I Can Has New Toy
I bought myself a PS4, because it's been a while between drinks, so to speak. I also got myself four games to go with it - the Kingdom Hearts "oh, all right, catch up!" remix pack (KH 1.5 and 2.5 remix double pack - basically "the entire story so far on one platform rather than three"); Dissidia NT (beating up various Final Fantasy protagonists and villains for fun and... well, fun, really); Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age (the high-definition update, with the new character building system which isn't as flexible as the original one); and Final Fantasy XV (which bills itself as a final fantasy for fans and newcomers alike).
I spent all of yesterday playing Final Fantasy XV, and I have learned two important things. Firstly, the Final Fantasy team at Square Enix are going all out to try and convey the ultimate in realism through their graphical work. Secondly, this means I really can't be in the room while the characters are going from place to place in their sports car.
The first is pretty easy to expand on: the realism of their architecture and design work in this game is stunning (and gives me a lot of hope for what I'm eventually going to see in the FF7 remake). The buildings, unlike most RPG designs, are pretty much like what you'd expect from this world - a lot of them are pretty much copied directly from this world. The landscapes are largely believable geography and geology, with only occasional forays into what I call "Nibel Geology" (have a look at the Nibel mountains in Final Fantasy VII for what I'm meaning there: mountain shapes which appear to have been designed by the Rule of Cool rather than ordinary old rules of geology and weathering). Which means you don't have lines of mountains intersecting at right angles and so on. Steve, who is something of a graphics connoisseur, assures me their work on the landscapes is brilliant. I'm willing to take his word for it, because I can't really see to much of them, to be honest.
The reason for that is the second thing: I can't be in the room while the characters are driving from place to place, because the level of realism is so great that it really plays havoc with my over-sensitive proprioception, and I get motion sickness (or rather, lack-of-motion sickness) from watching the characters drive from one place to the next. The mismatch between the motion I'm seeing on the screen, and the lack of motion I'm experiencing sitting on the couch is enough to make me extremely queasy if I watch them driving from place to place for too long. So I'll tend to start the driving on auto, and then head out of the room while they go to their next destination, and come back when they've arrived, in an effort to keep my stomach where it belongs. Even then, I've been needing to chomp regularly on some crystallised ginger in an effort to keep the queases at bay.
Oh, and one more thing I've learned: I need to actually reduce the size of the visual field on the screen, because the edges of the game "screen" are sliding off the edges of my physical television set. So, something to deal with when I switch the PS4 on again tomorrow.
But overall it's been fun, and I certainly don't think I'm going to have wasted the money I spent.
 Which is, in fact, the reason why I bought this particular console in the first place. Now I just have to wait for it to finish being vapour-ware.
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FFVII High-Definition Remake: A Wish List
Context: Australian, female, forties, fan since first seeing the game on my brother's Playstation back in 1997, own and have played the original Playstation version of the game (played on my PS2), Dirge of Cerberus (PS2) and Crisis Core (PSP), plus the PC re-vamp of FFVII with the MS-Paint mouths on the characters (on the PC, natch!). I also own both KH1 and KH2, as well as the original Dissidia, and a copy of Advent Children. I write Final Fantasy VII fanfiction (you can find them here on AO3). I don't currently own a PS4, but I'd certainly consider buying one (or a new gaming-quality PC) in order to play this remake if it's any good.
Dear Square Enix,
I have apparently been a very good girl this year, since you're planning to remake Final Fantasy VII with high definition graphics for the PS4. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Just the news alone is enough to make me squee and bounce in my chair making happy noises. As a long-time fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, and also of the Final Fantasy VII franchise itself, I offer the following suggestions. (Consider these a wish-list).
( Details under the fold )
I can't full express how much I'm looking forward to this re-make, but it's currently a re-make I'm looking forward to with somewhat mixed feelings. Please, don't let the prevailing trends of 2015 affect the way you re-make a game which was brilliant in 1997, and which can still hold its own even today. The core of Final Fantasy VII for me was always the stories and the characters - never the visual effects. Please don't lose this core while you're adding in the visuals.
Megpie71 (aka Meg).
PS: If you put Cloud in a pink wig in the Wall Market drag scene, I shall not be impressed. Please don't cheat and re-use your Lightning skins in that one, okay?
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Life Imitates Art Imitating Life
Or something like that, anyway.
I saw this headline:
Rocket launch aborted at last second
Then I took a look at the first paragraph.
"A privately-owned rocket has aborted its launch toward the International Space Station (ISS) at the last second, after a computer detected a possible problem with one of the rocket's engines."
