GWJ Conference Call Episode 60

Conference Call

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Rock Band, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Amazon Kindle, New PS3s, Let Us Tell You What To Buy, Your Emails and more!

This week Julian and Cory dangle Rock Band over Rob's head and laugh as he stews in his rage. Full impressions of Uncharted, our personal top games for each platform and a bushel of new emails. 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.

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree
Audioworks

"Small Comfort" - Apoplexia (Benoit Casey) - 0:52:12
"Fallen Idol" (Benoit Casey) - 1:15:43

Comments

Good podcast.
Seemed to fly by though.

boogle wrote:

Good podcast.
Seemed to fly by though.

Please do not take boggle's comments seriously. Please do not lengthen your podcast. Thank you.

i kidd i kidd

Never played Crackdown? What's wrong with you? Go play it ASAP.

I played the demo and it never interested me.

Macy's Day Parade bullsh*t? How dare you attack my childhood, how dare you! Did you even see the Jo Jo baloon?

Halo 1/2 was on backwards compatibility since day one when the 360 was released back in November of '05.

Way to steal my birthday Certis!

If I would have known that GWJ condones the outright theft of birthdays, I would have stayed home. Now what am I going to do with all my cake? Experiment on people?

I think it's worth pointing out that in Rock Band's online band mode by default you won't have the vocalist transmitted through the net (as you pointed out, being slightly out of sync could get distracting, and the quality of the vocals would suffer due to compression). However, if you have the vocalist hold in the L or R trigger on their controller, the vocals will be transmitted.

As for how well that works, well, you can ask Chiggie and Mahinae just how pleasurable an experience it is to hear me belt out Wanted Dead or Alive over Xbox Live chat. I think that their answer will speak for itself.

If you're going to count Puzzle Quest among the three titles every DS owner should buy, I really think it should be on your PSP list as well. I played it to death on my DS, but couldn't help feeling pangs of jealousy whenever I saw my friend's PSP version of the game. It was better in just about every way--including never inadvertently touching the wrong piece with the stylus and getting zapped.

On the topic of the PS3 controller as a DVD/blu-ray controller, I actually prefer it. While you do have to bring up the on screen menu to do less common tasks, such as changing the audio or subtitle track, you actually have quicker and more functional access to the stuff you will want to do more often. Chapter skip is L1 and R1, fast forward/rewind is L2 and R2 and are pressure sensitive, pause is the X button, and return to menus is the square button. Also, I believe that pressure sensitive fast forward/rewind is also mapped to the joystick, although I might have that confused with the controls on the Xbox Media Center for modded original Xboxes.

The 'Mass Effect Pause' was quite scary.

1Dgaf wrote:

The 'Mass Effect Pause' was quite scary.

Don't pay any attention to that. Personally, I found the lack of hand-holding one of Mass Effect's strongest points. I'm not an RPG enthusiast by a long shot, but I found everything incredibly intuitive. If this was you're first video game ever, then sure it would be an issue; but at this point I'm pretty comfortable with the concept that pressing buttons makes things happen on the screen.

Danjo Olivaw wrote:
1Dgaf wrote:

The 'Mass Effect Pause' was quite scary.

Don't pay any attention to that. Personally, I found the lack of hand-holding one of Mass Effect's strongest points. I'm not an RPG enthusiast by a long shot, but I found everything incredibly intuitive. If this was you're first video game ever, then sure it would be an issue; but at this point I'm pretty comfortable with the concept that pressing buttons makes things happen on the screen.

That's a complete oversimplification of the overall issue. Not explaining that teammate skills are cumulative, or even that some are and some are not is stupid. Burying essential aspects of inventory management and upgrades in an obtuse interface is also a complete mistake. The fact that a lot of this basic information isn't ANYWHERE may be refreshing for a brilliant mind like yours, but it's a complete waste of my time when I could be enjoying the game instead of scratching my head over what should be basic information.

All that said, I'm enjoying Mass Effect quite a bit since learning all the ins and outs. It just took hours when it could have taken minutes.

I went from a guy who bought and played 4-7 games per year to 3-4 times that number. As someone who only played a few games per year having an immersive and expansive game world was far more important than navigating an obtuse menu or learning obscure features.

Poor controls will kill a game regardless.

I haven't played Mass Effect yet - I may wait for the PC version now that you've mentioned it - but I think these are much bigger issues for people flitting from game to game. You need your enjoyment now. Hour 1 always has to be good, but hours 2-5 better not slow down either. Before I would have been willing to put up with a steeper curve in large part because I knew I wasn't going to be playing a different game next week.
I just thought that would be something to keep in mind for people who aren't going to drown themselves with a flood of games.

Is there any way to have a timelog of things in the recording? I had to skip forward through all the wonderful banter and camaraderie to get to the ME info.

Certis wrote:

That's a complete oversimplification of the overall issue. Not explaining that teammate skills are cumulative, or even that some are and some are not is stupid. Burying essential aspects of inventory management and upgrades in an obtuse interface is also a complete mistake.

