Conference Call

GWJ Conference Call Episode 148

Batman: Arkham Asylum, IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, Starcraft Watching, Wipeout Pure (The Purest), Special Guest and Love Developer Eskil Steenberg, The Future of Motion, Platforms & Tech, Your Emails and more!

This week we're joined by indie game developer Eskil Steenberg, maker of Love. It turns out the man behind such an enigmatic game has an interesting opinion on just about anything. 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

"Lo-Fi Attitude" (SGX) - - 0:34:05
"Garibaldi" - Ayco (Eiko Ishiwata) - - 1:11:41


WiredAsylum wrote:

14 dollars a month for 6 years! who is offer the 6 year no intrest loan? Never mind game costs.

If you buy a PS3 and then promise yourself that so long as you own it you will use $20 bills as toilet paper, the costs are astronomical!

Best episode from about 30 I've listened to, all because of the interesting guest.

Great show, Eskil really hits the nail on the head.

I liked your guest star Eskil. You should have him on more often.

So what's the story on that Monday night gaming get-together, Cory? Seattle GWJers want to know!

I totally didn't know Eskil was Swedish until Stockholm came up.

I couldn't be more underwhelmed by features of PSN, and I'm more than happy to pay 60 bucks a year for XBL, and you can routinely get a 12 month card online for around 40. For now my PS3 is solely a blu-ray player as I've tired of Killzone, and every single other MP game with no persistent party system so I can play with my friends, not always against them. I'm sorry but when I walk into a video game store with my paycheck and physically can't find anything on the system that I want to buy, something's wrong (I probably have 25, 360 games and 4 PS3 games). Well at least my PS3 can keep my dust-gathering PSP company.

As for Batman, I can't shake the feeling that I've played the entire game in the demo. It also seems like the entire game will be A) silently (somehow) grapple onto gargoyle, B) Drop kick one bad guy, C) Repeat until all guys in a room are knocked out. I'm hoping it has more depth, and I'm also holding out hope for Darksiders.

Eskil was a great guest - very funny and charismatic.

Wow. Great guest speaker. Lots of interesting points and insights, though I don't agree with all of them.
Really, top shelf.

As much as I found Eskil to be interesting, he REALLY needs to cut back on his coffee and sugary snacks intake!

Rat Boy wrote:

Corona barely counts as beer; like the old saying goes, it's like sex in a canoe. It's as close to water as you can get.

No no no. If you're going to quote it, do it properly. Sex in a canoe is f*cking close to water. It doesn't make sense otherwise!

Your point stands, however. Corona is nasty.

"14 dollars a month for 6 years! Never mind game costs. "

Eskil, you did not buy any games for your hardware yet . You also did not count the extra hardware (controllers, "special" hard drives, add-ons to controllers). And the xbox live gold membership you mentioned later in the cast. Xbox Live would be $70 each year here in Central/Western Europe. My PC alone costs me ~100,- each year on gaming hardware (avg/year) and ~300,- on games.

And then there is no time playing all the good games from all the different platforms. I recently sold my Wii and went PC-only, just because there are so many good games on PC that I could spend 24x365 playing only the games in my backlog. I "save" a lot of time and money because I do not own a TV, but I still find no time to give Spelunky the attention it deserves, or play through half life 2 a second time.

Mario Galaxy was a masterpiece, but I think every gamer needs to learn how to skip a game like this. If you try to play all the great games, you end up either rushing through everything, or you end up doing nothing else in your life but playing video games.

Oh, and the podcast was great.

Eskil never said that all your gaming would break down to 14 bucks a month including games. Only that having all three consoles for so many years would only end up costing you a small amount per month over the life cycle of the consoles and would allow you access to any game that came out for that generation. While his numbers may need to be looked into further, to think he was including all the games you would buy in the number he quoted is absurd.

It was an interesting show... but i did also feel that some of Eskil's thoughts are either completely wrong or 'pie in the sky'.

