Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Geek Rant Topic 06: JRPGs

When All Else Fails, you call Mousa the 14, that one ranting geek.

So uh, yeah, Guess I didn't get the memo. When did JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games, for the non-geek visitors.) become a laughingstock in North America? Too busy playing manly army games and 90's comic throwbacks to care about something that uses primary colors with characters that have personalities؟

That was the Irony mark by the way. And was I being mean? Indeed. I'm still seething from my overview of Faux Hardcore gamers.

Now, the list of Faux hardcore gamer requirements are basically why JRPGs are considered a joke, but once upon a time these were the types of video games were loved. In a time before I was born of course, but that's not the point. If I were to bring up a game like Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and the Pre-Final Fantasy 7 Final Fantasy games, I would've thought they were talking about a completely different genre of games because a good majority of gamers seem to love those games for their compelling story lines, interesting characters, fun world to explore, gameplay, and whatnot.

Bring up anything post Final Fantasy 7 you're likely to get bombarded with a vitriol matched only by the Tea Party. But why is that? I seriously doubt JRPGs killed their dogs, and if they did we have bigger things to worry about, like finding out where the Allspark is or how to stop Skynet from killing us.

Well first of wall what do we have t compare them to? If there's a "J" in front of the RPG then J is obviously a qualifier to point out this is similar to but not likea set standard. Here's a poorly researched history lesson for you:

Video Game RPGs are mostly based around the Dungeons and Dragons. The DnD style of game was a complex story telling adventure that featured you and yoru friends exploring a new world as a different person as they fought monsters, explored towns, saved princesses all while upgrading their skills and weapons and maintaining an inventory as well as your health. Video Game RPGs are simplified versions of these because Video Games by definition are limited and therefore cannot provide much the depth, creativity, or numerous elements involved in your standard Dungeons and Dragons game or it's numerous counterparts.

Sacrifices had to be made and one can easily see what sort of Video Game RPG you're playing based on which sacrifices were made.

JRPGs are heavy on story and characters and because of that the decisions you make have little impact on how the story plays out except for a few changes in character development or a different ending when you beat the game. This meant a lot of gameplay was marginalized. You are basically watching an anime and a movie and your job is to move characters from A to B, make sure they don't die in non-plot related things, occasionally do some side quests that involve talking to certain people or delivering things, and fight on a usually non-necessary basis. A majority of JRPGs would make solid TV series or Movies rather than actual games where interactivity and decision making is key. In terms of actual figthing JRPGs basically are numbers game where you have to equio your characters with high ranking weapons and have them use high powered attacks, and maintain their health bar over 75%. All this in turn-based combat.

The numbers from the origin RPGs are there but the fun of actually being a person in the story is not. It's more like you're following some guy and his friends.

In Breif, and I quote someone else: "An angsty teenager with god awful hair struggling with groundless and poorly defined emotional problems through chapters of text boxes. "

Contrast with the common Western RPGs which take a more free-range open sandbox sort of style and has more emphasis on free range combat stuff a la Legend of Zelda or Assassin's Creed. but you tend to get a simpler story and you have a bigger opportunity to do far more sidequests. You can actually choose what class of character you want to be and what skills you can upgrade. Games with karma meters or dialogue selections allow for there to be slightly more effects on what you do, though usually not as much as people would like. The kicker is that usually the main story is nothing to look at and you find yourself eventually getting bored once the exploration becomes repetitive and you realize what you do doesn't have as much of an impact as you like.

In breif, and I quote someone else: "three hours of beating wolves to death in the rain in order to grab a handful of low-grade magical crap that you'll only sell a few minutes later. "

The false dichotomy here is basically choosing between more story and more choice. And more obviously the non-anime fan western audience want more choice.

However that's far deeper than what people actually complain about in terms of JRPG flaws.

Ignoring all the failings that involve appeal ling to the Faux Hardcore gamer, allow me to enumerate a lot of the commonly mentioned "problems" with JRPGs.

