GWJ Conference Call Episode 135

Conference Call

Plants Vs. Zombies, Battlefield: Heroes, Free Realms CCG, A Spoiler Section Interview With Plants vs. Zombies Creator George Fan , Our Gaming Aversion Experiment, Your Emails and more!

We have a jam packed show this week as we dissect our gaming aversions and pledge to push our horizons out a bit further. We also have a special one on one interview with George Fan for all the folks who can't get enough of Plants Vs. Zombies! 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) - 0:31:04
"Los Pistoleros" (Ian Dorsch) - 0:58:51
"Uraniwa ni Zombies ga!" - PvZ Soundtrack (Laura Shigihara) - www.popcap.com/games/pvz - 1:51:53

Comments

The GWJ pvz frenzy continues apace i see.

Interview With Plants vs. Zombies Creator George Fan

Awesome. Please tell me someone asked him when the soundtrack will be released. I can't get the music out of my head!

Elysium: You're not the only one who disliked Blue Dragon. It was terrible. I would recommend one but I'm not sure about any of my suggestions. FWIW, my top JRPGs include FF6, Lost Odyssey, Chrono Trigger and Mother 3.

That soundtrack always makes me smile

About roguelikes, I don't agree with any of you, Certis if you are going to play one, play ADOM, wich is the best one out there, just because it's not a random game like nethack or rogue, it's a full RPG game, with ASCII characters on it.

It has story, objectives, and places are not random, you can take the good or evil path, or the I don't care path, it's an epic game, not a random Dungeon Crawler.

For Rabbit, how about playing Super Smash Bros Brawl for a fighting game? Oh! and I want to be Libertarian as well

Elysium: You're not the only one who disliked Blue Dragon. It was terrible. I would recommend one but I'm not sure about any of my suggestions. FWIW, my top JRPGs include FF6, Lost Odyssey, Chrono Trigger and Mother 3.

Oh dear, that wasn't Elysium, that was Rob. Elysium wasn't even on this week.

Ok, what's with effectively saying you can't question the awesomeness of Plants vs. Zombies? That's sure to get lots of complaints coming your way guys.

That was pretty cool covering old games, but don't forget to detail the game like you did with Sly Cooper, and not just give the price like Condemned 2. Now all I know of Condemned 2 is that I can get it for $10.

That was pretty cool covering old games, but don't forget to detail the game like you did with Sly Cooper, and not just give the price like Condemned 2. Now all I know of Condemned 2 is that I can get it for $10.

Well ... I kind of like playing the games before I talk about them. I'm weird that way.

I'll second the Soul Calibur 2 recommendation, especially on the XBox. Aside from being a good, solid fighting game, the inclusion of SPAWN as a playable character makes the Star Wars characters in 4 a little more understandable.

Regarding "player created content," I don't know if what City of Heroes offers you is really player created content any more than making something out of LEGOs is designing your own toy. You can do a lot of different things but in the end, it's building blocks. You can't use parts they didn't create for you. So when Rabbit compares this to Counterstrike, I think Certis is right to tone that back a bit. The Next Big Thing™ will never come out of one of these restricted toolsets.

Stupid little nitpick, but Demigod was $40 at retail from launch. It was only $50 when buying from the Demigod site/Impulse and that was because you were automatically getting the collector's edition, which was $50 at retail.

Great Episode. I have never really been into flight sims, but I have a joystick knocking around from when I used to play Battlefield 1942, so the podcast has convinced me to pick up Lk2.
Also, loved the interview. Very interesting. More please!

Sly 2 is great, you should enjoy it a lot. The first one was a lot of fun, too, but don't play Sly 3; it sucks.

It's nice to see the Horizons Broadening Project has legs, though. It can be tough to find that one game that can open your eyes to what's good about the genre, but when you finally find it, there's a whole slew of games that are opened up for your enjoyment. I'd typically recommend asking for suggestions from someone who isn't too much of a fan of the genre, though; those who champion it tend to have somewhat different tastes, and their recommendations can lead to frustration. Kind of like asking someone who only drinks Grand Cru burgundies what's the best wine for under $10.

Certis wrote:

Oh dear, that wasn't Elysium, that was Rob. Elysium wasn't even on this week.

Kinda weird that the guy who sparked the topic of the week wasn't even on the show.

