The Best Final Fantasy VI Translation

I’ve been following Legends of Localization’s run through Final Fantasy VI loosely throughout the process, as they examine three translations of the game and compare them to one another.

They recently posted an overview conclusion, and I found the results somewhat surprising given the comparisons they ran earlier on Final Fantasy IV:

We’ve looked at four different translations of Final Fantasy VI in great detail and compared each one with the original Japanese script. Each version has its own pros and cons in terms of gameplay, presentation, content differences, and so on. But in terms of translation only:

I feel that the Game Boy Advance translation of Final Fantasy VI is unquestionably the best translation out of all of them, by far.

The post itself has a lot of well-written explanation as to why. After seeing this, I went looking to see if there was a translation patch that ported the GBA script over to the SNES ROM, as there is for Final Fantasy V, but I was unable to find one.

I’m currently running through EarthBound on stream, and after finishing that, I may turn my attention to some of the Final Fantasy series I have not yet completed. VI is in that list, so I have some thinking to do regarding which translation to use for my run.

Talkin’ TWAB: Bounties and Prismatic What Now?

This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for some time now: more discussion regarding what I like and what I don’t like in games. I think it’s only natural to start with Destiny 2, which is a game I have played (and continue to play) in rather obscene quantities with my son and other groups we’ve found out there.

In talking about games, I’m going to try very hard to follow the advice on game design feedback that I have digested from this Twitter thread, which is worth your attention:

I also thought it’d be a decent idea to start with talking through Bungie’s weekly updates and patch notes for Destiny 2, which are something on which pretty much everyone has an opinion, and affect a fairly large number of people who play a game over many hours. (My son and I have around 600 hours each in Destiny 2 to date.)

This week’s This Week at Bungie (or “TWAB”) can be found here, but read on for some snippets and commentary on the announcements therein. It should be noted that I’m only going to touch on game-specific announcements and not the links to external coverage or GuardianCon stuff.

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Goodbye to Comments

Well, this is less something I’m changing my mind on and more something I’ve been considering for a while and basically been doing in a somewhat roundabout fashion anyway. I’ll explain.

It’s been a few years since I switched my site over to fully moderated comments, and for the last year or so I have debated turning them off completely, which I’m now going to do. I’m doing this for two primary reasons:

  1. People generally don’t leave comments anymore. They are in reality much rarer than they used to be.
  2. Moderation of comments is seen sometimes as an affront, and though I don’t agree with that sentiment, I’d rather avoid the discussion entirely.

What brought this back into my mind was a pair of comments on my previous post referring to wundergeek’s blogging cessation and the fact that it is in my opinion a regrettable thing. I’ve had a rather busy couple of days here personally for various reasons, and haven’t had a chance to check anything related to the site or bother with checking for comments (also for the previously stated reason of how rare comments actually are now).

I checked stats a bit ago and noticed some referrers to that previous post, which has seen a decent amount of traffic. One of them was a post by the author of this comment, which I’m publishing right here in this post, verbatim and in full:

That toxic woman’s contention has always been that we need to chase the toxic elements out of the hobby. Sweet schedenfreude of St. Murgotroyd, let’s hope her petard is a comy one, because she done hoisted herself on up it.

How’s that for a unique viewpoint?

This was referenced in a later post on the comment author’s site in which he said this of me:

It will be interesting to see if the man who believes in, “the chilling effect that stops other people from raising their voices and bringing unique viewpoints to the table,” will moderate that unique viewpoint into oblivion.  I suspect Ryan “Five Lights” Markel’s policy is that some voices are more unique than others.  And in this time of rampant catering to the hobgoblins of the left, he has no room for diversity of opinion on his blog – not when said diversity might just include a viewpoint to which he does not agree.  He’s got his own private Hayes Code to enforce, don’t you know?

These words essentially accuse me of censorship, which is an impossibility because I am not a government nor am I an agent of a government in charge of suppressing anyone’s free speech.

