GWJ Conference Call Episode 73

Conference Call

More Sins, Iron Dukes, Special Guest Michael "Zonk" Zenke From GDC!, Developers Go Hog Wild, Emails and more!

This week Michael Zenke fills us in on his GDC experience. We talk about all the latest from the convention and get the inside scoop on why MMO developers seem to be on the verge of an all out cage match. We also have an awesome audio email!

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

"Cosmos" - (Workbench) - www.workbench-music.com - 0:14:07
"Crocodile Tears" - Zoo (Workbench) - www.workbench-music.com - 0:53:46

Comments

This would put Michael above both Ken and Jeff if I remember correctly. I would like this to turn into a competition between Ken, Jeff, Russ and Michael because they're all awesome and sometimes the usual gwj crew just doesn't do it for me

Ouch!

Never heard of Iron Dukes eh?
*cough*

It is hilarious though, it's definitely worth the 15-25 minutes it takes to play. If you're getting through it much faster than that you're probably not spending long enough looking at (laughing at) the item descriptions.

That's NOT Heisenburg's Uncertainty Principle! Everyone calls everything that results in a "we're not sure" as Heisenburg's Uncertainty Principle. Heisenburg says that we cannot simultaneously know a particle's exact location and exact speed. It has nothing to do with us changing what we study!

*stomps off*

Lost Odyssey is 4 discs long because it is long, voice acted cutscenes in five languages.

LobsterMobster wrote:

That's NOT Heisenburg's Uncertainty Principle! Everyone calls everything that results in a "we're not sure" as Heisenburg's Uncertainty Principle. Heisenburg says that we cannot simultaneously know a particle's exact location and exact speed. It has nothing to do with us changing what we study!

*stomps off*

It's not even Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle!

Conference call day makes my ride to work more fun than new billboard day!

LobsterMobster wrote:

That's NOT Heisenburg's Uncertainty Principle! Everyone calls everything that results in a "we're not sure" as Heisenburg's Uncertainty Principle. Heisenburg says that we cannot simultaneously know a particle's exact location and exact speed. It has nothing to do with us changing what we study!

*stomps off*

It's not even Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle!

Sorry but your wrong. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is exactly what he is trying to describe.

Uncertainty Principle

In quantum mechanics, the principle that it is impossible to know with unlimited accuracy the position and momentum of a particle. The principle arises because in order to locate a particle exactly, an observer must bounce light (in the form of a photon) off the particle, which must alter its position in an unpredictable way.

It was established by German physicist Werner Heisenberg, and gave a theoretical limit to the precision with which a particle's momentum and position can be measured simultaneously: the more accurately the one is determined, the more uncertainty there is in the other.

It's obviously not an exact analogy but it's pretty dam close.

What Michael was trying to state is that we will truly never get an exact picture of what GDC is because by just being present at the event, observing it, changes what the event is. It goes off in another direction. Like a scientist bouncing a photon off a particle to try and figure out exactly where it is, changes where that particle is because of the way he measures it.

I'm blushing that my audio email was awesome!! If you want to listen to more of that, well I'm avaliable! Just be warned, I'm cheap, but I'm not easy...

And fair play, it's a good point, to try and transplant a console type control over to the open platform such as the PC is close to impossible, but I think that what Micheal said, look at what hardware people have at the moment, and then develop a game which can shine on the majority of HW out there would be better. Or like what Valve and blizzard did, make sure the engine is scable so a compariable experience can be had without having to disable everything to the lowest level.

I guess I'm just wanting actual realistic minimum requrements to run a game as the devlopers intended the game to be played and seen, not the specs they seem to give you on the box which seems to be a work of fiction in most cases so people aren't put off buying the product.

Gaald wrote:

Sorry but you're wrong. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is exactly what he is trying to describe.

Fixed. And that's your opinion. Even when you put it that way, I still think that the principle that we change what we study is completely different from Heisenberg OR Heisenburg. So sorry, but YOU'RE wrong.

Yeah, Heisenberg isn't what you're looking for here. It's called the Observer Effect (link), and is often confused with the Uncertainty Principle.

Perhaps we should call this a Schrödinger's Cat instance?

boogle wrote:

Perhaps we should call this a Schrödinger's Cat instance?

Get in that box and I'll tell you a certainty...

Elysium wrote:

Yeah, Heisenberg isn't what you're looking for here. It's called the Observer Effect (link), and is often confused with the Uncertainty Principle.

Well I'm glad you were at least able to link to something that explains why I would be wrong describing it this way. Although I loved this little tidbit from the same link.

The idea that the Uncertainty Principle is caused by disturbance (and hence by observation) is not considered to be valid by some, although it was extant in the early years of quantum mechanics, and is often repeated in popular treatments.

It probably explains why I was confused by those who thought it was the wrong analogy. It's been a long while since I studied any science.

Now that we cleared that up I hope everyone still enjoyed the show!

Someone sign that Sam Fischer guy up. And he should've said "oogaba."

Man, I'm making a habit of arguing with rabbit, but abuse is totally the hallmark of Shodan! Quit trying to help that hussy GladOS usurp her rightful place. She's the prototypical evil dominatrix.

(And she totally talks dirty. Mmmm, I'll pant and sweat as I run through your corridors anytime, baby...

...I'll be in my bunk.)

ALG: The more you disagree with me, the more we become like family. Pretty soon you'll be cleaning my toilets.

I think a lot of the problem with PC gaming is not that it takes a lot of money to build a powerful PC, but that you need to invest a lot of time to understand the hardware well enough to know what to buy. I know that I can go pick up a cheap P35-based motherboard, a 2.66Ghz-or-so Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM, and a 512MB 8800GT and have a complete system with case and hard/optical drives for around the AU$1000 mark, but if you just walk in to a PC store, lay $1000-1500 on the table and say "build me a gaming PC", you're almost certainly going to get screwed.

