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Thread: RPGCast - Episode 155: "Epoch Pooch"

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    Man vs. Slime, the fourth type of conflict Administrator sabin1001's Avatar
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    RPGCast - Episode 155: "Epoch Pooch"

    RPGCast - Episode 155: "Epoch Pooch"

    The JRPG makes a triumphant return? Nintendo is starting up its own gaming event again? Inazuma Eleven is showing up in English? Nothing makes sense this week.

    You can find the links to all our stories on delicious: http://delicious.com/rpgamer/155

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    Here's a very silly question for next week, if you have nothing else to discuss... If you were in the world of Persona 4 (which has been in English for two years already), and the villain threw you into the TV world, then 1) what sort of your dungeon would you have, and 2) what would sort of shadow form what you have?

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    Member sirsniffy's Avatar
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    Mike Tidwell LIVES!!!!!

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    Kirby: El Presidente RPGamer Staff noodle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirsniffy View Post
    mike tidwell lives!!!!!
    lies and deceit!

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    Devious Dungeon Master RPGamer Staff jcservant's Avatar
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    Sorry I haven't able to be on, guys.

    I'm listening now to y'all discussing the DS, and why Nintendo is losing out here. You mention Piracy. Let me tell ya, after my trip to Indonesia, it's absolutely true. When you go to a mall, they only sell hacked DS units and PSP-2000's (The PSP-3000 has yet to be hacked). As a result, every new DS games instantly shows up in those malls for just a few dollars (which, of course, goes completely to the pirates). Newer PSP games, requiring firmware updates to work, generally do not have this vulnerability and were not sold at those malls.

    The funny thing was, I think I was the only person in that city with a PSP :P Everyone had DS systems. Go figure.

    So, if you were a game developer, which handheld system would you develop for?

    And since Nintendo / Sony make a licensing fee off of every game made/sold... less third party games for DS means less revenue for Mario.

    Hopefully the 3DS will be a bit more protected.

    As far as what can be done to improve JRPGs....as one of their biggest critics (at times), I have a few ideas...
    * Stop treating us like kids. Those of us who grew up on Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are big boys and girls. Hire some professional writers and give us something that we can really sink our teeth into. Feels free to talk about address mature subjects (tastefully) in your stories. The unexpected popularity of the Witcher, whilest not a JRPG, showed us that if you make an adult story written decently, they will come! If I have to watch one more spikey hair teenager save the world...
    * Put some more thought into your battle systems. Make us use our brains. If I can get through 90% of your battles with "attack, attack, heal", there's a problem.
    * Stop using inferior graphics. Just because it's an RPG doesn't mean it cannot look as good as decent FPS. Some JRPGs (Final Fantasy) are better about this than others.
    * Voice acting, please. We're in the 21st century after all. And for the love of Pete, make sure it's GOOD voice acting!
    Last edited by jcservant; 11-29-2010 at 09:59 AM.

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    Gunclaws and Meow. Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    I think piracy sucks and yeah, it does hurt the industry. The thing is, there's piracy from losing actual sales, and piracy that doesn't result in a loss of sales. In a country like Indonesia, how many people can afford a 40$ game? Few. How about 4$? Plenty. It's not as if all the people who bought the 4$ game would, if they had no alternative, buy the 40$ version. They'd just go without or spend it on some other form of entertainment.

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    Devious Dungeon Master RPGamer Staff jcservant's Avatar
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    That is true, paws, but there's no way to tell the different for those who make games, is there? So, they're going to make it on the system they know will rule out any guess work over one that is easily pirated.

    With that being said, I saw plenty of people buying the pirated games who could have afforded it. After all, when you see people buy 50 pirated games at $4 each, you realize they could have afforded 4 games at $50 each (or even more games for older games).

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    Gunclaws and Meow. Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    Oh for sure. Bear in mind I'm not saying everyone who buys a 4$ game can't afford a 40$. If you're dropping 150$ on 4$ games? They are the pirates the companies worry about. However, I'll disagree with the idea companies can't tell the difference. "Pirate fees" have been one of the reasons video game prices got a little crazy for a while. There's been a pretty extensive amount of theorycrafting that's gone into PC pirating and parallels can surely be drawn in the handheld world as well. If you have the time, check out the articles on the pirating of the charity PC packs earlier this year. They're pretty interesting.

