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

I thought Fable II let me play a neutral character very well. I did get showered in good karma for ridiculously small things, even when I didn't want to be awarded, but managed to balance it out by being a self-centered bastard, without ever doing anything "evil". My biggest problem was getting fat due to my unwholesome lifestyle. I feel the roleplaying works very well there.

jaz147 wrote:
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?

No, but I will. Thanks.

jdzappa wrote:

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.

Yep..

IMAGE(http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2002/vgnews/031802/shadowman2_790screen001.jpg)

Johnvanjim wrote:

Yep.. :P

Man I love that.

And on the "clean, will-lighted place to game" front, for sure I am with you. Alas my local game store is:

1: Never open.
2: Poorly managed.
3: Minuscule.

I TRY to buy games from the guy, and he gives locals 20% off, but still, he makes it hard.

Buying local has value, but I also believe in tough love. If you can get something significantly cheaper elsewhere, you're doing the shop owner a favor to at least make them aware that they might be losing business... even if you don't do it as part of "haggling," just mention it to inform them.

Why the dislike of haggling? Almost everyone does it for high priced items and there's no real reason not to do it for smaller purchases.

As for the poker sites, you can deposit into US online sites by eCheck. I think you can mail them a check as well for those who don't like transferring money online; but I've never had a problem with eChecks.

Just got to the section where you're talking about online game shops--I have to say that while Funagain is the Amazon.com of board gaming, there are a bunch of smaller sites that have great selections and comparable, if not lower prices, plus great customer service. Boardsandbits.com is wonderful if you're close to Seattle--I've ordered a game and received it the very next day--and gamessurplus.com is wonderful for east coast shopping (based in PA) with great turnaround.

Just got to the section where you're talking about online game shops--I have to say that while Funagain is the Amazon.com of board gaming, there are a bunch of smaller sites that have great selections and comparable, if not lower prices, plus great customer service. Boardsandbits.com is wonderful if you're close to Seattle--I've ordered a game and received it the very next day--and gamessurplus.com is wonderful for east coast shopping (based in PA) with great turnaround.

I also struggle with buying games from the local shop vs. online. I try to make a few purchases a year from the brick and mortars, but it is getting harder and harder with the extreme discounts online. Plus, I don't feel like I have a connection to the local game shop--I don't do any gaming there--I'm just in and out with whatever game I'm looking for.

Aaannnd, I posted this twice. Sweet.

Garion might have a different impression of this than me, but the local game shops here all seem pretty aggressively unfriendly. If the shopkeepers don't already know you, you'll get a pretty cold shoulder. It makes me a lot less likely to buy any sort of board or card game locally.

Jayhawker wrote:

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 disagree. As a consumer, I don't owe any business anything. A business displays its product as a way to entice me to part with my dollars, but the moment they act entitled to my money, just because I took a peek at their wares, is the moment I stop going to their business altogether.

Your audio shop owner took an (intelligent) calculated risk in loaning the customer the equipment, but his mistake was in assuming that his generosity entitled him to the sale. If he wasn't willing to at least explain the benefit of purchasing his more expensive product to the customer, then I consider that a failure of customer service and he deserved to lose the sale. After all, there are plenty of times consumers choose the more expensive choice; they just need a compelling enough reason to do so. (Of course, there are some customers that ONLY shop on low price -- but not as many as one might think.) If consumers did not value his service, it was because he gave them no reason to do so.

I'm probably coming off a little harsher on local business than I really am, because if given the choice between two equal businesses, I will choose to support the local guy every single time. I fiercely believe in the power of independent, small business and take pride in my local commercial community.

But as a member of the local business community, I've seen WAY too many local business people whine and complain about how online or big box retailers cut into their business, instead of adapting and keeping themselves competitive.

