GWJ Conference Call Episode 112

Conference Call

Strong Bad Episode 4, Penny Arcade Episode 2, Left 4 Dead, Valkyria Chronicles, All Things Coop Games, Your Emails and more!

This week we have an intimate threesome (ewww) as Elysium battles Mephistopheles in the very heart of his recording computer. Coop games, why they're awesome and what can ruin the fun. Plus, rabbit tries to beat the MMORPG horse some more. Stop, stop, it's already dead! I love the fact that I get to write this part.

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/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"Los Pistoleros" Ian Dorsch - 0:35:58
"PodunkStump" Ian Dorsch - 1:02:04

Comments

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The Multi Player Oblivion mod Certis mentioned was being made by Games Technology Students at my University, the Lead Designer was my housemate. He never finished it, but moved to Melbourne and started working for an Australian game company that primarily makes Sports titles.

The piss poor Oblivion clone was Two Worlds or 2 Worlds?

How come no Sacred 2 love? Anyone playing it?

I plan on getting it eventually.

Great show guys, as usual - almost feel like i don't need to say it anymore.... it's like you've hit a 'greatness' plateau. I'll let you know if you exceed it or fall off of it

ANYway, one point you talk about how if you have kids you'd be over protective of their internet habits and stuff because you were a crazy-wild teenager or whatever.... I don't get this reasoning. Do you think that you are so messed up that you don't want your prospective child to turn out the same way?
Personally, though i don't know you all that well, you seem fairly well-balanced individuals. Children will always explore (themselves and their environment) and to try and overly hinder that will only drive a wedge between the two of you.
I'm not a parent and i know it would be very hard to not be protective of my child but from my own upbringing i know that we all were innocent children once and we all end up as horribly disgusting adults at some point..... i think it's better that the child manages to make this transition in line with its peers rather than be 'lagging behind' those peers due to an overprotective parent at the risk of being ostracised and bullied because of it. I'm not saying let them watch porn at 8 years old... btw - just in case anyone takes this the wrong way - just that a parent has to walk the fine line between control and freedom.

Good luck, Rob and Certis - now that it appears you're thinking of a foray into the realm of parenthood

fangblackbone wrote:

The piss poor Oblivion clone was Two Worlds or 2 Worlds?

How come no Sacred 2 love? Anyone playing it?

I plan on getting it eventually.

The bug reports have been scaring me off. Wasn't super happy with the demo either.

The pat response on the parenting thing is "we live in different times." And while it may seem pat, and I diss other people for it, there's an element of truth to it. Part of the reason I live in the middle of nowhere is I can delude myself into thinking things will just work out, be OK, be safe, etc. I refuse to raise my kids to be afraid of everything, but at the same time, I want them to have skills for dealing with chaos and evil, both of which do exist in the world.

So it's a daily struggle. But a few things I *can* control, like whether my daughter has a laptop in her room with unrestricted net axis (answer: no). I won't be taking her to rated-R horror-porn movies a the age of 10, or 12, or 14. Nor will I just provide easy access to the same material (which is pretty much what an open line is). Nor will I be handing her a copy of Hitman or GTA and telling her to just go poke around and explore.

WoW would be an interesting line in the sand issue. I don't think I'd be telling her it's a no-fly zone at the age of 14, or 12. But I do think there'd be some rules about it, and I'd hope it was a family affair, like poking around LBP has been.

Certis, did you have to talk about Valkyria Chronicles so much? I'm trying so hard not to get a PS3 just for three stupid games but I want two of those games SO DAMN MUCH. >_< Promise me you won't play Disgaea 3, and if you do you won't enjoy it, and if you do you won't talk about it on the show, and if you do you send me $400.

Promise me you won't play Disgaea 3, and if you do you won't enjoy it, and if you do you won't talk about it on the show, and if you do you send me $400.

Don't worry, I think you're safe. Disgaea demands way too much time to play properly and I'm not super big on the RPG min-maxing style of character building. If I'm remembering correctly, that is. It's been a while.

