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

garion333 wrote:
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.

Yeah, you could count me in there as well. I know that Julian mentioned that he wasn't much of a baseball fan, but MLB '09 is actually good enough to warrant consideration from non-fans, I think. Far and away, the console baseball game I've played in years, maybe even since Baseball Stars. Or Base Wars.

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.

Suh-FIFTH-uh-der.

The JRPG you should have been trying is Suikoden Tierkreis for the DS.

I found it to be a solid, no-nonsense RPG with a straighforward combat system, likeable characters that i can finally connect to, a serious adventure that feels like something you'd read in a good fantasy novel (the central theme for the conflict itself is a subject I remember studying in philosophy class way back when, i.e. determinism), and very high production values. It all comes together very well to realise an immersive game world where it's easy to lose oneself for hours on ends.

Disclaimer: I haven't played any other Suikoden games, nor any JRPG for a good long while. Mostly for the same reasons as yours from what I've heard in the podcast.

Enjoyed the podcast folks, to throw in my two penneth..

Genre Aversions - I sympathise with Corey's aversion to Stealth-em-ups, in games where I'm meant to be heroic and action packed, I have trouble holding my concentration long enough in a patient stealth mode to enjoy it, there always seems to be a better way than to watch guard patrol patterns, and hiding behind boxes and scenery.. I want my stealth to be more pro-active, more heroic, less cowardly. So action stealth, such as that presented in Viking: Battle for Asgard or the new Wolverine Origins game is much more to my liking than the Metal Gear Solid/Splinter Cells of this world. I also have limited patience with fighting games that require complicated button combos and chains, again life is too short to spend my heroic adventuring time learning abstract button and stick strings, to pull off something wild and exciting. I'd rather have a tactical stance battle, where strikes are countered with precise memorable (and logical) controls. Bushido Blade is used as an excellent example of a fighting game that requires more thought and appropriate response than twitch based tricks with button wizardry. Action games that take the fighting genre and put it in a adventure or roleplaying game, rather than preserving the one on one versus of pure fighting games, implement fighting much more dynamically and intuitively than most vs games. Games such as Demon's Souls preserves the twitch mechnic and makes taking on multiple enemies do-able, but only with tactical use of the core skills. If Demon's Souls had really complex combo's to remember, I'd probably lose interest and just manage my way through it using the basics.

City of Heroes Architect update - user made content is fine if there is a way of the community of users can rate the content intelligently so you can sift through the majority of dross that will be built with it. The downside as was hinted at, was the abillity for users to create content that would be geared up like a trainer modification to enhance their character, equipment or status by building mods that circumvent the normally balanced character progression mechanics. Ultimately, if the tools give the users the ability to exploit the vanilla game, then it can break the allure of the natural progression. On the flip side, if you can find them, no doubt there are a few well put together mods that would rival anything the developer could release as an expansion. So the moral of the story is to give them just enough to draw them in to tinkering with the toys, but don't give them too much so that they can exploit the game itself, or outshine the original developers. There is a draw for roleplaying guilds to be able to construct a whole quest line to be specific to their particular supergroup, and no doubt this enriches the entrenched players who seek more metagame interaction than the usual NPC allows.

Suikoden Tierkries <..> no-nonsense

Must be a regional diffirence in the game then 'cause the version I had a go then had the largest ammount of nonsense I had seen in a while.

Now DragonQuest. That's no-nonsense. No elaborate CGI cutscenes, no endless dialogues, quick combat, no 'game over', plotlines you start and end during the game and a world that's actually worth saving.

Text Adventures <..> Roguelikes

Quick theory: you're a visual person. You read can read information easily if it's presented visually at the same time on screen, but if it's delivered in text and especially sequentially you lose track. Better working memory then longer term memory. Sorta like: 'Ok, so that's to the south, but what was to the north again?' 'Which enemy has been damaged most, and which one's yet untouched?' so constantly going forward and back between lines & menus.

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"...

The Road to the Show is pretty cool, but honestly, the Be a Player mode in NHL 09 just crushes it. It is an entire different level of awesome. NHL 09 was the right sports game to suggest.

I find myself doing the, "Ok, just one more game," thing with NHL 09. The way it works in RttS takes you out of the flow, while you really feel like part of a team in BaP. And it''s not that Sony hasn't implemented RttS well. It's that hockey lends itself to the experience so perfectly.