I take issue with the general assumption that because a business is local, it must inherently provide services that an online or big box store does not. Not true. I've been to plenty of local businesses where the employees were rude, the product line stunk, the store was disorganized, nobody was willing to help me find what I wanted -- and, yes, they blatantly overcharged the customer. (For example, in my experience, local coffee shops are TERRIBLE about this, but I've never had an unpleasant trip to Starbucks.)

As far as board game shops go, in Rochester we're lucky: We have two that i know of. Both have gaming tables set up; enthusiasts running the store; large, drool-worthy selections; tournaments and gaming groups -- basically, all the things you expect from your "friendly neighborhood gaming store", things that an online or big box retailer can't offer.

But one store, the one actually in my township, offers a miserable shopping experience. When they're not ignoring me, the employees are usually rude or unhelpful; the store exorbitantly marks up their merchandise; and frankly, the place smells like unwashed armpit and Cheetoes. Compare that to a smaller shop downtown, about 15-20 miles away. There, the employees are polite and courteous; the prices are far more reasonable (even competitive with what one might find online, when you take into account shipping and tax); and the store smells clean and fresh. I'll choose the downtown shop every time, even if it is further away, because they offer me a better experience for my money.

FenixStryk wrote:

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

This.

I played Red Faction a good bit with a buddy of mine on his PS2, and I hated it, gimmicky, floaty generic shooter with some M.Bison wannabe hollering pseudo-1984 crap at me constantly.. But now I'm going to go pick this up on the way home from work.

Bionic Commando's multiplayer is the first thing to feel like a Tribes game for me in a very long time, and I'm always game for mech suits and hammers made of ostriches.

I think all this effort to make games with moral choices (or just choices in general) that affect gameplay and outcomes is misguided. These attempts to raise games from melodrama to drama generally fall flat, if for no other reason than that a well-made story says something, and when you have multiple outcomes you have it saying multiple things, some of them contradictory. The meat of the story then (if it has any) is in the choices you don't get to make.

I think it's far more interesting - and emotionally powerful - when a game plays with choice itself. Bioshock is a case in point. There were two different ways choice played a role in that game, and the more interesting, more affecting one was not choosing whether to save or harvest a Little Sister.

Another example of an emotionally affecting choice structure in a game would be ManHunt. For all its flaws, it did do something interesting with choice: it put the player in the position of doing something repugnant, or losing the game. Of course, the repugnance is somewhat softened by the fact that the victims are also all scum, but that's counteracted by the brutal, sick and vicious ways in which one is asked to kill them.

Choices in games would be better, I think, if they provided the kind of meta-commentary on games you find in Bioshock, or the kind of commentary on the viewer you find in Starship Troopers, if they provided choices that don't really affect whether you win the game or how the story ends, but instead trades on your existing emotional investment in the game and its characters to make you feel uncomfortable or sad, or even righteous or avenged.

A good kind of choice in a game would put you in a position where the option you choose doesn't matter - except to you, and all your options may well be awful. Something like the Kobayashi Maru scenario would be appropriate. Another example of this might be an RPG where you spend time interacting with and getting to know members of your party - but there comes a point in the game where you have to sacrifice one of them to continue. It wouldn't make any real difference which one you choose - but no matter which one you pick, you lose a friend.

I guess I'm looking for Sophie's Choice: The Game.

Hans

Hans,

You'll find some of those scenarios in games already.

Mass Effect, for instance, forces you into not one but two different situations in which you can lose a party member; in one case, you must lose a party member and must choose which party member that is.

Likewise, the ending to Fable 2 presents you with three choices, none of which are particularly ideal.

Adam, I experienced the Mass Effect choice. For some reason, it didn't grab me. I suspect it had something to do with never having felt a real emotional connection to either of the party members I'd have to sacrifice.

Fable II is on my when-it-gets-cheap-enough list.

Hans

hidannik wrote:

Adam, I experienced the Mass Effect choice. For some reason, it didn't grab me. I suspect it had something to do with never having felt a real emotional connection to either of the party members I'd have to sacrifice.

