GWJ Conference Call Episode 58

Conference Call

Call of Duty 4, Uncharted, Hellgate London, Guitar Hero 3, Tabula Rasa, Electronic Arts And What It All Means, Moral Quandaries, Your Emails and more!

The games of November continue to roll in as we do our best to keep you up to date! We also discuss the state of EA with all their closures, buyouts, forecasts and other hullabaloo. Big thanks to workbenchmusic for the new tunes! 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

Thread of The Week

(1) Make A Morally Ambigous Choice, Win A Copy Of The Witcher! - kuddles

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree
Audioworks

"Cosmos" - (Workbench) - 0:42:08
"Crocodile Tears" - Zoo (Workbench) - 1:01:37

Comments

Wow. I couldn't disagree more with the evaluations of both Call of Duty 4 and Guitar Hero 3. Take the opposite of 90% of those sentences and that's what I would be saying. I also just got past the Stevie Ray Vaughn song on Expert tonight and I'm enthralled. Just sent Call of Duty 4 to Asz today. What is this upside-down podcast world?

Yes, you can turn off (or down) the band in Guitar Hero 3. For me that makes the game noticably easier, and depending on the song still sounds awesome when you just play the guitar part.

Since I'm too lazy to actually mail in, I'll just do another Swedish shout-out here.

So, yeah, you guys are great and stuff. WCC hugs for everyone! IMAGE(http://www.lysator.liu.se/~nossid/cube.gif)

Ordered Call of Duty 4 for the PC. I hope I can at least play it on low settings on my current PC.

There was something to say here about something in the podcast damn my train of thought.

Hunter Grant in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I enjoyed your province quite a bit on my honeymoon in October and I look forward to going back again! I especially look forward to going back to Lower Deck in Halifax.

I guess Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic is in fact a nitch game but there is still a pretty strong cult following for it and there is always that small chance that it might get a revisit ala Fallout. In truth it has all the elements needed for a successful game in the modern age. There is a bit of Master of Orion in it and a bit of Eve Online in some places, there is landing on planets to explore and there is association with aliens, mercenaries and pirates. I could easily see it able to withstand a modern fanbase. It will probably require one of the cult to win a lottery and fund it themselves but I can still have my dreams.

Gaming communities are hit or miss. Either you find cool people online through text chat or on Live or wherever or you find them online on forums or you don't and move on. Regardless of where you find people it will always take some time. Sometimes as long as months to carefully cultivate and weed out. I found my first guild through a set of real life friends but the next two clans I joined through a online community forum and then through playing with the same core group over and over again for months which were a subgroup of the former online community. I guess I was lucky when I listen to other people on how they joined their various groups.

BTW the music during the break was awesome though still need to work on naming the title instead of calling it "it" or "the game" at some point during long conversations on a title. I heard the mention of game title outside the first sentence introducing it maybe twice the entire podcast and only when actively comparing the game to another game.

Cheers.

Sigh... I hate you guys. You made me buy CoD4 for X360.

You all better still be playing by the time it shows up!

Fantastic show as usual. I enjoy moral dilemmas in games and I get a disproportionate sense of satisfaction when I get them 'right.' I have a dilemma for you... no lives hang in the balance but I think you'll agree it's a tricky one:

You are out questing one day in the Wild Wild Woods and you see an old woman on the side of the road. She beckons to you. You dismount from your swift lama and go to see what she wants. "You look like a discerning gentleman," she says, "and I have no doubt you are in need of the latest magical equipment. I have something in my cottage that might interest you." The old woman seems quite genuine but there is something about her that is unsettling. You hesitate and then decide to go with her. After all she might be selling a kick ass sword.

The inside of the cottage is all wooden beams strung with spider webs and shelves lined with dusty jars full of opaque liquids and coloured powders. In the corner a small imp crouches on his haunches chewing his nails and chuckling to himself. The old woman walks over to a cupboard and opens it. Inside there are three tall boxes. One is green, one is white and one is black. Their sides are concave (almost like an inhale.)
"It's a gaming console," the woman says, "It's called an Xbox 360. You can play games like: Halo 3, Bioshock, Call of duty 4 and Mass Effect."

You stare that the consoles. You have heard tales of the games she mentions and have longed to try them. Also, the All-winters festival is fast approaching, when you'll have a lot of down time questing wise, so it would be an ideal time to buy one. "Just pick a colour sweetie. The black one is an elite." She raises one crooked eyebrow. Suddenly you hear the rattling of a pot lid from another room, as if something cooking is about to boil over, and the old woman curses. "I gotta get that," she says, "back in a sec." She waddles off through a small door.

