GWJ Conference Call Episode 113

Conference Call

Prince of Persia, Resident Evil 5, Fallout 3: For The Masses, Word Flow, Bread Crumbs And Game Difficulty, Your Emails and more!

This week's Conference Call has been produced specifically for the masses. I'm not sure what that means, but I'm given to understand we'll be rich soon. Rich!

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

"Anxious Tedium" - Ouranos OST (Tom Quinn) - www.citadel-studios.com - 0:45:43
"MMM Cowbell" (Greg Decker) - 1:09:07

Comments

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That has to be one of the most useless descriptions of anything I've ever seen. Guess I'll find out when I listen then.

Hey, they DO read that part. Go figure.

Certis is learning marketing techniques from Blizzard. The internet is going to be in a frenzy.

It's flavor that Fallout 3 lacks. Flavor is what we all want it in every game we play. You were just hoping to find it in Fallout 3 (as was I) but it's just not there. Flavor can be a great equalizer. Flavor can turn a decent game like Psychonauts into an incredible game that you'll remember for years.

I talked about flavor when I was making love to Castle Crashers - http://croutondays.d3p0.com/castle-c...

When did you guys record this show?

Mech Commander 2 has held up extremely well.

Age of Empires, II especially, was filled to the brim with history on each of the civilizations.

BTW WoW meets all of the coop criteria listed in that MMO hate mail...

The 'easy button' is just a shortcut for the developer. If we encourage developers to use I could see a clever developer creating an engine for detecting frustration. I bet some people will welcome the thought of such a thing but it cheats us out of having intelligently designed games and it relieves the developer from having to design intelligently. I'd love to know to what extent playtesting dominates the schedule on a Valve game.

d3p0 wrote:

It's flavor that Fallout 3 lacks. Flavor is what we all want it in every game we play. You were just hoping to find it in Fallout 3 (as was I) but it's just not there. Flavor can be a great equalizer. Flavor can turn a decent game like Psychonauts into an incredible game that you'll remember for years.

I talked about flavor when I was making love to Castle Crashers - http://croutondays.d3p0.com/castle-c...

When did you guys record this show?

We tend to record on the weekend usually Saturday, which gives gives me plenty of oh sh*t time if something goes wrong, that isn't always the case but certainly most of the time. Unlike a lot of other shows I spend a lot of time editing ours. I'd like to think it makes a difference, and I will continue to think so.

Flavor is a nice way to describe what might be missing, unfortunately my favorite flavor is vanilla.

Purple_Haze wrote:

That has to be one of the most useless descriptions of anything I've ever seen. Guess I'll find out when I listen then.

It is, I guess you will just have to enjoy the whole show! Have fun.

Flavor is a nice way to describe what might be missing, unfortunately my favorite flavor is vanilla.

Why can't you bring snappy one-liners like this to the show?! You could have dug me out of that five minutes worth of wishy washy Fallout 3 nonsense I was spouting.

Elysium wrote:
Flavor is a nice way to describe what might be missing, unfortunately my favorite flavor is vanilla.

Why can't you bring snappy one-liners like this to the show?! You could have dug me out of that five minutes worth of wishy washy Fallout 3 nonsense I was spouting.

I got plenty of snappy one-liners, just no one who can set them up! BURN!

Gaald wrote:
Purple_Haze wrote:

That has to be one of the most useless descriptions of anything I've ever seen. Guess I'll find out when I listen then.

It is, I guess you will just have to enjoy the whole show! Have fun. :)

Of course I listened to the whole show, I just didn't know what I was going to end up listening to this time. I'm just going to say I enjoyed it and leave it there, because I don't see myself saying anything else that doesn't make me sound like a dick.

Purple_Haze wrote:
Gaald wrote:
Purple_Haze wrote:

That has to be one of the most useless descriptions of anything I've ever seen. Guess I'll find out when I listen then.

It is, I guess you will just have to enjoy the whole show! Have fun. :)

Of course I listened to the whole show, I just didn't know what I was going to end up listening to this time. I'm just going to say I enjoyed it and leave it there, because I don't see myself saying anything else that doesn't make me sound like a dick.

Seriously, we appreciate everyone who listens to the show. We try to make it as entertaining through out and we are glad people keep coming back for more.

