GWJ Conference Call Episode 34

Conference Call

Another PS3 In The Mix, Motorstorm, Bioshock: The Return, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, How We Play, News, Graphics, Botched English and more!

Another week, another show! We have all the usual fun stuff plus some old consoles returned and new consoles arrived. Just so you know, the show kind of ends abruptly because my internet dropped out just as we were about to wrap up so we had to run with a local close to tie it all up. Rob makes up for it with extra examples of me screwing up. Enjoy!

Want to support the show? Hit the Digg link just above (it's fast and easy to register) or review us on iTunes! Read on for show notes.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined.

Sponsor
Liongames.com

The Links
Motorstorm
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Bioshock
Del.icio.us Grab Bag o' Fun

Thread of the Week:
1) Are you unhappy with current "last-gen" visuals? - Duoae

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"Small Comfort" - Apoplexia (Benoit Casey) - 0:21:33
"Los Pistoleros" Ian Dorsch - 0:34:50
"Impeller" Ian Dorsch - 0:52:58

Comments

Another great show guys.

Was a little surprised at how many people are running dual core systems (but then again, I'm behind the curve,) but was really surprised how many are still running older video cards. Are we all still waiting for that killer app that absolutely forces us all to upgrade? I personally won't probably get around to upgrading my PC until there's a killer app that I want to play that's not offered on the 360.

Great podcast guys!

I can't believe i had thread of the week. I'm so happy

One of the things you guys focused on was comparing the Wii to the PS3 and 360. What i was really getting at is why many of the Wii games don't look as good as current PS2 games etc... when the Wii's architecture is really well known because of its similarity to the GC.

With respect to Certis' point on graphics impacting on the games:
I'm wondering if people who played on PC at the same time as the PS1/N64 and PS2/GC aren't as bad for graphics because although we've been playing at resolutions of 800x600 and 1024x768 we still had to go back to playing games at 640x480 and blocktastic graphics.

Here's why I'm getting Bioshock for the X360...

Lion Games has it available for pre-order at $40. That's right, LESS than the PC version. Done.

If I could get them for the same price and had a newer PC I'd get the PC version, sure, even if just for the mouse control. But since that's not the case...

1. I played MGS subsistence, and found the camera to be nice but the game sort of pointless. I don't like the crazy bosses, and the rest of the control system is still archaic, like playing Splinter Cell with a card punch machine or something.

2. I think to most people the "leap" from SD visuals to HD visuals is barely a small hop. Except in rare circumstances, and then only if you are really paying attention, it's just not as big a jump as we auido/visual dorks would like to make it out to be. By extension, I think the same thing holds for PS2-era vs. PS3/Xbox-360 games. Yes there are differences, but while actually playing the game, art direction and other aspects of the game production matter more than the resolution of the visuals. Put another way: Ratchet or FF12 or Halo 2 or even God of War 2 on "last-gen" machines are visually much more interesting than even something like Gears because the art direction and design are better (IMHO).

Of course, I'm one of the losers who thinks that Gears is all gray and brown and dull.

When great art direction and design catch up with the raw visuals, then we'll start to see some interesting stuff. But not until then.

Yeah, Gaald, your DRM "specialist" is a moron.

That "download again" feature has always been there, and what it allows you to do is to fetch content you've purchased on a different console to use while logged in to Live as the user who purchased it, which is the heart of the problem entirely. It does NOT change the "home console" for that content, so if you aren't logged in to Live, or you are a different user on the box, you will not be able to use that content.

I'm sure Parallax can explain this better than I can, but when you purchase content you get two licenses. One goes to the user that purchased it, so that user can use the content on any Xbox as long as they are logged in to Live. The other goes to the Xbox the content was purchased on, so any user on that Xbox can use the content. Basically, the fix they need to make is to find a way to revoke and reissue that second license type. The workaround where they issue a silver account enough points to purchase all your content again works because it reacquires a license for your new Xbox.

More bloopers from Certis? Sold!

I'm looking forward to listening when I get home as always. I would try out my new speakers I just got for my desk, but I don't think the other techs around me would appreciate spewing orange chicken and fried rice on their monitors.

Rob needs his eyes and possibly his head examined..

God of War 2 looks almost the same as Gears of War?

One game I can basically count the polygons and go blind at the blurry non AA'd textures.

