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On Accuracy and Final Fantasy Tactics (Part 2)

Part One Here. Just to avoid confusion!

Scriptures of Germonique On Accuracy and Final Fantasy Tactics (Part 2)

As I said, the characters of the world believe in A god, but a false one. The Church of Glabados, as it is called, believe in the teachings of St. Ajora, a sort of Christ figure. He comes on the scene, looks like Christ performing miracles by predicting the poisoning of a well, and sets off to form his own religion. In a vague parody of the Gospel, Ajora obtains thirteen disciples, and displaces the current religion of his time, twelve hundred years before the events of Final Fantasy Tactics (known as Pharism). He predicts the end of the world and apocalypse, and is summarily executed by Church authorities; the tidal wave that happens concurrent with his death establishes his reputation as a holy man and a messiah worthy of worship. He is part of a long line of the continual story of the Zodiac Braves legend in Ivalice, a group of people who arise in times of great peril who gather the zodiac stones together to right great wrongs in the history of Ivalice.

Unfortunately, most of the stories told about St. Ajora are complete hogwash; he ends up being a spy who sells information to the highest bidder, and the thirteen disciples are a ploy by the reigning power to accumulate evidence to execute him. St. Ajora wasn’t a savior, or a God; he was merely a man who manipulated time and history to his own ends. Germonique was one of those disciples. We know of the real story because of Germonique’s Scriptures, a strange analogue to the Gospel of Judas (though I am unsure whether that, in itself, is an actual reference or a mere coincidence).

This is the reason why the Germonique Scriptures are so important and revered in the game, AND are used to revive Hashmalum AND open the gate to Murond Death City, where the resurrection of Ultima occurs – they reveal the true nature of St. Ajora; his false nature made him a suitable host as the body for the demon Ultima. The Scriptures don’t tell us that St. Ajora was demon-possessed, and that the zodiac stones are the key to his resurrection. The Lucavi, an evil force, seek her arrival into the world through the arrival of the greatest falsehood ever to hit Ivalice, and that’s the context. Every story, every tale, every religion was a farce for power. Simon himself says this in his own footnotes for them:

Although many spoke of their existence, none had ever set eyes upon these Scriptures of Germonique. Some might say they are fraudulent, written with the sole purpose of discrediting Saint Ajora. But I know this tome to be authentic.

When I served as an inquisitor for the Church, many others in the Holy Office feared the existence of this work. And the same is no doubt true for the High Confessor. They were all fearful of these writings, for everything contained within them is fact.

After Saint Ajora’s death, the Church, which has capitalized on his considerable influence to seize power for itself, had only one task: to conceal his true nature as a human being. This one fact has to be erased from the annals of history. They needed to ensure that Saint Ajora be remembered as a child of the gods.

Their use of the Zodiac Braves, a legend believed throughout Ivalice, was a stroke of genius. It was a simple feat to convince the people that Saint Ajora had led the Zodiac Braves to defeat a demon. A demon that never existed…

I realize now that I had lost my faith the moment I began to read these Scriptures. And yet I feel no sorrow. Thinking back, I now know that my desire to know the truth was stronger than my faith had ever been.

So does the game tell us directly: the God of Ivalice is mere myth. What is true is spirits and gods, both good and evil, that wage a war under the scenes for the purpose of power. That, my friends, is the story of Final Fantasy Tactics in a nutshell.

Elder Simon 3180 On Accuracy and Final Fantasy Tactics (Part 2)

For God’s sake, I got the whole story immediately as a ten year old; this doesn’t take that much guess work, and all the information can be found directly in the game. Even without it, it’s pretty clear that the Church is your enemy because it fears what you know and what you will do. That is why Ramza is a heretic! And he is one, by their standards! That’s the point! There is no “God” in the Western Christian sense within Ivalice. This is confirmed in subsequent games within the same setting such as Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII, which also show us many disparate powers at play controlling the events and records of history. The winners write the history, and then enforce it with an iron fist.

It may be a selected story, granted, but the myth also covers the nature of Final Fantasy Tactics’ actual metaphysics. It is more complicated than a simple monotheism, but shows a diversity of different powers and faiths all coexisting (like in Shinto). “Faith” and “Brave” merely show faith in either one’s physical or spiritual strength, nothing more. That a white mage communes with holy magic and a black mage with dark magic, or a summoner with spirits from beyond or a time mage with time and space itself shows the diversity of different powers. Heck, I could even throw in geomancers as the power of nature!

