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

docbadwrench wrote:

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.

You take what you can get i suppose. Any interaction with family and loved ones is better than none and it just so happened that this was our overlap. To be honest, my dad was way more addicted to games in his heyday than i ever have been. He used to stay out at a friend's house until the very early hours of the morning a lot (which used to annoy my mum no end).

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.

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 completely agree. I'm really lazy when it's for myself but if i'm doing something for another person i'll go out of my way. Like i said in my original post, IMO, it's all a delicate balance that no one gets 100% right. Children need to be pushed and made to better themselves because they can't see how that could positively or negatively affect them in the future. Also, a bit of work done at an early (talking 5-16 here) age will set them up with a base-knowledge or thinking that they may never realise they have but just take for granted. I don't believe many schools - especially public - have the ability or resources to really push and challenge the kids that do okay but aren't particularly interested and sometimes i feel that they're the ones that get left out of all the focus which normally rests on the under achievers and the 'so-nerdy-they-wear-tank-tops' super (keen) learners. #

Ultimately, as you say, a lot of it will come down to the child's personality and i believe that while nurture has a lot to say on a person's life, there is something that is defined (either through chemical expressions during pregnancy or whatever) that makes them completely their own person as opposed to just being a function of what goes into them during their growing years.

Also, don't (and i'm not sure you are here but just in case) put yourself down because you don't have a degree. I was speaking with my mum not long ago and she told me that she thought i was way more intelligent than her because of my academic successes... I told her she was stupid to think so because it's just being taught how to think a certain way. Pretty much anyone can be an academic - maybe not a great one but still get a degree - there are very few people who are far and above everyone else in their particular field (not just research) in life and even then they aren't good at everything. I'll never be a top writer like Rabbit or Elysium but it doesn't mean that i can't have good ideas about writing (i hope! :D)

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. ;)

Is there any way to negotiate a transfer from clothing to games? We used to do this for equipment all the time... we'd always get money for consumables and not equipment or positions (which we needed) so we'd fudge the money where possible to get bits of equipment to replace the crap that had failed.

rabbit wrote:
Dan wrote:

Diablo II.

Doh!

Of course!

That's it! Fired! Dan, welcome to the podcast.... i feel that as a long-time listener and contributor to the site (financially) i, and the rest of the shareholders (i.e. forum donators) have a say as to who gets on the podcast

rabbit wrote:

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).

I care, and I agree.
PVE MMO content, particularly instance/dungeons, are the perfect example of co-op gameplay. I think Tabula Rasa - trhe early discussions on what it would be - would have been a nice bridge between the grinding commitment of current MMOs and the ease-of-joining of, say, TF2(or L4D, but I haven't played it).

You are 100% correct, and I think your point on the podcast was lost, in part, because of a knee-jerk reaction to MMO talk.

duckilama wrote:
rabbit wrote:

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).

I care, and I agree.
PVE MMO content, particularly instance/dungeons, are the perfect example of co-op gameplay. I think Tabula Rasa - trhe early discussions on what it would be - would have been a nice bridge between the grinding commitment of current MMOs and the ease-of-joining of, say, TF2(or L4D, but I haven't played it).

You are 100% correct, and I think your point on the podcast was lost, in part, because of a knee-jerk reaction to MMO talk.

What about something akin to the original Neverwinter Nights? That had great co-op and doesn't require an internet connection and two (or more) concurrent subscriptions per month if we're talking about gaming in the family.... plus there's less chance of creating an MMO addict at a young age.... and less chance of being exposed to internet speak, guild drama and online swearing/bigotry/racism.... unless there are filters for those in WoW - can you disable all chat for someone?

duckilama wrote:
rabbit wrote:

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).

I care, and I agree.
PVE MMO content, particularly instance/dungeons, are the perfect example of co-op gameplay. I think Tabula Rasa - trhe early discussions on what it would be - would have been a nice bridge between the grinding commitment of current MMOs and the ease-of-joining of, say, TF2(or L4D, but I haven't played it).

You are 100% correct, and I think your point on the podcast was lost, in part, because of a knee-jerk reaction to MMO talk.