There is one other reason hockey is a great sports game for the genre aversed. You can get games in so much quicker than baseball, or even football, but still get a quality experience. Games tend to take about 20 minutes vs. an hour or more for a baseball, and 30 to 45 minutes for football.

And Julian, if you take in NHL 09, be sure to check out some of the pretty well done strategy articles written by Jayson Young over at Operation Sports. I think he does a great job showing off just how solid of a game EA has put out by showing that solid hockey strategy works. The Lonely Defenseman was a favorite. Pretty good writer to boot. Thanks to Magnus for pointing those articles out in the NHL 09 thread.

One other sports game that would be worth a look is NFL Head Coach. It's a pretty interesting take on the game. The same writer I suggested earlier, Jayson Young, did a pretty good piece on the game after he picked it back up recently. With the draft and such going on, he had an itch for a football management sim. Head Coach 09 does a pretty good job, but I'm hoping for an update based on last year's graphics engine from Madden. Bill Harris did a nice write-up of the game when it came out last August.

The one problem I have with Head coach is playing a management sim on the 360 just doesn't feel right. Reading through reports and stats just feels better on the PC. I would hope they come out with a PC version, which would also ship for the Mac since EA is trying to show Mac love these days. But for now it is 360 and PS3 only.

Chtulie wrote:
Suikoden Tierkries <..> no-nonsense

Must be a regional diffirence in the game then 'cause the version I had a go then had the largest ammount of nonsense I had seen in a while.

Yeah, the more recent entries in the series (Suikoden IV and Tierkreis in particular) hit most of the same angry buttons that people have for the genre, but the first two Suikoden games sidestep a majority of those gripes and provide interesting refinements to some of the more tired genre conventions along the way.

That said, I'm not sure I'd put forward Suikoden I or II as a "gateway JRPG" either, even though they're both very solid games; there's virtually no hand-holding, especially in the early stages of both games, and many of those aforementioned gameplay refinements won't necessarily be apparent to JRPG newcomers. ("Oh, all of my guys always have their own weapons, without me having to equip anything? So what?") Being better doesn't necessarily mean being accessible.

I completely agree with Sephirotic's voice mail that wasn't played.

Sephirotic wrote:

I completely agree with Sephirotic's voice mail that wasn't played.

Patience. You have no idea what our backlog looks like!

OzymandiasAV wrote:
Chtulie wrote:
Suikoden Tierkries <..> no-nonsense

Must be a regional diffirence in the game then 'cause the version I had a go then had the largest ammount of nonsense I had seen in a while.

Yeah, the more recent entries in the series (Suikoden IV and Tierkreis in particular) hit most of the same angry buttons that people have for the genre

I suppose nonsense is one of those things that are defined by the beholder. I said "no-nonsense RPG" and what i mean is all that Final Fantasy baggage such as spiky haired teenagers trying to out-cool one another that have older women from their personal fan clubs giving you quests, or 2 hours long dungeon crawls that end up being wasted because the devs thought it would be cool not to have a save point before the boss fight, or even the need to grind on repetitive random encounters just to be able to move on with the storyline.

The story and game world has some magical and intriguing elements but that's part and parcel of 95% of the novels released in the fantasy genre these days. I understand the early Suikoden games were based on historical fictions so maybe to long time followers of the series this newer instalment can be a little jarring. But as I mentioned I haven't played those yet.

I had been looking for, yearning even, a JRPG with a story, characters and game universe that would appeal to me for a long time and everything I had tried so far had turned me off or bored me within a couple hours of starting the game. Until I played Suikoden Tierkreis in which I've been able to immerse myself and have fun. And now I'm even considering to play Dragon Quest 5, and maybe checking out the early Suikoden games as well. So in that sense Suikoden Tierkreis totally worked for me as a "gateway game" back into the JRPG genre.

I just listened to this podcast and thought it was funny, I bought the entire sly cooper series this week on a whim. I did it to experience some sucker punch for the first time though.

OzymandiasAV wrote:
Chtulie wrote:
Suikoden Tierkries <..> no-nonsense

Must be a regional diffirence in the game then 'cause the version I had a go then had the largest ammount of nonsense I had seen in a while.

Yeah, the more recent entries in the series (Suikoden IV and Tierkreis in particular) hit most of the same angry buttons that people have for the genre, but the first two Suikoden games sidestep a majority of those gripes and provide interesting refinements to some of the more tired genre conventions along the way.

