User:Erik the Appreciator
Erik's userpage directory: Golden Sun Universe | SmashWiki
All About ErikGolden Sun and The Lost Age on the Golden Sun Hacking Community...)
If I had to define how I generally act and think, I think the best way to do so is to proclaim that I never want to give out or receive trouble that's either avoidable or petty, because there are always more important things in life to be concerned with. Therefore, I have a fairly rigid policy of acceptance and tolerance towards all kinds of demographics, and I don't see any value in being discriminatory towards any of them, whether we're talking about culture, race, religion, or sexual orientation. (Honestly, that taking pride in being this way helps my psyche is a plenty-good-enough reason for me.) Furthermore, whenever I do any editing and someone else raises a point or complaint, I always strive to explain to, and discuss with, them about it without being overly argumentative or leaving out details so that it's more likely they'll get the logic behind my stance - and I'll be open to any possibility of other users raising points or ideas that may ultimately be better for the wiki than what I think.
There was, however, once a time period long ago when I was less articulate, more argumentative, and frankly unaware of various common-sense things about the Internet, which was how I started out when I began posting on the Golden Sun fan forum, the Temple of Kraden. That resulted in several awkward situations on my part; nonetheless, I have the Temple's community to sincerely thank for showing me both the camaraderie and the at-times-tough love that I needed in order to become more on top of things like I am now. Then, once I had stuck around there for several years, I started to feel like I got all I wanted out of the experience, and that I was starting to get disinterested in constantly discussing opinions about everything, so in advance of Dark Dawn's release I decided to gradually ease myself out. (Though I still count myself as part of "the Golden Sun community" since I'm always here on the Wiki and its own forums still.) Quickly glancing at the ToK now, I'm quite delighted that it continues to be a vibrant community even after how Dark Dawn went over (and I'm especially happy to see that certain users that originally left the ToK prior to Dark Dawn's announcement have since returned to discuss the game and other things ^_^), and I'm content to give everyone over there my best regards.
Being "the Appreciator"
Now, what exactly is my take on "appreciation" that my user name is referring to? First of all, it does not mean that "I like everything". It's fairly complex, but some of its basic ideas are that I don't let myself let myself get bothered by things in movies and games that a lot of other people tend to complain about just because of having been arbitrarily established to be "cliches"; I don't troll people for liking something I don't; and I try to be objective enough that I'll point out whatever's good about a product even if the overall product is bad. I also generally appreciate constructive criticism of products much more than near-sighted blanket statements about them, and I tend to devote some appreciation to a creator's original intent and thought processes even if the final product is deficient in its execution.
An example of a popular game that I find terribly average is Skyrim, as much as I can totally appreciate the incredible visual and atmospheric detail of the world, the knowledge that Bethesda clearly put in a lot of effort to work out and put in a great amount of detailed lore and worldbuilding, the excellent voice acting and music, the fact effort was put in to make it a lot better than the previous game, the fact it publicly allows and approves of mods (and therefore the massive improvement to the UI that SkyUI provides it), and the fact there are powerful console command cheats to get me past whatever I want. But the core combat mechanics are just boring, with repetitive mouse clicks and little interaction with the keyboard amounting to sword-swinging core gameplay that isn't stimulating and therefore doesn't appeal to me as something one would have to do over and over again for many, many hours. And even if I use cheats to ditch the gameplay and try to appreciate it as if it were purely a work of interactive fiction, Skyrim is fatally flawed in its presentation; the way characters talk as if I would know everything about the world like my avatar does leaves me in the dust due to a lack of appropriate exposition and the absence of a Mass Effect-style codex feature that would document and arrange the dense lore and complex names for you. It just isn't enough to have hundreds of books lying around the world that have lots of disconnected bits of backstory, many of which are far less relevant than others.
It just seems highly ironic to me that Dark Dawn, of all games, comes across to me as vastly superior to Skyrim in both of these primary areas - despite DD having pretty much fatally easy JRPG combat, you at least can self-impose ways to make the process of selecting between attacks and Psynergy more interesting, and holding down A during animations does make things feel nice and brisk. And one of the primary complaints your average gamer has about DD and the other Golden Sun games, the often-repeating nature of conversations that last a long time because of it, is ironically one of the things I specifically like about this series - it gives that all-important element of established exposition a more solid foundation to settle in my mind, which is especially important in DD due to how many different ways the towns in the Ei-Jei region relate to each other.
