GWJ Conference Call Episode 84

Conference Call

Boom Blox, Bourne Craptacular, Haze, Echo Chrome, Spore, Former Civ IV Lead And Current Designer on Spore Special Guest Soren Johnson, The State of Strategy, Working With Will Wright and Sid Meier, Your Emails and more!

This week Soren Johnson joins us to talk about the state of the strategy genre, working with gaming legends and what we should be looking out for in the future. Julian reveals his mail gaming roots and Shawn finds a way to compare Boom Blox and Sins of a Solar Empire. Check out the comments section for an easy link to Rat Boy's epic GTA IV 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

"Luna Machine" (Benoit Casey) - 0:38:53
"Small Comfort" - Apoplexia (Benoit Casey) - 1:23:40

Comments

Rat Boy's GTA IV Audio Email: Download

Wasn't sure if two MP3 file links in the main post would bugger it up. Thanks for sending it in, Ratty!

Holy crap, you guys landed Soren Johnson? The ipod may be jacked, but I can't miss this one. Streaming at work it is!

This was an incredible look at the insight behind strategy video games and what foundations have helped develop the current games. I didn't even know about http://www.hexwar.com/ and I wish there was more of these type of sites for other strategy turn based games. Empire in Arms the super huge epic game based upon Napoleonic Wars would be ideally played in an online format. I have been quite impressed with the caliber of guests you have been able to get on Gamers with Jobs. The mention of http://www.travian.com/ was kind of neat too. I do believe the fame and integrity of this website is growing and spreading through the industry.

While I'm pessimistic on the future of turn based strategy games, I can certainly hope for another enlightened age of them. I really do miss them.

Edit add: I would love to see Re-Reviews come back. Not just from the primary writers for the site but also the general population taking a game upon themselves to write about again after a few months. It would really show the longevity and replay value of these games. I remember how much emotion and passion the review for Bioshock was with the admin writers but also the community. What would a Re-Review look like for Bioshock? I'm just throwing an example out there just as an example.

I would also love to see a few reviews for Mods for games. As more and more Mods come out for games I do believe that Mod portion of the gaming community is becoming more and more popular. For example Project Reality a Mod for Battlefield 2. It currently is the most popular Mod out there for the BF2 engine. It arguably takes and manipulates the best about the engine but it also demonstrates the limits of the engine. I may have to review PR in a traditional manner just to test my review skills. I'm wordy to say the least but I don't quite have the skill nor flair of many of the seasoned writers in this community.

They're not allowed to talk about BioShock any more

Age of Conan Watch 2008!

That was an awesome turn of phrase. It needs the Theme music from Panda Watch.

Excellent show as always Fellas!

I had return from my walk still listening, took a two flavored ice-cream out of the freezer and just when I had my first bite rabbit says "flavors of the same ice cream" in the Civ4 discussion.
It was a bit scary.

Anyhow, great podcast as always. Love the humor!

Just in case someone wants to know more..

Race for the Galaxy, I just loved it, only two plays up until now,when [i]II read that Soren was going to be on the show I knew for sure, that there were going to be some boardgame talk

He is the designer of a card game that cames with Civ edition
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/26047

I work with some great folks, and we play board games at lunch time here at the office. Race for the Galaxy has totally taken over. We put in about two games in a lunch session for the past few months. Like Rabbit said, it has a steep learning curve, but it holds up very well with many different strategies evolving. Great to hear it mentioned on my drive in to the office this morning.

Keep up the good work.

Certis wrote:

I don't know many people who wear beer hats while playing Civ IV

I do, you bastard! You try waiting on Mao Ze-Slowpoke to finish his turn!

Edit: I believe here's the space shuttle game Rob refers to.

Yeah, it was a real pleasure having Soren on. There aren't many folks I'd put higher on the list to talk strategy with. Now if I can get him to Gencon ...

Kilroy: we're like that bar at the corner where the cool kids hang out but where everyone's afraid to go on Friday nights. And I think we still get to talk about Bioshock, but only when we have Ken on.

kilroy0097 wrote:

Empire in Arms the super huge epic game based upon Napoleonic Wars would be ideally played in an online format.

Your wish is granted, sir.

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/game.asp?gid=285

I don't have it, but I am considering getting it. The original boardgame looked really good, but though I own it I could never find enough people to play it.

Rabbit, you need to lead a coalition over to 1up to kick the asses of those EGM kids who pretend to snore whenever Jeff Green mentions board games on 1Up Yours. Video games are art while board games are what, only for kids and old men? I think the worst was when Shane Bettenhausen asked how Ticket to Ride compared to Culdcept Saga.

7inchsplit wrote:

Rabbit, you need to lead a coalition over to 1up to kick the asses of those EGM kids who pretend to snore whenever Jeff Green mentions board games on 1Up Yours. Video games are art while board games are what, only for kids and old men? I think the worst was when Shane Bettenhausen asked how Ticket to Ride compared to Culdcept Saga.

QFT
Its all a game.