Or, to put it another way: faith exists for the blind and the weak. Those who seek truth will find that everything is true, and that power exists to be grasped (hence, your party members’ ability to commune with such spirits). But some will find truth and seek to free those under the spell of power, like Ramza and Simon. Simon knows the power of truth, and he feels guilt for not revealing it earlier; giving the Scriptures to Ramza in his dying breath is his first act of rebellion against a Church that for so long held the truth from him and from the common people.

Even if these weren’t so unerringly clear, our two protagonists still lack any kind of religious faith. Their character development has nothing to do with faith at all. I imagined that would be enough to settle the case, but apparently not.

I am going to assume you see the irony in this situation: I’ve just told you the story directly from the game, and the other presents a preconceived narrative that has little, if anything, to do with the truth. It might feel better, sure, but a pile of inferences and a predetermined narrative line only obscure the truth; agendas do not clear up anything.  That doesn’t make it a bad article, certainly, but it also doesn’t justify Christians to reshape the game in their own image. It doesn’t justify calling anything a “God” in Yasumi Matsuno’s world – there isn’t one. It comes from a particular non-occidental cultural context, and though it might contains vestiges of a medieval Western society, they are merely trappings. If you want Christianity in a Japanese game, Dragon Quest is as close as you’re going to get (and even then, it’s a goddess!). Most of Matsuno’s universes hold the same ideas, as in Tactics Ogre’s similar setting. See for yourself, in Matsuno’s own words:

In the current society science has developed to a point where the existence of God itself has become ambiguous, but in the past gods, demons and monsters were a fact, exerting a great influence over people’s lives. Religion, in particular, didn’t mean solely believing in God, but dictated how people should behave, defined their values, to an extent serving as a law code per se. I wanted to make it so that this would be easily understood in the game. In fact, I also meant to include slavery in the story, but you can only make it that much complicated, so I had to give it up along with several other concepts.

Our faith revolves around a sacred text. We are called to accurately reflect that text when we preach the Gospel. How much more should we take care not to misrepresent the intent of others, whether for or against out faith? I would certainly hope to extend the same courtesy to others, believer and nonbeliever alike; to do otherwise misrepresents our call to accurate Biblical ministry.


On Accuracy and Final Fantasy Tactics (Part 1)

14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2

These kinds of articles drive me bananas. You could call me a nerd, but at the very least I strive for accuracy when I report on anything on this blog. If it’s wrong, and you can possibly show me the sources and distinctly why I am wrong, I will more than happily debate you about it. If it’s unequivocally wrong, then I will make sure to fix it and not misrepresent a game, a person, or otherwise.

But founding something on unfounded inference? On wishful thinking? On an agenda? That’s where I get off the train. I hate that kind of writing, the same way I hate when people tell me what believe, or try to tell me what’s important. I am an independent, thinking human being; I can figure out what is important and what is not, thank you very much.

So it is in reference to Final Fantasy Tactics, which I wrote about in a long-winded article for the List. In the first part linked previously, I explain that the world of Final Fantasy Tactics does the same thing that every other Japanese RPG did in the 1990s: make the Church an enemy. This has as much to do with European missionaries imposing culture as it does  a long-seated dislike of Western social values, but nonetheless everyone did it back then. As I said:

Furthermore, the “greatness” of Delita only lies within the realm of a false history fabricated in the past. Like that of the Church of Glabados, who founded their religion upon a demon (slayed by Ramza) unknowingly, the public of Ivalice praise Delita without knowing the true scale of his awful deeds. It is in objective history, the Germonik Scriptures (which detail the falsity of the Church’s doctrines) and the Durai Report that the true history reveals itself. The influence of history upon our own paradigm, similarly, changed the cultural paradigm into “secularism” from which we still live. The occult nature of true history is just as relevant to Tactics as it is to actual human civilization.