Fable II is on my when-it-gets-cheap-enough list.

Hans

I sacrificed the one that I knew I wouldn't end up doing later on in the game.

Edxactly wrote:

Contrary to Katerin I buy local now and then simply to support local. It is how I choose to live me life.
I know that by pure logic of getting the most for my $ that might not make sense - but it depends upon what is important to you.
Having a store the provides that "community" face and such is nice. Especially when they are active as in this case by hosting game play. That is a benefit you are buying - maybe not for you directly but you are supporting a social aspect you believe has value.

Please read my follow-up post:

me 8 posts ago wrote:

I'm probably coming off a little harsher on local business than I really am, because if given the choice between two equal businesses, I will choose to support the local guy every single time. I fiercely believe in the power of independent, small business and take pride in my local commercial community.

And Jayhawker -- I think we're saying the same thing, but maybe I'm not saying it right, because I definitely agree with what you posted above.

hidannik wrote:

A good kind of choice in a game would put you in a position where the option you choose doesn't matter - except to you, and all your options may well be awful.

There were a lot of places where Indigo Prophecy (aka Fahrenheit) did this very well. Whatever its flaws in narrative and as a "game" (and I think it has a slightly worse rap than it deserves), it was interesting to see how they handled choice and the way it did (or often didn't) make a difference.

mrtomaytohead wrote:
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?

I think Clint Hocking would have been a better choice, but he has hardly been shy himself.

Certis wrote:

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.

Maybe it's because I remember being the only one in the room who wasn't buying into the demo at RabbitCon, but I seem to remember the CC guys being mostly in favor of inFamous up until this podcast.

OzymandiasAV wrote:
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.

Part of the problem with the model in the KotOR games was that it didn't even fit the Jedi-Sith dichotomy especially well. Another was that the game sort of slammed on the breaks in order to present you with explicitly "moral" choices, in which there was a relatively obvious dynamic strategically prefering one over the other.

Man, if we're going to talk about ethics systems in games, I will have to go grab my dump truck o' links.

hidannik wrote:

A good kind of choice in a game would put you in a position where the option you choose doesn't matter - except to you,

The difference has been explained as a difference between "choices" and "problems." Ethical problems in games have a "right" answer and often reward the player more for choosing that answer. True choices don't involve passing judgment on the player's decision.

KaterinLHC wrote:

I take issue with the general assumption that because a business is local, it must inherently provide services that an online or big box store does not. Not true. I've been to plenty of local businesses where the employees were rude, the product line stunk, the store was disorganized, nobody was willing to help me find what I wanted -- and, yes, they blatantly overcharged the customer. (For example, in my experience, local coffee shops are TERRIBLE about this, but I've never had an unpleasant trip to Starbucks.)

I think you misunderstood my point. It was not that local businesses are better, it's that they have to be better in order to compete. I don't shop anywhere that offers a unpleasant experience if I can help it. All I'm saying is that if we value a local business and we take advantage of free services it offers, then we really do owe it to ourselves to spend the extra money it might take to shop in their stores. If it is not a valued business, or we do not even use the services offered, there is no reason to patronize their business.

A clothing shop is taking a bigger risk, and absorbing more costs to have clothes you can try on. I think it is rude to use the store to try on clothes and compare fits, only to order the stuff online for cheaper. If the clerks are rude to you while trying on clothes, and make it an unpleasant experience, it would be really dumb to then buy your clothes from them. But then, I wouldn't continue using the store to try clothes on.

hidannik wrote:

Choices in games would be better, I think, if they provided the kind of meta-commentary on games you find in Bioshock, or the kind of commentary on the viewer you find in Starship Troopers, if they provided choices that don't really affect whether you win the game or how the story ends, but instead trades on your existing emotional investment in the game and its characters to make you feel uncomfortable or sad, or even righteous or avenged.

