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Going back to the start

And yes, I get that IDW is slow-rolling lots of stuff from G1, but sometimes it's more interesting when they don't.

It’s a promo image; I just wish they were more interesting combiners to promote.

I was excited for the launch of the Combiner Wars subline for Transformers, because I really like giant robots that transform and I really like when those giant transforming robots themselves transform into combined robots.  But I was also apprehensive, because I had a pretty strong feeling that it was going to mean a whole bunch of the same thing we see every time.  And sure enough, we have another Optimus Prime, and the first two combiners are the Aerialbots and the Stunticons.

This was not altogether surprising.  As we prepare for another Spider-man movie that yet again sets the clock back to the earliest stories, it’s worth asking the question of why we keep feeling the need to retell these stories until we’re all blue in the face.  It’s not that there’s a problem with remaking things; I quite like when someone takes something familiar and puts a new twist on it.  I am, however, less thrilled when that “new twist” is just an update in the time of release.

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Telling Stories: The metaplot

Yes, I know, it's a horrible logo. I'm not always good at those.If you’re playing Final Fantasy XIV, your world got rocked pretty thoroughly a couple weeks back.  The conclusion to the game’s big storyline hit, and it has pretty staggering implications for the game as a whole and the setting that you’re roleplaying in.  It is, in short, a big deal.

But even though you have to go through all of the quests leading through these events with your character, it by all rights should not be a story that happens to your character.

I don’t mean that in the sense that the events don’t make sense for your character; it’s quite possible that they do.  But you cannot reasonably claim to be the most super-important person in all of Eorzea, and even if you do there’s the realize that what happened would make you persona non grata across much of the world.  So it’s undeniable that these big events happened, and you need to react to them, but you cannot have been at the heart of them.  So how do you react?

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The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy V, part 6

I don't expect it to last, but it'll be nice while it does.

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

The party has a boat again, which is a good thing.  It’s impossible to imagine that the fate which befell the last boat will also befall this one, due in no small part to the fact that this boat is not being pulled along by a sea serpent.  With this boat, we can hopefully prevent the last crystal from shattering, which would both be the first successful effort that the group had made thus far and also be kind of a failure anyway.

I mean, we’re down to saving a quarter of the world-preserving crystals here, somehow I don’t think the one still working will make the other three better.

Still, no point in not trying, right?  Off we go, and to the great surprise of absolutely no one, there are only a handful of locations to go to that we haven’t already visited, thus making the process of locating the Earth Crystal chiefly a matter of finding which one has something relevant to do there.  At least it’s consistent?

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Telling Stories: No accounting for taste

Yes, I know, it's a horrible logo. I'm not always good at those.You don’t want your characters to like what you like, usually.  At least not solely. One of the joys of roleplaying is stepping into the shoes of someone different than yourself, which doesn’t work in the event that your character is basically you with a race-lift and possibly a gender shift.  Since one of the things that we use to define ourselves is the existence of distinct tastes from other people.

Of course, the problem there is that you still have to portray the character, despite those differing tastes.  You want other people to genuinely believe that yes, your character likes these things, even if you don’t.  So how do you make your character like things that you don’t when your frame of reference is so thoroughly based upon what you actually like and find interesting?  How do you give a character a new set of tastes being acted out by a person who completely doesn’t share them?

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The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy V, part 5

I don't expect it to last, but it'll be nice while it does.

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

I made a passing comment at the end of the last article that I think deserves to be unpacked a little bit, because it’s the basic problem that every single Final Fantasy game since Final Fantasy V has been trying to solve.  How do you allow characters to share abilities while still making all of the diverse classes available be worthwhile for something unique?

The reason this comes up is because of things like Beastmaster.  As a class, Beastmaster is pretty awful.  Its big tricks aren’t useful, it doesn’t provied more damage or healing than any other class, and the one thing it has in its favor is the ability to control an enemy.  That sounds pretty screamingly useful, to boot… but then you realize that there’s no need to actually put that ability on a Beastmaster.  Why would you not just grind for a little bit on Beastmaster, unlock Control, and then never touch it again?

Such is the plight of several jobs in the game.  Such is, in fact, the plight of several jobs in every game, but this is the point where the struggles begin.  In Final Fantasy III, there were a couple of classes you could get away with never using, but a majority of those jobs were useful somewhere even if you weren’t likely to use them from start to finish.  In Final Fantasy V, even decent jobs pale compared to the jobs that combine nicely with other jobs.

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