Sunday, December 31, 2017

Genericide Update: Rectangular Realism

Greetings, strange future people of 2018! I'm sure you're busy sipping VR cocktails from your chrome battle cruisers as you escape the Lizardman uprising. But those with a moment to spare between hyperspace jumps may be wondering why I went half the year without content then stopped in the middle of a series. Fear not, my purely hypothetical legion of readers! I have a very good reason why the rest of the Dragon Quest 7 series hasn't been posted:

I didn't finish writing it!

Yeah okay, this was about the reaction I expected.

Now if you'll give me a moment to clean up the soot off my monitor, there was another reason the series hasn't been posted. Probably should've led with that.

I made a free video game!

Dedicated and observant readers* will note that I was working on an RPG at the beginning of this year. This…is not that RPG. Instead, it's something I started a few months back when I was lured by the siren call of a game jam. It's a short comedy RPG with all-original art and music named The Square Who Killed Another Square.

*Correct, just me.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Dragon Quest 7: The Turn-Based Traditionalist

There’s nothing wrong with tradition. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to what’s reliable. There’s nothing wrong with iteration over innovation. This is good for Dragon Quest 7, as it’s a traditional RPG that sticks to what’s tried and true. What’s bad for DQ7 is that it executes what’s tried and true poorly. This happens frequently.

Blatant Classism

Dragon Quest 7 uses a fairly standard class system for 80% of the game. You’ll note that, since This Game Is 100 Hours Long, it leaves 20 hours unaccounted for. This is how long it takes to unlock the bloody feature. In the time it takes to unlock the core mechanic for advancing your character, you have gone through a lengthy intro, several completely separate story arcs across time and space, and the entire development of a major character. If you’re playing in short bursts, like me during commutes to work, this takes weeks of real world time.

That’s not to say that there’s zero character progression before this. Your party still earns experience and levels up, increasing their basic stats. There’s a fairly standard array of equipment: A weapon for damage, a shield, helm and armor for defense, and an accessory for wild card bonuses. Only certain characters can equip certain things, and everyone learns a few set skills early on to compensate for the lack of classes. But what they don’t give you is options. It’s all set in stone and you don’t feel like you’re working towards a greater goal, which is half the fun.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dragon Quest 7: The Neglected Best-Seller

Once upon a time, in the days before Mario, Pac-man or even Spacewar, there lived two men named Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The pair had a fondness for miniature war games, to the point where they spent time creating their own. Together, they collaborated on a system of pen-and-paper fantasy adventure called Dungeons and Dragons. This was the codifier of a thousand gaming tropes and standards that came to be known as RPGs (role-playing games). RPG is a vague, messy label, and it’s been increasingly difficult to nail down what constitutes an RPG as games have evolved. But it’s hard to argue with games directly inspired by, if not outright ripping off, Dungeons and Dragons.

There were many, many such games even in the infant days of gaming*. But there were two in particular that reached such ridiculous popularity that they defined the genre for years to come. The second of these released was called Final Fantasy. It’s a long-running series with dozens of entries. It’s one of the most popular franchises in video games. You’ve heard of it, seen it, probably even played it. The first of these released was called Dragon Quest. It’s a long-running series with dozens of entries. It’s one of the most popular franchises in video games. Most of you vaguely recall the name, and that’s where your knowledge ends.

*Ultima, Wizardry, and many others commenters would yell “I forgot” had I not made this qualifying sentence.

Dragon Quest is the one about the Super Sayamen, right?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Final Fantasy 2: Dungeons, Combat and Music

Last time we contested the logic of a cat hair moustache, discussed the perils of fearsome Clown Dragons, and explained why you can’t stop hitting yourself. This time we’re jumping right into the fray by discussing who’s in the fray. Let’s talk about how Final Fantasy 2 handles enemy design.

Old School Eeeehnemies

There’s a simple question to ask any time you’re evaluating the usefulness of a new enemy, attack, or feature in general: Does this change player behavior? Ultimately, this is the entire point of adding new content beyond aesthetic appeal. Different foes provide different challenges, which you strategize and respond to appropriately. To speak bluntly, most old RPGs were bad at this, and Final Fantasy 2 is a prime example.

