After Playing Dragon Quest V, I Think I Finally Get Dragon Quest

Like many others, I got a free copy of Dragon Warrior with Nintendo Power.  I (eventually) beat the game, but neither the gameplay nor the overall aesthetic really grabbed me.  I mostly tuned out the series until a glowing 1Up Review of DQV for DS convinced me to pick up that game and the others in the series.  I figured I’d play them in order, but never got past the second entry (on Gameboy Color).

Well, an episode of Axe of the Blood God finally convinced me to skip the intervening games and give Dragon Quest V a try.  I was hankering for an old-school RPG and the multi-generational story seemed very appealing.  I just finished the game and immediately decided to write this gushing blog post.

Dragon Quest V impressed me greatly in two very different ways.  First and foremost was the story.  It is exceedingly rare for me to actually play a video game RPG “in character,” and certainly not a Japanese RPG, but this was the exception.  This game builds strong personal connections with many characters, even beyond your wife and kids, and doesn’t waste time on irrelevant side quests and whatnot to take away from that.  I have a bunch of new entries in my list of most powerful RPG memories.

I played DQV specifically for the story, so I’m not too shocked that it lived up to expectations.  What I am rather shocked about is that this game made me not only understand but fully embrace and enjoy the Dragon Quest style of game.  It’s not at all like Final Fantasy, and I’ve always considered that a negative.  This time, though, I realized that they had somehow taken the spirit of really old-school RPGs (like Ultima III) and distilled it.

I’m the most at a loss to explain how not only did I not mind the game’s grindiness, but actually enjoyed it.  Maybe I’ve played too many MMOs and just having a grind with an end is that much more appealing.  However I think it’s the comfort in the knowledge that, sooner or later, you can get to where you need to be.  I could probably write a thesis paper about the subject of RPG grinding based on this game, but I’ll spare you.

The bottom line is, Dragon Quest V is incredible and if you haven’t played it, you should.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go give the Dragon Quest series another look.


Judge Others a Little Less, and Yourself a Little More

I find the amount of negativity from people, especially online, very wearing.  Sometimes it seems like the only thing anyone agrees on these days is how much they hate some other person or group.  The incident that really brought this into sharp relief for me was of an offline nature, though.

A few years ago, my car got towed.  It was entirely my own fault – to save money, I parked at a garage a few blocks away rather than paying for a dedicated spot in my building, but I would sometimes park in the reserved spots behind the building for a few minutes to drop off groceries before re-parking.  One time, I got a phone call while putting stuff in the fridge, and forgot to move my car.  I left it there a whole week (I was walking to work at the time), and it got towed.

The feeling I got when I realized that my car was neither in the garage or behind the building was absolutely awful.  I had no idea where my car was, or how much it was going to cost me to get it back.  It was a simple mistake and the consequences seemed drastically out of proportion.  I wanted to lash out at someone.

Instead, I called the number of the tow place, and they confirmed they had  my car.  I walked two miles in the sweltering summer heat, waited 45 minutes for the guy to show up, and then asked him what I had to do to get my car back.  I filled out some paperwork, forked over a few hundred bucks, and in the middle of it all he said something that has stuck with me ever since.

“You know, you’re really being good about this,” he said.

Well yeah, I explained, it was entirely my own fault for being an idiot and leaving my car illegally parked for a week.  It wasn’t his fault.

“Most people don’t see it that way,” he said, a bit sadly.

At that point I realized just how awful a job this guy has.  Someone’s got to tow illegally parked cars, wrecks, and what have you.  Very few people are ever happy to have to talk to the guy who towed their car.  I’m sure they heap mountains of abuse on these guys, because they’re mad, and this guy is now asking for a whole lot of money for them to get their car back.  (Which I’m sure, in their eyes, was unfairly towed in the first place.)  This particular guy seemed almost resigned when I met him, and looked at me like I was some kind of weirdo, apparently for not blowing up at him.

