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Grazilerimba
03-03-2011, 07:03 PM
Hi,
I'm new to the forum, and after having tried many times until realizing that not getting an activation email is a known bug, I was finally able to join. I've been playing FF ever since the game boy FFL games (which technically aren't even FF), and my first "real" one was FF2/4 on the SNES.

That being said, I enjoyed FF13 a whole lot - I didn't mind the linearity, the simplifications, the fast pacing - for me personally, they took out a whole lot of what bothered me personally in earlier FF games, and they made the good points even stronger. A full win for me. I just wanted to point out that in all discussions that I've seen so far in this forum, I feel that the quality of the story seems to get neglected a fair bit. I thought the story was really deep and great. What about the religious implications? The idea of a world that has been forsaken by it's creator who created two different kinds of beings - ones with very limited free will who are granted bigger powers, and ones with unlimited free with who are granted low powers - was very intruiging. Also the idea that the fal'cie would do to the humans as the creator has done to them, and the notion of mass sacrificing millions of people only to call him back (or, as the symbolic picture suggests, to have the souls of millions of people push open the door to the world of the dead so that the fal'cie can also get a glimpse of it), and that cocoon was made for this purpose, was a mind-staggering twist for me. In the end, it's a story about fate, self-determination, purpose, existence. I thought that was really nice and I feel that aspect is generally under-appreciated.

Then, another thing about the game's linearity. As you know, the game opens up in chapter 11 or when you go to Pulse. For most people, it is "not enough, and that too late". I thought it made perfect sense to have exactly this amount of freedom at exactly that point in the game. After more or less being put on rails while you are on cocoon - a world where everything is done to you, a world of easiness and pleasure -, you are thrown into a terrifying, yet beautiful wilderness. The first moment I was there and saw those Adamantoises, my mind was blown. Basically, for me, the way in which the game opens up shows this contrast:

Cocoon: Hedonism - Control - Security
Pulse: Survival of the fittest - Freedom - Insecurity

I think it might also be a commentary to the evolvement of the population from its roots up to a 'higher sphere', quite literally. And the way in which the player gets this kind of freedom, paired with the dangers, the openness of that Steppe etc. - it's at the perfect time within the game, and it can help to bring a point across. Also, the way that in the end both worlds are literally about to 'clash' was more than fitting to this kind of symbolism. In the end, both worlds are reunited and the humans return to their origins that they have suppressed for so long, which will be a fight, but which 'makes them full humans' again.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and sorry about the long post. Just felt like writing that stuff as I didn't see it referenced yet.

Neg
03-03-2011, 07:04 PM
I like this post.

Vrykolas
03-03-2011, 07:54 PM
The symbolism isn't lost on people - its just that people feel that such arty decision making came at the cost of accessibility.

You can't deny that the trend in RPG buyers is to want more freedom, so to deliberately deny people that freedom for artistic purposes is a bold decision. Its one that I applaud (because I like the story and the way the game is constructed as much as you do), but I also recognise that when people complain about it, they are airing some understandable grievances.

I.e, if so many people are put off playing the game because of the linearity and deliberate holding back of the full range of combat and party options, then you have to say it is a problem. Just saying that people should stick with it and they'll come to appreciate what the game is doing and why it does it, ignores the fact that a lot of people don't feel the game has earned the right to demand that kind of loyalty and perserverence from them.

First impressions count, and the opening has come in for a lot of stick, because of the lack of explanation and needing to read the Datalog etc. I feel that if the opening had been handled better, it could have built up precisely the kind of goodwill in the gamer, that was needed to make sure they stuck with it.

I also think that the story does suffer a little from some questionable directing decisions about the party members. Japanese directors just don't have the same cultural background to western gamers. They don't always know instinctively what will sound good, and what sounds overwrought. The extreme fist pumping, hero posturing in certain scenes (before boss fights generally, but Snow does it all the time), also just looks a bit childish and niave to our jaded, western eyes.

Another example is the irritation at Vanille, which is largely down to her squeaks and moans. And that's a real shame, because take those out, and she's a very likeable and interesting character.

The fact is, there is a cultural gap here. Japanese culture and storytelling is very different to western styles. Its not surprising that WRPGs feel more real to western gamers, because western developers literally speak our language. They're more likely to know what we'll accept ane what we'll snort with incredulity at.

But aside from that, the director simply doesn't seem to have banked on how strong first impressions can be. Lightning is initially very cold and mean, Snow is initially loud and annoying as he bellows his Hero status every couple of seconds etc etc.

