Gaming Inspirations IX: Character Profile: Freya Crescent

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Gaming Inspirations I: Personal Party Composition
Gaming Inspirations II: Character Profile: Adelbert Steiner
Gaming Inspirations III: Character Profile: Vivi Orunitia
Gaming Inspirations IV: Character Profile: Amarant Coral
Gaming Inspirations V: Interview with Joe Zieja
Gaming Inspirations VI: Character Profile: Garnet til Alexandros XVII
Gaming Inspirations VII: Character Profile: Eiko Carol
Gaming Inspirations VIII: Character Profile: Quina Quen

xnaxox-freya
xnaxox KILLED it with this piece.  Love it.  Check ’em out at xnaxox.deviantart.com!

Hello, friends, and welcome to the SEVENTH (and penultimate!) Character Profile of the Gaming Inspirations series!  “Gaming Inspirations” is a series of blog posts that puts into words how gaming has inspired me to shed my anxiety and its negative effects on my life.  Final Fantasy IX has provided incredible amounts of inspiration (probably because it’s the greatest game of all time), so I’m creating a profile for each of the main characters.  Each profile will examine their unique qualities and I will detail how, through physical action, I’m going to help myself lead the life I want to lead by incorporating those qualities.

Today we’re going to talk about the character with the most depressing damn story of them all: Freya Crescent.

CHARACTER SUMMARY

Freya was a powerful Dragon Knight of the proud kingdom of Burmecia.  She and her lover, Sir Irontail Fratley, hefted their mighty javelins to protect their kingdom and its people from all comers.

… That is, until Fratley disappears, leaving Freya to go on years-long quest to find him, not knowing whether he’s alive or dead, whether her journey is completely in vain.

The FFIX crew meet up with her in Lindblum, where she’s drowning her sorrows in a tavern.  Soon after, she gets word that her kingdom has been attacked (which is what happens when your best soldiers disappear for years, who would’ve known), and she rushes back to find Burmecia in ruins and nearly everyone dead.

Fuck.

She and the rest of the party meet a group of Burmecians in the ruins, learning that the King of Burmecia and other refugees are escaping to the nearby kingdom of Cleyra, which is surrounded by a protective sandstorm.  The Burmecians beg Freya to join them.  Freya and the rest of the party say no, continue on, and get their asses kicked by Beatrix, presumably with Queen Brahne and Kuja laughing in the background.

Double fuck.

Okay, Freya’s story hasn’t been great so far.  After their drubbing, the party goes to Cleyra, and Freya participates in a ritual dance that keeps the sandstorm up and running.  Naturally, as soon as Freya joins in on the dance, the strings on the ritual harp snap and the sandstorm subsides, allowing the Black Mage army that decimated Burmecia to roll right on in.

Depressed yet?

Well, finally, we get some good news: during the attack, when the party is surrounded, a dragon knight comes to save the day!  GASP!  HOLY DICKTITS, IT’S FRATLEY!  Freya’s lover!  The one she’s been searching for all this time!  Hooray!  Freya is so excited!  She embraces her lover, gushing about everything she’s been through!…

… Aaaaaaand Fratley lost his memory.  No idea who Freya is.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Oh, right, the attack.  That’s still happening.  Yeah, there’s a little minigame where you try to randomly direct people to escape (and if you get it wrong, black mages promptly kill these innocents), and when the party escapes (with Freya in Jim-Carrey-in-Eternal-Sunshine-level despair), they look back and see Queen Brahne, who summons Odin and promptly blows up the entire kingdom.

… And that’s Disc 1, and a bit of Disc 2.  Out of 4.

Jesus.

Incredibly, it does get better – at the end of the game, it shows Freya and Fratley together again (though he still doesn’t remember the past), chillin’ in Burmecia and havin’ a grand old time.