The best way to spice it up and make something obviously evil is making the Church of Whoever into a front for demonic resurrection. Breath of Fire II, a mediocre JRPG (although I like it for strange reasons) does this; so does, too, Final Fantasy Tactics. Many of these games take Christian conventions, throw some pious lies and faith into the mix, and then show that religion of the Western variety exists as a front for evil forces in the world. Some make you kill God, and some decide that he doesn’t exist; Final Fantasy Tactics falls distinctly in the latter category. It is, like most of Matsuno’s games, cold and cynical, logical and deductive. It makes things complicated, but doesn’t beat around the bush. Faith would be beating around the bush.

final fantasy tactics the war of the lions 1024x640 On Accuracy and Final Fantasy Tactics (Part 1)

The Church of Glabados and its savior figure, Ajora, fit right into this narrative choice. The world of Final Fantasy Tactics, and that of the Ivalice mythos associated with it, is polytheistic. As Tom Slattery, the translator for War of the Lions, says:

The Church of Glabados is clearly modeled around Christianity, and the religion itself would seem to be a monotheistic one. Yet in the very opening scene of the game, Ovelia’s prayer mentions ‘kami-gami’ (gods, in the undeniable plural). Since the game’s script had made it clear that followers of the world’s religion spoke of more than one god, we retained that plurality in the English.

The world, clearly, intends to mirror Buddhist and Shinto beliefs obscured by a fanatical Christian framework – i.e., the true reality of the many forces is controlled by a powerful organization. Yasumi Matsuno’s long history of Ivalice implies that religions rose and fall over a long period of time, and that none of these religious structures are “the One True Faith”. The religions that precede the current one (like Pharism), the Church of Glabados, no longer exists because one usurped the other. In our case here, that was done for the purpose of demonic resurrection, but we might also attach an ideological notion to the whole story: power.

Final Fantasy Tactics constantly shows us how total and utter conviction, whether to king, country, or God, makes one into a power-hungry tyrant. The strong take advantage of the weak; some must sacrifice that which is most dear to them for the good of all. Or, at the least, what they think is for everyone’s good. I imagine Matsuno would say a independent mind that seeks the truth and selfless virtue should be held in the highest regard. Both of the main characters see through the facades and strings of power to forge their own path. This interesting article encapsulates the feel of Matsuno’s world:

But that is exactly what I love about Matsuno: he doesn’t deal with a naive world, where love and happiness always triumph over evil; Matsuno’s worlds are cruel, twisted places where good and evil are hard to distinguish and where anyone, even your loved ones, can stab you in the back. It’s a cruel and harsh reality, but a much more realistic one, nonetheless. It becomes all the more powerful because of the Shakespearean tone of his stories that adds a welcome sense of tragedy, hopelessness and irony to the plot.

Our protagonist, Ramza, rebels against the way of the world and seeks justice, an end to meaningless wars and oppressive religious powers. The various rulers, obvious and hidden, at play intend to stop him at every turn, from armies to church officials calling him a heretic to the demon Zodiac Lucavi who seek to resurrect their dark god and transform the world into their own image. One man seeks justice and truth; the others seeks to create it and mold it to their own ends. Delita uses every tool at his disposal to reach his ends, manipulating everyone just as they do to the common people. Two roads to the same end, in other words. Even the chapter titles show the progression of both characters (The Meager, The Manipulative and the Subservient, The Valiant, and In The Name of Love).

Ramza fights for family, then for himself and then for others; Delita fights for friends, then for revenge, and then for power. It’s a natural plot movement, and an obvious dichotomy. Two souls see how people really are right within the first chapter when Delita and Ramza both see how Teta is murdered by Algus. One reacts in disgust that his family would approve of such a vile act and seeks to find himself. One seeks to prevent others from being used like his sister, and intends to control all in order to do it. Ramza and Delita both have to choose to respond in control or in love. The choice tells us a great deal of what Matsuno thinks; is it any wonder that Ramza’s story is hidden throughout the ages and never comes to light? But the fact that gods/God are judging you doesn’t come into play; it is whether what you do is right that remains the true standard. The truth, in other words.

Orlandu 534x1024 On Accuracy and Final Fantasy Tactics (Part 1)
Cause, you know, a game with a guy with a nickname like “Thunder God Cid” has a Judeo-Christian God.

They are, in effect, the people who see the truth of the world: that there’s no religion at all except for that which was set in power. There may be spirits and spiritual forces, but not a loving God akin to the Bible. That is the wishful thinking Matsuno always avoids in every single one of his games, even in the Ogre Battle series. To say otherwise doesn’t capture the essence of the story. Final Fantasy Tactics is rather direct about this with the introduction of the Germonique Scriptures. Without it, I would be on shaky ground, but it reveals much more than I can tell.