As you consider which colour to get you feel a tug on you pantaloons. Looking down you see the small Imp. "I wouldn't get one if I were you," the imp says in a gravely voice. "At least not yet."
"Why?" you ask.
"Weeeeeell," it says, flicking it's little red tail from side to side, "some of them ain't reliable and they're as noisy as hell. There are new ones coming out that are a lot quieter and more reliable. One of these here might be one of the new ones but then again..."
"Is there a way to tell which is a new one?"
"Hmmmmmmmmm. You could hold one up to a flaming torch and try to see if it has the right heat sink or you could hack one open with an axe. That'd invalidate your warranty though. You could check the lot number and date of production but there's no sure way. You can narrow the odds. The green one is newer and there is a much greater chance of it having the new do-hickey.... I think it's called a chip."
"But the green one is kinda ugly."
"It's all kinds of ugly and even if you get one of them it's no guarantee. Some of the white ones have the new chip."
"What about the black one. I like the look of that one and it's an elite so it must have the new chip."
"Weeeell no. At the moment, ironic as it may seem, the elite is the only one that definitely doesn't have the new chip." The imp walks away, "It's upto you though buddy. It's your gold."
You hear unsteady footfalls as the old woman returns.

What will you do:

Buy the white one
Buy the black one
Buy the green one
Kill the imp and the little old lady and take all three
Wait until after the All-winter festival in the hopes of buying one with the new chip/chips

Wow. You guys totally blew the Hellgate London problems out of proportion.

There are actually some people (myself included), playing the game without any problems whatsoever.

The bugs are specific to certain PC configurations and gameplay modes.

The interface is not that bad. Sure, the guild UI could use some improvements, and the chat is awful, but the rest works just fine.

The damage system in Hellgate London is very complex. The "rating number" you see on a weapon takes into account all the particulars of a weapon to provide a reasonable scale with which to compare different weapons. Weapons can have primary damage, splash damage, after-damage effects, and modifications that can affect any or all of those with five different kinds of damage. I think they came up with a rather elegant way to boil down all that information to a reasonable rating scale.

Finally, the subscription stuff was a one time SNAFU. It is not ongoing. It was limited to people who subscribed before Flagship shut down the subscriptions for part of the first week. Flagship/Ping0 were very forthcoming that there was a problem and there are notices all over their support site about how to deal with subscription problems if you were one of the few people who was multi-billed. Plus I'd like to echo whoever it was that said if a couple of $10 or $30 charges to your credit card are going to put you under, you shouldn't be subscribing to Hellgate. It's completely optional, and there's frankly right now not much of a reason to subscribe.

All that said, yes, screwing up the subscription was a major black eye, and I agree it's something that shouldn't have happened in the first place.

I want to echo a sentiment I've read in other threads here--I really don't get where all the Hellgate London hate is coming from. If you don't like the game, then fine, say so, but don't exaggerate its flaws to justify your opinion.

Well, aside from mischaracterizing a lot of what we said, neither Shawn or I "hate" Hellgate London. In fact, we've agreed time and again that there's a good game there, but that there are numerous bugs being had (congratulations on not having them) is undeniable and a good example of the fact that this game was not ready for release.

The damage system in Hellgate London is very complex.

And poorly documented.

The "rating number" you see on a weapon takes into account all the particulars of a weapon to provide a reasonable scale with which to compare different weapons.

That seems incredibly obtuse to me, and while I am finally getting used to it, I don't like it.

I know people who are enjoying a game get defensive when the game they like is being taken to task, but it's not like anything we said wasn't entirely true. Personally I've packed Hellgate London away for six months and plan to revisit it at a leaner time when the game is finally finished. I "invested" my $50 so they could get this out of a glorified beta, so I can wait.

I also just got past the Stevie Ray Vaughn song on Expert tonight and I'm enthralled.

I _really_ wish I had been too. I loved 1 & 2, but I have a really different opinion of this game. Rabbit and I did play online after the show, and that was fun. Once we had done that though, I took the game up to Gamestop and traded it in toward Rock Band. I haven't missed it since.

There's a reason we try and not call things "reviews" around here, either on the CC or on the front page - they are personal perspectives. If you have a system that suffers from a pile of bugs on a game, I don't see the problem with saying "I've got a pile of bugs." I don't see anything out of proportion to that at all. If "some people" have no problems, that doesn't mean the other people are wrong to say "this blows." I've been on both ends of this. With my previous PC install there were some games that simply would not run period. It was annoying to hear people tell me that it was somehow "my" problem.