CHARACTER QUALITIES

Perse-Fuckin’-Verance

There’s only one quality that truly defines Freya’s character, and it is her stubborn unwillingness to surrender when she puts her mind to something.  Everyone in the game runs into trouble; everyone has their existential crises and moments of self-doubt (and even despair).  Everyone has a rough go of it at some point, but I don’t think it’s hard to argue that Freya’s path to happiness was the longest and most riddled with opportunities to give up.

She never does.

Even when she’s getting the shit kicked out of her by Beatrix.  Even when she embraces her long-lost love and he responds with “…uhh… who the fuck are you?”.  Oh, and let’s not forget that she’s been looking for this dude for years before the events of the game take place.

Man, Freya is such a beast.

INCORPORATING THESE QUALITIES

As with most things, perseverance can be trained; the key is to start off small.  If you’ve never lifted weights before, you wouldn’t walk into the gym, fill a bar with 5 45-pound plates, and try to lift it – that’d be a bit silly.  There’s no way you’d succeed.  You’d use lighter weights, get the form down, and slowly work your way up to bigger weights as you got stronger.  The same concept applies to perseverance: set the task up in such a way that it’s easy for you to win, and encourages progression.

Take your time, and think to yourself: what is something I want to do that, if I worked at it for ten minutes every day, I could do in six months?  This could be anything: shredding guitar, writing a novel, and literally drinking enough Jim Beam to kill a horse are all valid things that you might be able to do (good luck with that third one).  It doesn’t necessarily have to be productive; just make it something that, six months from now, you would look back and say “yeah, I’m glad I did that”.  For example, my goal is to be able to do a full side split six months from now.  Why?  Cuz fuck it, I wanna be able to do a split, that’s why.  I’ve been spending ten minutes a day stretching, concentrating on the muscles required to do a split in particular (groinulars (very scientific, I know), hips, legs, blabla).  Even if I don’t get there in six months, I’ll be much more flexible than I am now.  That’s the beauty of perseverance: it sounds obvious, but every little bit that you do to get closer to your goal will… well, it’ll get you closer to your goal.  Even if you fail to get the results in the timeframe that you set for yourself, the incremental gains you make are not lost.  The only time you lose is when you give up, and we’re rigging the game so that our chances of giving up are minimal.

There will be forces that try to stop you: impatience, negativity (either from within or from others), uncontrollable events in life.  There will be days that, even when the bar is set this low, you will fail.

This is where perseverance is trained.  It’s not in the doing; it’s in the doing again, after you fuck up.  Don’t let the fear of failure stop you, because you will inevitably fail.  So fail with grace; when you get knocked down, pick yourself back up and keep on goin’.  One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Sharon Salzburg, has a saying: “The healing is in the return”.  Use your inevitable failure as a learning experience, another exercise that will help to hone your focus and lead you to a better life.

I’ll leave ya with one of my favorite Rocky clips, where he’s talking to his kid and… well, you’ll see the Freya-type philosophy in the speech pretty darn quick:

 

Love y’all!  I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHO THE NEXT CHARACTER PROFILE IS ABOUT

The XP Rat Race, and Why I’m Starting to Fall in Love with Single-Player Games Again

Hey Y’all, been a while!  You’re looking beautiful as ever 😉

Thought I’d give you a little bit of an update on my gaming life:  of course, as soon as I started recording FFIX LP eps, I saw that Legend of Dragoon was on the PlayStation Store.  So, naturally, I abandoned the LP and started playing.

I finished last night, and I’m slowly realizing that I’m turning back into a single-player gamer again.

I’ve played a lot of WoW in my day.  I’ve played 931 hours (hours.  That’s almost 39 days) of Team Fortress 2.  I’ve played almost 450 hours of Awesomenauts.  And y’know what?  I wouldn’t trade that time in for the world.  I’ve had an awesome time playing those games, preferably with friends, but also just flying solo.  For the most part, it’s been really, really fun.

However, after finishing LoD last night, I’ve figured out what has kept me going for those hundreds of hours in multiplayer games, and why I think that single-player, at least for me, is the smarter, healthier, less-time-consuming way to go.

