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

demonbox wrote:
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.

I don't want to think about how much time I just lost to that.

"You have bitten a ghost! It flees from you disoriented, stumbling around frantically trying to escape. " Awesome.

Corey should only be allowed to instantly disagree / say something contrary 12 times an episode. Its time to cut back.

Dax wrote:
Corey should only be allowed to instantly disagree / say something contrary 12 times an episode. Its time to cut back. :)

No, I think you're wrong, I should do it more.

... See what I did there?

Robert Guillaume, the voice of Eli Vance, is alive. He lives next door to my friend Aris.

Anyone have a link for the Hitchhiker's Guide text adventure remake with graphics?

Aaron D. wrote:

Anyone have a link for the Hitchhiker's Guide text adventure remake with graphics?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hitchhik...

Graphics is a relative term.

Hmm ... as I recall, Legend of the Red Dragon wasn't at all Rogue-like. Perhaps The Pit? That was a popular one. Land of Devastation probably would fit the bill too, but with a post-apocalyptic setting.

Wow, this is taking me back a few years.

To the person on the podcast and the people in the thread who used the term "digital download" - come on now. We're past that redundancy. That's right up there with using "compelling" as a stand alone adjective to describe gameplay.

I don't know what you're talking about Jon. Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to go play my FPS shooter ASAP as possible.

Like it or not, "digital download" seems to have become standard terminology that pretty much everyone uses.

Fighting games and Sports games

Why not do both in one go? Just pick up Fight Night or Punch Out.

And to an earlier post: Sly 3 was awesome. All the Sly Cooper games are awesome. Of the trifecta of ps2 trilogies (Jack, Sly & Ratchet) Sly and Ratchet are the bestests. And Sly didn't have a 'gladiator' or 'x' 4th spinoff game.
(ok, so if you go into sly 3 straight after sly 2 then the first area might be a bit weak).

Vegan wrote:
Like it or not, "digital download" seems to have become standard terminology that pretty much everyone uses.

So were previous stupid internet terms like "cyberspace" and "information superhighway." That's no excuse.

JonH wrote:
To the person on the podcast and the people in the thread who used the term "digital download" - come on now.

I guess it's to distinguish from analogue download, where they mail you the file on vinyl.

Certis, although I love text-based games, I have exactly the same problem with them that you do: their puzzles often require less solving and more mind-reading. (Plus, I have no sense of direction and couldn't map my way out of a paper bag. I've lived in the same city for 9 years and I still get lost on the way to the grocery store.)

That's why I think you might enjoy some of the more recent indie interactive fiction to come out. They're less like those old school fetchquest, "put tab a into slot b and get a Babel fish" kinda stuff, and more like novels you can influence. Many of them don't even have that many puzzles to solve. (Which, frankly, takes an adjustment of thinking -- we're so conditioned to solve our games that we sometimes forget to experience them.)

I also expect you'll dislike the Hitchhiker's Guide game -- it's just that same old school style game with graphics on top. You'd probably really respond to text games offering a fundamental shift in the "gameplay".

Check out "Vespers" (my all-time fave, you can play it online at the link) or "Photopia", which IIRC doesn't have any puzzles in it at all. (That might be a little too far to the other side of things, but it's a really beautiful game.) And if you're stuck on commands or what to do next, just type "ABOUT" or "MENU" and it should give you some helpful hints. I think FAQs are available out there too, if you need.

Both games are pretty short, maybe 2 or 3 hours start to finish for an IF novice. Looking forward to what you think.

Elysium wrote:
I don't know what you're talking about Jon. Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to go play my FPS shooter ASAP as possible.

Haha! dangit! I just spit coffee on my monitor! thanks a ton Elysium....

Vespers rocks, and if I recall, someone was giving it the hitchikers graphics treatment as well.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2007...

But I cant find a working link to an update.

MLB 09 is another fantastic sports game. In particular it has a great "single player sports RPG" mode called "Road to the Show"...

Great podcast, guys.

My genre aversion would be Shoot 'em ups. Particularly the bullet hell, or whatever that evolutionary cul de sac they've headed down in recent years is called. They're becoming more and more niche, and inward looking, catering just for existing hardcore fans.

As for games that have moved me emotionally in some way; I have to say We <3 Katamari, and the emotion would be pure happiness.

