GWJ Conference Call Episode 110

Conference Call

Wrath of The Witchlysium, Resistance 2, End War, Mirror's Edge, Gears of War 2, An Interview With Bethesda's Pete Hines, Your Emails and more!

This week Julian Murdoch and Michael Zenke lob softballs across the plate for Pete Hines to knock out of the park. We also cover a crazy amount of games, your emails and some new listener submitted audio bits.

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.

  • 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 Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"The Way Your Journey Ends" Tom Quinn - http://www.citadel-studios.com - 0:36:42
"Long Midnight" (Benoit Casey) - http://outtobrunch.blogspot.com - 1:11:03
"Coldstream the Greatest" (Duoae) - www.eggmen.co.uk - 1:42:53

Comments

Shouldn't it be "Wrath of the Lichysium King"? IMAGE(http://i.somethingawful.com/forumsystem/emoticons/emot-colbert.gif)

Does Pete give us an ETA for a patch? I'm sick of Fallout freezing up every 5 minutes.

Hey guys, Mick here, author of the 'Gamebian' audio sponsor. Great show, yet again. I was serious about the ideas for promos. I'm down to record them regularly, but can't think of new stuff all the time, so if anyone has any ideas for a funny, sad, or weird audio sponsor, give 'em to me here or at the email link on my website (below) and we'll make some crazy stuff happen!

Damnit what was the censured non-swear! This is going to drive me insane.

It is an unforgivable word! Dirty, and I shall never speak it! Or write it for that matter!

EA wants to create it's own IP for two reasons: a) buying a studio is expensive and messy b) sports/movie/etc licenses are expensive and messy.

Gaald wrote:

It is an unforgivable word! Dirty, and I shall never speak it! Or write it for that matter! :)

Type it. Inquiring minds must know!

xxxxxxxx [mod edit: word redacted so Rob won't have another fit] Proactive synergistic win-win scenario?

One of the two people listening on Zune marketplace checking in!

I agree with Rob.... and Rabbit.... and Sean.... but not Shawn! Wait. Did i get that right? Who are you people again?

Great show guys ! - sorry i ruined the ending.... i cringed when i heard myself..... Need to remember to keep my mouth closed. Oh and if anyone's wondering why my strum gets faster... it's because i have no sense of rhythm..... i always do that :/

Nicely done, Duoae.

Great Show. You guys keep making me wish I was on the call so I could jump in.

As far as "Activision brining Blizzard under it's wing" and Blizzard being a company that makes "Creative and original games", nothing could be further from the truth. Probably what allowed the Activision/Blizzard deal to go through was the common ground that have as far as making safe bets with IP and throwing out brave original ideas in favor of polished/traditional ones. Blizzard's success has always been in taking existing ideas, and applying huge amounts of polish and production to them. None of Blizzard's games have been the first of their kind, but they have all been the best of breed. That's how they roll.

Elysium: "... they are committed to the classic EA model."

So... If that model was bad, and is considered a classic, can the audience assume that WoTLK, as the *classic* game of the week, is bad?

No they can not. WotLK gets an exception because I think it is awesome.

Duoae wrote:

Great show guys ! - sorry i ruined the ending.... i cringed when i heard myself..... Need to remember to keep my mouth closed. Oh and if anyone's wondering why my strum gets faster... it's because i have no sense of rhythm..... i always do that :/

Pure win!

Elysium wrote:

No they can not. WotLK gets an exception because I think it is awesome.

Damnit.

I can't help but notice that the "phasing" aspect that apparently made Lich King's story so awesome is the same thing Guild Wars has used throughout the entire game across all three campaigns to tell rather epic stories.

Holy Snickeys...I need Gamebian!

I love it. Coldstream is one of a thousand Einsteins that we threw in the pool...

Another example of a game that moved from great to just good: Super Mario Sunshine and its epileptic camera.

I want to chime in about the friends-online thing that Matt Perrin noted. I don't have one of the new consoles so I can't speak to those, but I know what its like when you have a whole bunch of friends in your list and you log in. The following is my example:

I'm pretty friendly, have some folks on my list, and use Steam quite a lot. In the last few months, I have had a problem where the moment I log in I am approached for a friendly chat from 1-to-3 people - immediately. I had one night where I had very little time, just 30 minutes, to play a little Portal before my wife came home. I had to callously break conversations short, despite my best intentions. Since then, I switched Steam so that it didn't autolog me in.