The other has insane poly counts and AA everywhere.. not to mention the resolution jump.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 - 10:31am

1. I played MGS subsistence, and found the camera to be nice but the game sort of pointless. I don't like the crazy bosses, and the rest of the control system is still archaic, like playing Splinter Cell with a card punch machine or something.

I don't know, I think Metal Gear Solid 3 made some improvements and was overall more forgiving than the first two games. Just having the ability to take someone down face to face before they could raise an alarm was a big help. It still pulls that same, Resident Evil style control limitation to make the game more tense and tactical, but the new camera made it way easier to swallow. It didn't hold me back.

art direction and other aspects of the game production matter more than the resolution of the visuals.

I'm a huge proponent of this too. If the art style is consistent and interesting, technology limitations only serve to make developers more creative in their approach. In an age where pre-made game engines are becoming essential for next-gen titles, I worry that we're going to see variations on the same basic clay rather than new raw materials.

I'm only about halfway through, but here's what I've got so far:

Certis: "I'm not wrong, I'm just [Canadian]." -- Gold.

Bioshock:
My computer was top-o'-the-line in the summer of '04, so this'll be much cheaper for me on 360. Thanks for the Lion Games tip, Lobster!

How we play:
Matchbox 20 and Counting Crows: Is there a game for sitting around in the dark sighing and drinking Boone's Farm?

Naked Certis: I've seen this sort of thing before. Also, "She parks her car outside my haouse and takes her clothes off, says she's close to understanding Jesus, and I know she's more than just a little misunderstood...."

Audiences: Yeah, that really bugs me in Guitar Hero. In other games, I can't really understand or imagine someone really wanting to watch that much. That's the kind of garbage I tried to feed my brother as a kid when I got him to pay for half of Shadowrun or Final Fintasy (though I did use him as sort of a human macro to level up my characters).

Obnoxiousness in Gears: You're not alone. I still get sort of surprised if someone sober invites me to a game. I've been a total ass, and even morese lately. Sorry dudes!

Atmos(t)phere: First time through anything, I want that to be the only thing. Shades drawn, lights off, and all sounds minimized other than the game. I also will only have external sound/noise after I've heard all the background music and voices, etc. for the bit I'm playing. I want all the experience I paid for.

Not paying attention/ignoring cutscenes: If there's something that boring to me, it's usually not long enough to merit picking a book back up and reading until it's done. If it is that long and I can't skip it, I probably won't play the game. I don't ignore cut scenes, though. I don't really play grind games since I moved away from my younger brother to do it for me.

Play time: I'd say ideally mid-day, maybe 10am-4pm. I like really being able to relax the way you might on the weekends you dream about but never actually get. You know -- the weekdays you had in college or the last time you were between jobs. I have a day job, though, and plenty of other demands on my time, so it's catch as I can.

Players who use English as their primary language: What exactly counts as "English" these days again?

More excitement to come!

Edamame logical?

fangblackbone wrote:

Edamame logical?

mmmm.... edamame

RE: Expensive Graphics cards.

I don't think it's a matter of the graphics card companies dropping their prices. What you guys didn't metion is that MS and Sony are selling their consoles AT A LOSS. I don't actually know how much they would be charging if they were selling them under the same business model as the graphics card manufacturers (incorporating R&D), but I'd imagine it would be substantially higher.
The better question would be: Given that Console Game makers pay licensing fees to MS and Sony, (which is how they make money off their consoles) but don't pay the same fees to MS for PC games, why aren't Games like Oblivion cheaper on the PC?

I found it was a bit hypocritical to go off on high end GPU's for their price in the same podcast as raving about the graphical improvements of HDTV. HDTV's are still out of the price range of most gamers, so why are HDTV's immune to your price criticism, but GPU's are not?

why aren't Games like Oblivion cheaper on the PC?

Oblivion was $10 less on the PC, I seem to recall. Most PC games are still at $50, which "next-gen" console titles are typically $60.

I can't afford an HDTV and don't see the point of playing a "next gen" console on an SDTV when I could just play PC games on a high-res monitor.

To be fair, you could plug those consoles into your monitor, but that's a line of discussion as old as time itself. Older than rabbit, even.

Certis wrote:

Oblivion was $10 less on the PC, I seem to recall. Most PC games are still at $50, which "next-gen" console titles are typically $60.

