GWJ Conference Call Episode 117

Conference Call

Birth of America II, Mount & Blade, World of Goo, Our Failed Predictions, The Games of 2009, Your Emails and more!

This week we're going to pick over the remains of our 2008 predictions and see how we made out. We also look at some of the more interesting games coming in 2009 and find out why Rob is the Ringo of the podcast. Please note that we recorded the show before the news on the 1Up.com apocalypse broke. Our thoughts are with all the excellent folks who have lost their jobs. If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"PodunkStump" (Ian Dorsch) - 0:31:56
"Los Pistoleros" (Ian Dorsch) - 1:02:19

Comments

So you blew off Banjo Kazooie with a quick N64 comment to get to rock band talk. I'm guessing you guys were time limited. Oh well.

124 hours and 3 minutes? How long did it take Rob to edit that?

124:03

124 minutes? Poor Rob.

@Certis:

Telling people to crouching when in front isn't just a for avoiding friendly fire. If you are standing in front of me when a horde comes then you are limiting my firing field. If you don't crouch then I have no hope of keeping those infected off you whilst you are reloading. If you don't wanna crouch whilst in front of me, that's fine, I'll just stand here polishing my autoshotgun and start firing once you are on the floor

I had something else to say about the podcast but I was asleep on the train and have now forgotten it...

EDIT: I remember a couple of bits now, RE: Borderlands, Hellgate London was a good idea on paper and only really suffered due to poor execution and terrible community interaction regarding the subscriptions etc. If Borderlands can execute well on the concept then it's less risky than it sounds.

Also, regarding games for this year, no one excited for Starcraft 2?

Woo-hoo! I'm really glad to see some attention for Mount and Blade. I bought it after seeing a positive review (3 months late) and the game is amazing.

rickyyo wrote:

So you blew off Banjo Kazooie with a quick N64 comment to get to rock band talk. I'm guessing you guys were time limited. Oh well.

I played an hour, it really didn't grab me. I wasn't enchanted by the story, and there was nothing interesting about the gameplay. Was there something about BK that's NOT really just derivative of the N64 game?

rabbit wrote:

How Indie is it?

It's two people, husband and wife, who are the entire development team in a literal garage for a long time.

http://www.taleworlds.com/tw_about_u...

Looks like I played it back in 2005. Probably why the graphics are pretty far behind the curve

Mount and Blade is just great at combat, I played it several years ago when it first went public beta and it was surprisingly fun.

The horse mounted combat is unparalleled.

What LotRO server are you playing on. I play quite frequently (on Brandywine) and it'd be great to group with you guys.

Instead of calling it a mini-van, just think of it as an extended compact.

It sounds like a very functional decision, hold your head high as you remind yourself that you did it for your family. Maybe you have the dvd system with AV inputs so you can plug in a console for gaming-on-the-go. "Honey, can you drive? I've got to finish up my 'review' for the website." or "Honey, just drive around the block one more time, I'm almost at the save point."

On Mount&Blade, one very small feature, that I think is cool, is how pathfinding/tracking is implemented on the overworld map. Basically when any group moves on the map they leave a series of tracks (colored arrows) that fade away as time passes. The amount of fade gives you an idea of how far you are from your target. As you follow a track and it brightens, you get that sense that you are getting closer to your target. If you have an npc skilled in tracking, you can leverage these to find and catchup to/overcome other lord's war parties on the map. Its a very small feature compared to something like the beauty of the combat mechanics, but not one I've ever seen before.

Try the demo already!

a minivan eh? at least it ain't a station wagon.

Snaggle-Toof wrote:

What LotRO server are you playing on. I play quite frequently (on Brandywine) and it'd be great to group with you guys.

We're in Moria on Silverlode, but quite erratically.

On this show, when Mr. Andritch mentions that his wife wasn't fond of the controls in LittleBigPlanet, she immediately gets railroaded by the rest of the cast. Why are folks so defensive about LittleBigPlanet? I've heard, and have participated in, many discussions regarding the highest-profile titles of 2008; and on many, there's disagreement. Fallout 3, Dead Space, Fable 2, Left 4 Dead-- these games are critically-acclaimed, to be sure, but they have their detractors. Discussions between the folks that loved these games and the folks that didn't has sometimes been heated, from my experience, but even then it always stayed rational and sensible.