I think MMORPGs provide opportunity for coop experiences, but I do not think they are coop GAMES. Yes, you can choose to play with someone and there is certainly content you won't experience without a group, but there's also plenty there for a solo player. The coop is part of a greater organism, and because it's a static environment where the player's impact on the world and the story is both passive reading and killing things, I guess I don't file it in my mind as a Coop game. I pushed forward the Pandora Tomorrow missions and the idea of a typically single player RPG like Mass Effect adopting a multiple player conversation and mission structure as a "next step" in the coop realm because it would actually be a step. MMORPGs simply are what they are right now. I don't see the next big thing in coop coming from that space because they have a lot of technical hurdles to get over that go far beyond a question of group play first.

What's the name of the flash music game you guys mentioned? When you said it I thought "I don't have to remember the name, they're sure to post it in the show notes". Don't see it ...

wonboodoo wrote:

What's the name of the flash music game you guys mentioned? When you said it I thought "I don't have to remember the name, they're sure to post it in the show notes". Don't see it ...

That would be Auditorium.

http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/4...

Loom! Thanks for mentioning that game. One of my favorites of all time.

I missed the name as I was listening to the show in my car and I had to dodge some asshat making his own traffic rules on my personal portion of the highway.

What was the little audio based game? Or, where's the link?

Also, I'd classify Dungeon Siege and Dungeon Siege 2 as games that had excellent co-op, although, it wasn't required that you play it that way. It was just much better when you did.

TCWatson wrote:

I missed the name as I was listening to the show in my car and I had to dodge some asshat making his own traffic rules on my personal portion of the highway.

What was the little audio based game? Or, where's the link?

That would be Auditorium.

http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/4...

Certis wrote:
duckilama wrote:
rabbit wrote:

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).

I care, and I agree.
PVE MMO content, particularly instance/dungeons, are the perfect example of co-op gameplay. I think Tabula Rasa - trhe early discussions on what it would be - would have been a nice bridge between the grinding commitment of current MMOs and the ease-of-joining of, say, TF2(or L4D, but I haven't played it).

You are 100% correct, and I think your point on the podcast was lost, in part, because of a knee-jerk reaction to MMO talk.

I think MMORPGs provide opportunity for coop experiences, but I do not think they are coop GAMES. Yes, you can choose to play with someone and there is certainly content you won't experience without a group, but there's also plenty there for a solo player. The coop is part of a greater organism, and because it's a static environment where the player's impact on the world and the story is both passive reading and killing things, I guess I don't file it in my mind as a Coop game. I pushed forward the Pandora Tomorrow missions and the idea of a typically single player RPG like Mass Effect adopting a multiple player conversation and mission structure as a "next step" in the coop realm because it would actually be a step. MMORPGs simply are what they are right now. I don't see the next big thing in coop coming from that space because they have a lot of technical hurdles to get over that go far beyond a question of group play first.

I don't agree that MMOs provide the ultimate expression of the co-op form, but I feel they could.

Generally speaking MMO co-op requires pre-planning and organisation, it doesn't have the required easy matchmaking as was mentioned earlier in the show to be the truly definitive example.

The closest thing I can think of is the WAR public quests, someone just starts one and anyone who happens along takes part. The PQs fail though because they also require other participants and the right participants to finish. So they lack the easy drop in/drop out functionality, without punishing the players that stay. I got to the last boss any number of times in the Dark Elf areas, but lack of a tank class made completion nigh impossible.

I feel a development of this system that replaces players who drop out with a bot of sorts, or replaces bots when live players join could help MMOs get to what rabbit envisages.

Rob: Arena.Net refers to Guild Wars as a CORPG. Co-Operative Role Playing Game.

*edit* Regarding The Witcher. I'm also starting to get a little concerned that CDProjeckt (sp?) is just going to carry on iterating the Witcher. But that does seem unlikely, I think they are using the game to keep getting better and learning to leverage the various tools they need to use so that their next game will launch without the drama and issues that The Witcher did. I'm sur ethey have a significant team working on that already.

Auditorium. Haven't tried it yet but the whole internet is going mad over this game, it's been on RPS, Dubious Quality and Penny Arcade since Monday. I must get into it, music games fascinate me.

