Monday, August 31, 2009

a twitter post

I'm going to NYC tonight! Yey.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

summer fever

Two short remarks regarding NatsuKomi.

- Kojima Shoutaroh didn't get to print his new doujinshi in time, so the Bang Shishigami "book" I mentioned earlier was being sold in CD-ROM form only. This means I didn't really miss the unique opportunity to first-hand purchase the actual book, since... well, there isn't an actual book. And the digital doujin is already for sale on Digiket! I need my WebMoney, and I need it now.

- Mizuki Gai, the best-selling artist from Honey Come Bingo, had a new doujinshi for sale. If that alone wasn't good enough, I was... thrilled, to say the least, when I found out it's a frigging Chris Redfield book. So, lemme think it straight: the most popular artist these days just published a book that features the most popular kinniku-kei character these days. Yeah, colour me "slightly" excited. I hope it's for sale on Rainbow Shoppers, as his doujinshi usually are. I sure will buy a copy day one! Needless to say, the cover was enough to make me shiver in anticipation. Here's a cropped sample from his blog:

Monday, August 17, 2009


Healing is widely regarded as a girly role. Admittedly, most women seem to play a healing spec, but it’s a silly stereotype, as stereotypes usually are, and I know several men who enjoy bringing those Health bars back up and they are definitely not gay or anything.

It happens that I'm starting to prefer healing with my Holy Paladin over DPSing with my eternally favourite character, my Rogue. My boyfriend is a healer first and foremost – his main character is a Priest, main spec Discipline, dual spec Holy. Healing is all he does. But me, I’m attracted to manly. I like masculinity: melee, Solid Snake, oyaji – manly is my thing. I even rolled my healer to be the least girly possible: he's a plate-wearing Paladin (no skirts for me, T8 and T2 can DIAF!) and a bearded burly stocky Dwarf of all things! But that supposedly "womanly" thing called healing is growing on me to the point of making me consider rolling a healer first on my next MMORPG (possibly Aion?), and a rogue-assassin type only later! Could it be that I'm unwillingly developing a fondness for the "passive", "caregiving" role, thanks to my "gay gene"?

I have to say I personally don't see healing as particularly "girly". Healing is undeniably more peculiar in being cooperative instead of competitive: healing meters mean nothing, unlike DPS meters, which can coldly display how useful you really are. While DPSing, you aren’t much more than a number in a list. And sitting at the top spots of the DPS chart grants you the prerogative to show off: you are "the man"! On the other hand, people hardly ever notice healers, unless they do something wrong and wipe the raid. If you want glory, healing can definitely be a rather unrewarding role, and boasting about prowess, competitiveness and that elusive term called “skill” are features usually more related to men.

However, a great deal of fun as a healer for me lies in PvP, and PvPing as a healer works almost like a PvE tank – you have to maximize your survivability, endurance and lasting power, since you are likely focus-fired all the time, and at the same time protect your allies with your supportive spells. It’s very intense, and I doubt people think of tanking as "womanly". To me, being incredibly tough to kill is also part of being a healer, even if that side of the role only comes into play in a whole different aspect of the game. So, while in the sense of "bragging rights", healing could possibly be considered less masculine than DPSing, PvP healing is every inch as "manly" as tanking is.

Also, even in PvE, the most captivating aspect of healing to me is how important you are. Healers are crucial to a party. They keep you alive, and if you are dead you might as well not even be there. Being a healer is being blessed (or burdened, in some people’s view) with great responsibility, which again makes them very closely related to tanks... who, as I said above, are usually regarded as "manly". Double standards, much?

I prefer to think those stereotypes are unfounded and healing isn’t as "girly" as some might say. Even though an astonishing amount of female players choose healers, healing can be manly, it can be girly, and it definitely can be gay. Come to think of it, every player who made my gaydar tingle (let’s just say Ventrilo can be very revealing) is a healer or has a healer alt... maybe it is in the gay gene after all. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

my passion

NatsuKomi 76 will take place later this week and my personal God, Shoutaroh Kojima, released a preview of his new doujinshi, a Bang Shishigami (from BlazBlue) book.

New Kojiman artwork always make my day. Always. The world could be ending, but if Kojima posted a new sketch of his I would pay no mind. This preview almost made me forget the frustration of not being able to purchase the book - Comiket doujinshi usually have an extremely short print and aren't sold anywhere else, although Kojima did say he will try to sell it online. But even if he did, it isn't the same thing as having the actual book.

Don't miss the whole pic out (or rather, the collection of cropped pics) in his pixiv account if you happen to be a member of the site!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

the tactical advantage

Reading Tobold's remarkable post about Tactics RPGs (also known as Strategy or Simulation RPGs, S-RPGS for short) made me realise how long it has been since I last played a quality S-RPG, and how much I miss them. My favourite videogame ever is the timeless classic Final Fantasy Tactics. I could write an essay on how much I love it. Summing it up, it's got my favourite videogame storytelling and my favourite gameplay ever.

(funny how back when I first played FFT, a few months after it was released in 1998, I had no idea who Yasumi Matsuno was – only later I came to know he's the same director of my back-then favourite game, Ogre Battle, which as a matter a fact is also a Tactics RPG, but of a whole different sort. Matsuno has already become an idol of mine, joining the ranks of Shoutaroh Kojima and Keiji Fujiwara)

First of all, I dig bildungsroman-like stories. There’s nothing like being able to perceive the character’s growth; starting as a nobody and progressively become a great somebody, especially if needlessly corny or over-the-top intermissions are reduced to a few, or even none (honestly I can’t think of any unnecessary dramatic passages in FFT, everything comes together very well). I also prefer plots that deal with political conflicts, even if they are totally implausible or unlikely (give me a FFXII’s “Silly War over Stones” over the several "Save the World from the Evil Demon/Wizard/Evil God" clichés any day!), and FFT’s plot is an intricate tale filled with treachery and betrayal. Also, bittersweet endings just get me... FFT’s ending is a sad but uplifting masterpiece, plus it bestows us with the greatest, harshest piece of irony I’ve witnessed in a videogame: Delita’s last scene (after you watch everything he went through in the game).

I love the extensive micromanagement of my armies and the pre-combat planning it ensures. In S-RPGs, you are usually presented with several ways to customize and improve your units (such as gear, classes, skills etc) and, besides the tactical choices during the fights themselves, that micromanagement in itself is also a highly strategic part of the game. You have to carefully think which units you’ll bring to the fight, how to distribute your good pieces of gear among your units, which classes to level on your toons and so on.

Finally, S-RPGs have a quality that is long lost in the current style of games: you can afford to stop to think. The nod towards “action gaming” of most current RPGs seems widely published and regarded as some sort of selling point, but I don’t endorse this notion. Not completely. While I don’t mind action-oriented games (I actually enjoy like several of them), does everything have to be high-paced? There ought to be room for games in which not all decisions have to be made in fractions of a second.

I agree when Tobold says S-RPGs are a gaming style long lost. Admittedly, some S-RPGs have been developed and published lately but, truth be told, they don’t appear to include what I liked the most about my old S-RPGs – that is, all these features I tried my best to describe in the paragraphs above. I wonder if, on a sunny day, Yasumi Matsuno will descend from the Heavens and save the gaming world from the insidious action influence, rewarding us with slower-paced, more strategic gaming… or if I should just embrace the current action trend in videogames.

In the meanwhile, I guess I’ll just stick to playing Dragon Quest IX.