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4:48 PM on 10.14.2009

GGCast#3: Five Hours in a Cave

Our plans for this week's podcast got pushed back since our new cast member is having microphone problems-- hopefully by the time we record the next one he'll be ready to go. Anyway, this episode is a bit more rambling then I would have liked, but we're saving the stuff we had planned for when there's three of us.

In this episode, we talk about games for the first segment, then sort of drift off into a bunch of random topics: Twitter, message board hilarity, Jim Sterling's latest Videogame Show What I've Done, etc.


EDIT: Oh, and there's some obvious censoring toward the end for what should be equally obvious reasons.   read

12:54 PM on 10.13.2009

Art Blog: The Kiss

I don't post most of my Sterling stuff here, but this page just makes me really happy:) :) :).

Some other images from this scene are included.   read

5:38 PM on 10.08.2009

Fanart: Rydia, FFIV

This is one part of a larger project, but I haven't posted any new art for a little while so I figured I'd share it.

It's actually kind of scary to use colored pencils these days-- I'm so used to Photoshop that the idea of not being able to immediately fix a mistake makes me nervous. Still, it's fun to have that hands-on experience sometimes, and overall I think she came out pretty well.

Hopefully you can see the full project sooner rather than later.   read

3:22 PM on 10.07.2009

Podcast: GGCast #2

In this episode, we discuss the fact that I've finally started playing FFVI, then try to avoid talking about Final Fantasy for a brief period until we give up; then we just blab about FF excessively. Which was a lot of fun actually, but next time I'll make an effort to focus on something else.

Games mentioned: Every FF ever (pretty much), Dissidia, Cross-Edge, Chaos Wars, NOT Half-Life 2, Diablo II, Ehrgeiz, Odin Sphere.


I'm still trying to figure out what the best way to host these files is, so if anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears. So far my experiments with podcast hosting sites have been very frustrating, so this is a temporary solution.

Also, assuming I can sort out the hosting issue, the GGCast will probably update on Wednesdays from now on-- just what you need to combat those "I have to wait another week for the next episode of Podtoid?" blues. Well, for ME anyway.   read

2:19 PM on 09.30.2009

FFIV DS And the Role of New Game +

Rydia: Still Awesome.

I hadn't planned on playing through FFIV DS again immediately after finishing it; after all, I'm a busy girl. But, after finally beating the game the other day and starting over, I quickly realized that FFIV DS may have the most perfect New Game + system ever. While trying to figure out just what it was about FFIV DS that makes the second playthrough so damned good, I got to thinking about the role of New Game + in general.

New Game +: Your Party with Added Steamrolling Functionality

I've written quite a few times about how much Chrono Trigger blew me away, but most of that awe is reserved for the first playthrough; I've still only completed it once. In theory the fact that you can play through indefinitely and keep getting different endings is fascinating, but in practice it has some limitations. Immediately upon starting NG+, I was bored by the tendency of my party to absolutely annihilate all opposition. Sure, it's fun to steamroll over enemies that gave you some trouble the first time around, but it's fun in the same way that Game Genie was fun for about five minutes after taking it out of the box. You're essentially playing God mode, for hours, until you get to the end of the game again.

In FFIV DS, you lose your levels and stats. Let me repeat that: you lose your levels and stats. You also lose your whole inventory, (barring a few especially rare items, most of which I personally never got in the first place.) In essence, everything that would make the second playthrough too easy is unceremoniously taken away from you. You have to wonder: How can this be a NG+?

FFIV DS: Strategic Magic

You keep two main things for all subsequent playthroughs: augments, and map completion. Augments are bonus abilities that you can give to your characters, and map completion is comprised of two things: map completion percentage, and the actual view of the dungeon maps on the lower DS screen. This means the following:

1. You have different strategies available to you from the start of the game, since whatever strategic decisions you made concerning character customization have carried over.

