GWJ Conference Call Episode 138

Conference Call

inFamous, Fight Night Round 4, Red Faction Multiplayer, PR Boasts and Blunders, Your Emails and more!

It's E3 week and we're pretty much not going to talk about it at all! Considering how much coverage is flying around out there, you can consider this a favor. Instead, we talk about some of the bigger PR gaffes over the past decade and the kind of marketing we can get behind. 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

"Atlantis" - Sketchbook (Pneuman) - http://blag.linuxgamers.net - 0:35:01
"George" (Benoit Casey) - http://www.cerebrimusic.com - 0:56:14

Comments

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Listening to it now. Just finished the InFamous discussion. Even as a huge fan of that game, I can't really argue with anything they said about.

The first couple seconds of the intro theme song were missing. That kept me distracted for the duration of the call.

I suddenly give a crap about Red Faction: Guerilla. Thanks for telling us about it!

Nice to hear that Demigod is working properly nowadays. I'll add it to my list of games to play after I buy a new PC.

No appreciation for staying E for Everyone and censoring thyself? What has this world come to?

It's kind of sad that inFamous is only decent. Maybe MAG will be the one to turn it around for PS3 exclusives?

IB4 giant enemy crab, massive damage, etc. (I hope)

LOL @ deadvertising. Oh, how the times have changed! Doubly shameful since it didn't even work.

You don't like hype-generators that precede hype-generators? Like Blizzard's melting ice splash image on their main page last year before D3's reveal? I must admit, I loved it.

Does anyone have footage of this Max Payne school girl dwarf tossing that is spoken of? I'm intrigued....

It saddens me that I was only given 75 minutes this week. Great show as always, though.

The Conference Call is now on Twitter. Be sure to follow if you want the inside track on upcoming topics, guests, etc.

We're also messing around with audioboo, see how this audio blog thing works. Cory sent us out on the maiden voyage with that.

Yay, you guys used my track!

Certis wrote:

The Conference Call is now on Twitter. Be sure to follow if you want the inside track on upcoming topics, guests, etc.

Man, I've resisted getting a Twitter account so far (hell, I didn't get a Facebook until a few months ago -- I rock it Web 1.0-style on Livejournal, baby), but this may just tempt me.

@Elysium

Be thankful you HAVE a Friendly Local Game Store to go to, these havens of geekdom are very few and far between in the UK (at least around my area, think my nearest is 100+ miles away).

Personally I'd buy it there but definitely attempt the haggle. I'd pitch it as an 'are you aware I could get this online for X'. Maybe he's just not a great businessman and hasn't checked out the online competition or maybe he genuinely has small margins and he's doing his best. If he is doing his best, I'd bite the bullet anyway, especially if you are ever thinking of taking your copy of Dominion in there to play some games.

Loaded up the zune on the train and much to my despair the podcast didn't feed this morning

If you can afford the $15 for Dominion, then I say support the local store. That's money into your local economy.

By now you've probably already bought it online, in which case I'd like to ask where in the hell you found Dominion that cheap cause I'd love to know (funagain.com isn't that cheap). Cheapest I've seen it is just shy of $40 after shipping (game store by me is asking $50, which I won't pay).

Whew... I'm sure you guys will say you didn't hate InFamous and all but it really did seem like all of you almost uh... hehe well, despised might be too strong a word but it's close to the vibe I got. I was really looking forward to playing this game. Hell, the blu-ray drive in my PS3 crapped out not too long ago and I finally scrambled and replaced the laser lens inside basically just to play this game. I'll still play it but the discussion really took the wind out of my sails for it even though I've seen mostly good reviews for it. Ah well. Still listening to the rest of the show.

In re moral choices. I know this has been said plenty around here, but the only game I've ever played that has ever made the choices meaningful is the Witcher. Sure, in Kotor it was interesting primarily because it was new, but the Witcher presents two choices and they're always realistic in that there is good and bad to both choices. Oh, and you don't get powers from choosing.

So, the Witcher could be a great horizons broadening project. Someone should do that and report back.

Gravatix wrote:

Whew... I'm sure you guys will say you didn't hate InFamous and all but it really did seem like all of you almost uh... hehe well, despised might be too strong a word but it's close to the vibe I got. I was really looking forward to playing this game. Hell, the blu-ray drive in my PS3 crapped out not too long ago and I finally scrambled and replaced the laser lens inside basically just to play this game. I'll still play it but the discussion really took the wind out of my sails for it even though I've seen mostly good reviews for it. Ah well. Still listening to the rest of the show.

Don't worry with what they said on Infamous, I mean they are not exactly wrong with what they said but they are not totally correct either, I feel they were fairly negative on the game but that feels like par for the course lately, I think the game is really good and an enjoyable PS3 game.

