GWJ Conference Call Episode 105

Conference Call

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Little Big Planet, A Ton of Your Emails and more!

This week we're buried under such a big pile of awesome emails we hunker down and read them all! Shawn tears into The Force Unleashed and rabbit humps Little Big Planet.

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

"Cosmos" - (Workbench) - www.workbench-music.com - 0:33

Comments

One more link: Jerry Tarkanian vs. the NCAA

Everyone should know of Tark the Shark.

Of note: baby status was reduced to Code Orange shortly after recording.

Quicktime Events should not be used in games. The only game where they do not bother me is Mercenaries 2. No, really. They're unnecessary, but not entirely broken here. This includes the God of War series. I don't understand why Kratos should get a pass when we're bashing QTEs.

Games I know are deeply flawed, yet I love them anyway? Morrowind comes to mind. I played the Xbox version tons and tons and tons.

Games I used to be very good in: Ghost Recon (played in a clan), Virtua Fighter 2 (arcade), Tekken Tag Tournament (arcade). I am no longer good in, well, any game. It's simply a byproduct of playing a lot of games, not having the time to dedicate myself to a single game.

Also, I just came from a Sony press event where we all got the retail Little Big Planet. It sure did light up the journalists' eyes. Plenty of laughs were had. I'm expecting pretty big things from the game, even though on a first half-hour pass (I didn't play in the beta), I couldn't get any sort of handle on the whole creation side of things, it felt very confusing, even though we had people there helping us. Still looking mightily forward to playing it properly, with friends.

jlaakso wrote:

Quicktime Events should not be used in games... I don't understand why Kratos should get a pass when we're bashing QTEs.

I agree. God of War was particularly annoying for me as it was one of the first PS2 games I played and I could never remember where all the buttons were, being far too used to the excellent Gamecube controller layout. Heavenly Sword was even more annoying with QTEs - you had to fight a long boss fight, wear his energy bar down and *then* do a long QTE. Fail and the boss gets ~25% health back and you have to wear him down again.

With regards to the game codes in the DVD case for getting extra content. Rabbit's comment was a little naive about getting games that will be worth keeping.

90% of the time i buy my games brand new since i like owning my games and don't like badly treated second hand stuff (though not all of it is). One of the problems with tying content to user accounts or consoles is that it splits the userbase into the haves and have-nots. Renting a game immediately becomes pointless if your online mode is locked out by a code that's only available in new boxed copies or (as in the case with Gears 2) maps that probably a significant amount of players/servers are using are locked out of use.

Secondly, i don't think that there will be anything more to increase the value of games that you don't pay for as you 'would like' to occur. I doubt that outside of a few devs who already do such things that the extra value to keep your game would be free on Live or the internet which means that you're not getting extra value for the purchase, you're spending more.

Thankfully this isn't widespread so far.... but console games seem to be moving to the PC trend of locking their games to a console or user and limiting the purchase. I can't see an upside to this trend. How do you?

Zelos wrote:

Heavenly Sword was even more annoying with QTEs - you had to fight a long boss fight, wear his energy bar down and *then* do a long QTE. Fail and the boss gets ~25% health back and you have to wear him down again.

Oh god, Heavenly Sword is the worst offender I can come up with. I really like the game, but whatever were they thinking with the boss battles? Horrible, horrible design.

Intestine and baja mispronunciations in a single sentence and Rabbit didn't call him on it?

Good stuff guys. Thanks for the heads-up on Force Unleashed. I was thinking of getting it when it hits the clearance rack at Target, but I may just rent it now.

All the LBP talk has me rethinking my holiday gaming budget of Dead Space, Fallout 3, Gears 2 and Fable 2. Now I want to give up Fable for LBP.

Great show as always.

Duoae wrote:

Renting a game immediately becomes pointless if your online mode is locked out by a code that's only available in new boxed copies or (as in the case with Gears 2) maps that probably a significant amount of players/servers are using are locked out of use.

That's obviously the whole point.

rabbit wrote:
Duoae wrote:

Renting a game immediately becomes pointless if your online mode is locked out by a code that's only available in new boxed copies or (as in the case with Gears 2) maps that probably a significant amount of players/servers are using are locked out of use.

That's obviously the whole point.

