GWJ Conference Call Episode 87

Conference Call

Age of Conan, Everyone Is So Angry At Us, Interview With Tommy Tallarico on Video Games Live And Game Music, Your Emails and more!

This week we have a special interview with Tommy Tallarico, a man you may recognize from his many years on TV co-hosting Electric Playground, plus appearances on G4. He's currently touring the world, exposing the masses to video game music through orchestras, light shows and hot guitar riffs.

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.

Video Games Live
Age of Conan
GWJ PS3 Friend Names

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"PodunkStump" Ian Dorsch - 0:16:47
"Washaway" Ian Dorsch - 0:43:45

Comments

I'm not sure I can get behind Tallarico's idea that VGL legitimizes the genre. I think it's more about popularizing it and showing people that may not be gamers/may not be familiar with specific pieces a progression. I'd imagine hearing the classic Mario suite in 8-bit synth transitioned to an orchestral treatment would stress how early music programmers were very limited with their palette.

Also, starting with something like Zelda's bloops to the epic Halo theme does well to show how much bigger the scope of game music has gotten these past few decades.

My main problem with his assertion is that it's not really adhering to a "formal" orchestral culture.
When a similar enterprise (one that featured Final Fantasy music exclusively) was attempted in Los Angeles, the Philharmonic Orchestra that was contracted to perform was aghast at the bombast of cosplayer outfits and the general ignorance of symphony manners -- attendees hooted, hollered and clapped wildly for their favorites. They also didn't view the compositions with any respect. It was clear that this was a pay-gig they weren't very happy to do.

Granted, anytime you get a mixing of "high" and "low/pop" art, there's a bit of gray area when it comes to establishing common ground. But since VGL relaxes the general rule of action for the event, some might use this departure to point at how this is primarily a music genre for adolescents that's commercially-engineered.

OH GOODY, I just got to the e-mail section from Balaam Donkey!

1) Nazis. Part of the reason WHY the Nazis are a good target for video game fodder has a lot to do with the fact that they are (aside from genuine suicide bombers that employ tactics such as sending handicapped adult women into crowds) virtually the last group of people we feel comfortable with shooting. From the intolerance of Hitler towards non-"aryans" and the simplistic, stark, Good vs Evil division of the Axis and Allied forces, the Nazis emerge as inhuman creatures in post-war media.

In other words, we don't stop and think about how Klaus over there likely has a son and wife and how he really, really is looking forward to Oktoberfest. We see, instead, "Agent of Fascist Dictatorial Regime" and happy plug him full of lead slugs.
We're not out there shooting Oskar Schindler. We're shooting jack-booted thugs with rifles and heartless super-science bastards that want to clone Hitler and stick his brain in a killbot. We're killing NAZIS, not Germans, NAZIS. They're effectively ideas, not people.

2) GEARS.
a) Plot - Rumors of an improved storyline in the SEQUEL are pretty much useless. The fact of the matter is that the original Gears of War did not in any way deliver a story that was deep, interesting, or even fully baked. Why does Fenix have a secret lab with all of the Locust tunnels charted? We don't know. Why didn't Marcus just TELL EVERYONE about his little treasure trove instead of having them fiddle with their sonic resonator? Got me. How does their little floaty invisobot manage to follow them onto the train when he can barely catch up to the ATV? Magic! Who the f*ck are all these people and why do we give a damn about them?

The fact of the matter is that the plot was tacked on to a game that was essentially an adrenaline-soaked heteroguyfest excuse for shooting things. After having played through it, I had no friggin' clue what COG stood for, that they were on a non-earth planet, or even that Imulsion was used to energy purposes. This game has absolute sh*t in terms of storytelling ability and I refuse to judge it on the basis that someone called them out on it so they've allowed their professional writer to actually get a chance to plot out a goddamned story arc this time around.

The same argument was used for the second Matrix movie ("Just wait for the last one!"). No deal. The original should be able to stand on its own narrative legs. Unfortunately, it has none.

b) Locusts - You spent 2 minutes outlining why we should all feel like terrible, terrible people for condoning the digital genocide of an ideology, but go on to say that "as Americans" we hate things that we aren't familiar with?

c) Story - When your sequel announcement is a video of a guy CHAINSAWING AN ENEMY IN HALF followed by this guy cutting into the screen with a prop gun, you don't have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to claiming the primacy of story in the series.

I swear, if I hear that
**[color=white]Myrrah is Maria, Fenix's lost wife[/color]**
I will **it a brick at how boring that twist is.