Otherwise It's a great podcast as always.

On the Jade Raymond discussion in the PR segment: I'm not sure that putting her front and center was as much of a tactical decision to play off of her quasi-celebrity as people made it out to be. It seemed to me to be part of a larger strategy that they were taking to make producers part of the promotional campaigns - look up the videos they released of Far Cry 2 at around the same time, there are a lot that feature that game's producer, Louis-Pierre Pharand, pretty prominently. It just hit particularly well with Jade Raymond.

Lothar wrote:

Don't worry with what they said on Infamous, I mean they are not exactly wrong with what they said but they are not totally correct either, I feel they were fairly negative on the game but that feels like par for the course lately, I think the game is really good and an enjoyable PS3 game.

Otherwise It's a great podcast as always.

Maybe I misheard some comments on the podcast, but if it was good enough to get a GWJ staff member to play it through twice it's got to be pretty damn good, surely?

garion333 wrote:

If you can afford the $15 for Dominion, then I say support the local store. That's money into your local economy.

As a local businessperson, I disagree. That you should buy a product from a business simply because they are the closest establishment to you geographically is not compelling enough purchasing logic. Maybe it works for pizza, but not for games.

To succeed, a business must offer competitive prices, good customer service AND something unique to the customer that keeps them coming back. After all, I'm a consumer, not a charity. I'm not going to spend $15 more on a board game I can get cheaper elsewhere, just because a shop happens to have a couple of gaming tables out.

Which is why, Elysium, I absolutely think you're well within your limits to haggle. In fact, I think it's the best way for you to gauge whether the store deserves your business. If the store owner is smart, he'll take a few bucks off the purchase price, knowing that giving you a personal discount would pretty much create a loyal customer for life. After all, customers like to feel special; I know that if a game store did that for me, I'd return again and again, and he'd make that money back a hundred times over.

Let us know what happens on next week's podcast.

Zelos wrote:
Lothar wrote:

Don't worry with what they said on Infamous, I mean they are not exactly wrong with what they said but they are not totally correct either, I feel they were fairly negative on the game but that feels like par for the course lately, I think the game is really good and an enjoyable PS3 game.

Otherwise It's a great podcast as always.

Maybe I misheard some comments on the podcast, but if it was good enough to get a GWJ staff member to play it through twice it's got to be pretty damn good, surely?

Definitely that's actually what I was going to add that to my post as well because that's true it does say something good about it when someone did play it twice.

I really liked the letter about how some games helping someone cope with a death of a love one. I had the same experience when my grandpa died and how playing my nintendo really helped but it's definitely a hard letter to respond to.

As far as the games we play during difficult times: I find that at my most trying personal moments, that's when the screen goes dark. When my father had a heart attack, for instance, I couldn't play anything for months. I tried, but the will just wasn't there. I just sorta shut down.

However, I did get through a particularly nasty break up in college with Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG. I guess romantic trauma is different, since it's so par for the course when you're 18.

KaterinLHC wrote:

To succeed, a business must offer competitive prices, good customer service AND something unique to the customer that keeps them coming back. After all, I'm a consumer, not a charity. I'm not going to spend $15 more on a board game I can get cheaper elsewhere, just because a shop happens to have a couple of gaming tables out.

That's true to some extent, but if everyone follows that logic we'll end up with a world full of nothing but gigantic, faceless megastores with bad service and clueless minimum-wage staff. Oh, wait...

I can see it being worth spending the extra $15 (or whatever you haggle him down to) to support the guy if you want to go and play the game there. I don't complain that coffee in a café costs ten times what it would at home, after all.

FenixStryk wrote:

Nice to hear that Demigod is working properly nowadays. I'll add it to my list of games to play after I buy a new PC.

Well I'm waiting for Windows 7 to get an official release before I do a new build. So if it's that long down the road, I'd be willing to final give this game a go with any new/forgiving players.

Switchbreak wrote:

On the Jade Raymond discussion in the PR segment: I'm not sure that putting her front and center was as much of a tactical decision to play off of her quasi-celebrity as people made it out to be. It seemed to me to be part of a larger strategy that they were taking to make producers part of the promotional campaigns - look up the videos they released of Far Cry 2 at around the same time, there are a lot that feature that game's producer, Louis-Pierre Pharand, pretty prominently. It just hit particularly well with Jade Raymond.

What if they just put the Far Cry 2 producer out there to make seem like they weren't playing the Jade Raymond tactical decision card?

As the father of an 8-month-old who is actively cutting her first teeth today (bleeding gums and all), I feel the pain. I've been trying to jump back into Final Fantasy: Tactics Advance (playing on my DS) for those nights when I'm walking around with her in the ever-so-handy Baby Björn. The soft glow of the screen seems to be somewhat soothing to her...but that could just be my imagination.