You're right! Paying little attention to the price of console games as I do, I missed this. Couldn't the argument be made, then, that over the course of a console lifespan, if you've bought say 20 games for that console, you'd actually have saved $200 by playing PC games instead? (Thus helping to make up for the price of an expensive GPU)

Certis wrote:

To be fair, you could plug those consoles into your monitor, but that's a line of discussion as old as time itself. Older than rabbit, even.

Touché, Certis. Touché.

Dysplastic wrote:

You're right! Paying little attention to the price of console games as I do, I missed this. Couldn't the argument be made, then, that over the course of a console lifespan, if you've bought say 20 games for that console, you'd actually have saved $200 by playing PC games instead? (Thus helping to make up for the price of an expensive GPU)

You could make that argument, assuming that all the games you wanted to play were released on PC, were released in a state of comparable stability and playability on PC, that your GPU would be up to the task of pushing those games at your desired resolution for the full lifespan of the console in question, and that you wouldn't require an OS upgrade to play any of those games. As we know, there are not too many cross-platform games for which we can say all (or any) of those things.

Top end GPU's have spiraled out of control.. probably because like Certis said in the Steam stats.. not to many people actually buy them.. so fleecing the 2% or so for $699 (at launch) sorta makes sense.

Bastards.

TheGameguru wrote:

Top end GPU's have spiraled out of control.. probably because like Certis said in the Steam stats.. not to many people actually buy them.. so fleecing the 2% or so for $699 (at launch) sorta makes sense.

Bastards.

I'd be interested to see the system specs for folks around here just to see if Steam's sample is completely representative of "average" gamers. Maybe we ought to start a thread about that around here.

TheGameguru wrote:

Top end GPU's have spiraled out of control.. probably because like Certis said in the Steam stats.. not to many people actually buy them.. so fleecing the 2% or so for $699 (at launch) sorta makes sense.

Bastards.

Finally someone who agrees with me!

Dysplastic wrote:

I don't think it's a matter of the graphics card companies dropping their prices. What you guys didn't metion is that MS and Sony are selling their consoles AT A LOSS. I don't actually know how much they would be charging if they were selling them under the same business model as the graphics card manufacturers (incorporating R&D), but I'd imagine it would be substantially higher.

I think this is one of the core problems. When computer parts are sold, they are sold so that the company can make profit whereas with these consoles, they are losing money on them (save the Wii). Sort of hard for a computer user to keep as on the bleeding edge as consoles are with a situation like that.

TheGameguru wrote:

Rob needs his eyes and possibly his head examined..God of War 2 looks almost the same as Gears of War?

One game I can basically count the polygons and go blind at the blurry non AA'd textures.

The other has insane poly counts and AA everywhere.. not to mention the resolution jump.

Even though Rob went off his rocker and wasn't even close with what he said about Gears, Great show guys! Certis, Metal Gear Solid 1 was great but the next two have done nothing for me. I don't think I'll even pick Metal Gear Solid 4 up.
To bad there was no talk of Socom but what can you do. Maybe Certis will squeak something in for Legion and me in next week.

Gaald wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

Top end GPU's have spiraled out of control.. probably because like Certis said in the Steam stats.. not to many people actually buy them.. so fleecing the 2% or so for $699 (at launch) sorta makes sense.

Bastards.

Finally someone who agrees with me!

Actually, he was agreeing with us. Keep reaching for that rainbow

To bad there was no talk of Socom but what can you do. Maybe Certis will squeak something in for Legion and me in next week.

I plan to look at it once they release the game on the PS3, hopefully they drop a demo.

In reference to the Graphic Card Prices comment:

I think Graphic cards really has four different buyers out there. The "I have to have it now crowd" who buy top end graphics cards upon release week at maximum premium. The "I'll wait till it falls in price crowd" who buy top end graphics cards but from 6 to 12 months out from release. The "I need a good graphics card but can't afford the latest one" mainstream who usually buy last years best gen card. Basically everyone who buys the 8800 GTX next year and exactly the demographic that the 8800 GTS was developed for. And then the last of the buyers who basically buy it only because they are dragged kicking and screaming to get one because even the most basic of programs and games won't work on their old computer and so they are forced to upgrade out of necessity.

Given the basic four buyers (I'm sure there may be more) we know that graphic cards will go through several phases of life and most likely will keep selling in decent number up to 2 generations into the future. The x1950 still sells half way decent and so does the 7900 GTX. These are 1 generation old. The x1800 and the 7800 GTX are still selling to the very late crowd who are forced to upgrade. That's 2 generations old. Everything older than that is most likely a business computer of some sort that can get away with using only a 7600 to work on Excel and Word and other business Microsoft applications.

