Thoughts about a Final Fantasy Record Keeper Sequal

So DeNA has apparently hit a gold mine with Record Keeper. Not only have they gotten a very vocal and large fan base, but they also did the amazing task of making the in app payments thing tolorable. Are there things we dislike? Yes of course there are. After all there is no real story in a franchise that other than Final Fantasy 1 has been all about deep compelling stories (and even FF1 had a story and NPCs.) The fact at every point you hit a button it calls the mother ship. Then there's the, frankly insulting, relic drop rates. I could go on.

Even with these issues this game, especially for what it is, has been very fun. Still, it seems like a lot of work for a mobile game to sit and condense everything into getting everything redone in a fairly final fantasy 6ish form. Maybe I am alone here, but it seems like they might be well served by making a more traditional final fantasy using these assets.

However it would still need to be optimized for a mobile market. So this is what I propose for the mechanics side of things.

To be blunt I dislike using touch controls as a D-Pad. So let's take a page out of final fantasy tactics. World map with dots you can tap onto go places. Like with knights of pen and paper if you tap on a dot that has dots between it you have to go to all dots between (however unlike in knights of pen and paper I am in favor of largely leaving it random on if an encounter is triggered if that dot is not a town.)

In towns you would have your Inn/Magic/Armor/weapons/Item shops. In addition to these you might have a 'bar' or 'academy' or other site specific places where you get more story bits and or side jobs.

Cutscenes can still happen via sprites, much like how old school final fantasies did. The above system mostly is to get around the issues of having to slide thumbs on glass. So you enter an the next story segment (|entering town/selecting a menu option in town, etc) and it shows your party leader/story important characters interacting in a setpiece area. I would prefer these set pieces use backgrounds that can double as battle screens if you cleared away object sprites and the like, but that might not be the most efficient way.

Personally I like the idea of breaking up what people can do, but this return to ff1's number of uses system is… Irksome. It wouldn't work for a proper story. So while giving cloud elemental blades, sephiroth black magic, and all I want it to be more like other final fantasies p. Sure it's interesting to have to craft magic from found materials and equip them according to strategy, but having MP would be nice. Bit out to lunch on how synergy would work except maybe going with what a lot of us first thought and pairing people with gear from their world giving appropriate boosts.

I like record keeper's having you walk between battles. Dunno why. Neat little detail.

Speaking of. I like the star system and crafting/fusion/strengthening for equipment. So having that system carry over would be great.

I want this to be totally offline. No calling the mother ship. No stamina. No relic draws. This would mean charging for it, but I could see charging $6 for it. After all that's what minecraft costs. Ditto for shadowrun returns/dragonfall. That seems like a fair price for the market.

OK I lied about totally no online aspects. I want people to have some carryover from Record Keeper. Something along the idea of any unlocked characters being obtainable (say finding sephiroth and convincing him to join/keep cloud from killing him if you have him in record keeper, or if you got Warrior as a first week promo he's in a town and joins your party.) On the fence on equipment and experience. On the one hand I want people to be able t carry any fie star gear over. On the other it would break things.

I have no idea if anyone else would care, but I figure share my thoughts and hope I'm not alone.

posted from Bloggeroid

Final Fantasy Record: Good but not Great

So Close but Not Quite.
Let's get this out of the way. I like this game. DeNA has made an easy to access and enjoyable pick up and go game that I feel deserves not just downloads, but also a reasonable amount of money thrown at it to show that this is a good direction to go. If this is what we can expect from DeNA's Nintendo properties then I see good things in the future.

All of that said, it is not a perfect game, and there are outside factors that I feel mar the overall experience.

Platforms: iOS, and Android.

After an unskippable opening movie you are given the only little bit of story tying everything together and giving you an excuse to go stomp around the land. In a kingdom, possibly Invalice from Final Fantasy Tactics but probably not, where history and noteworthy deeds are recorded in magical paintings , something is clouding and rearranging the memories contained inside.

That's unfortunately it so far. You don't get interactions between Kain and Cloud, or Rydia and Tyro, the nearly infant looking new character for this game. I really wish they would have introduced at least some interactions when you finish the currently open levels in a world, or when you first go into a new world. They seriously missed the boat here since while fighting the old fights are nice, all you get are single paragraph blurbs before entering a level and after beating it. Seriously disappointing because of all the missed opportunities for seriousness and humor and fun.

At a glance 'repetitive' could be used to describe things, and that would be a fair description. It's final fantasy so they went with a familiar system that actually works really well. Each character has a 'soul break' similar to final fantasy 7's limit break that is accessible when a gauge fills. Each character also can equip two different special skills that gives a range of customizable options on how to tackle bosses.

Speaking of, bosses can't just be blindly blitzed through. Most have different stances that, if you attack during that period, generally results in a full party counterattack. There's also weaknesses, points awarded if you use specific spells, and generally it feels very satisfying.

There is also auto-battling. Tap a button and you can switch to your party auto-attacking. When you're farming materials or items to combine it's good to have a set and forget option. I like this and it was very thoughtful of them to include.

Japan Leads the Way.
There are things down the line that the Japanese have had for months that I question why they weren't included on world launch. I'm not talking about content, since even with a couple paragraphs each for levels, it's item descriptions, and a dozen other 'little' things that eat up time and money. Considering how poorly 'all the braves' was received and frankly how expensive squaresoft, mobile titles have been I can understand caution on paying translators for something that would just be dropped.

