Archive for March, 2010
Yep, its that time of year again! Its Blankmind’s third birthday and in time for the celebrations we have upgraded the look and feel. In version 3 of Blankmind the most noticeable feature you may have already seen is the Blankmind Cloud. Allowing…
Yep, its that time of year again! Its Blankmind’s third birthday and in time for the celebrations we have upgraded the look and feel. In version 3 of Blankmind the most noticeable feature you may have already seen is the Blankmind Cloud. Allowing you to navigate past posts by theme, the Cloud gathers all tags in the Blankmind Network, generating a list of all posts by that particular theme. We have also given the reader better ability to share our posts to any of your favorite sites, all thanks to ShareThis. These are just a few things amongst many features we are adding. Expect to find more updates in the near future!
Once again it’s been far too long since I was last here, just like my good friend I wish I could tell you I’ve been off doing something magical, or saving the world, but sadly it’s something far different from that (perhaps even better?). Lots…
Once again it’s been far too long since I was last here, just like my good friend I wish I could tell you I’ve been off doing something magical, or saving the world, but sadly it’s something far different from that (perhaps even better?). Lots of my time recently has been spent in the amazing story of Heavy Rain, and the gorgeous world of Final Fantasy XIII, before I go on I’m just going to say how much I love both of these games, Heavy Rain is just brilliant beyond belief and so enjoyable because of its new, unique style. Final Fantasy XIII is amazing, (I haven’t finished it yet), despite its linear nature (of which I agree with my co-writer that Final Fantasy games have always been somewhat linear in nature to begin with), its storyline is nothing short of brilliant, but what do expect from a Final Fantasy title, although I know a few people that would disagree, but that makes me wonder if they have been skipping cut scenes, or perhaps aren’t paying attention to them.
HD is too hard?
As many of you know, a large portion of the games linear aspect has been blamed on the difficulty to produce cities in HD. Now, many people have pointed out that there are a lot of companies out there that can produce HD cities without any problems, however I haven’t noticed that many people reference something that I have noticed so easily. Now I’m not saying that this is the reason, it’s just my opinion, Final Fantasy games have often used 2D artwork to create areas of vast detail, two good examples of this would be Final Fantasy 8, and Final Fantasy 10. So when it comes to HD, the cities would need to be modelled, like any other element of the game, so when you consider that vast amounts of previous games details came from 2D artwork and that this is the first HD Final Fantasy game, it’s no wonder that creating these cities in HD was a problem for a team that are so used to creating them with images. I think that gets my point across, simply put it’s a challenge for a team that have spent many years making detail with 2D art work to jump into creating highly detailed cities without the use of 2D art work.
End of the tunnel?
Ok, so that’s my little rant over with, as for the what else I’ve been doing with my time is sadly just University work, lots to do, and a considerably small time to do it in. Although after a small worry this weekend, and a burst of working, I believe I am pretty much on top and on schedule of it all. Yesterday I started looking into the world of Linux, and Ubuntu, I must admit it looks rather nice, and it’s something I’ll be installing as a dual boot once I’ve finished this semester, although I may install it on my laptop tonight. I have many things on my to do list, including completing my unfinished trophies and achievements, creating a theme for my new Tumblr account, purchasing a good quality HD camcorder and getting things ready for our visit to this years’ Amecon in Keele.
Just to round off this short update, I think that Lightnings character is awesome (yes I know she’s hot), but she’s also brilliant, seeming to be comprised of the best elements of previous kick-ass characters. Also I must disagree with my co-writers comments on Vanille, yes admittedly I was thrown byt he accent, the varying degrees and Australian, English and American did cause some confusion, but the more I play the game, and further I get, I just seem to like the character even (and the English voice actress) even more.
With February being the prime month for gaming on the PS3, the releases of Heavy Rain and Final Fantasy XIII in particular, is it any wounder why I haven’t made a post for a month? I thought not. But lets kid ourselves here and say since the last…
With February being the prime month for gaming on the PS3, the releases of Heavy Rain and Final Fantasy XIII in particular, is it any wounder why I haven’t made a post for a month? I thought not. But lets kid ourselves here and say since the last post I’ve been in the mountains of Tibet training intensely on some secret martial art? OK, maybe that ain’t true but it’s not far from the truth and besides sounds much cooler than saying I’ve played nothing but FFXIII isn’t it? OK now that we’ve explained the inexplicable absence of posts (cough), let me get straight to an enigma that has been bugging me for sometime now: Why does Final Fantasy XIII feel so linear?