Elysium wrote:
Flavor is a nice way to describe what might be missing, unfortunately my favorite flavor is vanilla.

Why can't you bring snappy one-liners like this to the show?! You could have dug me out of that five minutes worth of wishy washy Fallout 3 nonsense I was spouting.

I was a bit confused on that part of the show.... I get what Elysium was saying about Fallout 3 in relation to the first two and Oblivion..... but when he said, "I just feel that i'm not getting anything new this year in terms of gaming experiences" and then goes to talk about how he wished some of the things that were in Fallout 1&2 where in Fallout 3 struck me as funny..... They're even older than Oblivion!!

I think that Rob's opinion on the topic was incredibly insightful and accurate. Elysium's a snob! We've known that for a long time. I mean, we know that those big CEOs and Presidents in the sky don't know what it's like to not be able to afford products or bread (or cake!) and he's the same - DRM? What's bad about it? I can afford to waste money on all my game purchases!

Regarding PoP - wait, wait, wait.... You're saying that getting a scar and instantly reviving (thus no game over or death) in Fable 2 is harder than the mechanic in Prince of Persia? That seems like an arbitrary decision on what is easier when both are basically the same. It wouldn't make sense to have scarring in Prince of Persia... and you don't 'improve'r your character like you do in an RPG so what would you have to take away? It's exactly the same mechanic.
Also, i think you guys need a redefinition of easy. Easy means that you don't need the game's help or that you don't ever fail or die in the game. Easy isn't when you fail but there's little to no punishment for failing. I can't count the number of times i 'died' (failed) but was helped (saved) by Elika. Are we now equating a difficulty of a game with lack of punishment? There's the same misconception in the thread in the gaming forum too.

Regarding triple XP in WoW. People are always going on about how they've sped up getting through levels in WoW and with regards to experiencing the Death Knight content in the new expansion and you guys have been on TRIPLE XP for three months and you're not even quite there yet (level 50)?!! God, i am so glad i don't put any money into that game...

[editing as i listen to the show )

I haven't listened to more than the first 12 minutes of the podcast, but I think I get what Elysium was getting at when he talked about Fallout3 being "for the masses."

All consumer products are developed with a common denominator in mind. Usually, advertising targets the lowest common denominator in order to maximize sales.

What Elysium seems to be complaining about is that Fallout 3 targeted a lower denominator than he would have liked. Not Dead Or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball low, but still lower than the first two Fallouts. As an Junior Executive gamer, I can see his point. But as someone who just wants games to be fun, I'm okay with a fun game that doesn't necessarily blow my socks off with how innovative it is.

Hey! Whaddya know! I'm in the target market for once! Vanilla cones all around!

Full disclosure: I haven't bought Fallout 3 yet (I was about to last night, only to find that Amazon had jacked the price back up. I have to remember that Amazon's pricing is opaque in that you never really know why a price is reduced, or how long it will remain so) but I have played a few hours into Fallout 1. Fallout 1 is a game with a barrier for entry. It is not for everyone, and it doesn't care. Based on Elysium's description, Fallout 3 doesn't have that attitude about it.

Duoae wrote:

Regarding triple XP in WoW. People are always going on about how they've sped up getting through levels in WoW and with regards to experiencing the Death Knight content in the new expansion and you guys have been on TRIPLE XP for three months and you're not even quite there yet (level 50)?!! God, i am so glad i don't put any money into that game...

I have claimed neither a tremendous time commitment during those three months, nor focus. THere has been a LOT to play during one of the busiest non-gaming times of the year. If we've been lucky, we've played two nights a week for a few hours. So maybe 40 hours for my partner to go form Zero to 45. That seems pretty darn fast to me. But maybe we can out Janinora and get her to type /played for us.

I think I was wise to keep my mouth largely shut during the section we did for the masses.

So, it's hard to beat Fly's article on the "easy" factor in Prince of Persia versus the "difficulty" or mirror's edge:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/arti...

Ahhh... Welcome back Sands.

Nice discussion on Fallout 3. I didn't realize that I felt the same way until you brought it up.

Gaald wrote:
Purple_Haze wrote:
Gaald wrote:
Purple_Haze wrote:

That has to be one of the most useless descriptions of anything I've ever seen. Guess I'll find out when I listen then.