On the contrary, I strongly believe in and defend the right to free speech. I have spent the last seven years of my professional life working on and for the very platform that has given both wundergeek and Mr. Wright (the author of the comment) a method and platform by which they may express themselves. And I have spent even longer than that evangelizing for and contributing to open source software that has as a foundational principle the democratization of publishing and is the engine that powers WordPress.com.

All voices are unique, but this does not mean that I will agree with a given voice or even with everything any voice has to say. Nor does it mean that I should be expected to provide a platform for voices I disagree with on my own blog or site without reservation or selection—and in fact, the author of the comment republished the comment on his own WordPress.com blog, which is exactly what I would suggest and encourage in any case.

In a follow-up post, he said:

Moving on, as expected, the prize pig Ryan Merkin lamented the silencing of unique voices by silencing my voice, one of the most unique in tabletop gaming.

Again, the truth is far from it. The single site on which I write my words does not need to stand as a platform for anyone else’s opinion, as he even admits later in the same post:

Yeah, yeah, yeah: his blog, his rules.  He is well within his rights to refuse to publish one of my precious bon mots.

I would much rather encourage others to be writing their opinions on their own blogs, as he did and has done. Giving people their own platform and by doing so furthering the democratization of publishing is a better outcome than having comments on my own blog in just about every conceivable way.

Relatedly, discourse has become a strange thing in 2016, with “censorship” having lost pretty much all accurate meaning at this point and instead being thrown around by almost anyone whenever they feel someone is not listening to them or validating their opinion.

It’s because of these things that I’m finally following through on my decision to eliminate comments from this site, though in years past they have served a very good purpose. I’ve edited or moderated out comments for many things in the past, from having opinions I did not think needed fostering on my site, to having extremely poor grammar and spelling, to being on posts that are just too old to continue the discussion.

Increasingly, though, the correct move seems to be just shutting off comments entirely, as the process and weight of moderating comments and choosing what to let through is less desirable than encouraging others to use their own space. It’s much less of an echo chamber of self-reinforcement. (It also removes having to deal with comment spam at all, though Akismet is pretty darn good at removing that from the equation in the first place.)

In the interest of transparency and completeness, this was the other comment on my previous post:

No.

The central premise was wrong.

It was tried in the fire of reality, and found wanting.

I’m raising my voice to you right now, bringing a traditional viewpoint to the table. Typically this would get be banned, deleted, shadowbanned, de-platformed, de-jobbed, and probably doxxed, etc.

Those are the steps people like wundergeek take.

That’s why this is an act of bravery. I accept your criticism.

These are the last two comments to be published in any way on my blog, at least for the foreseeable future. Part of me is sad to see comments go, but I think the decision is best in the long run. If you read this, and you’ve ever thought about expressing yourself in the comments on my blog, please head over here and sign up for a new WordPress.com blog of your own. It’s easy to use and free, and you can start publishing your own thoughts and ideas today.

Accessibility Microtransactions?

Mortal Kombat X came out late last night, and I took some time to mess with it. I was having a good time, minding my own business with the story mode and enjoying myself. You know what? This is a pretty good-looking game, I must say:

It looks great, plays well, and has a fairly interesting character selection.

During a match, I paused the game to get a look at the movelist for my character, and I saw this:

I like a lot about this. I like the quick reference to the special moves. My eye moves down, sees “Easy Fatalities.” I remember hearing them talk about this on one of their pre-release streams – simplified button inputs for the series’ trademark ultra-violent finishing moves.

You know what? That sounds pretty cool. Not everyone has the ability to put in those commands within the timing window available. I think to myself, “That’s a pretty cool feature.”

There’s a red skull icon next to the commands; I think nothing of this as there’s also an icon that’s to the left of some of the special moves because they are limited to a specific character variation. No biggie. Later in the night, I’m wrapping up and I’m sitting at the main menu.

I figure I’ll take a look at the Store and see what’s in there; I already have the DLC pass as I bought the special edition at discount. Wonder what else is in there?

