Archive for July, 2008

So now, without further ado, the things I love about Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 in case my previous posting gave the wrong impression…

  • The races – each race has different jobs with abilities varying accordingly. And each race/job combination has a very different appearance, allowing you to quickly identify your units on the battlefield.
  • There are a ton of jobs in the game meaning you’ll rarely reach a point where a character doesn’t have some cool new ability they should be learning.
  • There is a bazaar system (crafting system) that works like this: In each mission you get loot which consists of monster parts and plants and rocks and whatnot. Now, the loot itself is awesome, because each piece has a bit of flavor text adding to the world of Ivalice, there are hundreds(?) of different kinds and each kind has a different appearance as well. You can sell this loot directly or trade it to unlock equipment… you don’t trade 3 shells for a shellsword so much as you trade 3 shells to unlock the ability to purchase a shellsword. There are a TON of weapons/armor/accessories to unlock. I feel this system works perfectly.
  • The fitting room lets you equip your units with items from the shop, then proceed to checkout. This is a great timesaver.
  • The items themselves teach class abilities… for items which more than one class can equip you can usually expect it to teach different abilities to different classes. I’ve seen this before, yeah, but it is executed beautifully.
  • The number of missions is amazing. I’ve completed 50 missions in 20 hours. There are 400 missions in the game. Will I really be playing this for 160 hours? I don’t know, but the idea that I could do so without encountering repeating content is somewhat amazing.
  • The art is wonderful – although the character portraits are a little too simply drawn for my liking (like the harpy in the D&D 4E MM) the sprites are great looking. Each map is drawn in 2D and looks spectacular – this game makes me want to get a DS Lite. The levels can’t be rotated, which is unfortunate, but DS 3D is usually ugly anyway and this game is beautiful.
  • There are dispatch missions which don’t involve combat. They are called dispatch because you can send your crappier units off to do them while you focus on the combat missions. The cool thing is that you can choose to do the dispatch missions as regular missions, which lets you view cutscenes and dialog… these are things like delivering a guy his lunch. I like doing these manually.
  • Each mission involves a bit of text, be it your units talking about the strength of enemy forces, enemy forces threatening you or whatever. There are very few random battles and even these have some dialog. This is a welcome change from all the random battles in other tactics games… even if each mission doesn’t advance the plot it immerses you a little more in the world of Ivalice.
  • The music is great and does a good job at complimenting the different interface screens and setting different moods during the various missions.

So yeah, I think I was so harsh on the game because they got so much right with it. The programmers and artists did an amazingly good job – whoever is responsible for ensuring job balance or writing the plot should be let go. The rest of the team should get to work on Tactics Ogre DS… please?

So I’m thinking that McCain and Obama’s thought process must resemble the following: “We’ve got to get tough with the countries in the Middle East because the Jewish people are entitled to an ethnically pure society and it is our job, as citizens of an ethnically diverse and rapidly decaying global power with open borders to ensure that we take the attention, outrage and anger of middle eastern terrorists and shift the focus from the destruction and theft of Palestine. We then redirect that hatred toward our service men and women abroad, because if we don’t fight them over there and we can’t fight them over here we simply won’t be able to fight them. Thats right, we’ll be helpless! Now kindly take your income and divide it into four quarters – give one to your grandparents because it is the right thing to do, give one to us or we’ll throw you in jail, give one to someone else because its the right thing to do, and you know what, just take that other quarter and go nuts – so long as you don’t violate the laws of this country which are so numerous that it would be impossible to know them all and so full of contradiction that any attempt to understand or consolidate them would result in the Lemarchand Configuration and the unfortunate summoning of Cenobites”

I’m getting even more worried about where America is headed… FISA got passed which grants retroactive immunity to companies like AT&T for warrantless wiretapping. I mean, I learned in high school that we can’t have retroactive laws in this country… it is one of the very-few things I remember (just because of the latin).

Article 1, Section 9, Sentence #3 of the Constitution of the United States of America as signed by George Washington and as it exists today (it hasn’t been amended away yet) – No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto (re tro active) Law shall be passed.

I cannot underestimate how troubled I am by this nor how disappointed I am in our presidential candidates, both Democratic and Republican. The United States Government ignores George Washington in our foreign policy, ignores Benjamin Franklin in our domestic policy and now, instead of just ignoring the advice of the founding fathers, the government is ignoring the document they created for the sole purpose of constraining the evils of bad government? My mind is blown. Seriously guys, what the fuck are you doing with my money besides terrorizing me? I, much like you dear reader, pay my taxes out of fear – the government using their power to scare me into surrendering my money is the only terrorism I experience on a regular basis.

So Obama voted in favor of FISA (nice filibuster jackass) whereas McCain didn’t vote (McCain’s missed vote percentage is an impressive 61.8% compared to Obama’s rate of 43.5%… if I only completed 40-60% of my work I don’t think I’d be considered for a job promotion). When the Democratic presidential candidate is voting in favor of bills which will protect the Republican president from being prosecuted for conducting warrantless invasions of citizens privacy is it only clear to me that the two party system is a sham? If you agree that the two-party system is a beast with two backs how can’t you assume the two candidates are puppets?

