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Top five favorite games:
1. Final Fantasy Tactics
2. Suikoden 2
3. Red Dead Redemption
4. Harvest Moon
5. Mega Man 2
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Dear John,

I am sorry you had to find out like this. It sounds bad to say but I sold you to another person for their enjoyment. I just need you to know my feelings about the whole situation. I just want you to know, it wasn't you, it's me.


This could have been us.

I don't remember how we first met, but it would be years before it mattered. Most likely it was around the time I learned about emulators. "This is sweet," I most likely said to no one. As I began downloading ZNES and the roms of my favorite SNES games, I think we crossed paths briefly. But I was too young to fully appreciate what you were trying to do. And so no real progress was made toward the completion of your great story.

As I aged, my love of RPGs grew deeper, and yet I still had not fully played the story that you tell. Final Fantasy games opened my eyes to the worlds that RPGs created. Squaresoft soon released another RPG that immediately grabbed my interest, your younger sibling, Chrono Cross. It was a game that interested me a lot because my ability to suspend disbelief that a party of only 7 people could save the world had started to wane. Here was a game that had a multitude of party members to recruit and told an interesting story, even though now I don't really remember it. He was some lynx thing and there was a clown in this different world, I'm not sure, it has been a while.


Yes, a Harlequin clown of some sort.

The lesson learned from PSX era RPGs is to not just settle with one company for RPG needs and to research about each game. Luckily the internet was in a constant state of growth and more and more people shared their opinions about amazing games. Many lists people compiled place you in the top ten RPGs of all time, even to this date. I could start getting second opinions about games I was unsure about. But I had yet to fully appreciate you.

As a console generation came and went, it seemed like the RPG, who was a master of the PSX era, had slowly been fading away. However, RPGs soon found new life on the DS and have flourished once again on handhelds. It was around this time that Square had released an improved port of your game on the DS, and yet I would still not play you.


Please try to remember the good times I had.

Then 2012 came around and after a complete love affair with another time traveling RPG, I decided that this was the year I would play this amazing RPG to completion. As an adult who can now fully appreciate a well crafted story, it seemed like the best time. I immediately fell in love with the soundtrack, often playing with headphones on to ensure no note escaped the range of my ears. But as quickly as the love affair began, the passion in me was extinguished. I found myself bored and just not into the story. How could this be? The game had a talking frog with the most amazing theme ever. It couldn't have been the menu set-up because Suikoden 3 has one of the worst and I love that game. It couldn't be the combat because it was almost seamless and even though I prefer strict turn based style as I enjoy planning, I didn't find that an issue either.

Yes, I must have just never fully gotten into it. Maybe I didn't give you enough time or attention and I take full responsibility for that. During this year I finally played Suikoden 2, which is now in my top 5 favorite games of all time, and Persona 4, which I fell immediately in love with and had to fight myself not to immediately replay it after I had finished it. And of all the amazing download titles and the emergence of the Kickstarter games this year, this disappointment in myself is what I had to write about. I suppose I just wanted you to know that I was sorry, Chrono Trigger. It's me, not you.

Sincerely,

myherozero


PS. Just wanted you to know I'm back together with my ex. You know, the other time travelling RPG on the DS.


Oh, do you know each other?
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I'm not much of an artist, but when I saw this month's Artists Wanted, I knew I had to participate. When I was younger, I used to edit sprites for fun. Grab some game sprites, edit them together, recolor, and make other changes as needed. I always enjoyed it. I still find it very relaxing to edit pixel by pixel (though, this marks only the second time I have edited sprites in probably the last decade).

So, when I saw that the Artists Wanted was to do a self portrait in any game's style, I knew I had to pick Mega Man. Not only am I a huge fan of Mega Man, but I also used a lot of the Mega Man sprites as a base when making my custom sprites. So this is not only a shout-out of my love of Mega Man, but to my own past.



I did this completely in MS Paint, which is how I used to make custom sprites and is the software I am most comfortable with. I took the base sprite, which was the Get Weapon from Mega Man 7 and went to town editing the face. Adding glasses, hair sticking out from the helmet and fixing the size of the eyes. The rest was just turning the suit into a shirt and jeans combo. The background is the boss select screen from Mega Man 2 as is the lettering.

