GWJ Conference Call Episode 129

Conference Call


Uno Rush, DoW 2, Hasbro Family Game Night, Laser Face Jones, Let's Golf, Vampire Bloodlines, Quake Live, Underappreciated Technology, The Contest Winner, Your Emails and more!

This week Sean Sands puts on the hosting hat as the crew ruminates on old gaming technologies. Suck it, OnLive. 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) - 0:28:56
"Los Pistoleros" (Ian Dorsch) - 1:01:32

Comments

Man, when Rabbit said that 'most' people have a HD widescreen TV I got really hot under the collar.

I WISH i had a HD TV... or even a widescreen... just becuase you peoples in the US can't buy 4:3 anymore, doesn't mean that other countries are the same...

Rob said, but it kind of got lost in the discussion, that the analogue stick on the N64 wasn't really new. It was a return to the earlier conventions of the joystick.

We had a Ti99-4A that used a tape drive and a floppy drive. Nothing ever worked properly. It's amazing that home computing took off at all with magnetic media, they are all such a PITA.

MeatMan wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:
I nominate "Yo bitches! We gone!" to be the new official close of the show.

Seconded... only if said by Elysium.

I don't know, I think Certis will sound hilarious.

Rat Boy wrote:
Is it just me, or does the audio seem somewhat different?

Not sure about the overall sound, but there was definitely a slight digital distortion on Julian's voice when he spoke. Old school electronic music people will know what I mean when I say it sounds like an arppegiator.

jonnypolite wrote:
In reflection, i'm astonished that my mom was able to buy me that computer, given that she was a single parent working as a legal secretary. We didn't have a lot of money, and looking back, that was a significant outlay on a device that really had no productive use. But I learned so much from that thing, even doing some machine code on it. The 300 baud modem then opened up the world,

Your narrative brings back similar memories. How or why my single mom shelled out her hard-earned money for my first computer, a C-64, with that car-battery-sized 360k floppy disk drive no less (loading programs from a tape drive required unimaginable patience from what I remember) was beyond me! But in retrospect, it, and the 300 baud modem that followed opened doors to new experiences and kept me out of trouble for the most part.

Wish I could remember some of the games/diversions I would fool with on Compuserve, Genie, Prodigy, or the like. Acck! They say the memory is the first thing to go!

Anyways, it's a few weeks early, but yay Mom!

AP Erebus wrote:
Man, when Rabbit said that 'most' people have a HD widescreen TV I got really hot under the collar.

I WISH i had a HD TV... or even a widescreen... just becuase you peoples in the US can't buy 4:3 anymore, doesn't mean that other countries are the same...

Won't you have $900 to blow on a 32" LCD soon?

Elysium wrote:
Quake Live doesn't use flash.
Fallen Empire doesn't use flash.

Oh, I totally get that, but I think the point was that Flash built the foundation -- the proof of concept -- from which these other games are born. Instant Action doesn't use Flash either, for that matter, but I wonder if Flash hadn't come along would we see this kind of adoption of browser based gaming?

There's Java, but it never really took off for gaming the way that Flash did. There are some interesting proof-of-concept Java apps, like a full port of Quake 2 that runs very well, and had Flash not arrived, it's entirely possible that web-based gaming would've eventuated on top of Java instead. The beauty of Flash, though, is its excellent content creation tools -- it's much easier to have a designer putting together some graphics, and then animating them with some code, using Flash than it would be to write an equivalent app from scratch using Java.

Also, kudos to Rabbit for his shout out to the Amiga -- it really was the king of gaming systems, and computers, for a while there. I finally sold my Amiga 3000 on eBay a few months ago, and letting it go was definitely a bit of a sad moment.

On the split-screen issue: I suspect the email author was talking about this but prefers this or this or this.

Hans

Elysium wrote:
Quake Live doesn't use flash.
Fallen Empire doesn't use flash.

Oh, I totally get that, but I think the point was that Flash built the foundation -- the proof of concept -- from which these other games are born. Instant Action doesn't use Flash either, for that matter, but I wonder if Flash hadn't come along would we see this kind of adoption of browser based gaming?

I think Flash is important as a platform for "the internets" in general, but not specifically browser based gaming, as games like Runescape *shrug* were and are thriving without flash.

Wildtangent. WHO SAID THAT?!?

hidannik wrote:
On the split-screen issue: I suspect the email author was talking about this but prefers this or this or this.

Hans

Yes, thank you! I was curious if there was a discernible reason for the staggering in first-person shooters other than "One of these two screens is yours. If you can't figure out which one your controller is steering when you jiggle the viewpoint thumbstick, we've implemented this handy visual aid."

It's unfortunate enough that screen real-estate is going to be wasted, but worthwhile to maintain a proper aspect ratio for the player, hence the gaps on each side. After hearing the podcast, another gwj'er suggested that maybe the staggering in your first example may also help "break" the visual connection that draws the eye towards the middle of the screen, where getting confused apparently happens. (I understand --and sympathize-- with the confusion that Elysium has had in the past with round-robin 4-player action at parties, which is a totally different beast from the static 2-player split).