One of the regular raid leaders in my WoW guild was a 14 year old girl (she was brilliant but had to give up leading raids in the end because it was stressing her out.) It was funny to hear her giving a 40 man raid instructions in her tiny, high pitched voice when 90% of the other voices in the raid were gruff and male.

Edit Posted in reference to McChuck's letter on getting your kids to gold farm in WoW.

I cannot believe you didn't play Ocarina of Time.

Wind Raker? good God, I'm tempted to mail you the entire collection with a PAL GameCube just to stop these things from happening.

It's okay though, the classic age of Zelda is over. Now we get new, more mature iterations of the title, such as Hourglass, which allowed Zelda fans the world over to draw stupid doodles all over a map that will never, and this is a Zelda convention, in my opinion, help.

This show really feels empty without Sands' cracking wise.

Shoal07 wrote:
Nijhazer wrote:

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.

If you ever see the 'trophy cup' appear on a setlist in world tour, that is a 'battle of the bands' challenger that has made it's way into your World Tour list of available setlists.

They are COMPLETELY optional, it's just a way of integrating the battle of the bands content into your world tour where they will contribute to your fans and stars rating if you choose to partake in them. They also rotate out of the World Tour setlist on a pretty regular basis. If you come up against one of these, look again in 7 days time, it won't be there anymore and some new ones will have appeared instead.

Quite a lot of these do required DLC to play but I have absolutely no problem with this, it's a totally optional extra part of the game that they have provided inside World Tour as a convenience.

As a coop Swat 4 was amazing, and just alone for one mission, the one with the psychopath, the tunnel on the house and the leather masks hanging from the ceiling. That mision alone, has only like 3 enemies, really easy one, and we played it a lot of times, because we loved it, you feel like a movie hero.

The same issue applies to L4D, the ambient leads to that movie like coop experience wich makes it great.

About where to on the coop gaming wordl? I liked to see more coop games with traitor, as with some modern board games, a game that you play with your friends, and sudddenly one of you is a Knight traitor as in Shadows over Camelot, or a Cylon on the new BSG Galactica board game.

The only one I recall to do something close was Kane and Lynch wich has some multiplayer mode, where 4 players rob a bank, and each one takes the money they can, and go to the exit as fast as they can, on any given moment, one robber can declare himself a traitor, and tries to go out of the bank, with all the money he has, while the other ones has to stop them and take the money back.

never tried, but heard good things of it

kabutor wrote:

As a coop Swat 4 was amazing,

Rogue Spear was as well (10 years ago now?), much more fun than the frustrating single player in fact. We used to take it far too seriously, sitting at 3 PCs in one room taking down tangos.

Zelos wrote:
kabutor wrote:

As a coop Swat 4 was amazing,

Rogue Spear was as well (10 years ago now?), much more fun than the frustrating single player in fact. We used to take it far too seriously, sitting at 3 PCs in one room taking down tangos.

We had a LAN party the day after the Rogue Spear demo was released.. We've played R6 a lot, and that day we played almost 8 hours straight the same Museum map released with the demo, I still can recall it. Good times.

I swear if Rob says "reason why" once again...

Sententia wrote:

I cannot believe you didn't play Ocarina of Time.

/Agree! I'm floored. Ocarina may be one of the best and most influential games of all time. Seriously, anyone who considers themselves a gamer needs to play this game all the way through at least once.

There are lots of great comments here. I'm really excited to see what happens to the co-op experience now that Left 4 Dead is out. I think that Valve has an opportunity to popularize it further as a game-form, which means that even more people will cram it into games that have no business calling themselves co-op. But hey, it'll move online gaming in that direction.

Reading through all of this, I've recalled how amazing it is to think that we can expect this type of play at all. In my youth, multiplayer gaming was barely realized, let alone co-op.

I consider the old NES game Clu Clu Land to be one of those games that made me love the idea. True, you were in competition, but I found it fun to play with a buddy and try to complete as many boards as possible. Not the same league as L4D - obviously - but it reminds me that the thinking about cooperative gaming was present long before it became a reality.

