Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

Archive for February, 2007

Suite101 new articles: Interactive Fiction

Posted by Reiko on February 26, 2007

My goal of bringing interactive fiction to Suite101 will slowly be realized. I’ve got two of the articles about interactive fiction I’d planned written and submitted now. One is just a basic overview of the various commands that are used to play IF. I figured a more general article was a good way to start before writing more detailed and specific articles. Maybe I should have written more about the actual gameplay itself, but that really depends on the individual game, I think. Different games have different sets of commands that they rely on to carry the action, and it takes trial and error and reading the responses carefully to figure out what a game wants sometimes. Knowing the standard commands allows some experimentation, and from there more possibilities will usually appear.

The second one describes the results of IFComp 2006, with brief reviews of the top seven games. I played all but one of the games myself in the process of judging for the competition, so it was easy to write, especially because I’d already written fairly detailed reviews of all the games I did play. The one I didn’t play that made it to the top seven was The Traveling Swordsman, which was written in Hugo, and I didn’t end up bothering to get a terp that would work on Hugo games until the comp was already over. I should probably play it eventually. It’s supposed to be quite good.

Spring Thing 2007 is the next competition that’s coming up fairly soon. I’m planning on playing and judging that one as well, and writing about it at the same time. It’s a more difficult competition to judge, I think, because the games aren’t time-restrained the way the IFComp games are. Some of them can end up being quite large, in fact. But, there’s also much less of a chance of getting poor games, deliberately or not, due to the entry fee, so each game is worth it to play. I’m looking forward to it.

Posted in Games, Suite101, Writing | 1 Comment »

Fun with Xenosaga

Posted by Reiko on February 21, 2007

Recently I’ve gotten into playing Xenosaga I again. Somehow, when I got it, I opened it up and played it for all of about six hours before putting it down and going onto other things.

I have no idea what I was thinking. This game’s fantastic. Sure, it has its flaws, but don’t they all? The PS2 has quite a library of really good RPGs now, but this one is definitely up there.

One of the best parts is the points system. There are no fewer than three different types of usable points for upgrading various stats and abilities for the different characters. It’s a very different system from Xenogears. The battle system, too, has more parts then the one in Xenogears. There’s the boost system, the turn wheel, the action menu, etc.

Sadly, one area where the system is simpler than Xenogears is in the deathblows. Part of the fun of Xenogears was trying different ever-increasing combinations to find all the different attacks. Xenosaga just provides them at regular intervals; no experimenting needed. Slight disappointment there.

Another good point is the way that previous areas can be revisited, in simulation at least. One big issue I had with Final Fantasy X was that it was so linear and you can’t go back to many previous areas. So if you miss something, sometimes it’s gone permanently. That’s much more rare in Xenosaga. The story may be linear, but usually you can go back if you’ve overlooked something. In fact, for some items, it’s necessary to go back.

And, finally, the graphics are extremely good. Comparing to Xenogears again, which had excellent cut-scenes, good battle animations, and decent backgrounds, but abysmal field models, the field and battle models in Xenosaga are both extremely detailed and beautiful, and they really match their still portraits as well. And the rendered scenes are beyond excellent. The whole game basically looks like an interactive anime.


Here’s KOS-MOS, the android weapon that Shion built to fight the Gnosis. Isn’t she pretty? She doesn’t have the wings during normal gameplay, but she’s still quite pretty. And much more dangerous than she looks, of course.

If it weren’t for the fact that it’s rather late already, I might consider playing a bit more tonight..

Posted in Games, RPGs | 1 Comment »

Suite101 new article: Angelic Layer

Posted by Reiko on February 19, 2007

I decided that I had fun writing about Marmalade Boy, so I’d write another anime review, Angelic Layer this time. The anime section on Suite101 is pretty slim, really. There are some old reviews, and a couple of general articles by the guy who runs the Animated Film section, but there’s really not much there. If I write more about anime, I think I might write one about characters named Hikaru. There are several I know off the top of my head. There’s even one in Angelic Layer, Misaki’s Angel. There’s also the main character from Hikaru no Go; one of the main girls, Hikaru Shidou, from Magic Knight Rayearth; and probably others as well. Or maybe I’ll write about magical thief anime series. There are at least four I know about (Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, Saint Tail, D.N. Angel, and Mouse).

I’ve actually got another project, though – bringing the world of interactive fiction to Suite101. :) I’ve already got two articles written and almost ready to upload, but I was inspired by an article about interactive fiction by the guy who runs the Video Games section. So I’m contacting him first to see if he already has anything planned, so I don’t interfere with what he’s doing. I hope he doesn’t have anything planned though, because I’ve got lots of things planned. :D I’m actually hoping that the staff might eventually make it a separate section, because I’m not convinced it really goes under video games. I mean, come on, text adventures? That’s like the opposite of video games.

Posted in Anime, Suite101, Writing | Comments Off on Suite101 new article: Angelic Layer

Suite101 new article: Marmalade Boy

Posted by Reiko on February 7, 2007

I’ve got another article up. I decided I wanted to polish the book review some more first, so I ended up writing a review of the anime for Marmalade Boy, instead. It can be found here: Anime Review: Marmalade Boy.

I’ve seen the whole series all the way through, but at one point, I was actually watching it raw, without subtitles, to practice Japanese. It was working pretty well, because I knew the story and all. Since I haven’t seen it in a couple years, and since my Japanese is rusty now anyway, it might not work so well if I went back to it now. I’d like to though, if I ever find the time…but Jeff’s wanting me to watch Eyeshield 21 for now, because it’s an anime about football, and he wants me to learn as much about football as possible. It’s actually a good anime, although I still don’t care about football. I guess it helps to understand it somewhat, anyway. If I watch enough of it, I’ll probably write a review of it too.

Posted in Anime, Suite101, Writing | Comments Off on Suite101 new article: Marmalade Boy

Suite 101 first article

Posted by Reiko on February 5, 2007

I’ve just joined a writing site: Suite 101. My goal is to write at least one article per week, although the minimum for the site is ten articles in three months.

I’ve posted my first article today: Problems for Manned Mars Missions. It’s a discussion of various features of Mars that will be detrimental to the health of the crew on a mission there if solutions are not found to mitigate the effects. I mention things like the longer year and day, the cold, the gravity, and the dust. It’s something I could write quite easily because the senior design project for my major incorporates all of these things.

I’ve got another article ready to go already, a book review on a controversial topic, but I’m going to wait for a few days and see what happens to this first one first.

On a side note, it’s very cold here. :(

Posted in Engineering, Suite101, Writing | Comments Off on Suite 101 first article