Rat Boy wrote:
Certis wrote:

I don't know many people who wear beer hats while playing Civ IV

I do, you bastard! You try waiting on Mao Ze-Slowpoke to finish his turn!

Edit: I believe here's the space shuttle game Rob refers to.

That is totally it! I could never get that god dam satellite, and half the time I never made it off the ground!

Here is a great description of how the game was supposed to play out!

Space Shuttle was truly a technical achievement for the Atari 2600 in the sense that it introduced a fairly sophisticated technical simulation to the Atari 2600, and it required the user to make use of just about every switch on the console. Special overlays, one for the six switch model and one for the four switch model, were included with the game, as well as a reference sheet and a rather thick manual. Simply put, the objective of just launching the shuttle is a very big task in that the player must monitor several item, make sure everything is set up properly, and then make sure they don't make any critical mistakes, otherwise the launch will be aborted. Once the player successfully makes it to space and into orbit, the game's excellent graphics are really shown to the fullest.

Your goal once in orbit is to dock with a satellite one or more times before returning to Earth. The player needs to take care that their shuttle is properly configured for reentry to avoid burning up in the atmosphere or crashing upon landing. A player who managed to complete four dockings and return with at least 4,500 units of fuel would earn a Space Shuttle Pilot patch from Activision upon submitting a photo demonstrating said requirements were met. If a player was truly good enough, and completed six dockings and returned with at least 7,500 units of fuel, they would get a special message, and sending a photograph of that would allow them to receive a special Space Shuttle Commander patch. (Contributed by Larcen Tyler)

Aside from the accent, Soren Johnson sounds a lot like Dave from Pure Pwnage sometimes. Just me?

Gaald wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:
Certis wrote:

I don't know many people who wear beer hats while playing Civ IV

I do, you bastard! You try waiting on Mao Ze-Slowpoke to finish his turn!

Edit: I believe here's the space shuttle game Rob refers to.

That is totally it! I could never get that god dam satellite, and half the time I never made it off the ground!

Here is a great description of how the game was supposed to play out!

Space Shuttle was truly a technical achievement for the Atari 2600 in the sense that it introduced a fairly sophisticated technical simulation to the Atari 2600, and it required the user to make use of just about every switch on the console. Special overlays, one for the six switch model and one for the four switch model, were included with the game, as well as a reference sheet and a rather thick manual. Simply put, the objective of just launching the shuttle is a very big task in that the player must monitor several item, make sure everything is set up properly, and then make sure they don't make any critical mistakes, otherwise the launch will be aborted. Once the player successfully makes it to space and into orbit, the game's excellent graphics are really shown to the fullest.

Your goal once in orbit is to dock with a satellite one or more times before returning to Earth. The player needs to take care that their shuttle is properly configured for reentry to avoid burning up in the atmosphere or crashing upon landing. A player who managed to complete four dockings and return with at least 4,500 units of fuel would earn a Space Shuttle Pilot patch from Activision upon submitting a photo demonstrating said requirements were met. If a player was truly good enough, and completed six dockings and returned with at least 7,500 units of fuel, they would get a special message, and sending a photograph of that would allow them to receive a special Space Shuttle Commander patch. (Contributed by Larcen Tyler)

Man, yet another 2600 gem that slipped by only because I was all of two when it came out. And I thought I was little when Tunnels of Doom came out on the Texas Instruments rig.

And apparently my ranting is too big for one mere podcast to contain. Ha, I'm bigger than the GWJ Conference Call, biotch! Just wish that I didn't always submit my audio emails whenever some super-important developer is on the show. Ken Levine and Soren Johnson must think I'm some kind of lunatic.

I don't know why you guys are so down on Bourne. The Official XBox Magazine Podcast seems to love it for all its totally-awesome-hardcore-yet-PG-13-and-accessible-to-non-gamers goodness.

Don't you guys get it? It's not about exploring an open-world sandbox... it's about exploring the world through COMBAT! And he can drive ANYTHING! Anything from a Mini Cooper to... a slightly larger car!

I was very excited to hear that Civ Revolution is actually being designed by Sid Meier himself. I was under the impression that this was going to be some kind of console port just capitalizing on the Civ name but I couldn't be happier to find out how misinformed I was. My PC won't play Civ 4 and I have become a console gamer over the past 8-9 years and now that I know Civ Revolution is going to be a real Civ game it just got put on my 'must have' list.

I know this has nothing to do with why you had Soren on but, this is just one of those little nuggets that falls out when you have great guests and provoke interesting, thoughtful conversations.

You buy me a beer helmet, and I will send you pictures of me using it while playing any game you want.

7inchsplit wrote:

Video games are art while board games are what, only for kids and old men?

Yeah it's pretty funny when gamers cry foul at nongamers pooh-poohing their hobby as juvenile or boring and then they turn around and do the same thing regarding board games. I wish more people would give these games a shot--I am convinced they'd get more popular if people knew about them.