Zelos wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:

To succeed, a business must offer competitive prices, good customer service AND something unique to the customer that keeps them coming back. After all, I'm a consumer, not a charity. I'm not going to spend $15 more on a board game I can get cheaper elsewhere, just because a shop happens to have a couple of gaming tables out.

That's true to some extent, but if everyone follows that logic we'll end up with a world full of nothing but gigantic, faceless megastores with bad service and clueless minimum-wage staff. Oh, wait...

I can see it being worth spending the extra $15 (or whatever you haggle him down to) to support the guy if you want to go and play the game there. I don't complain that coffee in a café costs ten times what it would at home, after all.

And to defend myself a little, I didn't shell out the $50 that my local store was asking for. That's $5 over what normal retail price is. $45, however, is the standard price for the game. Mom and pop stores can't offer as competitive of a price as a warehouse somewhere, but, as mentioned, haggling can happen.

Anyway, I don't really feel the need to belabor this point any longer. I still think the $30 price point for Dominion is a myth. That's me throwing down that gauntlet.

Zelos wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:

To succeed, a business must offer competitive prices, good customer service AND something unique to the customer that keeps them coming back. After all, I'm a consumer, not a charity. I'm not going to spend $15 more on a board game I can get cheaper elsewhere, just because a shop happens to have a couple of gaming tables out.

That's true to some extent, but if everyone follows that logic we'll end up with a world full of nothing but gigantic, faceless megastores with bad service and clueless minimum-wage staff. Oh, wait...

Gigantic, faceless megastores with bad service and clueless minimum-wage staff do not offer, by definition, "good customer service". You can have the best prices in the world, but if you don't offer a service experience customers want, you'll always be vulnerable. Low prices can only maintain a customer base for so long, and if you hook customers based on price, your customers won't be very loyal and will happily move to the next guy who beats you. This is getting off topic, I know, but I think customer service is one of the main reasons so many megastores have been in trouble lately; for example, Circuit City, whose fate, IMHO, was sealed once they fired their knowledgeable staff and hired on minimum-wage teenagers, or Linens N' Things, whose ill-tempered staff couldn't tell the difference between 150 and 300 thread count to save their lives.

KaterinLHC wrote:

Gigantic, faceless megastores with bad service and clueless minimum-wage staff do not offer, by definition, "good customer service". You can have the best prices in the world, but if you don't offer a service experience customers want, you'll always be vulnerable. Low prices can only maintain a customer base for so long, and if you hook customers based on price, your customers won't be very loyal and will happily move to the next guy who beats you. This is getting off topic, I know, but I think customer service is one of the main reasons so many megastores have been in trouble lately; for example, Circuit City, whose fate, IMHO, was sealed once they fired their knowledgeable staff and hired on minimum-wage teenagers, or Linens N' Things, whose ill-tempered staff couldn't tell the difference between 150 and 300 thread count to save their lives.

Conversely, witness Target and Publix, two stores who charge a bit more to be able to pay a much more well-trained, courteous staff (Publix in particular).

Wow, you guys have been a part of my Wednesday run for most the time you have been doing the podcast. I rarely take issue with your opinions or comments, although I disagree occasionally. Still, I respect what you have going on, but...

Today you lost some credibility. First, Funagain is not the cheapest online store for board games, nor does it hold the title of best customer service. You sounded pretty sure of yourself in your statement. Unfortunately, you are wrong. Funagain, on the average, has higher prices than the other online game stores. I would say Funagain has the largest selection, although I cannot qualify that...and that they do have great customer service. I have found the most consistently affordable sites, with great customer service, to be Thoughthammer or Time Well Spent...10-20 percent less than Funagain.

Secondly, I have to take issue with your assessment of inFamous. Although I agree that you are correct on most your points you fail to mention some of the positive aspects that make this game worth playing through twice. Most of all, I did not hear you mention the genius save system. I suck at games. This game transparently pushes you along checkpoints to avoid what would otherwise be some pretty frustrating situations. Also, I love Crackdown as much as anybody but how can you say that has any more of a fleshed out world than inFamous? I thought the Crackdown power increases were more interesting and better "carrot and stick" than this game but Crackdown rarely had powers approaching some of the fun found here. Another thing to mention...the introduction of new powers is handled nicely through the underground sequences. Personally, it kept the game fresh as I made the decision to mix up how to take down the next group with my new power. I do agree however, that the strategy could have been refined to make all the powers more necessary. It is the first game I have finished in a long, long time and I have to agree with this comment:

Lothar wrote:

Don't worry with what they said on Infamous, I mean they are not exactly wrong with what they said but they are not totally correct either, I feel they were fairly negative on the game but that feels like par for the course lately, I think the game is really good and an enjoyable PS3 game.