There are a large number of different enemies in FF2, technically speaking. But a significant number are only separated by stats, their vast web of techniques summed up in a word: Attack. They hit you and you hit them, then one of you falls over. Sometimes even bosses do nothing but attack, and not just the “bosses” that are literally groups of enemies with different theme music. Stat differences are usually too slight to noticeably separate monsters*. The vast majority all blend together as things to hold the A button against. To the game’s credit, it does have several enemies that utilize different tactics than just attacking. The problem is most of these are terrible.

*I wonder if this is due to how varied the encounter tables are. The number of foes you fight can range from two to eight in just about any configuration. Perhaps monsters are mostly the same power level because that way they can be mixed and matched in differing quantities without worry. I prefer the approach of later games: lower encounter rates and fewer foes per fight but higher HP and longer battles to compensate. At least then you’re likely to see everything an enemy has to offer before giving it the ax.

"Big Horn A, I've just come up with another magnificent strategy!"
"Fantastic Big Horn B! We can always count on your keen intellectual mind!"
"So first: You attack them. And then, and this is a work in progress, try to keep up: I attack them."
"Brilliant! Big Horn B, you've done it again!"
"What do I do?"
"Sorry Big Horn C, I haven't gotten that far ahead."

Friday, June 2, 2017

Final Fantasy 2: Story and Leveling

Two of my favorite franchises in video games are The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy. The two have several things in common. They’re both extremely popular and long-running series. They both tend to shun traditional sequels, kicking off each title with a different setting and story. They also both have a second entry that tried something drastically different and ended up as the black sheep. I played both black sheep years ago, gave up in frustration, and eventually revisited each of them for reviews.

But upon further examination, their similarities dry up. The Legend of Zelda may hit the reset button almost every entry, but there’s a lot that stays the same. Up until its most recent title, the biggest criticism anyone could level was that it was formulaic. It dealt in presenting new lands, challenges, and incremental tweaks. Iteration rather than innovation. But Final Fantasy?

The most you can say is it stays roughly within the same genre.

And then there's the spinoffs, which are often ARE different genres. For better or worse.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Breath of the Wild Hard Mode

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Breath of the Wild. Only mild story spoilers, but a bunch on mechanics.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a phenomenal game, but it features a fair few new features for the series. One such feature is paid DLC, set to deliver extra content at a later date. Among the bullet point promises shot out of a pre-release press image is hard mode, set to release this August. A number of previous Zelda games have had this, down to the very first, but with varying levels of alteration. Most just raise a bunch of damage numbers, but others feature more drastic changes and sometimes even brand-new content.

We have no idea know what hard mode for BotW involves yet. It probably won’t be anything special. But given that the game occupies the majority of my free time and waking thoughts, I thought I’d engage in some baseless speculation/suggestion. Here are some things that could make Breath of the Wild more difficult in a way that’s engaging and worthwhile. But! There’s a catch: I’m going to try and get as much possible out of the least amount of effort. I’m sure there’s not an avalanche of resources going into hard mode. Obviously it would be preferable if they added new content, and redid all the enemies, and changed all the puzzles, and altered all the mechanics, and basically just built an entirely new game. But no one does that*, and it’s also more interesting to write under constraints rather than just say “Make Everything Better”.

*That I know of. If you’ve got a game in mind, I’d be interested to hear about it.

Let’s start with the obvious:

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Pepsiman Review (Sponsored Content)

Greetings to all my readers, new and actual. I’m here today to announce an exciting new prospect for all of us* here at Genericide Entertainment! We’re expanding our horizons and shifting paradigms into an incredible new avenue of fresh possibilities and dynamic opportunities. In other words, we’ve gone corporate! That’s right, Genericide Entertainment is now ad-sponsored content! This is sure to be an exciting new era of community connection, exciting innovation, fan-author synergy and exciting new realms of quality products. I’m excited. But before I could embark on this exciting new journey, I needed to get a sponsor in the first place.


