understand how video game development works, when someone truly passionate about a project has worked three years to actually get it made out of sheer love for the original property. but in any other medium when a franchise had been forgotten and someone brought it back, most people would at least give it a chance because maybe that person had a good reason for doing so.

  8. Jeremy- In your article, you wrote that Rocket Knight has a stage with NPCs battling each other, which is similar to the intro stage in Mega Man X. Not that it’s important Jeremy, but when does the player see this? I cannot remember anything in the intro stage except for cars that attack the player.

  9. Tomm – It’s surprising that you would take such a condescending tone while essentially saying that time and passion will overcome budget limitations and regional aesthetic biases. We’ll have to see at launch time whether the developers’ passion has fixed the uncharismatic characters who don’t look like they’re touching the ground on which they’re standing.

  10. Well this is certainly a discussion standing at the precipice of ugliness.

    I am kind of embarrassed that I enjoyed the game mechanics and control implementation of the demo enough that I didn’t notice far more important and game-breaking issues like the characters’ feet not appearing to touch the ground, though. I’m a disgrace to the industry.

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