Here is the original sprite that served as the base:

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I wanted to write a few blogs before introducing myself and now that I have two previous posts, I thought it was a good time to introduce myself. I am myherozero! And yes, my username is inspired by the Schoolhouse Rock song of the same name. I am in my mid-twenties and have been lurking Destructoid for the past two years or so as a way to take a break from work as well as keep up with video games but with that added cynical twist. Seeing the amazing community here made me sign up for an account to try to be a part of it. I'm sure my blog posts will mostly be when I get a random thought I feel like writing about, so I doubt I blog too terribly much, but I always enjoy commenting.

I like a wide variety of games, but I gravitate towards games that are quirky, have interesting gameplay, and/or a great story. My current top five favorite games are Red Dead Redemption, Suikoden 2, Final Fantasy Tactics, Bastion, and Skyrim. Other favorites would include the Katamari games, Harvest Moon, and Rock Band.

I also like building and creating custom things. I have made custom T-shirts, modded nerf guns, and my own personalized Xbox 360 faceplate (seen below). I have always wanted to make one of those mini arcade cabinets made out of a Gameboy SP (though I don't know anything about wiring), a custom 3D Catan board, a Fallout jumpsuit, and just recently the Commander Keen helmet (in case I ever go to a gaming con).

That's really about it, however, I did want to share pictures of my current gaming setup as I am pretty proud of it.


This is my hand painted Xbox faceplate and controller. I didn't use enough sealant on the controller, so the paint rubs off if you use it and I have been too lazy to fix it. It looks nice on my shelf while I use another controller.


I have custom pixel art of Metal Man and Mega Man that was made by my brother and my poster from the Double Fine Adventure kickstarter on my walls. There is also the Cait Sith and dragon priest mask papercraft. And also the signed soundtracks for Skyrim and Bastion. I'm not much of a game collector, I still sell games to help pay for new ones.

Thanks for reading!
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[Warning: I will be talking about a lot of spoiler moments, but nothing terribly new. Here's a list of games I am discussing in case you want to avoid one of them getting ruined: Final Fantasy 7, Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain, Gun, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, Journey, To The Moon.]

Ever since the days of SNES, games have started developing better storylines and characters. This is a trend that has happily continued and improved into the current generation and will continue into the future. As gamers age, we want more mature and deep experiences from our games. However, it seems like that is the exception, not the rule. The most important areas that can make or break an engaging story is how a story handles relationships and how it ends.

The best place to start is the PSOne era, as it is when I first noticed this idea of a complex story and had one of the most highly regarded RPGs. Final Fantasy 7 was the first game that felt like an epic story with fleshed out characters. However, the biggest thing that bothers me even nowadays is that Cloud has all those women throwing themselves at him and he acts like a scared high school freshmen. Granted, that might be part of his reluctant hero archetype, but they built the groundwork for interesting romantic relationships between Tifa and Cloud and even Aeris and Cloud. Aeris' death would have been more tragic if the player felt like not only they lost a character but that Cloud lost something more than just a party member. This game is supposed to be taking place as the end of the world is looming. What is more natural and human than getting it on one last time.

This is perhaps where I thought Indigo Prophecy had its one great moment. On the night of the final battle, Lucas and Carla make love in case the worst should happen. In a game that did not impress too much elsewhere, this was one time I felt that a video game captured what would really happen in that situation. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Heavy Rain, whose love story felt very trite and forced. That maybe could be that teenagers fumbling around in the dark has more emotions than that game.


The controls also felt like teenagers fumbling around in the dark.

By now you must have already begun to think of games you think did a amazing job at producing an emotional connection and as have I. The first game that I remember playing that I thought might attempt to tackle this idea of a proper love story was Gun. I will always have a special place in my heart for Gun because it pulled one of the greatest twists I have seen. I am, of course, talking about Jenny, the girl you escort to Empire City and after you get betrayed, gets her throat slit. It was a very shocking scene at the time and was the first time I was ever shocked by a video game's story. Maybe others saw it coming, but I was definitely caught off guard.

Since we are on the subject of cowboys, it is time to discuss the inspiration for this blog. Red Dead Redemption nailed emotion completely. The whole game all John Marston talks about his getting back his family. From that first moment in Mexico when 'Far Away' by Jose Gonzalez plays and you feel that you are even further away from your goal and that John might never get home to the end when 'Compass' by Jamie Lidell plays and it feels like the perfect finally going home song. These moments in and of themselves are fantastic and emotional in their own right, however, it is after this homecoming where Red Dead shines the brightest.

