GWJ Conference Call Episode 68

Conference Call

Audiosurf, Turok, Red Ocean, Pontifications on Portal, Game Of The Year Is Silly, Your Emails and more!

In a very special episode this week, Shawn is exposed for the douche bag that he is. Hey wait, that's me! Shawn is revealed to be an infinitely wise, compassionate and brave individual holding fast against the tides of popular opinion. And a jerk.

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.

  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Subscribe with RSS
  • Subscribe with Yahoo!
Download the official apps
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android

Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree
Audioworks

"One Big Holiday" My Morning Jacket The Wired CD - 0:30:53
"Terra" - Chico Correa & Electronic Band - 0:54:55

Comments

Why do I see the entire notice twice?! Oh God, I've been 21 for 2 days and I'm already seeing double of everything!

You are not the only one... but then again I had some , so that might explain it.

Vrikk wrote:

Why do I see the entire notice twice?! Oh God, I've been 21 for 2 days and I'm already seeing double of everything!

don't worry I see it as well.

I don't. You're all just crazy.

bnpederson wrote:

I don't. You're all just crazy.

We can fix that... ?

What was that track played at about 31 minutes in? It was fantastic.

"One Big Holiday" My Morning Jacket The Wired CD - 0:30:53

Free, too!

I like end of the year lists. The thing to remember is that they're either a reflection of the person's tastes, if they're made by individuals, or a snapshot what was popular in a particular group that year. Not, I repeat NOT, some kind of definite statement on game quality. It's just a starting point for a discussion, and a handy source of recommendations for people playing catch-up. Portal won because nearly everyone played it, and everyone who did liked it to various degrees. That doesn't mean it *has* to be *your* game of the year, or you're Mr McWrongMuffins.

As the first part went on I got the impression more and more that two different awards were really being discussed. It sounded like Certis was trying to award 'Gameplay of the Year' while everyone else was discussing 'Game of the Year.' I think we can agree that these are two very different things with different criteria.

I like the Top 10 lists mainly because they can give you a chance in January to pick up something you might have overlooked in the previous year. The hype factor on release can really overshadow a lot of quality stuff released in the same time frame. Top 10 lists give you a chance to bring attention to some gems that didn't get the exposure they deserved. Now, if the top 10 list is just a rehash of the most heavily marketed, top sellers of the previous year, it really doesn't serve a purpose other than driving traffic to your site or filling pages in a magazine.

As strange as this sounds, I agree with Certis on something. Portal is very good, but to me it's missing something that makes it a great "game of the year," contender. Is it length, repetition of action, repetition of environments, or a combination of all three? For me, it's probably action and environment. Yes, they put a twist on action and level 19 "breaks you out of the box," but that's not enough for me. Maybe the lack of compelling narrative added to that opinion (GlaDOS is entertaining, but there's not much, if any, story in Portal). I think groupthink really contributed to this game. I honestly don't believe expectations were high for Portal with TF2 and Ep. 2 on the same disc. Having Portal be a high quality game just added to the perception of value on Orange Box and was a very pleasant surprise. For the record, I put Portal as my number 5 choice in the 2007 Game of the Year thread.

When it comes to an emotional attachment or association with Portal, what emotion is Certis's problem? Joy?

You guys touched on this, but I think length is far more important than you guys are giving credit for. It was mentioned several times as "a" factor, but I think the shortness of Portal is "the single biggest" factor in its popularity.

Good game, good gameplay, good "story", etc. But the biggest reason I put it at the top of my list was that I finished it and it gave me a big, dumbass grin on my face when I did it. The Song just pushed the moment that was already a 10 for me right up to 11.

I don't think you'd have had nearly the breadth of support for Portal if it had been even a 6 hour game.
At the end of the day, the best games are the ones you get to see all of, i.e. finish.
Portal was 11 out of 10, 110%, 6stars on a 5star scale ***BECAUSE*** it was short.

Someone mentioned we might have had a different result/discussion if Bioshock had been edited down by half and I think that's entirely true. A while back(I think it was CoD or CoD2) there was a lot of discussion about "is 8 - 10 hours enough?" - I think that's probably still too much. I've got about 5-6 hours of game time on a given weekend, and if I can finish a whole game in that time, it's probably the perfect length.

I hereby declare the Gamers for Shorter Games Movement Game of the Year Winner to be Portal. Surprise, surprise.

My Morning Jacket has a few mp3s up on their web site Mordeceius:

The Tennessee Fire
The Bear
Evelyn is Not Real

At Dawn
Lowdown
Bermuda Highway

The Wired CD is still available for download too.

Enjoy

I played Mario Galaxy too, and I still think Portal was a better experience.

I agree with the "Short games" are better, as long as they have a lot of content and feel great.

Mixolyde wrote:

As the first part went on I got the impression more and more that two different awards were really being discussed. It sounded like Certis was trying to award 'Gameplay of the Year' while everyone else was discussing 'Game of the Year.' I think we can agree that these are two very different things with different criteria.