2. Most of the dungeons on the second playthrough come pre-mapped, meaning you tend to go through them much faster.

For example, though Cecil was set back to level 10 at the beginning of NG+, he still had all of the special abilities he had at the end of the first playthrough-- Counter, Draw Attacks, HP+50%, etc. This meant that while he was a lot stronger right out of the gate, he still had beginning stats and equipment, so he wasn't terribly over-powered. Furthermore, since having the dungeons pre-mapped means that I blow through them at twice the speed, my party is under-leveled. This means that while I have greater strategic resources available, I'm facing the bosses a good 5-10 levels lower than I was initially, if not more.

Another feature added for this version, auto-battle, presents a game-within-a-game in NG+. Originally auto-battle was only good for the easiest random encounters; trying to use it in difficult dungeons was suicide. However, in NG+, it's possible to set up a customized auto-battle system that works fairly reliably for every area. I was able to mostly auto-battle my way through the Tower of Zot, something I absolutely could not have done the first time.

Whyt: Still useless!

The only complaint I have thus far is that Whyt, Rydia's summon whom you can train in several mini-games, doesn't keep his training. Whyt is normally pretty useless, and having the time spent in training carry over would actually make him worth summoning, at least during the earlier parts of NG+. I suppose it would be kind of broken if child-Rydia could summon a fully-trained Whyt (with the ability to cast Flare) an hour into the game, but having nothing carry over makes it seem like the time I spent on those tedious mini-games was wasted. I think the idea of a bonus, trainable summoned creature for the game was a good idea, but this feature could have been designed better. The prohibitively high MP cost of summoning him early in the game would have provided enough of a drawback to keep things from getting too unbalanced; as it stands, he's 50MP's worth of fluffy uselessness.

While I am essentially playing the same game again, it's like playing the game from a different angle as opposed to just playing the game on super-ultra-easy mode. This is true replay value, since I really am replaying the game-- not just holding down the confirm button while my party of demi-gods steamrolls their way through all and sundry. If games are going to continue to offer NG+, this is what I think we all want: an experience that really is new in some way, not just the same thing with added ennui.   read

3:59 PM on 09.18.2009

Parasite Eve: Day 3 (Giant Dogs and Exploding Bullets)

I've always been a fan of the "Your home base is now infested with monsters" event. Familiar territory becomes exciting again, and as an added bonus, for once you know where the hell you're going. When they say "Ben is upstairs", you already know where the upstairs staircase is! Sweet.

Aya and Co. arrive at the station to find the place looking as though it were hit by a hurricane. They speculate that this is probably somehow Eve-related, and Aya suggests going off on her own to check things out. Daniel refuses and runs off, because Ben is in the station. Lucky for him, Eve actually isn't there this time, so no one is spontaneously combusting, otherwise that would have been the last stupid decision he ever made.

Aya heads into the station to investigate, but not before Maeda gives her a useless good luck charm that will sit in your inventory until you dump it into storage. He will do this twice more before the end of the game. There is actually a reason for this-- the charm is meant to keep a space in your inventory open so it can be replaced with Maeda's Gun at the very end of the game. However, the burden on your already strained inventory is unwelcome. Maybe the developers thought that Maeda was just too likable?

Inside, lots of the regular characters are injured but still alive. A few nameless uniformed officers have died, however (redshirts!) But alas, there is an actual death: Torres, the older man who runs the weapons department. A giant, mutated dog from the Kennel burst into the room, and Torres was mauled to death. Apparently Torres was actually armed, but didn't use his gun on the monster because he's hated guns ever since his daughter died from a handgun accidentally going off. According to Wayne, the whole reason Torres took the job in the weapons department in the first place was to try to keep guns OUT of people's hands, which explains his reticence to give Aya a gun early in the game.

It may seem stupid that Torres didn't shoot when his life was in danger, but I've seen so many people demonize guns-- as though the gun itself is somehow sitting in a room, petting a white cat and planning to kill people-- that it rings true for me. At least in America, the whole dialogue involving guns is so messed up that everyone on both sides is made to sound like an idiot about 99% of the time: on the left, they tend to go on and on about the few children each year who die in gun-related accidents (know how many kids die annually in cars? Do you have ANY IDEA?), and on the right they drone on endlessly about the second Amendment-- as if everything we ever do in this country should be dictated by a bunch of dudes who lived 200 years ago, because clearly they were omniscient.