There's no question that games are complex, but come on, Hellgate has been in development/beta for how long now? I think we as consumers aren't wrong to expect clarity, documentation, day-1 subscription systems that work and reasonably well functioning products.

The GFW guys on their podcast also talk about Hellgate and mirrors most peoples opinions that while very buggy with crashes and gameplay issues it was still a fun game.

I *completely* agree with the criticisms of Guitar Hero III. I, too, am really disappointed in the game. It seems to me that they have sucked the fun out of playing and turned it into this hyper-competitive thing. I *hate* the battles and I really don't like that you have to do them in the career. I can't finish the game because I can't beat the devil when he goes down to Georgia - what a ridiculous battle. I understand they have an audience of very experienced players who can 5-star every song in GHII on Expert, and they have to give them somthing to do, but for people like me who can play on Expert and do well, but not ace it, it's just frustrating. What's with this crazy preponderance of three-note chords that switch back and forth? It's like they put them in for no good reason other than to up the challenge. GHII had some of them, but with a couple of exceptions they weren't constant.
I could play GHII for hours and feel a bit worn out from all the strumming, but my fingering hand felt fine. With GHIII I can play for about 15 minutes before my fingering hand is cramped and in serious pain from all the constant, ridiculous stretching to make those chords.

I'm also convinced there is something just not "right" about the registering of notes. I swear I miss way more notes than I ever did on GHII, even after calibrating and re-calibrating till I never want to see that calibration screen ever again. I think the comment in the podcast was right on when you said that the window for hitting notes has been relaxed to cover up the fact that there is something very sloppy going on under the hood. Now, I'm playing the PS3 version, and there seems to be more problems with that than with the other versions, but not all the problems can be blamed on the console.

Anyway, here's hoping that Harmonix comes to the rescue. Help me Rocki-Band Kenobi, you're my only hope...

Miserere wrote:

Help me Rocki-Band Kenobi, you're my only hope...

You made my day.

With regards to the Hardcore/Casual gamer identifier in XBox live, I don't think that's meant so much to divide the community (That's the last thing Microsoft would want, since Live defines the 360 so much).

This is entirely a guess on my part, but I think those labels are in place more to influence your Reputation than anything else. Major Nelson has noted on more than one occasion that there is some kind of algorithm behind the reputation system. My guess is that between the different game types, feedback might mean something different, less, or greater. For example, if I'm in the Casual group and I play on a team of Hardcores in Halo 3, and they all give me negative feedback because I wasn't as good as them or a boon to the team, that feedback might mean less, since a Casual gamer should not be expected to keep up with the skills or expectations of a Hardcore gamer. Just a guess, but I think it's likely.

So yesterday I felt like playing some Guitar Hero again but I wasn't all too enthusiastic about trying GH III on hard. I couldn't even get past the 1st level it was so frustrating. So like Rabbit I decided to see if I could get further in GH II and sure enough on hard I was able to get more than one level further than I had ever gotten before. I don't know if it was the new guitar, which I think totally kicks ass, or if playing GH III on medium all the way through some how improved my button mashing ability but it felt great.

Nice show!

I agree with this dude:

still need to work on naming the title instead of calling it "it" or "the game" at some point during long conversations on a title. I heard the mention of game title outside the first sentence introducing it maybe twice the entire podcast and only when actively comparing the game to another game.

Sometimes I start doing something else and if I lose the train of the conversation, and if I miss the introduction of whatever game you're talking about, you guys can go on for 20 minutes talking about a game that I'm not sure I got the name of...

I understand they have an audience of very experienced players who can 5-star every song in GHII on Expert, and they have to give them somthing to do

I'm one of those, but even I don't have as much fun with GH3 as I did before...

I thought maybe I was out of practice or something, but I just can't get myself excited to play "One" the way I enjoyed playing Jessica or Freebird, or even the Freezepop songs... I thought I was broken but I went back to GH2 and enjoyed it, and I'm still excited for Rock Band.

What's with this crazy preponderance of three-note chords that switch back and forth?

No idea, but it's ridiculous. I think they just want to bump up the difficulty, because there's some really easy songs on guitar that become these 3-note Chord nightmares in the game, I've mentioned a few examples in the forums but I keep noticing them when I play.

Then again, GH2 was guilty of this, and of switching between lead and rhythm guitar, but it sort of worked.