I love you guys, and I love your show. I find your discussions to be insightful and entertaining, and I'm usually in agreement with you. In this episode, though, you guys touched upon one of my hot-button issues: unlockable achievements in games.

The opinion expressed by Rob regarding Precipice Episode 2's Insane Mode is similar to the opinion that is often expressed by Garnett Lee on 1Up Yours: namely, that if he buys a game, he's entitled to all of the content in it, and therefore the notion that getting any of that content would require more of a time investment than he's willing to make is offensive, and should be considered bad game design. To gamers like us, who are older, who have jobs and families, and generally don't have as much time to game, this seems like an easy position to support.

But I can't support it. The fact is that folks our age represent only a fraction of the gamers out there; and since I've been a gamer my whole life, I remember how rewarding it can be to invest enough time into these games to get those prestigious rewards. I remember when I couldn't buy a new game every other week, and the games I got for Christmas had to last me until my birthday. I remember how thrilling it was when I got every weapon in Secret of Mana to level 9 (including the Sword-- thanks, Nintendo Power!). I remember the feeling of accomplishment I had after finishing the Second Quest in the original Legend of Zelda. I remember the thrill of finding new hidden characters in Final Fantasy 6 even after I thought I had done everything there was to do in the game.

Good times, right? We may even share some of these accomplishments. For the gamers who are willing to invest enough time in a game to get that last Achievement, or to unlock every costume, or to play it through multiple times on increasing levels of difficulty, these are the accomplishments they will remember and write about years after the fact, just as I'm doing now. I don't have the time anymore to pursue these same goals, but neither do I want to encourage game developers to stop rewarding those players that do have the time and the will.

Nijhazer wrote:

In this episode, though, you guys touched upon one of my hot-button issues: unlockable achievements in games.

[...]namely, that if he buys a game, he's entitled to all of the content in it, and therefore the notion that getting any of that content would require more of a time investment than he's willing to make is offensive, and should be considered bad game design. To gamers like us, who are older, who have jobs and families, and generally don't have as much time to game, this seems like an easy position to support.

Good times, right? We may even share some of these accomplishments. For the gamers who are willing to invest enough time in a game to get that last Achievement, or to unlock every costume, or to play it through multiple times on increasing levels of difficulty, these are the accomplishments they will remember and write about years after the fact, just as I'm doing now. I don't have the time anymore to pursue these same goals, but neither do I want to encourage game developers to stop rewarding those players that do have the time and the will.

How do you feel about costumes and other unlockables that are tied to registering with online sites (like Ubisoft is doing for the new Prince of Persia)?

But I can't support it. The fact is that folks our age represent only a fraction of the gamers out there; and since I've been a gamer my whole life, I remember how rewarding it can be to invest enough time into these games to get those prestigious rewards. I remember when I couldn't buy a new game every other week, and the games I got for Christmas had to last me until my birthday. I remember how thrilling it was when I got every weapon in Secret of Mana to level 9 (including the Sword-- thanks, Nintendo Power!). I remember the feeling of accomplishment I had after finishing the Second Quest in the original Legend of Zelda. I remember the thrill of finding new hidden characters in Final Fantasy 6 even after I thought I had done everything there was to do in the game.

Yeah, i've no problem with having to work for stuff in games either.... it's when you have to go out of your way in a stupid situation to get that content - e.g. get dodge lightning 40 times in FFX or some such stupidity. They tend not to be a badge of honour in the sense that gaining Biggoron's sword in Ocarina of Time is, where you had to work at finding out what was going on, and instead more of an endurance test like doing a le mans run in Gran Tourismo or some other racing game. It gets turned from being about skill or intelligence to being about spending as much time as possible doing an asinine thing a lot of the time.

Duoae wrote:

How do you feel about costumes and other unlockables that are tied to registering with online sites (like Ubisoft is doing for the new Prince of Persia)?

That's a separate issue-- it's unlockable stuff, sure, but getting those doesn't really require any significant amount of time or skill. So it would come down to personal taste, and whether or not I felt that the unlockables were worth registering with Ubisoft.

