supermike6's forum posts

#1 Posted by supermike6 (3774 posts) -

@liquidsaiyan3 said:

I believe you have to use auth.giantbomb.com

This is how I have it in PocketCasts:

https://USER:PASSWORD@auth.giantbomb.com/podcast-xml/premium/

Was having the same problem as OP, and this worked. Thanks.

#2 Posted by supermike6 (3774 posts) -

@slag: The more I think about it, the more I am agreeing with you on this case. Definitely, mechanically these games all share more features than they differ in. And both are based on very similar concepts. The first JRPGs (I am using this term simply now to denote that they come from Japan, for the sake of this discussion) were based on old Western PC-RPGs like Wizardry. Over the years, different cultures took these same concepts (obviously originally hearkening back as early as DnD) and ran with them in completely different ways. But that doesn't mean they are different genres. Simply that they are two things of similar form conveying entirely different experiences based on the culture they were created in.

Because of this, I actually think the JRPG and WRPG are useful classifications for games, despite not being "genres" per se. While for modern games I'm not sure this makes sense; in terms of classifying old games it is the best way to avoid homogenizing what are entirely different types of games. I view it more akin to denoting the difference between French pop and American pop, or maybe Japanese literature vs Russian literature. Yes, these are the same medium, even the same genre, but the cultures they were created from have a profound effect on how they are made and what they turn out to be. A lot of Japanese rock is based on the same American/British classic rock roots from the 60s and 70s, but what they took from those sources, and what they changed about them is what makes modern Japanese rock and modern American rock different, even when they are working in ostensibly the same genre.

Both Western-developed RPGs and Japanese-developed RPGs have taken influences from the same places. The most obvious is DnD, but I think PC point-and-click adventure games also played a big role in shaping what those genres are today. But Japanese-developed RPGs were also influenced by the traditional stories from Japanese culture, as well as more modern trends like anime and manga. Meanwhile, Western-developed RPGs (You can also argue that this can be split into North-American and European, and then even that into Western-European and Eastern-European, but we will not go into that right now :P) are obviously influenced by Western tales of fantasy and war movies.

But then, there are examples like you mentioned (Dragon's Dogma, also Dark Souls (Is that an RPG?? Action-RPG??? Who knows??!??)) of Japanese-developed games that are obviously influenced by traditional Western ideas of fantasy, and even the open-ended game-design that gave classic PC games their identity. Where do these fit into anything? Do they have to? They are a twisted fusion of a fusion that can now not be categorized by anything I have already stated.

This all begs the question of what constitutes genre and what doesn't. All mediums have the trouble of categorizing themselves into genre; just look at the 900 different types of metal as described by Wikipedia. These splits are based on very specific aspects of the music that maybe doesn't matter so much. On the other hand, despite us living in what is a global world, our country (and by extension its culture) heavily influences our values and what we appreciate/create in art. Some people like things that come from their country. Some people like things that come from others, or a mix of both. I like Japanese RPGs in the same way that I would say I enjoy Japanese books. Japanese books are still written words placed in sentences and chapters just like all others, but there's a style that comes from the country (and all countries, for that matter) that makes them discernible from others. They are not a different genre, but it's a different style that is important to recognize in order to avoid homogenization of cultures and therefore ideas.

I feel like I have maybe gone on too long and maybe derailed poor @jbg4's blog :P. Basically this was a very long response that boils down to me saying "Yes, I agree, also here's a bunch of vaguely-related things from my head." Oh well.

#3 Posted by supermike6 (3774 posts) -

@slag: I do agree with you on the naming convention of JRPGs and WRPGs might be getting a bit outdated, but I disagree with the idea that they do not represent largely different styles of games. Some of the differences I mentioned in the post above yours, but I think the main thing is the linearity. There are linear Western-made RPGS, and there are more non-linear JRPGs (which is why I agree the nationality-based naming convention is silly), but for the most part the styles are different in almost every way apart from the RPG-staples of leveling up, upgrading weapons, battle-systems, etc. Honestly it might even be reasonable to just call them linear-RPGs vs non-linear-RPGs but even that's dumb. Something we have come to accept is that game genres are dumb and impossible to define, and even changing them to something slightly more reasonable doesn't change much in the grand scheme of things. Yeah, calling them WRPGs and JRPGs is silly and makes it seem like Western developers can't create linear RPGs and Japanese developers can't make non-linear ones, which is just pigeonholing developers, but I do think there is still a distinction.