Why So Linear?
Now I know what your thinking, it’s because the game is! But calm down. I’m not going to make some hopeless attempt to prove otherwise, with all the relentless cries of disappointment from many fans for the past six months, only a fool would try take up such a rebuttal. And while it is blatantly obvious that the linearity is owed to many reasons, from the rpg-on-rail level layout and leveling system to the many cut scenes butting in on your game time, I’m still confused. Haven’t these elements always been part of a Final Fantasy game? So why do I still have this strong feeling that I’ve been cheated out of “true” and “instant hit” FF when I’m controlling sexy ass Lightening, or annoying Vanille? (Sorry I couldn’t resist).
Was I wrong back in 2001 to fully enjoy FFX with it’s linear level design? Why was it more enjoyable being forced along a linear path to Zanarkand back then? Granted there were more open areas in X, but when you think about it, is it all that different from XIII? I mean it wasn’t until the end of the game, like XIII, that we got to then choose to re-vist previous destinations. Though I guess it didn’t help that we were always forced to two or three characters in XIII and weren’t given the choice of who to select in our party. Yet why was it enjoyable or at least tolerable in VIII? OK maybe we didn’t have to wait to the end of the game like in XIII. And yeah, we did have a lot more stats for our characters (why did they take all of those useless stats, I missed those). I also missed the linear, yet great, leveling system that was seen in FFX or in all pre-FFX games where there was only XP.
OK so I am being cynical here. The matter of fact is FFXIII is or at least seems too scripted, with actually leveling removed and new levels of growth only being made available when the game allows. With everything from the leveling to where you walk being either scripted or directed by events, FFXIII is indeed too linear for a third generation RPG.
Why is Linear so Linear?
FFXIII is not a JRPG or a RPG for that matter. Since FFVII, or FFXII, the definition of an RPG has revolutionized so much by giant sandbox games like World of Warcraft, EVE and Fallout III. So much so that we now expect an RPG to be synonymous to sandbox game play and endless customization. Now I’m not saying that many of these elements weren’t around back in 2002 or prior, far from so. My point being is that where it was OK for scripted events to dictate the story for a second or first gen RPG, nowadays were expecting more when it comes to game play or evens story telling (winks at Heavy Rain). Though linear isn’t bad. When wielded correctly it can create an immersive and interactive story line. But when it comes to game play these days you have to use linearity ingeniously, or face a march or angry boy and girl fans.
But its here that we end up a small positive about FFXIII, the Storyline. I know many out there despise the story that is FFXIII and I fail to see why. With the odd exceptions like Vanille, the voice actors to the narrative of FFXIII has been enthralling. FFXIII is a more of a mature story than previous FF and in that sense is more to my liking. Appealing to older audiences the latest installment touches upon issues in the real world today, going as far as being a satire on terrorism and government propaganda. It cant be helped but be noticed the slight correlation of the universal fear of pulse l’cie to something in todays world. Some how a nation that rules its people by the words of a supreme being doesn’t seem that different to some religious states today? Maybe I’m seeing something that isn’t there, but to the point, FFXIII’s story is told superbly and isn’t afraid drift into gritty realism (I mean for starters theres finally more black people in the whole universe of FF).
A Sacrifice to the God of Linearity
While supposedly FFXIII’s has sacrificed its RPG element to a story driven gaming, one wonders if there had to be a sacrifice at all with gleaming examples out there that counter that argument. Things get especially infuriating with statements from Square Enix stating that it would be an impossible work load to create a fully HD RPG game that is not linear. It does then beg the question why they bother focusing on three FFXIII related titles instead of one if they are finding under staffed or without time to make a fully HD game. With statements such as that it makes later statements less believable that FFXIII will be the last of its kind. Especially when Square Enix’s credibility is burnt by insisting that the inferior Xbox360 version is the same as the PS3′s.
Indeed Square Enix needs to up its game if it wishes to compete, as while western games such as Uncharted 2 and God of War III begin to break technical and story telling grounds, FF is still left struggling on what retro elements to keep and what news ones to make.
But I’m a hypocrite, a biased one at that, as I still love the game that is FFXIII. As after all, it is Final Fantasy.