GWJ Conference Call Episode 92

Conference Call

A New Audio Sponsor From Mick Mize, Playing D&D 4.0 Online, The Cross-Pollination of RPG Gaming, Diablo III, Your Emails and more!

This week Michael Zenke joins us as we educate our listeners in the finer points of pen and paper roleplaying games, the crossover with video gaming and what kind of D&D 4.0 games we'd like to see. We also tackle some saucy new emails on Spore, Diablo III, tossing rabbit's salad and more.

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
"Sunflower" - (Workbench) - www.workbench-music.com - 0:17:46
"Garibaldi" - (Workbench) - www.workbench-music.com - 0:52:08

Comments

t0W wrote:

The level of change between Diablo 2 and 3 that we have seen is ENORMOUS. To name one - the new bag system for the inventory, intriguing and alarming.

A modified inventory system is an ENORMOUS innovation? Reminds me of when Rob mentioned Gears 2's colour palette. Cue rabbit and Elysiums maniacal laughter.

samfisher wrote:

Blizzard can't really win in the complaints department.

No one, remotely related to the internet can win in the complaints department. When it comes down to it someone out there will complain, loudly, about whatever you are doing (cough, cough, Rob ). Since you can't please everyone, you just need to settle on a direction that you feel happy with, and you think you can defend, and move forward with that.

I'd just like to say I enjoyed Rabbit's clarifying comment on his advanced age.
As another 40 something gamer (nearing the dread 50,) I am happy to see that I am not the only "kid at heart" out there. My kids are constantly bragging to their friends that I am more into video gaming than they are...I've thus earned the distinguished title of "Cool Dad."

A question though. As "gamers with glasses and Jobs" (couldn't resist guys - please don't sue!) are we in the minority? Are there specific differences in the types of games we prefer? How about patience (at first I wrote 'tolerance')? I ask this as I find I have less tolerance for poorly crafted games.

I tend towards PC gaming. I like FPS over MMO. I have thus far been too cheap to purchase either a 360 or PS3.

Just curious what other "Elder Gamers" think.

I think you're anchoring the end of the "hardcore" gaming spectrum, from what data I've seen (sketchy) - the average age is older than you think - over 30 by a little. When you go up to "casual" gaming it skews even older.

That's by money spent - by time, who knows.

As for types of games, I wouldn't be surprised if PC gaming was more popular with elderly folk, as computers cost major money and require space, whereas a console is comparatively cheap and lives in the family room.

With Play On Con wrapped up, I really hoped to get some gaming in this week. I was especially excited by the podcast and thought, "OOOH! I can try to get in on one of these online D&D games!" Then I got hit with a big fat "working every night selling wine" stick.

BUT, if you guys start up another game... please consider me. I covet roleplaying time right now, and I really, really, Really want to try out the new rules.

DDO is still going well for Mr. & Mrs. Frolic and Mr. & Mrs. Wilson. We do get on almost every single week and knock out one or two dungeons. The comment from Michael about 2 1/2 years of Everquest was a riot! "Punch and Pie", our DDO guild, just hit 10th level about a month ago.

The complaint about D3 as more of the same is probably legitimate, but dernit, it's about TIME for more of that same. I miss Diablo and am eager to dig into some new levels and gameplay. The CP guys have been playing a lot of D2 lately, and I've been considering digging up a key and joining them... but I might just wait for D3.

In case I haven't told you lately, thanks again for the great podcast.

As for types of games, I wouldn't be surprised if PC gaming was more popular with elderly folk, as computers cost major money and require space, whereas a console is comparatively cheap and lives in the family room.

This is true, in general. I save a great deal of cash by building my own systems. That savings is probably squandered by the relatively high prices of PC games in general - in particular those in the "less than new" range. Where the average console "used" game seems to go for a good bargain price, I have found that PC games are tending to be less playable in the "used" category due to DRM and other copy protection issues.

I could easily be wrong. Maybe I have looked in the wrong places? Or maybe it is just hard to be both "cheap" and someone who would like to keep up with modern games?

BUT, if you guys start up another game... please consider me. I covet roleplaying time right now, and I really, really, Really want to try out the new rules.

I think I would be into joining something like that.

The whole rental/used issue for PC games is a killer. No Gamefly equivalent, and I make HEAVY use of Gamefly.

Certis wrote:
Duoae wrote:
Gaald wrote:

The major difference between World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 is that WoW is already out, and D3 isn't. Hence my disappointment that Blizzard is coming out with yet another dress up game, instead of something new.

