GWJ Conference Call Episode 119

Conference Call

Red Alert 3, Fable 2 DLC Pack, Crayon Physics, The Recession and The Gaming Industry, Your Emails, Voicemails and more!

This week we tackle the economy and how the recession may impact the gaming industry and the games we actually play. It's more interesting than it sounds, I promise! We also announce Sean Sands' next Horizon Broadening Game and discuss the ending of Gravity Bone. 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

"Small Comfort" - Apoplexia (Benoit Casey) - http://www.cerebrimusic.com - 0:36:40
"Luna Machine" (Benoit Casey) - http://www.cerebrimusic.com - 1:00:25

Comments

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So the problem with Gravity Bone is that it's a game that's not... a game?

I think that Certis has missed some Knothole Island content. There are three major quests on the island, and you have to leave the island to trigger them. This isn't really made obvious, but when you go back to Bowerstone, the next quest will be activated. The second and third quests are not very different from the one you've already done, but the shrines are built around a different weather theme.

So it's probably 90 minutes rather than 30. I don't know whether that'll change your opinion of its value for money though.

Your comments about the recession making gamers change their buying habits matched my behaviour almost exactly.

For the last few years I've bought a couple of boxed games and maybe one download a month. I was prepared to take a risk with games. But since I started to worry about the security of my job I've made a conscious decision to cut that right down. If things were like last year I'd definitely have bought Mirror's Edge, Left4Dead and Prince of Persia just to see if they're fun. As it is, I've just been playing my Christmas present copy of Fallout 3. Next month, after a lot of reading around, I'll pick up Valkyria Chronicles because I'm sure I'll like it and it'll last a long time, especially with the DLC.

Perhaps the games industry doesn't fare so badly in a recession because the reduction in sales to hardcore gamers is balanced by casual gamers trading down from more expensive pastimes?

pneuman wrote:

So the problem with Gravity Bone is that it's a game that's not... a game?

I think you'll find that it is a game. Much like Fallout 3 is a game... it's probably a very strong game...

DudleySmith wrote:

There are three major quests on the island, and you have to leave the island to trigger them.

Damn I didn't notice this either, I thought I'd been skanked. Thanks!

I'm totally with Elysium on this! I don't get why everyone thinks Gravity Bone is so awesome.

AP Erebus wrote:
pneuman wrote:

So the problem with Gravity Bone is that it's a game that's not... a game?

I think you'll find that it is a game. Much like Fallout 3 is a game... it's probably a very strong game...

The ending is functionally no different from failing the jumping puzzle in the second mission, or falling off the stairs in the first mission. If there's no victory condition, it's not a game as the term is typically understood. It's an interactive story.

We talk a LITTLE about it in this episode, I promise.

Ok, so when's the Lord of the Rings Online talk happening? You promised me!!!

EDIT: Just listened, I'll shut up now.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

The ending is functionally no different from failing the jumping puzzle in the second mission, or falling off the stairs in the first mission. If there's no victory condition, it's not a game as the term is typically understood. It's an interactive story.

Or it's simply a very short tragedy.

You could equally argue that completing Mirror's Edge is functionally no different from throwing yourself to your death: it's game over either way. The difference between falling off the stairs or screwing up that annoying jumping puzzle is that the finale's function is to give perspective.

rabbit wrote:

We talk a LITTLE about it in this episode, I promise.

EEEE!!!!

More I tells ya!!

Brief buyer beware statement regarding Crayon physics if you choose to go the iphone route. There is a knock off game called 'touch physics' that looks identical to crayon physics but doesn't have half the functionality and is higher rated (at least on the UK iphone store). Don't do what I did and buy 'touch physics' and think it's a little boring and limited. Get 'crayon physics deluxe' it's a lot better.

This message brought to you by the tired-gamers-shouldn't-be-allowed-access-to-their-credit-cards-society

Regarding the session play, I had the idea, and I'm plan on posting this in the suggestion forum eventually, of fellowship session play (session play with 6 people total, for those of you who don't speak lotro). This would allow players of all levels in a kinship (guild) to get together and play some fun content while leveling the playing field. This full group session play could be various moments from Middle Earth lore and could give certain rewards such as cosmetic items, house decorations or cool titles.