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    Devious Dungeon Master RPGamer Staff jcservant's Avatar
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    Yeah. I saw those articles. Pretty sad, eh? I don't underestimate the sheer number of people who pirate stuff just for the challenge, rather than the money aspect of it, especially here in America. I don't think that's really the case from what I saw in Asia. The Asian pirating was completely different than American, insomuch that its become a way of life for them... a total given. They don't just pirate...they copy, burn, sell and play their games that way.

    But, really, how would a game company know if a pirating gamer, or a pirating segment (of people) would buy game XYZ if they were totally unable to pirate it? (And, in essence, be able to tell if they were truly losing potential revenue?) For some (and in some areas, many) people, if they can get the game for free (or next to it) via pirate means, they're going to justify it in their head, and find other 'more important things' to spend that money on.

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    Gunclaws and Meow. Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    I...don't think you were seeing the same articles I was. A lot of people cited, for example, the inability to pay the publisher -- I know from working with payment methods NOBODY wants to extend payments to certain countries. If you're a gamer and you want a PC game in English in a lot of SEA, your only recourse is to pirate it because the company has no way for you to pay for it. That's not the consumer's fault.

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    Devious Dungeon Master RPGamer Staff jcservant's Avatar
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    Sure, there are a few countries where, for whatever reason, games cannot be sold legally... so that creates an absolute demand for pirated stuff which really doesn't affect those gaming companies at the end of the day. That I'll concede. However, there's rampant pirating going on in a number of Asian countries (and to an extent, here in America, though less noticeable), which is clearly hurting potential sales for gaming companies. No one can really guess exactly how much revenue is lost because of that. However, my original assertion in my post was "if you were a game developer, which handheld system would you develop for?"

    As a businessman, I would develop for the PSP, despite its lower install base, because, at the end of the day, I know my game won't be pirated like a DS counterpart. I'm going to get a much higher percentage of my total potential revenue. I believe that's why we're seeing more decent PSP games lately, despite the fact that NDS dominates the market.

    Not to mention, on a personal level, if I did put a bunch of time and money into making a game, I'd be more apt to go the secure route because it makes me cranky to think that people are copying and playing my game for free... or worse yet... other people are making money off of my work and I'm not even getting a royalty.

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    Gunclaws and Meow. Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcservant View Post
    I'm going to get a much higher percentage of my total potential revenue. I believe that's why we're seeing more decent PSP games lately, despite the fact that NDS dominates the market.
    Hmm. You're getting more % potential revenue, but are you making more?

    For simplicity's sake, say there are 100 PSPs and 1000 DS. You sell a PSP game: 50 copies sold, 10 pirated. You sell a DS game: 100 copies sold, 100 pirated.
    Even if you have 10x the pirating, you're selling 2x the copies. Me, I'd take the latter. YMMV


    It took a while for there to be some pretty good PS, PS2, and PS3 RPGs. I think we're just seeing a pretty natural life-cycle of a Sony product and people had high expectations too soon from the PSP.

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    Devious Dungeon Master RPGamer Staff jcservant's Avatar
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    Hmm. You're getting more % potential revenue, but are you making more? For simplicity's sake, say there are 100 PSPs and 1000 DS. You sell a PSP game: 50 copies sold, 10 pirated. You sell a DS game: 100 copies sold, 100 pirated. Even if you have 10x the pirating, you're selling 2x the copies. Me, I'd take the latter. YMMV
    Neither you nor I know those figures to answer that question. I suspect that up until the early part of the year, the answer was the DS, but that it is now moving towards the PSP. That's a very subjective assessment on my part based on the games I see are coming out on the PSP vs. the DS. I'm taking a shot in the dark and guessing that more game companies are choosing PSP over the DS now. Maybe, though, it has nothing to do with pirating and everything to do with the 3DS coming soon. It's just opinion, but I do believe that pirating has had a more drastic impact on DS Game development than we probably want to admit.