Great podcast, most repootable gaming podcast I've heard

On European Rock Band prices - prices in the EU are frequently quoted including VAT (sales tax), which is 18% in Germany IIRC.

Spaz wrote:
Stuff

I love you man. Sniff.

Good show guys.

With regards to the email about the Darkness and Bioshock. I took his comments about the characterisation of people being more personal in the former and iconic in the latter to be analogous to Soap Opera vs Movie/historical figures (or whatever the term is called). I've never played the darkness but i'm guessing that the interaction between characters is more down to earth as opposed to being reduced to voices and random snippets of a recording.

Wow... all the haterade emails. You guys know that i still love you right?

Gamestop guy: There is something wrong with having to put money down to pre-order things. We can pre-order things for FREE here. I don't see why having some mega-corporation accrue interest on millions of pre-orders... (which is the real reason you guys are trying to get pre-orders: no pre-order questions or suggestions are proffered by the retailers in this country unless solicited)

Drinking game: Rob being angry doesn't count. They have to be re-occurring themes rather than a person's mentality or personality.

First off, both Bioshock and The Darkness sucked.

Second, thanks for the comments on my e-mail. I still disagree with you guys, but I haven't played the trial on XBLA. Also, you didn't mention the fact that you have no disc to show for your purchase or multiplayer. With the pinball game Rabbit mentioned, he would have a physical disc he could eventually trade in. With the Penny Arcade game, your $20 is lost forever!

Anyway, love the show. Skipped the interview because that guy was always annoying when I watched him on G4.

Also, you didn't mention the fact that you have no disc to show for your purchase or multiplayer.

I've just gotten past the point of needing one. Besides, PC games are no longer available for trading in and that's my platform of choice.

With the Penny Arcade game, your $20 is lost forever!

That's a dark way to look at the transaction!

We're just going to have to disagree on this one.

With the Penny Arcade game, your $20 is lost forever!

Yah, I have to say, that's pretty bleak. I don't consider the hundreds of dollars I've spent on downloaded steam games, downloaded EA games, or downloaded XBox content "lost forever." I know the digital delivery system is far from perfect, but to be honest, I haven't bought a boxed game when there was an alternative in years.

Elysium wrote:

That's a dark way to look at the transaction!

We're just going to have to disagree on this one.

I think I may be emo.

I do realize that I'm taking a pretty hardcore stance against this game and I do see both sides of the argument. Just remember when Microsoft told us that all their first party titles on the 360 would remain at $50. How long did that last once they realized they could charge $60? That's where I'm coming from.

Gemini Ace wrote:
With the Penny Arcade game, your $20 is lost forever!

Sure, but if you lose or scratch a DVD your game is gone forever too. At least with Steam/Wiiware etc. you can redownload games as many times as you want.

The dirtbike controls are great.

I haven't finished the PA game yet and I already feel like I've gotten my money's worth.

The dirtbike controls are great.

I haven't finished the PA game yet and I already feel like I've gotten my money's worth.

Gamestop:

Rob's reason is very valid in this area. Plus they're a retail store and until they started this preorder crap they would actually order games to be in stock. Why can't they order x amount over the preorders? Especially on popular games. It's not like they'll be stuck with them. Instead of dealing with Gamestops bullsh*t i can drive two more blocks to Target or a few more miles to Best Buy and have always been able to pick up what i want.

Link

Eurogamer has a statement from Funcom on the AoC boob reduction. The story seems to be that it's a body morphing bug that is being fixed. At least, that's what they're telling the pubic. I mean public.

Ahhh, Tommy Tallarico. My favorite person.

I'd comment on VGL but I think Spaz already pretty much summed it up.

When a similar enterprise (one that featured Final Fantasy music exclusively) was attempted in Los Angeles, the Philharmonic Orchestra that was contracted to perform was aghast at the bombast of cosplayer outfits and the general ignorance of symphony manners -- attendees hooted, hollered and clapped wildly for their favorites. They also didn't view the compositions with any respect. It was clear that this was a pay-gig they weren't very happy to do.

That is the kind of attitude that is slowing killing Orchestral music. Here in Winnipeg the Orchestra is happy when they can do something that helps them attract a different audience. They know that in order to survive they have to try and attract new audiences so that they can continue to play the music they enjoy playing.

Anyway, love the show. Skipped the interview because that guy was always annoying when I watched him on G4.

