Watercrown Productions

The world needs more remakes.

by on Dec.01, 2009, under Opinions

What do Breath of Fire 2, Megami Ibunroku Persona and Final Fantasy Tactics all have in common?

They’re all Japanese RPGs? Right, but not what I’m thinking of.

They all have battle systems that play out in isometric perspective? Also true, but also not what I’m getting at here.

They all involve malevolent organizations masquerading behind a benevolent public front? Clever, but still not quite what I had in mind.

The answer I’m dancing around is this: they all had famously horrible translations.

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Digital Distribution – The Future of Gaming?

by on Nov.25, 2009, under Opinions

Today, we’re going to talk about a little thing called “DD”.

“Digital Distribution”, “Direct Download”, “Digital Download”…whatever you think the letters stand for, the concept as a whole stands for a massive, market-altering change, the kind of thing the more pretentious would label a “paradigm shift”.

For the unenlightened, DD refers to the growing trend towards distributing software (primarily games in this context) in downloadable format instead of (or in addition to) physical media. In practical terms, this means you can buy the latest game titles without going to the store, or play classic games without paying obscene prices on eBay. The same revolution that gave us iTunes and the RIAA headaches is now changing the face of mainstream gaming: Nintendo’s Wii and DSi, Microsoft’s XBox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3 and PSP all have download services carrying new, classic and exclusive titles, and PC gamers have a variety of download services to choose from as well, including Steam, Direct2Drive and, for retrogaming goodness on the cheap, GOG.com.

However, there are those who view this digital gaming revolution as some kind of encroaching alien menace. To them, the switch from physical media to digital format is apparently some kind of harbinger of the gaming apocalypse. “These greedy corporate suits are trying to steal our money,” they say, “making us pay for something we don’t really own! If it doesn’t come on a disc, then I don’t want it!”

Unfortunately for them, there’s three things wrong with this argument.

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Can you Digg it?

by on Nov.19, 2009, under Watercrown Productions

I’ve added a new feature: now you can Digg my blog posts. Or so I hope. I’ve never really worked with Digg before, so I hope I’ve implemented it properly.

Anyway, give it a try and see if it works; we’ll find out together, won’t we?

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Let butterflies spread until the dawn…

by on Nov.16, 2009, under Reviews

I’m aware that this is the second PSP-related article I’ve done in a row. Also note that I’ve used normalized caps for the title. Don’t know what I was thinking in the past; hopefully I can break that habit.

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Do not PSP Go. Do not pay 250 dollars.

by on Nov.12, 2009, under Opinions

Do you believe in the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics?

According to that theory, every outcome that could happen does happen, but in a parallel universe. Decided to turn left at that fateful intersection? There’s a parallel world where you turned right, and the world got invaded by aliens. There’s a world where you were born the other gender, one where you weren’t born at all, one where a charismatic figure with a magical eye made Ben Franklin turn traitor and helped establish the Britannian Empire…the possibilities, and therefore the multiverses, are endless. If you’ve ever watched Sliders, you’re familiar with the general idea: it’s also a prominent plot element in Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile, which you really should give a read if your brain is pliable enough to avoid snapping violently at the clever temporal loop the book also presents. (And DeceasedCrab would have you think that Choose Your Own Adventure books are only good for a MSTing.)

There’s also a parallel world where every captain of industry isn’t fundamentally a Luddite, where new technological advances are embraced instead of ruthlessly quashed by those who see them as a threat, and my parallel-world doppelganger looks forward to getting a PSP Go.

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Fully Armed and Operational!

by on Nov.10, 2009, under Watercrown Productions

The website has now been fully converted to use the new layout. For those of you who still have old bookmarks, those links now function as redirects to the new pages…where applicable, anyway. The pages for Sylvanian Families and Breath of Fire 2 are gone for good: the patches are all available on the sidebar to the right, and any links to those old pages now bring up the Sylvanian Families and Breath of Fire 2 blog categories instead.

Hyper Collider even has its own page now, separate from the Watercrown Productions Arcade, just in case I get any fun ideas in the future. Enjoy, one and all.

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The Triumphant Rebirth of Watercrown Productions!

by on Nov.10, 2009, under Watercrown Productions

Betcha didn’t see this one coming, did ya?

Awesome, ain’t it? Nothing like a fresh coat of paint to widen the gap between the new, improved 110mb.com-based Watercrown Productions and the old Google Pages look. I even wrote a program in Visual Basic to help me transfer all my old news updates – all of them – to the new, full-fledged Flatpress blog. Getting proper timestamps for them all was pretty much beyond hope, but at least the dates are correct.

(Actually, I lie. I folded all the updates from the Sylvanian Families and Breath of Fire 2 pages into the same set, meaning there were some redundant posts that had to get cut. The wittier posts won out.)

The site isn’t fully converted yet; all the other pages are still in the old style, but it’ll only be a matter of time before they’re all in my shiny new Deckay 3.0 theme. Also, this is still a free 110mb.com account (why do you think I went for Flatpress instead of WordPress in the first place?), so I still can’t upload my Murakumo OP video or the Doom: Repercussions of Evil recording. But then, you didn’t come for Murakumo or Doom, did you? That’s right…you came for the little stickman attacking the door! HAIYAAAAA!