Don't get me wrong, there are real issues there and difficult moral choices to be made, but I can count on the fingers of one hand the times in my life that I've ever heard someone address them directly and not the layer of bullshit surrounding them. It's not my intention to get on a soapbox and try to change anyone's mind from whatever their current opinion on the subject is, the point is that the fact that PE deals with this issue in such a sensible way is like a breath of fresh air-- not because it's brilliant or anything, but because the bar has been set so low for this subject.

Anyway, Torres' body is dealt with off-camera, and Wayne (who is now in charge of the weapons department by default) gives Aya the M9-2, Torres' gun. Now, it would be really cool, and a nice farewell to the character, if Torres' gun was a kick-ass weapon that would cause you to trash Aya's rifle immediately, and take to the hallways of the station eliminating mutant dogs with a vengeance. Unfortunately, the M9-2 kind of sucks. It has more customization slots than any other weapon in the game, but the only time that would matter is late in the EX-game, by which point you've sunk so much time into the game that Aya's nearly invincible anyway. And it's base stats are super- low. Oh well.

Meanwhile, Sheeva, the dog who has been keeping Ben company all this time, is starting to feel the effects of mutation that has already transformed all of the other dogs into hulking monsters. I think the implication is that Sheeva holds off the change longer than all of the other dogs because she's trying to protect Ben for as long as she can. Awwwwwww. Ben has run off after her, and all of the wounded officers implore Aya to go after Ben before he gets himself killed. Awwwwww.

Aya has to fight her way upstairs and through the second floor of the police station, taking down mutated rats, crows, spiders, and giant dogs, in order to get to Ben. Somewhere around this point, something wonderful happens: Aya learns Energy Shot, her first offensive power. This means that she can now channel all of her Parasite Energy into a bullet and shoot it for tons of extra damage, all the while generating a cool glowing effect. To be honest, I'm not sure how useful this really is overall since a properly-leveled Aya with a properly upgraded gun can get along just fine without using any spells, but it looks really cool, and frankly that's all that matters. I then proceed to pummel everything in sight with Energy Shot for no good reason-- pathetically inefficient, but one hell of a good time.

Ben catches up to Sheeva in an unused room on the second floor, and tries to hug her. Police Chief Baker (remember him?) picks Ben up and carries him away, putting himself between Ben and Sheeva. Sheeva then bows to the inevitable and changes into a horrific three-headed beast. Baker tries to hold her off with a handgun, but quickly runs out of ammo. Ben screams; clearly they need some serious rescuing. Aya had better get there as soon as possible!

Except, I now take this time to backtrack through the police station and use the new keys I've found on the second floor to get more guns and things. I mean, sure I care about Ben, but he's a tough little bugger. And Baker's huge, so chances are Shiva will be full for a while after eating him anyway. Besides, Aya has a moral responsibility to upgrade her weapons before facing the boss, I mean what kind of an example would it be setting to get there on time but with a crappy gun? We have to set an example for Ben. Clearly I'm the only one here thinking of the children.

Boss Fight: Kerberos

Thanks Square, the three-heads were kind of a tip-off but your concern is noted.

This is the hardest fight so far, not for me because I'm a Parasite Eve Super-Pimp by this point, but in general. Kerberos has several different attacks, and there just isn't enough space to avoid all of them. No matter what you do in this fight, you're going to be taking a lot of damage. Kerberos has three heads, and I believe disposing of them in a certain order has some effect on her weaknesses, but frankly I've never bothered to experiment with that and just killed her the old-fashioned way.

Oh, you call that an energy attack?

I would love to be able to regale you with interesting anecdotes from this boss fight, but frankly I just shot her in the head(s) a whole bunch of times with Energy Shot while giggling to myself, and then it was over. Sheeva would have wanted it that way, maybe.

BWAH HAH HAHAHA! I'm drunk with power! DRUNK I TELL YOU!!!!