However, that move creates a feedback loop which makes it so that when I do log into Steam to play some multiplayer with friends, I get even more bombarded. You see, now it's been longer since I formally logged in so I get even more chats from people that haven't seen me for a while.

I don't know what its like on XBL or PSN, but it's a strange socialization problem that has yet to be adequately tackled. I cannot imagine how bad it is for you geeky podcasting celebrities and your friends lists. How do all of you handle this?

The question about sequels was mine, and I wanted to expand on my email in a (much [much]) lengthier way without having to worry about being short enough to be read on air.

First, I'm not opposed to sequels and franchises on principle. Part of the reason that I wrote my question for the show was to explore the idea of whether or not the gaming industry's emphasis on sequels and franchises is helping or hurting games as an artistic medium. Frankly, I don't know.

Second, I don't dislike Rock Band 2. However, I think that Rock Band 2 is illustrative of my point: Rock Band 2 didn't significantly change or evolve the basic gameplay model created by the first Rock Band. I can remember that when the game was released there was some discussion on the podcast about whether or not Rock Band 2 was really just Rock Band 1.5. Rhythm games evolved significantly from the Guitar Hero model with the release of Rock Band but had no such similar evolution from Rock Band to Rock Band 2.

Third, I'll agree with benu30200: Blizzard makes fantastically polished games, but they are every bit as reliant on sequels as Activision is becoming. Their last new IP was StarCraft in 1998; every game they have released since then has been set in an existing IP. Personally, I don't think that Blizzard has ever added anything to the idea of what games can be but has instead only refined extant ideas, but I think that Blizzard is more the exception than the rule so far as sequels and franchises are concerned.

What got me thinking about this was the release of Mirror's Edge, Dead Space, and Gears of War 2 within a relatively narrow timeframe. Each game seems to fall at a different point on the spectrum of revolution versus refinement.

Mirror's Edge is a game that would not have been made had it been a sequel to another game. While there have been first-person platformers in the past---Metroid Prime springs to mind, as does the awful Xen section of Half-life---there hasn't been a game that does many of the things that Mirror's Edge does. Is it a perfect game? I haven't played it all the way through, but based on what I have played and what I've heard here and elsewhere, it's not a perfect gaming experience and has some really rough edges. But I'm excited by the possibilities that it makes available. That game has added another set of tools to the game designer's toolbox.

(See Portal as an example of a game that couldn't have been a sequel to another game that was also a serious gaming revolution.)

Dead Space is a game that could have been a sequel to another game, but I think there would have needed to be a significant gap between the release of the last game and the release of Dead Space like the aforementioned Metroid Prime or Doom 3. While many have said that Dead Space offered little in the way of originality, I would argue that it contributed two moderate innovations to action games and one extremely significant innovation. The moderate innovations are: the use of strategic dismemberment as the primary means of eliminating enemies; and the introduction of zero gravity areas (although I was disappointed that the zero gravity wasn't utilized more often; the single zero-g boss fight and the space junk levels of Mario Galaxy were an indication of where the level design could have gone). The most significant contribution Dead Space made to action gaming was the simple, elegant, and flexible user interface. Any of these might have been added individually to a franchise sequel, but the addition of them all at once isn't likely with an established gaming model.

(See the most recent Alone in the Dark as an example of a game that is an unlikely sequel that tries to add a slew of new ideas to an established game design. Just because it sucked doesn't mean it wasn't ambitious.)

Gears of War 2, meanwhile, is a tightened, polished Gears of War. The first Gears of War was a significant change in action gaming; just look at how many games rushed to implement some sort of cover mechanic, dynamic third-person camera effects, and cooperative play to their games. Gears of War 2 builds on the first game's innovations but adds few of its own. Beyond Horde Mode, I haven't heard of anything being added to the game that wasn't there in some form before. The inevitable Gears of War 3 will most likely further polish and refine the Gears of War formula with even fewer innovations.