1) The Main protagonist is usually same broody emotional and emo or stereotypical energetic and excitable male anime protagonist.
1a) That is usually portrayed in an overly handsome/cutesy anime style
1b) And he wields a sword 99.99% of the time
1c) and has an annoying voice
2) The combat is turn based which is boring and lacks innovation.
3) Nothing you do actually matters
4) The art is 99.99% of the time going to be done in the typical Japanese animation style or as many call it, an anime style.
5) They lack replay value
6) The plots are usually cliche
7) No customization for anything.
9) Numbers are imperative in order to beat enemies rather than skills.
9a) Level grinding is imperative so you Can be stronger than the next boss
9b) No skill needed, just buy the next strongest weapons and armour
10) And It's not really roleplaying if you're going through someone else's story, limited to their personal skills with no variation, and it's their personality that drives the plot and not yours.

If there's more I remember, I'll add them but that's the basic outline ad they are frankly valid arguments. But it's hard to see why JRPGs were liked once upon a time.

Chrono Trigger still had the skill limitations and numbers crunching and you were playing as a set of established characters. But then The protagonist had a blank slate personality, what decisions you made in the game affected a great deal of the story, and the combat style was more of a faux-turn based one.

Earthbound has many of the similar failings Chrono Trigger had but it was open world, the writing was clever and the story was well done, and you had a lot of freedom in what you could do.

So JRPGs aren't necessarily a problem, it's that as games become bigger and more expensive to make it becomes more difficult to combine the best of both wolds to create something fun and interesting.

There is another factor I didn't mention that could be a cause of all this: Following the Leader. You see, Final Fantasy 7 introduced something new for it's time with a complex and fascinating protagonist with a deep and interesting plot even though it was wrought with all the things on the list many claim to hate about JRPGs. Well guess what, after the super success of FF7, many tired to follow in suit and thus nigh every JRPG we see these days is what one might call a rehash of Final Fantasy 7. Everything was starting too like trite and cliche after the original and now what we have left is a big ball of rage.

What can be done? Not sure, it seems like it's hard to break trends when you have budgets. We can only hope something new and creative comes our way like Okami, The World Ends With You, or the Tales of Symphonia/Phantasia battle system used for more RPGs.


-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power.
Mousa the 14

Geek Rant Topic 05: Nerd or Geek

When all else fails, you call Mousa the 14, that one ranting geek.

call me a semantics freak, but I coulda swore that these terms had specific definitions, but that could just be me. More a long time people have used the words interchangeably to simply mean "Socially inept guys we mainstream people don't like because they have non-mainstream interests, dress casually, act weird, and aren't particularly attractive."

Then why have two words? Words that are different yet supposedly mean the same or similar thing? and I'm sure people have their own personal mental dictionaries that give each of these words a specific term. even my mainstay,, has separate definitions for each.



The distinction is subtle, too subtle for anybody to really care so they ignore it. However I believe that from all I've heard and read I can glean some sort of distinction.

I realize this may be futile. I mean, XKCD is laughing at me right now for it. But the alt text proves to me that even the XKCD guy has a version of it and in fact mine is quite similar. So without further ado I present the definitions.

NERD: A socially inadequate person who is noted not only for their poor social skills or lack of caring of mainstream interests and styles, but for their intelligence, display of said intelligence, and deep knowledge of a wide variety of fields or a specified field. The big difference between a geek and a nerd is that a Nerd's brilliance is usually within academic pursuits. They are Science geeks, math geeks, computer geeks. If it is an academic field with real life applications or at least has a real field of study and you are intellectually vested in it, you are a nerd.

GEEK: A subset of hobbyist, people who have an deep interest in traditionally non-mainstream subjects that are often considered childish in nature. Similar to the Nerd, they are usually socially inadequate and brilliant. Unlike the nerd, their brilliance tends to be dedicated to their specific hobby. Usual interests of Geeks fall under Science-Fiction and Fantasy Genres spanning all mediums. Another aspect of Geeks as defined by The Game Overthinker in his video on continuity found here. the short and paraphrased version is this: "Geeks glean fun from turning something that is already fun into work" such as playing video games competitively, Stop Having Fun Guys, or collecting the entirety of the Marvel universe's comics to "keep the continuity straight".