But Rob, you're confusing a game mechanic with a game aesthetic. The reason Diablo is popular (when there are already other games that do the same things as it does) is because the story and feel of the game are fundamentally different (to those other games). Saying what you said is like saying - "Why are we getting Doom 4? Why are we getting a new Wolfenstein? Why are we getting ANY new FPSes? Why new Prince of Persia? We have the original? Oh, 3D? Done before Sands of Time as well... Time mechanic? Wasn't Blinx out before that series?

It's not a very well thought-out argument, is it?

:)

Your response to that statement doesn't make sense. I'm not even sure what you're responding to. The "dress up" comment?

Yeah, i know what Rob said in the podcast and i was happy with that - I was responding to what he wrote in the quoted segment. He basically said that WoW and D3 are the same type of game and as such he sees no need for another of that game to be released. Do you get another meaning from that paragraph? It's an entirely different point than the one he made on the podcast and i don't see how my comment can be miscontrued as replying to that.

For example: although WoW is a dress-up game, i have no interest in playing it. Diablo, however, appeals to me because of the different aesthetic. Hence there is a reason for them to release a different game that is similar in game mechanic. Is that clearer?

LobsterMobster wrote:

Oh man, I love that, Diablo is Dress-Up. How is that ANY different from World of Warcraft? Are you grinding to 70 for the story?

Duoae wrote:

But Rob, you're confusing a game mechanic with a game aesthetic. The reason Diablo is popular (when there are already other games that do the same things as it does) is because the story and feel of the game are fundamentally different (to those other games).

I'd like to hear more about the story and atmosphere in Diablo. Neither Diablo or WoW (or any PvP-centric MMO) really ever appealed to me, so I don't really understand the basis of this argument.

duckilama wrote:

Not everyone is "grinding to 70".
I do play WoW partly for the storIES. Not the overarching story, but all the smaller ones that make up bigger ones.

I'm not sure I understand this, either. Do you mean the stories you'll tell later of the tension or comedy you encountered in a raid?

duckilama wrote:

And many folks grinding to 70 have already played to 70 before, have seen all the stories, and just want a different character to play at 70. I'm hoping the WotLK mechanic for starting a Deathknight makes it to starting other alts, as well. I think once you've been to 70 for a given faction, you should be able to start at 50 for any other character of that faction on any server.

I think the only reason I'd ever "roll an alt" is to see how the story changes in Mass Effect (for example). What's the appeal?

I'm not sure I understand this, either. Do you mean the stories you'll tell later of the tension or comedy you encountered in a raid?

Within a game like WoW, there are tons of little stories you engage in throughout the world. Some lead to the big stuff like raids, but a lot of them are meant to be something you can experience alone. Just like in a single RPG. I suspect that's what he's referring to.

I think the only reason I'd ever "roll an alt" is to see how the story changes in Mass Effect (for example). What's the appeal?

I can't fully explain it, but I myself had one level 70 along with a host of other characters/alts. It's about experiencing the world in a new way. A game like WoW and Diablo, for me, provides a very different play experience depending on the class. It's not so much about the story but moving through the world in a different way. I mean, you have to buy into the game to get this, so it probably won't make much sense to say that playing through an area as a melee character rather than a caster offers a range of different challenges, but clearly there are enough of us whackos out there to make it work for them.

I'd like to hear more about the story and atmosphere in Diablo. Neither Diablo or WoW (or any PvP-centric MMO) really ever appealed to me, so I don't really understand the basis of this argument.

I think it's probably going to be a tough sell to prop-up Diablo for the "story". I understand the confusion on this point. Like we talked about on a previous podcast, it's all about the buy-in.

Loved the podcast guys, BUT, it wasn`t long enough. Your a bunch of jerks for making me finish my workout to music, the shame.

Oh yea, and I`m reinstalling Neverwinter 2 due to the discussion; It made me miss the sweet nerdy goodness of D&D.

That's gotta be the first time anyone's ever asked us to make the podcast LONGER!

Rob will be sending you a turd in a paper bag shortly. Enjoy.

rabbit wrote:

That's gotta be the first time anyone's ever asked us to make the podcast LONGER!

Rob will be sending you a turd in a paper bag shortly. Enjoy.

From you guys, I will be looking forward to it. I hear rabbit turd tastes like icecream.....

