Revolutions

So I saw Matrix: Revolutions last Friday. Nice movie, entertaining to watch, but it’s not as deep as you’d expect, and the Matrix trilogy really ends not with a bang but with a whisper. I like

this review

, it analyzes things very well.


I feel like quitting Warcraft III for a while — maybe a couple of weeks. I’m not really getting any better at it, and I’m a bit bored with it now. Maybe the patch will help things. Or maybe I’m just being moddy again. I really want to play more games, but there’s never enought ime.


Square has

a flash-based FXX-2 site up.

I like the voice samples they have available. I think I’ll like this game.


I don’t know why I bothered, but I signed up for

nanowrimo

again. I have like half a novel’s worth of plot running around in my head. Whether I find the time to commit it to something printable is another matter entirely.

All Saints and Souls

Whee…holiday. For those not from the Philippines, All Saints Day and All Souls Day are non-working holidays for us, and the roads are generally jammed anywhere near cemeteries as Filipinos flock to the graveyards to remember their deceased loved ones. Sadly, since my folks are out of town, and I have no idea how to get to the resting place of my grandparents without them, all I can do is say a prayer for them right here. *says a silent prayer*

Anyway, I bought Temple of Elemental Evil today. I hear it’s quite buggy though — I’ll wait for a patch before actually playing it. But installing the game allowed me to make a discovery…I’m low on hard disk space! I’m not sure how it happened, since I believe that a week ago I still had some 15 or more gigs of space available, but earlier I was down to 2 Gb. A quick scan told me that there was no disk error involved — so I decided to chuck some stuff from the PC. Out went Baldur’s Gate (I like the game, but I really can’t seem to get myself to play it very often) and Neverwinter Nights (yes, it’s infinitely replayable given the available modules, but why play mods when there are new full-length games like ToEE available?) After uninstalling these games and getting rid of some old Naruto eps, I was back up to a still-tight-but-healthy 6 gigs.

Well, checking out the disk space led to other stuff, so now I’m resigned to spending the rest of the night cleaning up the stuff on the computer, installing new programs, getting rid of old ones, and lots of other general maintenance work.

Chances are I’ll be goofing again in a while though. Just like now…

27-JUL-2003: I have made a terrible mistake

  • I installed Civilization III, and told myself, “Gee, I guess
    I’ll try it out for an hour or so.” I didn’t stop for six hours.
    So much for getting anything done over the weekend.
  • Luckily (or not), my being awake those six hours of early morning
    allowed me to catch some late-breaking news. Apparently, disgruntled
    young officers of the not-so-prestigious Armed Forces of the Philippines
    had taken control of some building in Makati, laying bombs and stuff
    around and with snipers on the roof and all. Not sure, what’s going
    on, but hey, at least it’s never boring in good old RP.
  • There seem to be quite a number of broken links around here.
    I’ll get around to fixing them soon. Maybe.
  • Curses, I ate up my quota of email bandwidth from
    Softhome again. Now I have to wait
    ’til August before I can check that address again.
  • Apparently, this website is now named “roywantsmeat”, after my
    battle.net account. If I ever get a domain name, that’s what I would
    use. roywantsmeat.com!

Square Enix

Anyway, I’ve had a couple of days to think about it, so I’d like to share my thoughts on the matter.

First, the facts:

Enix and Square are merging. Square stock will be bought out for Enix stock at 0.81 Square per 1 Enix. The Square president will be head of Square Enix, the Enix board remains in place, they’ll move into Enix headquarters in Shibuya.

All currently announced releases will go on as scheduled. A FF/DW merger may be in the offing, but no definite plans, and probably only as a side release. No personnel will be let go.

Squaresoft is: Final Fantasy, Chrono, Xeno, SaGa, Mana and assorted other titles.

Enix is: Dragon Quest/Warrior, Soul Blazer series, 7th Saga, Actraiser, Tri-Ace (Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile), and a lot of stuff that never made it outside Japan. Enix also has a deal with GameArts on co-developing the Grandia series.

Sony, one of Square’s major stockholders, will have it’s shares diluted to 8% of Square/Enix.

Namco, another game company also has some stock in both Square and Enix, and is the publisher of Xenogears’ prequel, Xenosaga.

Square also has a US publishing deal with EA, set to expire at the end of the year. (This last tidbit may not mean anything…)

Square also recently acquired the Quest team (responsible for Tactics Ogre series) and the rights to the Ogre Battle franchise.

Okay, what can we see?

