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!

  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Subscribe with RSS
  • Subscribe with Yahoo!
Download the official apps
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android

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

How anybody's seething hatred of anything could make it past the Animal Crossing .gif that Switchbreak posted earlier is beyond me.

The Star Wars model of binary good vs. evil choices is passe. I have yet to see a game that successfully abandons that system and truly creates moral ambiguity. Bioshock? Save the Little Sister or harvest her; binary choice. Mass Effect? Shoot Wrex or try to talk him out of it; again, a binary choice. No game to date has made it possible for you to walk the line.

Certis wrote:

Wohoo! Host pile on!

Now, where's Rob?

It's interesting to see what sort of things bring huge reactions from people. A lot of times things we all find harmless just strike a nerve with someone else. We all see it in our day to day lives, but forget we've done it to others the moment it happens to us.
Well, the internet probably just makes these reactions seem worse. It's like the internet is the oddly curved mirror in the circus fun house that distorts everything and makes you seem fat and ugly, even when you are just being you.

I really enjoyed the show this week. It felt like a living room full of friends chatting it up about new games and reminiscing about some other gaming experiences.

Meh, I'm not really saying you guys were wrong or anything about InFamous. I was just stating that it kind of let the air out of the balloon for me. I probably shouldn't let anybody else's opinions do that to me but it does, because I usually agree with at least one of you gentlemen on the show. Who knows, maybe I'll still like it. Just the hype and the excitement is gone for me. On the other hand I have had my eye on Red Faction and was planning on playing that anyway, not for multiplayer though. I'm not too in to that. I always.. always... ALWAYS have a bad experience online with competitive multiplayer games. Man, I don't even want to talk about it!! *runs to the shower and turns on the cold water before huddling down in the tub and rocking to make it all better*

The save system they had was definitely cool when it worked. The first time around I didn't play the game in one shot and I remember doing the first bus mission for the girl you like. I got all the way up to the Hospital got the cut scene but than I had to go run an errand so I stopped the game figuring it would have saved up to that point. When I got back and started it back up I had to do the bus mission all over again from the beginning UGH! There were also several other frustrating moments including ones where I would die and I had several of the spawn points opened up but I would pop up in the one furthest from the mission I was trying to complete. Just too many flaws to look past for me.

I am glad a lot of you had fun playing the game, like I said I enjoyed playing the evil side more the second time through. I still thought the game was pretty mediocre. Lots of potential that never really fully developed. I only played the second time through because I was interested in seeing the differences in story line. I wanted to see how these moral choices affected the game. In the end it's just a bunch of crap and was a major let down.

I'll have to agree with Garion333 on moral choices in The Witcher. They were moral choices but they didn't seem to me to be good vs bad. It was Humans vs NonHumans. And on the surface it seemed to be a choice between whether or not to be a racist it does get more murky than that when you find out the deeper truths and choices or the two sides. At least that's what I've gotten from it. It's funny, I almost always play a game till I run out of steam on it or I beat it. The point being I never usually go back to a game if I've seen an ending or haven't played it in a week or so... except The Witcher. I never play it hard core but I seem to be able to always come back to it no matter how long it's been. Part of that is the journal system, which makes sure I'm never lost. Ah well... I babble on.

Certis- I think you could be more fair with your assessments sometimes with very little additional time. You have been in the past. I guess the part the made me actually get off my a$$ and post was that your negative views were well thought out and for the most part correct. You failed to highight the positives of which there are plenty in my view that make it an enjoyable game. And I guess I am a bit protective of the game since I did spend 20+ hours of a very busy schedule.

Rabbit- Funagain has very good service. I take issue with the way you praised them as the exclusive place to go online (I think you used the words "by far"...) There are plenty of other great options that should not be overlooked. Having said that, I will probably make some price comparisons with Funagain now before I buy. In the past though, they have been as pricey as my FLGS.

Rob-I am surprised you had some save game issues...that would have pissed me off. I had none and can only praise a system that always got me out of having to rehash sequences. That would of killed this game.

MisterStatic wrote:

Stuff

I think this is kind of where we have to paste in the language about how we're not claiming to "review" games on the podcast (nor, indeed, on the site, it's not what we do) or gamestores. We just talk about what we think based on our experiences. I've not done a survey of every game store any more than I've done a survey of every game in every genre we talk about.