What I cannot understand is the holding back of features such as friends lists and supposedly game modes in the works. Are those going to be held back too? I do not want this to come off as aggressive since a world launch with lots of languages and cultures where things might not work out. However I remember Sega's handling of the phantasy star franchise. I remember updates that never happened. I remember updates that were late. GMs were scarce on the american servers and the community was blamed for all of it.

Maybe this fear at getting ignored is unfounded, but it still exists and I don't want to support a game where maybe eventually I will get things another group has had for months. Then again maybe that's how the rest of the world feels when it's an american/English app getting released.

Personally I enjoy this game. It's a good pick up and go ten minute run. There are things I wish would get fixed, but because of how far ahead of everyone else the Japanese client is I personally feel my concerns would be ignored in favor of simply following The Path. However purely because of how non-aggressive DeNA has been about monetization I feel they should be given your money. While there are $20 - $100 options exist I personally feel it's a bad idea to give anything more than $10 in a given pay period. This is mostly because once you get past 'I can eat in tonight' money you are far past 'micro' transactions.

I cannot stress this enough. I like how nonaggressive the in app payment bits are. That makes me happy.

The auto-battle system so you can give your thumbs a rest or just turn auto battle on in a non-boss fight and finish putting laundry in/dishes/whatever.

The battle system is really well done.

The synergy system provides a nice bit of depth, which means even single star 'trash' items can be as useful as three star drops in 'their' world.

The spritework is very nice.

Ditto with the art. Very nice.

Music and sound are both very satisfying.

The lack of story. They missed the boat here on letting your party interact, much like the Lego games had happen.

It's too easy to frontload too many actions with zero warning when bosses stance change.

Why can I not combine pay currency and mythril to pay for things?

The drop rates on relic draws are horrible if you want anything other than a spare 1 or 2 star.

The lag the rest of the world has behind the Japanese version.

Like Reddit or not there is a subreddit that has a collection of easy to access links and spreadsheets detailing all the crunchy nerd stats for people that take their gaming highly seriously and want to plan out every moment. Me? It's a pick up and play ten minute game that has pretty much no real story. I play it while doing laundry or dishes.

Official Site

posted from Bloggeroid

The Sea Dragon: The Biggest Rocket that Never Was

Surprisingly the Saturn V isn't the biggest rocket that was designed.

That title belongs to the Sea Dragon:

In my browsing of YouTube and watching video game rockets explode a fellow by the name of Scott Manley briefly mentioned a real rocket design that had the sort of thrust the overly complicated design he had pulled to get her had. So I did a little poking around and this thing is freaking awesome.

Video of a lecture that sheds more light on the matter:

The engine bell could hold the entire first stage of the Saturn V. It could put a million pounds into orbit. This thing would have been made out of six inch steel plate and stand 500 feet tall and the tarring (thing that dictates how wide cargo can be) diameter was 25 yards. Currently the biggest tarring we have is maybe 25 feet.

As the guy in the video points out you could shave a billion or possibly more off the James Web telescope by axing all the intricate unfolding mechanisms for it to deploy and build it out of welded steel. Sure the weight would go up, but this thing could launch a million pounds so who cares? Build it out of welded freaking steel, it'll survive just fine and still save you a billion or more.

Current cost per pound is $10 000
This thing's cost per pound? In 1960s dollars it was $600

Using the inflation calculator found here:

The sea dragon's cost per pound is roughly $4 000

Only a little under half current costs and this guy is talking about sending steel up? Costs far less even if it's going to be heavier because the above mentioned ability to launch it in it's orbital configuration instead of having to have it do this open like a flower business. Then there's the fact since we can afford, weight wise, to use steel rather than having to use billet aluminum we save on manufacturing. On top of all that because we can afford to go Big we don't have to miniaturize all the electronics, which saves cost and makes them more durable to the whole 'in space full of radiation and wild temperature swings' thing.

Best part? This thing's basically a submarine hull that uses kerosene, liquid oxygen, and is, at least mostly, reusable. Stage drops away. Parachutes deploy. Thing's got six inches of steel for it's walls instead of thin aluminum. Are there problems associated with the design? Undoubtedly.

However let's be honest here. We need to Go Big. Space is a good project to inspire a generation. Fifties? Sixties? That's the era ARPAnet, the predecessor to the internet, was designed in. We went to the deepest part of the ocean in that era. Kids grew up wanting to do Science. It was when America was the undisputed greatest nation on earth.

Sure Civil Rights issues were s big gargantuan problem and we're still struggling there far more than I'd like, but we need to inspire people to try doing better. Right now the young people of this country are distrustful, resentful, and see everywhere how the world is falling apart. Pack it up sonny. The world is shit. Get used to getting stepped on.

Things like this though? Forget having to send up twenty different shuttle missions to build the international space stations. This thing could put up the massive rotating space station from 2001 Space Odyssey in three. It could not only send us to the moon but it could send an entire moonbase up in one. Forget something the size of a few phone booths for crew to survive in. Send up something the size of a house.

Gets even better. Currently Space X is working on the crew configuration for their dragon capsule. It's supposed to be able to hold six people. So even if the Sea Dragon would have to be a strictly unmanned craft due to launch forces (oh did I forget to mention it would be launched from underwater? Ya no more expensive launch facilities) you can send over twice the people Apollo could carry up to meet with whatever this thing flings into orbit and them get your science on.

This is how we design things in America folks. We just gotta convince the government to get their heads out of the sand and give them the resources to do it.