After disposing of Sheeva, Aya learns confuse (the status spells are just there to mock you, I swear), and Daniel bursts in-- quite a gift for avoiding actual combat, that one. It must be a family trait. Daniel thanks Baker for protecting Ben until Aya could get there, and the injured Baker asks Daniel to stop treating him so formally, and reminisces a bit about their past together. I like the fact that they show that Baker is actually a decent guy before all intents and purposes writing him out of the game; Daniel is now the de facto police chief. That will go about as well as you would expect.

Later, Ben asks Aya if she's going to stop the person who hurt Sheeva, and Aya says that she will; it seems like she isn't just answering Ben, but that she's admitting to herself that she's chosen her path. She's done worrying about herself, what she is and what she may or may not be capable of, and is ready to focus all of her energy on taking Eve down.

Next Time: Everyone figures out what Eve was trying to distract them from with the half-assed attack on the police department, and Aya must stop Eve from getting a bunch of frozen sperm. I don't even know where to START with that, everyone make up your own jokes.

Contine to Day Four   read

4:09 AM on 09.17.2009

Parasite Eve: Day 3 (Getting Back to Business Edition)

Okay, no more social commentary, random art dumps, or impromptu musical numbers, it's time for more Parasite Eve bitches!

Sorry, I just spent the last hour watching Nine Inch Nails perform on Youtube, so I may be slightly more aggressive during this installment than usual. Let's go find Eve and stick my scratched PSX disks up her fucking cunt.

Or play through Day 3, whichever comes first.

Day 3: Breaking and Entering Edition

Day 3 begins with Aya waking up alone in the dilapidated apartment in Soho from Day 2. Outside, she discovers that Maeda has been sleeping right outside the door, despite her warnings that he might get set on fire at any moment. Maeda shrugs it off and claims that he won't believe that will happen without "scientific proof". Considering the fact he just saw someone randomly catch fire in the middle of the street last night, I reckon he needs a lot of proof. Those scientists: When they aren't evil, they're anal. Or maybe he's just bullshitting and the fact is he just wanted to stay near Aya (which is seriously implied in the game, I'm not making that up-- although that's totally the type of thing I would make up.)

While the two are chatting, Daniel pulls up in his police car and delivers the following:

"We're gonna need some bigger weapons. There's a gun shop over there. Let's stock up!"

Now, I've been confused about this for a long time. Are they leaving little IOU's like "Hi, needed custom grenade launcher and M-1 Garand to fight the incendiary opera singer threat, contact police department for compensation-- Love, NYPD"? Or are they seriously just looting local businesses now that the city has been evacuated? Granted, if this were one of those post-apocalyptic scenarios, scrounging for supplies in order to stay alive would be understandable, but by all accounts this is supposed to be a temporary evacuation.

On an unrelated note, I seriously wish that Soho had more gun stores like the one in this game, and less overpriced boutiques where a tank top costs three hundred dollars; it would be safer. If you think firearms motivate people towards violence, you haven't seen what Manhattan prices can do to a lady.

Anyway, the shop is locked so Daniel proceeds to shoot the lock off the door. I took down the dialogue here:

Daniel: "Outta the way, Aya."
Aya: "Daniel, no...."
Daniel: "Sorry, but it's the only way."
(Daniel shoots the lock off)
Maeda: "Are...are you really a cop?"
Aya: "We think so. But we don't have scientific proof if that's what you're asking."

I think Aya has the makings of a fantastically sarcastic bitch, but she's too busy actually kicking the shit out of things to develop the necessary passive-aggressive angle. Oh well, maybe it's for the best.

What follows is a lovely firearms and consumables shopping spree, both in the gun shop and the local pharmacy. I like a game that isn't afraid to give me three guns in one room.

Day Three: Sassy Electron Microscope Snatch Edition

After filling their pockets with bullets and medicine, the group heads off and Maeda asks if there's any scientific facilities nearby where he can run a test. Aya remembers that Klamp's lab in the museum had science equipment, so off they go, despite Daniel's reservations about getting anywhere near Klamp's office ever again.