That's kind of what I was thinking. In terms of game design depth and variety Super Mario Galaxy (to use Certis' example) absolutely puts Portal to shame. But Portal is just so funny, so engaging, and so fascinating. It's a brilliant little piece of science fiction built around a brilliant little game mechanic.

Portal may be a one-trick pony, but the trick is just so incredibly cool.

Thanks for answering my letter (the one regarding gratuitous sex in games)

For the record, I object to gratuitous nudity, as well as gratuitous violence (basically anything gratuitous) in movies as well as games, so I don't think I'm bumping up against a double standard, or being a hypocrite.

I read the article from gamermom, and agree with it. I don't think the government has any role in regulating what can be sold in a game (usual exceptions for something that rhymes with "Mild Scorn"), but that doesn't mean I have to like that they threw an interactive threesome into God of War for the sheer hell of it.

Man, it was pure luck that my email tied into the discussion of Certis' Anti-Game of the Year for Portal.

Great show as always.

Certis wrote:

(A Douche Baggy 44.9 megs, 1:38:12)

Brilliant!

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

I read the article from gamermom, and agree with it. I don't think the government has any role in regulating what can be sold in a game (usual exceptions for something that rhymes with "Mild Scorn"), but that doesn't mean I have to like that they threw an interactive threesome into God of War for the sheer hell of it.

Interactive? I guess it was technically interactive, but don't try those moves in real life. That's a recipe for one disappointing threesome. God of War is definitely not for kids, but the inappropriate bits seemed less harmful than GTA's juvenile, "tee hee" approach to sex and violence. God of War is a big old bloody bare-chested Greek epic. There should've been, if not more sex, much more nudity.

God of War was junevile tripe on many levels... I'm not saying I didn't have fun, but putting it up as "mature" content is a joke.

Nyles wrote:

Interactive? I guess it was technically interactive, but don't try those moves in real life. That's a recipe for one disappointing threesome. God of War is definitely not for kids, but the inappropriate bits seemed less harmful than GTA's juvenile, "tee hee" approach to sex and violence. God of War is a big old bloody bare-chested Greek epic. There should've been, if not more sex, much more nudity.

With all due respect, interactive != simulation. But never mind.

There's a movie from 1962 featuring Richard Egan which does a fine job of telling the story of the Spartan stand at Thermopylae without nudity. I can't think of a bigger bloody-bare-chested-greek-epic than the story of the 300 Spartans.

I'm well aware the game isn't for kids, and it wouldn't be for kids even if the minigame I've mentioned were stricken from the game (I have other objections to the game which I won't bother addressing here). I don't like it because I, personally, find it insulting, not because I'm afraid it will give my kids the wrong idea.

I have yet to see a game that treats sexual subject matter with any kind of maturity whatsoever (except the kind of "maturity" that requires a credit card for validation at certain kinds of websites). It's all panty shots, jiggling, pendulous breasts and porn-film motivations-- what you might describe as the "tee hee" approach. "Won't you please take me and my sister, Mr. Kratos? We're totally aroused by your particular brand of chain-slinging rage and tattooed evidence of bad-a**edness. Just jump in this bed and start humping!"

In video games, villains are allowed to be complex. Heroes are allowed to be complex. Women are allowed to be complex, provided they're complex about things like revenge. When it comes to wardrobe and sexuality, pretty much every woman featured in gaming is treated like animated Barbie dolls with varying degrees of anatomical correctness. I'm aware--at least I hope-- there are probably exceptions that lie outside my experience (I haven't played every game, obviously), but even if there are, they don't get a lot of press.

Gaming is risk-free fantasy fulfillment. This woman-as-ambulatory-marital-aid fantasy that runs through most of the entertainment industry as a whole, not just gaming, is something I'm deeply troubled by. It insults my intelligence, it is manipulative on a primal level (ie: a cheap way to thrill the audience), and it's arrogant on the developers part to assume that I all I want in a woman are giant breasts and easily seperated knees.

However, this is the fantasy they're selling, and it sells well. I don't have to like it, and I won't pretend I do for the sake of acceptance.

My position is: if you can't tell the story without stooping to the "tee hee" approach, then you're not much of a storyteller. Casablanca is so steeped in sexual tension you can almost smell it, yet they somehow managed to tell a story without Ingrid Berman flashing the audience. Alfred Hitchcock filmed a woman getting murdered in a shower without showing much more than a shoulder, yet Psycho is still, somehow, considered a good thriller.

and it's arrogant on the developers part to assume that I all I want in a woman are giant breasts and easily seperated knees.

Well, I like that

At least in fighting games. I really don't see anything wrong with this:

IMAGE(http://www.foteo.net/files/nczzmoymndwgif3wz3qx/250px-Christie_M._TZ.jpg)
When the game has people jumping on F16 airplanes and running up buildings.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

I have yet to see a game that treats sexual subject matter with any kind of maturity whatsoever (except the kind of "maturity" that requires a credit card for validation at certain kinds of websites).