Psh, I too am a fan of long podcast. My favorites are the ones at least two hours long.

Mordiceius wrote:

Psh, I too am a fan of long podcast. My favorites are the ones at least two hours long.

Ditto on this. More content, b*tches!

You're all dead to me! Dead to me! You hear!

Chalk me up as a fan for the long podcasts, too. Usually I can't get more than about 15 minutes into a different site's, but GWJ does an excellent job. I'm always entertained, and am almost always sad when I hear the end credits roll.

nsmike wrote:
Mordiceius wrote:

Psh, I too am a fan of long podcast. My favorites are the ones at least two hours long.

Ditto on this. More content, b*tches!

Same here but I'd listen to a GWJ podcast every day if I could so I'll never be satisfied

I miss the days when I first discovered this podcast and others and I had hundreds to plough through.

Elysium wrote:
I think the only reason I'd ever "roll an alt" is to see how the story changes in Mass Effect (for example). What's the appeal?

I can't fully explain it, but I myself had one level 70 along with a host of other characters/alts. It's about experiencing the world in a new way. A game like WoW and Diablo, for me, provides a very different play experience depending on the class. It's not so much about the story but moving through the world in a different way. I mean, you have to buy into the game to get this, so it probably won't make much sense to say that playing through an area as a melee character rather than a caster offers a range of different challenges, but clearly there are enough of us whackos out there to make it work for them.

I don't tend to play 'alts' in single player RPGs (I always tell myself I'll play RPGs through multiple times but it never happens.) I had lots of alts in WoW and, looking back, they seem like a complete waste of time. I never had the time to invest in them to make them worth having (although they could be handy for parking in out of the way areas in order to gather herbs... but that's another story.) Their appeal, as far as I was concerned, was to create a new 'character' to play with his or her own identity and look. I also tend to come up with hundreds of great names for characters and want to use them (a very strange hobby of mine. It makes watching the credits for TV programmes more fun though.) As Elysium said, different classes can play differently (more so in MMORPGs I think) and people enjoy mastering a new character class. In WoW playing a warrior, especially in raids, is a whole different game from playing a priest.

Another reason for having multiple characters is the 'kitting out your character' side of the gameplay. In Bioware RPGs the equipment is secondary to the gameplay/story. You acquire an upgrade for your gun and your gun has more punch or you get new armour and you can soak up more bullets. In effect you are getting new kit in order for you to play the game more effectively.

In WoW (and I think in Diablo, but having never played more than the demos, I can't say for sure) acquiring equipment can become the main enjoyment/addiction in the game. You want to complete a particular armour set (so your character doesn't look like he or she was caught in an explosion in a cosplay factory) or you have an uncontrollable desire to own that twenty foot long sword you saw being hauled around player's character. The gameplay then takes second place to the grind for armour sets and cool weapons (a side of WoW I didn't personally enjoy that much.) When you enjoy that aspect of the game creating an alt gives you double the pleasure (and double the pain) in terms of acquiring new kit.

wordsmythe wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

Oh man, I love that, Diablo is Dress-Up. How is that ANY different from World of Warcraft? Are you grinding to 70 for the story?

Duoae wrote:

But Rob, you're confusing a game mechanic with a game aesthetic. The reason Diablo is popular (when there are already other games that do the same things as it does) is because the story and feel of the game are fundamentally different (to those other games).

I'd like to hear more about the story and atmosphere in Diablo. Neither Diablo or WoW (or any PvP-centric MMO) really ever appealed to me, so I don't really understand the basis of this argument.

Eysium seems to understand - he's into WoW and i'm not. Diablo preference is vice versa. The environments are undeniably different and the stories and types of gameplay stories that you experience are also different. The game mechanics are similar. I just don't get how Rob can say that because there's WoW, Blizzard shouldn't have made a game with similar mechanics.... It's like saying because there's Baldur's Gate there's no need to make Fallout (or more accurately now, Oblivion to Fallout 3).

I'll tell you the truth about how i play/ed Diablo. I don't play for the grind. As soon as the grind sets in, i quit. I've only ever completed normal difficulty but i enjoy the story of my gameplay set against the backdrop of the world environment. Dark and gothic, my character discovers fantastic loot whilst saving the world from a demonic invasion.... and there's enough variation in the character building for me to find that i can play it through multiple times.
I also enjoy the story in jRPGs. If the grind gets too much then i quit. It's one of the reasons i think i liked FF8 so much (apart from the fact that i could identify with the moody character at the time i played it... and it was also my first FF).