I believe most of us fit into the second category and want a new video card but are willing to wait a little while for the price to come down. Even as long as 2nd gen purchases.

Yes but he agrees the that the top end GPU's have spiraled out of control. It's funny how you missed that part. So I guess he agrees with both of our points of view.

Even though Rob went off his rocker and wasn't even close with what he said about Gears, Great show guys!

Trust me guys I haven't gone off my rocker. Yes Gears of War looks great it's I just don't think it justifies the jump in price people are having to pay at launch for the systems. I feel like in the past big price jumps in technology have always come with big improvements in visual quality for example the difference between the Super NES and the PS1 was very big, the difference between the PS1 and the PS2 or Xbox was also pretty large. I just don't think the price jump of a 100 dollars more for the 360 compared to the Xbox at release, and the price jump of 200 dollars for the PS3 as compared to the PS2, was justifiable. Not with the games that have been released to date.

People might call me crazy but I think Microsoft would have been better off releasing the 360 late last year or early this year. Had Microsoft taken more time releasing the 360 we might have seen a system less prone to failing and quieter than a jet engine. The developers would have also had more time getting games ready for the system and we might have seen more games that looked like Gears of War or better right out of the gate.

Sony should have waited for another year so that the technology wasn't so expensive to produce and people didn't have to pay through the nose to purchase it at release. With all the troubles they have had with production the developers have had hardly any time to get ready for the system and hardly any games have been released. Also had Sony waited another year every system might have come with a six axis controller that included rumble.

Call me crazy I don't care, I am just finding it harder and harder to justify staying current with the prices rising as quickly as they are, especially when I consider the improvements in quality aren't keeping pace.

I aggree, Rob. PC's for the win!

My plan is to travel into the future, buy a gaming rig and OS and then come back and i'll be sorted for the next few years. Alternatively, if that doesn't pan out, i'll just buy the games even if i can't run them and wait until i do upgrade to play them.

My dad, for instance, played FEAR at 640x480 on my old 9800pro.... the game was scary to watch!

Gaald wrote:

Call me crazy I don't care, I am just finding it harder and harder to justify staying current with the prices rising as quickly as they are, especially when I consider the improvements in quality aren't keeping pace.

Could it also be, as y'all suggested in the podcast, that because the developers have to take into account SD and HD TVs that we just don't see the big graphical leaps because they can't devote their time and efforts to making it that much more spectacular. Or even the quality of the TV that the game is being played on?

I've got my 360 hooked up to my room mates big screen, non-HDMI, HDTV that's quite a few years old. When my A/V nurd of a friend came over to check out Gears he just wasn't that impressed. To him it just looked like a regular old Xbox game, but a teensy bit prettier. He wasn't blown away by it at all (see, you're not alone!).

I felt the same way about Oblivion. I bought it because people could not stop raving about how amazingly gorgeous the game is. When I put it in my first thought was: Hmm... it's pretty but not jaw droppingly pretty. Followed by: Why the hell is everyone's face glowing? Radioactive acne?

I think that if you've got a killer HDTV hooked up over HDMI you do notice the difference. Over at said A/V nurd friend's house they've got their PS3 hooked up over HDMI to their ginormous HDTV and it completely blows me away. I'm sure once I get my own HDTV and hook up the 360 over HDMI or VGA it'll blow me away like I expected it too when I got it.

$600 blown away? That waits to be seen. But I knew going into this there would eventually be a price drop to something more reasonable. I didn't want to wait any longer is all

First of all, congratulations to Elysium for winning the GameGuru Sweepstakes! That was out of left field and just plain awesome, so hats off to GG.

Next, it's a slight tangent from the price of GPUs, but if you want to talk about console pricing (and price drops), Next-Gen has an excellent article up about trends in console price drops.

Also, I loved Los Pistoleros - I was waiting for it this time around and was well rewarded. Just freaking awesome.

Art direction vs Polygons - I'm with many of you chanting for art direction. If a game has standout style it's far easier to remember it years down the line - you'll never confuse an Okami for something else, but can you say the same for Medal of Honor?