Now my brain is busy giving me audio of the conversation between the cockpit and the engine bay, and it goes something like this:
Pilot: Shera, what the #$%&!!? are you doin' down there? Get the #$%! out of there!
Engineer: Oh, don't mind me, I'll be done in a minute.
Now, really, we know how this goes. The rocket winds up not launching at all (being too damaged to take off) and the space program money gets taken away. The astronaut goes off into a colossal three year fit of the sulks which is only slightly mitigated by his being able to fly his small prop plane. The engineer, having received the fright of her life, settles down to keep house for the astronaut as a combined gesture of apology and self-immolation. Then three years later, just as there's a likelihood of space program funding being restored, a gang of terrorists on a mission to save the world comes along and steals the plane, and the astronaut winds up running off with them.
Well, that's how it went in Final Fantasy VII, anyway.
Look, just everyone keep an eye out for shortish male terrorists with spiky blond hair carrying around swords almost as large as they are, okay. Or failing that, we may all be flattened by falling rocks in three years time.
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Purity: A Smutfic in four acts
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII (Crisis Core era)
Pairings: Sephiroth/Cloud (platonic); Genesis/Angeal/Cloud (nonplatonic); Zack/Aeris (nonplatonic); Sephiroth/Cloud (nonplatonic)
Rating: Not Worksafe (Australian R)
Warnings: Sexual situations, explicit language, slash (not yaoi), canon bent pretzel-shaped then ignored.
Summary: There are many different types of purity, some more satisfying than others.
Act 1: Pure Obsession -
( He wasn't sure when the obsession had begun )
Act 2: Pure Sensation -
( Another Wednesday afternoon. Another hour of showing up at General Sephiroth's office... )
Act 3: Pure Satisfaction -
( I only stumbled on the whole mess because I wanted my cadet friend to meet my girlfriend. )
Act 4: Pure Decadence -
( I'm not going to go on about the whole comedy of errors which led to me being here, in General Sephiroth's apartment )
( Notes below the fold )
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Hi all. I'm wondering whether there's anyone in my various circles here who'd be interested in beta-reading a bit of fic I wrote today - Final Fantasy VII slash (I think it varies between about G rated all the way up to Australian R, but I have no idea how to measure this). Set vaguely in the Crisis Core era (or just before it) and pays approximately no attention whatsoever to canon (as per the standard rule for smut!fic).
Please either respond via comment or email if you're interested (or if you're not interested, or if you wish to register a pre-emptive complaint or whatever).
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Female, Middle-Aged Gamer Speaks
Just read through that one, and yeah, I agree with the author: the range of games available is decreasing by the year. I've been playing various computerised games for years now (since I was about fifteen or so) and quite honestly, the console gaming range these days is pathetic compared to even the variety available five years ago. Ditto the range available for PC gamers.
This is becoming a common problem across multiple media, where the amount of money required to provide content means the investors are less and less willing to take risks with what they have, so they're only willing to provide a new version of something that's already been proven to have worked. Their justification for this is "everyone liked it". There isn't any money being spent on the smaller, niche markets - instead, colossal amounts are being poured into efforts to capture the eyeballs of the One True Demographic (which appears to be 15 - 25 year old, white, middle-class, suburban, heterosexual, Christian-raised, American males).
The rest of us, unfortunately, get to spend our lives looking through shelf after shelf of what "everyone likes", searching vainly for something even vaguely different to the endless loop of FPS; FPS; oh look another FPS; and gee, did you realise there was an FPS here? We're never asked whether we might want something different. (See multiple previous rants re: choice of salt-and-vinegar crisps or vinegar-and-salt crisps when what I'm actually looking for is barbecue flavour.)
( Why I'm not interested in online or 3D gaming )
If there's a game company exec out there browsing around haphazardly, looking for inspiration, here's what I want out of a game (and even though I may be a rare bird as a 40 year old heterosexual, female, Australian gamer, I'm not the only one):
* I want a good story - something that catches me and keeps me interested. Give me plot twists, give me character interaction, give me a reason to keep playing the godsdamned game past the first five minutes and the second cutscene. If you're not sure how to do this, get hold of the writers for the Final Fantasy series and ask them, because they certainly have it down to a fine art. Bioware also appear to have writers who can tell the difference between a plot and a hole in the ground.
* I want gameplay which is consistent. There are four buttons on the average console, and I'd prefer to be just using those. I should not have to remember the equivalent of the emacs macro set (look it up) in order to be able to defeat the second mini-boss.