GH3 is still a fun game in Coop, if you got a friend who likes it you'll have a good time.

You guys read my email. Thanks so much. =D

BadKen wrote:

Finally, the subscription stuff was a one time SNAFU.

I'm really enjoying Hellgate and I've got a lifetime subscription, but I've got to disagree with you here. Even if it's a one-off mistake that'll never happen again, it is a SERIOUS mistake, and I don't recall hearing of anything like it ever happening before with other MMOs. Hellgate is in dire need of patching and subscribers are essentially saying they're sufficiently impressed to support the game. They're not directly buying what's offered yet, because there's virtually nothing offered to subscribers right now. So to take these dedicated people who are willing to put their money where their mouth is, and dick around with their money... that is not a minor thing.

Go Zork! Is there where I pimp my award-winning text adventure from aught-three?

Elysium wrote:

Well, aside from mischaracterizing a lot of what we said, neither Shawn or I "hate" Hellgate London. In fact, we've agreed time and again that there's a good game there, but that there are numerous bugs being had (congratulations on not having them) is undeniable and a good example of the fact that this game was not ready for release.

I know people who are enjoying a game get defensive when the game they like is being taken to task, but it's not like anything we said wasn't entirely true. Personally I've packed Hellgate London away for six months and plan to revisit it at a leaner time when the game is finally finished. I "invested" my $50 so they could get this out of a glorified beta, so I can wait.

rabbit wrote:

There's no question that games are complex, but come on, Hellgate has been in development/beta for how long now? I think we as consumers aren't wrong to expect clarity, documentation, day-1 subscription systems that work and reasonably well functioning products.

All fair comments, and I actually agree. I was trying not to mischaracterize what you you said, and I hope I'm not coming off like a defensive fanboy. My bone was more with the tone of the discussion, which followed what I percieve to be the tone of the discussion everywhere I read about this game. All focused on the negative, when--as you said yourself--there is a lot to like about this game.

I went back and listened again--during the whole discussion, there were three brief mentions of positive things, in the beginning and at the end, when you said how the gameplay works, and there is a good game in there somewhere but it's just not there yet (which is more of a neutral comment, now that I re-read it :D).

In between were five straight minutes of slamming the game from every direction, without a single comment about any of the good features.

- The learning curve is brutal
- Weapon stats don't make any sense
- The skill tree presentation is confusing
- "Really sh*tty job of giving the player information"
- Pushed out before it should have been
- The only way to tell what weapon is better is to check vendor prices
- The Minigame puzzle (icons on the right of the screen) is a mystery
- It's "half-baked"
- Disappearing party members in co-op
- The interface "blows" -- guild, chat, "worse than Everquest"
- "All the problems with the subscription stuff--unforgivable"
(followed by nearly 2 minutes of discussion of that one-time problem which may or may not have been Flagship's fault)

Nobody made an attempt to describe the good things about the game, which, to be fair, Elysium did a great job of touching on in his Perspective writeup on the game. If there's a good game there, nobody would know why from listening to the podcast. The story is decent, with moments of great humor. The monster AI is above average--monsters don't just shamble at you, they dodge, take cover, and use group tactics to surround you. The design and variety of the weapons and armor is outstanding. The gameplay definitely scratches the Diablo itch.

Anyway, I've gone on about this so much that I suppose I end up looking defensive, but really all I wanted to comment on was the tone of the discussion.

Thanks for another thought-provoking podcast!

Mex wrote:

I agree with this dude:
...

Sometimes I start doing something else and if I lose the train of the conversation, and if I miss the introduction of whatever game you're talking about, you guys can go on for 20 minutes talking about a game that I'm not sure I got the name of...

Thirded. I tend to listen while coding, so it's easy for me to miss sentences.

LobsterMobster wrote:

I'm really enjoying Hellgate and I've got a lifetime subscription, but I've got to disagree with you here. Even if it's a one-off mistake that'll never happen again, it is a SERIOUS mistake, and I don't recall hearing of anything like it ever happening before with other MMOs.

Are you really saying that nobody ever got double-charged for an MMO before?

Yes, it's a very bad thing. Credit card processing errors suck. But they happen. It's not clear whose fault it is. It is utterly unfair to lay the blame for a credit card processing error on the game or even on Flagship.

Also...

Kaiser, Senior Community Manager wrote:

We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused, although it impacted just 3% of people that requested to become subscribing members. There is also approximately an equal amount of players whose subscription status has been approved, but their cards were uncharged as we did not process their payment until the issues were resolved.