But this is where it gets tricky, because some of the other games I can think of that followed in the same path of polishing the innovative formula of its franchise predecessor are some of the best games I can think of: Half-life 2, System Shock 2, Silent Hill 2, Soul Caliber, Final Fantasy VI, The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, Super Mario Galaxy, and on and on. Sequels and franchises aren't all just movie tie-ins and wrestling games.

You could argue that there is a pattern to game greatness: an original game is created that establishes a new mode of play that is perfected in the direct sequel and refined by other original games while the first game peters off in a string of sequels with diminishing returns. But it doesn't always work that way.

So, sequels and franchises: good or bad? Hell if I know.

Bah, did a single goodjer community question make it into the interview with Pete Hines?

Beware my lancer.

I enjoyed the interview a lot though. Being a consistent consumer of Bethesda's games over the years, Future-shock, Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion and now Fallout 3, I still enjoy hearing their perspective and priorities in game development.

Great podcast as usual. I have to jump on the train of not being able to place a single name to any of the voices on the show though. Can't do it.

Duoae my hat's off to you good sir.

boogle wrote:
Gaald wrote:

It is an unforgivable word! Dirty, and I shall never speak it! Or write it for that matter! :)

Type it. Inquiring minds must know!

You might want to think about investing in a new home theater system.

What was the word? We're all adults here. And if we're not, who cares!?

By the way, censorship is something Activision would do...

Tetnis wrote:

Great podcast as usual. I have to jump on the train of not being able to place a single name to any of the voices on the show though. Can't do it.

I'm not sure why this is so hard. They do a great job of introducing each person at the beginning of each show, and their voices are really unique from one another. Again, I come from a long history of talk radio, so I have already gotten used to putting pictures in my head to voices. But they refer to each other by name throughout the show, as well.

I listened to a Giant Bomb podcast this week, looking for a back-up gaming podcast. While they actually do a decent job producing the show, their organization and such is a mess. The host seriously opened the show with, "We're all here. Jeff, you just reviewed a game. Want to talk about it?" That's it. Nothing to clue me in on who is who. I already knew that Jeff was Gerstman, but if there were two Jeffs on the show, I would not know it. And I had no name to put to anyone's voice the rest of the show. I also had nothing to look forward to. I listened about 30-40 minutes of it. Now, it wasn't bad, but I have nothing to come back for. They may have a segment on their show that I would like to hear, but the host never told me, so there is nothing bringing me back to finish it.

Shawn really does a great job on the open. Not only do we get a good intro to the cast, we also are told about what the topic of discussion (or interview in the case of this week) will be later, and that emails are coming up in the last segment. So there is a sense of progression, and more importantly, purpose. Now, the Conference Call crew hits it out of the park by also being pretty damn entertaining as well as organized.

Nijhazer wrote:
boogle wrote:
Gaald wrote:

It is an unforgivable word! Dirty, and I shall never speak it! Or write it for that matter! :)

Type it. Inquiring minds must know!

You might want to think about investing in a new home theater system.

Oh come now, that? I think as long as everyone reads Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions which started the modern usage of the word we should be fine.

What was the word? We're all adults here. And if we're not, who cares!?
By the way, censorship is something Activision would do...

We're really just being silly, here. It's not really censorship of any kind. It's a totally harmless word.

It's ...... *Elysium slumps to the keyboard, stiletto buried deep into his spine*

I cannot imagine how bad it is for you geeky podcasting celebrities and your friends lists. How do all of you handle this?

I get a lot of PMs, emails and IMs throughout the day, but I always try and take a few minutes. If I know I'm too busy, I just won't log in or I'll shelve the messages until I can get back to them. I think everyone knows that stuff happens and we can't always have time to shoot the breeze. I don't think anyone takes it personally. I certainly don't.

Aw now I can't stop thinking about what the word might have been.

@Jayhawker
If it came of in any way that I was implying that they don't do a good job then I mis-spoke (typed). All I mean is I get the two sean/shawn confused...

I cannot imagine how bad it is for you geeky podcasting celebrities and your friends lists. How do all of you handle this?

Yeah, I'm bad about this. I'll just take this opportunity to say, if you've every messaged me and were totally ignored, I apologize.

If it came of in any way that I was implying that they don't do a good job then I mis-spoke (typed). All I mean is I get the two sean/shawn confused...

I'm the one with interesting things to say. He's the one who sounds officious and/or annoyed when other people get officious.