Oh yea, it's ok if one of you GWJ poobahs wants to sell this to the devs directly

DudleySmith wrote:

I think that Certis has missed some Knothole Island content. There are three major quests on the island, and you have to leave the island to trigger them. This isn't really made obvious, but when you go back to Bowerstone, the next quest will be activated. The second and third quests are not very different from the one you've already done, but the shrines are built around a different weather theme.

So it's probably 90 minutes rather than 30. I don't know whether that'll change your opinion of its value for money though.

Are the insides of the shrines much different as far as experience with the first one goes? I can't say I'd be super excited about doing that same style dungeon area with those "puzzles" two more times.

Love the podcast

Just so you know, you are listed in the Zune Marketplace, that's how I subscribed when I first started listening.

Insectecutor wrote:
doubtingthomas396 wrote:

The ending is functionally no different from failing the jumping puzzle in the second mission, or falling off the stairs in the first mission. If there's no victory condition, it's not a game as the term is typically understood. It's an interactive story.

Or it's simply a very short tragedy.

You could equally argue that completing Mirror's Edge is functionally no different from throwing yourself to your death: it's game over either way. The difference between falling off the stairs or screwing up that annoying jumping puzzle is that the finale's function is to give perspective.

I haven't played Mirror's edge, but if the game ends with your character falling to her death and then the credits roll, then the ending is no different than just failing one of the jumping puzzles and quitting. If the ending involves her somehow triumphing over the forces aligned against her, then it's different.

Maybe I just can't wrap my neanderthal brain around the idea that I should bother playing a game that I can't win. Fair enough. I don't like movies or books that crap on the main characters in the end either, and I know there are tons of people who can't stand books or movies that don't crap on the main characters in the end. Different tastes.

One thing I absolutely do not want to see is a lot of development in "tragic games," though. If I'm going to spend six, eight, twenty hours stepping into the shoes of a character, there better dang well be some kind of payoff at the end other than a big flipped bird. Telling me to solve puzzles, avoid perils and survive dangers only to throw up the equivalent of a line of text at the end saying "...and everything you just did was for nothing" is not something I want. Maybe other people do, but somehow I doubt it's a big market.

Now if somebody modded Gravity Bone so you could at least attempt to shoot the other spy and make her fall off the building, that I could get behind. I don't mind there being a bad ending, but a bad ending shouldn't be your reward for doing everything the game asked you to do.

The saving grace here was the game was short. If I had invested more than fifteen minutes in the game, I would have been angry instead of mildly annoyed. But whether the game is five minutes or forty hours long, crapping on the player is bad form.

For Elysium:

If you think the world you live in has gone crazy. Here is something thing that tastes like Grant Morrison.

http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=...

Just so you know, there are bunny slippers.

Up here in Canada, EB Games isn't the only major retailer that sells used games. Recently Futureshop started buying games back and selling them used: http://www.futureshop.ca/marketing/u...

HMV in the UK is also supposed to be dabbling into used games, but I'm not sure if that will happen in their Canadian locations.

Good show guys, i'm looking forward to The Witcher exercise next month. I only played until the second chapter of that game before putting it down in favour of waiting until the expanded content patch was released.... now i have a reason to go back to it and i therefore must make the time to play it.

I also wanted to say that i think Elysium(?) was wrong on his thinking of the impact of the secondary games market on the retail side of things.... but then i was angered by his interruption of Rabbit when he was trying to get his point across

Pro tip for Rabbit: Go for the eyes!

Good Show. As for puzzles in games I have to say I really enjoyed Fallout 3's Hacking word puzzles. Although a few of them I just guessed.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention on the used games discussion, in the UK there are 5 retailers off the top of my head (Game, Gamestation, Gamespot, HMV and Computer exchange) that actively pursue the second hand market (although game and gamestation are owned by the same parent company). Those are the high st. or franchise retailers. I have never been into a specialist games retailer that DIDN'T trade in second hand titles (and almost always import titles as well) so there certainly isn't the single retailer scenario that you guys seem to have for the used games market.

I can't imagine the loss of the used games market...none of the chavs would have anywhere to buy games if that vanished...or sell off their stolen copies...

I realized I didn't pimp boardgameswithscott.com nearly enough. He's the only person in the world that can teach a complex game in 10 minutes, and his reviews have never, ever, not once failed me. He's also a super nice and nerdy dude, and I think he's even a listener (Hi Scott!) He, more than anyone else, wields the BoardGame axe.

I love you guys. Let that be said up front, because the rest of this post is going to be pretty harsh.