I'm not about to argue that Mass Effect's inventory management is anything but inefficient, and there's no reason to leave any tidbit out of the manual. I just enjoyed the ability to hit the ground running, an ability that benefits a player like one Scaphism is describing where "hour one better be good" because in hour one I was knee deep in the fun rather than taking a guided tour. Maybe my experience was better because I'm not accustomed to traditional Bioware games, and so the changes they made to the formula didn't stick out.

I think your description of what of what information is missing is accurate, but the reaction to that missing information does not necessarily have to be negative.

I just enjoyed the ability to hit the ground running, an ability that benefits a player like one Scaphism is describing where "hour one better be good" because in hour one I was knee deep in the fun rather than taking a guided tour.

You're missing a subtle difference here. I don't think anyone is asking for a "now press up on the D pad to move forward" kind of handholding, but missing key points of the ruleset for explanation is a dumb move. I need to understand how the mechanics of the gameplay that aren't typical to other games operate, or else hour 1 is _not_ fun. I'm not here to play 'figure out minutia that should be painfully obvious', I'm here to play Mass Effect.

It's not like this is my first day playing video games. That skills are applied broadly to parties rather than individual characters is gaming 101, it's a specialized item that should be better described.

Elysium wrote:

It's not like this is my first day playing video games. That skills are applied broadly to parties rather than individual characters is gaming 101, it's a specialized item that should be better described.

Honestly, I don't see a reason not to inform a player of this element, but in practice it doesn't matter if the player knows it or not. There's only two scenarios where this comes into play, healing and hacking, right?

With hacking it is explained in the description of the hacking skill.

With healing I don't think it is ever explained, but on the normal and hard difficulty pressing Y will bring all three of of the party members from the brink of death to ship shape condition. By making the heal skill cumulative, it doesn't matter who gets the skill point, so the player can not make a mistake.

I can see where the missing information would seem like crucial stuff if you're accustomed to games where these skills are extremely important, but in Mass Effect they are not. If you take the "I'll burn that bridge when I come to it" approach, you'll find yourself watching the credits before the bridge ever makes an appearance.

In other words.

I don't see anything wrong your argument Danjo, but the perspective doesn't make me feel any better about the frustration I felt at not having a good handle on the RPG I was playing. Maybe in a shooter or an adventure game, sure. But when I have party members gaining new skill points constantly and not knowing how they will progress 10 hours in the future because I don't have a foundation of info to work off, I don't have fun. An RPG is a time commitment and unlike a shooter, decisions made early will inform everything later in the game. Bioware building a system where you can get by without basic knowledge doesn't excuse hiding all the depth for players who want it. It's not like we're talking hours of tutorials here, this is basic game 101 stuff.

Anyways, that's plenty on that topic. I think your position on this is completely valid, I just can't get behind it.

Regarding Forza 2 as an Honorable Mention must-have for the 360: It comes bundled in the current 360 Pro along with Marvel Ultimate Alliance, so I guess it would go in the Wii Sports category, as well.

I'm not going to take the time and listen to every podcast since August to verify this, but has there been a game that came out this fall that Rob actually liked? Having Gaald complain about games has become as much a fixture of the show as Rabbit mentioning Bioshock 3+ times an episode.

buzzvang wrote:

I'm not going to take the time and listen to every podcast since August to verify this, but has there been a game that came out this fall that Rob actually liked? Having Gaald complain about games has become as much a fixture of the show as Rabbit mentioning Bioshock 3+ times an episode. :lol:

Make sure you listen to next weeks show.

TF2. At least all those headshot victims would like to believe at least someone enjoyed those exchanges.

Scaphism wrote:

TF2. At least all those headshot victims would like to believe at least someone enjoyed those exchanges.

He doesn't have time to enjoy them because he is yelling at the next guy who killed him.

Gaald wrote:
buzzvang wrote:

I'm not going to take the time and listen to every podcast since August to verify this, but has there been a game that came out this fall that Rob actually liked? Having Gaald complain about games has become as much a fixture of the show as Rabbit mentioning Bioshock 3+ times an episode. :lol:

Make sure you listen to next weeks show.

So you imported a copy of RockBand then?

And here I was thinking I'd be the biggest Mass Effect critic.

Regarding the negative/positive critique gap: It's a truism that humans tend to have an easier time picking things apart than praising, or even more extreme, of creating things themselves. This is especially true when it comes to experiential media, such as games or movies. If a movie is good, very rarely will you find yourself stopping in the middle of the movie to comment about how awesome the movie is. When you really enjoy that kind of thing, you're rapt. You're engrossed in the experience. On the other hand, your mind is almost actively seeking something else to do when you're not into the experience. That's when you become the guy who turns carnival rides into MST3K.

Oh my God, I can't believe we're spinning around in a circle again. This is so mindlessly repetitive!

I don't know if anyone's coming back to read this but I'd LOVE to hear more about great games for parent-child co-op. The "best gaming experience with my kid ever" bit really left me wanting more.

I meant to ask this after the Gen Con show. ANd again when Rabbit mentioned drinks in this episode, I believe. Can you either say in the show or write in the notes the recipe for the Rabbit-tini?