But LittleBigPlanet seems to inspire a different kind of discussion. On any site I've visited, whenever someone says that they don't understand what's so great about LittleBigPlanet, the response is usually confusion. "How could you possibly not like this game?!" John Luedtke from Drunken Gamers Radio even went so far as to say this, on his show; and while I usually respect his opinion, it's hard to take someone seriously when their response to criticism of a game is so empty and juvenile. Granted, he may have been drunk-- but even so, he's ordinarily a fairly well-spoken guy who's always up for having an intelligent discussion about a game, any game.

So what is it about LittleBigPlanet that inspires this sort of reaction to folks that didn't think it was one of the best games of 2008? Perhaps, for some, this game fills a niche that had long been neglected; and when other folks challenge its appeal, those who love the game interpret that challenge as a call for the continued neglect of that niche. What do you folks think?

rabbit wrote:
Snaggle-Toof wrote:

What LotRO server are you playing on. I play quite frequently (on Brandywine) and it'd be great to group with you guys.

We're in Moria on Silverlode, but quite erratically.

Now how do you have 50+ characters in a game that I thought you guys didn't play past the 30s in? Connections? If indeed you do have connections, you should transfer on over to Brandywine

Nijhazer wrote:

[...]LittleBigPlanet seems to inspire a different kind of discussion. On any site I've visited, whenever someone says that they don't understand what's so great about LittleBigPlanet, the response is usually confusion. "How could you possibly not like this game?!"

I'll preface this by saying that I've never played LittleBigPlanet or even seen video of it in action. I don't have a PS3, and I'm not likely to get one any time soon.

I've noticed something similar to what you described insofar as two games are concerned: LittleBigPlanet and Braid. They seem to be the most polarizing games of the year, and I think that has a lot to do with what they're trying for: a redefinition of what games are and can be. When people are talking about Dead Space or Fallout 3, they're debating established modes of gaming; they're almost discussing how well-executed the games are as examples of their particular genres rather than discussing the games themselves. LittleBigPlanet and Braid, meanwhile, are trying to do something new (creation-as-game and "games-as-art," respectively), and the new and the radical will always inspire greater loyalty and thus more passionate discussion.

adam.greenbrier wrote:

When people are talking about Dead Space or Fallout 3, they're debating established modes of gaming; they're almost discussing how well-executed the games are as examples of their particular genres rather than discussing the games themselves. LittleBigPlanet and Braid, meanwhile, are trying to do something new (creation-as-game and "games-as-art," respectively), and the new and the radical will always inspire greater loyalty and thus more passionate discussion.

Extremely insightful and I think dead-on.

I think there's not only an issue of self-defined-context but how well they deliver both with and without that context. They both deliver on the out-of-context part well, but differently. Braid is an innovative platformer, even if you skipped every ounce of story and written content. LBP, while extraordinarily polished is less innovative in its pure gameplay mechanics. Taken *in* context as you said, my opinion is they deliver quite differently. I think Braid fails more than it succeeds (although the level of discourse it engenders perhaps makes it a phenomenal success, regardless), and LBP succeeds more than it fails (although not without reservations, and perhaps less relevance: how many people are actually experiencing the creation component?)

'n' stuff.

Edit: Doubled

Birth of America is a great game, much simpler than their subsequent titles and is therefore more elegant. But all of their self-developed games using this engine have something to recommend them. (BoA II: Wars in America has more going on, but is a nice sequel.)

What Sands didn't mention was how attractive the game is. It has some of the best use of color and unit design that I've seen in a wargame in a very long time. It does take a while to suss out how to best use your leaders and their special abilities. But few games do as good a job underlining the seasonal nature of 18th century warfare and the importance of keeping from being outmaneuvered in a strategic sense.

In re the email about Valkyria Chronicles: The guy writing the email is getting obsessive over a unit falling, not dying. When your health hits zero, you fall down and have three rounds to run over to the unit and call in the medic. If you don't call in a medic in that time (or if a bad guy gets to em first) that unit is then officially dead and completely out of the game (with the exception of main characters, which just go back to headquarters or whatever).

So, the guy in the email is being obsessive over having a unit's health drop to zero not that they actually die (as he never lets it get there). That is above and beyond being obsessive in that game as I have no idea how you can get through the game without someone's health dropping to zero. That's insane and I can't imagine how anyone would enjoy the game with having such high expectations for a battle.

Anyway, moving on . . .

garion333 wrote:

In re the email about Valkyria Chronicles: The guy writing the email is getting obsessive over a unit falling, not dying. When your health hits zero, you fall down and have three rounds to run over to the unit and call in the medic. If you don't call in a medic in that time (or if a bad guy gets to em first) that unit is then officially dead and completely out of the game (with the exception of main characters, which just go back to headquarters or whatever).