It’s no secret that multiplayer game developers want you to get addicted to their games:  I’m sure most large sellers of…  well, anything, are doing everything they can to manipulate human psychology into making people buy what they sell.  That’s not inherently a bad thing;  it’s just the easiest way to sell stuff.  This addiction is extremely valuable, especially in the case of multiplayer games that never end, and especially if there’s a monthly fee attached to a game.  If the devs can keep coming up with new and exciting ways to keep you, the player, pushing the “reward” button, then bam, they’ve got what’s likely to be a loyal customer.

Recently, however, I’ve been feeling like there’s something…  missing.

After one of my classic rage-uninstalls of Awesomenauts (something I’ve done countless times), I began to think ahead:  what’s my end-game?  What’s the point of playing all these Awesomenauts matches, and being so pissy when I lose?  Say I get to the top of the heap, become numero uno in the entire world.  What then?

The answer?

Nothing.

There’s no point.  Of course there’s no point.  I’ll get to the top, probably feel really excited for a moment, drink four or five Miller High Lifes (nah, I’ll go Heady Topper.  This is a special occasion), and plummet right back down the leaderboards.  Even in the best-case scenario, I’ll be #1 at the end of a season, then have to start right back from square one.

I’m being needlessly negative here – of course, I love playing Awesomenauts.  It’s a great game.  It’s really fun, especially with my friends, and fun is a totally legit reason to play any game in and of itself.  If you’re enjoying it, that’s the point of the game.  Good job.

I digress.  Getting back to Legend of Dragoon.

I beat it last night, and seeing that “The End” screen gave me a sense of satisfaction unlike anything I’ve experienced in Awesomenauts or TF2.  My total play time was about 51 hours, and I accomplished every goal I set for myself in the game:  got a bunch of super-dank weapons;  leveled my party to almost-godlike proportions;  kicked the final boss’ ass (and the optional superboss, to boot).  I did everything I wanted to do in the game, and at the end…  That was it.  There are no leaderboards to climb, no rankings to compare myself to my friends.  It was a personal journey, one with a beginning and an end, and now it’s over.

When I play Awesomenauts or TF2, I look at the characters less as “characters in a game, each with their own personality, and trying to accomplish a goal”, and more as stat blocks:  anonymous avatars whose abilities will, hopefully, allow me to crush the opposing team’s anonymous avatars.  There is nothing wrong with this.  The personal connections I feel to the characters in single-player RPGs is certainly stronger.  I root for them to achieve their hopes, their dreams, their goals;  I am with them through times of happiness and sorrow, and feel empathy for them.  This is because I feel like we’ve been on a journey together:  it’s not a 20-minute match that can simply be restarted again and again.  Both the characters and the player grow and learn throughout the process of playing an RPG, and when the journey is over, there’s a sense of finality that, while playing these multiplayer games, I forgot I was searching for.

Of course, I have since reinstalled Awesomenauts.  I fully intend to keep playing it.  It’s fun as shit.  But I don’t think I’m going to be quite as… intense about it.  I’m out of the XP Rat Race, the endless quest for higher standing.  It brings me passing, hyperactive joy, but not happiness.  Not satisfaction.

I had forgotten where to find that feeling, the reason I fell in love with games in the first place.  Thanks to Legend of Dragoon, I’ve found it again.

Tom’s Take on the Beginning of FFIX (Published 2/17/2013)

I really like our first guest blog post.  Tom’s a great friend of mine, and he’s the one who introduced me to FFIX all those years ago.  He’s got some great insight to the game.  He wrote this after listening to our audio (yes, we recorded ourselves playing FFIX;  if you want the audio, I can provide it), so if you’re confused by the few times he says “Like you guys said”, etc., that’s what he’s talking about.

Besides some minor grammatical editions, the following is straight from him.