If you buy a game use the code and then trade it in. Couldn't you just re rent it or buy it used later and still have access to the content? If so I don't see anything that will affect me.

I used to be very good at:

*Hudson Hawk on the NES. I used to do speed runs and could beat the game in one life in 15 minutes or less. Granted, it wasn't a very hard game, but it was still fun.
*Contra. I could beat the entire NES version in one life. Oddly, I could only do that if I entered the 99 life code.
*Tekken Tag Tournament: We had one in the student union when I was in college. One time, the guy who came to collect the tokens would forget to lock it back up, so the group of us who played were pretty much on the machine non-stop. I got very good with a Lei-Wulong/Brian Fury combination, and was one of maybe three people in the United States who could actually make Eddy Gordo do thing on purpose, rather than just alternate between to two kick buttons and hope for the best.
*Soul Calibur: Again, we had one in the student union after they took out TTT. I wasn't particularly good within the circle of guys I played with, though I could mostly hold my own. But once I tried playing anyone outside of that circle I was practically a force of nature. I was, in fact, one of those fighter players who watched the frames so I'd know when to counter.

I'm with jlaakso on not being particularly good at anything anymore. I don't have the time to dedicate to a game and become good at it anymore. Occasionally, I'll get obsessed with a game and play it over and over (Chili Con Carnage) but then I'll put it down for a few months and come back to find my skills have evaporated.

I enjoyed listening to your coverage of LBP. I actually preordered it over the weekend for my birthday, and I doubt I'll be waiting until my birthday to open it. I have a weakness for games with game editors (I bought a bunch of WWF games back in the N64 days simply because I liked making my own wrestlers), and if the Beta was any indication, this editor is simply amazing. I hope I have the creative stamina to make stuff that fellow GWJers will like.

The Midship map on Halo 2 is the one map that i consistently rocked on. I was able to get 25 kills 7 deaths and NO SHOTS FIRED on that map. I have the screens from bungie.net to prove it!! Every other map I was just usually on par with everyone else. I'm not sure why. it probably had a lot to do with the respawning plasma grenades and my ability to luckily stick people while they were killing other people and get a double kill.

rabbit wrote:
Duoae wrote:

Renting a game immediately becomes pointless if your online mode is locked out by a code that's only available in new boxed copies or (as in the case with Gears 2) maps that probably a significant amount of players/servers are using are locked out of use.

That's obviously the whole point.

For the most part i thought the industry was fine with renting games? I thought it was used game sales that they detested and that it would be measures like this to stop that.... but this seems to harm both markets. It's like saying that the rental DVD won't come with all the features and alternate ending that you get with the full movie purchase.

It also means that people will buy fewer games and rent fewer games if they take it much further.... which in turn will increase the cost of buying a game because there would be less revenue generated. I mean, how many people, including yourselves on the podcast, buy all your console games? I'm used to it on PC but was just starting to discover the benefits of renting 360 games - i can legitimately try before i buy if i'm not certain of a game's worth. If they're going to take that away then i don't know what would happen to the console industry. I think that these measures unhelpfully promote piracy and distrust in the publishers.

Tetnis wrote:

If you buy a game use the code and then trade it in. Couldn't you just re rent it or buy it used later and still have access to the content? If so I don't see anything that will affect me.

Yes, you can access the content as long as you have a copy of the game.
Well, apart from the fact that a trade-in game that wasn't 'complete' i.e. was missing content would not be worth as much as it would have been in the past. Secondly, if it was taken further - why would a retailer allow returns (like it currently is with PC games) for those games?

I think it's one of the NFL or basketball games(?) that does something similar to this - they tie the league updates to the user but the online still works. If you sell your copy of the game the person who buys it can still play online without the roster updates however they can purchase (for a hefty price of $20) a new code to get those daily roster updates. I actually think this is a better way of doing it - even though i wouldn't pay that much for roster updates at least the functionality of the game isn't harmed (i.e. you won't get kicked off a server when one of those maps comes on rotation) and the publisher gets more money for that license.

Vote, fellow listeners, VOTE!

Thanks for making my point for me, Duoae. Much better than I could have said it. I think the guys were tired or something this week.

In the case of Gears 2, the multiplayer will be split into the haves and have nots. And Epic has mentioned no plans of making the 5 maps DLC. I think they will be eventually, but only when new sales drop off.