Geeks follow this mantra "(Insert Hobby here), My Anti-Drug: Because Crack is Cheaper"

Agree with me, don't agree with me. I think I'm right, but I'm just that one ranting geek among millions. I doubt I'm wrong but I dare thou to challenge me.

Though it does seem strange that some, including myself, are arguing over the semantics of an insult pointed in our general direction.

Oh well.

-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power.
Mousa The 14

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Geek Rant Topic 04: To Most Furries

Previously on When All Else Fails: The 14 chastised the geek community for putting down Furries.

And now....

When all Else Fails, you call Mousa the 14, that one ranting geek.

I had a lot to say about how geeks are all hating on furries. But now, I'm turning this car around. It's time I complain to the furries. Because you guys, furries, you give geeks so much material to hate you. You're mostly relatively normal people, I know that, One of my good friends is a furry. You're all people too. I understand that. But I also understand that a vocal minority, and a moderate majority of you are all IDIOTS!

You perpetuate negative stereotypes that give people a reason to make fun of you. And I'm going to use the exact same list I used to scold the haters Just to prove my point:

1) They are easy to get a rise out of
2) They act like a repressed minority when they are at a minimum hobbyists, and at the most a subculture, but not a real one, but like how "gamers" and "Otakus" are subcultures.
3) Otherkin. 'Nuff said
4) You had a bad first experience with one and are projecting on them all because you are a deaf bigot.
5) There was furry porn and you assumed all of them were sexual deviants.
6) The furry porn thing part 2: They like animal-people, ergo, They are into bestiality, the sick perverts.

I'm going to go down this list bit by bit except number 6, for that doesn't apply to you guys.

1) Seriously, you guys are so sensitive it hurts. You're easier to get a rise out of than Keith Olberman and Glenn Beck combined. And as we all know, Olberman can complain about anything and Beck's a frikkin' maniac! So where does that leave you guys? You don't wanna know. The point is, you whine and complain and sob at the teensist criticism vaguely aimed in your direction and then you react, and the Trolls go wild! You're Not supposed to do that! You don't make a loud stink because someone makes fun of you, that only makes them look right about it. Which leads me to number

2) The whole "fursecution" thing. Get over yourselves, you're a particularly large hobby group that is fascinated with a certain aesthetic and interest in the anthropomorphizing of animals. You're not a lifestyle choice, you're hobbyists or a poor-man's subculture. You're the same as gamers, Anime fans, Trekkies, Star Wars Fans, all that stuff. Don't make yourselves bigger than you really are. You're just geeks like the rest of us, not an entire subspecies. You are not a lifestyle choice, which actually leads me to number

3) Otherkin. 'Nuff said.

Okay, for real, You guys are Nuts, there is nothing I can say that will change your perception of reality. Just keep it to yourselves.

4) I got nothing here, not everybody can be affable. All you decent furries just have to make good impressions and don't make jokes for the sake of screwing with people's heads. There are always bad eggs that will color people's opinions of you, nothing can be done here. Smart tip though: "Hi my name is X and I'm a furry" is not a good conversation opener. Only tell people if they ask about it. Remember, Baby steps.

5) Keep your exceptionally hot furry porn to yourself. Don't use it to mess with people, don't show it off often. It's bad enough people who hang out on the internet or enjoy porn are labeled as sexual deviants. You wanna make it worse by making the participants have traits that vaguely resemble their dog or pet canary? Look I hate intolerant morons as much as you do, but baby steps people.

And that's all I have to say to you furries. Leave the trolls alone and they'll leave you alone. Oh, and Otherkin? Seek help. Please. I beg of you.

-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power.
Mousa The 14

Geek Rant Topic 03: Hardcore Gamers or "No True Gamer"

When all else fails, you call Mousa the 14, that one ranting geek.

