Repost: When Cloud Fails

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Final Fantasy VII, in my opinion, is one of the best games ever made.  For its time, the graphics rocked.  The storyline kept you hunting for answers with great twists.  I’m sad to admit, however, that the game became an obsession for me.  Looking back, I can see how it helped me escape reality and how that became addictive.  It came at a time where I needed to face reality and God and make my faith real.  I was participating in the first in-depth Bible study of my life.  There were times where I had to consciously make the decision to go read my Bible.  At the time, reading the Old Testament in my study seemed rather dull and boring compared to the vivid storyline of FFVII, which I’d consider to be more of a visual and interactive book rather than a video game.  The plot of FFVII has its redemptive value which I hope to write about more at a later time.  Video games are not bad in and of themselves, but in my specific case, they took a negative turn because it took God’s place in my priorities, thoughts, and heart.

I remember when there were commercials on tv for FFVII.  My entire focus became immediately glued to the tv screen every time I as much as thought I heard the music.  I still remember it pretty well.  An announcer described the daring feats, brutal combat, insurmountable odds, “a love that could never be” (that always got me!), and dashing honor you will encounter as you play.  He said something about how you must save the world!  Everyone is counting on you!  And if you fail…  “you can always hit the reset button.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we had one of those?  Ah, to have a reset button!

“Oh man, I shouldn’t have said that!  Let’s reset.”

“Wow!  I can’t believe I did THAT!  I’ll just reset.”

“Now things will never be the same …unless I don’t save today.”

Nope.  We have no such option.  This life is the only shot we have.  We can’t go back even a few seconds to undo anything.  In fact, you’d be surprised to realize how little control you have over your life.  The only control you have is over what you say and do at this exact moment in time.  Sure, you can plan, promise, and make provisions for the future.  Those endeavors can even be wise, keeping in mind that God’s plans stand more firm.  The fact is that the only thing you can change is now.

What shall this sobering reality mean for us then?  That we have to make sure we do everything perfectly and in perfect timing?  No.  Like I said, you’d be surprised at how much you can’t control.  We live in a fallen world and we’ll be blindsided by circumstances we never could have prevented.  I don’t mean for us to become obsessed about every second on the clock, but I do mean for us to consider how much we are allowing ourselves to be taken by mediocrity.  How many Godly things have we put off to do later?  How many times have we tried to do something to better ourselves but haven’t taken the time to complete them?  How much time do we waste doing things that will count for nothing when this life is over?  In essence, how many times have we said to the Lord, “not now.”

Perhaps we fool ourselves thinking our “not now” approach isn’t so bad because it’s not telling the Lord “no.”  We have the intention to do what He’s asked of us.  After all, doesn’t He look at the heart anyway?  If we’re going to lean on that idea, we better take a good, hard look at our hearts.  Do we really want to do that thing for the Lord?  Do we truly desire that as deeply as God desires it?  If not, this message is for you.  Stop putting God off.  No more of this “I can’t do that now, Lord” attitude!  Even if you know you’re not ready for the tasks, He knows your faults and His power is made perfect in weakness.  He will do amazing things with your surrendered heart if you desire Him above all other things.

If your heart is indeed in line with God’s desires and His plan, please don’t let this message freak you out and make you rush God’s timing. Perhaps He is asking you to wait.  But if He’s waiting on you, you may have a problem.  I just ask that we take the time to question ourselves to see if He’s pushing us and whether or not we’re budging.

Consider today.  This is the only today you have.  What have you not done that you need to do?  Be advised – you have no reset button.

Final Fantasy XIII: Next Gen?

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Run down a linear path, fight 20+ times, and watch a movie. Wash, rinse, repeat.

For a game representing the next generation of role playing games, Final Fantasy XIII sure doesn’t deviate from the established formula. I mean sure, the Paradigm shifts are fun and the battles are quick and breezy, but where is that next-gen wow factor? One could argue that:

  • The graphics are amazing. This is true.
  • The battle system is an extremely polished version of what has come before (what has worked and what hasn’t). This is also true.

But what about the storyline? The heart and soul of the game. Already, in my few hours of game play, I have found myself trying to figure out what exactly is going on. I have even visited wikipedia in an effort to unravel this mystery. This isn’t a good thing. Past Final Fantasy’s have grabbed ahold of me straight from the beginning. Take for instance Cloud in Final Fantasy VII. The game opens with Cloud, on a train with the terrorist group AVALANCHE, going to blow up a Mako reactor. At the time I didn’t know what a Mako reactor was, but I sure wanted to see it blow up! Simply epic. Similarly, Final Fantasy XIII begins on a train that quickly devolves into an endless escape sequence. Questions such as:

  • Why are we running/ escaping?
  • Where are we? Are we apart of the good guys? Are we bad?
  • Why do so many people have to die from all of these suspended roads collapsing? Surely someone thought that building such roads could be hazardous.

Soul burning questions (okay, not quite) aside, these questions are just not as compelling as going to blow up a reactor. No, I’m not bashing Final Fantasy XIII. I have kept playing it to see if the story becomes any clearer/ gets better. So far, I have learned that the story involves the main characters trying to figure out how to defeat a curse by figuring out exactly what they have been cursed with. This could be interesting I guess.

The graphics and battle system have kept me going thus far. But I wonder if ultimately I am wasting my time. I will not deny that this game certainly represents a step forward for the series, but I also wonder if it could represent a step back as well.

Unnecessary Checkpoints

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Growing up, I lived in a valley that was hedged in by foothills and mountains. The south end of the valley featured a Border Patrol Checkpoint. Set up to combat illegal aliens and drug smuggling, the checkpoint was situated roughly 70 miles north of the Mexican border. Unnecessary? Politics aside, I think so.