It is, I guess you will just have to enjoy the whole show! Have fun. :)

Of course I listened to the whole show, I just didn't know what I was going to end up listening to this time. I'm just going to say I enjoyed it and leave it there, because I don't see myself saying anything else that doesn't make me sound like a dick.

Seriously, we appreciate everyone who listens to the show. We try to make it as entertaining through out and we are glad people keep coming back for more.

Seriously, are you in marketing for like, Majesco or something? My god. "We appreciate your feedback on our latest game, Rollin' Rascals. We make every effort to ensure each game is top quality for our fans."

Talk like a human being! Argh!

Certis wrote:
Gaald wrote:

Seriously, we appreciate everyone who listens to the show. We try to make it as entertaining through out and we are glad people keep coming back for more.

Seriously, are you in marketing for like, Majesco or something? My god. "We appreciate your feedback on our latest game, Rollin' Rascals. We make every effort to ensure each game is top quality for our fans."

Talk like a human being! Argh!

That's kind of sacrifices one has to make if he's to produce for the masses!

Guy Who Sings Stuff wrote:

Regarding PoP - wait, wait, wait.... You're saying that getting a scar and instantly reviving (thus no game over or death) in Fable 2 is harder than the mechanic in Prince of Persia? That seems like an arbitrary decision on what is easier when both are basically the same. It wouldn't make sense to have scarring in Prince of Persia... and you don't 'improve'r your character like you do in an RPG so what would you have to take away? It's exactly the same mechanic.

Of course it's harder, but you can't look at that one game mechanic in a vacuum. Fable 2 is a (relatively) harder game because death means you lose experience and gain more scars. You're also placed in combat situations where there can be a wide variety of ways to kill your enemies, and not all of them effective. There were times when I was overwhelmed and got dropped a number of times before I could beat my way through. It's not simply a question of whether or not there's a fail state upon "death."

In Prince of Persia you end up back where you started as if nothing happened. Combat is a process of figuring out which order you press the buttons to slip past the bad guy's defense, and holding the block button between attempts. I'm not even arguing that this is a bad thing, but it's definitely a cake walk.

You know, Prince of Persia being an "easy" game for me was awesome, although everyone has different requirements like you guys who want more frustrating/challenging games and I don't have enough time in my day to die and then put down the game to play after a month. I love the ease of the platforming, very Ass Creed, however this doesn't imply that you won't die. You can die a lot in some spots, and you'll keep on seeing Elika's hand grabbing your hand. The challenge with that comes with those Power Platechallenge sections, those get some trial-and-error. So, if you want challenge, try those challenges out in the game. Especially the Flying and Spiderman powers.

It has a lot of momentum, and I love that about it. And I love the tech they put behind the AI partner, Elika, must've been hella hard to program for. Elika herself has so many innovations to her. Much like Dead Space, if you die, you go back to the last checkpoint which is always perfectly placed, so I never put down the game unlike previous PoPs. I really don't think the easyness of the game impedes on how good the game is, but I can see that they should have put in a Hard difficulty for those frustrating-seeking gamers.

And the combat is bloody genius, it's a completely unique style that will stand out amongst the DMC or NGs or God of Wars of this world. Basically, if you like Ass Creed fencing combat, but wish it had a lot more options for combos, this game has that.

But I would definitely say it's a contender Game of the Year, although I'm not sure why you guys wouldn't, because you didn't give a reason for why. I haven't finished the game yet, so there might be a game-breaking part or the story ends really sucky, but until then it's very Game of the Year with me along with Dead Space and Left 4 Dead and Mirror's Edge.

rabbit wrote:

So, it's hard to beat Fly's article on the "easy" factor in Prince of Persia versus the "difficulty" or mirror's edge:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/arti...

That is an excellent article, probably a good piece to defend why I love both games, and that criticisms for either game fall very flat when it comes down to the difficulty of their platforming. Both games are fair, and their difficulty perfectly is aligned with the game at large, rather than feeling arbitrary and only catering to challenge-seeking players.

Certis wrote:

Combat is a process of figuring out which order you press the buttons to slip past the bad guy's defense, and holding the block button between attempts. I'm not even arguing that this is a bad thing, but it's definitely a cake walk.