I'm more bothered by a feature of Rock Band 2. Some of the sets in the game's single-player mode require you to purchase DLC before you can do them. Honestly, it's been kinda surprising to me that I haven't heard anyone else complaining about this; but maybe I'm way out of touch. If so, then you're probably out of time, in which case I will be out of my head when you're not around.

I think I sit somewhere in the middle, MC. I don't mind having to unlock things provided they aren't anchored to ridiculous requirements like killing 500 dudes with a pistol in an online ranked match. My personal line is having to replay a game before I can get something cool. My belief is that a game should be designed with one play-though in mind. If developers are holding back features or content until I play it a second time, they're trying to artificially extend the game length number to muddy the waters in reviews and improve their marketing pitch.

If I like a game enough, I'll play it again on a harder difficulty for fun. I won't do it because there's a fancy hat or a new weapon they decided "normal" players should not have any ability to attain until they play the same content again. I'd rather they made it difficult to get certain things in one play through, where playing again with foreknowledge and better skills might make it easier. They should never program it out of the game for that first run.

I'm not sure but it seems to me that you might not have realised that you get most of the useful items in LBP, stuff like switches, triggers, levers, pulleys, bolts, etc just by doing the tutorials in create mode. The stuff you get by playing the game gives you more aesthetic scope by having lots of different types of material and stuff, but just by going through the tutorial you should be able to create what you want. I recommend going into create mode and just opening up the popit and selecting next tutorial over and over until you run out, it teaches you a lot and gives you all you need.

Nijhazer wrote:

I'm more bothered by a feature of Rock Band 2. Some of the sets in the game's single-player mode require you to purchase DLC before you can do them. Honestly, it's been kinda surprising to me that I haven't heard anyone else complaining about this; but maybe I'm way out of touch. If so, then you're probably out of time, in which case I will be out of my head when you're not around.

Really? I haven't heard about that and since i don't have either Rock Band i would never have known.... It's a bit pants :/

SurplusGamer wrote:

I'm not sure but it seems to me that you might not have realised that you get most of the useful items in LBP, stuff like switches, triggers, levers, pulleys, bolts, etc just by doing the tutorials in create mode. The stuff you get by playing the game gives you more aesthetic scope by having lots of different types of material and stuff, but just by going through the tutorial you should be able to create what you want. I recommend going into create mode and just opening up the popit and selecting next tutorial over and over until you run out, it teaches you a lot and gives you all you need.

Oh believe me, I'm well past that (grin) - but the fact remains, there are some googaws that really are awesome that I simply can't get (there is, I think, a missing bone in the skelleton set, which would be nice to have). Personally, I'd love it if all the hard stuff was just costumes and stickers and whatnot, not actual fun, usable objects I'd like to have in my creations.

I'm not really super strident about this - I enjoy the kick of finally getting something, and I've been having fun getting 100 percent on some of the early levels.

I still have 20min or so left in the show but I had to pause and post when I heard the snipit of what co-op would be like in a game like Mass Effect. That would be the Ideal situation for me. I loved the game but the idea of my wife getting to play Ashley with me or my friends playing Rex or someone else would be incredible. If they somehow ever do it I will loose my mind. What little I have left due to WoW.

Great show so far.

Rabbit: World of Warcraft indefatigable World of Warcraft Ornithological World of Warcraft.

Shawn: Something That's Not World of Warcraft.

Rabbit: World of Warcraft!

Shawn: NOT World of Warcraft.

Rabbit: Oooh... MMO!

(I'm just busting your balls Rabbit, you know I love you baby.)

Certis wrote:
Promise me you won't play Disgaea 3, and if you do you won't enjoy it, and if you do you won't talk about it on the show, and if you do you send me $400.