I have a passing interest of gamers. And by that I mean I watch these guys on a regular basis. Danny Floyd and The Overthinker have helped refined my view of gamers, Same with this guy. He is awesome.

With my influences out of the way, time to talk about the core gamers. You see, Hardcore Gamer is a term that has lost it's meaning nowadays. I remember once upon a time, in a more innocent time, I had friends who considered themselves to be hardcore gamers and I was labeled casual. This was appropriate, I didn't play as much as them. They played a lot. They got 100% completions, they knew how to "wave dash", they knew how to combo, all that stuff. They were real hardcore gamers. They kept up with releases, knew the rumors, knew what was fake, cared about graphics and all that stuff. They cared about all that stuff. Me? I could barely keep up.

However that golden age of true hardcore gamer has gone and the name has been passed on to a different sort of gamers,a vocal minority who make it into the news, who get all the coverage. The ones Sony and Microsoft are pandering to. These new "Hardcore" gamers were of a different breed. They took hardcore for something completely different. They were immature, some young, some middle aged, but they were all insecure and masculinity obsessed guys. They took hardcore to be "Masculine", "Virile", "EPIC", all that jazz. They wanted these things and these things only:

1) First Person Shooters or anything similar. Sometimes Third person actions will do so long as it's dark and edgy.
2) Military Games
3) Games to be Darker and Edgier and Grim and Gritty.
4) The Women needed to be Hotter and Sexier
5) Their protagonist needed to be a personality deficient musclebound white guy with a perma-stubble and an attitude.
5a) Or the Protagonist was the first guy's personality deficient armored and faceless cousin who presumably looks like the first guy.
6) Everything needs to be Brown and Gray, no Primary colors because that's gay!
7) The setting? Only Battle torn or post-apocalyptic will do.

I described more games than I care to count and while games that fit this mold aren't necessarily bad, I mean, Prototype is pretty good, I have no real qualms with the Call of Duty games besides the fact they're not my thing, and apparently Everyone Loves Metal Gear Solid. My problem is that the industry seems to be bending over backwards for this immature crowd's standard because... I don't know. They're the most vocal? They're older and therefore have more disposable income maybe? The point is that Sony and Microsoft seem to be bending over backwards against innovation, original characters, and using the entire color spectrum in order to make similar stuff that, on occasion, isn't all that interesting or catering to a group too small. These guys aren't the real Hardcore gamers, they think they are but they aren't.

These faux Hardcore gamers are an insecure bunch, most of who grew up with gaming and now they refuse to believe their favorite media isn't growing up with them. They refuse to believe that their game systems are toys and when they game they play with toys! It's not an insult, it's a fact, but they take it as an insult to their maturity, their age, and their intellect. And ironically, they regress by going over the top with high school varsity football homophobic macho testosterone fueled machismo in a rage and immaturity so great they make Chuck Norris look like a little girl. It's sad really that these are the guys we stick the modern day "hardcore" label to.

My annoyance grows more only because you can just tell these are the hardcore gamers Sony and Microsoft are pandering to. Have you seen a Playstation3/Portable ad lately? Those things are an insult to our intelligence as geeks and as true hardcore gamers. You haven't yet? Go look one up, YouTube is readily available and all, go on, I dare you. Adding "Sassy black boy" in the search descriptor might help too.

You back? Seen them? Now you see where I'm getting at here. Th tough guy attitude, the "hip" lingo, it's like they're not even trying. They think gamers are the Faux Hardcores and ergo treating us like we're idiots.

If I sound like I'm ragging a lot on Sony and Microsoft, it's because I'm really not seeing this issue with Nintendo. Sure they have their problems, what with all the shovelware, the excess in mindless kiddie games, all that stuff but it still dishes out a lot of good games with a palette that is wider than what Sony and Microsoft tend to make themselves out to be. Yeah they have their kiddie stuff, their moderate stuff, their stuff that uses the entire color spectrum, But you cannot deny what their claim to fame is and that's trying to pander to the Faux Hardcore gamers.