Recently, I have been playing through Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen on the Nintendo DS. As the games title insinuates, DQIV is broken into chapters or side stories. The first 5 chapters focus on what turns out to be the support characters. Chapter 6 unites the support characters with the hero of the game, you.

Dragon Quest IV marks my first entry into the Dragon Quest series. While I have enjoyed the 20+ hours I have spent in the game so far, I do have a minor gripe, the unnecessary leveling checkpoints.

20 year old gameplay mechanics aside, Dragon Quest IV commits the sin of the invisible wall. Every few levels, these invisible checkpoints force players to stop and grind (level up) until they are at a sufficient level to proceed in the game. Dungeons, monsters, and bosses are some of the most common level checkpoints found in the game. While I know that this is a common RPG mechanic, I have never been so aware of it. Perhaps this is due to the age of the game? I’m not sure.

Grinding is one of those bite-the-bullet game mechanics. Properly instituted within a game’s design it can be a mechanic that one barely notices. While I am enjoying the time spent with Dragon Quest IV, I can’t help but wish that a more organic type of leveling system be created. However, I do find some sort of twisted comfort in level grinding. The old and the familiar, right? Until next time.

When Cloud Fails

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Final Fantasy VII, in my opinion, is one of the best games ever made.  For its time, the graphics rocked.  The storyline kept you hunting for answers with great twists.  I’m sad to admit, however, that the game became an obsession for me.  Looking back, I can see how it helped me escape reality and how that became addictive.  It came at a time where I needed to face reality and God and make my faith real.  I was participating in the first in-depth Bible study of my life.  There were times where I had to consciously make the decision to go read my Bible.  At the time, reading the Old Testament in my study seemed rather dull and boring compared to the vivid storyline of FFVII, which I’d consider to be more of a visual and interactive book rather than a video game.  The plot of FFVII has its redemptive value which I hope to write about more at a later time.  Video games are not bad in and of themselves, but in my specific case, they took a negative turn because it took God’s place in my priorities, thoughts, and heart.

I remember when there were commercials on tv for FFVII.  My entire focus became immediately glued to the tv screen every time I as much as thought I heard the music.  I still remember it pretty well.  An announcer described the daring feats, brutal combat, insurmountable odds, “a love that could never be” (that always got me!), and dashing honor you will encounter as you play.  He said something about how you must save the world!  Everyone is counting on you!  And if you fail…  “you can always hit the reset button.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we had one of those?  Ah, to have a reset button!

“Oh man, I shouldn’t have said that!  Let’s reset.”

“Wow!  I can’t believe I did THAT!  I’ll just reset.”

“Now things will never be the same …unless I don’t save today.”

Nope.  We have no such option.  This life is the only shot we have.  We can’t go back even a few seconds to undo anything.  In fact, you’d be surprised to realize how little control you have over your life.  The only control you have is over what you say and do at this exact moment in time.  Sure, you can plan, promise, and make provisions for the future.  Those endeavors can even be wise, keeping in mind that God’s plans stand more firm.  The fact is that the only thing you can change is now.

What shall this sobering reality mean for us then?  That we have to make sure we do everything perfectly and in perfect timing?  No.  Like I said, you’d be surprised at how much you can’t control.  We live in a fallen world and we’ll be blindsided by circumstances we never could have prevented.  I don’t mean for us to become obsessed about every second on the clock, but I do mean for us to consider how much we are allowing ourselves to be taken by mediocrity.  How many Godly things have we put off to do later?  How many times have we tried to do something to better ourselves but haven’t taken the time to complete them?  How much time do we waste doing things that will count for nothing when this life is over?  In essence, how many times have we said to the Lord, “not now.”

Perhaps we fool ourselves thinking our “not now” approach isn’t so bad because it’s not telling the Lord “no.”  We have the intention to do what He’s asked of us.  After all, doesn’t He look at the heart anyway?  If we’re going to lean on that idea, we better take a good, hard look at our hearts.  Do we really want to do that thing for the Lord?  Do we truly desire that as deeply as God desires it?  If not, this message is for you.  Stop putting God off.  No more of this “I can’t do that now, Lord” attitude!  Even if you know you’re not ready for the tasks, He knows your faults and His power is made perfect in weakness.  He will do amazing things with your surrendered heart if you desire Him above all other things.

If your heart is indeed in line with God’s desires and His plan, please don’t let this message freak you out and make you rush God’s timing. Perhaps He is asking you to wait.  But if He’s waiting on you, you may have a problem.  I just ask that we take the time to question ourselves to see if He’s pushing us and whether or not we’re budging.

Consider today.  This is the only today you have.  What have you not done that you need to do?  Be advised – you have no reset button.

Final Fantasy XIV Online Announced

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Due to the high amount of traffic JBG experiences in regards to Final Fantasy XI Online, we thought that this news piece was appropriate although somewhat dated. Enjoy!

FFXIV

LOS ANGELES (June 2, 2009)Square Enix Co., Ltd. (Square Enix), announced that FINAL FANTASY XIV, an all new massively-multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG), is planned for simultaneous global release with language support in Japanese, English, French and German.

Adventure begins anew in the vast realm of Eorzea!

More information on FINAL FANTASY XIV can be found at http://www.finalfantasyxiv.com/.

About FINAL FANTASY XIV

Platforms:
PLAYSTATION®3 & Windows®
*Details on required PC specifications to be announced at a later date
Languages:
Japanese, English, German, French (simultaneous release)
Genre:
MMORPG
Release:
2010
MSRP:
TBD
ESRB:
RP (Rating Pending)
Copyright:
© SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.