    It took a while for there to be some pretty good PS, PS2, and PS3 RPGs. I think we're just seeing a pretty natural life-cycle of a Sony product and people had high expectations too soon from the PSP
    I totally agree that expectations for PSP were too high when it first started. I was worried that it was going to die. I remember a year or two ago only buying about 1 game every four or five months because good releases were so far and few between. Now, I find myself buying a lot more PSP games and very few DS games. I guess I'm surprised because the DS and the PSP are about the same age. The DS should have the advantage due to the large install base and the fact it should be easier/cheaper to develop for. Yet, lately, I've been pleasantly surprised by the resurgence of the PSP even if it seems to come somewhat at the cost of Nintendo's DS.

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    I didn't learn anything! MasterChief's Avatar
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    JC, lemmie let you in on a secret that even most game companies don't get yet. There is no games market in continental Asia outside of subscription and pay-to-win games. Part of the reason we see the different business models employed by Blizzard in places like South Korea is that piracy is just what's done there. South Korea is clearly not a poor country, but releasing a traditional game for that market is suicide because people will pirate. It's part of why PC gaming is sliding slowly down the same road here: the easier something is to get without paying, that's the route people are going to go. Human beings are slime for the most part, and don't let anyone tell ya different.

    The problem with "well they wouldn't buy it if they couldn't pirate" argument is that it's a purely hypothetical one. There has never existed an entertainment media that has been pirate proof, and I'm not sure we'll ever see one. However, seeing the PC market mostly reduced to Valve, Blizzard and free-to-plays suggests that in the time between the introduction of consumer-level broadband and now, people who used to buy games are now turning to torrents and similar routes to get games for free, whereas it used to be something you needed to be "in the know" to get access to in most American cities. My fear is that we'll start seeing banned protocols and other absurd legislation in Westernized countries in order to protect IP rights, which may well end up crippling parts of the internet, all because of human nature to get free crap if they won't get caught.

    And that's the issue. The only way to stamp out this nonsense is to introduce strict, unforgiving consequences for piracy. The only questions are A) who's going to start tossing pirates in jail for long terms, and B) what will the effect be on sales.

    * Stop treating us like kids. Those of us who grew up on Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are big boys and girls. Hire some professional writers and give us something that we can really sink our teeth into. Feels free to talk about address mature subjects (tastefully) in your stories. The unexpected popularity of the Witcher, whilest not a JRPG, showed us that if you make an adult story written decently, they will come! If I have to watch one more spikey hair teenager save the world...
    I hope you're not holding your breath there, JC. If anything, it looks like Japanese RPG makers might just dig in their heels and settle for Japanese revenue rather than shake the boat so much.
    Last edited by MasterChief; 11-29-2010 at 06:10 PM.

    "What the f--- is a Shakespeare?"
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    What would I do to improve eastern RPGs? Deconstructions and reconstructions.

    In other words, first create a deconstruction game that takes established ideas and then shows how they could be unrealistic, flawed, and even horrifying. Let's say such a game shows how ridiculous towns surrounded by hostile monsters would be, how flawed heroes who don't hesitate to steal or kill would be, and how awful nations ruled by former heroes would be.

    Once that's done, create a reconstruction game as a response. Let's say such a game shows that a balance between towns and wild monsters is necessary, that heroes can choose whether they will steal or kill, and that a nation ruled by former heroes would need the people's support to survive and prevent revolt.

    If you look back on the angsty late 90s RPGs and compare them with Skies of Arcadia, then you can see how Skies is a type of reconstruction. Half Minute Hero is a more recent example -- it's very silly, but the ways in which it responds to common archetypes and classic gameplay could be seen as deconstruction or reconstruction.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcservant View Post
    As far as what can be done to improve JRPGs.... Stop treating us like kids.
    I generally like cute and upbeat games, and generally avoid bleak and serious games. Right now I'm not optimistic about the tendency for big budget games that get released in English to be more and more serious and realistic. I'm more interested in games that emphasize fun, no matter who the intended audience is.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcservant View Post
    Put some more thought into your battle systems.
    I'm not sure if I want complex or unusual combat. Perhaps different types of combat can be done well, but trying new things is always a risk. Here's an example. Earlier this year, I played the translated version of Sakura Wars 5, and found the battle sequences to be less interesting than the visual novel segments. The land-based battles were not too tough, but I found the air-based battles baffling.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcservant View Post
    ...Just because it's an RPG doesn't mean it cannot look as good as decent FPS.
    It's been over a year since I last attempted to play an FPS (Halo 3 at a friend's house). You see, I'm generally uninterested in games with polygon graphics. So I ended up walking in circles a lot, and staring at the sky a lot. Most of what I like is 2D...