And despite the fact that these things are addressed directly in the game as it progresses (as they are aspects of character that can be and are explored - the game poking fun at Snow for his attitude right from the get-go, showing that the director is aware how blustery and foolishly full of himself Snow comes across to people), the director makes the mistake of underestimating how unforgiving and inflexible people can be, once their first impressions are formed.

Especially when they don't feel any goodwill towards the game, and (perhaps only on a subconscious level) are looking for reasons to confirm their dislike as the game goes on, rather than looking for reasons to warm to it. Ergo, many gamers don't warm to Lightning when she lightens up, don't appreciate the value that Snow's optimism and faith in doing the right thing no matter what has on people when they're feeling low etc.

They've made their minds up about the characters, story, game as a whole etc, and that's the end of that.


So again, bold decisions, and quite refreshing really. But by being so difficult (in an artistic sense), it turned a lot of people off. The reaction the game has largely received shows that most gamers took the view that the director could take his art and shove it up his a**e. They just wanted a rollicking good adventure romp like the good old days of FF, and they didn't want to have to do all this extra work, putting up with linear levels and drip fed content.

I mean, I liked this game more than most, I would think. I love the story - its one of my favourites from the whole series. But I do understand people's frustrations with the game.

Oh, and er, welcome to the forum!

topopoz
03-04-2011, 06:48 PM
The main issue of FF is it's artistic Direction, it's characters & it's storytelling, both the way it is told & the story itself since VIII.

Artistic Direction mainly because Nomura is just Visual Kei+Fanservice & people are tired of it, Amano is not around for doing some decent art design in the vein of the classic titles & Yoshida does not fit for FF IMO, although he did some questionable yet GREAT JOB at FFT & Vagrant Story, what he did for XII was okay but still quite weird, Surely the Vieras came from FFTA firstly designed by another artist, I would've redesigned the race or at least gave them less revealing clothes in the non-Dalmascan areas.
Don't get me started on the FFIX Artistic Design, because that will be a long rant, but in summary, Chibi SD Furries...

The Characters & Storytelling are quite tied.
I don't know what the hell happened, but what's with the Exposition MAN!?
X, XII & XIII suffer from this terribly.

X & XII Offer Exposition by making the player sit through overly stupid characters like Tidus or Vaan. Although the biggest flaw of XII in it's storytelling is it's pacing & lack of accesibility of the player to the Story. For example in XII if you truly wish to enjoy it's story, leaving aside the part of having played both FFT & Vagrant Story, is that completing the Bestiary & Location Info is a big job. And there's a lot of awesome info about the game storyline & flavor in that texts.
X doesn't suffer from Pacing I think but the story of the game itself is quite a mess.

XIII, apparently throws you in the middle of everything without giving you a clue or exposition & it's quite like "Fuck you, Read the Manual" in this case it's a Datapad. Although the story might be good, no one likes to go to the cinema & they tell you that your condition to understand the movie is by having a glossary in hand.

S-E did the worst choice for storytelling in XIII. They knew that people were tired of characters like Vaan or Tidus, they erradicated that type of exposition & replaced them with a manual.

It would've been more successful of having characters that serve the purpose of asking questions, rather than have annoying boyish immature characters that do stupid things to attract attention to it's companions.

About Linearity & Gameplay...

Well, XII offered an awesome game experience IMO, the only issue is that the game lacked for opened scenery like the PS1 era, what I mean is something like a world map.
In XII you explore certain regions & that's it. It's not a critical failure, because the dungeons & various levels are greatly designed.
Stillshrine of Miriam is a great place for example.

In XIII though I haven't played it, the only thing I hear about it's linearity is that the Chrystarium is the embodiment of illusion of freedom & that the game is just hallways regarding the map design.

What I hear about the battle system is that isn't bad or it's awful because it doesn't require much input from the player.

Frankly I didn't had any issue with the gameplay of any FF, save IX only. The rest are really fun to play. Yeah sure, they have their issues & holes. But it doesn't hinder the experience that much.

But the main problems of modern FF is as you say, the cultural GAP.

The sad thing is that people really wanted to like this game, they've find XII so hideous that there were high hopes for XIII.

It's sad that people find XII hideous for the wrong reasons IMO. But nothing can be done about it.

Will FF get better? RPG's in general are quite in a crisis IMO, both W & J.
But that's another story-

I've said my piece

Grazilerimba
03-04-2011, 11:31 PM
Well thanks for the feedback guys, I didn't expect such long posts. Well I am not knowledgeable about the series' background too much or about game making in general, so I can't really "defend" anything here, but let me give some thoughts about it.

