Moved to Fateback

Things are flaky. Have setup this blogger thing to publish to the fateback account (roytang.sinfree.net), seems to be working fine now. Ressurrected one of the older page layouts and added the pandaren brewmaster! Anyway, I’ll also probably most of the website stuff from topcities to fateback, seeing as how topcities has gotten crappy lately with the FTP problem. That is all, back to work…

14-AUG-2003: Quarter-Life Crisis

  • Well, not exactly. But I am now 25, in any case. Looking back, there are many
    things I might have regretted, but my life philosphy tells me that there can be
    no regrets. The past is past, and the future is yet to come. Somehow, I’m only
    a few steps closer towards achieving my lifetime goals, but my gut tells me to
    keep on dreaming. Such is the folly of a dreamer.
  • In case you’re wondering, my lifetime goals include becoming an accomplished
    indie game developer, and world domination. There are more, but these are the
    ones that are most constant. Yes, I’m serious about the world domination part!
  • Anyway, I’m glad I finally got some free time. Work’s been a bitch lately,
    but I had to call in sick today due to an unfortunate (or fortunate?) case of LBM.
    Filipinos in the audience know what I’m talking about. Truth be told I would’ve
    taken the slightest excuse to get off work. It’s better to be absent
    today since the workload is rather light while we’re waiting for the UAT results,
    rather than being absent when we have to cram for deadlines. Gee, I wonder if my
    officemates are reading this. ^_^

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!

23-JUL-2003: Wow, free time!

  • Free time…that’s something I haven’t had in a while. Work is tough right now, as we’ve got a big deadline coming up in August. I’ve been putting in 10-12-hour days on a regular basis over the past couple of weeks or so, so I barely have any time to do anything. (Except for a few quick games of
    The Frozen Throne
    (yay!) before going to bed of course.)
  • Of course, the other reason I haven’t updated this thing in a fairly long while is that my PC broke down! And since it was past the automatic replacement period, I had to wait for three weeks while PC Express ordered replacement parts. I was irritated at PC Express for most of those three weeks, as being without computer leaves me without a healthy outlet for my stress from work. I’m not bad about the PC having problems per se, I’m fairly sure it’s currently impossible to make 100% defect-free electronics. What I’m particularly pissed at was the poor customer service. Their phone lines are almost always busy, their testing of components was not done properly (it was only after they replace the mobo and the power supply that they found out that it was a faulty hard drive that caused the problem, forcing me to have to wait another three weeks for a replacement drive…but I just went out and bought a new one anyway…) and it’s hard to get to them because of their office hours, and…I could go on and on. I guess the distinct disadvantage of buying from cheaper stores is that the customer service is poorer. Or maybe I’m just unlucky. In any case, my next PC will be an Intel one, this time I’ll probably buy one of those pre-assembled “Package” PCs from a mall outlet, just to have a basis of comparison.
  • New mailing list! RPG-Skies
  • Am tired, more later.

13-JUN-2003: No Title

  • Last Tuesday, I got a very rare treat (?). I was invited (under false pretenses I might add) to a seminar trying to sell me to the concept of network markets. It was by a group of people called “Network 21” who supposedly have a corporate partner in Amway. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against these people, I’m sure they’re enjoying themselves looking for sucke-I mean clients, and convincing them to buy Amway toothpaste and shampoo and vitamins and god-knows-what. I wish them well. What I’m particularly annoyed at is the guy who invited me there, a guy from my university who I don’t even know, supposedly to talk about a “career opportunity.” Hello!!! I’m an engineer, why the hell would I want to sell toothpaste! “Oh no,” he says, “That was my mistake at first. I thought they were going to tell me to sell door-to-door. All you have to do is refer people to our products.” “Excrement!” I wanted to shout in his face, “You get paid if you convince people to buy your products? I think that’s why it’s called selling!” “Here, why don’t you take this tape before you decide?”, he goes on. “After all, as an engineer, you can’t make a decision without information!” Yeah right, and let you waste another hour-and-a-half of my life? (In addition to the two hours I had to listen to the talk that is.) “It’s not for me,” I tell him, not wanting to be rude. “Why not?” he persists, “How can you know if you don’t listen to the tape?” I wanted to smack him around a bit right there and then.
    “Hello! There’s a part of my brain that goes screaming ‘Nooooo!!!!’ if I don’t wanna do something, that’s how I know! If I was the type of person who enjoys gathering people and convincing them to buy expensive toothpaste, then that’s what I’d be doing.” Grrr. I left Megamall quite riled up after that. I had lost two hours, possibly of sleep, and I still had work the next day.
    They’re lucky I didn’t have homicidal tendencies and a gun.
  • Yesterday was the anniversary of Philippines Independence. On June 12 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo first raised the Philippine flag at his home in Malolos, Cavite, officially declaring independence from Spain. At that time the Republic of the Philippines, the first such government in Asia, was born. And today is a legal holiday ^_^
  • Random linkage: Click here if you enjoy being tortured by puzzles. I’m currently at the second gate. It has annoying BGM though.
  • I got a pleasant surprise yesterday. Former members of the FFF, disgusted by the tyrannical ways of a mad dictator banded together to form a new mailing list, inconveniently named the AntiFFF. (Inconvenient because, well, the group would be stuck with that name forever, always living under the shadow of needing to be better than the FFF was. Well, maybe that’s a good thing in some ways.) Anyway, they’re a fine bunch of guys, the same people who came together at the FFF’s peak.