Onward to part 2!

Bradygames Final Fantasy VII Squaresoft Guide

Video Game Guide Collection Part 2: Early Prima Games and Bradygames Guides

Hey, I’m nothing if not comprehensive! No weird addresses or things to that effect blurred out. Just some guy talking about video games for about ten minutes. The next videos, somehow, are even LONGER than this, so get used to my lovely voice.

img 2747 Video Game Guide Collection Part 2: Early Prima Games and Bradygames Guides

This time, I talk about Squaresoft’s lovely white bound guides during the PS1 era, some of my favorites, along with when guides were associated with quality. Particular highlights include Breath of Fire II (wonderful guide), Secret of Evermore, and a Metal Gear Solid guide by a defunct company called Millenium. I think, anyway! But go ahead and watch it.

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Podcast #13 – You Playing the Game, or the Game Plays You?

Small logo Podcast #13   You Playing the Game, or the Game Plays You?

Could you guess what line of what film the title of this podcast is derivative of? Please tell me if you do, and if you’re the first one you get a free Steam key for…something. So let’s make this into a contest; I’ve got a bunch of extras, and nothing to do with them.

Moving along, are our choices in-game a reflection of our true selves or are we just playing? Do the actions we perform in video games somehow reflect real-world actions, or is there a divorce between the reality of the situation (me sitting in a comfy chair doing nothing) and the vicarious experience on display in the game (probably something involving conflict, more often than not)?

These are the questions Zachery Oliver, M. Joshua Cauller, and Ted Loring cover in this week’s podcast. Topics include intentions versus action, reductionism, dialogue trees, choice in games, Ogre Battle, systems and rules, The Last of Us, adventure games, Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert, Tim Schaefer, The Walking Dead, Telltale Games, Infamous Mass Effect, Heavy Rain, SimCity, Call of Duty online, the fighting game community, Mario Kart, and (of course) World of WarCraft. Also, photobombing minor gaming celebrities. And the Candy Crush Saga Killer.

Also ludonarrative dissonance and ludic language, but I hate academic terms for seemingly simple concepts, so why bother putting those in a podcast description? Haha, I kid. Or maybe not. Sarcasm in text is hard to detect!

Podcast 13

Please take our survey and tell us what you think!

podtrac survey 125x60 v3 Podcast #13   You Playing the Game, or the Game Plays You?


The List: Final Fantasy Tactics (Part 2)

Final Fantasy Tactics is what we’d call, nowadays, a “Strategy Role-Playing Game” in the Japanese vein. Basically, you use various units (here, depicted as people) with various abilities to achieve certain objectives on a battlefield. Tactics takes a turn-based approach similar to Matsuno’s Tactics Ogre, except mightily improved from that game’s clunkiness (I’m talking about the original, which received a horrible translation/release in the United States; the remake is an improvement on Tactics’ methodology). These can range from “defeat all enemies” to “save a particular person”, but much of the game boils down to combat segments with huge bits of story tucked in between. In that sense, Tactics’ story isn’t integrated much into the narrative so much as it represents the culmination of particular story events. Some battles exist just for the player’s enjoyment in figuring out, as the name of the game would imply, tactics.

078 2 3 The List: Final Fantasy Tactics (Part 2)Each battle takes place on a map made of individual tiles; although the game shows everything in an isometric perspective, it’s really a top-down board game with height and depth rules for the placement of units. This is difficult to convey in text, so watch this:

These events, supposedly, happen in real-time; it’s a micromanagement microcosm of what would actually happen in a minor skirmish. You’ll see that, like a traditional Japanese RPG, you get various party members with various abilities. Tactics uses a variation of Final Fantasy III/V’s job system, which allows for depth and variety in combat situations. You get the common stereotypes: a Knight here, a Black Mage there. Some classes only have situational use, such as the Orator (who can talk enemies into joining your party) or the Oracle who both inflict status ailments. These, unlike in most Final Fantasy games, have use because an incapacitated enemy can’t get into range, now can he? Others represent new and improved tactical oppotrtunities by giving reaction abilities (such as automatic potions on hit), passive abilities (preventing any gear from breaking) or movement aids (teleportation). These, and other class abilities, work freely among all the classes as long as you learn them from the primary job. The class’ ability slot is set, obviously, but secondary abilities and the like stay open. This allows, say, a Ninja with Bushido abilities, or a Summoner who can also cast Time Magic. There’s an infinite variety to how you can configure your class to suit your strategic preferences. Of course, some strategies work better than others, but that’s true of all games.

