GWJ Conference Call Episode 37

Conference Call

Just Cause, Quake Wars, Band of Bugs, Manhunt 2 Goes AO, Game Pricing, Thread of The Week, Emails and more!

We have a very timely show this week as we tackle game pricing and AO rated games. Sean Sands has some lovely things to say about Rockstar, a ton of emails and oh, much more!

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
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Just Cause
Manhunt 2
Band of Bugs

Threads of the Week:
1) GWJ Pile of Shame - Hemidal

2) Mission Improbable: Clear the Pile - Hemidal

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"Fallen Idol" Benoit Casey - 0:22:41
"Luna Machine" Benoit Casey - 0:49:49

Comments

Duoae wrote:

Wordy you're going to have to explain that one. I thought i covered that bit the post. What's so important about the date? Or the act?

It's just the fact that it's tied to the goverment in a more tangible way than the US version in. The "threat" of government intervention in the States that got the industry to self-regulate doesn't set off our "Down with King George!" kneejerks to the same extent that an actual act of Parliament does.

Duoae wrote:

Quintin,

nintendo wrote:

*Please note that Nintendo does not sell or license games that carry the ESRB rating "AO" (Adults Only).

http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/buy...

So Nintendo doesn't say you can't play AO games on their console. Just that they won't license developers to make AO games for their console. Which is something you can weigh when deciding if you want to buy their console. Have Sony or MS made that same decision?

If AO restriction was actually a government ban, you wouldn't be able to buy AO games for the PC through any kind of distribution, whether it's online or brick-n-mortar. Consoles, on the other hand, suffer from requiring licensing.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Duoae wrote:

Quintin,

nintendo wrote:

*Please note that Nintendo does not sell or license games that carry the ESRB rating "AO" (Adults Only).

http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/buy...

So Nintendo doesn't say you can't play AO games on their console. Just that they won't license developers to make AO games for their console. Which is something you can weigh when deciding if you want to buy their console. Have Sony or MS made that same decision?

If AO restriction was actually a government ban, you wouldn't be able to buy AO games for the PC through any kind of distribution, whether it's online or brick-n-mortar. Consoles, on the other hand, suffer from requiring licensing.

If you can't license it then the disc won't be pressed for sale, no?

FWIW, it took me about 6 or 7 episodes before I could always pick out the voices correctly.

Great show guys, The Dr. Phil show rocks! Maybe someone can write in to him about WoW addiction and then Edwin can be on the show!

Oh, let me. I'll kick him in the balls like he deserves.

wordsmythe wrote:
Duoae wrote:

Wordy you're going to have to explain that one. I thought i covered that bit the post. What's so important about the date? Or the act?

It's just the fact that it's tied to the goverment in a more tangible way than the US version in. The "threat" of government intervention in the States that got the industry to self-regulate doesn't set off our "Down with King George!" kneejerks to the same extent that an actual act of Parliament does.

Precisely. The BBFC is tasked by the government explicitly (and I believe funded) to rate media. Those ratings are then used in the enforcement of Brittish law.

The ESRB (love or hate) is like the National Association of Securities Dealers -- NASD is not an arm of the government, it's supported by its membership, and if you don't think that matters, you should have seen what happened 20 years ago when non-NASD, non big-board markets started showing up.

Self-regulation works. You may not like the fact that commercial entities -- in this case retailers, publishers and platform makers -- are all colluding on what is effectively a ban, but the alternatives are far, far worse. In the absence of self regulation, modern governments don't ignore regulation, they make it statutory.

At least here the interested parties can all get together (literally) in one room, inside a formal board structure, and change the process, change the rules, alter the guidelines, etc.

If Elysium's ET:Quake Wars player nick is, in fact, Elysium, then he TK'd me on Friday as a GDF engie just as I was about to complete the EMP. Probably at about the time you were discussing Strogg vs Human time conversions.

I'll stand up for the game, as I've had more fun with that one Beta map than any shooter I've paid for in the last 2+ years. I had a long term romance with both Return to Castle Wolfenstein multiplayer, and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, so the game play is quite familiar to me. It's far more strategic & tactical than the BF series, but the gameplay speed is super fast ala typical Quake MP games. That combination may not sit well with some who want this game to fit other conventions, but it hits the spot for me. This is very much a Beta. The devs have already responded to feedback in the forums and although they haven't released a patch as of yet, they claim to have already patched their internal code.