* I want gameplay which accepts that not everyone is a hyperactive teenager hopped up to the eyeballs on caffeine and energy drinks with the reflexes of a greased ferret on crystal meth. My visual processing and verbal processing are slower than average to start with - they're only going to slow down more as I get older (and I'm part of Generation X, the first gamer generation). So have stuff which doesn't rely on pinpoint pixel perfect accuracy, or exact timing, because otherwise I'll get fed up and switch the game out.
* Oh, on that "growing older" thing, and the slower-than-average verbal processing speed - give me subtitles, and give me a way to turn off the fucking background music (for verily, background music on constant repeat is the number two reason why I'll give up on a game; no subtitles is number one these days, because I don't like trying to guess my way through games).
* Make the game in third person perspective (Third person omniscient if at all possible). I'm one of those weird people who finds First Person perspective (whether shooting or not) makes me nauseous. I get motion sick, because my eyes are telling me I'm moving, but my body is busy saying I'm sitting right there on the couch. I had enough of motion sickness as a kid for a very similar reason (scenery says I'm moving, body says I'm strapped into a seat in the car) to find the combination distasteful. Given the opportunity to avoid it, I will.
* Give me the option not to have to hear about online/multiplayer content if I don't want it. This is something I'm finding slightly annoying in games like Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Little Big Planet - there's such an emphasis on the online stuff that I feel somewhat left out because my PSP doesn't connect to our household wireless network (not a deliberate choice on my part; rather an inadvertent choice on the part of my partner, who opted for a secure network rather than one the PSP could participate in). So I don't play those games much.
* Have a pause function in the game. I'm female, and most of the time I'm the only person home. This means I have to be able to put the game on hold while I do things like answer the door, go to the loo, answer the phone or stir dinner. If there isn't an easy way to put the game on hold (even if it's just ducking into character menu mode), I'm going to get annoyed fairly quickly.
* Don't worry so much about making the next version of whatever everyone else is busy selling. If we want any of the famous franchises, we know where to find them. To be honest, the only franchise I'm really all that sold on is the Final Fantasy one - because they very rarely make sequels. Instead, each new FF number is a completely different plot, a different set of characters, a different world to every other Final Fantasy game. Most of them are mediaeval-style worlds, but there's a few futuristic dystopias thrown in there (FFVII, FFVIII, FFXIII) and the characters from one Final Fantasy plotline generally don't interact with characters from another (Dissidia is a special case of pure fan service, ditto the Kingdom Hearts games).
* Oh, here's a thought: have the guts to try risking a tragedy on the market. Not everything has to end all happy and smiley. Take a hint from Square Soft (now Square Enix) - their big breakthrough game for the English-speaking market was a tragedy: Final Fantasy VII. (No, really, the plot of FFVII is a revenge tragedy of a type which wouldn't have been out of place on the Jacobean stage).
( What's On Meg's Consoles, and Why )
Basically, my preferences can be summed up thus:
* If you're going to give me a story, give me a flamin' story. Make it long, make it convoluted, make it tricky to understand - if I'm playing the game to get through the story, I'll come back and play it again to catch the bits I missed the first time (I re-read books for the same reason...). Of course, make sure that the vital plot points are made clear, but the little subtleties can be skipped over.
* If you're not going to give me a story, then give me something I can make a story out of myself - even if the story is just "How I beat the crap out of this next opponent". But don't give me a story which is so scanty it puts some of the costumes on the female characters to shame.
* If you're going to offer eye candy, have some which is suitable for a het female (or maybe even a gay male) to ogle as well. Yes, most of the gamerbois out there won't like it. Did I mention I'm not a gamerboi? It might just be worth doing a little market research and finding out precisely which proportion of the electronic gaming market these days is composed of members of the One True Demographic (see above for description) - I've a feeling they're a smaller proportion than they think they are.
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A Long-Delayed Rant
This one is pretty specific to Final Fantasy VII fandom. If you're not a part of that fandom, you may not find it particularly interesting.
( Fandom Specific Stuff Below )
(All figures are taken either from the Final Fantasy Wiki for fandom specific data, or from Wikipedia.)
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What happens when Meg stops her Period and her meds at around the same time
(aka, my libido appears to have finally found a forwarding address for me)
Today has been the day for silly songfic images - I blame 96FM. They followed "Centrefold" by the J Geils Band (which got me thinking of "SOLDIER in the Centrefold", but more on that later) with "Ballroom Blitz" by Sweet. Now, having got kicked off thinking about naughty poses and SOLDIERs, I started listening to the lyrics and got to the bit about "... the man in the back said 'everyone attack' and it turned into a Ballroom Blitz"... and I had this image show up in my head.
"... the man in the back said 'everyone attack'"
I want this iconed, I really do.