The first time I grew the katamari large enough to roll up vehicles and buildings I was lauging out loud and smiling from ear to ear. It left me feeling great for most of the rest of the day.

I was listening to the podcast on the way to work this morning. As I was pulling into my parking spot, one of the GWJ crew (Cory, I believe) was talking about having an aversion to stealth games. I can’t even remotely relate to this sentiment, as stealth focused FPS gaming is probably my third or fourth favorite thing to do on this planet. Anyway, somebody was mentioning that there are not a lot of stealth games out there, which is true. However, I would argue that The Hunter represents the epitome of stealth based shooters. Cory mentioned in a previous podcast that he was going to give The Hunter a spin….just wondering if he liked it. Like I said, I didn’t get to finish listening to the podcast, so I apologize if this was covered later in the segment.

Jerrak wrote:
I can’t even remotely relate to this sentiment, as stealth focused FPS gaming is probably my third or fourth favorite thing to do on this planet.

I think the problem people have with stealth is two-fold. First, it's extremely unforgiving. Usually once your cover is blown it takes a lot of time and effort to recover from it, if you can at all. Second, stealth games usually rank you on how stealthy you are. One minor mistake and you need to restore a checkpoint or start the whole mission over again to get a perfect score. There was a Syphon Filter game on the PS2 like that; in order to unlock the best gear you needed to do all levels perfectly, meaning no detections, no unnecessary kills. And of course Hitman was all about that. Hitman was particularly bad since in most cases you needed to play through multiple times just to know what resources were available (how the hell was I supposed to know he was going to go sneak a taste of that cake!?).

In the end, what you get is something more akin to playing music than playing a game. In order to get perfection, you must do everything perfectly at exactly the right time. Improvisation sometimes works, but it's taking a risk with a sure-fire, linear path to success. People who like a tight narrative that is so linear as to tell you when and where to press crouch play adventure games, not FPSs.

On the topic of roguelikes, I happened across this little gem yesterday:
Wayfarer

Free, browser-based roguey goodness, and it looks like this:
IMAGE(http://www.offworld.com/assets_c/2009/05/wayfarer-thumb-550x376-20502.jpg)

I think one downside that was missed during the CoH/V architect discussion is the difference between a game like Little Big Planet and a typical MMORPG, namely, a balance requirement. If a LBP level is really easy, that doesn't affect everyone else's gameplay experience. However, if you have a user-created quest that involves killing 3 level 5 orcs for 10,000 gold in a classic MMO, that breaks the whole game. I imagine you could create some artificial constraint rules on risk/reward, but in a genre that is constantly vulnerable to exploits, handing the reins to players is just asking for trouble.

About text adventures, I recommend you try some of the old Legend Entertainment games. The bad news is that the company went under several years ago, so the games are difficult to find. The good news is that they made many of the games freeware shortly before the company folded. The main reason I'm recommending them is that they get around the "which words can I type" problem by providing a menu.

IMAGE(http://www.abandonia.com/files/games/192/Eric%20the%20Unready_2.gif)

As for roguelikes, you might try Spelunky. It isn't an ASCII-based game, but it has that random-map restart-often aspect. You'll die often, but games are really short.

IMAGE(http://www.derekyu.com/images/local/spelunky.png)

- Alan

Regarding Text Adventures. There is still a community of people dedicated to making these games, and just like in other genres there are things about the old games that are considered "crimes against game design" these days. The biggest of those crimes is that "hunt the verb" style puzzle you mention as the reason the games are unplayable. Modern IF games are designed with many synonyms so as soon as you figure out what you want to do, you can communicate that to the game. Another crime against game design is putting the player in an unwinnable situation without letting them know they can't win without restoring a save.

The HHGttG game is hilarious, but it is replete with both of those design crimes. The graphical version does not fix them. If you play it, use a walkthrough just so you can enjoy the story, but don't expect to solve it on your own.

Instead I suggest you play one of the award-winning IF games of recent years. Anchorhead (1998) is the best piece of Interactive Fiction I've ever played. It helps if you like lovecraftian horror and strong female characters.

Anchorhead: http://www.wurb.com/if/game/17.html

Xyzzy award winners: http://www.wurb.com/if/award/3

LobsterMobster wrote:
Jerrak wrote:
I can’t even remotely relate to this sentiment, as stealth focused FPS gaming is probably my third or fourth favorite thing to do on this planet.