I wonder how many other games from the past looked to be leaning in this direction...

Great show guys, it's nice to have a kind of cozy small crowd now and then.

Most of the things I wanted to respond to have already been covered by now, but there's one thing left:

At one point in the conversation about LBP there is a really interesting moment: It's the bit in which Rabbit (I think it's rabbit, I have a lot of trouble telling your voices apart) talks about creating bits of level for his kids. He talks about how great it is to have the skills and tools to be able to fulfil the wishes of the kids, which I think is a great thing. At the same time, however, I felt very uncomfortable, because thinking back on my own childhood, I remember moments of great bonding and comradeship with my father, but the key difference (and I believe it is key) is that it was when he was helping me build things like treehouses and huts in the garden. The idea of this kind of activity being supplanted by building stuff virtually, well, it disturbs me.

Would you agree that as our lives are moving into the computer domain more and more, it is very valuable to try and get as much reality in our children's lives as possible before they disappear into their teens and myspace?

Please note that I'm trying to raise a general point here and not trying to preach about proper child raising or suchlike, and I'm sure you're doing a fine job.

This show really feels empty without Sands' cracking wise.

Thanks, mom.

Thirteenth wrote:

I swear if Rob says "reason why" once again...

The reason why I say things a lot....

I actually hadn't realized I was repeating the same phrase constantly. That's pretty funny.

ThatGuy42 wrote:
Sententia wrote:

I cannot believe you didn't play Ocarina of Time.

/Agree! I'm floored. Ocarina may be one of the best and most influential games of all time. Seriously, anyone who considers themselves a gamer needs to play this game all the way through at least once.

I consider myself a gamer -- but I've pretty much always been a PC Gamer, letting the games drive my hardware upgrades. (And the Atari 800 before that, and the Sears-branded Atari Video Pinball before that). But I'm getting my first console (for the kids! really!), a Wii, this Christmas.

So there are many, many, classic console games that I've never laid eyes on. If Ocarina's available for Wii Points, it may show up on the console after we exhaust our fun with the games we're already getting.

Hey guys,

This is my first post which i think will lead to an email and possibly a proposed article for you guys to tale a look at. But for now I'm stealing time at work so I'll keep it to a post.

I was very interested to hear your debate regarding content in games dealing with unlockables, multiple playthourghs etc. [/i]And it is a tricky argument one I feel runs deeper than just "I paid sixty bucks for this game and so I should have all the content."

First it is an illustration of conservative game design. A "This is the way its always been done so we keep doing it," kind of mentality. I don't think people who have the time and effort to dedicate to a game should have to have all the content shoved in their faces. If they want to unlock let them unlock. [b]But those of us who just don't have the time to give should be given the option of seeing all of what we paid for. Having barriers to getting all content is like buying trvial pursuit witout all the blue pieces or Monopoly with out the [/b]Boardwalk card. And even more so its like buying the Usual Suspects and not getting to see the end because you don't know enough about the films of [b]Brian Singer.

Which leads into my second point. This is all an aspects of why games have such a barrier to being art. You need to prerequisites to enjoy a film, an album, or a painting. You just need to be open to experiencing it. Sure prior knowledge can help your appreciation level but everyone has the chance to have an honest emotion reaction regardless. Games do not allow this. [/i]If you can't move two sticks in a quick and efficient manner you are gated off from this creative world.

Certain games have achieved artistic elements, Bioshock, storytelling and design, Pixel Junk Eden, beauty, Price of Persia (2008) art style, no game has brought it all together.

I must close in saying I don't care if they ever become high art. High art is at time obtuse and hard to engage. But hopefully game designer will break from the mindless trek towards pretty visuals and focus on being original and revolutionary.

Because lets face it the best art is dirty and infuriating.

Please feel free to reply to this post id love to discuss it.

By Bobby

Dear Dr. Horrible, i enjoyed your post and have subscribed to your blog. I look forward to your continuing terrorising of our GWJ overlords.

Signed,
Dastardly Duoae.