I definitely disagree with combat being a cake-walk. It's much more challenging than most other action games (except NG), because it relies all on Ass Creed's fencing model i.e. timing and parrying, but also you can finish a fight MUCH faster if you chain different combos and make it look all really stylish, OR use the environment to get very fast kills.

Moeez wrote:
Certis wrote:

Combat is a process of figuring out which order you press the buttons to slip past the bad guy's defense, and holding the block button between attempts. I'm not even arguing that this is a bad thing, but it's definitely a cake walk.

I definitely disagree with combat being a cake-walk. It's much more challenging than most other action games (except NG), because it relies all on Ass Creed's fencing model i.e. timing and parrying, but also you can finish a fight MUCH faster if you chain different combos and make it look all really stylish, OR use the environment to get very fast kills.

Just so we're clear, you just said Prince of Persia's combat is more challenging than most action games, except Ninja Gaiden. That's ... honestly I'm incredulous. If you can hold block indefinitely, in all situations, and survive 99% of the time, your combat is easy. If you're never fighting more than one enemy at a time and you are constantly auto-facing him and never out of step - it's easy. If even when you FAIL a mini-quicktime event, Elika steps up and saves you anyways - it's easy.

No fail state, one enemy at a time, invincible blocking and no need to dodge makes for an incredibly easy fighting system. It's not a fight, it's a puzzle with legs and a sword. I can understand the timing to parry and strike being tricky, but they give you an awful lot of cushion to pull that stuff off.

I always read "datyedyeguy" as "the tie-dye guy." Like maybe he's a big hippie or something.

rabbit wrote:
Duoae wrote:

Regarding triple XP in WoW. People are always going on about how they've sped up getting through levels in WoW and with regards to experiencing the Death Knight content in the new expansion and you guys have been on TRIPLE XP for three months and you're not even quite there yet (level 50)?!! God, i am so glad i don't put any money into that game...

I have claimed neither a tremendous time commitment during those three months, nor focus. THere has been a LOT to play during one of the busiest non-gaming times of the year. If we've been lucky, we've played two nights a week for a few hours. So maybe 40 hours for my partner to go form Zero to 45. That seems pretty darn fast to me. But maybe we can out Janinora and get her to type /played for us.

I think I was wise to keep my mouth largely shut during the section we did for the masses.

Sorry, Rabbit, i wasn't targeting you with these comments. It was more for the previous discussions where i was arguing that if you pay for the Death Knight content then you should be able to access that without having to play through irrelevant content to that character rather than levelling up. What the thrust of this and previous statements from me is that the Death Knight starting level is equivalent in gameplay mechanics to being level 1 and i'd hate to have bought the expansion thinking that i'd be able to get into that character when in actual fact it'd be likely, considering most people don't power level their characters (like yourself) would end up getting to it several months later.

Also my main point with that comment was that most people won't be on triple XP (hence my capitalisation of it in my original comment) and so this would take three times as long to get to the same point in game hours played.

Certis wrote:

Of course it's harder, but you can't look at that one game mechanic in a vacuum. Fable 2 is a (relatively) harder game because death means you lose experience and gain more scars. You're also placed in combat situations where there can be a wide variety of ways to kill your enemies, and not all of them effective. There were times when I was overwhelmed and got dropped a number of times before I could beat my way through. It's not simply a question of whether or not there's a fail state upon "death."

I wasn't looking at it in a vacuum. Like i mentioned before, PoP doesn't have any levelling mechanics so therefore there really isn't much to lose compared to games like Fable 2.... on the other hand of the scale games that you might consider much more difficult such as Fallout 3/Oblivion and Final Fantasy that have similar progression mechanics but no loss to levelling mechanics - there is no penalty for death beyond going back to the last time you saved or were able to save. Do scars make the game harder or do they add to your character's in-game persona? XP debt or loss is a penalty and means that in an MMO you have to work exponentially harder to recoup that loss. The loss in Fable is so minimal that you can regain that XP loss within one fight - sometimes in the same fight you just got knocked out in. Whereas for Oblivion, Fear, Deadspace, FarCry and Prince of Persia. the penalty is time. Sure, PoP has a limited time penalty but it's no different a mechanic and it's no more an indication of ease. I'm not a masochist so i tend not to enjoy overly punishing games

In Prince of Persia you end up back where you started as if nothing happened. Combat is a process of figuring out which order you press the buttons to slip past the bad guy's defense, and holding the block button between attempts. I'm not even arguing that this is a bad thing, but it's definitely a cake walk.