    Quote Originally Posted by jcservant View Post
    ...make sure it's GOOD voice acting!
    I'm not sure what's currently considered good English voice acting. If I were presented with three all-new games and asked to judge them on voice acting, I would not have any criteria to judge them on.

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    You guys briefly mentioned the "4Chan Visual Novel." I'm guessing you're talking about Katawa Shoujo from 4 Leaf Studios. It was originally started by some people from 4Chan, but other than their name, they've cut back on their associations with the site.

    You guys groaned a bit at Neptunia's "Gamindustri." You think Japan complained about the land of Jikandia (since jikan means time)?

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    Devious Dungeon Master RPGamer Staff jcservant's Avatar
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    the easier something is to get without paying, that's the route people are going to go. Human beings are slime for the most part, and don't let anyone tell ya different.
    hahahaha...Yeah...I agree with you on hat one!

    The problem with "well they wouldn't buy it if they couldn't pirate" argument is that it's a purely hypothetical one.
    Indeed. There there's plenty of evidence to suggest that if piracy was totally preventable that SOME copies would be legitimately bought and that with rampent piracy, sales go well down.

    There has never existed an entertainment media that has been pirate proof, and I'm not sure we'll ever see one.
    When I was there, I could not find any hacks of later PSP games (last two years or so). Whatever sony has done, it seems to have slowed them down, at least... though my research was hardly conclusive. Asking around, no one was selling a hacked PSP 3000 or any later games, however.

    I hope you're not holding your breath there, JC. If anything, it looks like Japanese RPG makers might just dig in their heels and settle for Japanese revenue rather than shake the boat so much.
    Hhahahahh! Right?!?

  18. #18
    I didn't learn anything! MasterChief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caddyalan View Post
    What would I do to improve eastern RPGs? Deconstructions and reconstructions.

    In other words, first create a deconstruction game that takes established ideas and then shows how they could be unrealistic, flawed, and even horrifying. Let's say such a game shows how ridiculous towns surrounded by hostile monsters would be, how flawed heroes who don't hesitate to steal or kill would be, and how awful nations ruled by former heroes would be.

    Once that's done, create a reconstruction game as a response. Let's say such a game shows that a balance between towns and wild monsters is necessary, that heroes can choose whether they will steal or kill, and that a nation ruled by former heroes would need the people's support to survive and prevent revolt.
    I'm not sure going that far behind the curtain would do much beyond show off how poorly designed most games in the genre are.

    If you look back on the angsty late 90s RPGs and compare them with Skies of Arcadia, then you can see how Skies is a type of reconstruction. Half Minute Hero is a more recent example -- it's very silly, but the ways in which it responds to common archetypes and classic gameplay could be seen as deconstruction or reconstruction.
    I think you're reading way too much into Skies. I can't imagine anyone arguing that Half Minute Hero is anything other than a lampooning, but Skies played its cliche plot rather straight. Take out the novel environment and somewhat entertaining battle system, and it's the epitomy of a by-the-numbers JRPG.

    I generally like cute and upbeat games, and generally avoid bleak and serious games. Right now I'm not optimistic about the tendency for big budget games that get released in English to be more and more serious and realistic. I'm more interested in games that emphasize fun, no matter who the intended audience is.
    If you've not done so already, go watch the classic Bubblegum Crisis OVAs (none of that Crash or 2040 nonsense). It's not exactly grim-dark, but it never talks down to the viewer or assumes that they can't comprehend anything beyond light entertainment. It's highly intelligent, with an endearing cast and a deep, enthralling story that helped make millions of people worldwide into anime fans in the 80s and 90s. The problem with JRPGs (and anime, now that I mention it), is that the focus isn't on great stories and characters, but on fan-service and aesthetic over-design. This is a problem that's been creeping up since early into the oughts, but it's become a choking problem recently, and it shows no sign of getting better.