Don't worry, I think you're safe. Disgaea demands way too much time to play properly and I'm not super big on the RPG min-maxing style of character building. If I'm remembering correctly, that is. It's been a while.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Duoae wrote:
Nijhazer wrote:

I'm more bothered by a feature of Rock Band 2. Some of the sets in the game's single-player mode require you to purchase DLC before you can do them. Honestly, it's been kinda surprising to me that I haven't heard anyone else complaining about this; but maybe I'm way out of touch. If so, then you're probably out of time, in which case I will be out of my head when you're not around.

Really? I haven't heard about that and since i don't have either Rock Band i would never have known.... It's a bit pants :/

First, excellent show as always. I'm almost inspired to write an email to the show. Almost.

Next, the RB2 issue. There is the game mode (i.e. world tour), of which all can be completed with the RB2 disk only. Any extra songs will get mixed in as you play random sets and such, but those are just fluff. If you don't have them, you'll just play the RB2 songs more often - but the more DLC you have the more variety you'll have (obviously).

Now, there's the new "challenge" mode. This mode has specific challenges, which are really just somewhat related song sets. There's a bunch of challenges, and there's a bunch to unlock. HOWEVER!! There are DLC specific challenges. For example, there's a Weezer challenge in the first or second tier of challenges. You will only see this challenge available if you have downloaded the weezer songs. Is this a bad thing? IMHO - no. You already have a bunch of challenges to play if you like, and when you buy song packs you potentially unlock more challenges. In one way you could say you're being deprived of those challenges, on the other hand, you could say you get more than just a song pack now for your 440 points. Half empty half full, I guess. What do you all think?

[size=12 wrote:

Protip[/size]] [color=white] If you're a RB2 owner and want to unlock the majority of the songs quickly, play all the "decade" challenges, e.g. 90s, 80s, 70s, 60s, 00s. To get these, once you unlock the third tier of challenges, I believe the 90s shows up there. Do the 90s, and you unlock the 80s, etc. By the time you do them all you have like 98% of the songs unlocked. Took me like 2 casual-ish hours.[/color]

The comments are insightful, funny, and all over the place. I'll chime in on the whole parenthood thing:

Duoae wrote:

ANYway, one point you talk about how if you have kids you'd be over protective of their internet habits and stuff because you were a crazy-wild teenager or whatever.... I don't get this reasoning. Do you think that you are so messed up that you don't want your prospective child to turn out the same way?

Personally, though i don't know you all that well, you seem fairly well-balanced individuals. Children will always explore (themselves and their environment) and to try and overly hinder that will only drive a wedge between the two of you.

.…a parent has to walk the fine line between control and freedom.

I wrestle with this a lot Duoae, let me tell you. My son's gaming time is far more tightly regulated than mine was at his age. When Rabbit says that times have changed, he's not being glib. No matter how we may have been raised, we geeks (and I'd dare say a fair number of GwJ-parents) tend to embrace the cultivation of our kids' talents as something we actively do. This means schedules, plans, more regulated time.

When I grew up, computers and gaming were oddball things that you did almost because your elders didn't do any of it - it was that bleeding edge and it was cool. It was distinctly our own. It's not like that for any of you reading who have kids. Dad's into gaming. He's good at it. It's in the adult world. And dad probably does other stuff, like taking a hands' on approach to teaching you stuff. That means time's a factor because he's working too.

Maybe I've drifted a little off-topic. Anyone see my glasses or my walker?

Great podcast, as always, guys.

Shoal07 wrote:

Next, the RB2 issue. There is the game mode (i.e. world tour), of which all can be completed with the RB2 disk only. Any extra songs will get mixed in as you play random sets and such, but those are just fluff. If you don't have them, you'll just play the RB2 songs more often - but the more DLC you have the more variety you'll have (obviously).

This comment is a little misleading. The challenges are part of the World Tour mode as well, and some of them do require you to purchase DLC first. It's true that you can complete the single-player game without doing these challenges, but it's also true that if you're playing through the game by yourself, you will encounter portions of the game where you're told flat-out that you can't get through that content without spending more money; which strikes me as being in very poor taste.