Well, depending on your standards of maturity, OK, I can believe that. Most games aren't especially subtle. I haven't seen the 1962 Greek epic you're describing, but certainly one could tell stories about Greek myths without sex and violence. My favorite Greek myths are the ones with sex and violence, so we're looking for different things. I didn't think it was all that gratuitious in God of War, but I wouldn't defend it as sophisticated.

I've seen Casablanca and Psycho, though. Both good movies. Didn't find much sexiness in Casablanca, but Psycho's definitely scary. I was born long after the clues to sexiness had become more overt than whatever's in Casablanca, so it just looks kind of romantic, especially because there's a lot of talk of paperwork and Nazis, notorious turnoffs.

The phrase "woman-as-ambulatory-marital-aid" sounds unpleasant and wrong to me, too, and I don't think it's such a hot idea to put it in a game just to sell boxes. Especially because the ambulatory bit makes it sound like they strapped robot legs to a marital aid. I'd stop playing at that point.

1) Portal: It was my game of the year mostly because it was the one that stuck in my head the longest after I beat it, the one I begged all my friends to play, the one that was the most innovative, fresh, funny, well designed, etc. It's freshness was what most impressed me: COD4 iterated on COD2, SMG iterated on M64, Bioshock iterated on System Shock - Portal was a brand new concept with an interesting length - a gamble that payed off big.
The argument about the difficulty level and length doesn't really work - if you want a challenge or an extended gameplay, try the advanced levels or the challenges. Dare you to get gold in all of them. Or, try some user created maps: the guys at bethesda made quite the mindbender.

2) Audiosurf - The demo only lets you play 3 songs, but you can sign up for weekend beta testing where you can play unlimited songs throughout the weekend. Alternatively, you can uninstall the demo, remove the registry entry (using regcleaner), and reinstall. But you didn't hear it from me.

Buy the Mazda3, Corollas have no soul.

Can we have a podcast episode where it's nothing but Elysium singing a capella the whole time? In between "I wanna friend you up" and the collected works of Journey, that's a pretty decent set right there.

Focusing on one single player game is a good way to do it. I feel a little wierd about giving myself a deadline to finish something that is supposed to be for entertainment, but it is the only way to put a dent in my queue. I've had a post in the back my head for a while about the occational game pair that compliments each other in such a way that I can stay focuses on two games at once, but if I get three games or more in short period of time I start losing them to queue hell.

I've got a 98 Corolla with about 100K miles on it. It's a much better car than the worn-out Buick I used to drive. If anybody is willing to come to Chicago for it, you can have it for $600 US or Canadian.

PS: I know I'm prone to unexplained allegories, and you can interpret this that way if you wish, but it's also the literal truth. It's white, and I call her "Sheila".

Understandable. I used to have a Nissan Stanza called George. George the Stanza. Then there was Lloyd whom I only had for a year. I've had my current car for 3 years now and have yet to name it. I considered calling it The Swedish Chef, but that says nothing about it's personality, only it's origin.

Great podcast again folks, its always great when Certis and Elysium are both on to throw brickbats at each other.

Portal caught my eye in 2007 for a number of reasons, not least of which was the fact I'd discounted it completely from its previews; its a physics puzzler, ok, meh, we've seen them handle physics puzzles well in the main HL2 game anyway. As someone involved in making games, albeit a lowly coder, not one of the design gurus, I'm used to seeing a lot of new releases suffer jaded reactions from my co-workers, but in the case of Portal, the office was abuzz with people exclaiming 'I wish I'd been involved in making that', 'oh man, they got it just right'. Personally, it was my favorite from because no other game last year (or for a fair few years preceding it) made me feel so good after completing it. Don't discount the game-tech hidden inside Portal either; the challenges of getting two physics environments that map to the same set of objects to work so seamlessly, and to get the renderer to not cripple frame rate when showing recursive views through portals, are far from insignificant. The song at the end wasn't the game .. it was the cherry on the top of the cake .. the cake would be a lie.

When listening to this weeks podcast, trying to look at it as a podcast designer, evaluating it dispassionately, I have to say I don't think it's show of the year ... and I think I've probably listened to more podcasts than anyone else this year. Episode 67 for example, whilst it is substantially longer than this weeks show, within its 55 minutes or so, however long you want to listen, it doesn't just do one thing, it does two dozen things, and it does them all really well. Its a better podcast than episode 66, and its head and shoulders above, in my mind, all the podcasts from other sites this year, as far as being creative and clever and doing different things. This weeks podcast does one thing, I look at episode 67, its doing a ton of different things. So its hard for me, if I list out all the pros of the other podcasts I've listened to, and there's a lot; episode 68 does a few things really well, but I really still feel like there's all this other stuff that surrounded this weeks podcast that catapulted it to the top... ok Shawn, you can ban me now

Keep up the good work!