Why is it those faux hardcores and portions of the gaming industry don't realize that being a "hardcore" or "casual" gamer, (or, shall I say "Skill Players" and "tourists" to be more accurate) has nothing to do with the type of games you play but how you play them. The guy who does the gamer taxonomy I linked above already talks about that. It's about either you play games because you want to develop a useless skill because you derive fun form being an expert or because you just want to have fun

Anyhow, that's my thoughts on the Faux Hardcore gamers, how they have destroyed the definition of a true Hardcore gamer, and why they matter. Now if you will excuse me, I must rustle up some cash, I need to find me a backwards compatible PS3.

-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power.
Mousa The 14

Monday, July 19, 2010

Geek Rant Topic 02: Furry Hate

When all else fails, you call Mousa the 14, That One Ranting Geek.

Everybody hates Furries! Geeks hate them, normal people hate them, the media hates them, apparently CSI hates them but I'd rather kill myself than watch that utterly uninteresting show.

Why exactly? I mean seriously, why?

I want to say you all have no reason to, but honestly you have many reasons to.

1) They are easy to get a rise out of
2) They act like a repressed minority when they are at a minimum hobbyist, and at the most a subculture, but not a real one, but like how "gamers" and "Otakus" are subcultures.
3) Otherkin. 'Nuff said
4) You had a bad first experience with one and are projecting on them all because you are a deaf bigot.
5) There was furry porn and you assumed all of them were sexual deviants.
6) The furry porn thing part 2: They like animal-people, ergo, They are into bestiality, the sick perverts.

Obviously the last 3 are not legitimate reasons but they're real reasons nevertheless. I can understand why normal people would alienate them.

However I do not understand why we, the Geeks and Nerds, do. Why would we, the guys who love X-men (an allegory for tolerance), hate on a group of people based on their interests? Need I remind why why we're called Geeks and Nerds? Because we are ostracized by mainstream and popular people for having non-mainstream interests. Oh, and because a vocal minority of you refuse to maintain decent hygiene but that's a rant for another day.

But as I was saying, we enjoy fantasy, science-fiction, video games, superheroes, comic books, card games, anything that comes from Japan, and so muc hmore, and we're ridiculed for it or rather, we're ignored to the point of making use exiles. In fact, this is it, isn't it? That's the reason.

Geeks have a persecution complex!

We have always been considered pretty low on the frikkin' "food chain". And That sucks. We supposedly learned to deal with it. But then we find something even we consider too strange and we come down on it like a ton of bricks.

Need I remind you of the Geek Heirarchy?

Here's the Unabridged version. Either way, Furries get a raw deal. And for what reason? They're easy to troll? Well that's mean-spirited and non-nonsensical, but then, not everybody can be rational, tolerant, and not living proof of GIFT. Oy vey...

So anyhow, where was I? Ah yes, we were bullied so we bully someone even lower than we are. Now that's mature. I'm so proud that a group supposedly filled with intellectuals or at least reasonably smart people can be such idiots. I mean what are we, Republicans?

I mean seriously, why should we direct our fury at them when they did nothing to us? If anything we should be raging against the mainstream, the cool kids, the popular people, the sportsmen, all those guys, not our fellow shut-ins. But then, maybe we just don't like each other.

I mean us geeks are a divisive group. Besides a common interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy, our interests beyond that get pretty diverse and divided. we get further away from the common genre and become more interested in our particular niches. I mean how do you enjoy expressing your interests in genre fiction? Video Games? Reading? writing? Magic The Gathering? Anime? See? Our methods are so divided we have no reason to like each other. I've seen it all before. Everybody's got to hate on something from the "Weeaboos" to the "Casual/Hardcore/Retro Gamers", it gets pretty silly. We shouldn't be doing this. We enjoy stuff that practically bleeds, breaths, and sweats tolerance. Why aren't we learning?

So I guess all I'm saying is, we've been out-casted for our interests, so why all the hate?

-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power.
Mousa The 14