GWJ Conference Call Episode 93

Conference Call

Alone in The Dark, iPhone Games Galore, Civilization Revolution, Flagship Troubles, The Ultimate Email Show and more!

This week I completely forget to mention that our Games You Can Play Now sponsor was submitted by Higgledy. Sorry dude. For those of you who wanted a longer cast, we've got you covered thanks to a metric ton of great emails!

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.

Civilization Revolution
Alone in The Dark
Flagship Sunk
rabbit's iPhone Games Wrap

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks
"PodunkStump" Ian Dorsch - 0:40:43

Comments

Great podcast as usual.

Maybe I posted this to a previous podcast, but Euro gaming prices really aren't that bad (here in the UK, at least). Looking on Amazon, GTAIV is $64 ex-VAT in the UK and $59.99 in the US, that's not a huge difference. Especially considering all the extra protection workers have here ($11.50 minimum wage, 4 weeks minimum vacation etc.) which is going to bump up retail margins.

Whether a 17.5% tax on virtually everything apart from food, books and kids clothes is a good thing or not is a whole other debate, of course.

- Women are like dogs! Nintendo said so! LOL! Perhaps it's some sort of mistranslation error? Are the Japanese words for woman and dog similar? It's kinda like when Mindquiz used the word 'retard' for people who didn't do so well in the game...

- (Portal hater guy) We're supposed to put questions in our emails? I thought that the puzzles were linked in well with the story. Portal is NOT a puzzle game. It's an action story game with puzzle elements. The difference between that an some sort of mensa puzzle book is incredible! It's not a puzzle game like Monkey Island or something.

- Laughing out loud at games. There are two problems here. First is the fact that i think that games do drama better than comedy. Second is the fact that because we are social creatures we tend to only laugh and emote when in the presence of other people. I rarely laugh when watching 'funny' clips, TV series etc. on my own but am much more likely to do so when other people are present. It's a social mechanism for interacting and displaying your emotions at the time. Try it, it's so much easier to laugh with other people and you find yourself laughing at things you don't when alone. (*Watch the 'funny' first and then watch it again with people present.)

- Ico both story and emotional resolution. I didn't like the endings of either Half Life or Half Life 2 as i felt no emotional involvement and the story just stopped and wasn't resolved. However, i liked Episode 1 and 2's endings - they were done better and the emotional attachment to the objectives was better. Halo 2 had no story resolution at the end - at least in comparison with Halo - and again that just finished mid-step (a lá HL2).

- I like the Rob rage. It puts a human face on the podcast. The rest of you are suck-ups, Rob's the rebel!

Zelos wrote:

Great podcast as usual.

Maybe I posted this to a previous podcast, but Euro gaming prices really aren't that bad (here in the UK, at least). Looking on Amazon, GTAIV is $64 ex-VAT in the UK and $59.99 in the US, that's not a huge difference. Especially considering all the extra protection workers have here ($11.50 minimum wage, 4 weeks minimum vacation etc.) which is going to bump up retail margins.

Whether a 17.5% tax on virtually everything apart from food, books and kids clothes is a good thing or not is a whole other debate, of course.

If the prices are manageable or downright horrible here depends a bit on what you are comparing. I was in a local EB Games last week and the price for GTA4 was 699 SEK, which comes out to $94 before tax and $118 after. My understanding is that they are charging $59.99 at their stores in the US. That's a 57% markup.

You can of course get online and use price comparison sites to find the cheapest one. That way I can get it shipped for 478 SEK ($64 before tax, $80 after). Even when it's been a while since the release the cheapest price from an online-only store is still above the US MSRP. I have no idea what the cheapest online price is in the US, which is what that (and probably your Amazon price) should be compared to. As another data point, MGS4 is a more recent release and can at the cheapest be found for $70 before tax ($87 after).

If you only shop online and try to stay away from day 1 purchases you can do somewhat ok. Setting foot in an actual store pretty much guarantees that you'll get ripped off.

nossid wrote:

If you only shop online and try to stay away from day 1 purchases you can do somewhat ok. Setting foot in an actual store pretty much guarantees that you'll get ripped off.

Yes, I wonder how the high street shops stay in business with the prices they charge, you're basically adding £10($20) for the privilege of standing in line for hours surrounded by screaming children.

Game stores in the US, although they generally look like a 3rd world bazaar, at least charge reasonable prices.

Zelos wrote:

Great podcast as usual.

Maybe I posted this to a previous podcast, but Euro gaming prices really aren't that bad (here in the UK, at least). Looking on Amazon, GTAIV is $64 ex-VAT in the UK and $59.99 in the US, that's not a huge difference. Especially considering all the extra protection workers have here ($11.50 minimum wage, 4 weeks minimum vacation etc.) which is going to bump up retail margins.