I think the problem people have with stealth is two-fold. First, it's extremely unforgiving. Usually once your cover is blown it takes a lot of time and effort to recover from it, if you can at all. Second, stealth games usually rank you on how stealthy you are. One minor mistake and you need to restore a checkpoint or start the whole mission over again to get a perfect score. There was a Syphon Filter game on the PS2 like that; in order to unlock the best gear you needed to do all levels perfectly, meaning no detections, no unnecessary kills.

Whenever I fire up a new stealth game, I crank it up to the hardest difficulty and, if that's not hard enough, impose limits on myself. I played through the first two Splinter Cell games with a self-imposed no killing, no shooting light blubs rule.

I wish more stealth games had a difficulty curve like Thief: The Dark Project where increasing the difficulty also gave you additional objectives to accomplish. It's no fun when the difficulty increase only makes your opponents harder to kill; if you're not killing them anyway, what's the point?

LobsterMobster wrote:
And of course Hitman was all about that. Hitman was particularly bad since in most cases you needed to play through multiple times just to know what resources were available (how the hell was I supposed to know he was going to go sneak a taste of that cake!?).

I gave up on Hitman 2 after the first level because the only way I found to get the Perfect Assassin rating was by exploiting an in-game bug. If I recall correctly, no matter how quickly I moved, the postman I had knocked unconscious and stripped naked wandered into the mafia compound ... and no one noticed that he was naked. It robbed me of any satisfaction I got from the game; I felt like I was cheating.

LobsterMobster wrote:
In the end, what you get is something more akin to playing music than playing a game. In order to get perfection, you must do everything perfectly at exactly the right time. Improvisation sometimes works, but it's taking a risk with a sure-fire, linear path to success. People who like a tight narrative that is so linear as to tell you when and where to press crouch play adventure games, not FPSs. :)

I view stealth games less as shooters and more as puzzle games. In the same way that Braid has a single path to success for each of its puzzles, so too does Splinter Cell have an optimal path through each of its missions. Once again, though, I return to Thief: The Dark Project; it's levels were designed in such a way that there were multiple solutions to each puzzle, and the real joy in playing that game was in finding every solution.

I do not have a genre aversion, I tend to pick and choose from a wide net.

Rather, I am deeply aversed to franchise games. Once you get to the third, fourth in a series of games, my interest drops off significantly. An exception may be if the game was intended to have a set arc like the 3 Prince of Persia or Half-life episodes. But I have a hard time getting excited to do the same thing for a third time or more-Halo, Rainbow Six/Splintercell. My first real Zelda experience was Ocarina, and I coul not care less about them now, After Mario 3 I did not get into the SNES, N64, Gamecube versions, or Galaxies.

No loyalty, no desire to tread the same path ever again.

As far as Julian's fighting game aversion, I'd say I was the same way till the release of SSFIITHDR on xbla.

I always WANTED to enjoy playing street fighter (especially when I was young I thought it was extremely cool), but couldn't justify spending a huge amount of time to get good playing against the computer, and I didn't have arcades around here, and not many friends were into fighting games either.

Since the new version released on xbla allowed for excellent online play, I decided to take the plunge and invest the $15 so that I'd be forcing myself to learn. I took the recommendation of someone on another forum, and just picked ONE character that was an overall good character, and wasn't hard to be competitive with, without being insanely good at playing (that character being Deejay). And it's honestly one of the most satisfying games that I've ever played... (it's the only one EVER that has made me jump out of my couch and cheer).

psu_13 wrote:
MLB 09 is another fantastic sports game. In particular it has a great "single player sports RPG" mode called "Road to the Show"...

I've been thinking this since I listened to the show yesterday.

And MLB Power Pros on the Wii and PS2 is great for non-sports fans. It too has a great rpg mode. (Warning: very kiddie looking, so if that turns you off, well, get over yourself.

nice to hear Peggle being mentioned again, must have been in the last few podcasts now. (not that im complaining, it rocks)

cymru_lp wrote:
nice to hear Peggle being mentioned again, must have been in the last few podcasts now. (not that im complaining, it rocks)

Dude, were all about peggle. We get get much more about Peggle than dragging Popcap's chief muckymuck on the show!

kashwashwa wrote:
As far as Julian's fighting game aversion, I'd say I was the same way till the release of SSFIITHDR on xbla.

Sold.