I also don't get this:

MisterStatic wrote:

I guess I am a bit protective of the game since I did spend 20+ hours of a very busy schedule.

I suppose I understand wanting to evangelize something you love -- that's cool, we do it all the time. But there's no objective truth in any of this. My 9-million hours playign Dwarf Fortress doesn't somehow make people who loathe it "wrong" -- we just have different experiences, different hot buttons, etc. The fact that we dumped on InFamous (and man, that was NOT dumping in comparison to some unloads we've done) a little doesn't make you somehow wrong for playing 20 hours and loving the heck out of it.

Part of what I love about our little crew is we have pretty diverse tastes in games. We all hate something the other guys love, love something the other guys hate, etc.

As far as FLGS vs. Online Game Store goes, I try to support my local game store when I can — usually when I'm only buying one game, or need something new for an upcoming game night (or, well, I just need some new bits to caress, if you know what I mean).

To me, the premium that I'm paying at my FLGS is worth it just to keep the damned thing open for my own selfish useage. We only had two gaming stores in NYC and one closed last year. I love having a place where I can go to when I'm in mid-town and have a few spare minutes to browse and inhale the musty geek smell and squeeze past my bespectacled, bearded, and pudgy gaming bretheren in the narrow, boardgame-packed aisles.

(And, for what it's worth, ThoughtHammer is my online game store of choice. Nothing but great things to say about them.)

Be interested to hear how the haggling goes.

All true. I guess my 20 hour comment was just an explanation of why I had a concerned response.

I appreciated the comment about playing games so as to not wake up a baby. I've been doing a lot of that myself lately.

My games of choice have been World of Goo, Crystal Defenders, and Fallout. Crystal Defenders takes a bit more manual dexterity, but all of these were designed to be played with one hand and work well for that. Also, aside from some parts of World of Goo, there isn't a lot of twitch involved, so it's not really a problem to let the game run for a few minutes if my son does wake up and needs to be soothed back to sleep.

If you really want to put a filter on the computer for your kids, you can use openDNS. It's a free service that you can configure what sites you would want to allow / disallow.

This will prohibit you from visiting adult sites as well, but it works.

Well, hell, now if I need a good cry I'll just go back to this episode and listen to the last few minutes.

Seriously guys, that stuff needs a warning label.

Rat Boy wrote:

The Star Wars model of binary good vs. evil choices is passe. I have yet to see a game that successfully abandons that system and truly creates moral ambiguity. Bioshock? Save the Little Sister or harvest her; binary choice. Mass Effect? Shoot Wrex or try to talk him out of it; again, a binary choice. No game to date has made it possible for you to walk the line.

I'd love more shades of gray as well, but that also makes it incredibly cumbersome to manage the storyline, especially if it's a longer game. And, if you shorten the game to reduce the effort required for managing all of the disparate paths along that storyline, then you reduce the amount of weight behind making those choices because the consequences aren't really long-term.

I mentioned earlier that subtlety could do wonders; maybe a developer could supplement the usually binary scheme by targeting specific aspects of morality for side quests. Let's say that you're given the opportunity to steal food from a corrupt governor to give to a struggling village and, even though that's the right choice, that blocks off one specific quest from an NPC who is completely opposed to thievery, no matter what the context. Or let's say that you decide to kill the governor instead and that blocks off a quest offered by a particular person that abhors any loss of life, no matter how vile or despicable the victim may have been. In those cases, you could take binary events that fit into the overall storyline and build further moral interpretations of them in smaller side quests without subverting the entire plot.

EDIT: Okay, not sure that last paragraph made any sense at all. I was trying to say that developers could achieve a better range of moral possibilities within the usual "binary choice" system by spinning different interpretations of those events into side quests downstream, rather than building a Big Damn Storyline with an assortment of Big Damn Challenges That Have Eight Different Solutions to accommodate everything.

MisterStatic wrote:

Certis- I think you could be more fair with your assessments sometimes with very little additional time. You have been in the past. I guess the part the made me actually get off my a$$ and post was that your negative views were well thought out and for the most part correct. You failed to highight the positives of which there are plenty in my view that make it an enjoyable game. And I guess I am a bit protective of the game since I did spend 20+ hours of a very busy schedule.

I think you have misunderstood what the Conference Call is about. It's not about delivering a fair and balanced assessment of everything we talk about. Good god would that be tedious, and something I am not at all interested in trying to do. It's a lot of work.

