GWJ Conference Call Episode 128

Conference Call

Resident Evil 5, World of Goo, The Path, Julian Hates Empire: Total War, Gaming on The Fringe, A New Contest!, Your Emails and more!

This week we get back to basics and tackle fringe gaming. Gaming systems vs. environments, how it informs the mainstream and what the future may hold. We're also launching a new contest this week! To win a Steam copy of Empire: Total War just listen to the audio file submitted by TempestBlayze and send your answers to [email protected]! 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

REDONE "Parker's Root Beer" - (Eric Carl) - www.sans-concept.com - 0:32:10
"Natural Mother" - For Rest - (Adam Emanon) - www.myspace.com/nonameadam - 0:59:00

Comments

Oh man, those game sound samples brought back some waves of nostalgia.

I think instead there was just a casual inference that because Rabbit thought The Path had no merit, the only reason it had gotten press was because it was arty and stylish. That the people who enjoyed this game were somehow fooled into enjoying it.

I don't expect the Podcast to be a fair look at the issue, obviously it's just a bunch of dudes talking about games. I just wanted to point out the inference there, the people who enjoyed The Path were not fooled by style. They enjoyed the style.

What's funny is that the same was strongly implied about the love Julian, Rob and I had for Flower by Cory and others. I don't think a strong negative reaction to something other people enjoy immediately implies that those who do are fools or otherwise.

It may feel that way, but we make an assumption during any given conversation that opinions are personal and that other people will have different experiences. Trying to make all those kind of qualifications in an active conversation just bogs things way down.

I feel like rabbit got yelled at a lot in this podcast.

Poor rabbit.

I don't know why, but for a second I thought Elysium was going to start busting out "What's Love Got To Do With It?" when they were talking about the game Love.

PyromanFO wrote:

Rabbit are you on cocaine? The Path isn't even pretty? I feel like you're playing an entirely different game than I am.

That is the one bit I didn't understand. The Path is a very, very, very pretty game.

Everything else that Rabbit said, though, I can get behind, even though I loved the game. It is slow. It is meandering. It is dreary. It makes you feel uncomfortable, and then it makes you feel awful. It is a game that you must intentionally engage with, and I certainly don't think less of people who are unwilling or unable to get anything out of it - there's plenty of other things you could be doing with your time.

But there is beauty to it, and there is power to it's ability to make you think and feel, once you let it. While it is easy to play it and get nothing out of it, I don't think it follows that there is nothing there. Much of the internet seems to be too afraid of the slightest hint of pretension, and that worries me because it causes a reflexive lashing out at ambition. I don't think that's what Rabbit is doing, but it does seem to be the prevailing mood toward this game.

Switchbreak wrote:

But there is beauty to it, and there is power to it's ability to make you think and feel, once you let it. While it is easy to play it and get nothing out of it, I don't think it follows that there is nothing there. Much of the internet seems to be too afraid of the slightest hint of pretension, and that worries me because it causes a reflexive lashing out at ambition. I don't think that's what Rabbit is doing, but it does seem to be the prevailing mood toward this game.

Very well put Switch. I couldn't agree more.

What's funny is that the same was strongly implied about the love Julian, Rob and I had for Flower by Cory and others. I don't think a strong negative reaction to something other people enjoy immediately implies that those who do are fools or otherwise.

I didn't particularly think it's personal, but it was one of the topics of the podcast that Rabbit and Elysium felt games like The Path were getting press not because of merit but instead because of atmosphere and edginess. I never thought it was personal, but it did kind of piss me off. Because whether it's me or Tom Chick or the guys over at RPS, I don't think any of us were being that vague in espousing why we enjoyed The Path. At least I hope I wasn't, but I know Chick specifically was very clear upfront that he wasn't even sure it was a game, but that he enjoyed it anyway and here's why.

I think it's fair game to refute a major topic of the podcast, though I do agree I don't want anybody to think that I feel it's some kind of personal slight. In fact if he were just calling me lazy I don't think I'd really care, it was the idea that cheerleading for The Path was somehow misguided by it's edginess or style instead of it's substance. What do you mean? The style was the point! What other game lets you build a surrealist hell for a character then explore it's consequences? That's precisely what I enjoyed about it. That is it's substance. Not the fact that the flight physics were really cool or that it was a truly deep simulation. It didn't simulate anything, it was surreal.