Maeda has a bit of a nerdgasm when they reach the Museum of Natural History, which is cute. In Klamp's lab, with Klamp safely evacuated (or so they think), Maeda tests a cell sample that he found on Aya's jacket, apparently Eve's cells. When he puts his cells and Eve's together, Eve's mitochondria attack the nucleus and kill the cell. Aya asks him to test her cells to find out why she seems to be immune to Eve, which Maeda does. When exposed to the Eve sample, Aya's mitochondria
clamp on to the nucleus, but instead of attacking it, they fill it with energy and then fly away. Maeda says that Aya's mitochondria have the ability to protect her nuclei from Eve's mitochondria. In other words, while Eve's mitochondria have developed the power to kill the nucleus, destroying the symbiotic relationship between the two, Aya's have maintained the symbiotic relationship, only with much more power. It seems obvious now that Aya has the superior mutation, but it wasn't obvious the first time I played. Whether that's because they disguised it well or I was just that dense, I couldn't tell you.

I wonder if Richard Dawkins knows that he's mentioned in this game? Of course, if he knew he'd just be a condescending asshole about it, so who cares really.

Their microscope party is ended abruptly when the not-at-all-evacuated Klamp bursts in and asks, with good reason, why a bunch of cops have just broken into his office. The only response Aya and Daniel can come up with is "You should be evacuated", which I find amusing. As cops, they're slightly incompetent. Klamp even goes on to say "AND someone's been using my electron microscope!" You can tell that Klamp would totally kill someone in cold blood for touching his precious microscope, and might even have done so if Daniel couldn't snap his neck like a twig. And Aya could probably kill him with telekinesis or some shit, but he won't know that for at least the next ten seconds.

Before anyone can stop him, Klamp looks into the microscope and sees Aya's cells. Klamp asks Maeda where he got the sample, and Maeda-- completely clueless about what he's supposed to do here-- mumbles something asinine. It's rendered moot by the fact that Klamp obviously knows that the cells are Aya's. Finished with treating Maeda like a piece of grime on his shoe, Klamp asks Aya if she feels hot now that her mitochondria have gone psycho nuts. Aya's answer is cut off by Daniel freaking out that his son and ex-wife's name are on a list on Klamp's computer; Daniel proceeds to manhandle Klamp while demanding answers, and Aya barely manages to calm him down enough to get him to drop the evil scientist. Daniel leaves shaking with rage, Klamp makes a snide comment, and Maeda snivels and simpers away. I think it's cute that Maeda is clearly more scared of Klamp than he is of burning alive.

You have to admit: It's a good question.

In the car on the way to the station, Daniel vents and Maeda provides information. Apparently the list on Klamp's computer was an HLA-list, which is for matching compatible patients for organ transplants. I admit, I'm not entirely sure why their names in particular were on the list, but it's not important. Daniel implies that he's going to get the stuff he needs from the station to arrest Klamp, and I'd love to know on what pretext he planned to do that-- he and Aya are the ones that have just broken about fifteen laws in the last hour, and Klamp has broken none so far as we know. However, we never find out what his brilliant plan was, since the police station has just been invaded by mutants and become a dungeon; it will be unavailable for routine police functions until this slight inconvenience is dealt with.

Alright, I was going to do all of Day 3 as one entry, but I have this much already and we're only halfway through? Screw it. Join me next time for the Day Three: Edition Edition. Edition. I'm going to destroy that fucking three-headed mutant dog so bad, they'll be fishing pieces of her out of the Hudson for decades. I'm going to make her wish she was a bear in Tomb Raider, that's how fucking hardcore it's gonna be. 'Cuz you know what I do to bears.