For me The Conference Call is about a bunch of us getting together once a week and talking about the games we've played. How we felt about the experience, and talking about the industry in general. This means our conversations at times might get a little one sided, but a lot of the times you'll find our opinions on a game or topic will vary within the group. We all have our own opinions and we all speak our minds. It's as simple as that.

I am glad a lot of people seem to find it entertaining enough to keep listening every week. I hope people continue to do so.

I also agree with what Rabbit said, someone else having a different opinion on something you loved does not in any way invalidate your love for thing. I am glad there are people out there who enjoyed the experience, because it sucks to spend money on something and end up regretting it. Which is why I continue to do the podcast, because maybe there are people out there who are looking for the same things in video games that I do and if I just saved them a few bucks on a game, or introduced them to a new game they never though they would enjoy than that's great!

I think some people are just in shock that you 4 actually agreed on something on air. Normally someone's had a bad week and just feels ornery enough to argue about anything. I blame the afterglow from Rabbitcon for the good mood that's bringing down this podcast. Somebody pee into some cherios will ya!

Gaald wrote:

For me The Conference Call is about a bunch of us getting together once a week and talking about the games we've played. How we felt about the experience, and talking about the industry in general. This means our conversations at times might get a little one sided, but a lot of the times you'll find our opinions on a game or topic will vary within the group. We all have our own opinions and we all speak our minds. It's as simple as that.

That's definitely what it should be and that really makes the podcast.

Thanks for the podcast. Jeff Green pointed me here, and this has become my mainstay since the demise of the GFW podcast. Speaking of which, when will you have him on again?

I say support your local store. It sounds like a cool place, and you could even find yourself their some Friday night actually playing Dominion with some of the permenant residents.

As for moral ambiguity, when will we see the gaming equivalent of The Wire? Human beings are multidimensional; each of us is capable of good, evil, and indifference.

Playing games in dark times: there are studies out that shows when you're in pain , playing games reduces the amount of pain, b/c it focuses your attention elsewhere. The study focused on physical pain, but it might work for emotional pain too.

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/new...

Arclite wrote:

As for moral ambiguity, when will we see the gaming equivalent of The Wire? Human beings are multidimensional; each of us is capable of good, evil, and indifference.

First off, welcome to the site. Rabbit being on GFW Radio brought me here. There's oh so many of us.

Secondly, I like how you formatted your response.

And lastly, I'm waiting for a true "choose your own adventure". I don't care if the game lasts an hour. I want replay with a bazillion differnt paths and endings (not just multiple endings, multiple ways to get there) and interesting characters. I want to suddenly die when I don't think I should and have that be the end, pissed off as I may be. Bioware just scratches the surface and I simply adore their games. Anyone got some good examples of what I'm looking for?

KaterinLHC wrote:
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.

I really disagree. The local retailer is not just selling the game. He is offering services you don't get from an online retailer. Of course a shop won't match the web deals, so they have to make up for it in other areas. I think it really sucks when people use those services, but then go for the deal online. It's just as wrong to head to the bookstore and read though books and get a feel for what you want, and then leave to find the better deal.

It reminds me of a local high end audio shop that went under a few years ago. The owner recounted a story of a customer he loaned some equipment to to see if it was a good match for his system. The guy came back and said he really like the equipment, but found it on the net for a lot less and wanted to "haggle". What internet place is going to offer the kind of service, including some good expert advice, that this guy got from his local shop? Eventually, he just couldn't compete with the web, because people did not value his service. But now that service is gone, and we are worse off for it.

"Buy where you shop" is a good way to live. There is nothing wrong with shopping online, but local stores spend a ton of money to have product on hand for you to touch and check out. If you do, you owe them your business.

I bought inFamous and am enjoying I think a bit more than the guys on the podcast, but I can't really say anything they said is totally out of line. Pretty right on, honestly.

garion333 wrote:

Bioware just scratches the surface and I simply adore their games. Anyone got some good examples of what I'm looking for?

Ever try Façade?

Thanks, you guys.

I was still on the fence about Infamous after all the good word of mouth.

I played the demo and really didn't enjoy it and your complaints about the game were really similar to mine about the demo.

Going to pass on it - thanks for helping me make up my mind.

