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From Mass Effect to Skyrim, modern RPGs go to great lengths to merge linear, carefully crafted narrative with dynamic, emergent gameplay. Hundreds of thousands of man-hours are poured into these incredibly complex works, all in the effort to create a believable, cohesive story while giving players a sense of freedom in the way they play their game. The results of these efforts have been best-loved play experiences video games have offered.
But the goal of marrying linear narrative to dynamic gameplay is not out of reach for developers that don't have the resources to create such complex systems. No game shows this better than the classic RPG Chrono Trigger. Crafted by Square's "Dream Team" of RPG developers, Chrono Trigger balances developer control with player freedom using carefully-designed mechanics and a modular approach to narrative.
In this podcast at 8-4.jp, translator/localization specialist Richard Mark Honeywood discusses the tumult over the edgy Judeo-Christian overtones in Xenogears, especially the name of the final villain.
[They] took every biblical reference they could and tried to twist it. One of the translators was a bit worried about this and was like 'I don't want to have fundamental Christians or other religious groups being upset and blowing up our office.' And I guess in the States, at that time, it was a concern. So I had two translators walk off it and I was stuck there by myself.
BlogThe more I think about it, the more it bothers. That is, the more people say "graphics don't matter" the more I think they're full of it. Actually, the more I think about it, I find the graphics are incredibly important to me. But maybe I'm being too loose with my definitions. Because whenever I think, "graphics," I automatically lump in art direction. Talking about how good the graphics are is pointless if what is being animated is boring to begin with.