Conference Call

GWJ Conference Call Episode 87

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


You guys are going to LOVE Video games Live today. The NYC show was so awesome and the crowed had so much energy. Gatta love New York. I have to admit I got a little choked up at times.

So much fun

"Just a game," Ely? I expected better from you. I could see Gaald throwing around such intellectual caltrops--maybe even Certis--but not you.

Spaz wrote:

We're killing NAZIS, not Germans, NAZIS. They're effectively ideas, not people.

I think this bears repetition. Unlike nationality or ethnicity, National Socialism involves a set of beliefs and ethical tenants that I and modern society deems utterly reprehensible. Certainly not all actual soldiers for the Third Reich were direct adherents to Nazi thoughts, but I think that (and this is what I hope Ely was trying to say) WWII games tend to be fairly careful on whether they want to humanize the enemy as German soldiers doing their jobs or to demonize and dehumanize enemies as Nazis. This is a very real difference.

I can admit, however, that the convenient Nazi enemy stereotype was, in terms of actual individuals, woefully prejudiced. Given this widely held knowledge, I think that it's very important for a WWII game designer to take into account that they shape the game space and can make it clear whether they want cartoon Nazi stereotypes or if they'd rather allow a little more historical/anthropological accuracy to shine through.

Lamentably, the way most games are designed, I think that the audience/player's expectation is that enemies will be faceless cartoons and stereotypes. Levine went through pains to make the splicer in BioShock still seem relatively unique and human, but I think we can all agree that even the Mighty Ken delivered a game in which we stopped caring about the mobs.

Spaz wrote:

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.

Maybe it's because I can't accept a game without a plot, but I did my best to assume there was some rational story that wasn't being explained to the player. From what I gather, the collectors edition included information that provided a plot as some sort of value-add feelie. Honestly, that offended me--at least until I found it all online. At that point I simply judged the story as incomplete, perhaps as a demonstration of the old "Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why" ethos.

Mystic Violet wrote:
Spaz wrote:


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

No, I at least caught that much too. Mind you I've already admitted that I was paying extra attention to trying to figure out the story.

pneuman wrote:

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

As I recall, Fenix's father was branded a traitor for not being as aggressively militaristic in his response to the Locust. He also seems to have been something of a part-time scientist, so perhaps he was interested in learning about the Locust instead of shooting first. Either way, it seemed there was a connection between his knowledge and the traitor branding.

I don't know how humans got to Sera.

On Pre-sales:

Pre-sales, from a retailer perspective, are a strategy for risk management. The uncertainty inherent in the pre-release hype means there's a lot of risk involved in how many titles to buy. buying too few of a game that turns out to be a hit means missed profits, while buying a game that duds is a failed investment, costing not only money but shelf space. Guessing incorrectly either way costs the retailer credibility with customers as well.

Pre-orders help retailers to gauge market expectations and, in the case of GameStop's store credit policy, to capitalize on the hype without necessarily having to risk as much cash on a game's uncertain future.

Of course in the corporate sector, if you invested money on speculation, you'd likely get something of a discount due to the advanced payment and uncertainty of the product's prospects (e.g., If the game will cost $60, but has a 10% chance of flopping, the fair market price would be around $54).

Gemini Ace wrote:

Bioshock ... sucked.

Gemini Ace wrote:

I think I may be emo.

Forgive him, for he knows not what he does!

Just got back from Video Games Live, it was a lot of fun, some great music, very entertaining. Totally worth watching.

For all the faults The Darkness had, I will say this. There is one in-game section where control is taken away from you and it's about the most riveting in-game scene I've ever come across (bad things happen to your girl). Everyone I've talked to about it had roughly the same reaction . . . jaw on the floor. The cutscene towards the end where the mansion is getting cleared out was amazing as well, but a lot of people were upset over it as they felt they should've been in charge of controlling the actions shown. I felt it was pretty well done and a close 2nd to the prior cutscene.

The Darkness was a great game that resonated with me well after playing, I've always recommended people try it, especially Chronicles of Riddick fans. It's still one of the few games I refuse to trade in with hopes of playing through again once I've forgotten it a bit more. I am eagerly looking forward to the remake of Riddick as well.

I started playing through Gears again last night after hearing the conversation you guys were having. Yup, don't give a damn about the Locusts. Don't particularly care about the story. They are there as an excuse to hop underneath my chainsaw gun and spray red all over the place

Just thought you'd be happy to know; "The Bad Nazis" reference has become a running joke within my household. Only it's morphed into a "bad fill-in-the-blank" reference.

Me (Playing Vikings on the PS3): I just hacked some demon zombie viking's head off.
The Missus: Was it a bad demon zombie viking?
Me: I can't be sure, so I'm going to say 'yes.'

Me: "I'd like some chicken tenders for dinner."
The Missus: "Are they the bad chicken tenders?"
Me: "Oh, I'll just assume they're the bad ones, thank you."

Me: (Playing with my 1-year-old daughter) Come on sweetie! Knock over those blocks. They're the bad blocks.
The Little One: Squeals with delight and knocks over a tower of foam blocks I constructed for her.

I'm looking forward to an instance where one of us can work in the phrase "Is it the bad gamestop employee?"

Special thanks to Mr. Sands! Between "the bad nazis" and "just no" we're having a lot of fun with sub-1% in-jokes.

Keep up the good work!

The only thing I love killing more than Nazis are gnomes. I hate gnomes.

The bad gnomes, of course.

I don't know how humans got to Sera.

They didn't. In the Gears universe there is no known Earth.

I very much enjoyed the lack of intro cutscene and in media res presentation of the story. I don't need to be spoonfed. By asking for better writing, I'm not asking for more cutscenes to introduce elements of Sera that the characters should take for granted. I'm asking for less cutscenes, but with better thought out dialogue used to convey objectives that make sense without any deus ex machina.

Less of this:
"If only we had a map of the tunnels!"
"You mean like the one I'm holding in my hand all of the sudden?"

Elysium wrote:

The bad gnomes, of course.

Well, yeah.

Because they're all bad!

Elysium wrote:

The bad gnomes, of course.

I mean, gnomes cannibalized my family, but if I put it all in perspective I'm sure they were raised in a culture of violence with weak family values. I can't blame evil blood thirsty gnomes, I can only blame society as a whole and our failing public school system.

DeeVoc wrote:
Elysium wrote:

The bad gnomes, of course.

I mean, gnomes cannibalized my family, but if I put it all in perspective I'm sure they were raised in a culture of violence with weak family values. I can't blame evil blood thirsty gnomes, I can only blame society as a whole and our failing public school system.

Don't forget the horrible imperialist Tree-Men who get those poor gnomes all riled up.

It's all about root causes.

And awaaaaaay I go!

Hello everyone. I'm the one that sent in the question about how to make PS3 friends. Sorry I'm on the road this week and just listened to episode 87 plus don't have my original e-mail so I might post it here next week when I get back. But basically I work and travel a lot but want to get some reputable friends that play late in the evening/weekend U.S. EST and since my game library is pretty small at the moment is anyone playing:

- Burnout Paradise
- Madden 08
- Fight Night 3
- MLB 07
- Tiger Woods 08

I send a big thanks to the guys for reading my e-mail and posting the link above listing all PS3 owners so will try to get on here and contact some people if nobody contacts me first.

And I LOVE these guys just for the record.