June 26, 2013

Personal Post – All the things in progress

Posted in life tagged at 10:04 am by riulyn

I don’t think you have to read many entries here or know me for too long before you know that I’m a goal/achievement-driven person. Also, I tend to set way too many goals, but it doesn’t get me down if I don’t achieve them all. I feel like I do a better job than most people I know of actually going after the many goals I have, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing as I become acquainted with many things and expert at nothing. At least, it doesn’t seem like a good way to find a job.

Anyway, here’s my list of life goals and (lack of) progress:

1. Making enough money to retire. Ermm, I’ll need to get that first real job before I can think about that. And I still haven’t decided where I even want to go with my career. I’m supposed to graduate in 5 months and I feel pretty screwed. At least I have a LinkedIn profile?

Percentage completion = 0%

Estimated years to completion = 30+

2. Learning 10 languages to basic reading comprehension. I have language wanderlust and not the best studying schedule, so I haven’t made the most straightforward progress here, though lately I have actually focused on Japanese. If I go back to German and Russian I should pick those up okay in like a year or less. The problem is narrowing down the rest that I’ll really want. Portuguese, French, and Portuguese interest me but I can haphazardly guess through a lot of it. I liked Serbian and Croatian but will probably stick to one form, and I plan to pick up one of the Nordic languages after learning German. I obviously should do something with the barebones Mandarin I know since it’s my relatives’ language, and I did find Malaysian interesting when I dabbled into it. Finding 10 languages to learn is the easy part, though. Practice, practice, practice is the harder part. All that vocabulary especially…

Percentage completion = 20% (English & Spanish)

Estimated years to completion = 10-20

3. Making my own game. A relatively recent goal is to do something beyond a RPGmaker game. Taking two programming classes and liking them was definitely a help, but realizing I really need some animation experience is sort of a bummer. I may end up sticking with a RPGmaker game in the end, but first I’m letting my ideas fly as I have yet to put any serious work/planning into a game yet. Also, a secondary goal is to write the soundtrack for the game and I haven’t made any songs I deem worthy enough of putting into a game. I’ve been playing around with making town themes but nothing is good enough yet…

Percentage completion = 0%

Estimated years to completion = 10 to no idea whatsoever

4. Knitting something for my own wedding. Well, I don’t plan to get married but this was a goal for a while, so I will put it down. I guess I can’t predict the future 100%, but 25 years and no romantic relationships and dwindling attraction towards people in general suggests that I am too self-centered and comfortable with my independence to need a marriage or seek one out. Nothing wrong with that, of course 🙂

Percentage completion = 0%

Estimated years to completion = never to complete?

5. Making 500 video game sheets. So I’m just over 300 right now and 500 sounds like an awesome number. However I’ve recently not been in the mood to work on sheet music and I have about 300 sheets that I need to fix as well. I used to work at about 20 sheets/year but I don’t think that’s going to be the future rate. I still think it’d be cool to reach 500, but I really shouldn’t do that by decreasing the quality and the fun.

Percentage completion = ~60%

Estimated years to completion = 15+

6. Beating 100+ RPGs. When I started joining RPG forums and paying attention to other people’s thoughts on RPGs and gaming in general, I just felt like my (at that time) “measly” beaten list of like 45 games was a bit too low for someone who feels like a JRPG generalist. Therefore I set a goal of 100 to feel like I’ve actually experienced a greater bit of the genre. That’s probably why I’ve been gaming so much more than I used to. Well, besides the fact that I remembered that gaming is hella fun. It’s been nice to expand into the genre, playing more Action RPGs, Tactical RPGs… Even dungeon crawlers don’t sound bad anymore. The one thing I’m lacking is a Baldur’s Gate or Elder Scrolls or Mass Effect type game. I hope to play something like that next year when I’m not doing a super PS2 and Suikoden replay marathon. (Though next year I plan to replay the Xenosaga games…)

Percentage completion = ~70%

Estimated years to completion = 1-3

June 20, 2013

I should be less “ashamed” of my Tales Series love

Posted in video games tagged , , , at 10:08 am by riulyn

I don’t know how obvious it is from this blog, but I proudly tout my love for Suikoden games and Xeno games. However, I don’t really talk Tales of and usually it’s me bashing the music, since well most of the music isn’t that great in comparison to other games.

There really should be no reason for this. I love Tales games. I have played most of the games that have come out in the U.S. and I am super excited about Tales of Xillia. Yes, I am only recently playing Tales of Graces f but it was the first game I popped into that PS3, and I still have to finish Legendia and play Dawn of the New World. I rarely replay games, but I’ve played Tales of Phantasia twice and got significantly into a second replay of Tales of Eternia before something happened to that save. I replayed Tales of the Abyss as part of a gaming marathon/challenge and loved it again. I’m looking into buying Tales of Vesperia for the PS3, and Tales of Innocence and Tales of Hearts for the Vita.