The final missions are simply chores around the farm and that is amazing. Red Dead could have ended after 'Compass' plays and just do the rest of the game as cinematics, but it didn't. It showed you what the life John wanted back and how much the relationship between him and his family felt real. The ending of the game could have easily been predicted from the beginning, but I think that's what works the best because it was an ending that had to happen. The entire message of the game was that people like John could no longer be tolerated in a more civilized West. But the humanity that you feel as you play the game and especially at the end, makes it an amazing ending.

Unlike LA Noire's twist ending that felt forced. I felt no connection to Cole Phelps the entire game because he went from good cop in one scene, to screaming lunatic, to cheating on his wife, back to good cop. His actions in the end is supposed to redeem his character, however I did not feel connected to any of the characters.


I'M A BELIEVABLE CHARACTER!!

The two games that I had the greatest emotional reaction to were both indie games. The first is Journey, which might not be a surprise to some. Part of the charm of Journey is not only the simplicity of communication with the other player, but how a bond almost forms between the both players without and words being said. I managed to play through the majority of the game with the same guy. We called out when we found symbols, we called out to show where we were, we called out just to even say hello. When we got to the snowy mountain and things are looking at its bleakest, we called out to each other as almost a way of saying, "Hey, I'm still here, I'm with you, keep going." When you reach the ending level and everything is bright and shiny again, I lost track of my friend. I sat at the entrance to the final walk into the light for minutes. I sat and waited for the companion who traveled with me, but he never arrived. I was crushed. This was the ending, the time when I should be happy, yet here I was, sad because I had to finish the game alone. Watching the one lone figure vanish into the light, I felt as though part of me was missing.

The only game to ever make me cry is To The Moon and if you have not played it, I highly recommend it. It captures the whole idea of a lifetime of love and it made me sad that a dying man was having his memories of his love for his wife changed because of his dream of going to the moon. It covers the man's entire life and it is full of happy and tragic moments. Some of it might feel cliche, but taken as a whole, it is heartwarming.

This is a topic I could write about for a long time and never say everything I want to say. My hope is that more developers take time to make more realistic relationships and love stories into the plot because it will lead to more believable characters which will make the ending truly mean something, not be just the end of the game.







myherozero
10:13 PM on 08.06.2012

I just finished playing a lot of Fallout: New Vegas and during my stay in the Mojave, I got to thinking about karma. One of the instances that got me thinking about how morality is currently handled was when I was pick-pocketing a quest item off a bad guy (or rather someone whose goals did not match my own). If I was helping the NCR, why would pick-pocketing a member of Caesar's Legion or the Brotherhood of Steel lead me to receive bad karma?


Go blow up the Brotherhood of Steel bunker, but don't steal anything, because that would be wrong.

The reason is most likely the easiest answer. Game developers are using more of the idea that morality is universal. Killing and stealing are only acceptable when there is a clear bad guy. It works well in a game like Red Dead Redemption because John Marston has turned over a new leaf and shooting down a sheriff is not his character. But when the character is completely created by the player, maybe the next step is to be able to create that character's moral compass.

Dungeons and Dragons has been doing so with character alignments and it would be interesting to see how something like that could be implemented into character creation. The task of designing a system does not have to be very complex to provide players with a different way to play. It could be as simple as picking a standard archetype and having the corresponding actions be set on whether those actions are right or wrong.

One of the more basic D&D characters is the Lawful Good Paladin. They stand for good in all situations. It would seem this is the closest to how morality is handled in current games. Killing is wrong unless you are first attacked.


It's only morally right if that guy golfed into you.

However, what if you could get rewarded for playing as a more delusional character, whose morality is that all crime is bad and must be punished. They view the world as black and white and there is no moral gray area. This would be as though you are playing New Vegas as the Punisher or Rorschach, both characters famous for this moral code.

Or perhaps the holy avenger archetype that tries to stamp out all signs of sin and vice. Or perhaps even the Robin Hood type of character. Currently if you were to play a more Robin Hood type, you would lose karma for the theft, but gain karma for giving to the poor, netting you no change in your overall karma. What if the game could recognize that was your character type and reward you for doing such actions.

There was the story of one player who was playing through Skyrim without killing anything for the challenge and fun of it all, but why not reward that player and any others who attempt it with a unique twist on the standard ending(s). And it doesn't have to be fancy, for example, if you played as the Robin Hood type and ended with good karma (steal from rich/give to poor), it could mention that you were a hero of the poor.

It is perhaps a very far fetched idea, but it seems like games discourage players from truly roleplaying a unique character. I always feel as though I must make decisions based on how I personally would react in that situation and the bad karma indicator seems as though the game is disappointed in me rather than rewarding me for playing as the character.