Certis wrote:
That was pretty cool covering old games, but don't forget to detail the game like you did with Sly Cooper, and not just give the price like Condemned 2. Now all I know of Condemned 2 is that I can get it for $10.

Well ... I kind of like playing the games before I talk about them. I'm weird that way. ;)

You mean you actually played Bioshock!?

Oh and Lobster, what about the inclusion of Link on the Gamecube version of Soul Calibur 2? That to me makes a lot of funny crossover believable too. I actually preffered playing witht he Gamecube controller over the PS2 controller for this game, mostly b/c I could do all the double button attacks much easier, especially the ones that on the PS2 controller required you to press the bottom and top or left and right face buttons (square, x, triangle, circle whatever). I never played the Xbox version for more than a few rounds, though. Spawn didn't do it for me in the one match I used him for. I also mostly ignored Link and the PS2 crossover guy.

Kinda weird that the guy who sparked the topic of the week wasn't even on the show.

Schedules get tricksy during the summer. Besides, since I've already kinda got my own project for this, it wouldn't make a lot of sense for me to double up.

The moment that Portal caught me:

"First you will be baked, then there will be cake."

I stopped, restarted and played the section it again, so I could hear what GLaDOS said. Just to make sure I didn't hear it wrong. I spent most of the rest of the chambers moving cautiously around every corner because I thought something might burst out from the walls to bake me.

mrtomaytohead wrote:

Oh and Lobster, what about the inclusion of Link on the Gamecube version of Soul Calibur 2? That to me makes a lot of funny crossover believable too. I actually preffered playing witht he Gamecube controller over the PS2 controller for this game, mostly b/c I could do all the double button attacks much easier, especially the ones that on the PS2 controller required you to press the bottom and top or left and right face buttons (square, x, triangle, circle whatever). I never played the Xbox version for more than a few rounds, though. Spawn didn't do it for me in the one match I used him for. I also mostly ignored Link and the PS2 crossover guy.

Link is from a fantasy setting so I felt he fit a little better than Spawn/Darth Vader/etc., though their choice of keeping him in a Zelda art style rather than adapting him to a Soul Calibur style made him look like an alien. The PS2 one was Heihachi, and actual backstory aside he fit very well. If you weren't familiar with the character you probably wouldn't even know he was a "guest," which is how it should be.

Certis wrote:
Elysium: You're not the only one who disliked Blue Dragon. It was terrible. I would recommend one but I'm not sure about any of my suggestions. FWIW, my top JRPGs include FF6, Lost Odyssey, Chrono Trigger and Mother 3.

Oh dear, that wasn't Elysium, that was Rob. Elysium wasn't even on this week.

Oops! My bad, Rob. That's what I get for posting a comment at 1am. For all I know, Crazy Dave was on the show too.

Oh good god, I'd totally forgotten about that Everquest guild. We did a few of those quests. I remember they were mostly escort quests or "find the lost child" type things, with prizes out of our own bank accounts. Back in the EQ beta. That was a great guild, just a bunch of casual players who were mostly interested in making our own fun.

I'm sure quite a bit is the high gloss of nostalgia, but the EQ beta still stands out as the best online gaming experience I've ever had.

LobsterMobster wrote:

Link is from a fantasy setting so I felt he fit a little better than Spawn/Darth Vader/etc., though their choice of keeping him in a Zelda art style rather than adapting him to a Soul Calibur style made him look like an alien. The PS2 one was Heihachi, and actual backstory aside he fit very well. If you weren't familiar with the character you probably wouldn't even know he was a "guest," which is how it should be.

Except PS2-boy didn't have a weapon. Honestly, who brings only his fists to a sword-fight anyways?

Sorry, I completely disagree with you guys.

1) Digital download prices are doing nothing but going up, up, up, particularly on Xbox Live and PSN.

2) I will *never* be comfortable with owning DDs. If the next gen of consoles are DD only, I won't be buying them.

Disc only.

Lard wrote:

1) Digital download prices are doing nothing but going up, up, up, particularly on Xbox Live and PSN.

Do we really have enough data to draw out that kind of trend line? Sure, there was an across-the-board bump in XBLA after XNA Community Games (re: budget titles) were added to the marketplace and there were a few notable outliers before that (Braid, Penny Arcade), but are we really escalating any further at this point? All of the XBLA games over the last two weeks have landed on the marketplace at $10...and the $15 games from the week could easily be considered "premium" titles, since they were both ports of fully-fledged console games (Virtual On, Banjo-Tooie).