However, I had a friend a few months ago who was wondering about Tales of the Abyss 3D as she has a 3DS and I was hesitant to recommend it to her. Well there were multiple reasons, one of them being a more general “she doesn’t really like menus”, but the other was…well, it’s probably too cheesy and the anime tropes are strong and… You know what? I love the characters because of their trope-ness. They still get nice character growth, banter all the time, and the universe is actually pretty interesting. And she likes anime, so the anime-ness shouldn’t have been an issue to worry about.

I guess there’s been enough talk on the Internet that bashes the Tales series in general for their silly stories and it is true that I play more for the battle system than for the story. But sometimes I bury my Tales love more than my Star Ocean or Lufia love, and I wouldn’t say Star Ocean or Lufia games have better stories or characters.

I mean, Tales is solidly my third favorite series (after Suikoden and Xeno-, of course). I don’t have enough experience with some major JRPG series (Shadow Hearts, Breath of Fire, Arc the Lad, Shining, Fire Emblem, Tactics Ogre, Wild Arms, Atelier, Ar Tonelico,  the list goes on) to say it would be my third favorite series of all time but it has many things I like in a game and reliably so. While there’s always the dumb but somehow adorable hero character, the badass magical girl, usually a smart-ass who is also badass, and a crazy person, I enjoy most of their iterations. I mean, it’d be hard to pick a Top 5 Tales characters (so far for me), and not because I can’t find ones I like enough.

Top 5 Tales characters (at this moment) – Yuri (ToV), Pascal (ToGf), Guy (TotA), Hubert (ToGf), Jade (TotA)

Honorable mentions – a huge list 😀

I guess, as someone who got into gaming through RPGs and still play them for the stories, admitting that I love a RPG series whose stories aren’t life-changing or completely unique  is like saying I don’t really have refined tastes when it comes to stories. The thing is, that has always been true with me and I can now readily admit that about my reading habits. I need to start admitting that about my gaming habits too! 🙂

June 19, 2013

Why do we “let” Final Fantasy games define JRPGs?

Posted in video games tagged , , at 11:02 am by riulyn

Start a topic, write an editorial or a blog, just slap the word “Final Fantasy” somewhere in your post or tag it and suddenly you get all the hits, all the “discussion”, a huge load of comments. Start a topic about “Suikoden”, “Xeno-“, “Tales of” and suddenly it feels to be reduced to the hardcore fans of those series and a few curious outsiders.

Not that I blame Final Fantasy for being popular. It’s a series that doesn’t touch the “immediately love” buttons for me but I respect it and it does some things well.

I just find it interesting that it’s not only the hardcore fans of Final Fantasy that come out to discuss any Final Fantasy article but the hardcore haters, the bystanders, the casuals, like everyone who visits a gaming website ever unless they decide to avoid all FF things. Suddenly discussion about everything from game mechanics, story, characters, graphics, and music occur, but under the thread name containing “Final Fantasy”. On the outside, wouldn’t that look like Final Fantasy is the only JRPG series that we care about?

I’m not saying we need to reduce the popularity of Final Fantasy but rather, I’d like for more people to read articles and discuss the other RPGs that are coming out. Like Atelier games or Tales games or SMT or Ys or like the 500 others that I can’t even list out or this post would be humongous. Write more about those other JRPGs that you love, even if you only get a few hits at first. Stop asking for Final Fantasy to become everything you want but ask the genre as a whole. Stop betting everything about JRPGs on Final Fantasy.

It’s okay that Final Fantasy made JRPGs a viable genre outside of Japan, but we don’t need it to be the sole life source too. Because if that’s the case, if Final Fantasy falls, then we really are screwed.

June 9, 2013

Some brats have wider appeal than others.

Posted in video games tagged , , at 10:41 pm by riulyn

Right now, out of all the games I’m actively playing, only two have very central main characters in a plot-driven story. It might feel a little strange to be comparing Shadow Hearts to Tales of Graces f since pretty much everything that can be different is different between those games. But I’m going to focus on the main characters of those two games since, despite the ensemble cast, the story seems very driven and focused around the main characters Yuri and Asbel respectively. Of course, only being 12 hours and 15 hours into each game respectively, these facts could change.

So let’s talk about the similarities first. Both are not afraid to speak their mind, sometimes coming off as rather rude. Both are rather self-centered, and you feel like when they make promises to protect other people, they do it without really considering/consulting the people they are protecting. Both are rather hot-headed. Both give off a somewhat “sexist” vibe due to being more likely to protecting females because they are “weaker” but they don’t actually have a problem with females being strong.