I agree that any morality implementation in a game needs to have some level of meta-commentary (i.e. personal reflection) on the choices available to the player, but I'm not sure I follow your example. Didn't BioShock's ending diverge dramatically if you chose to save vs. harvest?

hidannik wrote:

A good kind of choice in a game would put you in a position where the option you choose doesn't matter - except to you, and all your options may well be awful. Something like the Kobayashi Maru scenario would be appropriate. Another example of this might be an RPG where you spend time interacting with and getting to know members of your party - but there comes a point in the game where you have to sacrifice one of them to continue. It wouldn't make any real difference which one you choose - but no matter which one you pick, you lose a friend.

I guess I'm looking for Sophie's Choice: The Game.

To touch on your RPG example for a second, I would personally feel like morality would have nothing to do with it because the outcomes of that decision really aren't all that different: lose party member A, lose party member B, or lose party member C. In my opinion, it would become a more compelling moral quandary if you added a choice that would allow you to keep one of those party members, but at the cost of an entire village. It becomes the classic "needs of the one vs. needs of the many" situation that you can ratchet up even further with the characterization of the village; if the village is collectively flawed in some way (racism, anti-technology, whatever), do their lives become less meaningful than the life of a person who may very well have saved your life through the course of the game?

Of course, the potential danger there is that the repercussions from that choice can bypass personal reflection altogether and drive home a negative reinforcement of the game itself. I don't want to say that there can never be a sad or bad outcome in games, but I think they present a major challenge for the designer; Players invest a lot of time in games and I feel that, as the time invested in any activity increases, the tolerance for a negative outcome from that activity decreases sharply. How do you screw a player over without pissing them off completely?

Just to walk through one possibility, I'd say that ramping up the positive context for the decision in that RPG game would definitely help. Rather than merely "continuing", let's say that this is at the end of the game and, after building up through hours and hours of gameplay, the player has finally reached a climactic point where the fate of the country/world/universe is riding on this decision of sacrifice. The player has a major reward ahead of them and the larger outcome remains the same; the differences lie in the moral repercussions of the "smaller" outcome, the price paid for their choice. But even that example doesn't fix everything, as you potentially alienate the "escapist" players that are just looking for a good time or (more importantly) a purely happy ending to payoff their struggles through the game.

wordsmythe wrote:

Part of the problem with the model in the KotOR games was that it didn't even fit the Jedi-Sith dichotomy especially well. Another was that the game sort of slammed on the breaks in order to present you with explicitly "moral" choices, in which there was a relatively obvious dynamic strategically prefering one over the other.

Exactly. I'm not sure that I agree with the assertion that KotOR skirted the Jedi-Sith dichotomy (care to expound on that?), but I wholeheartedly agree that bringing the game to a full stop to sledgehammer the player with An Important Moral Choice actually undermines the decision by breaking immersion. And I think it speaks to the morality of the designers a bit as well; if you're posing some really important ethical decision as an elaborate quiz prompt in your game, are you really taking that decision very seriously?

Like I said before, I'd prefer more subtlety: not just in the presentation of the decision, but in the outcome as well.

I think trying to make the choice "moral" or "immoral" kind of misses the point. What we need are choices that have downsides no matter what we choose. this allows gamers to weigh the pros and cons, and then play out scenarios.

This is what made me a gamer in the first place. I may have cut my teeth on Png and the Atari 2600, but that didn't make me a gamer. The idea of playing sports games that could realistically mimic the sport is what really drew me in. The closer to reality these games could become, (and until recently, that mostly meant test based games and the long defunct Front Page Sports series) that closer I could come in testing out my theories about what could produce winning teams.

Now, how much those theories relate to real life is pretty negligible. But as online sports gaming has gotten better, we now have the opportunity to play these games and see how our strategies work out against other players.