Whether a 17.5% tax on virtually everything apart from food, books and kids clothes is a good thing or not is a whole other debate, of course.

That's OK then, we'll give back all of our working benefits so we can buy GTA4 ? Cool.

Also, GTA is currently listed on Amazon at £40 - which is closer to $80. Have a look at Rock Band, which at cheapest is £140 over here, compared to $160 on Amazon.com.

Maybe you have a different definition of 'not bad' to mine.

Oh, extra costs without extra income would reduce retail margins, not increase them.

davet010 wrote:

Also, GTA is currently listed on Amazon at £40 - which is closer to $80. Have a look at Rock Band, which at cheapest is £140 over here, compared to $160 on Amazon.com.

I just looked at the first version I saw, the 360 version which is £37.48:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Grand-Theft-Auto-Xbox-360/dp/B000FNDYWI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=videogames&qid=1216210040&sr=8-1

£37.48 is £31.90 ex-VAT, which is $63.83. The PS3 version is $68.83. So you're looking at around 10% more for normal games. The Rock Band pricing is just bizarre, I agree: $220 ex VAT.

Edit:

davet010 wrote:

Oh, extra costs without extra income would reduce retail margins, not increase them.

Sorry, I phrased that badly: extra costs increase the amount retailers have to charge to make the same profit.

The cost of a new game in the UK is £39 (the RRP is £49 that price is just so retailers can offer a 'discount.') I tend to wait for games to drop to £20-£25 then I buy them. I was interested to see that Play.com recently dropped the price of Gears to £18 and it rocketed to No 1 on their sales charts so there are clearly a lot of people out there who are waiting for certain games to drop to a 'reasonable' price that they can afford.

I was gardening the other day and from next door's garden I could here their little lad shouting, "Daddy, come and help me kill Darth Vader!" They were clearly playing Lego Star Wars.

A game that has an ending on an emotional level but not an story level? I'd say Assassin's Creed. That is exactly how it worked for me but I realise that it didn't work on either level for many, many people.

So the takeaway for me from this podcast:

'Metal Gear Solid 4 was similar to finish a bad dump' -Rob

I don't think you will see a convergence of actual controllers that you can plug into your Sony, MS or Nintendo system on demand. (No, PC usb accessories do not count.) I do however think that we will see open standards shake out that will make development more efficient across the systems that offer the evolving generation of motion control as well as traditional controller inputs.

There is a lot of money to be made in plastic accessories, whether it be controllers, memory cards, keypads or headphones. There is a reason each system has different dongle connectors for their system controllers and it comes down to money and control. As an example, this generation, MS specifically locked down 3rd party accessories for the most part and that strategy has assisted them in turning the XBOX division into a profitable one.

The controllers also are a tangible physical touchpoint for defining the gaming experience and feel for a company's console. Controllers are iconic on the branding level. As an example, think of any kids cartoon "Billy and Mandy", "Simpsons" whatever and when they draw a semi genericized game controller into the scene, I'm sure your mind and mine is immediately recognizing it for the system that inspired their drawing. i.e. It's gamecube or 360 inspired etc.

I also don't think we will ever see one open standard gaming system in the console sense. We are as close to that today as we will ever get, and its called a PC. The PC's flexibility with plug and play components is also an achilles heel when it comes to controlling the user experience and fragmenting market-size. From a software development perspective, sure they have 3 different architectures to develop for, but assets are reusable and middle-ware is probably getting to the point that it optimizes cross-platform dev more and more. Having a bunch of manufacturers constantly try to one-up each other around an open console standard will result in a more difficult testing and expensive development process.

The open standard console is just not going to happen because ultimately it comes down to money and corporate branding/ego.

Endless setlist is 58 tracks - it was a 6 hour hour trek so Rabbit is right, it was pretty much a whole day of effort, and you do need people who know their instruments well!

And I'm with you guys on Portal: there were several times where I had to stop and think about the solution to a puzzle. To me, the whole purpose of game puzzles is to give you that nice "Aha!" moment when you see the solution. Portal's puzzles were roughly equivalent in difficulty to Zelda's, which is just about right.

IMAGE(http://img144.imageshack.us/img144/5269/roflbotgwaqzf7.jpg)

interstate78 wrote:

The souls of a thousand tormented demons will only rest when all you guys doing the podcast try Alone in the Dark.

Alright so I might stop buggering all you guys about it.

I didn't hear you doing that during the podcast. Were you very quiet about it?

wordsmythe wrote:

Wii fit picture

That is the most terrifying marriage of Evil and Wii Fit I've ever seen.

It's terribly Wiivil....

If it animates, we're done for because Wiivils wobble but they dont fall down....