    I'm not sure if I want complex or unusual combat. Perhaps different types of combat can be done well, but trying new things is always a risk. Here's an example. Earlier this year, I played the translated version of Sakura Wars 5, and found the battle sequences to be less interesting than the visual novel segments. The land-based battles were not too tough, but I found the air-based battles baffling.
    Well to be fair, Sakura Wars has always been dating sim first, strat-RPG second. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a damned fool. Mind you, I have nothing against dating sims - whatever floats ya boat and all that - but an RPG is only helped by having a fun battle system that keeps you thinking. jcservant mentioned his undying love for Grandia III's battle system in RPG Backtrack's "I Like Killing Things" episode, and I love the hell out of the first two Paper Mario games, along with the Mario & Luigi series on the handhelds, for mixing things up.

    It's been over a year since I last attempted to play an FPS (Halo 3 at a friend's house). You see, I'm generally uninterested in games with polygon graphics. So I ended up walking in circles a lot, and staring at the sky a lot. Most of what I like is 2D...
    Well, there'll always be personal taste, but as I mentioned earlier, style and modern sensibilities are not an either-or proposition. Modern FPSes have shifted to a focus on combat, and level designs that centered around finding keys and wandering aimlessly have long since gone the way of the dodo in favor of designs centered on quick, adrenaline-fueled combat, but even in this shift, there's plenty of room for stylistic differences, from the relatively bright, huge and colorful vistas of Halo to the insanely brown corridors of Clive Barker's Jehrico to the highly vertical, there's dudes shooting you from every direction, things explode every few seconds style of the Call of Duty series post-4. Likewise, there's nothing saying a JRPG can't look beautiful and still retain a bright, stylish look.

    I'm not sure what's currently considered good English voice acting. If I were presented with three all-new games and asked to judge them on voice acting, I would not have any criteria to judge them on.
    Well, Halo's always had phenomenal voice work, as has Uncharted. Call of Duty's generally good voice wise, though Black Ops fumbled by giving Sam Worthington's useless, inconsistent arse the main role. Gears is great as well, showing off a wide emotional range. The thing is that Western studios hire competent talent (sometimes famous, but they hire for what they bring to the show). It seems like anyone who isn't SE (and sometimes even SE themselves) are content to use whoever they can get on the cheap, regardless of how bad they are for the parts, making for cringe-worthy dialogue most of the time.

    "What the f--- is a Shakespeare?"
    -Rico Valasquez, showing off why no one likes him.

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    RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff 7thCircle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcservant View Post
    * Stop treating us like kids. Those of us who grew up on Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are big boys and girls. Hire some professional writers and give us something that we can really sink our teeth into. Feels free to talk about address mature subjects (tastefully) in your stories. The unexpected popularity of the Witcher, whilest not a JRPG, showed us that if you make an adult story written decently, they will come! If I have to watch one more spikey hair teenager save the world...
    * Put some more thought into your battle systems. Make us use our brains. If I can get through 90% of your battles with "attack, attack, heal", there's a problem.
    It's impossible to know if it was a lame excuse or a genuine sentiment, but SE has outright said that its target market is still teenagers, not adults. I think it was during post-release interviews for FF12 that this came up. So if you're an adult and finding that you've grown out of JRPGs, that's to be expected. It doesn't have to be seen as a sad, soulcrushing event. I grew up loving JRPGs, now they bore me and seem silly more often than not. As long as games like Fallout 3 and Demon's Souls keep getting made, I'm still happy.

    And MC was correct in all he said about the Eastern gaming market. That is to say, there isn't one, and although that might be a culture shock to us, it's a fact of life there. I found this out when I made friends with someone from Singapore in college. Buying pirated games there is like buying a 99 cent double cheeseburger here. There are plenty of cultures in the world that would find that unbelieveable.
    The lesson here is that dreams inevitably lead to hideous implosions.

  20. #20
    Gunclaws and Meow. Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7thCircle View Post
    Buying pirated games there is like buying a 99 cent double cheeseburger here. There are plenty of cultures in the world that would find that unbelievable.
    Particularly the Hindu. *nerdy rimshot*

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