Oh, OK. So they are going to take lazy people’s money. That’s fine; I’m not lazy so I won’t bite, but sure – go ahead and take what you can. I’m sure some people will throw down an additional $20. (BTW, this would make the game cost $110 at this point if you also bought the season pass.)

Next page:

whhhhhaaaaaaaaatttttttt

This causes me to double-take. And I look at the pause screen yet again:

It’s not just an icon. It’s a consumable. OK, I guess, sure, I’m not going to use this, but that’s a bit dodgy that you put the command inputs that make people spend bits of money on the pause screen and hide the real deal behind another button press, but sure, whatever—I’m starting to expect this out of AAA games.

This morning it hits me—they are putting a microtransaction price on accessibility. The simplified button inputs, combined with other system and button-level changes on the PS4, would definitely help people who need accessibility options play this game, but this is a pay-to-play lock on content for people who might need the command assistance.

You (and everyone else) should be angry about this. Games already have enough of a problem with being accessible to everyone. Now we need to put something that would be honestly helpful behind a paywall?

WB Games/NetherRealm Studios, I urge you to do the right thing and make Easy Fatalities a non-consumable feature. Charge for other things. I know I and probably a lot of other people would buy some skins for the fighters that have some nostalgia or other hook to them. I’m willing to bet there will be purchasable characters beyond the season pass, just like you did with Injustice. And I’m perfectly OK with that; it’s part of the business now.

Accessibility shouldn’t be something that goes behind a microtransaction paywall.

The Billionaire’s Typewriter

Matthew Butterick with probably the most astute and complete takedown of Medium as a platform for your writing I have read:

In truth, Medium’s main prod­uct is not a pub­lish­ing plat­form, but the pro­mo­tion of a pub­lish­ing plat­form. This pro­mo­tion brings read­ers and writ­ers onto the site. This, in turn, gen­er­ates the us­age data that’s valu­able to ad­ver­tis­ers. Boiled down, Medium is sim­ply mar­ket­ing in the ser­vice of more mar­ket­ing. It is not a “place for ideas.” It is a place for ad­ver­tis­ers. It is, there­fore, ut­terly superfluous.

“But what about all the writ­ing on Medium?” The mea­sure of su­per­fluity is not the writ­ing on Medium. Rather, it’s what Medium adds to the writ­ing. Re­call the ques­tion from above: how does Medium im­prove the In­ter­net? I haven’t seen a sin­gle story on Medium that couldn’t ex­ist equally well else­where. Nor ev­i­dence that Medium’s edit­ing and pub­lish­ing tools are a man­i­fest im­prove­ment over what you can do with other tools.

If you use it, I would personally urge you to leave Medium and take control of your writing. WordPress is easy-to-use, easy to set up, and you can put together a basic site on a host for around $100 a year or so. (If you want to give this a shot, for most beginners I usually recommend DreamHost.)

Or if you don’t want to worry about hosting and all that stuff, come host your site on WordPress.com. You own your content, you can take it with you if you leave for a self-hosted WordPress installation, and it’s backed by world-class support. (I work there; I know these people and they are the finest.)

(h/t to Matt for the link)

The Future of Media Is Broader

Matt just retweeted a link on Twitter to this post on Engadget, referring to the fact that at least to date in 2014, no album will have gone platinum in the United States:

The decline in album sales is certainly nothing new, thanks to the smattering of streaming options now available to eager listeners. However, 2014 looks to be particularly awful.Forbes reports that nearly 10 months into the year, no release since January has yet to reach platinum status — a release that sells 1 million copies (in the US). What’s more, only one has sold a million copies: the Frozen soundtrack that hit shelves last year.

I’ve been pondering this recently. Album sales are down across the board. Single sales are also down, at least as far as they are tracked. Usually, what’s blamed for this is the rise of the streaming model, where you pay a single subscription and get access to as much as you want.

But in a world where scarcity is no longer a thing, what if it’s rather that our consumption is changing?

I first started thinking about this when I changed my method for purchasing games to a digital one, both in terms of using console services and with my switching back to using the PC and Steam as the primary source of my game purchasing.