I haven't actually played many modern RPGs so maybe I'm hilariously out-of-date, but I don't think grouping something like Final Fantasy XIII into the same genre as Fallout 3 makes a lot of sense. Then again, lumping basically everything else into action-adventure or shooter is equally weird. I guess the conclusion I've come to is that game genres are silly and make no sense and even by having this discussion we are talking ourselves around in circles! Oh well. Dunno if the tone comes through properly but this isn't meant to start any sort of argument, just trying to join you in this strange ride of making sense of video game genres.

#4 Posted by supermike6 (3774 posts) -

Good blog! I really like what you've been bringing to the forums around here lately; namely, positivity and some cool insights about video games.

In regards to your question, I've had a strange history with RPGs, both Japanese and Western-style. I've played both a lot throughout my life, but lately I've found myself gravitating towards the Japanese style. Being a kid growing up in a certain era, I was enamored with the Pokemon games and played them religiously for years; them being my first RPG experiences. Obviously, I was young so I don't remember all the thoughts I had regarding them, but needless to say I thought they were pretty neat. I think the main part was exploring a small but dense world and having an explicit journey that I was following. I loved entering new towns and hearing the new music that came with each one and seeing all the dumb NPCs with inane chatter.

After that, my experience shifted immensely when I became addicted to Runescape for a few years in elementary school. I played that game far too much and honestly I don't really know what I liked so much about it. I never became very high-level and I didn't enjoy the combat or anything. 80% of my time was spent grinding on monsters, or grinding my mining/smithing level, or grinding something else. Part of it at the start was that my friends played and we'd hang out, but even after they quit I just stayed on and spent hours doing nothing. That was a pretty bad time in my life when I was being bullied and other such bad things so I guess that had a lot to do it.

After that, I went a long time without playing any RPGs at all. I tried to get into a couple, both Western and Japanese, but never found them hooking me. I played Fallout 3 and loved it for about 15 hours, before just losing interest. Same thing happened to me in Skyrim. Once I had seen most of the world, I just became bored with fighting things and collecting items. Nothing really progressed me forward. Then I discovered Persona 4 through this site and it blew my god damn mind. Not only was the battle system immediately engaging to me, but the Pokemon-esque aspects of collecting monsters and leveling up your party and getting skills appealed to my love for those old games. Probably the main thing, though, was the more rigid structure. There is room for exploration, but for the most part you are on a singular journey with one objective, and almost everything is supporting that goal. I found that way more appealing than the open-endedness of Western RPGs.

On top of that, there is something to be said for the relatively smaller scope of Japanese RPGs. A huge (maybe dumb) thing that I love about JRPGs is the specificity of the music tracks. Each track corresponds to a certain area or tone, and that really helps ground me in the world. Those tracks become so evocative of the different areas that just hearing them will make you remember exactly how you felt when you first went there. This is true of battle-music as well, where just hearing the battle-music of Persona 4 puts me right back in that mode. In Western RPGs, this aspect is not as stressed with ambient music and radio-stuff (like in Fallout) taking the fore. But I feel like the music changing for each town makes me feel more like I'm exploring and discovering a world or area than in Western RPGs when I just get a little notification marker. It makes each place seem more unique, and so I can look back at the end and remember all the areas I went to and how they supported my journey, and the way it felt to be in them. A great example of this that I'm playing right now is Earthbound. Every area (and even NPC) in that game had so much care put into it that it makes your journey feel incredibly unique and powerful, even if unlike WRPGs, you are having basically the same experience as everyone else.

There's something to be said about a very specific tailored experience, and that's why I think I gravitate toward JRPGs more than WRPGs. Sorry for the long post, but this is something that I've been thinking about a lot recently while playing through Earthbound and trying to understand why I love it so god damn much.

#5 Posted by supermike6 (3774 posts) -

My only experience with this has been with following the SC2 scene for 4 years now, and I've gone through ups and downs in terms of my opinion on patching.

On one hand, there is the example of Starcraft: Brood War, which had one patch soon after release and then went untouched for what is now 16 years, and is still being played competitively. The balance of that game is so strange and as someone who hasn't played it much I can't speak with much expertise, but somehow the game is still playable competitively. This is because of players constantly changing strategies and styles to make sure one style is not overpowered and unbeatable forever. Things that were good before get phased out just by players adapting. I think that's incredibly cool. Another factor was that mapmakers would design maps to undermine the fundamental balance issues. For example, Protoss has been determined to be the weakest race in the game at the highest level, so a lot of the maps were designed favouring Protoss in order to make the winrates more even across the races. The ways the competitive has shaped a game the developers did not support as much as modern e-sports is incredible, and a huge testament to the strange magnificence of that game.