It just never ends   read

11:06 AM on 09.12.2009

Shortblog: FFVII the Musical Score (it's a sickness)

Since recording Tifa's theme, I can't stop thinking about more songs to mutilate-- I mean adapt-- for a theoretical FFVII musical. These are some of the ideas that occurred to me:

Cloud: Thanks for the Memories (Fallout Boy)
Tifa: On My Own (Andrew Lloyd Weber)(done)
Aeris: Like A Prayer (Madonna)
Cid: Rocket Man (Elton John)
Red XIII: Eye of the Tiger (???)
Barret: ????
Yuffie: Take it Off (The Donnas) OR Material Girl (Madonna)
Vincent: Thriller (Micheal Jackson)
Cait Sith: Tainted Love ("First I spied on I hide with you")
Sephiroth: Closer (Nine Inch Nails)
Jenova: The World Is Not Enough (Garbage)
Lucretia: I Dreamed A Dream (Andrew Lloyd Weber)
Zack: I Will Remember You (Sarah McLaughlin)
Elmira: Going Under (Evanescence)
Reno: Smooth Criminal (Micheal Jackson)
Don Corneo: Androgeny (Garbage)
Gold Chocobo: Pink Elephants on Parade ("Gold Chocobo at the race") from Dumbo
Joe (The dude with the black Chocobo): ?????
Emerald Weapon: Enter Sandman

Whether or not I'm actually going to write or record any more I couldn't tell you, but this idea has taken over my brain for the last 24 hours. This is probably a form of sickness, but I don't wanna get better.

Anyway, if you have any ideas for Barret please share:). I'm thinking his song should be from some manly band like Megadeath or something, but unfortunately I don't know too many songs like that.   read

2:49 PM on 09.11.2009

Original Song: Tifa Lockheart's Theme (it's all Chad's fault)

Two audio-posts in two days, I seem to have issues with moderation.

Anyway, inspired by Chad's awesome songs I wanted to do a cover of his RetroforceGo! song, but part of the way through I got the idea to just do something new. This short, accapella track is called Tifa's theme. If you don't like it, blame Chad for being musically contagious.

Keep in mind, "On My Own", the song I adapted, is a ridiculously difficult song and I'm aware it's not a perfect performance, I think it's decent though. I used to sing, but I'm out of practice, so I'm in the process of practicing and trying to get my range back.

See, maybe this will start a trend and everybody else will record their own video game songs, and we could make a "Best of Destructoid" CD! This one wouldn't be on it. But still.

[embed]148290:22422[/embed]   read

7:59 PM on 09.10.2009

First Podcast, Whoo-hoo

Wilson and I just attempted to record our first podcast (awww). It's basically a pilot, since the thing doesn't have a name yet and I don't know how many of these we may or may not be doing. It was fun though.

My apologies about the audio quality, it's hard to hear some of the things Wilson says and despite playing around in Audacity for a while I couldn't fix it properly. I think it's still listenable though. I'm also having a problem with Youtube, so I can't embed it into this post.

You can listen to it here.   read

10:32 AM on 09.08.2009

Another PSX Classic: Vagrant Story

Apparently trying to obtain screens from my original, black-box copy of Parasite Eve is a fool's game and my playthrough is stalled until I can obtain a copy of...a different pedigree. I find it kind of strange that while I've done more to promote Parasite Eve than SE has for the past decade (which isn't the arrogant statement that it might sound like, considering the fact that they've done absolutely nothing), I could conceivably get in trouble for possessing a not-downloaded copy of it, which I'm essentially just using as a tool to continue promoting it. I don't mean to make a big deal out of this (especially because I would NEVER, EVER, download anything!), this is just the kind of thing I remember whenever anyone tries to convince me that copyright law as it currently stands isn't basically archaic.

However, would you like to know what game mysteriously screencaps beautifully?

That's right, Vagrant Story: The game where a giant dragon crashes through the stained-glass ceiling of a cathedral and starts breathing fire on you not ten minutes into the game, and you're still not through the (entirely skippable) introduction. Whether they were obscenely ambitious or just terribly confused, this was a game where the creators must have sat down one day and said "Why don't we have the final boss fight during the opening credits, and just let everything get more epic from there?" I think the design document was actually a teal Post-it note with doodle of Ashley Riot and the words "Kick some FUCKING ass!" written on it. In a good way.

When not busy singing "Mmm-Bop!", Sydney is an interesting character.