Even comparing spec sheets on PCs can be difficult. A PC with a 3Ghz CPU and a 1GB 8600GT might sound like a great deal compared to a system with a 2.66Ghz CPU and 512MB 8800GT at the same price, unless you know that the 8800GT is 2-3x faster than the 8600GT, despite having half the RAM.

I don't know if there's any kind of easy answer to this problem. Vista-style performance numbers might be a start, but there's simply no way you can sum up the performance of a system as a single number in any meaningful way. Breaking it down in to separate numbers for CPU, video, etc. helps to a degree, but it's still no more than a rough guide. Video cards have such diverse (and growing) feature sets that it'd be very difficult to test them comprehensively and keep those tests up-to-date, and while CPUs are perhaps easier to test, multi-core complicates things there too. A 2Ghz quad-core might score a higher CPU number than a 3Ghz dual-core, but if a game only has one or two threads, it'll be quicker on the dual-core.

I think I'll stop myself there before this turns in to a Rabbit-length rant

boobs

ok, there was more, I think....
Gaming platform, the pc! Yes, I remember Deus Ex, great game.
The developers ported it to the PS back then. Before that, they optimized
it!!! Loads of frames suddenly and hardly any load times on that optimized
pc version... and they never released that one... just made to port it...
There you go, one example where the release date is more important then
optimizing. We all knew that of course, because, look at what they cramped into
64k back then on our beloved commodore....

The bigger mikes do nothing. Nothing I say!

Sparhawk wrote:

boobs

ok, there was more, I think....
Gaming platform, the pc! Yes, I remember Deus Ex, great game.
The developers ported it to the PS back then. Before that, they optimized
it!!! Loads of frames suddenly and hardly any load times on that optimized
pc version... and they never released that one... just made to port it...
There you go, one example where the release date is more important then
optimizing. We all knew that of course, because, look at what they cramped into
64k back then on our beloved commodore....

That reminded me of a funny conversation I had with my boss at work the other day about Civilization. He thought it was strange enough that they were squeezing it down to fit on the 360/PS3, but he found the idea of the (now on-hold) Wii version ludicrous -- how could a game like Civ possibly run on something like that? I just had to remind him that I played the original Civ on my Amiga 600 with 1MB of RAM and a 40MB hard drive, and it ran just fine! The basic gameplay really hasn't changed fundamentally in that time either. I'm personally really excited about the possibilities for Civ on the DS, since there's absolutely no reason why it would have to be some cut-down version -- with the proper graphics and optimisation it could do everything Civ IV did and more.

I'd like to pick up a question that Zonk raised during the re-releasing titles discussion. Having Ken Levine release a revision of Bioshock's third act, while it wouldn't affect the one-time-through gamers and from an artistic point of view seems like a bit of a fudge, it isn't entirely without precedent. One of the Bioware designers (sorry, can't remember who) released a mod that made some pretty significant changes to the gameplay (and story?) of the ending of Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. From what I remember he was simply fleshing out and reinserting a lot of stuff that had to be cut to get the product out the door. It was free and really only a service to the fans.

As for Mass Effect's inelegant UI on the 360, I have a feeling that at some point an upgrade will be offered as DLC. Bioware are already releasing a major (90min+) subquest that slots into the game and while they remain tight lipped about what is to follow, have indicated that more is to come. Since they obviously feel that enough people replay the game to justify that kind of investment, and since Mass Effect 2 is being developed, presumably with a better UI, why not toss a polished prototype out there and get some community feedback?

Heisenberg gets pulled over by a cop on the highway.

The cop walks up to the window and says, "Do you know how fast you were going?"

Heisenberg answers, "No, but I know exactly where I am!"

Thanks for reading my e-mail about The Witcher, guys. And no, I'm not british, I just like the word chum. I really like what CD Projekt is doing with it because when Atari was going to release the product in the US, they forced CD Projekt to cut down the script and such to cut costs. Having the full script will be fantastic. As for "getting it right the first time" with a lot of things, I think it mostly just comes down to money. So many companies just do not have the money to achieve every dream they have in their video game, so they do what they can. Seeing CD Projekt go back and fully complete every dream and aspiration they have for the game as free content for players is fantastic imo.

Also, in regards to the Playstation network, I think this sums it up:
IMAGE(http://www.penny-arcade.com/images/2007/20070302.jpg)

Awesome.

I think the problem with PC Gaming is not enough people know how to keep a moderately clean, well-maintained system. I've worked in IT, I've fixed people's garbage boxes and my home machine runs well. Every time I sit at anyone's computer other than my own I get the screaming heebie-jeebies at all the junk running.
If more people knew how to operate and clean their OS, we wouldn't have nearly the amount of "open system" problems.

If more people knew how to operate and clean their OS, we wouldn't have nearly the amount of "open system" problems.

I propose that dirty minds often lead to dirty systems.

- Irongut the PC Puritan

Irongut wrote:

I propose that dirty minds often lead to dirty systems.

- Irongut the PC Puritan

My room is a cluttered mess. My mind is constantly in the gutter. The language the spews from my mouth is foul even outside of a locker room. My computer's desktop is neat and tidy and I control its running processes with an iron fist. I guess it's something about choosing your battles.
And I know many Type A's that have frightening computer setups. I think you're generally correct, though.

Gaald wrote:

I don't even know who Shodan is

That deserves one of these, Rob.
IMAGE(http://img292.imageshack.us/img292/2893/epicfailhg5.jpg)

I must say though, seeing the epic, majestic, heroic picture of Ken Levine, never gets old.