Certis wrote:

I think I sit somewhere in the middle, MC. I don't mind having to unlock things provided they aren't anchored to ridiculous requirements like killing 500 dudes with a pistol in an online ranked match. My personal line is having to replay a game before I can get something cool. My belief is that a game should be designed with one play-though in mind. If developers are holding back features or content until I play it a second time, they're trying to artificially extend the game length number to muddy the waters in reviews and improve their marketing pitch.

If I like a game enough, I'll play it again on a harder difficulty for fun. I won't do it because there's a fancy hat or a new weapon they decided "normal" players should not have any ability to attain until they play the same content again. I'd rather they made it difficult to get certain things in one play through, where playing again with foreknowledge and better skills might make it easier. They should never program it out of the game for that first run.

For the most part I totally agree with you. Except, in Resident Evil 4, once you finish the game you get a Hard Mode and access to some new guns that are essentially 'easy buttons'. And in that case, I think it's a great idea, where the developer gives you a reward that says, now you can make the game harder or beyond easy if you want to play again. I mean, an infinite rocket launcher and unlimited clip guns would break the game on the first play-through. And I was able to fully upgrade (including the final upgrades) the end game guns I had to their maximum potential, but only b/c I did not spend anything on the original weapons.

Nijhazer wrote:
Shoal07 wrote:

Next, the RB2 issue. There is the game mode (i.e. world tour), of which all can be completed with the RB2 disk only. Any extra songs will get mixed in as you play random sets and such, but those are just fluff. If you don't have them, you'll just play the RB2 songs more often - but the more DLC you have the more variety you'll have (obviously).

This comment is a little misleading. The challenges are part of the World Tour mode as well, and some of them do require you to purchase DLC first. It's true that you can complete the single-player game without doing these challenges, but it's also true that if you're playing through the game by yourself, you will encounter portions of the game where you're told flat-out that you can't get through that content without spending more money; which strikes me as being in very poor taste.

I haven't completed the campaign (I think I have an airplane), so I am no expert, but haven't encountered any of these on "tour" mode, just the "challenge" mode.

Certis said in the podcast rather than wrote:

IMAGE(http://img300.imageshack.us/img300/8614/ackbardq1.jpg)

Fixed.

Wind Walker. Winds Waker. Wind Breaker. - I weep for you...

docbadwrench wrote:

I wrestle with this a lot Duoae, let me tell you. My son's gaming time is far more tightly regulated than mine was at his age. When Rabbit says that times have changed, he's not being glib. No matter how we may have been raised, we geeks (and I'd dare say a fair number of GwJ-parents) tend to embrace the cultivation of our kids' talents as something we actively do. This means schedules, plans, more regulated time.

That's fair enough, i wasn't trying to tell anyone how to do anything just putting it out there that these people haven't turned out so badly - despite Certis' eager internet forays!

When I grew up, computers and gaming were oddball things that you did almost because your elders didn't do any of it - it was that bleeding edge and it was cool. It was distinctly our own. It's not like that for any of you reading who have kids. Dad's into gaming. He's good at it. It's in the adult world. And dad probably does other stuff, like taking a hands' on approach to teaching you stuff. That means time's a factor because he's working too.

I don't know, i mean we're (i presume) in two different countries with those differences in culture too plus our families are different. Don't know how old you are Doc, i'm 27 and my dad is 61. He was playing games when i was very young - before i even had an interest in them. He showed me (after i was inquisitive) the games he had and held my hand during the wonders of PC maintenance and upgrades. Gaming always seemed just a part of life - some people did it less (or not at all) and others just did it. My parents were hands on/hands off: in the sense that they regulated what i did to an extent but didn't restrict me within those limits and there were times when i went outside those limits (when i got a bit older) as all children do but they weren't too often.

Surprisingly, computers and electronics were the only bonding activity between my dad and I since he worked shifts and i didn't get to see him much. He never played sports (or had an interest in sports) with me and his other interests were cars and watches - which i was never interested in.

Maybe I've drifted a little off-topic.

Never! We're not even talking about Oogaba!