So please, people.  Don’t take out your anger on people who don’t deserve it.  Don’t assume every person who wrongs you in some small way did so maliciously, and don’t overreact to mistakes people make.  Every time you get cut off, remember that time you cut someone off but you had a perfectly good excuse (“he was in my blind spot!”).  They probably do, too.  And if they don’t, getting mad at them isn’t going to change anything anyway.

Breaking Down Star Wars Rey Theories

I really like Star Wars Episode VII.  I’ve actually seen it 7 times, which is both nice and referential, and more than twice as many times as I’ve seen anything else in theaters.  (Discount Tuesdays have a lot to do with that.)  I’ve watched a lot of reactions and theory videos, and while I don’t have any theories of my own*, I did want to comment on some of the more common ones out there, about Rey’s parents.

(*I actually did come up with a “Rey is somehow a clone of Luke” theory before I saw it elsewhere.  So on the very off chance that works out, I’ll claim credit for that one. 😉 )

Rey’s Parents

The Facts

First and foremost, the person whose arm you see grabbing child Rey in her flashback is Unkar Plutt (the guy who trades food portions for scavenged items).  To be clear, this is not a theory, this is a fact: his arm and voice are clearly recognizable.  This also confirms what we already knew, that she was left directly on Jakku.

When Rey tells BB-8 who she’s waiting for, she says she’s waiting for her family.  She does not specifically mention parents, so we can’t assume she is actually waiting for both or even either of them.  For all we know she could be waiting for her two brothers or her cousins or something.  (But she still has parents.  Probably.)


I am terrible at guessing the ages of children, but child Rey is pretty young.  My wild guess is around 5.  At that age, it’s possible she wouldn’t clearly remember anything from her past, though she’d likely remember pieces at least.

It’s clear from her flashback that she was very unhappy with being left on Jakku, screaming “No!” repeatedly.  To me, this implies that the ship she sees flying off contains the people who left her there.  What I mean is, it doesn’t seem likely she was stolen from her parents elsewhere, then dropped off at Jakku.  This is what she remembers so it seems like it is the specific point of when she was left behind.

One more piece of note is that Rey has a British accent.  Accents are of course not genetic, but the fact that John Boyega puts on an American accent for Finn and Daisy Ridley does not for Rey implies there may be intention behind it.  It’s possible Rey had some other accent and developed her current one while on Jakku, but if you assume she got her accent from her parents and family, that narrows the list of suspects considerably.

The Theories

Rey is Han and Leia’s Daughter

I’m putting this theory first because I think it’s the easiest to debunk.  You probably could conceive of a situation where Han and Leia had a daughter, presumably significantly younger than Ben Solo (though their in-fiction ages don’t necessarily match their real life ages), and she ended up on Jakku without them knowing or recognizing her.  However, no such theory fits the facts laid out above.

Han knows that Rey was on Jakku and dealt with Unkar Plutt, so if he had left her with him, presumably that would jog some memories.  It’s also pretty likely that all this was communicated to Leia off-screen at some point.  Even if not, her reaction to Rey doesn’t seem like she knows its her long-lost daughter (see the next theory for more).

Han and Leia Knew Who Rey Was but Were Sworn to Secrecy

I’m willing to reject this theory on the basis that it would be terrible writing.  Yes, Han gives Rey some significant looks when she mentions not knowing there was this much green in the galaxy and whatnot, but that seems like a valid reaction to a hypercompetent scavenger who stole and can fly your super custom ship.  And Leia does hug her as soon as they meet, though presumably the resistance communicated with their base on the way home so Leia would obviously know that a.) Han was dead and b.) Rey was the one person coming back that she didn’t already know.  Her reaction was pretty logical, given that.  None of this says they didn’t secretly know her, but there’s no reason to believe they did.