Perspective on Golden Sun
I first played the GBA Golden Suns back-to-back in 2004, and ironically didn't start finding them incredible until I proceeded with my first replay. But I completely latched onto several different aspects about them by that point: the overall world and game showed itself to blend subtlety into its epicness in a very intriguing manner, while feeling very realized and tangible for a flat disc world made up of classical elements. But more importantly, the characters had boasted some of the absolute most appealing physical designs I ever saw when I looked at their official arts, and I found that the way they technically lacked exemplary character development oddly managed to make them more appealing to think about - since I wanted to imagine all the ways they could be written with more material, I therefore day dreamed a lot about them. I think that's what therefore gave the series such a vibrant and ship-heavy fan fiction community.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is also very significant to me, but for various reasons that are different in tone. There's a lot of little ways I love it much the same, and it has prompted a lot of daydreaming out of me too. And there are a lot of things about it that I for one can recognize and approve of as appropriate enough when you consider it's clearly structured as only the first part of a segment of lore taking place in a new Weyard. But looking at it objectively, I'd have to say this must be one of the strangest-executed long-awaited-followup games in the history of long-awaited followups, in both good and bad ways. Its presentation is strange in how it's clearly the absolute height of three-dimensional visuals on the old DS, and yet unavoidably looks very N64-ish. It makes all sorts of strange decisions in regards to structuring the new 30-years-later version of the main continent (in which many locations that fans know from the old games have disappeared without an explanation and are replaced with entirely new, unfamiliar locations that clearly would have had to exist back in the old games' world, forcing us to assume they weren't displayed onscreen back then because they were unimportant to the story at the time), decisions that would run counter to what companies like EA and Activision would obviously want their developers to include in their sequels specifically for the purpose of pleasing fanbases.
It has strangely good side-character arcs and strangely-detailed, interlocking behind-the-scenes logic when compared to the more straightforward simplicity of the old games, but is also strangely willing to do things that any developer and writer would know your typical lowest-common-denominator would decry even if there is good sense behind it (like the idea that the quest technically is caused by a party member breaking something important that needs a new replacement part to fix, and that it gets sidetracked very early on into the main plot). The amazingly improved designs of enemies, djinn, weapons, summons, and locations all heavily suggest that it was a sincere labor of love by the developers, but the puzzles are strangely meager when you consider that. But most of all, it's strange that despite all the years and effort put into it, it delivers an ending that is just plain missing a major component - leaving us completely uninformed about what even happened to the critical plot element at the end and whether it's in a position to come into play in the future or not - and that its enemy balance is just mutilated. Many enemies will just make love taps on you and not deliver threatening attacks, and the game's combat is overall super-easy, even when you impose your own challenge conditions on yourself like an Action Replay code that quarters all experience you get (the massive amount of experience you get from enemies is another strange difference from the old, made all the stranger by how the Unleash system, which was redesigned to be more strangely chance-based in and of itself, was also redesigned to introduce a new grinding element, which would drive up the extreme amount of EXP the party would get even more).
But here's the thing: unlike how I'm vocal against Pokemon X and Y doing a similar thing with its experience system to the detriment of its single-player quest (where you get so much exp that your whole party outlevels the entirety of the game, especially later when you can be as high as 10 levels ahead of the Elite Four, making it unfortunately the easiest Pokemon quest by far - something I really hope gets addressed in future Pokemon games), I don't really get overly affected by all the shortcomings of Dark Dawn as a game because what I truly cared about the most is that some modern day treatment of the Golden Sun series would exist to begin with. Had it just been the two GBA games, I probably would have always had a nagging sense of disappointment that the heavily-speculated third game never came. The true payoff for me really took place during the E3s of 2009 and 2010, when Dark Dawn was first announced and when the all-new (and even more incredible!) character illustrations started coming in, respectively. And as much as I would hope for a Golden Sun 4 that actually does address prior games' shortcomings better, I anticipate that a similar feeling of that certain kind of payoff will occur regardless if the fourth game comes at all.
Past and Current Activities
Put bluntly, I have been involved in a large proportion of the content you will see across the entire site. I have done several extensive projects over the course of the wiki's history, such as completely writing every individual Djinni-related page and restructuring and reformatting all enemy lines. Since then, there've been times I've been dormant for long stretches of time, though I glance at the site's RecentChanges daily, and it seems that it only takes some other user commenting on a page's out-of-date incompleteness to prompt me to make a full rewrite within a short amount of time.
Some Agatio fanart that I never saw anywhere else...