LobsterMobster wrote:

The Official XBox Magazine Podcast seems to love it for all its totally-awesome-hardcore-yet-PG-13-and-accessible-to-non-gamers goodness.

I know you're being a smartass with this, but jesus, Bourne isn't one of those games I'd toss a non gamer to get interested in. The combat is just so stiff that there's no way they'd be interested in it enough to get to the awesome takedowns and kicking and running away from people.

Andor wrote:

Aside from the accent, Soren Johnson sounds a lot like Dave from Pure Pwnage sometimes. Just me?

Funny, I thought he sounded a lot like Jack from the Jack in the Box commercials. And I mean that as nothing but a complement!

I was happy to hear someone remember the old Play-by-Mail games from the early 1980s. Actually, I started before that; I was playing Starweb in the late 1970s. I also used to play things like Empyrean Challenge, Tribes of Crane, Beyond the Stellar Empire and Universe II. Ah, such fun.

I'm also a board gamer; I even run a board game website. Of course, I'm one of those old guys too...

7inchsplit wrote:

Video games are art while board games are what, only for kids and old men?

I'm sure I would have won the yearbook superlative for "Most Likely to Defend Video Games as Art" in high school, but I disagree with you here. Many video games, in my view, are art--but not all. Some games are "just" games. That is, some games more perfectly conform to the ludologist ideal of being merely contests of chance, challenge, and skill. They can be used as tests, learning tools, or diversions, and as such these games can be meaningful and valuable in a number of ways, but the lack of strong elements of character and plot, or of a strong connection of player to player-character makes the game less meaningful in an artistic sense.

I'm a fairly avid grognard myself. I have a friend who teaches military history in part through the use of war games and historical miniatures. I love having friends over to play Catan or Apples to Apples. I respect the craft and potential of board games, but I find that very few of them ask the kind of questions (about, say, "the human condition") that I associate as necessary elements of art.

wordsmythe wrote:
7inchsplit wrote:

Video games are art while board games are what, only for kids and old men?

I'm sure I would have won the yearbook superlative for "Most Likely to Defend Video Games as Art" in high school, but I disagree with you here. Many video games, in my view, are art--but not all. Some games are "just" games.

I don't think 7inchsplit was asserting the premise. In context, he seems to be presenting it as the erroneous belief of the "EGM kids" who snore during board game discussions and I don't think he agrees with it.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
7inchsplit wrote:

Video games are art while board games are what, only for kids and old men?

I'm sure I would have won the yearbook superlative for "Most Likely to Defend Video Games as Art" in high school, but I disagree with you here. Many video games, in my view, are art--but not all. Some games are "just" games.

I don't think 7inchsplit was asserting the premise. In context, he seems to be presenting it as the erroneous belief of the "EGM kids" who snore during board game discussions and I don't think he agrees with it.

I thought he was partly asserting that board games should be treated as art the way video games are. I disagree with that assertion, though I do have respect for board games.

wordsmythe wrote:

I thought he was partly asserting that board games should be treated as art the way video games are. I disagree with that assertion

Clearly you've never played Pimp: the Backhanding.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

I thought he was partly asserting that board games should be treated as art the way video games are. I disagree with that assertion

Clearly you've never played Pimp: the Backhanding.

Only in LARP format.

An aside that gets back to an (admittedly minor) point made by Soren during the podcast: I, too, really really want to see the casual/board gaming segment of our industry find its footing.

Fantasy:
I want to join up in some casual gamespace with light-multiplayer, maybe a ladder, and feel some sort of competitive progression.

Reality:
I join up to find I'm placed 9-millionth out of 9-million-and-one on a leaderboard that hasn't been reset since the Clinton presidency. The only person I beat out is someone who accidentally registered.

Fantasy:
I want to play with an over-arching gaming community regardless of the game I'm in (Steam - I'm looking in your direction). I want an easier way to seek these people out independent of simply choosing one server and hoping for the best.

Reality:
Pubtards make password protecting a necessity. Inflexible constraints don't allow game types to morph one lick depending on the groups playing. Added result? The only time I get into Stan's Lounge is during the rare moment when nobody's playing. Otherwise, it's too full, and there aren't any more subtle tools to keep groups, if not playing directly with one another, at least in orbit.

I'm an old Civ junkie (2 was my first) who may not have the time for the weird, long games I love so much, but there has to be something I can take from them. Something social - something not too demanding - something with a beginning and an end.

These are just some more thought-experiments since I don't really have any solutions, just oodles of questions. Great podcast, as ever.

Reality:
Pubtards make password protecting a necessity. Inflexible constraints don't allow game types to morph one lick depending on the groups playing. Added result? The only time I get into Stan's Lounge is during the rare moment when nobody's playing. Otherwise, it's too full, and there aren't any more subtle tools to keep groups, if not playing directly with one another, at least in orbit.

If you are having a hard time getting onto Stan's and you find it full you can still try to join than have it connect to Stan's automatically when a slot is open than go find another server to play on while you wait. You will automagically switch over to Stan's when a spot clears up. I love that feature.