Also, the Beta's graphics can't be placed into High mode using the menu in the Beta. You've got to add a command line entry (r_megadrawmethod 0) in an autoexec.cfg file in the games user directory. This won't be the case in retail, but if you want to check things out, follow this link: http://community.enemyterritory.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3552.

If Elysium's ET:Quake Wars player nick is, in fact, Elysium,

I believe I was playing under ElysiumGWJ, but it does sound like something I could have accidentally done.

The real explanation for rabbit's fascination with Tomb Raider is that he was staring at Lara's ass animation.

Rockstar IS a blight on the gaming industry, and they must be stopped in our lifetime before they kill again.

I think Gaald nailed the pricing issue, that big budget titles are in an arms race of sorts that could bankrupt the companies who play the "biggest is best" game.

Edwin wrote:

If you can't license it then the disc won't be pressed for sale, no?

Yeah, I was just being nitpicky there. Still, as far as I know that's not a decision that the other console makers have made.

What other console makers? All three say no to AO games.

Example of a game "the man" wanted to sell millions of but didn't: Viva Pinata

Elysium, I think you should take a challenge and play Bully, and then revist your comment about whether Rockstar is a blight. Anyone who enjoyed quality "sandbox" games like Crackdown and Mercenaries owes a debt of gratitude to Rockstar and GTA.

But Rabbit, wordsmythe, Elysium, everyone else.

You talk about the differences ... but in practice have there been any cases that have been different in the rating situation? Ive not heard of any. IMO, neither one is better than the other and this argument has turned into something i didnt originally intend it to.
Frankly it smells of "railing against the man".

You like your way of doing it... i dont care either way. Im more bothered by the fact that the US has a rating which no one will stock... but calls it a rating a not a ban because "its a free martket" and god forbid we ban anything in name and not in practice.

I dont think we can progress further in this discussion tbh.

*Sorry for the lack of apostraphes sometimes firefox decides that the designated key is instead assigned to ctrl-F. Dont know why.

I just hate the fact that someone else tries to tell me what and what not to buy. If I want to buy a horror book written in the I form where the I does a killing spree of 5 billion people, I should be able to. If I want to see a movie where a girls eyes is ripped out of her socket and then thrown to the dogs, I should be able to. And if I want to play a game where you can rip somebody's balls off with a pincer by flipping the Wiimote, I should be able to. It's my money, it's my time, and nobody should have a say in how I spend it.

About gaming pricing. I think with lower prices will come bigger sales. ShadowRun on 40 dollar would definitely sell more copies than it does now. The question is, with those extra sales, will the profit be more, then selling less units on 60. I think it will in a lot of cases, especially where a game is just good, and not great. But I'm no economic wizz in any case, so if anyone can teach me how wrong I am, please do so.

Well, I'm no economic wizz either but it seems obvious to me that a game with such a focus on online multiplayer, like Shadowrun, would do better with more people playing it.

If it can't get to a critical mass level then there's a good chance that people trying the game out won't get a good taste of what the game's about.

A lower price would lead to more players which would lead to more players, etc, etc, etc.

Hi, short term reader, first time poster.

It seems that some people have got this story second or third hand , so here is the primary source for the BBFC rejection of Manhunt 2: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/news/press/20070619.html

BBFC Rejects Video Game Manhunt 2

The BBFC has rejected the video game Manhunt 2. This means that it cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK. The game was submitted in both a PS2 and a Nintendo Wii version. The decision was taken by the Director and the Presidential Team of Sir Quentin Thomas, Lord Taylor of Warwick and Janet Lewis-Jones.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

"Rejecting a work is a very serious action and one which we do not take lightly. Where possible we try to consider cuts or, in the case of games, modifications which remove the material which contravenes the Board's published Guidelines. In the case of Manhunt 2 this has not been possible. Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing. There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game.

"Although the difference should not be exaggerated the fact of the game's unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying and the sheer lack of alternative pleasures on offer to the gamer, together with the different overall narrative context, contribute towards differentiating this submission from the original Manhunt game. That work was classified "˜18' in 2003, before the BBFC's recent games research had been undertaken, but was already at the very top end of what the Board judged to be acceptable at that category."

