GWJ Conference Call Episode 88

Conference Call

D&D 4.0, Bourne Identity, Civ IV Console Style, Video Games Live Post Show, The Cinemafication of Gaming, Your Emails and more!

This week we talk about all the reasons the Bourne Identity game sucks. Shocker! We also talk about gaming cutscenes, seizing control from the player and why slow walking is okay if you really need to chat.

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 Photos
Age of Conan
Bourne Identity Game
Penny Arcade Does D&D

  • 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

"Crocodile Tears" - Zoo (Workbench) - www.workbench-music.com - 0:25:45
"Sunflower" - Zoo (Workbench) - www.Workbench-music.com - 0:52:29

Comments

I think we've hit a new Time Till Swear record this week!

One of my Guild Mates has spent a good chunk of time with the D&D 4th addition core rules (a gaming industry friend drooped then off since he is our groups master GM) and has a series of blog posts up over at: http://www.guildavatar.com/index.php...

Bottom line he likes it, wants to check out the web tools, and see how it goes. Course we have a love affair with Harp right now so we are a tuff audience to distract... OOooo! hey is that some gingly keys I hear!....

Bourne managed to make quick time events even more annoying by randomising them so that the button you press isn't the same every time. At least on previous games, if you hated QT events, you could get through them by memorising the sequence. I thought it was an interesting observation that it allows the creators of the game to do cool, cinematic action sequences and fight moves without going to the effort of tying them into the game controls. I think that's probably a big motivation.

Edit: ...and speaking of Live arcade games lost in action: Where is Peggle?

Y'know Certis, it's funny you mention how ridiculous it'd be if there were quick-time events in Soul Calibur. In 4, there's a new mechanic where if your opponent is turtling and you're kicking ass you can break their armor, press all four face buttons, and do an attack that's an instant kill if it hits. Not only that... but the kill's done in a CUTSCENE! You don't have to press anything but early previewers are saying it really takes you out of the fight.

3 things.

1. Speaking of having the same people on as last week, what happened to Cory? He hasn't been on in forever.

2. I don't mind the cut scenes in Metal Gear Solid because at least when you get gameplay they don't try any of this quicktime crap and give you gameplay, and the same with cut scenes, though I understand that 90 minute cut scenes don't appeal to everyone.

3. “what was the game with the portals?” I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Thanks Rob.

Purple_Haze wrote:

3. “what was the game with the portals?”

Classic!

ranalin wrote:
Purple_Haze wrote:

3. “what was the game with the portals?”

Classic!

I think I might have made a scene at work, laughing so hard when I heard that.

Looks like the gift set is just $58 for all three D&D 4.0 Core Rule Books at Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Dungeons-Dragons-Core-Rulebook-Gift/dp/0786950633/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1213200468&sr=8-1

ScottG13 wrote:

Looks like the gift set is just $58 for all three D&D 4.0 Core Rule Books at Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Dungeons-Dragons-Core-Rulebook-Gift/dp/0786950633/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1213200468&sr=8-1

Act now! That price probably won't last much longer (Amazon has an annoying tendency to change the prices unexpectedly)

I understand the core set is selling out every shipment Amazon gets. The Missus ordered it for me for Christmas two weeks ago, and it's expected to ship next week.

Totally agree on the quicktime event thing. And I think that the economic disincentive to making games entirely out of QTEs goes back before Sega CD. Anyone else remember those godawful Laserdisc arcade games? Dragon Slayer? Space Ace? That stupid holographic game with the cowboy (I think it was called Time Traveler, or something similarly inventive)?

Dragon Slayer didn't even tell you what button to push! You just walked toward the castle, fell through the bridge, and wondered WTF.

I'm sure they made some money as novelties, but I don't know a single person who actually enjoyed any of them.

Talking about how people give MMOs more room to be buggy than other games, I think the thoughts revolve around the nature of the gaming itself.

MMO gaming is episodic. You aren't looking at it like one extended experience. I think the comparison between MMOs and other styles of games is to compare a television series to a movie. Individual episodes of a series are often less significant than the over-arcing effort, unlike movies where your sit-down experience is typically measured in a much more discrete and critical method. Similarly, in MMOs, you tend to look at how the elements are laid out for future content, and you develop a sense of anticipation for potentiality as much as actual presentation.

By the way, Stranglehold didn't have the quick time events like Bourne. I really don't remember any.

ranalin wrote:
Purple_Haze wrote:

3. “what was the game with the portals?”

Classic!

No, please, somebody tell me. What's the game with the portals?