And never mind that there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that seems to counter that assertion as well. Steam, in particular, has found remarkable ways to significantly lower prices on certain products for a limited period, while maintaining the normal cost for the bigger "retail" games. XBLA has started taking a similar approach with its Deal of the Week. And, while PSN doesn't seem to have that kind of promotional structure in place yet, there's not really enough price discrepancy in their current "store" to warrant it: three of the most higher-profile games released on the system this year (Flower, Noby Noby Boy, Burn Zombie Burn) can be purchased for $10 or less.

Where did the word "re-imagining" come from? all of a sudden this word is popping up everywhere I turn.

1) Digital download prices are doing nothing but going up, up, up, particularly on Xbox Live and PSN.

I said Xbox Live prices are going up ($15 seems to be the new $10) and suggested shelf prices will remain the same. One can easily argue (and we did) that the iPhone is driving digital game prices down on a content vs. price ratio.

Squishy.Turtle wrote:

Where did the word "re-imagining" come from? all of a sudden this word is popping up everywhere I turn.

You can probably thank the upcoming Silent Hill remake for that.

they are using it for everything... Silent hill, Star trek, so forth.... it is like the new media buzz word.

Certis wrote:
1) Digital download prices are doing nothing but going up, up, up, particularly on Xbox Live and PSN.

I said Xbox Live prices are going up ($15 seems to be the new $10) and suggested shelf prices will remain the same. One can easily argue (and we did) that the iPhone is driving digital game prices down on a content vs. price ratio.

Considering that many "casual" games nowadays have the same depth and playtime as many of the original Nintendo games, it's a safe argument. Particularly if you include ad revenue-based flash games. When you consider the cost of developing a AAA title now versus what it was in, say, 1985 when the Nintendo came out, a mere $10 increase is pretty darn good. When you further factor in inflation, which says that a $50 game in 1985 would now cost $98.77, that's really good. You could maybe make the case on the console networks (although I'd say the games are trending to be more complex), but Steam prices certainly don't seem to be trending upwards.

I'm gonna come out and say it and I don't care if it makes me a bad person: I laughed when I heard about the baby-shaking iPhone app.

Poor taste isn't a crime.

What did you find so funny about it? The topic matter of killing something totally defenseless, the fact that someone made a game about it, the idea that folks would pay money for it, or the ignorance of Apple to not realize there would be some backlash for hosting such an app?

I just finished the podcast - great episode, guys!

Regarding the baby-shaking iPhone app: I suspect that it warrants more revulsion than your typical video game because there is little to no abstraction at all. In a larger-scale video game, your actions can usually be qualified by a narrative context or a particular characterization. With this iPhone app, there's no real layer of separation; symbolic or not, it essentially boils down to *you* shaking a baby on your iPhone for entertainment.

As for some of the frustrations with CCGs, my friends and I were able to counteract the "great divide" in M:TG (as far as cards are concerned) in college through regular sealed deck play and proxies:

Every month or so, we'd split an order for a box of boosters and starters from the most recent set and use those as the basis for a "sealed circuit"; every player gets two boosters and (if available) one starter a week to add to their collection for a weekly tournament; winner takes one of the remaining booster packs from the box, which goes into their pool of cards for the circuit. (This, of course, requires dedicated friends that will take the monetary plunge with you month after month.) That way, you get the best of what any CCG has to offer: you're continually getting a new taste of the deck building aspect, week after week, along with the in-game strategy and metagaming that surrounds that specific set.

Outside of that sealed play, if we wanted to experiment with a particular deck idea for a tourney or just screw around in general, we'd print out the proxies, slide them into the card sleeves, and give 'em a run. If we found out that we really liked the cards for a particular Type II tourney deck and we didn't already have them through the sealed circuit, we'd buy them straightaway through eBay or Troll & Toad. Otherwise, it gave us the opportunity to mess around with Moxes and whatnot without putting down a second mortgage.

Certis, an action-centered text game you should try: http://pac-txt.com/ As you might guess, it's a text adventure version of Pac Man. After trying it, you should then regret ever having tried it.

As for JRPGs, I recommend checking out the Penny Arcade Adventures game, which uses classic JRPG conventions.
IMAGE(http://www.hotheadgames.com/rainslick/ep2/PC/screenshot_028-00075.png)

- Alan