Maybe for you.... and maybe for me. But combat is almost as involved as it was in Soul Calibur with the blocking/parrying mechanics and the throws and move-combos. You keep bringing up the fact that there's 'nothing that happened' when you failed at something... what do you want to happen? Do you want to start back at the temple and have to traverse the level again to where you where? How much is enough?

I heard you played on the playstation version so maybe you don't get access to the achievements like on the 360 but i certainly didn't get the use Elika less than 100 times on my first playthrough. The second time though i managed to get it because i was that much better at the game.... Certainly if you're not having to be helped by Elika at all the game is obviously too easy for you and i bow down in front of your masterful skillz (;)) but i don't want to be punished because i'm dying in a certain point. Do you?

Certis wrote:

invincible blocking and no need to dodge

Wha-? Seriously? Which game are you playing? Blocking only works some of the time most enemies can hit through your simple block attack and even the

spoiler wrote:

[color=white]The flaming warrior[/color]

will harm you through your parries.

[edit] Oh yeah, don't think i missed that 'guy who sings stuff', Pixie boy!

Oh, btw, i agree that seeing Lara coming out of the water, dripping wet, is definitely an educational moment. I mean, we're learning about how wet clothes interact with human (specifically female) anatomy. For heterosexual guys we know that we like it and for women they learn the value of wearing clothing under t-shirts etc... especially when they're white.

Far Cry 2 has an interesting twist on the 'saved from death' mechanic that keeps the tension up while still, occasionally, giving you a free pass. When your health bar reaches zero you can be rescued by a 'buddy' but it doesn't happen every time.

I'm pretty sure you haven't discussed Far Cry 2 yet. Are any of you playing it? It's a very interesting game. Not perfect by any means but it is trying new things and succeeds in many ways.

Well, Duoae, I just don't think we're on the same page with this difficulty thing. You'll notice I haven't talked about missing jumps and being saved all the time. I don't have a problem with that because as you say, it's really not much different than what's out there already. The combat itself just feels like a quicktime event without the button flashing on the screen to me. If it's near-Soul Calibur to you, I can respect that.

I might suggest Lego Starwars as your next game, it's nearly God of War when it comes to fighting action!

I found it interesting how Rabbit's friend was worried about "gratuitous uprating" of games from T to M. I'm most worried about gratuitous down-rating of M to T... I'm looking at YOU, Mercenaries 2! I think her problem will eventually resolve itself though. The market is heading in a more family-friendly (I feel dirty even saying that) direction and I'm guessing her son and his friends are aging linearly.

In the podcast, Elysium says the following:

I don't want to have to die in any part of a game before I understand how to get past it.

Based on this, I have two questions:

1) Do the rest of you agree with this?

2) If so, how do you get any sense of accomplishment from games? That question sounds harsh, but I'm serious: My own perspective on games has always been that a big part of the fun comes from getting better at the game, and as the saying goes, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs; so I want to understand this other perspective, one which on the surface seems to be very different from my own.

edit: In reference to something else mentioned in the podcast: This is the same screen name I've used for about ten years now-- I originally picked it because I wanted something that was relatively pronounce-able, but that wasn't likely to be snapped up already whenever I went to register for some new service; and so far it's been a good choice in that regard.

Nijhazer wrote:

In the podcast, Elysium says the following:

I don't want to have to die in any part of a game before I understand how to get past it.

Based on this, I have two questions:

1) Do the rest of you agree with this?

2) If so, how do you get any sense of accomplishment from games?

1) Yes
2) Because the sense of accomplishment comes from solving the puzzle/winning the fight/whatever. Note the have to in the statement. If you have to die in order to get through a level then there's something wrong with the level. Games used to do this to force replays and extend game length (unwinnable states in adventure games or requiring the player to learn enemy attack patterns through trial-and-death, for example) but it's not necessary any more.

The Valkyria Chronicles example in the podcast would have had me pulling the disk out of the drive in frustration: requiring foreknowledge of the level in order to win is stupid, especially in a strategy game. Final Fantasy Tactics did that a lot as well, IIRC.

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