The story at the end was a very interesting story. I have my own little story about gaming and loss. When I was very young, my father died, so I never knew him. One day, my mother saw me at my computer playing a game and she scoffed and said, "You look like the way your father did when he used to play his stupid games, like Space Invaders." She left the room in an annoyed huff, but those words stuck with me. Even though I never knew him, my father was a gamer too

Lard wrote:

Going to pass on it - thanks for helping me make up my mind.

I would recommend to rent it which is what I did, it's definitely worth trying even if you didn't enjoy the demo.

inFamous was an ok game, I finished one play through as the good side and probably won't be playing through again as evil. Having said that, I think this is the first time I've played through a "Moral Choice" game and wished I had picked evil in the beginning. The evil powers look a lot more fun, plus I couldn't stand any of the characters toward the end, I really wanted to just fry all of them.

The side missions were really repetitive, but I felt like I had to do them because fighting my way down every street just became too annoying. I don't know how many times I died without every figuring out who was even shooting me, which would get really frustrating. The very generous check point system saved the game for me, if it didn't save my mission progress so often, there's no way I would have ever finished the game. The climbing wasn't fun, more often than not it just involved pressing the x button as fast as I could. I also would have killed for a button that I could hold down that would prevent Cole from sticking to objects. The story was really predictable too, there was only one moment that sort of surprised me, which was about 2/3 in, won't mention it - spoilers are evil.

The game is kind of an anomaly to me, despite being irritated with it more often that not, I still sunk a lot of time into and mostly enjoyed it. After reading all the glowing reviews, I was starting to feel a little crazy for not being completely in love with the game, so I was really glad to hear your discussion on the game.

Since this is my first post, I'd like to say that I've been listening to the podcast for about 6 months now, really enjoy it a lot and look forward to it every week.

plants vs zombies is also great for playing with a baby. It has the added advantage that my daughter loves watching it so i can play it when she is awake for 15 minutes here and there too.

i find the moral choice games more fun if i ignore my karma and just do what i want. Its interesting to check where I am at every now again but as soon as you have a goal to be "good" or "bad" it warps the system.

That said the systems are still mostly bad at creating real moral conflict. In Mass Effect playing this way I maxed out good because it seemed that renegade basically just meant racist and Bioshock rewarded both sides such that making the bad choice was no real advantage so it was just a straight bad/good choice and it only needed to be made once. in KOTOR i just wanted to be a jedi so i did play the system in that.

I just wanted to give my take as a miniature war games player. To me, a local game store that offers a clean, friendly place to play is worth its weight in gold. That store may have slightly higher prices than online, but I see that as the price of admission for being part of a fun gaming community. Mini games like Warhammer 40K and Warmachine tend to take up a lot of room, so I'd much rather play them at a store with wide tabletops and cool hand-painted terrain rather than play on my kitchen table with improvised terrain (aka, books and empty cartons).

Unfortunately, one of my favorite stores recently closed because for every older guy like me who bought from the owner, there were a lot more young kids and college students who bought the bulk of their minis/board games/collectible card games online. My friend owned the store and offered a great environment and competitive prices, but he couldn't compete with online wholesalers. He held out as long as he could, but he couldn't make up for one of the worst holiday retail seasons in years. In his case, I really wish the local community had supported him more.

Long story short, I guess it all comes down to whether you plan to play at that store or not. If you do play there on a regular basis, stop being an artard and buy local. If not, then buying online doesn't really matter.

PS - Is there a link to that PR campaign that was trying to advertise on tombstones? It's so bizarre I need to see more.

inFamous was an ok game, I finished one play through as the good side and probably won't be playing through again as evil. Having said that, I think this is the first time I've played through a "Moral Choice" game and wished I had picked evil in the beginning. The evil powers look a lot more fun, plus I couldn't stand any of the characters toward the end, I really wanted to just fry all of them.

Your instincts are correct. The evil way was more fun, but it is totally not worth playing again as there is no real payoff.

In the discussion about bad PR, I'm surprised nobody thought of the awful half-hour prime-time special on MTV that Microsoft put together to reveal the 360, starring Elijah Wood. It was a half hour of painful moments in which EW tried, and failed, to say things that didn't make you think "Why is Frodo is trying to be hip?" As for the console, they didn't have much information about it, but they all seemed unduly excited about the fact that you could buy different faceplates, and that it had a concave shape. The only game they showed off (for about 15 seconds) was Perfect Dark Zero, which looked terrible and didn't make me giddy the same way it did Frodo.