I noticed rather quickly due to that the fluidity of pricing, the types of recommendations I was receiving from friends, and the ease of publishing in a post-physical-media games economy, I was purchasing more things that years ago I would not have considered—or in most cases, would never have been made.

You can see this happening in terms of availability and ease-of-publishing. Just take a look at services like Loudr or Bandcamp. More people are able to publish more types of music or movies than ever before in the history of either medium. Digital makes things cheap and accessible. It democratizes them. (Look at what you are reading now. Fifteen years ago this was barely possible.)

So what’s the longer tail on sales of things like games, music, and movies? What if the future isn’t in huge sales numbers for a very few projects or products, but in smaller sales numbers spread across a far greater number of creators and artists? The removal of scarcity and the (relative) ease of production means that if I have a singular focus or preference as a consumer, I can focus in just those things.

If I like a specific flavor of jazz, I can listen to just that as long as I’m able to find artists that play it. If I like a specific genre of game, often now I can live just within that genre and play those things to my heart’s content.

And even further, the creators of the things I consume are closer to me than ever before due to the rise of blogging and social media. I can interact with them. They can engage with me, increasing my interest and the depth of my support for what they are doing. Everyone is a potential artist. Everyone is a potential curator, sharing their likes and dislikes as I often do here. Everyone can find others that share their unique interests, which further stokes the fire.

The future is less a handful of blockbusters, and more a broad swath of interests that engage a relative few, but more strongly than ever before. It’s already happening in games. It is starting to happen in music. Movies will be the last to change.

It’ll be fascinating to see how the entrenched industries keep up with this shift.

The Anatomy of Super Metroid

Jeremy Parish is continuing his rather interesting Anatomy of a Game series with a look at Super Metroid:

Sometimes it seems a little hard to believe that Nintendo created Super Metroid. It’s such an un-Nintendo-like game — so somber and moody, so straight-faced, so rich with narrative innovation that feels nothing at all like what we’ve come to expect from Nintendo. And yet, it’s quintessentially classic Nintendo in many ways: It leads you along with unspoken hints, gives you many tools without over-complicating things, rewards you both for being focused and for being curious, and like A Link to the Past represents such a perfect expression of a game concept that no one has managed to truly best it without building on its foundation.

There probably hasn’t been a better time to add his RSS feed to your reader. Super Metroid is perhaps the finest 2D game ever made and if you have never stopped to think about how it’s put together, you’ll likely enjoy reading along.

If you stop and think about it, on one system, in the space of a handful of years, Nintendo was arguably at its peak, with Super Mario WorldThe Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Metroid all appearing on the SNES. All three games are masterworks, and if you have never experienced them, I would urge you to get your emulator on and see what the fuss is all about.

Deception and Dehumanization in Far Cry 3

Having taken longer than most people probably have to finish Far Cry 3, I find that I had expected more to have been written about it and interpreting it. Perhaps too many words have already been expended upon Spec Ops: The Line, which shares some characteristics with Far Cry 3 to be sure, but is in my view a wholly different experience.

Where The Line was itself a critique and condemnation of the contemporary shooter genre and the acts that constitute such a game (and something about which I still need to write), Far Cry 3 is something more. It serves not so much as a direct critique of the first-person shooter, but more as a framework for the player to start thinking critically.

I find that much I have read regarding Far Cry 3 is mired in direct conversation regarding the whats and the hows of the game and its systems, and less about the whys. Indeed, as I started playing the game, I too found myself dwelling on questions of design and mechanics and less about what those things did to inform the story—and more importantly, the message—of the game.

I know now this is the wrong way to approach Far Cry 3. Indeed, now that I have reached the end and applied some critical thinking to what I witnessed and did, I find that I second-guess any such criticisms I had as I’m no longer sure what of those are honest mistakes and what are things that were done intentionally in order to provoke such a response.

N.B.: Here be spoilers. What follows will also more than likely be extremely pretentious, as I can’t stop talking about it. If you have reactions or discussion points, I invite you to leave a comment, or more so to write about it on your own blog.

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