( SOLDIER in the Centrefold )
[Edited 22 JUN 2010 - fixing rotten spelling; I blame too much fanfic.]
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FFXIII - I've seen "The End"
So, I've made the massive effort and completed the main storyline of FFXIII, thus bringing my total number of finished games to 6. As per usual, I've been scribbling various notes as I go, so they're under the cut (for those who don't want to be spoiled.
( Spoileriffic stuff under here )
Overall, I was reasonably happy with the game, although I'm not fond of the "okay, you've finished the main plot, now you can spend another sixty or so hours maxing out your characters if you want to" play style. Particularly since the subsequent time ignores some rather significant plot elements. Now, if it were an honest continuation, following on from the storyline, I'd be happier, but as it is the storyline is just suspended in mid-air, and you're supposed to carry on as though the end didn't happen. It's a useful style of play for people like me, who like being completeists, but I think it worked better in Dissidia.
But that's a minor point. Overall, the game was a lot of fun, full of plot as per usual for Squeenix. To be honest, the plot is the thing I love best about Squeenix RPGs - while there's a lot of fights happening, there's a lot of story happening as well, so the game is more than just a series of fights strung together with a rather thin storyline holding the whole thing together. The unfolding of the storyline (and the multiple time periods this involved) was quite a major feature of the game. The battle system was different (another Square Enix regularity - the battle system seems to change with every new FF game) although to be honest my favourite of the versions I've tried is still the one from FFXII, where the battles were much more integrated into the landscape. It's a good game, well worth the money I spent on it.
 Kingdom Hearts I and II; FF7; FF7: Dirge of Cerberus; Final Fantasy: Dissidia; and now FFXIII.
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A New Game
I got my birthday money, and bought myself four new tops. Then my family's card came in the mail, and I got another $50. So I wandered down to the local branch of my favourite video game shop, and discovered they had FF13 priced a good $20 lower than most of the other gaming shops ($100 rather than $120). So guess what I snapped up.
I'm now up to disk 2 (which surprised me, since usually in multi-disc games disc 2 isn't reachable until I've played for weeks) and heading into one of the big bastard boss fights. Which I've already been killed by about three times *sigh*. I'm loving the story, particularly the re-use of various tropes and notions from other FF games, as well as a very clear homage or two to Star Wars in there (what else can you call finding a weapon called a "Lifesaber" when you're raiding the flying fortress of the evil overlord?). I get the sense that there's a lot of love and enjoyment went into the creation of the game, which is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned (things people love tend to have a bit more fun in them, by way of in-jokes and similar).
( Spoileriffic stuff under here )
So, in between assignments and lectures and things, I'm going to be chasing about trying to beat this boss, and see where the game takes me. I might also be heading back to my favourite video game shop, and picking up a copy of the game guide for FF13, since I have a strong suspicion I must have missed at least one or two points where I could wander off in disc 1. So, something for the next run through.
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Meg is Alive and Well and Living in Parmelia
Yeah, we've moved. Almost two weeks ago, in fact (first Thursday in December was the move in date); all over save the unpacking now. Himself seems to have most of the networking problems sorted out (for a while there we had two out of three of internet, working wireless network, and working gateway) so while I don't yet have a desk (it's on the list of furniture to purchase at some stage) I'm able to turn a corner of the dining table into my computer space.
The new place has a lot of good features about it, but one of the negative ones is there's approximately one-third the storage space of the old place. On the positive side, it has a bedroom more than the old place, so we've turned the final bedroom into a storeroom. It's also holding my chest of drawers, since the bedroom I've chosen turns out to be just large enough to hold my bed (queen size) and that's about it. The main bedroom of the house has been turned into Himself's den, so he's in another of the secondary bedrooms for sleeping. The secondary bedrooms all pretty much face east, so I get a nice early wake-up in the morning (as you'll probably have figured out by the posting time of this update).
At present we're still learning what's available where (neither of us have lived down in the extreme south of Perth before - Himself was based in the western suburbs, I'm from the south-eastern corridor) and sort of finding our feet. Our local shopping centre is reasonably comprehensive - two major supermarkets, two discount/seconds/reject shops (no regular stock listing, but lots of weird and wonderful variety, all of it cheap), a greengrocer and a butcher, plus a bookstore which immediately won my approval by having a range of merchandise including one of the Twilight/Buffy crossover t-shirts ("Then Buffy staked Edward. The end."), along with a chemist, a discount shoe shop, and a pawnbroker. This last is confirmation we're in social security recipient heartland. The nearest regional centre (Rockingham) has a larger mall which I visited yesterday to find out what was available, and the main cinemas are just across the road from the mall.