This was difficult, since these days long-form text articles are about as lively as your favorite Everquest server. Most of the focus is on YouTube channels, a fact I was happy to exploit until I remembered I don’t have one of those. Unfortunately both Crunchyroll and Audible required I have at least 5 subscribers before sponsoring me. Despite my best efforts, they were not swayed by a potential 5 subscribers. Loot Crate was though. Expect the unboxing video to come up whenever I can figure out how to work my phone’s camera.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Oblivion Adventures Part 22: Stealing the Show

Last time on Oblivion Adventures, our morally murky mercenary marksman tried to get a leg up on the competition. It didn’t go so well. Now, a mere, er…eight months later, the story continues…

The Waterfront District of the Imperial City leaked in more ways than one. Beyond the solid stone walls of the district proper, buildings oozed out towards the shore like urban sludge. It wasn’t the only way this shantytown resembled sludge. The living arrangements were only homes by technicality, local vernacular was 90% beatings, and its citizens bathed about as much as they paid rent. But for some unfathomable reason, this wretched hive of scum and villainy had a fairly nice little garden squirreled away between a few of its hovels.

Note I’m using some artistic license here. The GAME calls it a garden. I call it a hilariously tiny backyard without a single god damn plant in it.

It was here that a hooded figure loitered, propped up against the city wall. S’razirr was no stranger to waiting. Epic tales of heroes and vagabonds painted a picture of smooth, continuous action. Non-stop adventures of rescues and battles, close calls and suspense, hedonism and danger. The Khajiit snorted. Even as a child he’d known it was a load of imp’s gall. But exactly how much hadn’t hit him until his first time on all night watch duty in the bowels of a musty tomb. Eventually the boredom gets so oppressive even the threat of hungry undead monstrosities can’t keep you on edge. No, the vast majority of adventuring was dull as mud. It had to be. There were only so many things to kill or be killed by. And even if you knew exactly where and when to find them, everyone needed to sleep.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Genericide Update: Chateau de Frog Vomit

Summary: Oblivion post next week.

Being sick sucks. Obvious, but true. Especially if you’re like me, and never seem to do it halfway. I’m either poppin mad hangtime with my crew in total envy of my rad bad attitude, or I’m…wait, hold on a minute. Wrong homonym.

Being sick sucks. Obvious, but true. Especially if you’re like me, and never seem to do it halfway. I’m either so pure surgeons use my spit as a disinfectant or my body is holding together like a realistically portrayed zombie and my mental state is plummeting down a garbage chute into the bile ducts of a demonic toad.  The only upside to illness is it gives you a convenient excuse for not writing blog articles.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Genericide Update: Little Orphan Jimjerroo

The Gist: Bad MMO article coming soon; Oblivion article coming soon+1.

And so, I triumphantly return once more to the noble tradition of filler blog updates! That’s…that’s a thing that can be triumphant, right? And noble? I mean, not that noble, obviously. It’s not like I’m saving any starving orphans with these filler update posts. Although then again, who am I to say? Perhaps poor little orphan Jimjerroo, already driven to depression by his hilariously stupid name, only needed one more obscure filler blog post to keep on living. And that blog post is mine.

If that were the case, which for simplicity sake we’ll just say it definitely is, why then this blog post would be conclusively proved to be the best thing ever. Proved so conclusively that it would require a frankly excessive amount of italic text. Yeah, what can I say? I’m just a natural humanitarian. The Red Cross should really be allocating more of their budget in getting me to write about how JRPG stories are a load of butts. It’s just the most logical way to save mankind.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cold Smokes and Metaphors, Part 2

11:16 PM, December 24th. South Personificationsburg, Abstractia.

Shifty Simmons was leaning back onto an alley dumpster, entangled in a moth-ridden trench coat three sizes too large for him. He held a stack of bills in his hands, passing them back and forth like a deck of playing cards and taking in the crisp yet crumpled scent of Legitimately Acquired legal tender. Sighing contentedly, he stuffed the bills back in his pocket and smoothed down the dusky patchwork spider web he called hair. As he rose back to his intimidating peak of four foot ten, I decided to speak up.

“Evening, Sim.”

“AH!” Simmons jump earned him more hang time than an 18th century pickpocket. The landing, however, was a mere 3 out of 10.

“D-D-Donny! What a s-surprise!” he wheedled like a clarinet filled with equal parts phlegm and sawdust. “What, ah, eheh, brings you to my neck of the woods?”

I stepped out of the shadows and rolled my eyes, vision glowing with a six pack of cigarettes rubber-banded together.

“Please, Sim. Even you can’t be that dense. Why does anyone come to you?”