I really don't think that people who go out on a limb for games like The Path are misguided by trying to be edgy and beat all the cool kids to the fringes of gaming. I put these games on the front page because I enjoy them, and I think other people will too. I find the idea that the fringes of indie gaming have become so cool that people are praising them just because they're edgy completely laughable. When I can walk into a bar and pick up a chick because of my indie gaming cred, I'll concede the point. Until then, I'll have to disagree with Rabbit on the motivations for praising games like The Path.

*edit*

Dysplastic wrote:
Switchbreak wrote:

But there is beauty to it, and there is power to it's ability to make you think and feel, once you let it. While it is easy to play it and get nothing out of it, I don't think it follows that there is nothing there. Much of the internet seems to be too afraid of the slightest hint of pretension, and that worries me because it causes a reflexive lashing out at ambition. I don't think that's what Rabbit is doing, but it does seem to be the prevailing mood toward this game.

Very well put Switch. I couldn't agree more.

Bravo. Oh wait that's pretentious. I meant "Booyah!"

I really don't think that people who go out on a limb for games like The Path are misguided by trying to be edgy and beat all the cool kids to the fringes of gaming. I put these games on the front page because I enjoy them, and I think other people will too. I find the idea that the fringes of indie gaming have become so cool that people are praising them just because they're edgy completely laughable. When I can walk into a bar and pick up a chick because of my indie gaming cred, I'll concede the point. Until then, I'll have to disagree with Rabbit on the motivations for praising games like The Path.

I might have to listen to that segment again, I don't remember rabbit saying anything close to that.

PyromanFO wrote:

When I can walk into a bar and pick up a chick because of my indie gaming cred, I'll concede the point.

Pure gold.

I unfortunately can only recognize one of those four songs and will have to just pay my money for the game. Curses!

Certis wrote:
I really don't think that people who go out on a limb for games like The Path are misguided by trying to be edgy and beat all the cool kids to the fringes of gaming. I put these games on the front page because I enjoy them, and I think other people will too. I find the idea that the fringes of indie gaming have become so cool that people are praising them just because they're edgy completely laughable. When I can walk into a bar and pick up a chick because of my indie gaming cred, I'll concede the point. Until then, I'll have to disagree with Rabbit on the motivations for praising games like The Path.

I might have to listen to that segment again, I don't remember rabbit saying anything close to that.

Pyroman's impression of the conversation was mine as well: that The Path and other games were being praised because they were on "the edge" rather than for their artistic merits. I'll re-listen to that segment as well, but I wanted to note that Pyroman isn't alone in his impressions.

Well, at 12 minutes Elysium talks about the reviews in general, maybe that's what you mean? He actually goes out of his way to say that he won't claim that reviews are wrong but he's not thrilled about them.

Maybe it's in the main topic ...

adam.greenbrier wrote:

I would say that Blizzard is following the Activision model with StarCraft 2. They didn't just commit to releasing a game a year, as Elysium pointed out, but they've committed to release the same game three times over the course of the next three years. What's really the difference between Guitar Hero: Metallica and StarCraft 2: Protoss?

I'm not following you on this...Starcraft 2 was broken out into a trilogy as a choice in the course of its development because they couldn't / didn't want to cram all the ongoing plotline and new unit features, etc into 1 title (and certainly not at the expected price-point of the average user). ...Guitar Hero not so much- it has new songs and a few variations on the mechanics but you could never say, "man, we just couldn't fit all of what makes guitar-hero what it is into a single disk...we just had to break it out into a hundred different releases"...

Certis wrote:

Well, at 12 minutes Elysium talks about the reviews in general, maybe that's what you mean? He actually goes out of his way to say that he won't claim that reviews are wrong but he's not thrilled about them.

Maybe it's in the main topic ...

I'm just saying that's how it ended up sounding. Not sure if they were trying to make that point or not. Glad to see I'm not in crazy town. At least about this.

