Evening break and breaking even

Sunday, 28 March 2004 — 10:50pm | Scrabble, Video games

Fourteen rounds of Scrabble does strange things to you. This week I played in the 1200-1600 division at the annual two-day Spring Tournament in Calgary, finishing with a 7-7 record and a negative spread. According to the Ratings Calculator my rating will stay about the same, rising from 1251 to 1255. The actual change will likely be slightly different, as in two-day events, intermediary rating changes are calculated after the first day – in this case, the first eight rounds, after which I was sitting at 5-3. (The player rating system is a variant of the Elo system used in chess, and is explained in this document.) Stay tuned next week for an update concerning the first tournament ever to be held in Northern Alberta, a one-day event at Sherwood Park in which I will be playing in Division 1.

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles has been selling ridiculously well for a gimmick title that absorbs US$600 if you want to set up a four-player game. But already being in possession of two Game Boy Advances, it was not considerably pricier than what I usually pay for games, which is in itself too much. The game is of the old “fight monsters, don’t die” formula, but pulls it off quite well because of the teamwork element involved when several players are managing inventories and eyeing distinct radars on the GBA screen while conducting battles on the television connected to the GameCube. There is the occasional frustration that comes from leaving all the healing spells in the hands of a teammate who is a little slow to the punch, but that just adds to the social atmosphere. Social video games are an endangered species in this day and age of going online, but that’s a diatribe for another post, another day.

Calling a spade a spade, Chronicles is closer to a beat-’em-up than an RPG in terms of genre, but relies on elements of both and does not excel at strictly one and not the other. Aside from the overhead, the use of GBA-Cube connectivity deserves some credit, and it should be interesting to see how this technical feature unfolds in Four Swords Adventures.

Speaking of Zelda, be sure to read this transcription of Eiji Aonuma’s keynote speech at the Game Developers Conference held last week, wherein he discusses at length both the history of the franchise and the depth of the design process. It’s a fascinating read that covers everything from dialogue writing to the timing of the “success chime”.

CUSIDnet is back online, albeit under a new address, probably due to however the new host, GlobalServers, handles subdomains. If this remains the case, I will likely go back and update the various hard links to the CUSID forums to reflect this. Actually, don’t count on it; too much work. If this remains the case, I will likely see what is up with the subdomain issue, it being my new job and all.


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