Since I haven't had the opportunity to start putting books up onto bookshelves, I've been filling in time by playing games on the Xbox. Mostly "The Last Remnant" - I've discovered if I sit a bit closer to the screen, I can make out enough of the text to get a reasonably good idea of what the words are. So I've restarted playing through (I'm up to the first runthrough in the Catacombs, but I'm busy doing a stroll through all the other areas I've opened up first... have I mentioned I over-grind something 'orrible? Battle level 60, and counting) and I'm doing my usual note-taking and such (I'm now up to about a dozen different pieces of paper, each covering different things). It's a good game to be fiddling about with - nice bishounen heroes, easy battle system, standard Squeenix battle frequency (walk walk attack), and it keeps my brain busy enough to get through the hottest hours of the day.
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Meggy Can Has New Toy!
This week I received my tax refund cheque. $600 dollars and change, being the sum total of all the income tax installments I paid to the Australian government in the 2008 - 2009 financial year. Yays, moneys. I could be a good girl, and use it to pay for all kinds of things, but I have a long-standing tradition of regarding tax refund cheques as "fairy money", which is reserved for treats.
So I went out and purchased myself an XBox360 Elite (the one with the 120GB hard drive), plus a few games. My rationale is that it appears Square Enix are moving across to this platform now as well as the Sony ones, so having an Xbox means I'll be able to enjoy their plots some more. I now have a new toy to play with, so blog posts may be a little light on the ground for a bit while I try it out.
The games I now have: Lego Batman, Pure (motocross, I think?), Forza 3 racing, Kameo (it was supposed to be a copy of Assassin's Creed, but while they had the box, they didn't have the disk, so I got to pick another to the same value), Last Remnant, Eternal Sonata, and Assassin's Creed. Lego Batman and Pure came with the console. The next two were part of a package deal at the place I bought the console (Target, for my Aussie readers - it was the cheapest there at $429 for the bundle). I got the other three games at EBGames, because I'd seen a copy of Last Remnant in there the day before.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to unpack my new toy, and start playing.
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Today, I visit my shrink
Okay, it's been three weeks since the major meltdown, one week from the mini-meltdown which was averted by immersing myself in FF:Dissidia to the point of obsession (I'm now dreaming Dissidia battles... time to cut the playing down a bit). I'm vaguely sane at present (which reminds me - meds!) and hoping to stay so, even though the universe appears to be trying to make me go completely bonkers. My give-a-damn still isn't, so I'm currently behind on cooking, cleaning and doing anything other than levelling up characters on the PSP.
Dissidia is ... interesting. I've managed to get one character up to level 100 (Cloud) and I'm working on my second (Squall). Discovered that the guy who's voicing Squall isn't the same guy who voiced him in Kingdom Hearts, which says a lot about my hearing, doesn't it? The story mode is sorta fun, although there's a limited amount of enjoyment I can get from it (mostly because I get bored by running through the same thing over and over) - so far I've found the best fun comes from running through story mode for each character once, then coming back and doing it again after they've levelled up a bit (I ran Cloud back through his on level 80 or so, which was a bit like swatting flies with a sledgehammer... for some reason I got a perfect score for section completion after that; Squall went back through at level 30). So far I've beaten Chaos once (he's a right whatsit to beat - three-stage boss, so you have to kill him three times rather than just the once) and seen the final little FMV cutscene, which is cute.
I think one of the things I like about Dissidia is they have the age balance right for Cloud and Squall. One of my pet peeves in KH fandom is that people tend to assume Squall is older than Cloud (probably because Squall has a deeper voice). In fact, it's t'other way round - Cloud starts his game at age 21, while Squall is a good four years younger at age 17 - and if you assume each game took 1 year to run that has Cloud ending up at age 22, with Squall coming in at age 18. Advent Children takes place 2 years after the initial Final Fantasy game, so in Advent Children, Cloud is at least 23. Dissidia Squall looks younger than Dissidia Cloud, which makes me feel all is right with the world again. And yes, I am a picky fangirl.
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Semi-regular update post
Gods, where to start? It's been a bit of a frantic week-and-a-bit. Let's see - how about I give a rundown of "good things and bad things" and then an expansion in TL;DR below.
- Meds packaged in blister pack, Silver Chain stuff almost up and running.
- Purchased Dissidia on Tuesday, already 9/10ths of the way through the initial part of Story Mode
- Heard from my folks, they're coming back to Perth early
( This is the TL;DR stuff )
- Still depressed
- Court hearing on Tuesday resulted in an order to hand over the house
- Still unemployed
So yeah, how's everyone else doing?This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/3013.html. Please comment there using OpenID.