Rat Boy wrote:

No, please, somebody tell me. What's the game with the portals?

Prey.

Spaz wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:

No, please, somebody tell me. What's the game with the portals?

Prey.

I thought it was X-Men Legends 2

Gemini Ace wrote:

By the way, Stranglehold didn't have the quick time events like Bourne. I really don't remember any.

There weren't any. There have been a lot of recent offenders with regard to QTEs but Stranglehold wasn't one of them.

Movie games are not the only ones with Bourne sydrome. One notable example of a mainstream game with the same problem is GTA 3 (and onwards). Shamus highlights this especially for Liberty City Stories, here: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysid... . The same script-based 'gameplay' happens in 3 and Vice City. I haven't played 4 but I'd imagine they stuck to the pattern. So frustrating to try the same mission repeatedly until you do it exactly how the designers wanted you to.

Not quite the same as making the missions one long cut-scene, but just as with cut-scenes I wish I could skip the mission after playing it once. Anyway, thanks for another top-notch podcast.

Did Elysium get into Rob's Rage Pills? I haven't heard him so filled with bile in a while.

I agree that Activision are being made to look like douchebags wrt plastic instrument support, but they are entirely within their rights.

Fact is if I made the better instrument with the worse software I'd also be hesitant to allow my instruments to be used in the better software that ships with sub-standard hardware.

EA has very cleverly made themselves look like the good guys by saying 'We'd love an open standard or cross-platform support' when they really do stand to gain more by the opening of the platform.

Turgid wrote:

I haven't played 4 but I'd imagine they stuck to the pattern. So frustrating to try the same mission repeatedly until you do it exactly how the designers wanted you to.

I've seen at least one example of that in GTAIV - there's a mission where you have to protect your friend by sniping from a rooftop. Obviously, the designers had decided that the last bit of the mission would be a last-minute panic shooting a guy as he's driving away in a van. I shot him just as he got in the van, but it suddenly reset, the bullet hole in the window disappeared and he started to drive away as if nothing had happened.

I'd just like to note that, Rabbit, you needn't feel ashamed or beleaguered for mentioning Bioshock every episode/conversation/sentence

Seriously though, it was one of gaming's highest points with regards to story and world integration. I appreciate the helping hand to determine when i should be drinking though so keep on with them!

[edit]
Yeah, i also appreciate the anger too. So as long as someone brings it to the 'cast i'm good

Anger is good.... anger makes you stronger! RRAAHH!

[edit 2]
Oh yeah, and Rob, i don't think you should go round telling people you've been giving other people 'the fist'... just some advice

MrDeVil909 wrote:

I agree that Activision are being made to look like douchebags wrt plastic instrument support, but they are entirely within their rights.

Fact is if I made the better instrument with the worse software I'd also be hesitant to allow my instruments to be used in the better software that ships with sub-standard hardware.

They may be within their rights, but it's pretty crappy PR.

Spaz wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

I agree that Activision are being made to look like douchebags wrt plastic instrument support, but they are entirely within their rights.

Fact is if I made the better instrument with the worse software I'd also be hesitant to allow my instruments to be used in the better software that ships with sub-standard hardware.

They may be within their rights, but it's pretty crappy PR.

It is, but if the situation was reversed do you think EA would be so accommodating?

For plastic-rock DLC, I'm in the camp that doesn't understand the problem with having to change the disc. I don't feel much sympathy for folks who buy Aerosmith and want to download GH3 songs, either. I consider the available DLC to be part of the individual game.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Did Elysium get into Rob's Rage Pills? I haven't heard him so filled with bile in a while.

Yes, welcome to the 9-5, Ely.

Certis wrote:

[well, "said," regarding cutscenes]I don't mind ... they have interesting things to say, but that's not a game.

I'm not sure why this is a concern, Certis. You yourself indicated that you still liked the product, regardless of whether or not you think it fits the definition of "a game."

I'm not sure that was me, Wordy. I think I said games don't exist in a vacuum and I don't mind cutscenes if they're interesting or entertaining. The Metal Gear Solid series is a good example of this - The Boune Identity would be the counter.

Certis wrote:

I'm not sure that was me, Wordy. I think I said games don't exist in a vacuum and I don't mind cutscenes if they're interesting or entertaining. The Metal Gear Solid series is a good example of this - The Boune Identity would be the scourge of gamekind.

*Fixed*

Certis wrote:

I'm not sure that was me, Wordy. I think I said games don't exist in a vacuum and I don't mind cutscenes if they're interesting or entertaining. The Metal Gear Solid series is a good example of this - The Boune Identity would be the counter.