That said, I'm not sure I'd put forward Suikoden I or II as a "gateway JRPG" either, even though they're both very solid games; there's virtually no hand-holding, especially in the early stages of both games, and many of those aforementioned gameplay refinements won't necessarily be apparent to JRPG newcomers. ("Oh, all of my guys always have their own weapons, without me having to equip anything? So what?") Being better doesn't necessarily mean being accessible.

Suikoden IV is the one to really avoid. Suiko V is actually pretty good, except it has crummy loading times.

I don't think I'd recommend Tierkries as it has *atrocious* voice acting, the worst I've heard in a good long time, and you can't turn it off.

I fairly liked Suikoden 3 - but that again isn't a very good JRPG gateway - besides which I haven't seriously played a JRPG since Suikoden 3 and Wild Arms, which was quite a while ago.

Thing is, JRPGs are essentially shonen-themed Bard's Tale. If you're into the gameplay, I find little all that different from so-called Western RPGs and JRPGs, and if you're NOT into shonen anime, you're just never going to like most "JRPGs."

As for fighting games, I think the best gateway into fighting games is brawlers. Brawlers like Double Dragon were at the heart of what lies in most fighting games, and in fact, you can go head to head in Double Dragon 2. If you already understand the appeal of melee-range combo-tastic Diablo-like action (without the RPG), then all that's really missing is the community aspect - in which case SF2HDT could be the solution. All fighting games are to brawlers as Demigod is to Starcraft. The MP aspect is an essential part of the experience.

Interesting podcast guys. I especially liked it when Julian was going on about Society being a bad thing - with the supposition that it would be centred around government or people who disliked a thing because they were against it... but that pop culture (i.e. society) would determine what was good and bad and it would be okay.

I still have an old Wingman Extreme (serial interface, minus the throttle) joystick along with its replacement of a USB Wingman Extreme joystick that i was forced to buy because newer operating systems no longer supported it. After that, luckily, fewer flight sim games were released and i had no real reason to buy a new one when vista came out (pretty sure it doesn't work in vista)..... seems a bit of a waste to have these perfectly good peripherals that are essentially paper weights.

Great podcast guys. I loved the game aversion segment. Like Julian, I have an aversion towards fighting games. It has been years since I played a fighting game because they always seemed too complex. A couple weeks ago, I took a chance and picked up Street Fighter 4. Truth be told, I had a decent time playing through the game, unlocking the various characters and such, but when I took my skills online, the experience was nothing short of aggravating. I spent some time trying to learn the ins and outs of a specific character, researching online and practicing in the training mode. I returned to the online arena, and despite my best efforts, continued to get my ass beat. I appreciate the depth in a game like Street Fighter 4, but I cannot put in the time required to master intricate combos, etc.

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.

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).

Thanks for the recommendation, kashwashwa. I was always impressed by the detail in the sprites, but never really gave it the time of day since its release a couple months ago. I will check it out.

Great interview at the end Rabbit. I waited to listen to it until I had unlocked everything in the game, so it was worth the wait. You're very good at letting people talk. Silence (from the interviewer) is golden in an interview.

Itsatrap wrote:

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)
- Alan

Eric the Unready is one of my favorite games of all time.

wordsmythe wrote:

...Legend Entertainment...

They also produced (and made freeware) two games based on Frederik Pohl's Gateway series of novels: Gateway http://www.oldgames.sk/en/game/gateway-frederik-pohls/ and Homeworld http://www.oldgames.sk/en/game/gateway-2-homeworld/ (not to be confused with Relic/Sierra's RTS Homeworld).

Both were well-received, though I haven't played enough of either to judge for myself yet.

Hans

hidannik wrote:

They also produced (and made freeware) two games based on Frederik Pohl's Gateway series of novels: Gateway http://www.oldgames.sk/en/game/gateway-frederik-pohls/ and Homeworld http://www.oldgames.sk/en/game/gateway-2-homeworld/ (not to be confused with Relic/Sierra's RTS Homeworld).

Both were well-received, though I haven't played enough of either to judge for myself yet.

Hans

They're both very good, although you have to be a little bit careful because it's possible to get stuck in an unwinnable state. Save early, save often, and make sure you manage to smuggle a gun out of the armory.

- Alan