So i guess it's more of a gameplay story of your adventure within the setting than the actual story.

[edit]

You all realise that Rob cuts up to 50% of every show right?

spoiler wrote:

[color=white]It's all swear words, coughs and heavy breathing but it's 50% nonetheless! :)[/color]

I too will take whatever length of podcast you guys see fit to send my way. I don't need a longer podcast, but I'd take it.

Thanks for helping clarify that for me, guys. I don't think I'm any more interested in either game than I was before, but at least I can understand the appeal a bit better.

At the same time, I can see Gaald's point: Diablo 3 isn't really moving the industry forward in much of an appreciable way. That said, I'm not certain it should be incumbent on Blizzard to innovate in such a manner. The nature of the industry as a market is such that innovation is compelled by market saturation. When the market won't reward "yet another" permutation on a theme, innovation becomes necessary for a design company to stay profitable. So long as the market will pay good money for another Diablo, I don't see why they shouldn't keep meeting that demand.

The acceptance of reiteration in Diablo may be a key difference between that sub-genre and the MMO space that WoW has largely filled.

Higgledy wrote:
nsmike wrote:
Mordiceius wrote:

Psh, I too am a fan of long podcast. My favorites are the ones at least two hours long.

Ditto on this. More content, b*tches!

Same here but I'd listen to a GWJ podcast every day if I could so I'll never be satisfied :D

I certainly don't mind concise podcasts. Keep up the good work, guys!

Dr. Corby wrote:

I'd just like to say I enjoyed Rabbit's clarifying comment on his advanced age.
As another 40 something gamer (nearing the dread 50,) I am happy to see that I am not the only "kid at heart" out there. My kids are constantly bragging to their friends that I am more into video gaming than they are...I've thus earned the distinguished title of "Cool Dad."

A question though. As "gamers with glasses and Jobs" (couldn't resist guys - please don't sue!) are we in the minority? Are there specific differences in the types of games we prefer? How about patience (at first I wrote 'tolerance')? I ask this as I find I have less tolerance for poorly crafted games.

I tend towards PC gaming. I like FPS over MMO. I have thus far been too cheap to purchase either a 360 or PS3.

Just curious what other "Elder Gamers" think.

As another gamer around here who is older than Rabbit, I suppose I'll jump in.

I've been gaming a long time. Heck, I played M.U.L.E. on my Atari 800 back when it first came out. A gaming friend of mine keeps calling me a "Cave Gamer" since I've been gaming so long. (I usually use "PaleoGamer" as my handle on most gaming-related sites; I really don't know why I didn't use it here.)

I saw an article a year or so ago that said around the age of 30 seemed to be the "inflection point" for gamers. Anyone a few years or more younger than that seems to accept gaming as a normal passtime while anyone a few years or more over that tends to think of it as a kids hobby and looks somewhat strangely at anyone older who admits to playing. My own wife gives me a hard time about it sometimes (even though she sees nothing wrong with spending 10-15 hours a week watching soap operas off of the TiVo, but we won't go there.) I know that I have gotten more than a few strange looks in stores when I am buying games; I've been asked how old the person I am shopping for is and everyone always seems shocked when I tell them it is for me.

I actually started a blog about being an older gamer, but will admit that my updates to it are sporadic at best. (It's here if anyone cares.)

I think you have a good point that PC gamers may be older than average. I know that I have an above average PC (not top of the line but not too shabby either) but I hadn't thought about the fact that older gamers should have more disposable income to spend on a PC. I would think that we would also have less incentive to pirate games for the same reason.

I also agree with you about patience with bad games. While my disposable income may be up my free time is down. Between job, family, housework, other hobbies and the like, I just don't have the time to spend on games that I used to, so I'm not going to spend any more time on a bad game than I have to.

Interesting that you mention FPSs. I like those but that is where I am "feeling my age" the most. My reflexes just aren't what they used to be and some of them are getting to where I find them brutally hard, even on the easy settings. I've given up on ever finishing Far Cry, for example. (Though I will still be buying Far Cry 2 when it comes out, damn them!)

I also find I have little tolerance for kids (or whoever they are) that think that a constant stream of profanity and racist/homophobic jokes or whatever makes them sound cool in chat or something.

