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my waning brand loyalty to SE
  • raging+drunk+ladraging drunk lad February 2011
    Posts: 6,459
    Well, the majority of the Final Fantasy games will always have a fond, nostalgic place in my heart and memory... but I can't help but think that S-E has lost the ability to be truly innovative.

    Am I incorrect in saying so?
  • Downside-upDownside-up February 2011
    Posts: 1,492
    I just bought the Tactics Ogre remake, so I can't disagree that they haven't done anything new and interesting in a while. The last thing that comes to mind that I played was The World Ends With You.

    On the other hand, I've wanted to play Tactics Ogre forever, at least since playing Ogre Battle 64.
  • EugeneEugene February 2011
    Posts: 1,684
    I don't know why I didn't reply to this earlier. Probably because I couldn't think of a way of saying "I've been saying this FOR YEARS" without sounding like a complete asshole. Sounds like a dumb reason... when has being a complete jerk ever stopped me from saying something?

    But, yeah, Peter and I were talking about this the other day for the umpteenth time and he can testify that I've been whining about S-E since the day they merged. Square were my childhood, so it's hard to talk about them objectively, but I can see a boldness and a love of innovation in their PSX titles that I just don't see them approaching nowadays. Sure, they get creative with their battle systems, but that's not the same thing. Where have titles like Parasite Eve gone? If that title doesn't seem innovative now its because of the legion of copycats it launched. I was too young to have my mind blown, but it was never about that anyway... there was some honest sense of delivery that Square writers and producers had... they had some characters, or a story, or even an art style, that they was awesome and they wanted to give that to you. And they made the kind of game that the characters/story/art demanded, gameplay be damned.

    So, no, you're not incorrect.
  • raging+drunk+ladraging drunk lad March 2011
    Posts: 6,459
    Are there any names that we can associate with the most recent line-up of games? I remember names like Yoshitaka Amano and Nomura Tetsuya (well, he's still around, and frankly it's nice that his style has become more refined, if not sometimes crazy pimped out) and Nobuo Uematsu and Hironobu Sakaguchi...

    I don't know. I feel like it's harder to relate to S-E games now. Something just isn't there that used to be.
  • EugeneEugene March 2011
    Posts: 1,684
    I know that a lot of people find Japanese culture fascinating for a variety of reasons, but you just brought up one that is of particular interest in. You probably figured out by now that I respect creators, and like to know them by name. There's a specific reason for that... in most of my experiences with art (movies, music, and games), I find that the difference between something I remember and cherish and something that is merely passably enjoyable rests entirely on the creator.

    Even in a production involving hundreds of people, like a movie or game, there's usually one person who can be identified as the "creator". With movies it's usually the director, but Charlie Kaufman, for example, is such a forceful personality, that he is very much the "creator" of most of his scripts, and the directors are either co-creators (Jonze) or merely part of the production staff like everyone else (Gondry). In these massive endeavors, the failure of the production team usually spells the failure of the final product, but if the final product is successful, it owes more to the creator than to the entire production staff.

    Hence, I make it a point to know these names because even if the production staff changes, if the creator is involved, it's usually worth my time.

    To get back to the point, I find that this isn't anywhere near as true with regards to Japanese games and anime (I don't consume other Japanese artforms, so I can only really talk about those, and even then, with limited knowledge). You're probably already picturing Hideo Kojima or whatever the name of the Metal Gear creator is, but of course there are exceptions to the rule. (This one not particularily interesting to me since I've never been an MGS fan.)

    The following may be a completely "stupid American knows nothing about Japanese culture" opinion, but I'll give it anyway. It seems to me that the Japanese take great pride in the company they work for, and the people they work with are their family. A successful project is thus less a result of a single creator and more a result of the contributions of everyone on the team and the team's ability to work together as a unit.

    Again, this isn't a hard-and-fast rule -- the situation I describe surely exists in Western media as well, and I'm sure there are Japanese companies that are very Western-like product mills. In fact, it may be that what I suggest is true, but that it's a slowly fading paradigm. Don't know.

    But Square is an example of one such company, at least pre-SquareEnix... don't know enough about the modern company. For one, it's hard to figure out exactly WHO would be the "creator" of, say, Final Fanasty VII. You mention Nomura Tetsuya... if I had to pick someone, it'd be him. So, let's run with that:


    Let's see, the first thing that's obvious is that his credits FAR outnumber game "creators" who have been around as long as him. Some years, there are three or four projects released that he worked on. Second, you'll notice that his title constantly changes -- not in an upwards streak like in most Western companies (production staff -> creator -> producer) but just bounces all over all the time. Finally, you notice that he's responsible for products that vary wildly in quality, like Final Fantasy X-2. And I personally thought Kingdom Hearts 2 completely missed the charm and accessibility of the first game. And there are other examples on that long resume.

    You mentioned other names, too, and it's telling that neither Yoshitaka Amano nor Nobuo Uematsu are "creators" in the sense I've used in this rant. Their unique perspectives on their respective production jobs can shine far better in that culture than composers and artists do in ours. Do you know any famous video game composers or artists? Hell, even in movies, there are famous composers, but very few, just the big three or four, and even then, they're ultimately tools in the machine -- they've been a party to plenty of stinkers.

    I think it's an interesting topic and I've got more to say, but no time to say it in.

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