The Recruit

Good plot twists you could see from a mile away.

Unfortunately, we had arrived at the theater too late to catch the start of the last showing of Gangs of New York, so we had to settle with the second choice. The Recruit didn’t get as much critical acclaim as Gangs, but what the heck, Al Pacino in a spy thriller? How could I lose?

The story is simple enough. Colin Farell plays James Clayton, a young man just out of MIT, recruited by CIA agent William Burke (Pacino). Clayton is obsessed with finding out what happened to his father, who was lost in an accident some fifteen or so years ago. Pacino taunts him by dropping the occasional hint about his father’s fate, and Clayton throws away the promising career he would have had in Engineering to join the CIA. The third entry to this little affair is Leila, Clayton’s batchmate at the Farm, a
chick who may or may not be a double agent, but definitely has the hots for him. The three of them expectedly get involved a complicated plot involving double agents, unofficial operatives and the standard amount of secret agent sex.

The best parts of the movie involve the CIA training. We get a glimpse into the kind of psychological warfare business they teach the recruits at the training centre affectionately called “The Farm.” Here Al Pacino does what he does, drilling his principles into his students: “Trust no one.”; “Nothing is what is seems.”, and “Everything is a test.”

The weakest part has to be the character of James Clayton himself. The character of Leila puts it best: Why the hell does James feel like doing anything he can to please Burke? James never has any real motivation for following Burke like he was the Messiah. Aside from that mysterious star on the CIA wall at Langley (which may or may not be related to his father), there is nothing stopping James from just calling it quits and heading home. Hell, I wouldn’t have wanted to go through that training,
secret agent or not.

Overall: Enjoyable enough, despite the predictability of the overall plot. Ending is a bit disappointing, but only a bit, as it leaves an important plot point hanging. I hope we see these characters again sometime…

23 Jan 2003: Working Joe

How’s work you ask? It’s going pretty well actually. Everything’s still easy-peasy for me as I’m undergoing some training and stuff. I’m a bit worried about what happens after the training though, from the looks of it people put in a lot of overtime here. 🙁 The best thing about the job is that I’m learning a lot of stuff. In two weeks I learned SQL, PL/SQL and Delphi. Starting tomorrow I’m gonna be training on Oracle Developer. The work itself looks easy enough — nothing I can’t handle. Since most of the coding is done using high-level RAD Tools, I should be fine. On a side note, it’s a weird feeling actually having access to money. It’s like everything looks different because there’s always the possibility of buying stuff. On another side note, I’m paying a lot in taxes. My annual salary is like a couple of ten thousand above the minimum for my bracket. It’s irritating.

19 Jan 2003: I need more screws!

Yes I do. I bought a new hard drive yesterday, a 40Gb 5400RPM Seagate. It took me a while to get the system up and running again after my plugging it in. First I had to wrestle with my PC’s small case, trying to figure out where to place the thing. Then, given how old my PC is, it predictably failed to detect the whole capacity of the drive, insisting it was only 8 Gb. I went down to Seagate’s website and did some Dynamic Drive Overlay thing that let me overcome the BIOS limitations. But the DDO installed a Bootloader that would often hang the PC upon booting! I had to send in an email to Seagate tech support and wait til the next morning before I could get everything fine and dandy. Now I have a nice healthy 36 Gb of space…almost 20 times as much capacity as the old drive. Sw33t. The only problem now is that the hard drive didn’t come with any screws — so I just placed it on top of the old one. And I had to move my floppy so it’s lopsided.

31 Dec 2002: Happy New Year…whatever…

  • Well, trying to make this a weekly format thing obviously fizzled out.
    What with me starting work on Friday, I just give up. I’ll keep this site
    up and put up stuff of interest whenever I feel like it, just like before.
  • So what’s new? As I said, work starts Friday. I went to an orientation
    for the job last Friday and it seems like a tough and demanding job, but
    I rise to the challenge in any case. What I’m worried about is that the
    hour and a half commute might sap my energy too much. Maybe I should carry
    chcocolates to work. 😛
  • We got a PS2…in fact most of my free time these past couple of weeks
    have been sapped by two huge beasts named Suikoden III and Fallout 2.
    Actually, I haven’t touched Fallout 2 in a week or so because of Suiko3.
  • For the New Year I resolve to give up on resolutions, they never work
    anyway.
  • Later.

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. 😛