Knowledge of the field and the height/depth of a particular tile makes battles infinitely easier. Hiding behind a wall and casting a spell on an Archer who only has a crossbow, for example, means that their weapon doesn’t have the range nor the means to react. If they have a longbow, though, the arc will make your caster vulnerable. Knowing the CT system also helps; there’s a certain turn order, determined by a unit’s stats, that shows when they will perform a commanded action. A unit’s CT changing depending on whether they moved, to what place they moved, and what ability/spell they’re casting. All of this information is readily available, and isn’t hidden from the player. Knowing when enemies will attack and when they’ll move means an educated guess could spell the difference between victory and defeat. The developers, obviously, want you to think about your movements, especially in the early going.

Rather than giving a straight tutorial, the game introduces these various elements without annoying dialogue boxes or fanfare. With a limited ability set, the first battle of the game only gives you access to one unit to familarize yourself with the controls and the flow of the game whilst AI players show how battle progress. The second battle gives you control of a full complement of units, but only two classes. By forcing the player to use a limited tool set with the same tactical mindset as they just saw previous, it actually teaches the player effective tactics. Don’t rush into the fray or you’ll be surrounded; never expose your backside, as your ability to dodge melee attacks is reduced; protect your healers and put melee units in front of them if possible. These are true of all games, sure, but Tactics doesn’t need to tell you this information; they show you. It’s an excellent introduction, and I’m surprised more games don’t teach the player so elegantly. Each battle will, in success or failure, teach you new things about the game, and that’s pretty remarkable.

However, it’s up to the player to utilize or ignore the various options given therein. Like Matsuno’s previous games (though to a much more focused degree), there’s a certain freedom to the combat system. The game doesn’t straightjacket players into particular class roles, and you can make Ramza a master fighter or caster by game’s end. That could turn out to be a problem, especially in certain segments that don’t allow you to escape to the world map (Riovanes Castle is especially brutal in this regard). Some battles assume Ramza becomes a warrior, which doesn’t bode well for a cloth-wearing caster. This niggling design choices always struck me as odd, but I’ve never used Ramza in that fashion so it was never a problem. Not that it isn’t possible to succeed, just very difficult.

Furthermore, in the vein of a Final Fantasy game, grinding your problems away detracts from the overall experience. Surely, this will allow any player to reach the end of the game, but that would require an absurd amount of time wasted when a innovative strategy would suit the situation. This, to me, seems the deterrent to grinding; even though story-line battles remain fixed in level, an under-leveled party can win if you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. That isn’t true in most Final Fantasy games, and this is a refreshing change. To be frank, the Final Fantasy moniker only serves to make the game sell more copies than it would have otherwise; it’s a unique experience in and of itself.

Calculator The List: Final Fantasy Tactics (Part 2)

However, too much freedom causes the game’s mechanics to break and strain at the seams. For all intents and purposes, the abilities of the Calculator/Arithmetician (depends on what version) breaks the game utterly and without question. “CT 5 Holy” became a pretty familiar strategy for just about every purpose and every battle. To explain, a Calculator has bad stats, but his skills allow him to cast spells from other classes with no cost based on particular variables and multiples. You can use, for example, Level 3; this will cast the spell on any unit that has a multiple of three (that’s just an example, not an actual ability). You use the calculations going on behind the game to your advantage. So, take this powerful ability set, mix it with a caster with great stats (like a Summoner, say) and you’ve got a powerful unit. The most powerful of these is, obviously, CT 5, because every unit that hasn’t taken a turn will have a CT that is a multiple of 100 – hence, you can cast either Flare or Holy, the most powerful single-target spells in the game, on every unit. Now, we use Holy because some items in the game absorb Holy damage; Flare doesn’t have that luxury. Hence, you can literally destroy every enemy on the field and heal every unit to full with one ability. Some units will live, but it’s simply a clean-up job from there. Then you can cast it again (no cost, remember) This won’t work with every battle, but it does work with LOTS of them toward the end of the game. For even more fun, get a bunch of Mimes to Mimic the ability, then go get a cup of coffee; the game runs on auto-pilot. Enemies can’t move fast enough, nor can they change their equipment to suit your strategy – thus, they die. Bosses remain just as vulnerable if you cast CT 5 Demi 2. Demi 2 deals 50% of an enemies total health pool; you can see how that would work, but that requires some more finesse and gear finagling to prevent your own death.