The APFB league we ran here is a perfect example. I'd say the draft produced the most drama, and some of the most interesting "gameplay". The game did not even feature a draft, so we had to do it ourselves. Drafting a player is not a moral choice, but it sure is one that has a ton of implications on the way the rest of your season will play out. we had much more talk and chat among us duringthe draft than we ever had during the season, as the choices we made had such an effect on everyone else. It was a blast, and most of the desire to run another season of APFB stems from the fun of the draft.

The genius of the game was limiting the draft to 11 players, instead of an entire roster. Two gold players, three silver, and six bronze players is all you get. that meant you were already dividing the team into offense or defense, because on side would have more players. Or you could draft a K or the one punter, but that had its own ramifications. for most of us, it was 5 or 6 guys on offense. And then where do you choose to use the gold and silver guys? Every decision was fraught with drawbacks.

The best sports game are filled with these kind of decisions. You only get some nay roster spaces. In games, every decision is a point of no return. Which defense do you call? Do you walk a batter? Do you stack your lines with good players, or spread them out among all three top lines? There is no answer 90% of the time.

Sports games accomplish this like other games will never be able to. Sports games don't require you to win to get to the end of the game. The goal is to enjoy the process. If you lose, you still learned, and there is always another game, and another season.

OzymandiasAV wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

Part of the problem with the model in the KotOR games was that it didn't even fit the Jedi-Sith dichotomy especially well. Another was that the game sort of slammed on the breaks in order to present you with explicitly "moral" choices, in which there was a relatively obvious dynamic strategically prefering one over the other.

Exactly. ... I wholeheartedly agree that bringing the game to a full stop to sledgehammer the player with An Important Moral Choice actually undermines the decision by breaking immersion. And I think it speaks to the morality of the designers a bit as well; if you're posing some really important ethical decision as an elaborate quiz prompt in your game, are you really taking that decision very seriously?

Like I said before, I'd prefer more subtlety: not just in the presentation of the decision, but in the outcome as well.

While I understand that there is a strong ethical tradition that correlates ethical quandaries and both the personal and objective ramifications of the options present, I don't tend to subscribe to their newsgroup. I'm much more a fan of choices that are made independent of personal consequences. I'd like to see games that didn't both explicitly flag "moral" (i.e., ethical) choices, because the way it's done (at least generally and at the present time) both forces the question into a strongly dispassionate, almost Aspergerian framework, and also tends to imply that all non-flagged choices in the game are implicitly void of all moral or ethical value.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

I'm not sure that I agree with the assertion that KotOR skirted the Jedi-Sith dichotomy (care to expound on that?)

I realize that this part of Star Wars canon is shifting sand, but there was at least a time when the Sith were associated with passion and self-interest, while the Jedi were more associated with dispassion and universalism (though I don't think they ever went all the way to non-action). This dichotomy certainly is used within the KotOR stories, but the mechanics seem to swing the Dark Side from unflinching egotism to malevolence, which historically was less a part of the canonical Dark Side (anger being a "path" to the Dark Side, indicating that it was not the destination itself, which is instead defined as a confluence of "anger, fear, aggression").

coyo7e wrote:
FenixStryk wrote:

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

This.

I played Red Faction a good bit with a buddy of mine on his PS2, and I hated it, gimmicky, floaty generic shooter with some M.Bison wannabe hollering pseudo-1984 crap at me constantly.. But now I'm going to go pick this up on the way home from work.

I picked this up on the way home from work yesterday - blows the doors off of Mercs 2, makes GTA feel claustrophobic..

I tried to drop the tower onto the lab during the first tutorial mission, with a series of timed charges.. It worked, very well, and was pretty impressive looking too.

Almost as impressive as the silo I knocked down a hill and jumped inside, bashing holes in the wall as it continued going.

I vote this a must-buy, and I haven't even played the multiplayer.. It's like Mercs 1, just not buggy and broken and ugly.

KaterinLHC wrote:
Edxactly wrote:

Contrary to Katerin I buy local now and then simply to support local. It is how I choose to live me life.
I know that by pure logic of getting the most for my $ that might not make sense - but it depends upon what is important to you.
Having a store the provides that "community" face and such is nice. Especially when they are active as in this case by hosting game play. That is a benefit you are buying - maybe not for you directly but you are supporting a social aspect you believe has value.