Final Fantasy 9 Blog

1:  Intro – Dark Forest

The game itself is kind of like an enlightenment game, both figuratively and literally.    It brings up many themes from older games. I mean the originals; it’s coming off of the two most industrial and modern Final Fantasies, but FFIX is instead bringing us back to those ones we love so much.  X and XII follow this theme as well to some extent.  And I agree with most of what you guys said though those two games I mentioned aren’t that bad and even though they change some aspects they still follow the heart of the series.

Commonalities: Vivi’s look is a bring back to what is probably the most common look of a black mage, not knowing who the main character is in the beginning, like the originals, Vivi starts out with ???? Just like the original FF, then we also are introduced to the cinematic with Garnet and Zidane, so we really have no idea who we are going to play as.  Which is great because it allows the fluidity that comes up later where we play through others as they go through their own choices?  Though unlike what you said Zidane is clearly 100% the hero, the story lives and dies with his choices, the others have their own hero moments, even taken Zidane out of that role, but overall it’s him.

This game in my eyes is a two act play.  With discs 1 and 2 being act 1, and discs 3 and 4 being act 2.  It just flows more like a play than it does a movie.

The world is very elaborate and strange, where just about every person is something new; even the main characters have a wide variety to them, which again makes this game something special. It’s not building off of an existing world; it’s making something completely strange and unique.

Music, another just so much win, though to echo your point about it being actually around in the game rather than it just being on top of it.  Again this is an echo to earlier games, with FF3/6’s Overture and Wedding, where the songs actually change pace to reflect different voices that were singing or talking.  But again, I love the music so much, but that’s the whole series.  On the Cinematics, I agree with you again, for the time period they are very well done even now, you can see the emotions of every character, they are fluid, smooth, just great, and we have only seen a couple of them at this point in time…. Ugh they get so good.

Where are we now, love the play, which in turn is a play within a play and also mirrors the first act of the game, and it’s even used later on in the game, another reason I say the game is a play because it’s cyclical, not linear.  Love the swordfight scene, and I have gotten 100/100 as well I think I got it first too but we don’t need to get in to that.  Now on to Steiner, we know he is important, because we get to name him, though we could see him as goofy and bumbling, he is the picture of zeal and virtue, innocent even, blindly following orders because they must be right.  And you say he is so over exaggerated and yes he is but in Alexandria it seems that men are second class, so he kind of has to be to even stand a chance at being on the same level of Beatrix, which no one is since she is amazing.  So we go through boss fights which are really jokes and you know it, just stealing battles.  Blah blah, Garnet joins which I a bit of a twist since you don’t name her, and she is a princess that kidnaps herself.

Oh and about Brahne. Well, FF games are notorious for having characters parents being dead or going to die, with that we know that the Queen and Princess aren’t really related, at least it’s implied with the opening cinematic.  So anyway she is a very evil character, no not nearly as bad as Kuja but moving on, she fires on a ship that has her daughter, it’s clear she doesn’t really care about Garnet at this point, and really is more worried about the pendant being taken.  And with Zorn and Thorn and even how she talks to Beatrix, it’s clear that she isn’t right in the head, and with Garnet suddenly wanting to leave I agree that before the game we would see Brahne and the king being well normal.  Saving spoilers and what not for later where we can discuss other reasons, but you guys have spoiled enough already.

Then we have the cinematic with the unusually coincidental, harpoon and bomb firing cannons that are all facing where the theatre ship is, guess that’s to defend against Lindblum or whatever but anyway, this finally brings us into the darkness, literally as the ship crashes into the Dark Forest, another common theme of FF games, evil forests, it’s a nice play at something that is normally good, being nature and like the first real boss flowers, and turning it over to show you just how bad this “Mist” you have been hearing about really is, you are safe nowhere, and who knows what is going to happen next. Such a great start to this amazing game.

Questions?  Comments?  I’d love to hear them!

Wanna write your own guest post?  Feel free to hit me up at the email address to the left and we can make that happen 🙂