Never watched the show, but I thought the interview was pretty good and Tommy Tallarico sounded like a nice guy and he made some interesting comments. Rabbit of course did a fantastic job as the interviewer.

Spaz wrote:
2) GEARS.

You know, I don't think you and I played the same game. After completing Gears, the only thing I didn't know was what COG stood for (you'd think it was important to tell us that, right?). The Locust Queen herself tells you what planet they're on (Sera) when you let Gears load to the title screen and watch the intro (don't press start). And I believe the lab in Fenix's house and the research inside belonged to his father, not him. And Dom is the one looking for Maria. And I know they mentioned what imulsion was before you ended up in the imulsion mining area.

Maybe it's just me.

Gaald wrote:
That is the kind of attitude that is slowing killing Orchestral music. Here in Winnipeg the Orchestra is happy when they can do something that helps them attract a different audience. They know that in order to survive they have to try and attract new audiences so that they can continue to play the music they enjoy playing.

I think the important point is really this:

Spaz wrote:
Granted, anytime you get a mixing of "high" and "low/pop" art, there's a bit of gray area when it comes to establishing common ground. But since VGL relaxes the general rule of action for the event, some might use this departure to point at how this is primarily a music genre for adolescents that's commercially-engineered.

Hosting a production like VGL may be a smart financial move but it does little more to build an audience for local symphonies than a Josh Groban concert would do. It's different music, marketed and presented to a different crowd.

Hosting a production like VGL may be a smart financial move but it does little more to build an audience for local symphonies than a Josh Groban concert would do. It's different music, marketed and presented to a different crowd.

But it also goes a long way in showing how good these musicians are. It may be different music for a different crowd but how else are you going to attract a wider audience?

Gaald wrote:
But it also goes a long way in showing how good these musicians are. It may be different music for a different crowd but how else are you going to attract a wider audience?

That's a hell of a good question.

I'll write a detailed response when I have some more time. As you might imagine, it's a topic about which I have a lot of strong opinions.

It has been a while since I played BioShock, but I thought it was Atlas/Fontaine you fight at the end not Ryan. I thought Ryan, after recognizing you, uses the trigger phrase to have you kill him.

stueysville wrote:
It has been a while since I played BioShock, but I thought it was Atlas/Fontaine you fight at the end not Ryan. I thought Ryan, after recognizing you, uses the trigger phrase to have you kill him.

Yes it is which is why we were confused by his comment in the e-mail.

stueysville wrote:
It has been a while since I played BioShock, but I thought it was Atlas/Fontaine you fight at the end not Ryan. I thought Ryan, after recognizing you, uses the trigger phrase to have you kill him.

While this is an interesting theory, one which I certainly will not advocate or reject, I do believe it is a...

IMAGE(http://www.matt-d.com/ghetto/spoiler.jpeg)

LARGE SPOILER.

Gaald wrote:
stueysville wrote:
It has been a while since I played BioShock, but I thought it was Atlas/Fontaine you fight at the end not Ryan. I thought Ryan, after recognizing you, uses the trigger phrase to have you kill him.

Yes it is which is why we were confused by his comment in the e-mail.

Hey, that Ryan / bad guy discussion was in episode 86, not this one. What e-mail are you refering to?

I just wanted to point out that at least in some instances, you can "pre-order" games on Steam. They push them to your machine early so it's ready to go as soon as they hit the "unlock" button on release date.

Frankly, the reason I'm usually reluctant to pre-order at Gamestop is that often other stores will have deals the week of release. Something like a $10 gift card or a discount on another game purchased at the same time. Gamestop NEVER has deals on new release items.

maddoc1979 wrote:
I just wanted to point out that at least in some instances, you can "pre-order" games on Steam. They push them to your machine early so it's ready to go as soon as they hit the "unlock" button on release date.

You usually just end up pre-loading all the game's assets in an encrypted format, which is unlocked on release.
I haven't used STEAM for day-and-date releases in a long while, so did they ever resolve their problem with releases slamming their servers hard? I remember reading about people having all of HL2 preloaded and having to wait 30+ minutes for the server to authorize.
That's one of those little quibbles that Digital Distribution will have to remedy, else people will start thinking "I could have gone to Best Buy and bought the disc, then waited the 20 for a regular install!"

Frankly, the reason I'm usually reluctant to pre-order at Gamestop is that often other stores will have deals the week of release. Something like a $10 gift card or a discount on another game purchased at the same time. Gamestop NEVER has deals on new release items.