Rey is Obi-Wan’s Granddaughter or Other Relative

This theory is largely based on the fact that Obi-Wan talks to Rey in her vision (in two voices, no less), and that Rey has a British accent like Obi-Wan.  But Yoda speaks in her vision well, so I’m not sure how much weight that holds.  Also, Obi-Wan was a Jedi and swore off romantic attachments.  We never hear about a former lover, siblings, or anything.  The main problem with this story is that we’d have to introduce two generations of secret Kenobis for it to work, and that seems unlikely.   Not impossible, but unlikely.

Rey is Luke’s Daughter

If Rey is related to anyone from the original trilogy, Luke is the logical choice.  The main argument against this theory is that it’s “too obvious,” which doesn’t do much to convince me it’s not correct.  Luke’s reaction to Rey certainly wasn’t one of “who the hell are you?” but that doesn’t necessarily prove anything.  You can read a lot into a bunch of dramatic facial expressions.

The key to making this theory plausible in my mind is that this means Rey’s mother is someone we don’t know.  (Someone who may have had a British accent which her daughter inherited.)  I can’t imaging Luke ditching Rey with Unkar Plutt on Jakku for any reason, even her own protection, but I can imagine a mother we’ve never met being capable of such a thing.  I can imagine a reason why Luke would want to hide Rey – Jedi can see the future, and age-wise he may have had to hide her around the time Ben Solo went evil.  Maybe he told her mother to hide her somewhere.  Maybe he did so himself and he was just a huge jerk about it.  But it does seem plausible.

Rey isn’t Related to Anyone We Know

It’s perfectly possible that Rey is just what she appears to be: an orphaned scavenger.  However, since they made a big deal about her being left behind in a flashback, it does seem like that’s important in the context of the movie.  That doesn’t mean she’s related to anyone we know, though.  It most likely does mean that she has some connection to someone we know.  Maybe she was a student of Luke’s when Ben Solo went bad.

Aside: Was Rey a Former Student of Luke’s?

I do like the “Rey was a former student” theory, as it would explain why she was able to gain force powers so quickly, but there is one line in the movie that seems to contradict it.  As mentioned above, Obi-Wan speaks to Rey in her flashback, saying “Rey” and then “these are your first steps” (emphasis mine).  If those were her first steps, she can’t have been a student.  And that is not likely to be a memory since Obi-Wan was dead long before she was born, let alone taught about the Force.  He is a Force ghost now, though, so we can’t be certain.

There is another solid theory about why Rey was able to gain force powers so quickly: she seems to buy in to the Force at least from the moment she resists Kylo Ren.  Luke’s big problem when training with Yoda was that he didn’t believe he could do things like lift his X-Wing out of a swamp.  Rey doesn’t seem to have any such issues.  (Though, cynically speaking, I think she learned force powers quickly because Episode VII was the Cliff Notes version of Episodes IV-VI.)

Rey is Anakin Skywalker Reincarnated

This is one of my favorite crazy theories.  Basically, since Anakin was “conceived of midichlorians,” perhaps Rey was too.  And perhaps this was because Anakin was the chosen one and failed, so he’s been born again.  The main problem with this theory is that it does nothing to answer the questions about why she was left on Jakku.  Plus, it relies on one of the dumber pieces of canon from the prequels, and I don’t see these new movies pulling much, if anything, from the prequels.  (Except maybe Snoke being Plageuis.  I could see that.)

Rey is a Clone of Luke Skywalker

I mentioned this one above.  It has the same issues as the Anakin Reincarnated theory where it doesn’t answer our questions and is based on prequel ideas.  But the rumored opening shot of the movie was Luke’s hand and lightsaber floating in space, so whoever found the lightsaber presumably also found his hand and had his DNA as a result.  And they’ve mentioned modified clones, but gender-swapped and totally different would be unprecedented in the movies.