"Against this background, the Board's carefully considered view is that to issue a certificate to Manhunt 2, on either platform, would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and minors, within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and accordingly that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be unacceptable to the public." Under the terms of the Video Recordings Act distributors have the right to appeal the Board's decision.

Note for Editors

This is the first video game to be refused a classification since Carmageddon in 1997, when that decision was overturned on appeal by the Video Appeals Committee.

"BBFC's recent games research" refers to http://www.bbfc.co.uk/news/stories/20070417.html which is too long to quote, but the research is surprisingly positive about the neurological state of gamers, and it suggests that people playing games actually have a firmer grip on reality vs fantasy than people watching a movie. Which makes it odder that they should use it as a justification to reject Manhunt 2, which would seem to run counter to the research's conclusions.

We need to distinguish between certification and censorship. When the BBFC rate a game high, they are trying to protect children from experiencing it. Here they seem to be rejecting the fundamental ethos of the game, rather than any particular scene, and saying that it is too extreme for over-18s to play too. I wouldn't be surprised if the outcome of this dictates BBFC policy for the next 10 years. I have not played Manhunt, but it seems odd that it, in the light of the BBFC's own research, that it would have a worse effect than Saw or Hostel (which I have also not seen, btw).

Well I hope that Rabbit's dismissing of Quake Wars was more due to his lack of interest in the genre rather than a real opinion. Frankly it was kinda embarrassing listening to him dismiss a game after 2 hours of play... ouch.

Any game like this.. especially the sequal to ET your going to have mass confusion at first.. I remember day 1 of ET's release NO one had a clue what to do on any of the maps.. most people milled about aimlessly and rounds lasted forever because only a few people actually cared about trying to figure out the objectives and get them completed.

My first week in ET was painful.. I got killed constantly.. rarely helped on any objectives.. but eventually I figured out the maps and got better.. then by week 2 I found some good servers with a fairy stable set of players and things really began to gel. By week 3 I was completely addicted.. I played almost nightly for 10 months... and though still rough around the edges (for many of the same reasons like ET) Quake Wars has that same feel.. its simply going to be flat out awesome on good servers with good players..

I hope the other maps are better for the vehicles.. because I'm still not sure about them.. but forget Graphics.. and Forget Sound.. its ALL about the gameplay.

This aint BF2.. never was going to be... and never should it be.

niche - please pronounce correctly

http://dictionary.reference.com/brow...

it is pronounced nich not neesh

It is pronounced neesh in the UK. The second citation in dictionary.reference.com lists the pronunciation as (nĭch, nēsh). The etymology is listed as being from the old French nicher/nichier, which would certainly be pronounced with a "sh" sound rather than the "ch" sound from church.

I second DudleySmith on that one. Pronouncing "Niche" as "Nich" is just an Americanization
of the word:

http://w3.granddictionnaire.com/btml...

I find myself in agreement about ET:GW. The game is good, but going up against experienced players with no-one to hold your hand is a tricky proposition. I think Eylsium was probably playing Lumines or something at the same time as Quake Wars

Do agree on the sounds and graphics though, they gotta fix that crap.

Edwin wrote:

What other console makers? All three say no to AO games.

That's what I was asking about earlier and got no answer.

The reality is, though, that these days, the companies' names and brands are associated with every title that plays on their system. Allowing AO games opens them up to the kind of Thompson-esque attacks mostly reserved for Rockstar.

If it really matters to consumers that they be able to play AO games (what few there are), there's always the PC.

You talk about the differences ... but in practice have there been any cases that have been different in the rating situation? Ive not heard of any. IMO, neither one is better than the other and this argument has turned into something i didnt originally intend it to.
Frankly it smells of "railing against the man".

I don't like anyone telling me what I can and can't do either, but to say that a game getting an AO rating from the ESRB is the same as a government banning something is ridiculous!

A government ban is called censorship and we should always be on guard against it. Console makers saying they won't let AO rated games sell on their systems is free market. They make the consoles they have the right to say what games they want on their systems and what games they don't. Games affect the image of the console maker just as much as the developers. It's one of the big reasons the video game market crashed back in the day when there was no control. Apparently no one wants AO games selling on their systems, and I assume it's partly because of image and partly because they know it would hardly sell if the big retail chains won't carry the games in their stores.