I think I'm the only person persnickety enough to put much thought into the reasoning for split-screen. I would really love the option of choosing vertical to horizontal depending on the screens being played on (For instance, there'd be a lot less wasted screen-space if I had the option of playing vertically on mine). However, as I think Cory mentioned, the number of people actually playing together in the same room just isn't that great for xbox games, so I think the split screen isn't given much thought.

Skyrider wrote:
Wish I could remember some of the games/diversions I would fool with on Compuserve, Genie, Prodigy, or the like. Acck! They say the memory is the first thing to go!

Kesmai. It was all about Kesmai on C$. Or GemStone on Genie, which I believe is STILL alive.

pneuman wrote:
AP Erebus wrote:
Man, when Rabbit said that 'most' people have a HD widescreen TV I got really hot under the collar.

I WISH i had a HD TV... or even a widescreen... just becuase you peoples in the US can't buy 4:3 anymore, doesn't mean that other countries are the same...

Won't you have $900 to blow on a 32" LCD soon? :)


Even better than that, i've already got $950 from centrelink and am expecting another $900 from the ATO

rabbit wrote:

Kesmai. It was all about Kesmai on C$. Or GemStone on Genie, which I believe is STILL alive.

Oh wow. Hearing that name brings back memories. Multiplayer Battletech Solaris via Kesmai on Compuserve. I think I only managed to play a few decent games due to a crappy internet connection (and the ever increasing phone bill) but the few victories remain as sweet sweet memories.

I'm almost done with the podcast, so I apologize if these two technologies were mentioned in the part I haven't gotten to yet. But as far as "underappreciated" technological innovations go, I've got two:

1) The D-pad. Gunpei Yokoi invented the d-pad for the Game & Watch systems in 1980, back in a time when all video games were either joystick or keyboard-driven. It's hard to appreciate the depth of that innovation now, after almost 30 years using the interface. But the D-pad was a stroke of simplicity and genius: Without it, not only would console gaming have never broken free of the Atari paddlewheel/joystick mode, we simply would not have handheld gaming, period. (After all, it's pretty hard to shove a joystick in your backpocket.) Poor Yokoi never gets enough credit for many things he did (everyone better remembers Miyamoto, possibly because he's still alive), but in my opinion, the d-pad was his most lasting achievement.

2) The Z-Machine. The Z-machine was a virtual machine that text adventure giant Infocom developed back in 1979. It essentially allowed one game to be portable for as many systems as you wanted, without having to rewrite all the code. Back in the home PC boom in the early 1980s, there were dozens of different makes and models of PCs; unlike many other platform-limited games, Infocom games could be played on almost all of the models on the market, because of the Z-machine. It's really hard to conceptualize something like that now--imagine a PS2 game that can be played on a DS that can also be played on a PC and an iPhone--but I think Flash gaming, like Elysium mentioned, is the Z-machine's spiritual successor (or at least it follows in the same vein).

@ iScoot, are you familiar with game demos? Not like a try-me demo, but a recording of a game that you can view in-engine. TF2 does them. Not as user friendly as Halos system, but does the same thing.

I don't think you guys mentioned Sound Cards as a huge innovation. The first time I heard an X-Wing laser blast or a TIE Fighter scream by I think I passed out from joy.

Damn, dice hate me.

The virtual boy is a pretty big guilty pleasure of mine. I got it when it first came out for christmas and only had two games for it, Tennis and Pinball, and I loved it a whole hell of a lot. I can look back and objectively see that it was a damn stupid system, but I had a hell of a good time with those games. The cameo appearance of Samus in Pinball really blew my tiny little mind at the time too. Never got a headache from it either.

I'd like to poke fun at the great GWJ guys for their discussion of split screen gaming. They didn't really understand what the e-mail question was talking about with staggered split screen, which you can see an example of here (http://www.destructoid.com/resident-...).

An interesting enough discussion of split screen gaming in general, but I was still yelling at the MP3 "You're doing it wrong!"

Good show though.

Good catch, KaterinLHC. The Z-Machine was wonderful! I spent hours trying to figure out Ballyhoo and Leather Goddess of Phobos. I must have purchased at least a half-dozen Infocom titles over those years. The distinctive lined, grey boxes have seared themselves into my memory. Scratch'n'Sniff anyone?
IMAGE(http://infocom.elsewhere.org/gallery/leather1th.jpg)

bradschl wrote:
I'd like to poke fun at the great GWJ guys for their discussion of split screen gaming. They didn't really understand what the e-mail question was talking about with staggered split screen, which you can see an example of here (http://www.destructoid.com/resident-...).

An interesting enough discussion of split screen gaming in general, but I was still yelling at the MP3 "You're doing it wrong!"

Good show though.

Yeah, I totally didn't get it, but now I do. And it seems pretty clear to me that's just a "well, we did it for SD, and it was too much effort to do it some other way too."

I haven't ever played split-screen like that (as they have it in RE5)... I'd be curious to try it though. When I tried split-screen on GoW I and Halo 3 I felt... constrained? Claustrophobic? I constantly felt like I was missing so much of the view - sure it was wide, but I missed (what has become natural to me) the full field of view at a normal ratio. I would have preferred side-by-side (versus top-bottom) or better, have the two screens treated as though they were individual displays (ala RE5).

