WELCOME to the personal home page/blog of Matthew La France. Please enjoy your stay.


I added a quote to my random quotes. If you can figure it out, you are clever, or you visit my page waaaaay too much. ;) BTW: I also found a really kick-ass text editor today. It's called UltraEdit. It's kind of a text/hex/html etc. utility. I needed something more robust than MS Word and notepad for editing scripts and this has all the features I was looking for. It fits the bill and doesn't break the bank ($39.95). I'm listening to Frontline Assembly right now. They rock.


I added a comment system finally. I was poking around on blogger's main page looking for some ways improve my push-button publishing and ran across the link. I'm pretty sure I used Comment This!. I also added a site feed for atom news readers. I doubt anyone will read my blog with one of those, but hey.

I updated links. I lot of removals, a lot of additions, and some moved links were marked "new" to highlight the move.


Hi. I haven't posted in a little while. I added a couple of links. Armchair Arcade has some great articles, esp. the one about tragedy/comedy and video game narrative. It actually put to words some things I have felt about videogames and modern story telling. I think it helped to put into perspective, not just games, but comics a bit for me too, in the tradition of story telling. I think that I try to get some strange things out of comics and story telling, that interferres with thier true and basic purpose, to entertain. As an entertainer formost, I think I can feel clearer in my role, and purpose in creating. It's strange, but I haven't really thought of myself like that before. It's not all due to this article anyway, but the article is good. you should read it. ^_^


Ok. I am doing some spring cleaning (in the middle of winter) and I have created a sizable ebay store. I have a bunch of Legend of the Five Rings L5R cards for sale, as well as DVDs, and VHS tapes I no longer want. Lots of anime and good movies. I'm planning to put up some Saturn and Genesis games too. You can access it right on the main page. Check it out! I'm going to be drawing more again and posting on ebay too, so look out for some new stuff. ^_^


I just read a big article on instercredit.com about video game endings. It made me start thinking about why I like games, what I expect from them, and ask how do I really feel about endings?

The article seems to rely on one premise that I find suspect, which is that games are better at the end than the beginning. I think that the author has a good point about gamers in that past hearing about a good ending, and going out of their way to get to that ending, even to the point of playing through a game that is uninteresting. I have always held the idea that, because gamers will usually only play the first 50% of a game, more time goes into designing the first half of a game, and the last half is usually rushed or rehashed. The author made examples of a lot of the FF games that I haven't played though, so perhaps it has more to do with the games I have played.

The article also makes a lot of comparisons between video games and movies. It reminds me of a little post I wrote on why I think Akira is one of the greatest movies of the 20th century:

"Akira is an exceptional movie.

**spoiler warning***
One of my favorite things about it is the solid 3 act structure. The 2nd act climax, which is basically the culmination of the conflict between Tesuo and Kaneda, is very powerful. It could almost be the end of the movie itself, the way it brings their rivalry (hate) and their friendship (love) to such a bitter climax. (note: most mediocre movies do not even achieve this level of conflict by the end of the film) But there is much more to the movie, and the third act brings the more global conflict, between humanity and akira (humanity and itself) (god and man), to a head. Here we see again death and rebirth (eva anyone ;) ), as testuo destroys himself and akira accepts him into himself.
***end spoiler***

It's really a great story with conflicts between a lot of powerful opposites present in the very basic aspects of human nature. Animated or not (and it has very high merits on that alone), this is simply a fantastic piece of cinema, long a favorite of directors and film critics who have little or no connection to anime. More impressive is the fact that the entire movie was not only written, but story-boarded scene-by-scene by the artist that wrote the comic. It is a tribute to his vision and talent and his solid cinematic and visual storytelling. I will never get tired of watching this movie. It is a classic of modern film."

Does a video game have, or have to have, this sort of structure? When I think back on some of the games I enjoyed the most in the past, I would say no.

One of my favorite games of all time was Might and Magic II on the Genesis. I loved it because you created your own characters and picked whatever combination of jobs and races you wanted. It falls into games I classify as "simulation fantasy" games, where you work on building up a character, team, or object exactly the way that you want it.

Games like Gran Turismo, Armored Core, and online RPG's like PSO and FFXI, all let you build, customize, and use something that you put time and care into to make really kick-ass. Each person that plays one of these games is going to have a totally unique thing that they have made and can have fun with in the game. It's really satisfying to have blown away the final mech in AC with a Core that you made from scratch, with parts you bought with money you earned from beating other Cores, and put together through trial and error, in a way that works best for you, it is in fact your personal ideal fighting machine. The same with GT, building that awesome car that you know the ins-and-out's of until you can race it like a pro, and know exactly which tires to use, what turbo to have, how to alter your gear ratios depending on the track you will be racing. Even FFI that let you pick the classes and names of all 4 of your characters, really let you make the gaming experience your own. This open ended sort of simulation is ended by the player, when they have created something they are satisfied with and proud of. The story is the process they took to get there.

Most movies simply CAN'T have a satisfying ending because they do not have powerful enough conflict. Some movies have powerful conflict, but a dissapointing ending. It can't be the other way around though. Some of my favorite games have endings. Some of my favorite games have good moments. But what is really good about them? Did the endings (good or bad) effect my enjoyment of the game?