How is what Epic doing better than what is happening with Burnout Paradise? Huge content updates for free since launch. It keeps the disc in your console and off the used shelves at GameStop.

My point is that there are other avenues for the developers to pursue if they really want to keep their game off the used market.

Elysium wrote:

Of note: baby status was reduced to Code Orange shortly after recording.

Wait, what? I don't have time to listen to the podcast for a while. What happened with the baby? I hope everything is OK. Those shark cakes need to be baked for someone, after all.

edit: Or is this Code Orange on going to the hospital soon? I'm going with that one. I've become an expectant father recently, so apparently my alarmist scale has soared.

Great show. I had a hunch that force unleashed was going to be somewhat weak. What do you expect out of a game where the studio developing it was told it would be liquidated before it was finished.

Best star wars game is still Republic Commando

benu302000 wrote:

Best star wars game is still Republic Commando

You misspelled "TIE Fighter".

It sounds as though the experience that Rabbit in WoW is having is analogous to watching kids open Christmas presents or accompanying them to Disney World. It's personally cool and all, but it's way cooler to feel the twinkle in someone's eyes when they experience something like the scope of an MMO. It's a nice reminder that, though we may sometimes find this stuff 'passe', it's still fresh for a new breed of gamers.

So, DVD rentals have for a long time had different content. I don't know anyone renting the version of Buffy, for instance, that includes all the extra materials. If you want that, you buy the boxed set.

As for it somehow "killing" the rental market, I don't quite get the argument. Which would you rather have:

1: $60 game, with $5 worth of cool DLC maps.
2: $60 game, but with a code for 5 cool DLC maps.

From the developer's perspective, there's not no difference. From the publisher's perspective, there's a very big difference.

If (and I'm making up numbers here) the local blockbuster buys 10 copies of a game, then rents it out to 100 different people, the publisher has made $600. Maybe 10 of those 100 people buy the DLC, they make 660 from that blockbuster.

If the blockbuster now only buys, say, 5 copies, because the demand isn't there, because a bunch of folks are turned off by the purchaser-only-DLC thing, they make 300 from block buster. But if 5 of those 50 non-renters buy the game, they're back to even. And it only takes a fraction of those renters turning into buyers to make the math much better than break even.

The math on trade-ins is even better. Games which nobody trades in (Halo3 wasn't available for a LONG time after release) have longer retail lives, for obvious reasons.

Yes, of course, I'd rather have all my games for free. I'd like puppies and cookies too. But ultimately, I think these changes to make the content experience more discrete (DLC, add-ons, microtransactions, etc.) are all actually good for consumers in the end.

edit: Or is this Code Orange on going to the hospital soon? I'm going with that one. I've become an expectant father recently, so apparently my alarmist scale has soared.

We thought we were in labor at the time this podcast was recorded, but it smoothed back out. We're now aiming at next week for red alert baby-action.

All is well. Everyone is healthy. Thanks for the concern.

You misspelled "TIE Fighter".

Seriously! Commando was adequate, but not even in the top 5. Best Star Wars shooter is probably Jedi Knight 2, though Jedi Academy actually makes a fairly compelling case.

But ultimately, I think these changes to make the content experience more discrete (DLC, add-ons, microtransactions, etc.) are all actually good for consumers in the end.

I was with you until there. Maybe we should save this for a future podcast, but I don't agree that this benefits consumers at all. I'm not sure it really negatively impacts them either; it feels like a wash to me. There's a compelling argument to be made that add-ons, microtransactions and DLC are often made up on content that might otherwise have been included in a finished product, not to mention that these kinds of transactions are usually predicated on the $60 base model. It's not like we're suddenly building games a la carte, the barrier to entry remains the same, but it seems like the value of that base is diminishing.

I understand the business behind it. I don't even exactly disagree with the moves publishers are choosing to make, but let's not cover a horse tranquilizer in peanut butter and start calling it candy.

Elysium wrote:
You misspelled "TIE Fighter".

Seriously! Commando was adequate, but not even in the top 5. Best Star Wars shooter is probably Jedi Knight 2, though Jedi Academy actually makes a fairly compelling case.

