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?