Kidding, kidding. The incredible stuff-making engine of Watercrown Productions has been largely inactive as of late, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back to one of my many fabled projects in the near future. In the meantime, I’m planning to make this blog a bit more active: it’s certainly easier to post now. It’s like having a great big message board all to myself…

Comments! I can get comments again! I haven’t been able to get comments on my posts since the old Tripod DevBlog!

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Now, That’s How You Sell A Free MMO!

by on Nov.03, 2009, under Opinions

If you’ve been following my blog, you know precisely what I think of lame attempts to use sex to sell a product.

I think the perpetrators ought to be castrated with a chainsaw.

Which is to say, it was curiosity alone that led me to research Civony – I mean, Evony, purely because the ads were freakin’ everywhere and I was curious just what kind of game was apparently buried under all that cheesecake. Unsurprisingly, it appears that the gameplay is just as vapid and uninspired as the methods used to market the game. (And anyone who plays the game expecting it to have scantily-clad women like in the ads is going to be sorely disappointed. To be honest, I call that karmic retribution.)

Which is not to say that there aren’t any good free browser-based MMOs. A few years back, I had some fun with Urban Dead, a zombie apocalypse-themed game set in a ruined city. More recently, one of my favorite webcomics ran an ad for Spy Battle 2165, a text-based browser game where you play as a freelance covert operative in a sci-fi future.

The ad in question is only tangentially related to the game (not to mention the comic), but take a look. Heck, why stop at just the ad? Girl Genius is an epic (and hilarious) tale of mad science in an alternate universe where borderline supernatural geniuses called Sparks changed the course of history; it’s well worth spending a few hours on an archive binge.

So let this be a lesson to all you developers out there. If you want people to play your browser-based games, don’t slap some tired buzzwords onto some stock photo and call it a day. Instead, hijack yourself a webcomic artist!

Hey, it worked for Final Fantasy XI.

Oh, and if you decide you want to check out Spy Battle 2165 yourself, make sure you tell them Ryusui referred you. Or better yet, just click one of the links I’ve helpfully provided in this blog post!

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Okay, So Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?

by on Oct.15, 2009, under Opinions

I’ll admit, I’m not exactly a follower of Spice and Wolf, or anything at all that I can’t get at my local bookstore or on television, for that matter. But then, when you frequent TV Tropes as much as I do, you learn a lot about series you’d otherwise never hear about, purely through osmosis. Add that to the fact that light novels virtually never come Stateside (except when the franchises they spawned become pretty famous in the U.S., such as the inescapable Haruhi Suzumiya), and you can imagine my surprise to hear that the original light novels for Spice and Wolf have been announced for the U.S..

But don’t break out the confetti just yet, ladies and gentlemen. See, someone at publisher Yen Press thinks the original cover art featuring ex-harvest goddess and eponymous lupine Holo (and it is Holo) in cute anime girl form will have red-blooded American readers marching against them in armed rebellion. No, instead they’ve gone for a cover design that’s intended to appeal to a different audience…the American male crotch.

Dare to compare.

spicewolf_1.jpgspicewolf_1alt-199x300.gif

I mean, seriously. Which would you prefer to display on your bookshelf? Sure, the one on the right can mean anything from “I’m a fan of anime and manga” up to “I have a thing for kemonomimi (and possibly a full-blown furry fetish)”, but the one on the left unambiguously says “I let my zipper choose all of my reading material”. I understand that Holo does spend a fair amount of time naked (her natural form is a full-fledged wolf, after all), but seriously: the cover on the left makes it look like a trashy romance novel. Or, less charitably, porn. Which is sad, because I hear that Spice and Wolf is a fairly intellectual story: the spice the title alludes to is not the stuff you see in the U.S. cover, but the fact that its other protagonist is a trader. Who, in addition to adventure, has to deal with (and explain to Holo) the concerns relevant to his profession. That’s right…plenty of fantasy novels are steeped in political intrigue, but this is one steeped in economics. And such a crazy-sounding concept is enough in and of itself to sell me on it.

None of this is to say that I have an issue with them changing the cover. With the above in mind, it’s possible this book might have a much wider audience than the anime/manga fans that the original cover would rope in. But trying to sell Spice and Wolf purely on naked Holo is only going to drive this potential audience away. If you’re going to pander to an audience, pander to the people who might appreciate an intellectual fantasy story, a tale with a distinctly non-standard protagonist with non-standard goals and motivations. If Yen Press is so afraid that anime-styled Holo is going to scare away readers, then maybe they should try selling the story on the spice instead of the wolf.

Got an intellectual, reasoned argument against this contemptible cover? Go to Yen Press’ blog entry and give them what for!

(And if you don’t have one, then please, stay the hell away! The last thing Yen Press needs to think is that the only people complaing about the cover are nutjobs saying they’re the devil incarnate for not calling her “Horo”!)

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Second Verse, Same As The First?

by on Oct.09, 2009, under Breath of Fire 2, Watercrown Productions

The BoF2 Retranslation is now version 1.2b, fixing a few more typos as well as one obscure bug with the Shaman interface (more info in the readme).

Get it here.

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