The main problem I have relates to time again. I'd like to play more with the folks from around here for example, but I can't make a regular game night because I'm never quite sure when I will have time free. Everyone outleveled me in AoC so I doubt I'll ever see anyone there and I couldn't get involved in one of the D&D games that have started (though I would really have liked to) because I couldn't guarantee that I would be available all the time. So I guess that's the biggest problem I see.

Oh, and great podcast guys, as usual. Keep up the good work.

tanstaafl wrote:

I also find I have little tolerance for kids (or whoever they are) that think that a constant stream of profanity and racist/homophobic jokes or whatever makes them sound cool in chat or something.

The main problem I have relates to time again. I'd like to play more with the folks from around here for example, but I can't make a regular game night because I'm never quite sure when I will have time free. Everyone outleveled me in AoC so I doubt I'll ever see anyone there and I couldn't get involved in one of the D&D games that have started (though I would really have liked to) because I couldn't guarantee that I would be available all the time. So I guess that's the biggest problem I see.

Here, here. Those are the two things which keep me firmly confined to my narrow gaming options. Probably the only reason that I'm getting into 4th edition D&D is because my principal players are my family - I never have to wonder if they'll be available because I live with those people. I could never wrangle a reliable schedule to get together with an actual gaming group, because I would need more flexibility to game on off-times at the last minute. It just wouldn't be do-able because we're old enough to have steady time commitments.

I feel ya, tanstaafl. Great post - I can see there really does need to be a gamers with jobs with jobs group.

cartoonin99 wrote:

Damn, I can tell that I REALLY miss my tabletop days. The podcast seemed to only last like 15 minutes since I was so engrossed in what they were putting out there. :)

Yesterday aetius picked up the 4e PHB and we spent game night reading it and deciding what to play next. (The decision was Fallout followed by Paranoia followed by D&D4e.)

We haven't, to my recollection, ever seen Blizzard make a 4th version of any of their ips. We have seen them make other types of games from existing ips, but never the fourth in a series. Maybe this will continue, maybe not. I would guess that after Diablo 3 they will take a new direction with the ip, and I look forward to that, as I look forward to Diablo 3.

t0W wrote:

We haven't, to my recollection, ever seen Blizzard make a 4th version of any of their ips. We have seen them make other types of games from existing ips, but never the fourth in a series. Maybe this will continue, maybe not. I would guess that after Diablo 3 they will take a new direction with the ip, and I look forward to that, as I look forward to Diablo 3.

Well, technically if we're going by versions of their IPs, World of Warcraft would be the 4th iteration of the Warcraft universe.

Warcraft is also their most mature franchise, so it doesn't surprise me that we haven't seen it go any farther.

tanstaafl wrote:

I know that I have an above average PC (not top of the line but not too shabby either) but I hadn't thought about the fact that older gamers should have more disposable income to spend on a PC.

I've been thinking this over and doing some number-crunching. I think that the claim that PC gaming is pricier than console gaming is not entirely accurate. I built my latest PC for about $560. This is a mid-to-high end machine. Granted, I saved money re-using the case, keyboard and Mouse from an old system. This machine will run Crysis with all settings topped out.

What console (with the caveat that said console has to have a hard-disk for saving games and storing same) does a significant job of beating that price-wise? I would say that I may have spent $100 more on my system than a console user would. Maybe.

I also agree with you about patience with bad games. While my disposable income may be up my free time is down. Between job, family, housework, other hobbies and the like, I just don't have the time to spend on games that I used to, so I'm not going to spend any more time on a bad game than I have to.

I wholeheartedly agree. I have three children, all are in their teens now. (Yes, I know, I pre-date the invention of wood.) Time is a huge issue. Mucking about trying to find fixes patches and just good tech advice instead of blasting bad-guys just doesn't make the gaming experience feel good.

I have to say I love listening to you guys talk about the genre. It gives me hope that there are intelligent people out there who care and want to help. Thanks!

nsmike wrote:
t0W wrote:

We haven't, to my recollection, ever seen Blizzard make a 4th version of any of their ips. We have seen them make other types of games from existing ips, but never the fourth in a series. Maybe this will continue, maybe not. I would guess that after Diablo 3 they will take a new direction with the ip, and I look forward to that, as I look forward to Diablo 3.

Well, technically if we're going by versions of their IPs, World of Warcraft would be the 4th iteration of the Warcraft universe.

Warcraft is also their most mature franchise, so it doesn't surprise me that we haven't seen it go any farther.

That's exactly what I was getting at. It's not Warcraft 4 the rts, it is something else entirely.