Please read my follow-up post:

me 8 posts ago wrote:

I'm probably coming off a little harsher on local business than I really am, because if given the choice between two equal businesses, I will choose to support the local guy every single time. I fiercely believe in the power of independent, small business and take pride in my local commercial community.

And Jayhawker -- I think we're saying the same thing, but maybe I'm not saying it right, because I definitely agree with what you posted above.

Katerin - I stand corrected and happily so. Thanks

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.

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

I have to say that in my opinion I would base what you pay on what you can afford to pay.
If you don't feel you can afford the local store price - then buy online.
Contrary to Katerin I buy local now and then simply to support local. It is how I choose to live me life.
I know that by pure logic of getting the most for my $ that might not make sense - but it depends upon what is important to you.
Having a store the provides that "community" face and such is nice. Especially when they are active as in this case by hosting game play. That is a benefit you are buying - maybe not for you directly but you are supporting a social aspect you believe has value.

We are in a era where the fruits of materialism have come back to bite us on our ass in my humble marginally informed opinion.
EDIT - DELETED WHAT I THOUGHT WERE COMMENTS TO NEGATIVE AND OUT OF PLACE

Just my opinion but I think buying local does buy you more then just the product and that immediate customer experience. It buys you a community.

Oh .. and Julian - you SOOOOOO had me at the mention of Tribes!!!!! (so much fun... so many mods...)
But I don't see the RF MP Demo on PS3 - am I left out in the cold for this demo due to my optimism over the PS3?

Here's a nice PR gaffe for this year's E3. It's insulting to both the faithful and gamers alike, and unlikely to undo the general atmosphere of wtf surrounding this game:

http://www.joystiq.com/2009/06/05/ea-confirms-dantes-inferno-protest-was-staged/

I hope this isn't too out of left field, but since we're discussing moral choice in games: I just started Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume (DS), a (light strategy) RPG. In this game, you are trying to kill the Valkyrie as revenge for taking your father to Valhalla, and have been granted powers by Hel to do so.

An interesting game mechanic is that once you have become close to a character (they've joined your party permanently) you can use the eponymous "plume" on them in battle, causing them to become incredibly powerful (and passing some permanent benefits on to your main character). However, after the battle they die permanently. New characters are recruited regularly, and you can only use four at a time, so sacrificing them is not a real handicap.

So far, this seems like an interesting moral choice. I'm not far enough along to know how well implemented it is.

I'm looking forward to Heavy Rain to see what it brings to the party.

ChiSoxKeith wrote:

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.

Thanks for this advice, and thanks for reading my letter guys!

Honestly, I was freaking out because he had seen someone use google and started looking things up himself - I think the "only go to sites on your desktop" deal will work, if not I'll try openDNS.

I have used Funagain from time-to-time, each and every time was a positive experience, but altogether I have found a better experience so far with ThoughtHammer. Granted I don't order a whole lot these days, but on the rare occasions when I have needed to adjust an order, or had questions, folks from TH were consistently solid in their responses (and response times). Couple that with their usually lower prices (even with shipping) and it all comes out as a net positive for someone whose pocket book drastically shrank with the arrival of their child.

I used to live very close to Gamescape in SF, which was wonderful and I enjoyed supporting them, but damnit if games weren't an average of $15-20 more per game (or sometimes more for some of the newer, larger games that I tend to enjoy). But I have since moved to the mid-peninsula and there isn't nearly quite the same level of store/service combo that I've found. There used to be a Gamescape in Palo Alto when I lived there a decade ago, but I don't know what's become of it since.

The gameshop in Berkeley (Games of Berkeley) is also excellent, and whenever I am up there I always make a point to stop by, and will sometimes plan a purchase if I know I am going to the area.