Resident Evil and Soul Edge stand out as my favorite game stories. I think that one of the main reasons is the depth of the characters. Though different types of games, both game (series) have characters with interesting backstory and goals. Claire wants to find her brother. Sophitia is sent by Zeus (or something) to destroy Soul Edge. Backstory, and goals, are important parts of movie characters. Tetsuo and Kaneda have a history of friendship and rivalry long before we meet them. Akira has destroyed Tokyo in the past. The story starts with these things having already been established. The characters have goals, tetsuo to get attention and surpass Kaneda, Kaneda to stop tetsuo, and also there is the goal to prevent Akira's awakening and the (2nd) destruction of Tokyo. Satisfying stories (and endings) can be created with characters like these. The games can continue and be interesting because the characters are intriguing. As long as the characters stay interesting, so do the games.

I guess after having written all of this, I don't know if I am more agreeing or disagreeing with the article I read. I agree that the game ending is no longer necessary, and not a driving force of games anymore. I think that an engrossing games experience (fantasy simulation) and engrossing characters, are enough for me to get a lot of enjoyment from a game. But I think that the potential for a game to have a really good ending, like the potential for a movie to have a really good ending, exists, and that well written games with good endings can be as precious as well written movies with really good endings, they are rare and few.


A new look for the site. I did a quick implementation of a site-wide style sheet and adjusted the colors and such a little. I'll be working in the coming weeks on streamlining the HTML, but for now the new look is in place and the style sheet is verified. ^_^


Another weekend come and gone... I got some good stuff (and not so good stuff) done though. I somehow managed to get MORE games for my NES and Dreamcast collections. :P Oh well, I am really happy with them anyway, deals I couldn't refuse. Other than that I finished capturing some of my old VHS tapes and burned them to DVD. I also finished ripping a few of my CDs I forgot about. I played about 3 hours of FFXI the whole weekend. Good stuff though (I need to be doing other things anyway), I finished the second rank 2 quest and I am now working on "the three kingdoms". I trucked myself up to tahrongi and I decided to fight a little in the mountains to the north (something with an "m"). I was hoping to score a few giant bird feathers, but they aren't dropped by the jubjub's there, I don't know what drops them... :( I'm almost level 22 thoughwhich is cool. I'll probably grab a chocobo at the craig and head up to Jueno, on my way to Sandoria soon.

BTW: I have been working on my CSS. I plan to update mattsmessyroom.com with better use of style sheets as well as mechanicomics.com. In the mean time, check out this page I have been working on for Ranma 1/2: Chougiranbuhen for the SNES. I still do not have all of the moves translated, nor all of the content added, so it is a WIP, but I am proud of the fact that the style sheet I made is 100% validated with the w3c CSS validator. ^_^ This is an old site that I ressurected with the help of the "wayback" machine, which I intend to leave up.


Hello all. I had a pretty low-key weekend. Did a lot of little things around the house, cleaning up and such. I am pretty exicted about burning my ROMs off to DVD and backing up the last of my VHS tapes to MPG.

I have also been listing my game collections and working on some of them. I have some cool titles for the NES including Spiritual Warfare and Bible Adventures (unlicenced games by Color Dreams Wisdom Tree label) and Deathbots by American Video Entertainment.

Deathbots is a somewhat uninteresting isometric-ish action shooter, kind of like Crusader: No Remorse, only ugly and boring. The bible games are pretty funny, one has you throw fruit at thugs and turn them into (kneeling and praying) belivers, and the other has a few scenarios, one involving capturing 2 of each animal for noah's ark.

I also found a copy of Nigel Mansell's World Championship Racing, which is a pretty cool, Gran Turismo style racing simulation (though the racing looks kind of like Pole Position II).

I also finished ripping the last of my CDs and organizing my music collection. I still think I have a few albums that got stolen or broken that I would like to replace. Other than that I have been listening to some random 80's music. I found a song that I liked pretty well by Animotion. It reminds me of industrial a bit, sort of a new wave version of MLWTTKK. I think it's called Obsession.


Happy New Year! I guess. My first post in 2004. I had a mixed holiday season. I spent a nice Christmas with my family but I've been a little stressed out and I was sick for a couple of days recently. :(

I had a dream last night where I was the leader of this group of people who lived inside a crashed space ship. But I fell out of favor and was ousted, and I traveled to the site where(I guess) the ship had first crashed. There I met with the people who had been the crew on the ship, but it had been like thousands of years since I had seen them, so it was really thier distant decendants. As I walked through the ship I had this great sense of nostalgia, and I pointed out this and that that I recognized. The people we sort of eccentric and had apparently been reading what was in the library about earth for years and begain asking me wierd questions about what type of bird this stuffed bird was specifically. I remember looking out the window and seeing all kinds of different animals outside the ship that weren't on other parts of the planet. like they had evolved from something from this ship rather than the simple creatures that existed on the planet normally. I was very excited to see these strange animals and exclamed about how they were like creatures from earth, and some had four legs and fur and such. I remember seeing a photo in a book of someone in a red coat with some grass and trees and just crying because I hadn't seen anything like that for so long.

Dreams are hard to remember or write about but they are pretty interesting. I think a lot of the time they are more mundane than they seem, but they are so symbolic that they end up seeming fantasitcal and strange. It just goes to show that we all have a really rich symbolic vocaulary, even if it is deeply subconscious and we do not realize it. I think that is why we respond to movies and art and comics. Even people who may not think of themselves as artistic, are still able to read some sort of feeling from art, maybe even something that is very meaningful for them, though they do not know why.

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