Sinister Soups Serving Musings On Game Development and Play

11Mar/101

Final Fantasy XIII: A Love Letter

Dearest Final Fantasy 13,

I had heard the rumors, slandering you on the internet. They called you a disappointment, they said you were linear and shallow, and that you shame your family's good name.

Do not listen to them, sweet Final Fantasy 13, you are a masterwork of Creation. Your beauty knows no bounds; no game on this earth has finer cutscene assets, masterfully integrated with your sleek gameplay.

And you are more than just your luscious pixels, my love. They complain that you are linear, that they cannot explore you freely, like the perverted spelunkers that they are. But what of it? Why must you open yourself up to their awkward groping of your world?

You are a storyteller. You weave epic yarns that lesser games cannot appreciate or imitate, and you can damn well tell them however you choose. By tightly controlling where our hands may wander, you lead us on a well-paced journey, with a non-linear narrative structure that tickles our minds and pulls at our heartstrings.

So you have no useless towns or ubiquitous NPCs to quip about how times are tough; you don't need them to immerse us in your world. For that you give us people, a cast of characters more well-defined than we have ever seen from your disapproving ancestors. It is your soul, it is your empathy for a group of characters brought together, for once, under believable circumstances, their interpersonal conflicts realistic and on display, that attracts me to you so.

And to say that you are shallow, that you offer us too little to do together, this is just picky, worthless whining. Know that I'm glad of your honesty, my love, you needn't play mini-games with me, nor waste my time by hiding collectible garbage for me to seek out if I wish to win your heart. You offer me deep character customization, and a frenetic, exciting, and yet deeply strategic battle system.

When we play at combat, you and I, the experience is more intense and pleasurable than they can fathom. You are so smart, my dear, you always know the best commands for our little group, so long as we have learned an enemy's weaknesses. I can rest easy leaving to you what specific actions the team will take, and though you are not selfish, and you will let me decide for myself if I so desire, I would rather focus on the high-level strategy so that our cooperation becomes a lithe dance of death and destruction.

They may say you play yourself, and in their lurid fantasies perhaps you do, but you and I know better, my love. We know that if I leave you to handle the group's commands, I can focus on the best way to stagger our foes, leaving them weakened and defenseless to our joint assault. We know that with you handing out orders, I can pay attention to how the battle unfolds without being overwhelmed, and I can shift the entire party's combat roles at a moment's notice to respond to changes in the tactical situation.

Do not let them break your beautiful spirit, my lovely game. You may be different, you may not be what they expected, but you are still a lovely soul, on both the inside and the out.

I love you Final Fantasy 13, and I wouldn't change our time together for the world.

Devotedly yours,
Chris Ciupka

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