Nyles wrote:

I didn't hear you doing that during the podcast. Were you very quiet about it?

Only one of them tried it, it's about 33 minutes in into the podcast (I think)

The souls of a thousand tormented demons will only rest when all you guys doing the podcast try Alone in the Dark.

Alright so I will stop buggering all you guys about it. Unlike what is mentionned in the Podcast, I didn't find the game's bugs to be dealbreakers.

I've experienced one lockup, true, true, but it happened after I did something strange (throwing a chair in a small hallway, the chair didn't have room so it flew backwards and the game didn't like that apparently because it froze). The other bugs I encounter are some mild collision detection issues that I never got stuck in.

I guess in the end, I think I'm more willing than the average person to overlook a few flaws because I find the game's innovations and unforgettable scenes rewarding enough.

case closed.

I'd like to agree with the comment "what game drought!?" This time last year we were playing the darkness, as if it was an interesting game. That's a drought. We're doing pretty well this year, plus plenty of backlog titles from last year.

I was amused when Julian basically asked "If they fix the problems with this game, will it be good?"

These forums are going to crap, and it's all the fault of Ely and Certis' lack of enforcement of Rule #4!

nsmike wrote:

I was amused when Julian basically asked "If they fix the problems with this game, will it be good?"

That was about the technical problems--problems that could be patched. Rabbit's always been more about the quality of a game's design and story than its implementation.

Rabbit, I might be willing to run a couple miles with you at GenCon. I doubt I'm up for a marathon, though.

Jazzy, I don't think you really have to worry about being victimized at GenCon. Sure, Certis can ban you, but he has no power in the corporeal world.

Elysium, I think it's disingenuous to start a "games aren't art" parade and then quickly turn to proclaim that "going all smart" and textual (i.e. literary) analysis of games is justified. Perhaps what you intended was to say that the industry isn't geared toward producing purely artistic games. I concede that point, as it's hard to imagine the more artistic games not coming from the independent artistic or academic crowds.

Please bear in mind, however, that just because the industry that drives production of the medium is unfit for art, that does not mean that the medium itself is unfit for art. I find it much more likely, given a brief glance across other media, that industries in general are predisposed against artistic works. The most profitable painted works are watercolor prints made to match your sofa. The most profitable books are trashy novels, self-help exploitations, and technology guides. Summer blockbusters, garden statues, caricature drawings at festivals. Creating fine art hasn't been a financially viable career for centuries, while mass-produced crafts make millions. That does not, however, preclude drawing and painting from being viable media for fine art.

wordsmythe wrote:

These forums are going to crap, and it's all the fault of Ely and Certis' lack of enforcement of Rule #4!

I thought Certis dissolved the CoC during the great "No Hello" threads debate of '08 when he also verbally un-deputized the community CoC enforcement troops.

It's anarchy I tell ya! Bring back da enforcers, da fixers and da cleaners...

Elysium, I think it's disingenuous to start a "games aren't art" parade

That's not really what I was trying to do. I just didn't want to divert the discussion into one of games as art. I'm not saying they aren't, I just didn't want to address the question at the time.

Perhaps what you intended was to say that the industry isn't geared toward producing purely artistic games.

That _is_ what I was trying to get across. My only excuse is that we recorded on Sunday. Nothing good comes from Sundays.

but he has no power in the corporeal world.

Ah, but you've forgotten, where he has the power hear in the digital realm but unfathomable feebleness in meatspace, my cyber-ineptitude is mitigated by my sizable frame and dominating presence here in reality. Also, while my beard is not a factor in online functions, it dominates men of lesser standing here in the real world. We are a formidable duo.

Try it again without the personal attack. - Certis

But I'm so damn charming, I have nothing to fear from either of you.

I still can't believe you read my email as written. Sucker! Bring your list!

Does Certis have that 'personal attack' edit macro'd?

I guess there's only one way to see:

Try it again without the personal snacks. -Certis

Oh.

Is t0W still upset about Diablo?

No, t0W has just forgotten that it's OK to make a point without suggesting someone's opinion is "worthless" in the process. In regards to the email suggesting Portal was too easy.

Certis wrote:

No, t0W has just forgotten that it's OK to make a point without suggesting someone's opinion is "worthless" in the process. In regards to the email suggesting Portal was too easy.

Ah, so this was an actual moderation. It seems you can never be too sure anymore.

McChuck wrote:

Try it again without the personal snacks. -Certis

I see what you did there. Nice.

Attack it again without the personal Certis - Try

Certis wrote:

No, t0W has just forgotten that it's OK to make a point without suggesting someone's opinion is "worthless" in the process. In regards to the email suggesting Portal was too easy.

I loved that scene!

Edit: Not on the front page?