Apparently folks don't much care of the full ratio (but smaller) screens?

HedgeWizard wrote:
I haven't ever played split-screen like that (as they have it in RE5)... I'd be curious to try it though. When I tried split-screen on GoW I and Halo 3 I felt... constrained? Claustrophobic? I constantly felt like I was missing so much of the view - sure it was wide, but I missed (what has become natural to me) the full field of view at a normal ratio. I would have preferred side-by-side (versus top-bottom) or better, have the two screens treated as though they were individual displays (ala RE5).

Apparently folks don't much care of the full ratio (but smaller) screens?

They seem to do it like that to preserve the aspect ratio you'd get playing by yourself, but to my mind it leaves just entirely way too much of the screen unused, and, yeah, feels pretty claustrophobic. Rainbow Six Vegas actually does a vertical split screen, so the whole screen space is used but your field of view is very limited. It's annoying at first, but after a while you get used to it, and I definitely prefer it too leaving nearly half of your screen space just black.

Coming in very late to beat an apparently dead horse, but Rob, I think I can describe the issue with The Path: It's like when you play a game with a child who tells you one set of rules while inventing new rules without telling you, who then laughs at you when you don't know the new rules they invented.

My main issue with the staggered split screen is that suddenly everything got so small. I really had trouble seeing the action in CoD:WaW because of it. I hope the staggered split-screen in COD:WaW and RE:5 doesnt become the new standard.

I haven't quite finished the podcast but one technology I thought of was pressure sensitive buttons, specifically I'm thinking of the L & R triggers on the Sega Dreamcast controller as first to mainstream this idea. I didn't have an N64 but I didn't think the Z button was pressure sensitive, correct me if I'm wrong on that.

And I think the the PS2 controller introduced pressure sensitive buttons to the face buttons.

Although I'm sure someone here knows some obscure precursor to the instances above.

When you guys revealed the answers to the contest, I could not believe that the first one wasn't Castlevania. I embarked on a quest to try and figure out which Castlevania song I was confusing it with. My conclusion: I believe a few of us thought ActRaiser's Filmore was Castlevania's Reincarnated Soul.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
Coming in very late to beat an apparently dead horse, but Rob, I think I can describe the issue with The Path: It's like when you play a game with a child who tells you one set of rules while inventing new rules without telling you, who then laughs at you when you don't know the new rules they invented.

It's Calvinball!

Minarchist wrote:
It's Calvinball!

But less egalitarian. Every player gets to make up rules in Calvinball, even Rosalind, thus it is played fairly.

RE: Spilitscreen hate and overall distaste.
I really just don't understand this. I've been doing split screen multiplayer for years and it's always been a blast and at worst someone gets lost for part of a match and it all is fine before that's done. I've always had a blast with it and the experience of being in a room with the same people and playing is something I don't feel online multiplayer has, or ever will come close to approaching. Just a few days ago some friends and I fired up a 4 player split screen game and lost track of time for at least 4 hours. I just hope split screen never dissapears b/c I find it to be so much more enjoyable.

MojoBox wrote:
They seem to do it like that to preserve the aspect ratio you'd get playing by yourself, but to my mind it leaves just entirely way too much of the screen unused, and, yeah, feels pretty claustrophobic. Rainbow Six Vegas actually does a vertical split screen, so the whole screen space is used but your field of view is very limited. It's annoying at first, but after a while you get used to it, and I definitely prefer it too leaving nearly half of your screen space just black.

I have a feeling the excuse is because they didn't want to do whatever programming was required to make the field of view wider. That or framerates started to drop. I say this because there are many games that have no problem, and look great, doing the extra wide top and bottom split screen.

I agree that if they don't do that, they should go the Rainbow Six Vegas route instead of the black lines.

Two technologies that sprung immediately to mind:

1. The Sega Channel: I remember reading about this in GamePro when I was a youth, and the prospect of exclusive content (Mega Man: The Wily Wars) streaming to my Genesis excited me more than pie, fireworks, and a perfect Spring day put together.

2. Working off a discussion that Shawn Elliott had on this week's Out of the Game about perspective in art, the development of the first person perspective. It's taken for granted, but at its introduction it created conversations about immersion in gameplay that continue to this day.

RE: The split screen discussion, I suppose that we should be glad that RE5 has split screen co-op at all. It's a rarity these days.

snorlax789 wrote:
RE: The split screen discussion, I suppose that we should be glad that RE5 has split screen co-op at all. It's a rarity these days.

Agreed! I fear that it might become a dying breed when there are still so many of us who really enjoy gaming in the same room with other people. I get the feeling sometimes that single-console in game co-op is viewed as "the old way" now that so many people play together remotely, and that it isn't something that is given much thought. Is that the case, or is it representative of the fact that many gamers don't like split-screen gaming, so it's getting phased out?

I was also very sore in the pants that Saints Row 2 can't be played two-player on the same console (someone, please prove me wrong about this! I hope I just missed this because I'm a dummy).