I'll admit I was on the L when I heard it, so perhaps I mistook someone else for you. Either way, I don't understand why there would be a problem with a title not fitting a given definition of "game." The Bourne game sounds like it might have stunk regardless, but I feel like a title could still be entertaining without having the interactivity we tend to expect from a "game." If, for instance, someone recorded MGS4 and made it into a movie, might that be worth watching in its own right (providing, perhaps, that you hadn't played the game)? Is there a chance that the Bourne "game" could have been interesting--or at least more worthwhile--if the developer made it into a video of what they wanted the game to run like, and edited out the quick time cues?

My damn outlook butchered my insult to Elysium.

Insensitive Clod (habit from my /. days)

Duoae wrote:

*Fixed*

Certis wrote:

I'm not sure that was me, Wordy. I think I said games don't exist in a vacuum and I don't mind cutscenes if they're interesting or entertaining. The Metal Gear Solid series is a good example of this - The Boune Identity is a blight on the games industry.

_*doublefixed*_

wordsmythe wrote:

The Bourne game sounds like it might have stunk regardless, but I feel like a title could still be entertaining without having the interactivity we tend to expect from a "game." If, for instance, someone recorded MGS4 and made it into a movie, might that be worth watching in its own right (providing, perhaps, that you hadn't played the game)?

[justify]I have an interesting take on this.

A while back, someone on the Something Awful forums linked a torrent file of Silent Hill playthroughs (1-3). The author had played through the game, recorded it, and removed 99% of the tedious inventory management and boring navigation problems - i.e. you didn't see the player switch guns in combat, didn't see the menu pop up when he needed a quick health potion, didn't have to watch him run around for an hour until he could find the right route to take. I'd only seen about 15 minutes of Silent Hill, watching a friend play it, so I had almost no prior knowledge of the game's plot. I was intrigued at being able to experience the game without going through the trouble of tracking down a copy.

So I essentially played the game by proxy, watching every cut-scene, drama moment, and puzzle solution as if I were playing a perfect run of the game. Even though I wasn't in control, I was very, very moved by Silent Hill 2 and to this day regard it very highly on my list of faves. Maybe it helps that SH2 was a psycho-thriller and I watched it on Halloween. Who knows.

The funny thing is, I don't think I would have been so pleased had someone just cut out all the cinema aspects and made a cut-to-cut movie out of it all. This might be because a number of my early game experiences relied on watching my relatives complete NES games.

I'm not completely sure that would work very well for Metal Gear, since there is a strong action/sneaking component to the series. Long as the cut scenes may be, they do bridge the action gaps very well. I think if you were just given a Cinema Cut Edit of MGS2, you'd puke from all the La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo pseudophilosophy being thrown at you.
[/justify]

Wordsmythe wrote:

Is there a chance that the Bourne "game" could have been interesting--or at least more worthwhile--if the developer made it into a video of what they wanted the game to run like, and edited out the quick time cues?

I'm not quite sure what you're proposing. Do you mean that it would have been enjoyable if the entire game was just a perfect, pre-scripted playthrough? It might be a novelty, but their combat engine isn't robust enough to keep my interest between the supercool Takedown cinematics. The Takedowns, while varied, also depend on environmental factors, so those too could get stale after a while.

If you mean just take out the game altogether and have cool action set pieces? Maybe. I can't see it being more than 30 minutes, tops. At that point you'd just be wondering why they didn't CGI it into a mini-movie, though.

I admit, as I get older, sometimes I wish I had a plucky little gamer to slog through the tough parts and serve the story progression to me on a silver platter. That's probably why I don't play RPGs that much anymore.

Spaz wrote:

A while back, someone on the Something Awful forums linked a torrent file of Silent Hill playthroughs (1-3). The author had played through the game, recorded it, and removed 99% of the tedious inventory management and boring navigation problems - i.e. you didn't see the player switch guns in combat, didn't see the menu pop up when he needed a quick health potion, didn't have to watch him run around for an hour until he could find the right route to take.

That's exactly what I'm talking about.

My guess is that "cinematic" games have a core nugget of this sort of thing, probably in storyboard form, and they slap other stuff on it until they're ready to call it a complete game. The difference is that some titles slap good things on (interesting gameplay and environments, for example), while others slap on quick time events.

Since you kept referring to it as Bourne Identity, maybe those weren't quicktime events but just the DVD menu and you were watching the movie instead of playing the game called Bourne Conspiracy.