In Conclusion…

I am willing to bet Rey has a strong, preexisting connection to Luke.  Because of Obi-Wan’s line in her flashback sequence, my guess is she is Luke’s daughter.  But I may be putting too much weight on that one line.  Her being an anonymous former student who escaped Kylo Ren’s wrath works too.  But if she’s Kylo’s sister, I am going to need a great justification to accept that.

Timing is Everything… in FFXIV Gathering

I’ve always been pretty proud of my FFXIV timers page, but I have not updated it for Heavensward… until today!  The biggest issue with the previous format is that the one-hour unspoiled point slots in Heavensward didn’t leave enough space for much text, so I switched that particular display to a 12-hour version.  Every HW unspoiled node appears at the same time AM and PM currently, so this works.  Of course, as soon as a patch breaks that pattern – which could happen as soon as tomorrow – then I’ll need another plan.

But that’s not all!  I also added ephemeral points to the page.  Since, unlike unspoiled nodes, those are actually spread out throughout the day, this may be a very handy reference.  The bunched-up nature of the HW unspoiled nodes just makes it even more painful that I haven’t added an alarm feature yet.

Of course, the timers page is great, but sometimes you are looking to craft something and just want to know when the material you need is available.  Unspoiled and ephemeral node timers now have countdowns on the gathering point list.  There is a similar feature on the fish guide, though that remains woefully incomplete at the moment.  The countdown will also show up on individual gathering log and fish guide pages.  It even appears in cross-referenced tables, as you can see here.

I’m pretty excited for 3.1, even though it will probably force me to do a bunch of guide updates.  I’ve been avoiding trying to gather data on extracurricular activities, so don’t expect data on Lords of Verminion just yet.  Though if it’s fun enough, we’ll see.

A FAQ Appears!

I’ve been getting a lot of feedback lately, which is great, and I decided to put up a FAQ to address the most common questions. Though I will also answer the most common question here: yes, I am making more guides, FF7 is most likely next, and I have no idea when that will actually happen.

In other news, I made a tweak to how the reference column works. Clicking links outside the reference column will now always open a new window, as if it weren’t there. However, if you hover over a link for a short time, the reference column will scroll to that card. Hopefully this addresses one of the more annoying UI issues with the site.

There will likely be some other UI tweaks coming up soon to make things a little nicer, especially on mobile.

Final Fantasy VI Guide is Live! (But Not Finished)

I’ve had a Final Fantasy VI guide in the works for quite a while, but my complete and total addiction to Final Fantasy XIV has gotten in the way of its release.  Well, now that FFXIV is in a bit of a lull until Heavensward, I managed to finish up the data collection.  There’s still a bunch to be done, mostly in the form of adding various graphics to the cards, but it’s still a lot of data.  I put in a number of features I like but haven’t seen elsewhere, like average magic points per encounter group, and a by-item guide to everything you can bet for it (both to get it and using it as the bet) at the Colosseum.  Enjoy!

FFXIV 2.3 Updates, FFVI Progress

The FFVI guide data collection was going well until FFXIV patch 2.3 came out and derailed all my momentum.  Them and their fun quests!

Fortunately (?), I’ve done most of the basic content in 2.3 and I (still) have no particular interest in grinding out any of the high-level stuff, so hopefully I can get back into the FFVI groove.

First, though, I wanted to mention the updates I’ve made for FFXIV.  All of the new items, recipes, dungeon drops, and so on are in.  Unfortunately a lot of the newer systems use a lot of data I can’t practically gather.  Desynthesis (or “desynthisis”, apparently) is a good example – even if I had the time to desynth everything, I’d need three characters to do it.  I did at least add whether an item can be desynth’ed to cards.  I’m trying to decide if it’s worth adding a desynth column to item lists themselves, or perhaps having “items this class can desynth” lists on class pages.  That seems largely redundant with crafting lists in general, but perhaps “items this class can desynth that it can’t craft” would be better.  Of course that wouldn’t tell you that culinarians can’t desynth food and alchemists can’t desynth potions, both of which seem pretty relevant.  I’m open to opinions here.