I don't even know where to start - well, as for the story and the introduction, perhaps I can tell you my own experience with movies and games sometimes. I'm not really that good in catching fine nuances and interpreting storylines in general, so I tend to watch a movie/play a game, not understand what the hell is going on, then go online and read a storyline guide and then realize how amazing it is. I am often surprised about the extent that some people can delve into the story and grasp it. I've had such experiences with the Silent Hill games, Xenogears, and also with Final Fantasy X. With the latter, I didn't get too much of the story, and when the game was over, I was thinking to myself "how lame is this" - then I read a guide and I loved the story so much, all of a sudden everything made sense and I enjoyed it a lot more. And I would say FFXIII has the same kind of quality to its story. It is complicated and by no means easy to grasp. I don't know the datalog too well, but from what I have seen, it reads like a storyline analysis by fans. I would assume it is possible to fully grasp the story with the same interpretatory "magic" with which people can understand Xenogears, Silent Hill and FFX - but I guess it's not possible to find out about that because if the datalog is there, it will be read extensively. As for the exposition, I didn't feel it was out of line - because if you think about it, the "13 days" flashbacks kinda are the exposition, and they come in pieces, later. That's a certain kind of storytelling and as far as I can see, it is legit and it works.

I can understand the criticism about characters being too "boasty" or too aggressive or whatever. But then, the entire game was kinda like that, in a somewhat "adolescent party style" if you get what I mean, and it required some suspension of disbelief. Yay, let's just jump out of planes or from the back of dragons and while we fall, we'll find a solution while having the best time of our lives. And is anyone else downright disturbed by the scene in the opening, where all others are sitting on that dragon, and Sazh is trying to not fall to his death and all other people are just enjoying the scenery? It's supposed to be slapstick and comedy, I'd guess, but it's also kinda stupid. Also I didn't like the entire opening to chapter 12 with it's pseudeo spectacular, unneccessary, random, overblown action scenes. But then, I don't mind all that too much, because in a way, it's authentic and congruent with the rest of the game.

I'd also say that FFXIII isn't particularly "artsy" or whatever. It's just a game which sacrifices a couple of things in order to explore the story and its characters, I would think. Also, Vanille's character was great. I listened to a podcast of some english speaking gamers in japan, and they explored the characters a bit, and they said that Vanille is pretty much a perfect portrayal of a certain kind of japanese girl, so that female gamers have someone to identify with. I played the Chinese version with Japanese voices and English text, so I don't know the English dub. I have to say, none of the charaters annoyed me. Hope has his reasons to be "emo" or "whiny" or whatever, and Lightning is mysterious. As it was pointed out, FFXIII has an ensemble cast, similar to FFVI, so the story doesn't progress with a focus on a single character, and the way the characters are brought together was done pretty nicely. I also liked the tragic ending.

In general, I'm just surprised to not see people discussing the more controversial aspects of the story, like the implication of a god forsaking his creations and the plan to commit mass murder to call him back, the general motif of using beings as a tool (god uses fal'cie -> fal'cie use l'cie), the question of free will, self-determination etc etc..

I also have a feeling that FFXIII is one of those games that will only get their proper appreciation at a much later time, when the impacts that it had will be more visible.

But anyway, those are just my two cents.
Greetings

Vrykolas
03-05-2011, 11:45 AM
To discuss the nuances of a story, you have to care about it first. With so many people dismissing the game because of its awkward first half, that is something that was extremely unlikely to happen.

And I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about the arty thing. IMO, making the game linear to such a degree is purely an artistic decision. You are highly confined on Cocoon, then find a big, free open world when you reach Pulse.

Same with the party mechanics - whilst the team is seperate, you don't have access to party select, team leader selecte etc etc. But when all 6 members of the team finally assemble together for the first time in Chapter 9, that stuff unlocks. The idea of 'Together we are stronger' etc.

My point was, is it reasonable to make people wait until Chapter 9 out of 13 to get these features? Is it reasonable to make people who are accustomed to open worlds, side quests etc, wait until Chapter 11 out of 13 to get those features? Purely to make an artistic point about teamwork and freedom from oppression?


I hope you are right about FF13 growing in stature as time goes on, but I doubt it will happen. It simply doesn't offer the freedom in story choice, customisation, exploration etc, and is indicative of a kind of storytelling and cast of characters that is no longer fashionable.

I'm afraid it might be more like when people say 'Some silent movies were really great' only to met with snorts of disgust from people who can't believe anyone still pays attention to stuff that came out from such a time.