On the other hand, Starcraft 2 seems to be definitively not the same sort of strange lightning strike that Brood War was. Being a very different game with different units and astoundingly different mechanics once you get beyond the surface RTS level, it obviously has not carried over the balance that was accidentally created in Brood War. Starcraft 2 in numerous occasions has been hilariously and depressingly broken. The most obvious example of this was late-2012, when an especially potent unit combination was discovered for Zerg that led to a Zerg take-over of the biggest leagues. This is known as the Broodlord-Infestor era, and even being the biggest dumb SC2 dork that exists, I stopped watching for a few months during this time. The game completely stagnated and players of decidedly less skill level were beating better players simply by virtue of their race. If this had continued, SC2 probably would not still have a competitive scene today. And even then, Blizzard took months and months to fix this, and it wasn't until the Heart of the Swarm release came out that the game really stabilized (to a certain extent). This is an obvious example of why sometimes a game should not be left alone.

That being said, it could be argued that this unit combination became overpowered because of nerfs to the other races, which leads to a weird rabbit hole. While I am always wary of balance changes because of BW, it is impossible to argue that balance patches have done anything but help SC2. The Immortal range buff was not only important in the Protoss vs Zerg matchup (with the all-in you mentioned), but it fixed the Protoss vs Protoss matchup that had devolved into everyone using the same one-base all-in "4-gate" tactic in every competitive match for over a year. This matchup has now flourished into one of the more interesting in the game, from at the game's release being seen as the least exciting. Probably the other most important patch in SC2 was a change that also increased the range of a unit, namely the Queen for the Zerg. I will relent from going on and on about this forever but in short, this allowed Zerg to more comfortably take matches in the Zerg vs Terran matchup in the late game consistently, rather than being forced to be crippled by early game rushes if they don't have sufficient scouting or blind defense. Clearly, patches have helped SC2 immensely from stagnating.

Sorry for the huge geek-out, but just like you I have a large interest in this from following a competitive game for a while. SSBMelee and Brood War are great games with amazing scenes that helped their respective games grow irrespective of the developers' intent or negligence. That being said, this is unique to those two games and it can't be the expectation that a competitive game will have perfect balance at release. It just isn't feasible when games are so popular and being pushed to their limits by millions of players over years and years. With more people being interested in e-Sports in general, it's becoming more important for developers to be aware of the state of their game and working to fix balance issues. I don't think it's possible to find perfect balance in any game really, just like the ongoing fight between console-makers and hackers to outdo eachother, the developers and community bounce off each other and clash with every overpowered strategy discovered, and every balance patch administered.

#6 Posted by supermike6 (3774 posts) -

Kiki's Delivery service is definitely 1000% my favourite, with Ponyo in second. They're very pleasant and whimsical. Totoro and Spirited Away are good but they didn't stick with me as much as Ponyo and Kiki did. I'm not sure why. I didn't like Howl's Moving Castle or Princess Mononoke at all; I could barely finish them. I find Ghibli movies at their best when they are whimsical and fun; Mononoke felt too serious for me.

It seems that for each movie there are people who call it their favourite though, so I guess it's best to just watch them all and see what sticks with you.

(Also Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro is a great movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, though it's not technically a Ghibli movie I don't think. You should watch it just the same.)

#7 Posted by supermike6 (3774 posts) -

Earthbound is the greatest video game of all time.

#8 Posted by supermike6 (3774 posts) -

because dude it looks so fucking cinematic and awesome. and great and wonderful and magnificent.

let me think of some more adjectives

It's so visceral.

#9 Posted by supermike6 (3774 posts) -
@aegon said:

Which game?

I would assume Alien: Isolation.

#10 Posted by supermike6 (3774 posts) -

1998 was the start of a bunch of amazing series, as well as the successful 3-D-ization of plenty of other series. There is no way any year can match that, really. 2015 is basically all sequels that will play very much like their predecessors. Compare that to what Ocarina of MGS did for their respective series, or Starcraft and Half-Life to their genres. Hell, even the Last Great Adventure Game (Grim Fandango) was part of '98's catalogue. In terms of historical significance alone, 1998 is nearly unmatched in terms of modern console/PC gaming.

That being said, I'm sure there will be a lot of great games in 2015; there always are. I'm especially excited about what Nintendo has in store for the Wii U.