Vagrant Story is also a very useful as a standard of reference. It's become popular in recent years to insult the graphical quality of the PSX, since early-3D graphics have not aged as well as their 2D predecessors. In actuality, some of the better looking games on the PSX compensated for the relatively low power of the console with superlative artwork and exceptional overall design, not to mention that the level of abstraction that blurry, pixellated graphics could bestow could sometimes work in the games' favor rather than against it; VS for example has an illustrative quality to it that I find far more appealing than your typical hyper-real 3D game. You could try to argue that even if the painterly style that the graphical limitations led to was sometimes beautiful, it was still a failure to create something else-- realistic 3D graphics.

Wanna know something else that was a failed attempt to make something different? Penicillin. I think that turned out pretty well.

This really pissed-off Wyrm is the second encounter in VS; there are so many dragons in VS, some of them are relegated to redshirt-status.

Naturally, whenever anybody says "the Playstation had crappy graphics!", it begs the question "Uh, did you play Vagrant Story?", at which point the first person either has to concede "Damn, good point", or confess that they've never played VS, in which case they are an ignorant, worthless human being and no one cares about their opinion anyway. I might be exaggerating a tad, but you get the idea.

I'm not going to go into VS with the same level of detail that I go into Parasite Eve because, despite the fact that VS is the superior game, PE has more personal resonance to me. They are sister-games, in a way; VS obviously built on some of the mechanics that Square used a few years earlier in PE, and they're both among a small group of good games that Square produced during the era that weren't called Final Fantasy. They're opposites, in a way: PE was a game with a lot of brilliantly innovative ideas that was sometimes let down by its execution. Vagrant Story is a game that doesn't sound terribly original when you try to explain it (a game in a medieval setting with swords and spells and dragons? You don't say!), but every aspect of the game is imbued with so much depth and handled with so much finesse that originality seems to be almost beside the point. I've played a lot of games and read a lot of fantasy novels that predated VS, but in many respects, VS succeeds in being what those other experiences attempted to be and failed.

Current-gen graphics can go to hell, frankly. Or as Ashley would say, "To hell with thee!"

And speaking of "experiences", another reason why VS is so relevant right now is that it proves that you don't have to make a choice between gameplay and artistic merit. It succeeds as a cohesive experience in a way that few games do, and yet it's a blast to play. The level of difficulty and micro-managing involved renders it unsuitable for many gamers, however those that like it, REALLY like it. In ten years, I have yet to encounter anyone who's lukewarm about Vagrant Story; either you love it, or you don't want to play it. There is little in-between.

I love these "Another day at the office" moments.

I could go on about the nigh-seamless integration between story and gameplay, the allure of discovering little tidbits about the game's largely implied backstory, the fact that the game retains a truly medieval feel despite the fact that it takes place in a very different world then your typical medieval setting, the epic soundtrack by Sakimoto (sorry for the repetition, but sometimes "epic" is the only word you want to use in regard to this game), the fact that Square apparently hired actual WRITERS to write the dialogue instead of writing it at 3AM the night before the game was supposed to go gold, etc.
However, I should probably just leave it at that and save more gushing praise of VS for another time: You wouldn't want to
have to handle TOO MUCH EPIC at once, would you?   read

8:04 PM on 09.01.2009

More Dryad Art

Now that I have a proper desk with room for my scanner (you don't even want to know where I used to keep it), I've scanned some of the drawings from the tremendous backlog that I've accumulated recently. The attached images are primarily drawings of Riorla to use when creating her various sprites. I've actually tweaked her design since I did these, so they're not quite right, but they represent a good starting point.

Naia is a character who was just supposed to be a boss in the game, but I got so attached to her design that she's become a character in the comic also. I couldn't even tell you much about her personality, she's just sort of there now. I tend to write these things as I go along.

This is probably more along the lines of what Naia will look like in-game, although I think I'm going to make her a little less cutesy.

I'm completely incapable of thinking of a proper concluding sentence for this blog, so uh...yaaay! Go scanner!   read

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