I just find the pretentiousness blowback on The Path to be kind of odd and it seems to be based on the assumption that the people who are enjoying and talking about these games are doing it because they enjoy the pretentiousness. I don't, I enjoy the game. Or whatever the hell it is.

Dax wrote:
adam.greenbrier wrote:

I would say that Blizzard is following the Activision model with StarCraft 2. They didn't just commit to releasing a game a year, as Elysium pointed out, but they've committed to release the same game three times over the course of the next three years. What's really the difference between Guitar Hero: Metallica and StarCraft 2: Protoss?

I'm not following you on this...Starcraft 2 was broken out into a trilogy as a choice in the course of its development because they couldn't / didn't want to cram all the ongoing plotline and new unit features, etc into 1 title (and certainly not at the expected price-point of the average user). ...Guitar Hero not so much- it has new songs and a few variations on the mechanics but you could never say, "man, we just couldn't fit all of what makes guitar-hero what it is into a single disk...we just had to break it out into a hundred different releases"...

I'm taking a somewhat more cynical view of this than you are. Granted, the three StarCraft 2 games could all end up being wildly different, but the business model in both cases seems to be the same: release the same game multiple times at full price with different content. I don't see how a pack of new Metallica songs and some new mechanics is much different from a pack of new Protoss maps and some new mechanics.

Podunk wrote:
PyromanFO wrote:

When I can walk into a bar and pick up a chick because of my indie gaming cred, I'll concede the point.

Pure gold.

Hey, have you read this series of posts at Hit Self Destruct? They made me giggle.

Switchbreak wrote:

Much of the internet seems to be too afraid of the slightest hint of pretension, and that worries me because it causes a reflexive lashing out at ambition. I don't think that's what Rabbit is doing, but it does seem to be the prevailing mood toward this game.

Similar to kids in school who are first in class, they're called nerds.

I guess it all comes down to blending in-- society wants you to blend in. The same seems to apply to games and their makers now.

Make something that stands out and goes against the grain and people will say it's pretentious.

*shrugs*

Certis wrote:

Well, at 12 minutes Elysium talks about the reviews in general, maybe that's what you mean? He actually goes out of his way to say that he won't claim that reviews are wrong but he's not thrilled about them.

Maybe it's in the main topic ...

For me, it was Rabbit's comment around the 40:47 mark. He segues from a comment about The Path into one about not being opposed to art house games (he uses Passage as an example of an acceptable art house game) and then says this: "We've come to the point where we're now, in a way, aggrandizing the edge no matter what's on the edge." Elysium responds, "Right. I think that's exactly it." Given the context of the comment, it seemed like he was saying that Passage was a good art house game but that The Path was being aggrandized simply because it was on the edge.

You're welcome to your perception of course, but I think you're projecting a certain amount of defensiveness onto the podcast because the hosts didn't like the game. No one made any generalizations about people who like the game and the focus was primarily on the quality of The Path as an experience, not on the people who enjoy it or why they do.

Pardon my belaboring the point, but I think we're often willingly misinterpreted because someone has a beef with what they perceive as an overriding perception out there on the Internet that doesn't actually fit with what's being presented.

n' stuff.

I'm not trying to belabor a point here, either, but you don't see how a comment about how the gaming community (which it what I took Rabbit's "we" to mean as it didn't seem to be self-reflective) is "aggrandizing the edge no matter what's on the edge" in the context of a conversation about The Path to be a generalization about the people who enjoyed The Path and why they might have enjoyed it, i.e., because it's "on the edge"?

I'm not saying that this is the view you hold or that Rabbit holds, and I wasn't aware that the game hadn't been well-received throughout the Internet. I was, however, trying to point out the comment or comments that might have lead Pyroman, and did lead me, to believe that that was the view held by at least Rabbit and Elysium. I think it was probably just an odd choice of words, but I also don't think my interpretation is that unreasonable or irrational or that I'm willingly misrepresenting anyone in order to make a point.

Edit: 'n stuff, also. I'm not really that worked up about this, Certis, so I'm sorry if I'm coming across that way. I'm just a stickler for trying to get everyone to understand where all of the parties might be coming from in a disagreement even if they remain in disagreement.