First off, Enix will be in control, at least at first. Although the Square guy will be Pres, the Pres can always be overridden by the board, and the Enix board will remain in place until they hold a stockholder election thingy, whatever that’s called. You might think this is bad “Oh no, Enix is in control, that means FF is doomed!” Of course not. They’re not stupid. The fact is that Enix being in control of the company’s vision and direction makes more sense in light of Square and Enix’s overlapping powers. Square develops most of it’s products in-house, while Enix publishes a lot of products from other developers like Tri-Ace and Gamearts. Therefore, it makes more sense for Enix to be in control of administrative/business stuff, leaving Square staff to focus on what they do best — game development.

But what does this mean to us as gamers? In the immediate future, nothing really. All the currently announced projects are unaffected: we’ll still get FFXI, FFXII, FF:Crystal Chronicle, FFTA, Unlimited Saga, etc. The only thing I’ve found people to be questioning on message boards is whether FF1-2 (which still doesn’t have a definite announcement of a US release) will have an English version. This is a possible concern, as Enix didn’t even bother to release an English version of their own DW4. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a collection of DW4 and FF1-2? 😛 (Addendum: FF1-2 has been announced for US release.)

But after the immediate future, what then? Square Enix will almost
certainly continue the Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior lines. The future for the Chrono series also seems bright, as the original Chrono Trigger was a collaboration between Square and some of Enix’s creative staff. Stuff from Tri-Ace and GameArts will probably go on as before, seeing as these development studios are mostly independent of Enix anyway. And if we’re lucky, we’ll get another Soul Blazer trilogy.

What I worry about are Square’s “secondary” RPG series: SaGa and Mana. Now that Square Enix will have two “big” series under it’s roof, will they still have time to develop these still-young series?

Although not really related to the merger, things also look bright for fans of FFTactics. Aside from the upcoming FFTA, Square’s acquisition of Quest and the Ogre Battle franchise means we’ll probably see more FFT/TacticsOgre type games coming from them. Combined with the unique gameplay perspective of Tri-Ace, who knows what interesting games will come out?

I’ve been looking around on message boards after the news came out, and it seems a lot of people are worried about how Enix might screw up Final Fantasy, or Square screw up Dragon Warrior or anything like that. To this, again I say: They’re not stupid. FF and DW, although they have the same roots, are completely different series now, and their different styles again reflect how Square and Enix can complement each other’s strengths. Well, I guess DW will benefit the most, as it’s sorely lacking in FFs specialty: really good graphics.

Another concern that has been raised has been the possibility of a monopoly in RPG games. With this merger, a lot of the big RPG names are now under one roof. Won’t the lesser competition cause more lackluster RPGs to be put out? Maybe, but I doubt it. Square Enix still can’t afford to let up on the quality, as there are still a good number of other good up-and-coming series out there: Suikoden (Konami), Wild Arms (Sony?), Tales (Namco) and Breath of Fire (Capcom) all still have quite some following and good potential. In fact the above titles will probably slug it out for the Number 2 Console RPG Developer slot…

All in all, the opinions I’ve read on the web are mixed: some are good, some are bad. My own personal take is that it’s good; mergers generally mean two companies wanting to capitalize on each other’s strengths, not share each other’s weaknesses. Let’s just wait and see, and hope for the best. 😛

Cheap Rushing

[Posted on the GameFAQs message board
in response to endless whining about rushes.

Last I heard, Battle.net had a competitive ladder system,
meaning if you want to go up on the ladder, you have to win. If
rushing is the means for that win, you should go for it.

What does this mean? If you don’t want to be rushed, don’t
play on Battle.net, because on Battle.net people play primarily
to win and secondarily for fun.

Get a bunch of friends together and hook up a LAN and play
amongst yourselves, where you can have your own rules like “No
rushing!” or “Announce before attacking!” or “No building fifty
million towers!”

If you insist on playing on Battle.net, don’t play 3v3 or 4v4;
it’s in these formats that rushing is a very viable strategy. I
find that 2v2 is best, as there is little human interaction in
1v1.

If you think that rushing makes the game “no fun”, then maybe
you should be playing another game. Warcraft III is a *strategy
game*, the “fun” is in finding strategies to beat your opponent.
Rushing is a strategy, just like any other, and it can be
defeated just like any other strategy (otherwise 100% of people
would be rushing, which isn’t true)

Do you always get beaten by rushes? Maybe you should look at
your build order to see how you could improve speed-wise or get
more defense early on. Look at replays to see how people beat off
rushes. Scout ahead to know they are coming. Practice against two
or more computer opponents to test yourself. The key to improving
is not to whine about things that are “cheap” or “no fun” but to
study ways to beat those things.

As a note, I am not a rusher. Not often anyways. I will rush
every so often, but only for variation. I attack when I can,
creep when I can, and tech as fast as possible.

Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth

First off, I haven’t finished the game yet, I’m somewhere in Chapter 5. I stopped playing the game a month or so ago out of sheer irritation.

For the uninitiated, H:RBE is a tactical RPG for the PSX, released during the last year the PSX. The game is similar in some respects to games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, with an emphasis on turn-based squad-level combats. Unlike FFT and TO’s similar Active Time system, H:RBE uses a system called RAP, where each character can perform as many actions as he wants provided he still has the RAP gauge to pay for it. The more RAP you use, the sooner your next turn comes, and vice versa. I bought this game hoping it would be at least comparable to either FFT or TO. Was I disappointed? Read on.

The Good:

* RAP. RAP is good. The fact that you get to decide how to allocate your time, and the fact that you can control when your characters get to act. This is good.

* Shoot. Shoot is good, a nice ability that adds a different tactical angle to the game, emphasizing the importance of position.

* Session. Since Shoot is good, it follows that Session must be good.

* Difficulty. Yes, difficulty is good, to a certain extent. Hoshigami brings a new level of difficulty to the table that we didn’t get to have in the ridiculously easy FFT. Veteran gamers were looking for a level of difficulty closer to that of the old favorite, Tactics Ogre. The game’s difficulty is actually still good (albeit good on the masochistic side) but the actual difficulty is overshadowed by the fact that it’s _tedious_. Read on.

The Bad:

* Lack of variation. You basically have only five things to do: attack, shoot, move, cast spells or use items. And spells do only one of three things: deal/heal damage, or create/heal status or break equipment. Where’s the Haste spell? Protection spells?

* Long battles. The lack of variation wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to endure it for hours at a time.

* No saving between successive battles. That was a bad, bad, design boo-boo. You’ve been fighting for hours on end, and you’re almost finished, when a lucky archer drops the bomb on Elena.

* Bad AI. You know what I’m talking about. Archers who don’t understand the trajectory of their weapons. Enemies who kill each other. Soldiers who attack even if the hit chance is 0%.

* Unforgiving design. Permanent death. Underlevelled party has no chance against higher level party. Masses of enemies thrown at you. It’s like the designers decided that instead of simply working on tactically challenging battles, they would throw lots of enemies at you, at higher levels than you would expect and hope that you have the tactical ability to overcome this. It was a good idea except for the fact that LOW-LEVEL CHARACTERS STAND NO CHANCE AGAINST HIGH-LEVEL CHARACTERS. Even if you’re only two levels behind, your damage and hit rate become so pitiful that you simply won’t survive one-on-one, what more two-on-one. The game would’ve been 300 times better if either a) story battles had the same level as you; or b) The number of units on each side are comparable. As it is, the only real reliable way to win in battles is through either Coinfeigms or leveling-up. Which wouldn’t be so bad except that…

* Levelling-up is tedious. Since you will almost never meet enemies in the Towers who are at the same level as yours, you’re stuck fighting lower level goons while occasionally hitting yourselves for EXP. And not only that…

* Levelling up Coinfeigms is tedious. Yes it is. The interface is so bad; every time you engrave your coin, you must go back to the top of the list of seals and look for the seal again. Given that you often want to engrave your coins multiple times with the same seals, the game becomes unnecessarily tedious. Adding to this is the “random” factor involved in engraving. I’m sure during development it seemed like a neat concept and all, but in practice all it means is that you have to occasionally save in-between engravings.

* Deity/DEV system. Good idea, poor execution. Some of the abilities are simply worthless, and some are strictly better. You will seldom need to change your abilities around. Status-enhancing abilities are generally useless at 10%, slightly better at 25%. Champion sounded cool, except in practice you never want to have anyone with low HP. Furthermore, the system is unbalanced. Sonova people simply suck, despite their HP Bonuses.

* No randomness. All battles are fixed. No hoping to meet an Uribo here, folks, each battle gives you the exact same opponents every time.

The Ugly

* that sad, sad battle theme. I end up unplugging the audio cord on the TV whenever I play Hoshigami.

All in all, what went wrong in this game? The thing is that the designers thought people wanted a difficult game, so they made a difficult game. The problem is that they achieve that difficulty through repetitiveness, redundancy and tediousness. On the GameFAQs message boards I read an analogy comparing Hoshigami to Chess. The difference between Hoshigami and Chess is that in Chess, both sides start with the same pieces, and you win or lose based on your own tactical decisions. In Hoshigami, not only does your opponent get more pieces than you, they’re all bishops and knights while you’re stuck with a platoon of pawns. And you have to play that game of chess some 50 times, without losing, ever.