The As-Long-as-You-Play-With-Both-Hands-it's-All-Good Edition

Psst! Kid! Wanna buy a PS3?
Wow, that's amazing. w00t for Gameguru. Motorstorm - If my uh, skillz with Wii Excite Truck are any indication, prolly not. And please don't plug your cat into it. Not even if his name is "5" or "6".

Just as an FYI, one of my son's friends just had his PS3 overheat and burn out. He's waiting for a replacement. I doubt the numbers are anything like comparable, but the "trust" factor just isn't there for me.

Live Ruined me for Single Player Games
Live is starting to creep me out. The thing keeps track of me like my mother-in-law. And it tattles outrageously. Though I did enjoy catching my son playing a couple games behind my back when he didn't bother to change the profile and he was supposed to be doing his chore.

Rob's Box is Back!
w-0-0-t! The new update that came out with that re-download capacity in the Spring. It was useful for when my son panicked right before the Halo 3 beta over the size and did some serious pruning in things that don't belong to him. I didn't know it was supposed to be applied to the DRM thingy. If they're getting that going that will be wicked cool.

Puzzle Quest Redux
Am I going to have to separate you two?

Console FPS
Guys, the dust from that dead horse is killer on my allergies. If you have hardware that can launch the Shuttle, then your cut-off point is a little different than those of us who have a box that considers Office XP a challenge and simply cannot keep up with the Joneses.

Subsistence
That camera is a gift from the Gods.

No Forza, no Shadowrun...
None here either, I'm afraid. Elves with guns is the point of the original game, too.

How We Play

Frickin' Jackal....

Young man! Turn that thumping crap down!

Frickin' Grunts....

Danica, you can't get a larger number when you divide like that. Try it again.

Go Ram Elite! Go find that stupid flirting ODST!

Miranda, get out of the shower. Even merfolk don't take that long!

Crap! Beeppp---beepity-beep! Frickin' Brute.

Yes, I can look at that damned division problem again now that I'm dead. 6 times 8 is 48, dear. Try again.

(repeat of the first 4 minutes of the area for the 17th time)

Perfect time to play: Midnight works for me. Then at least I can replace all the parts where I'm talking to kids above with, "Young Man! Get back to bed or else!"

Ubisoft acquiring/merging EA
The EA guy is a little bit windy there. It's not like their guys are making anything all that artsy. I don't know of an EA IP that requires a specific guy all THAT much. Now, if it was the other way around and Ubisoft lost Michel Ancel, that would be a different proposition.

id Software
Doing something new is good. A new engine by Carmac? They've definately got me curious. I'm not sure about magic, though. You made my point by trying to list who is using the thing. It's going to be interesting how this is going to pan out.

System Requirements Heck
You forgot the venerable dragon sleeping in the old-school living room: Starcraft.

And you just described why I am no longer a PC gamer. It's not that it's not what I want. I would love to walk into the LAN with my pretty modded box dripping gigHertz and start fragging 'leet loosers with their staggering little no-name boxes. But I can't do it now. We'll see what happens when I get some more kids out the door and they're not kicking my budget right in the you-guessed-it every month.

And no, my computer won't run Counterstrike. It can't run Bionicle. But I can run Maya. Go fig.

Last Gen Visuals
Doo-oh-ay is how he said to say it last time.

No. I'm not unhappy with the "last gen" visuals. There are some PS2 (Final Fantasy XII) and Gamecube games (Crystal Chronicles) that can stand there with current games. It's not like everything out there is Tony Hawk Project 8, but there are examples of successes in this realm.

Art design is key. Crystal Chronicles is just gorgeous, but it's not because it's dripping megaflops. It has to do with Square's artistic team and their skills. This is why I'm so excited about games like Lost Oddysey and Blue Dragon; that's those guys with the new hardware and they've had a couple years now to get in the swing.

It also has to do with development. They have to ramp up. This first round or two is just not going to look as good as they can until they get the knowledge of how to optimze to the graphical hardware in this new hardware.

Certis wrote:
To bad there was no talk of Socom but what can you do. Maybe Certis will squeak something in for Legion and me in next week.

I plan to look at it once they release the game on the PS3, hopefully they drop a demo.

If they drop a Demo (which I don't think will happen but can hope) I'll be getting a PS3 sooner then Christmas time and you'll actually have someone to play all thoses games you have.Wait, never mine....

I jsut realized that my computer actually meets the recommended specs for Vista (Home Premium/business/elite). Crazy. Will I upgrade? No.