So, the guy in the email is being obsessive over having a unit's health drop to zero not that they actually die (as he never lets it get there). That is above and beyond being obsessive in that game as I have no idea how you can get through the game without someone's health dropping to zero. That's insane and I can't imagine how anyone would enjoy the game with having such high expectations for a battle.

Anyway, moving on . . .

Welcome, fellow Colorado Springs-er!

So far it seems like there's not many games coming out in 2009 that interest me, besides Resident Evil 5 and Tekken 6. Not that I'm complaining, as my pile of shame keeps getting bigger.

As for Fire Emblem, I have it for the GBA and am afraid to play more of it past the tutorial since I'm terrible at TRPGs and absolutely hate having to reload games at the last save point if I've already invested so much time getting to where I was.

rabbit wrote:

I think Braid fails more than it succeeds

Oh yeah? Well I think YOU fail more than you succeed! And so does your mom!

Sorry, was there something mentioned above about passionate yet juvenile discourse above? I must have missed that.

Dysplastic wrote:

Oh yeah? Well I think YOU fail more than you succeed! And so does your mom!

Well played sir.

Troy Goodfellow wrote:

I am here. Listen to me, oh mere mortals of strategy gaming.

That's it. I got a Sands and a Goodfellow, that means AGEOD gets $15.

So many jokes to make about the title "Mount and Blade," but so little time.

rabbit wrote:
rickyyo wrote:

So you blew off Banjo Kazooie with a quick N64 comment to get to rock band talk. I'm guessing you guys were time limited. Oh well.

I played an hour, it really didn't grab me. I wasn't enchanted by the story, and there was nothing interesting about the gameplay. Was there something about BK that's NOT really just derivative of the N64 game?

We are talking about Nuts and Bolts, right? The entire vehicle building aspect works astonishingly well once you get some parts to work with, and play past restrictive the tutorial levels. Though it's couched in a "collect objects by completing objectives" formula, the core gameplay is really about designing how your character controls for each individual task, which is totally crazy and unique. When I start a level, figure out what it wants you to do, and go into the vehicle builder to create something that works uniquely well for whatever task you've been given, and succeed with flying colors, it gives me a kind of feeling that no other game has managed to produce this year.

Here's an example and then I'm done: For one jiggy, I had to knock a ball 200 yards. It was situated up on a plateau, so there wasn't much space to build up speed. I designed a plane that I could press a button and drop the wings off, making it into an extremely speedy car. I fly around to build up speed, align myself drop out of the sky, and plow into it, succeeding reasonably well. As i was typing this, I realized I could do a lot better job with some of the new parts I gathered earned, and I'll probably return to it tonight to see if I can do even better.

rabbit wrote:
Snaggle-Toof wrote:

What LotRO server are you playing on. I play quite frequently (on Brandywine) and it'd be great to group with you guys.

We're in Moria on Silverlode, but quite erratically.

Whoa, my Moria characters are on Silverlode! I realize this is kinda a quick, semi-private experience for you guys (*cough, getting hooked up with high lvl toons, cough)- but can we casually group sometime?

My toon's name is Darco. What are your character names? If you can, friend me up!

Cbirdsong wrote:

Here's an example and then I'm done: For one jiggy, I had to knock a ball 200 yards. It was situated up on a plateau, so there wasn't much space to build up speed. I designed a plane that I could press a button and drop the wings off, making it into an extremely speedy car. I fly around to build up speed, align myself drop out of the sky, and plow into it, succeeding reasonably well. As i was typing this, I realized I could do a lot better job with some of the new parts I gathered earned, and I'll probably return to it tonight to see if I can do even better.

This is a game that I had zero interest in playing, but your description here has piqued my interest enough that I've added it to my GameFly queue. Well done. It sounds to me like it's a cousin to something like Fantastic Contraption, and that is one of my favorite games of the last few years.

Cbirdsong wrote:

We are talking about Nuts and Bolts, right?

Nope. He meant the N64 port that was released on Xbox Live. Nuts and Bolts is on my list of games to play ... eventually.

I like the conflict and anger at the beginning. More! More!

Also, I think I had more to say, but I've forgotten it now that I've gotten to the end of the podcast. If only it was shorter!

You know, until recently I wasn't too hyped about Alpha Protocol either. Seemed relatively generic, sort of like a mass effect ripoff in a different world, and none of the preview footage had really attracted me.

But then I learned that Chris Avellone is lead writer.

Day one.