Whenever the subject of challenge in gaming comes up, your responses are usually that the correct path for developers is to give gamers an easy way out. Mr. Murdoch complains bitterly that the developers of Braid asked him to discover the solutions to puzzles on his own rather than looking at a walkthrough, Mr. Andritch says that games should provide multiple layers of hints to players throughout, Mr. Sands feels that the childlike simplicity of Spyro should be the future for platformers and that more challenging games like Ninja Gaiden only exist to screw it all up for everyone else...

Is this really the direction in which we want gaming to go? Do gamers at large really want to put an end to the concept of a universal challenge? Mr. Murdoch, you're a marathon runner, correct? And I'm not. I admire your diligence, determination, and physical fitness, and I hope to someday run in a marathon myself, but right now I top out at about three miles. Let's say you run in a marathon, and at the end, you get a medal. Even if you run ten marathons in a year, each of those medals is going to mean a lot to you, because you worked your ass off for them. Mr. Andritch even posts pictures on the site at the end of the year to prove that you no longer have an ass. If I run my measly three miles and I get the same medal, that is going to diminish the feeling of accomplishment you get from running the marathon.

The system that we have had in place for years now has been very effective: Developers present you with a challenge, and you as the player work to overcome it. In order to overcome the challenge, you may have to improve your skills, and this will require a time investment; but once you do overcome the challenge, it will be all the more satisfying as a result. If you decide that you don't want to make that investment, then you stop playing, and find another game that is more to your liking, because there are plenty of games out there for every kind of gamer. I enjoyed the hell out of Braid, because it gave me that sense of satisfaction that I crave whenever I realized the solution to one of its puzzles; but I can respect that not every gamer is going to want to take the time to figure out the puzzle on his own. What I can't respect is the notion that this degree of challenge should be considered bad game design.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

One thing I absolutely do not want to see is a lot of development in "tragic games," though. If I'm going to spend six, eight, twenty hours stepping into the shoes of a character, there better dang well be some kind of payoff at the end other than a big flipped bird. Telling me to solve puzzles, avoid perils and survive dangers only to throw up the equivalent of a line of text at the end saying "...and everything you just did was for nothing" is not something I want. Maybe other people do, but somehow I doubt it's a big market.

Come now, GTA IV was a tragedy and it was fantastic. Everything you did in that game was pretty much for nothing when all's said and done.

Plus I think a tragic ending, even an ending when the character you're playing dies, is perfectly acceptable and I wouldn't want to rule it out. It's about the journey.

Edit: Oh and in response to Nijhazer and the others discussing challenge in games: surely rule #1 of game design is that difficulty should ramp up as you progress. A game with no challenge by the final stages just shows that the developers had no confidence in their story and no faith in their audience. Games should start easy and get tricky once the player is invested in the experience and this age-old law seems to be being eroded by a couple of developers these days.

What is Rabbitcon?

I think listening to you guys talk about Gravity Bone was much more fun and enjoyable than playing the game.

Nijhazer wrote:

If I run my measly three miles and I get the same medal, that is going to diminish the feeling of accomplishment you get from running the marathon.

Interesting point, but it's not the same medal, is it? You'd know you didn't run a marathon, in the same way that you'd know that you used Easy mode, or took all the hints.

Wipeout HD is a recent example: the campaign in the initial release became impossibly hard for new players about halfway through, so a lot of players wouldn't be able to unlock the later tracks. That's pretty broken, really. So the developers patched in skill levels for all races: you can still play on Hard mode, and there are lots of trophies for playing on hard, but the less-skilled players can still see all the content.

garion333 wrote:

I think listening to you guys talk about Gravity Bone was much more fun and enjoyable than playing the game.

I agree but mostly because the game crashed on me 3 times, once during the final cut scene.

=> playing The Witcher

I enjoyed the game as a whole (love RPG) but I was disappointed with the language used in the bar (quite an eye opener having a 5.1 sound system and having the family ask you why that person was interested in the familial familiarity with his pet)...

Of course there's the cards... I'm just used to good clean RPG like Baldur's Gate.

rabbit wrote:

I realized I didn't pimp boardgameswithscott.com nearly enough. He's the only person in the world that can teach a complex game in 10 minutes, and his reviews have never, ever, not once failed me. He's also a super nice and nerdy dude, and I think he's even a listener (Hi Scott!) He, more than anyone else, wields the BoardGame axe.

And wears the boardgame kilt at the same time. Dangerous combo.

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