Certis: Did they remove the leaning on the 360? I know it's doable on the PC.

Also the kill cam was in CoD1.

edit: No one is playing the TF2 on 360 because it's a sh*tty port.

Are you really saying that nobody ever got double-charged for an MMO before?

That's not the issue.

It's not clear whose fault it is.

Neither is that.

Flagship is responsible for what happens to their customers.

Nobody made an attempt to describe the good things about the game, which, to be fair, Elysium did a great job of touching on in his Perspective writeup on the game.

Which really is my statement on the game. I didn't want to dominate the discussion on items I'd covered elsewhere, but you may be right that there could've been some better attention laid at the positive end. A lot of times, particularly when you're disappointed that a good game has some serious issues, it seems like the bad is the glaring flashlight in the eyes that blocks out a lot of the good. I'm sure we slipped into that trap a bit.

I _do_ plan to revisit the game in a few months to see how it's improved, and I can assure you that I will be revisiting it in the podcast as well. I really do want to be positive and happy about Hellgate.

Hey, ken, remember when you said you didn't want to come off as a rabid fanboy? I think it's too late

I see your points but I just can't agree with you. If I'm a gamer and I buy this game and my reviewer does not mention any of this stuff, I'll probably not trust him later.

It doesn't even look like "hatin'" on Hellgate, they all sound like legit complaints to me...

- The learning curve is brutal
- Weapon stats don't make any sense
- The skill tree presentation is confusing
- "Really sh*tty job of giving the player information"
- Pushed out before it should have been
- The only way to tell what weapon is better is to check vendor prices
- The Minigame puzzle (icons on the right of the screen) is a mystery
- It's "half-baked"
- Disappearing party members in co-op
- The interface "blows" -- guild, chat, "worse than Everquest"
- "All the problems with the subscription stuff--unforgivable"
(followed by nearly 2 minutes of discussion of that one-time problem which may or may not have been Flagship's fault)
Mex wrote:

Hey, ken, remember when you said you didn't want to come off as a rabid fanboy? I think it's too late ;)

ROWR! *slaver, drool*

Damn, I hate it when that happens.

kilroy0097 wrote:

BTW the music during the break was awesome though still need to work on naming the title instead of calling it "it" or "the game" at some point during long conversations on a title. I heard the mention of game title outside the first sentence introducing it maybe twice the entire podcast and only when actively comparing the game to another game.

Agreed. I usually don't rewind the podcast if I miss something but I did it several times on this one because I didn't know what they were talking about. This is still a great podcast and all, just a gripe.

PoderOmega wrote:
kilroy0097 wrote:

BTW the music during the break was awesome though still need to work on naming the title instead of calling it "it" or "the game" at some point during long conversations on a title. I heard the mention of game title outside the first sentence introducing it maybe twice the entire podcast and only when actively comparing the game to another game.

Agreed. I usually don't rewind the podcast if I miss something but I did it several times on this one because I didn't know what they were talking about. This is still a great podcast and all, just a gripe.

Nooo! Please dont encourage them to turn this into NPR!

... 30 minutes in after the break ...

Shawn: Hi, this is Shawn Andrich and you're listening to Gamers With Jobs podcast. If you're just joining us, we were just discussing the finer points of . Let's rejoin the conversation...

Just as an FYI,

Blizzard had some double billing issues... and got slammed for it.. so it does happen.. even to the best companies.

Also.. people to this day still argue about the combat table in WoW so its not like MMOG combat systems are ever (or even supposed to be) clear cut.

Agree with Elysium and you can see that in the GH3 thread we have. The game is just bad.

kilanash wrote:
PoderOmega wrote:
kilroy0097 wrote:

BTW the music during the break was awesome though still need to work on naming the title instead of calling it "it" or "the game" at some point during long conversations on a title. I heard the mention of game title outside the first sentence introducing it maybe twice the entire podcast and only when actively comparing the game to another game.

Agreed. I usually don't rewind the podcast if I miss something but I did it several times on this one because I didn't know what they were talking about. This is still a great podcast and all, just a gripe.

Nooo! Please dont encourage them to turn this into NPR!

... 30 minutes in after the break ...

Shawn: Hi, this is Shawn Andrich and you're listening to Gamers With Jobs podcast. If you're just joining us, we were just discussing the finer points of . Let's rejoin the conversation...

How's about and enhanced AAC file with chapter markers every time you guys start talking about a different game? That might be a lot of work, though...