I reckon my top 5 would be:

1. X-wing (with B-wing expansion)
2. Jedi Knight 2
3. Dark Forces
4. Battlefront (for multiplayer and the campaign)
5. Jedi Academy

rabbit wrote:

So, DVD rentals have for a long time had different content. I don't know anyone renting the version of Buffy, for instance, that includes all the extra materials. If you want that, you buy the boxed set.

The difference there is that when those sets usually first come out they are identical to the rentals. It's only later on when they're re-released that those extras get added. I'm pretty sure the extras in the original Buffy season 1 release are no where near as many as the extras in the whole 10 (however many there are) seasons boxed set for the first season - and you can't rent that.

As for it somehow "killing" the rental market, I don't quite get the argument. Which would you rather have:

1: $60 game, with $5 worth of cool DLC maps.
2: $60 game, but with a code for 5 cool DLC maps.

From the developer's perspective, there's not no difference. From the publisher's perspective, there's a very big difference.

If (and I'm making up numbers here) the local blockbuster buys 10 copies of a game, then rents it out to 100 different people, the publisher has made $600. Maybe 10 of those 100 people buy the DLC, they make 660 from that blockbuster.

I don't think these maps are available for DLC. Plus, if you're renting a game.... why would you spend an extra $5 on what is already a $5-10 experience? I don't think even 10 people would do this. Don't forget that publishers price rental games higher than to stores for consumer purchase - i'd bet that they make much more than just $600 for those 10 games.

Yes, of course, I'd rather have all my games for free. I'd like puppies and cookies too.

I think this is a bit unnecessary. No one is asking for their games to be free. We're talking about content that is being divided between paying customers and paying customers. Just because some people pay less to have the 'license' to play the game for a shorter time period doesn't mean they deserve less of a service.

But ultimately, I think these changes to make the content experience more discrete (DLC, add-ons, microtransactions, etc.) are all actually good for consumers in the end.

I'd disagree here... but in the interests of keeping the thread from a never-ending conversation loop i'm going to stop here.

JK2 definitely had a better plot, but JA had much better gameplay. Definitely the best lightsaber game to date.

And is it just me, or was I picturing *Legion* looking a little like this when hearing his email read aloud?

IMAGE(http://img376.imageshack.us/img376/686/popecartmanny3.jpg)

Rat Boy wrote:

JK2 definitely had a better plot, but JA had much better gameplay. Definitely the best lightsaber game to date.

And is it just me, or was I picturing *Legion* looking a little like this when hearing his email read aloud?

[img]Cartman[img]

A gathering of angels appeared above my head
They sang to me this song of hope, and this is what they said
They said come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me

Yeah, both JK2 and JA are great games. I only place JK2 above JA because of the story and the level design which feels tighter for me.

My peak gaming days were arcade ones. I got quite good at Street Fighter 2 (the first three or four versions). But Golden Axe is my absolute zenith. After finishing the game you got a percentage score based on I don't know what factors. I got 100% which I believe involves not only finishing the game, but not getting hit in the process and possibly killing at least one guy by bumping him off a cliff.

Oh and I almost finished Crazy Climber once.

God I'm old.

Duoae wrote:

I only place JK2 above JA because of the story and the level design which feels tighter for me.

Even with the ridiculous jumping levels, including most infamous one involving jumping back and forth to decipher a code?

Rat Boy wrote:

And is it just me, or was I picturing *Legion* looking a little like this when hearing his email read aloud?

It was... a moment I was prepared to savor.

Rat Boy wrote:
Duoae wrote:

I only place JK2 above JA because of the story and the level design which feels tighter for me.

Even with the ridiculous jumping levels, including most infamous one involving jumping back and forth to decipher a code?

Even with Kyle Katarn is cooler than Luke Skywalker and Han Solo put together.... in fact that's EXACTLY what he is! *OMG* I'm a corporate focus group whore!

Duoae wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:
Duoae wrote:

I only place JK2 above JA because of the story and the level design which feels tighter for me.

Even with the ridiculous jumping levels, including most infamous one involving jumping back and forth to decipher a code?

Even with Kyle Katarn is cooler than Luke Skywalker and Han Solo put together.... in fact that's EXACTLY what he is! *OMG* I'm a corporate focus group whore! :(

I'll say this in praise of TFU; it is one of the best Star Wars video game stories since KOTOR. The main character is easily in the top three of characters from those games, behind Darth Revan and Kyle Katarn.