So what do we do? I mean, should we even attempt to return to the Constitution? I tried that. I supported Ron Paul (told everyone I know about him, donated to his campaign, wore a T-Shirt, registered Republican, voted in the primary, put a bumper sticker on my car, put up window signs, mailed people pamphlets)… did anyone else? I mean, the Democrats had a lot to offer this year, yes. A toss up between a woman and a black man, wow, definitely the party of choice if you hate white people, you hate old people or you hate men. Democrats? Sexist, racist, elitist? What kind of topsy-turvy world is this, they were only supposed to be dedicated to redistributing wealth and promoting socialism (because it worked so well in practice, no, but it really needs another chance, no). But fuck, the Constitution must’ve been broken to start with, because obviously if we started at point A (the Constititution signed into law) and we took a linear path to point B (the Constititution ignored), and we get back to A, what is preventing B? So we’d require some added layer of Constitutional protection and enforcement, like a fourth branch of the government comprised of Skynettian artificial intelligence to keep the other three branches in line or else release the nanobots and try again…?

So yeah, its a two party system and Ron couldn’t quite trick my grandparents into believing he’d attack Iran, which apparently is a prerequisite for being the President these days. You’ve got to have a plethora of angry words, a hatred of foreign religions/customs so long as they are in foreign countries (and when it comes to issues of morality in this country you STFU) and a certain willingness to sacrifice the youth of America. Yep, so long as you’re pro-war, anti-Muslim and anti-youth everyone above a certain age or below a certain IQ will let you do whatever the fuck you want to my country, economy, environment, sustainability, diversity, accountability, morality, honesty, privacy, mind, body, soul, currency and liberty. Being president must be a lot like being Q from Next Generation.

See, now the thing about George Washington, the thing I like, was that when it really came down to things that mattered he didn’t vote with a paper ballot. No, see, that wasn’t his style. Nor did he write really long insane blog posts, he didn’t even own a computer (that relic!). George Washington killed people. George Washington killed people for YOU. He killed the French and he killed the Indians and he killed the British. If it opposed American independence and the liberty of American citizens George Washington would get that look in his eye. George Washington was like the fucking anti-Christ, all the people he killed. George Washington is one of the founding fathers. George Washington is one of my heroes.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is a pretty good tactical RPG but suffers from a few of the shortcomings which plagued its GBA prequel. My biggest complaint is that melee classes receive ranged attacks with higher average damage output than their melee attacks… meaning your warrior types who are equipping swords are going to be positioned either diagonally adjacent or one square away from enemies (to avoid a counterattack). Archers do sport an advantage as far as attack range, however the majority of maps are small enough that this doesn’t offset the archers’ lower damage and lesser survivability. Warrior classes should be necessary to surround enemy forces and prevent them from moving, however due the fact that you’re limited to 6 friendly units in a battle and units can move through other friendly units it is generally impossible to ‘trap’ the enemy (it can be done, but unless it is the last enemy be prepared to eat some attacks from the rear). The Tinker class, which I was really looking forward to based on name alone, wound up awful because its abilities, which affect everyone on the map, have a 50% chance of targeting either friend or ally… this might be offset by an ability later on in the game but currently it makes the class worthless (casting haste on all enemies means you’ll get to act infrequently, but don’t worry, you’ll reset the game long before it wears off).

The plot, when compared to the playstation original, doesn’t exist. I guess the excuse for that is that FFTA2 is a portable game… I don’t accept excuses from Square-Enix. Enix made Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis for the GBA, the best portable strategy RPG I’ve ever played. Square made Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, which when compared to it, was weaker in all departments. Guess which game gets a sequel on the DS? Arg. So yeah, back to FFTA2, there are still cut scenes and distinguishable missions which advance the plot… its just that there doesn’t seem to be any real goal. My characters are around level 20 and I’ve yet to fight a villain of any sort. The dialog consists of small talk due to the main character’s goal being to complete missions to fill up his magical book so he can defeat the Nothing and ride Atreyu… no wait, I’m getting confused, but FFTA2 and FFTA1 before it honestly stole their plots directly from The Neverending Story…

Lastly, I don’t think you can recruit monsters, which makes me sad. I love recruiting monsters. My party in Tactics Ogre consisted of the main character (couldn’t help it), ghosts and a dragon zombie. So my final verdict is as follows: If you enjoyed Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and are looking forward to another portable strategy RPG track down a copy of Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis for GBA. If you’ve already beaten that play Final Fantasy Tactics for PS1 on your PSP, but not the PSP version, emulate the PS1 original (it’ll run faster). Then, and only then, should you embrace FFTA2.

Competitive tower defense – one person plays tower defense as normal, their opponent controls the creeps. The creep player would earn money for upgrades based on how far the creeps are able to travel with bonuses if they make it alive…?

Words without plural forms suck for programmers. I mean, what is an easy to remember name for a list of Species?

I realize that naming conventions would distinguish a collection from an individual such that if I were properly naming things I wouldn’t have this problem. But I’m not, so I do, and I feel that this is a grievous shortcoming of language in general. Words need distinct forms to indicate one vs. many… or do they?

But then, why only seperate words for x=1 or x>1… why not 4 seperate forms of a given word to represent the common situations such as x1…?

So yeah, species would become like… negaspecies, nospecie, specie and species. What?

So yes, I dumbed it down and a Species is now incorrectly called a Specie. The collection of these is called Species. SpeciesList was just bothering me. Stupid.

Sick. Cough, sneeze, fever, joint-ache, bloody diarrhea, brown urine, sore throat, black welts, skin sloughing off in chunks, partial blindness… the works. I do believe my body has synthesized some sort of hybrid leprosy pock influenza. Luckily I’ve got Final Fantasy Tactics A2 and two cats to keep me company and/or devour my corpse when this disease gets the better of me. Even now they stare with bestial hunger, silently determining which bits of me are the choicest. They really take after their mother.