Otherwise It's a great podcast as always.

I don't know that I've ever played games to get through difficult times and, in fact, there are instances where I've either deliberately avoided games during those trying times.

Oddly enough, Burnout 3: Takedown is a very good example. A few years ago, I was involved in a very bad car accident that ended up totaling my vehicle and nearly fatally injuring another person. Up to that point, I had no problem sending other racers into walls around a turn or staging elaborate crash scenarios where my car would carom off the side of a bus into a congested intersection of minivans. But, after that accident, my perception shifted pretty dramatically and I found it hard to return to what was one of my favorite games at that time. I haven't fired up Burnout 3 since that accident...and it was almost three years before I would return to the series by downloading Burnout Paradise on my PS3.

garion333 wrote:

In re moral choices. I know this has been said plenty around here, but the only game I've ever played that has ever made the choices meaningful is the Witcher. Sure, in Kotor it was interesting primarily because it was new, but the Witcher presents two choices and they're always realistic in that there is good and bad to both choices. Oh, and you don't get powers from choosing.

It's becoming a gimmick, if it isn't there already.

There was a contextual element behind the decisions in Knights of the Old Republic and BioShock, a gravitas to those decisions beyond the immediate benefits of unlocking powers or harvesting ADAM. Other than providing more ammunition for the marketing team and artificially driving up "replay value" by dividing content, what exactly does the inclusion of moral choices do for inFamous?

Beyond the lack of narrative payoff, there's also this problem where developers feel the need to explicitly advertise the character's moral standing and any changes to it, which kills off any possible immersion into that choice. When I set off the Megaton bomb in Fallout 3, I don't need a quick reminder that "You've Lost Karma!" and I don't need to immediately see the laundry list of objectives that have been shuffled around in the quest line. Let me suffer or revel in it for a moment; use that decision to tell a story. (And don't allow me to shortchange that decision later on in the game with a perk that magically shifts my karma back.)

In real life, morality is much more subtle and I'd like to see games reflect that. Don't assail me with constant notifications of my alignment; don't even provide an indicator on my character sheet. Let me discover the consequences of those decisions organically through the storyline or through staged events in the game.

FenixStryk wrote:

I suddenly give a crap about Red Faction: Guerilla. Thanks for telling us about it!

Yeah, if you had told me during last year's beta that Red Faction: Guerilla would successfully tap into that Tribes vein of open-air multiplayer combat, I would have had you committed immediately. The feedback from the new demos seems to show that they've come a looooong way since then.

Switchbreak wrote:

This thread demands the saddest animated GIF ever:

Link, since photobucket is unreliable

Wow. Thanks for that, Switchbreak. It was one I hadn't seen.

This thread demands the saddest animated GIF ever:

IMAGE(http://www.switchbreak.net/images/AnimalCrossing.gif)

Edit: Forget Photobucket, I'll throw it up on my hosting

Interesting how "rampant" our negativity gets when we have reasonable issues with a given game. Unless you really want us to spend half an hour per game, making sure every side and perspective is offered, I'm not sure we'll keep our producer with four hour shows to edit

I guess the glowing Red Faction love doesn't count toward our positivity karma meter.

MisterStatic wrote:

Today you lost some credibility.

Over my choice of online discount boardgame stores? Wow. That's rough justice man! Seriously though: I find thoughthammer an unnavigable mess of a site, and with their little points system it all comes out within a buck here or there. They both run specials all the time: right now, Dominion is a few bucks cheaper at TH, but Bootleggers is 8 bucks cheaper at Funagain.

I personally have had AMAZING customer service experiences with them, returning games I ordered by accident even after my kids pulled all the shring out and punched pieces, tracking down missing components, etc. They also actually give games away to schools, post reviews, support BGG and Board Games with Scott, have a Twitter feed with deals, and are generally actually involved in the BG community. But hey, YMMV eh?

For those who care, I've decided that when I buy I'll buy locally. I'll probably haggle a bit, but in the long run I realized I like driving past that corner and seeing that store there. Just as we rely on our community to shell out a few bucks here and there for the kind of things they can get easily and cheaper elsewhere, it doesn't seem unreasonable to me to reciprocate. I'm not saying accepting higher prices should just be acceptable, but in this case the difference is relatively small enough that I'm comfortable paying the premium.

On inFamous, the fact that Rob played through twice says more about him than the game. Also, I don't dispute why other people liked it -- it just fell flat for me. Pretty much end of story on that one.

Of course Rob wants to haggle the board game guy down. Of course. Brilliant.

Wohoo! Host pile on!

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