Yes effectively we end up with the same result because the developer has been hamstrung by the retailers and the console makers but the way we ended up there is what's important. In this case the industry, in North America at least, is protecting itself instead of being told what they can and can't do by the government. Like it or not that's a good thing. The ESRB isn't saying we can't play the game they are saying only adults can. No one in North America said Rockstar can't release the game, at least no one who matters. Rockstar could still sell the game by digital distribution or smaller independent stores who don't care about what a game is rated at, and the PC is still an option for release but Rockstar probably doesn't want to limit the game they spent millions making so they probably won't.

If you can't see the difference there than I doubt I will ever be able to convince you otherwise. Good discussion though, I am glad we brought it up on the podcast.

Edit: Doh! Quintin posted part of my argument before I could, stupid life getting in the way before I could post!

You did a more thorough job though.

DudleySmith wrote:

"BBFC's recent games research" refers to http://www.bbfc.co.uk/news/stories/20070417.html which is too long to quote, but the research is surprisingly positive about the neurological state of gamers, and it suggests that people playing games actually have a firmer grip on reality vs fantasy than people watching a movie. Which makes it odder that they should use it as a justification to reject Manhunt 2, which would seem to run counter to the research's conclusions.

We need to distinguish between certification and censorship. When the BBFC rate a game high, they are trying to protect children from experiencing it. Here they seem to be rejecting the fundamental ethos of the game, rather than any particular scene, and saying that it is too extreme for over-18s to play too. I wouldn't be surprised if the outcome of this dictates BBFC policy for the next 10 years. I have not played Manhunt, but it seems odd that it, in the light of the BBFC's own research, that it would have a worse effect than Saw or Hostel (which I have also not seen, btw).

I fully understand the motivation, but the idea that a psuedo-government agency has to approve a game before it can be sold makes my fists clench. Duoae, you might just not understand the inherent American distrust of the government. It's sort of a tradition -- and perhaps a mild psychosis.

And in case someone wanted my take on "niche": Both pronunciations are valid, though the "French" pronunciation makes you sound more like you know a thing or two about etymology. Guess which one I use!

I think Eylsium was probably playing Lumines or something at the same time as Quake Wars

Actually, I was doing quite well at the game. Please don't mistake my tepid interest as ineptitude. I was regularly ranked in the top three on my team in XP and kills (don't really care for playing support classes). I'm also not looking for this to be BF2, and I don't think I suggested such on the podcast. That said, the game just left me a little cold. It's certainly a work in progress, but it felt ... flat.

However, as I also said in the podcast, I think the fundamentals are in tact. Hopefully they get the time they need to properly polish.

TheGameguru wrote:

Well I hope that Rabbit's dismissing of Quake Wars was more due to his lack of interest in the genre rather than a real opinion. Frankly it was kinda embarrassing listening to him dismiss a game after 2 hours of play... ouch.

Sorry, didn't mean to embarass you (grin).

See, here's the thing. I love squad based FPS games. I chunked tons of time, just tons, into 1942 and Team Fortress. Battlefield 2 I still have a love/hate relationship with. When everything works, and I get a decent squad to play with, I love it. It sucks (for me) pubbing. I don't WANT ET to be BF2.

I don't remember exactly what I said, but here's the reality: yes, after 2 hours, the game went from a first-day must-buy to a wait-and-see. I spent the first hour of my experience with the game just trying to get it to run on my spiffy dirt standard new computer. After that, I pubbed perhaps another two hours, and while I get what the game is trying to do that's fun and interesting, I was frankly underwhelmed. Perhaps I expected too much.

Unfair for a beta? Sure, I admit that. I completely fall into the trap of assuming that a fileplanet-beta is as close to a demo as we're likely to get before launch. *Could* the game be great? Sure, it's got some compelling gameplay elements that, theoretically, could make for a great team game.

Snap judgment? Perhaps. But the reality is I have 5-10 hours to game on an average week, 10-15 on a REALLY good week. There are, generally, 3-4 games I feel like I either want to play, or *should* play for other reasons, every single week, when I consider the backlog. I didn't see anything in ET that so blew me away that I felt I simply had to dedicate a week or two to the learning curve.

Will I be revisiting it after release? Sure. Hopefully it will be competing with brain space with TF2. Very different games, but for me, scratching the same itch.

I have to say one last time... it's not a government agency... no matter how much you want it to be... Like i said, you guys are making it into an argument that was never started.