It’s unfortunate that such seemingly obvious game breaker exists, and that you can stumble upon it so easily. That the game gives you “special” character classes (like Orlandeau, who has all the free ranged sword skills AND a sword that gives Haste – supremely broken) amplifies this as well, even if you didn’t find CT 5 Holy. I am not sure why Matsuno would put this in the game, seeing as Ogre Battle doesn’t ever provide a be-all, end-all strategy to its real-time combat. Still, this is part of the fun: to find tactics that work, and work well. I personally avoided this on my first playthrough long, long ago, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It seems, then, that the game allows you to make these decisions on your own. The story will always proceed in the same fashion, and the characters you get will always have the same classes, but the player retains all the decision making prowess in battles. Heck, there’s PLENTY of people on the Internet who have completed the game with ONE CHARACTER or some other insane variation. The mechanics allow this to be successful even without grinding. That’s good game design, I’d wager. Challenge for those who want challenge, and story for those who want story (thus, grinding) equals a perfect combination.

Would it be better if someone rebalanced the game? Honestly, I’m not sure. The experience wasn’t designed for specific use of Job Points (which you use to buy abilities as you gain experience), nor does it require a mind for mastery of the system’s mechanics. Because most JP use is permanent (unlike in, say, other strategy games), reloading a save to reconfigure seems tedious and unecessary. In the same way that Dark Souls doesn’t need an “easy” difficulty level (contrary to this article), I find that Tactics doesn’t need additional difficulty either way. Improvements to the AI, however, would help immensely; they’re not always as smart as you’d like, replacing brains with brawn. They do take advantage of bad unit placement, though, and their added strength brings swift punishment (again, Riovanes Castle boss battles!). Still, some areas just make you laugh at how easy the game becomes toward its conclusion.

That’s all in the retrospective analysis. When I played as a child, I was equally enthralled and utterly frustrated at the same time. I persevered, felt shock at what was happening onscreen, and thoroughly enjoyed slaying everything with Ninjas and Samurai (which are both pretty powerful). It’s pretty satisfying to use Orlandeau, regardless of how powerful he is; you can’t send him into the fray without support, after all. The lack of knowledge on my part allowed me to gain new abilities and figure out how everything worked. The art design made the game attractive, while the mechanics sucked me into the story, even as the aesthetics made the blood and gore more abstract than they would be otherwise. The abstraction, however, works to its advantage by allowing anyone, and everyone, to understand what is happening. Even as a complex history unfolds before the player’s eyes, the conveyance of its mechanics and the striking nature of each important character’s design allows us to keep track of everything (bad translations not withstanding).

This makes sense to a child’s mind; they are allowed to engage on the level of the game’s appearance and its rules. Think of it the way Paul does:

11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

This isn’t to assume Paul is condemning children or anything of the sort; 1 Corinthians 13 uses the example as a metaphor for the incomplete nature of spiritual gifts. At some point, love will overwhelm all, but we now only see through a glass darkly. We only can see things through spiritual eyes because of Christ, and even then only what God wants us to know. This is very interesting when you consider that Paul calls Christians the “children of God”, Jesus as “God’s son”, and that we are now “co-heirs” with Christ. What do with make of all this? What we are, in a spiritual sense, is children. Children have minds, not yet fully developed, but able to comprehend what is going on if the information is presented in a way that makes sense. To treat them as lesser beings, or with little respect, isn’t right (as we saw earlier), but to give them a philosophical treatise on why God loves them, or why good people do bad things, isn’t helpful.

That’s why, in my view, the Bible exists, and why the Bible was originally contained in oral tradition – anyone can understand the love of God in this fashion. It’s the same reason why, at the Passover Seder, the Jewish children recite the traditional questions: to get them involved and to make them understand what God did for the chosen people in an interactive and fun manner. By analogy, that’s why you are God’s child, rather than God’s adult friend: we only see the imperfect, not the perfect.

Perhaps this, then, shows us why Final Fantasy Tactics was so effective: it reflect this method throughout by pushing reality into unreality. It’s realistic, yet childish. It’s complex, but easy enough for a child to understand. That’s a valuable tip for any game designer to emulate.