Alexander M. West
Camera Shy: Taking A Break
Spring break is quickly approaching and it’s hard to believe how quickly the semester is going by. However, spring break means time to destress, and since I’m mostly working on games, the natural progression is to play games during this time off. To some people that might be the last thing they want to do; programming to take a break from software engineering shouldn’t work and neither should reading books to take a break from writing, or playing games to take a break from making games. However, I absolutely love games and immersing myself in playing offers me a great relief from developing. Give me a good RPG, Action, or simulator game and I’ll be happy to play for days.
My absolute favorite genre of games are RPG games, more specifically I love JRPGs; if it has turn based combat, then I am heavily interested no matter what it is. I’ve played a ton of Final Fantasy games and loved every one of them due to the massive immersive story that is created around them. The Mainline Persona series are amazing because they have this unique feel of life sim and typical turn based JRPG while the newest installment was beautiful and flashy. There’s always something so satisfying in these games by going through a progression from this weakling that loses every fight to an absolute unstoppable entity summoning giant monsters, casting immense spells, or just being an overpowered unkillable machine.
So that’s what I’ll be spending my time doing this spring break. I’ve found a new game to play: World of Final Fantasy. It’s a turn based, monster collection game rooted in the world of Final Fantasy featuring cast members from many of the games. The game is simple: you have a basic attack and your monsters have skills and abilities while you either stand on them or put them on your head as hats. There are 4 different sizes (small, medium, large, and extra large), and each character has a stack. The main characters can either be medium or large and the stacks go from top to bottom i.e. small > medium > large with extra large being a special summon that takes both character stacks. The absolute best part of this game comes from the immense depth that these simple rules create and give rise to other systems that are just intuitive.
Each creature has ability trees that have both passive stat increase and typical Final Fantasy spells (fire, fira, firaga etc.) and just as stats combine these spells combine to upgrade spells (fire + fire = fira, fira + fire = firaga). From here, there are n^2 possible combinations with so many different class archetypes to test and try out. Do you opt for a tanky healer or a damage dealer? Do you stack one type (fire, ice, lighting, earth etc.) giving stronger spells but weaker to the opposite type or spread out to cover more bases? From simple systems there is the possibility of expanding it further with intuitive intuition and creating a super complex system that creates a ton of strategy.
The inevitable unending range of choice and storytelling are the reasons that I find RPGs so immersive and rewarding to play. Simple systems lend themselves to either being largely expanded or having a large amount of depth which is why I love working on gameplay systems so much; such simple things can be expanded into wide and deep systems or these simple systems can be super simple and create so much depth from players trying to make tactical decisions. The complexity of these games transitions from being a player to being a developer fluidly and offers engaging satisfaction regardless of how I’m coming into contact with this genre and I hope to continue exploring how I can continue to interact with games such as World of Final Fantasy both during Spring Break as well as in the future when I go into the field.