That's a really good point. I remember Target was doing something like Mario Galaxy collector coins while Best Buy was giving away a $10 gift card with game purchase. GameStop is nice in that it lets you transfer the credit over, but you're effectively stuck with your cash in that one store.

Personally, I've never felt the need to preorder. We're in an age that is (for the most part) no longer limited by cartridge production. I can see why it was a pain to find a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 when I was a kid, what with circuit printing, cartridge assembly and so on. But now, I fully expect GameStop to carry enough items to cover their preorders with enough on the side for walk ins, especially when my neighborhood has a Target and a Best Buy within a mile. There is not a single game I can think of in recent memory where I felt I had, had, had to set aside my own copy.

I understand WiiFit is unique, in that it comes with a flashy bit of hardware and its size limits the ability of a chain to carry multiple boxes, but chiding someone for not pre-ordering is a bit odd for my habits.

LobsterMobster wrote:

While this is an interesting theory, one which I certainly will not advocate or reject, I do believe it is a...

LARGE SPOILER. :D

Heh, I guess when there was already discussion on the "Barry Bonds" fight at the end it would not be considered a spoiler to try to clarify character names.

Pre-sell is predicated on the person doing the pre-sell convincing you that the item you want to pick up will be scarce at retail on the day you want to pick it up. Now, when we are talking about items that may be large or expensive to build, this might make sense. But we are talking about a small plastic disk in a small plastic box. The only way there will be a shortage of items like that is if the people selling the game are incompetent beyond measure, and therefore the game probably sucks anyway.

In my entire history seriously buying video games, there has never been a time when I did this:

Walk into the first store I pick out of the set (Target, Best Buy, Local used record store), look for game....

And did not come out of the store with the game. Not once. Ever.

This is why I don't pre-order. Maybe it comes from having never bought video games before they were widely available at non-specialist stores.

Anyway, in the modern era pre-sell is predicated on a lie. So I don't do it.

WOW! All the haterade in the emails! Just so you guys know I still love you all, in a totally manly, non-gay way.

I'll agree that Gears doesn't have the best story ever, a problem exacerbated by the slightly odd decision to not have an intro cinematic, going instead for the way they did it. But there is a sense of a larger world behind the gameplay, but the deus ex machina element of; it just happens to be Fenix's father who has the information to defeat the Locust, the same father for whom Fenix got arrested when he went to save him is a bit much to swallow.

Also the general Locust enemies are severely lacking in imagination, and a certain logic. A burrowing (presumably) insectile race most of which is humanoid? Ummm...don't add up sorry. Unless there is a big explanation coming, but you can't give points for elements of a story that the game doesn't tell you. More Deus ex machina.

Personally I never get tired of shooting Nazis.

With regards to pre-orders, here we generally only pre-order if we are given a discount, you usually pay up front, but can save up to 20% on the RRP when time comes to pick it up. Or if there is a bonus like the Guild Wars Bonus Packs.

There were so many other things I'd like to address, but I can't remember. I should have taken notes.

Mystic Violet wrote:
Spaz wrote:
2) GEARS.

You know, I don't think you and I played the same game. After completing Gears, the only thing I didn't know was what COG stood for (you'd think it was important to tell us that, right?). The Locust Queen herself tells you what planet they're on (Sera) when you let Gears load to the title screen and watch the intro (don't press start). And I believe the lab in Fenix's house and the research inside belonged to his father, not him. And Dom is the one looking for Maria. And I know they mentioned what imulsion was before you ended up in the imulsion mining area.

Maybe it's just me. :D

Nah, I'm with you Maybe it was as much from pre-game info as from the game itself, but I always knew the game was on Sera, and what Imulsion was, though I did wonder why Fenix's dad had the Locust tunnel data.

Despite some confusion over the little points, though, the greater setting always seemed quite clear: Humanity had come to Sera, discovered Imulsion, and started raping the planet, pissing off the Locust hordes in the process and bringing the war upon themselves. I read it as a cautionary tale against the Western world's dependence on oil, though given that the rest of the game is just sweaty guys and gallons of blood, I'll be the first to admit that I perhaps read too much in to it.

I've played Bioshock and pretty much didn't set it down until I finished. I also played Riddick and really enjoyed it for the gameplay, story and characters. I borrowed The Darkness from a friend and after about 2 hours with the game I just couldn't take the story/dialogue. It was so over the top and bearable, and the gameplay wasn't enough to make up for it. I would pay for another Riddick game but am so glad that I didn't even spend the money to rent The Darkness.