Certis wrote:

Well, at 12 minutes Elysium talks about the reviews in general, maybe that's what you mean? He actually goes out of his way to say that he won't claim that reviews are wrong but he's not thrilled about them.

Maybe it's in the main topic ...

Still pissed he didn't start singing like Tina Turner.

Someone once pointed out to me that another way to look at the "system vs. environment" question is to break games down into "content consumption" vs. "gameplay execution" modes.

Most games have some of both, although most are also more bent in one direction or the other.

For example:

- Final Fantasy 12 or KOTOR: content
- Counterstrike or L4D: execution

Also, one other recent game that introduced a fairly novel mechanic and hit it big was Katamari Damacy. And maybe arguably guitar hero and its ilk.

I stand by my n' stuff. I don't think one small aside in the middle of a 20 minute conversation is a "stab at thee" sort of thing, but I do of course see where you're coming from.

For the record, that was ALL Elysium and rabbit, I'm on your side.

So for the RE5 playing Sean + Shev- I mean Cory I'd like to hear how the Wii control RE game experiences go for you and maybe how you feel about the other games if you make it all the way through. Will you wait for the early RE games in the series to come to Wii or will you go ahead and just pick up RE4 right away? I heard a lot of impressions of people ending up wanting Wii controls in RE5 after finishing it. I'd like to know how it ends up for you, down the road. I personally have a very hard time transitioning back to analog stick controls for most games after playing Wii games for long stretches.

Certis wrote:

You're welcome to your perception of course, but I think you're projecting a certain amount of defensiveness onto the podcast because the hosts didn't like the game. No one made any generalizations about people who like the game and the focus was primarily on the quality of The Path as an experience, not on the people who enjoy it or why they do.

Pardon my belaboring the point, but I think we're often willingly misinterpreted because someone has a beef with what they perceive as an overriding perception out there on the Internet that doesn't actually fit with what's being presented.

n' stuff.

'Course there's always the chance that you are just human-beings cranking out a ton of in-depth conversation on the fly, who's words cannot be meticulously dissected and quoted like some divine scripture.

Dax wrote:
Certis wrote:

You're welcome to your perception of course, but I think you're projecting a certain amount of defensiveness onto the podcast because the hosts didn't like the game. No one made any generalizations about people who like the game and the focus was primarily on the quality of The Path as an experience, not on the people who enjoy it or why they do.

Pardon my belaboring the point, but I think we're often willingly misinterpreted because someone has a beef with what they perceive as an overriding perception out there on the Internet that doesn't actually fit with what's being presented.

n' stuff.

'Course there's always the chance that you are just human-beings cranking out a ton of in-depth conversation on the fly, who's words cannot be meticulously dissected and quoted like some divine scripture. ;-)

I'm not sure what you're trying to imply here. Elysium 13:4 says that all of his words are divinely inspired.

I don't see that 30 minute "high production" independent Street Fighter IV link anywhere here...

I knew I shouldn't have listened to Rabbit pan Empire: Total War. As Certis mentioned, after so many iterations of the same basic battle AI I've stopped noticing the flaws that he mentioned. Unfortunately, this will make me see them again and drive me crazy.

Empire has no clothes!

I'm not ignoring this conversation, by the way. Truth told, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the whole thing, and there is a part of me that feels like people who may feel like they've seen it all in gaming, certainly describing many professionals, may give some subconscious bonus points to someone just for daring to be different. The problem with feeling like that is that then it becomes tough to distinguish between someone that I can tell clearly has a genuine connection with the game, like Pyro, and others.

I guess my fundamental problem continues to come down to the issue that many people seem to agree that The Path fails to be a good game. To me, when the art assets outweigh rather than complement the gaming, then we've wandered off the rails.

You can all just ignore my midlife crisis. Anytime people walk away from the show thinking "well, they just pissed on everyone who liked/hated Game X" I realize somehow I came across wrong. The "we" I used was in fact an "I" and was intended as a mea-culpa when I came up with the topic originally. I am wholly guilty of digging the weird simply because it's weird. Shock of the new and different. So if someone walked away thinking "Rabbit called everyone who liked the Path an idiot" then I clearly need to take up English as a second language.