All these similarities, however, feel rather superficial when they are well separated by differences in the delivery. Yuri’s lines are smart and humorous and in the context of overall humorous but serious at the right times conversation. Asbel’s lines, even after the prologue, are still rather basic and show off his denseness and his naivete. Asbel is supposedly 18 but you feel like he is more like 15; it doesn’t help that the most of the rest of the cast is his age or younger and lots of “yeah we need to do this” gets repeated a lot in the main dialogue (and even more in some of the skits, but many of the skits are better than the main dialogue because of Pascal. I digress…). I don’t  know Yuri’s age but he definitely captures the young adult that more of us rather be; we want to sound smart, banter with guys, enemies, hot ladies, and of course kick ass.

The fact that most of us would evaluate Yuri as a “stronger” and more “badass” character than Asbel makes a big impact on how we react to them in certain situations. I’ll try not to spoil too much by saying things that may or may not happen in the game, but this is how I’d react to the following situations.

1. When the main character is in over his head.

for Yuri – “That enemy is really smart/powerful”

for Asbel – “Asbel, you idiot”

2. When the main character managed to beat someone by rushing in

for Yuri – “Yuri’s just too badass”

for Asbel – “Wow, Asbel’s lucky”

3. When the main character starts being cautious

for Yuri – “Dude, just go kick some ass”

for Asbel – “You should have been doing this earlier”

4. When the main character is crying

for Yuri – “Let me hug you”

for Asbel – “Let me hug you”

Hahaha, tricked you for that last one! Even though I’m sure Yuri is more loved by the people who have played Shadow Hearts than Asbel is by the people who have played Tales of Graces f, I actually really like both of them. Unfortunately, some of my love for Asbel stems from Asbel being an idiot and all the skits that help to cement that he’s really a puppy. Meanwhile Yuri is just so badass. I just can’t resist 🙂

June 4, 2013

Two Months, Two New Gaming Devices

Posted in life, video games tagged , , at 2:24 pm by riulyn

So, guess what I did since I last posted? I bought a Vita along with Persona 4 Golden. There goes all my June gaming money. Though that’s okay, since my preorders will start coming in early July and not late June like I first thought (since I did Amazon ordering and they send out shipments like a week late). Because of that, I decided to get the Vita now.

I already demoed a few games on the Vita at PAX last year, so it’s not like I don’t know what I’m getting into. It was, however, confusing to figure out which one of the Vita bundles came with a memory card or not. I believe the $250 Vita 3G/Wi-Fi bundle on Amazon comes with the 8 GB memory card, so I should be all set to start my P4G adventure. Except my plans are to concentrate on Dark Cloud 2 and Shadow Hearts and try to finish off Lufia: Ruins of Lore even though that game really is a drag.

You know, for me the price of the proprietary memory cards was not a deal breaker for the Vita. About a year ago I had to buy another PS2 memory card and 8 MB was like $12. Of course, I could have bought it from a cheaper place for less money, but $15 for 4 GB is not the worst thing ever. It is, as I stated earlier, really annoying when you can’t figure out whether or not your Vita package actually comes with a memory card or not.

Oh wow, I had no idea that there were 128 MB memory cards for the PS2. Things you learn when you decide to do a little searching… But I’m sure my finicky PS2 would find some way to not use it correctly. It can’t read my Tales of the Abyss disc anymore and it takes like 20 tries to load up Dark Cloud 2. It seems to do pretty well with older games in general, strangely. Like Shadow Hearts usually loads within the first few times. I really hope my PS2 doesn’t break soon. I really don’t want to go 3 and 3.

I mean, I guess I have bought 3 gaming devices this year. I think about all the expenses that I don’t have to pay right now because my parents still treat me like a kid (yay!) like no car/phone bills, no student loans and then the other benefits of being a paid grad student – no health insurance worries, no public transportation costs. It makes me think that my next job may put me in a worse-off situation. So I guess it’s a good thing to get all the consoles this year after all.

The other big change to help offset my gaming costs was to cancel my cable TV subscription last summer. I only watched TV for tennis, so I was paying $90/month to make sure I got tennis channel and a DVR as well as basic cable. That’s like the equivalent of 2+ games/month. Sadly I feel like I’m not really missing something even though I can’t watch tennis on TV anymore. I guess I got burned out or something? It used to be a pretty big part of my life.

Sorry that this post sort of devolved into a bit of bragging about my money (even though I don’t feel like I have tons of money). It’s just I feel so fortunate sometimes yet not really sympathetic to gamers who complain about the cost of gaming if they aren’t willing to put a bit of sacrificing somewhere else. (Of course there is the case where someone can’t do any more sacrificing; then that just sucks.) Then again, I’m a hermit with no little ones or big ones to worry about, so I’m just really self-centered in the end 🙂