For an example of how the classic Zelda format can be evolved in new and interesting directions, look (back) to Majora's Mask on the Nintendo 64 and, later, on the GameCube. As popular and groundbreaking as Ocarina was, I actually consider Majora's Mask to be the better game. The time traveling mechanic is put to fantastic use and helps turn the game world itself into a large puzzle, the temples are large puzzles unto themselves (my favorite being the temple that actually turns upside down midway through), and the masks allow for a variety of tactics and experiences during gameplay. What impresses me is that they managed to add so much to the Zelda formula while keeping the equipment, enemies, and overall feeling that's expected from a Zelda game.

I actually disagree with many of you in that I don't really have a problem with ridiculously difficult unlockables or ones that require you to replay the game once or even many times. In part this is because I long ago accepted that there will always be parts of games that I don't see or don't utilize. I don't really do multiplayer, and I'm not a compulsive collector. Mostly though, I don't feel like I'm not getting my money's worth out of a game if I don't experience everything that it has to offer. When I purchase a game I'm not purchasing the content; I'm purchasing the experience of playing the game. The super secret endings, special weapons and items, and other stuff that you're expected to really work for are part of that experience, and I don't feel like I'm being cheated out of an investment if I don't have them all. It's just a difference in how I view games, I guess.

osmosisch wrote:

At the same time, however, I felt very uncomfortable, because thinking back on my own childhood, I remember moments of great bonding and comradeship with my father, but the key difference (and I believe it is key) is that it was when he was helping me build things like treehouses and huts in the garden. The idea of this kind of activity being supplanted by building stuff virtually, well, it disturbs me.

Would you agree that as our lives are moving into the computer domain more and more, it is very valuable to try and get as much reality in our children's lives as possible before they disappear into their teens and myspace?

osmosisch, you bring up a very good point. It seems that more and more physical activities are being replaced by virtual ones. I understand your concerns. However, since we are still physical beings, I believe there will always be that desire to "go do something physical". Young kids have energy they need to expel and playing a video game does not always satisfy that need. I'll admit, I don't have any kids (I do have a rambunctious cat who likes to watch TV... does that count?) but I believe this hasn't changed since I was one. I wonder how much of children "disappearing into their teens and myspace" has to do with the level of openness to and willingness to engage in these sorts of activities with them. I know I tend to like to be around people that share the same interests as I do. I think that becomes more of a stumbling block in parent/child relationships as the child grows and develops new interests. Like I always used to tell my parents, "It could be worse. Instead of spending hours on my computer I could be out doing drugs." At least my addiction allowed me to learn valuable skills for real life.

Since listening to the podcast yesterday and playing L4D for the first time last weekend when a friend brought over a 360 (I'm pretty sure I'll be picking up a copy for my pc this weekend) I've been thinking about the future of co-op gaming. I have some basic ideas I'll post here in hopes that it might bring up other interesting ideas (or if it wouldn't work at all for some reason).

I'm thinking an FPS type game where you're trying to infiltrate a military complex run by a L4D style 'director'. One player is the character actually on the ground trying to complete whatever objective in the base while the other player is back at some command post watching a screen with the building plans guiding the infiltrator through the base, playing the part of the type person that talks you through missions in a Metal Gear game.

Some things to make this more interesting for the remote player:
*The infiltrator may not have any radar/map type interface, while the command post player sees troop/personnel movements on his map, allowing him to warn the infiltrator when he needs to hide and when the coast is clear.
*The infiltrator's voice actually has a radius in-game based on volume that can alert bots to his presence, forcing him to keep his voice down at times when trying to communicate with the remote player
*The infiltrator could use various gadgets on site that allow the remote player to get more intel from the environment (hidden cameras, motion detectors, etc.)
*The infiltrator could set a bomb to be later triggered by the other player as a diversion, letting the infiltrator get in somewhere otherwise heavily guarded.
*The infiltrator could hook up a device allowing the remote player to hack computers for intel, take direct control of robots or defense turrets, etc...

Essentially I think it would be interesting to have 2 or more fundamentally different sorts of gameplay going on contributing to the same overall goal. That's just one example, but the basic idea I think could be developed for other gameplay types or more than just 2 players.

This show really feels empty without Sands' cracking wise.

PLANT!