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I make games, talk about them, draw comics and post sketches.

torsdag den 27. juni 2013


Final Fantasy Tactics [FFT] has become a recurring segment in my play-sessions. Recently, someone at Square Enix fulfilled the mammoth-sized promise of redrawing ALL the character and monster sprites for the iOS versions of FFT. I really doubt that investment is gonna repay itself at this point but goddamnit: You get all of my respectz (!!!).

Lo and behold, Yasumi Matsuno is the director of FFT as he was (for a time) of Final Fantasy XII (2003) [FFXII]. The prematurely terminated director of FFXII reared his anonymous head in this game some 7–8 years before FFXII. This write-up is written under an assumption that, though video game production is a very large team effort, the personal touch of an auteur-like game designer is still very relevant.

I get this assumption due to the overarching progress of battle systems from Ogre Battle(1993) to FFXII.

FFT’s many crevices of particularities require and seem to expect players to sit with a strategy guide in their lap or an open tab of gamefaqs.com on their preferred browsing device. Concepts like the effects of one’s zodiac sign, level of bravery’s influence on one’s ability to find treasure and wilderness-roaming monsters ability to gain levels at the same rate as you (in effect, without going into too much detail, making grinding a double-edged sword) all annoyed me at the beginning as I learned about them, but through repeated interaction with FFT, became elements that I appreciate for their discoverability. The simple idea of selecting actions through a menu and guiding my little miniatures around various maps slowly became personal experiences as I learned to enjoy the meditative experience of grinding little by little towards unique (or perhaps not so) constructions of my party.

Games directed by Matsuno seem to excel in achieving a deliberately paced, simple, yet deep gameplay. FFT is about maneuvering characters through a series of strategic skirmishes. But like FFXII, various meta-systems and the the overall menu-based control method, make the main mechanic one of strategy and tactics. Perhaps it is worth acknowledging a short-coming of FFT’s use of it’s main mechanic, though it isn’t unique for FFT. FFT’s story is interesting, though its new translation is a little heavy on the faux-shakespeare-esque vocabolary. But to a large degree it’s completely divorced from it’s mechanics. Neither the direct command of units on a battlefield nor the meta-mechanic of tactics connects with the story. On the other hand, the story’s theme of manipulation from high to low, actually, though perhaps accidentally, is reflected in the gameplay. I as the player manipulate little characters, their actions and their lives. I sacrifice unnecessary elements and shrug it of as my right. I’ve only achieved this perspective because I over-thought it, but it is interesting to me non-the-less. If FFT had allowed me to manipulate the course of history as the characters in the story do, it would have been a grand use of storytelling through play. As it turned out, I play a game of manipulation with myself while the game tells me a story of how others do this as well. In its faux-medieval setting it’s not especially relevant to anybody but it doesn’t have to be. It’s fun.

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