Surprisingly, computers and electronics were the only bonding activity between my dad and I since he worked shifts and i didn't get to see him much.

I worry about this too. My dad was very busy but he was a DJ and we were able to bond over music. I'm a tech geek that never had TV / video game regulations as a kid. My wife and I have come to the agreement that when we have children that we will limit their TV / Video game consumption. I agree that times are different as Rabbit said, but I do worry that I may be missing out on a potential bonding opportunity over a nice frustrating game of Mike Tyson's Punchout.

I stand behind my comment that MMOs are nearly by definition the ultimate coop games. I don't think anyone actually disagreed with me. I just don't think anyone cares (grin).

That's a very interesting comparison, Duoae. I'm 35. Growing up, my family was avidly into games in the traditional sense - card and board games. But my videogaming was seen by my elders as kids' stuff - not worth the time and, more importantly, something I'd grow out of. I heard such comments a number of times, but as I grew older and got more into gaming, the family just shrugged it off.

I'm impressed by your experiences with your dad. It's more in line with how I raise my own son. From my perspective, you have a unique childhood experiences that's markedly different from my own. You may be one of the first generations to grow up with a parent that experienced gaming, first hand, rather than watching with a perplexed look.

For quite some time I had a crack-addict mentality with PC's (playing with software, entering in those mind-numbing BASIC programs from magazines) and games (whether C64, console, or later the Amiga). My parents allowed me to self-regulate the time spent so long as I got good grades and did my (few) chores. Part of this has to do with the working-class upbringing - that's just what you did.

But my wife is educated and while I don't have a degree, we are bookish types that take a keen interest in our son's time-use. As a result, he has greater control than I ever had.

That's fair enough, i wasn't trying to tell anyone how to do anything just putting it out there that these people haven't turned out so badly - despite Certis' eager internet forays!

This is very true stuff. I have had so many discussions with my wife about the whole "what's the harm" argument. She notes that he has to be pushed if he's going to accomplish anything, which I agree with. I have, historically, a lazy-streak in me a mile wide, in spite of my talents. That said, I'm very successful, work hard, and accomplish quite a lot at work and home. So what was the harm?.

I used to think about this stuff years ago, but now that I'm in the world where I can say "holy sh*t - I have a son", it's less academic and much more tangible. I sure don't have any answers. It's very exciting to discuss it, though. When Rabbit and (very soon) Shawn discuss this stuff, my ears perk up quite a lot.

I only wish I had an understanding with my wife about the gaming budget the way Rabbit does. I should have negotiated that stuff better in the pre-marriage period.

I've been listening to the podcast for months now. Yesterday, while listening to last week's episode, something moved me to attempt to sign up. I'm glad I did because now I have some things to say.

First, how the heck did anyone alive in 1990 and into PC games miss Loom?! Though the Final Fantasy series launched me into story heavy games originally, all those LucasArts adventure games really pulled me into appreciating story in games.

I hadn't had any interest in Valkyria Chronicles before then Shawn talked about it. I'm a very patient person and I admit I enjoyed watching... playing Metal Gear Solid 4. I also love turn based combat games, so it sounds right up my alley. So many games to play though! I might go buy it after work today.

Next up, cooperative games. It was the only reason I ever played Diablo II. That game did cooperative very well; it was exactly like the single player game but with your friends. This is what Fable 2 should have done... but that was mentioned. Anyway, I would absolutely love a strictly cooperative game. It would probably take a leap of corporate thought to realize there is a market for that kind of thing.

Keep up the great work guys, the podcast gets me through the day at work. I wish I had one to listen to every day! I hope to get into the community a bit more, but I'm easily distrac... hey, what's that?

Dan wrote:

Diablo II.

Doh!

Of course!

Top notch as always guys!

I'd like to say to kids can play games very easily at a young age. I remember fondly getting my NES for Christmas when I was 4. In fact, it's one of the few childhood memories I still have! I was knocking out mega-man 3 at about the same age. Kids can definitely pick things up and I'm sure the Wii controls are much better and easier to learn than those clunky NES controllers.

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