Also, consoles don't reduce in price that quickly.... $1000 isn't going to buy you the three consoles a year and a half after release (as long as you're buying the complete console i.e. not arcade 360 or the cheaper PS3 one without wi-fi and the normal connectors). If you buy any later you're not likely to get "6 years" of releases on each console.... thus making it more than $14 per month (not including increasing game prices and peripheral costs to be able to play those games.... how many Wii games are going to be "motion plus"-only?)

Secondly, with his prediction of diversification of platforms... he's basically alluding to (perhaps not on purpose) a massive game industry crash circa 2014 like there was in the early 80's. The market will just not support that many different formats and platforms... it's never worked in the past and i can't see it working in the future. Sure, people will rally behind a couple of platforms... that's what happened with Nintendo and Sega.... but the rest fell by the wayside.

[edit]Fixed wrong 360 SKU

Gaald wrote:

Eskil never said that all your gaming would break down to 14 bucks a month including games. Only that having all three consoles for so many years would only end up costing you a small amount per month over the life cycle of the consoles and would allow you access to any game that came out for that generation. While his numbers may need to be looked into further, to think he was including all the games you would buy in the number he quoted is absurd.

I find it interesting that this is the opposite side of the argument.... I mean, taking his analogy, you can invest in a relatively cheap 'old' car for around £1000 (not sure about $1000 in the US). You don't need to upgrade it or drive it and it will last you as many years as you keep it rather than however many years it is supported by the developers and by that line of thinking could provide you with less than $14 a month enjoyment.

I don't 'get' that way of thinking about it.... it makes no sense to me. Yes, it's hard logic but reality doesn't always reflect the simplicity of cold hard logic. As an argument for the logic that gaming is cheap as a pastime (which is what i took from the discussion) which enables people to own all consoles it doesn't really hold much weight for me. I mean, i spent £100 on a guitar many years ago. It'll never break as long as i take care of it and string costs are minimal (you don't have to replace them half as often as the professionals) and so there's no real ongoing costs... as a hobby it's far more cost effective but that doesn't mean that i should go out and buy all the different types of guitars for completeness - or learn all types of guitar playing.

For me, life experience is more than just a 'price comparison' and i always feel a sort of 'railing' within me when i hear about people justifying their position with units of money.. especially when not everyone has that amount of money to spend. $1000 in a one-off amount for all three consoles is all well and good but maybe you'll play less than 10 games on two of those consoles.... does that represent a good investment when you could have spent that $500 on something that might enrich your life in a different aspect when you consider that you've still got a single console left and are playing a large portion of games?

Eskil was by far the smartest observer and commenter on video games I have ever heard. Bar none. Please have him back often.

Baron Of Hell wrote:

I liked your guest star Eskil. You should have him on more often.

Ditto. The dude was awesome.

LobsterMobster wrote:

I still don't buy the "X360 is the most expensive" argument. Yes, it's the most expensive if you also buy 6 years of Live. ...But why six years? What if you only pay for 1 year of Live? Or 10 years? Or maybe the PS3 is the most expensive if you also pay for electricity for 30 years on top of that. The Wii is the most expensive if you buy it with optional 90" plasma display. If you're talking lifetime costs you could say the console with the fewest games you want to buy is OBVIOUSLY the best investment because you'll have to buy fewer games.

Just sounds like the usual Sony marketing BS to say their console is better than the competition if you squint your eyes and spin around.

I don't really buy the counter argument Lobster. PS3 throws in the online part for free, while to get the similar experience with the 360 you do have to spend more (yes, the 360 experience if officially better, but lets say for argument sake that we aren't talking about quality but cost). So yes the 360 can be cheaper if you don't want to use it to its full potential, but if you do, the PS3 is cheaper. All the counter costs you mention are costs for all consoles, not just the PS3 or Wii.

The purchase of games has nothing to do with the cost of the console. Buying a game for the PS3 or 360 doesn't increase the cost of owning the console at all. It would be like saying that every time you buy a DVD, your DVD player gets more expensive.

If you count the cost of playing good games (for gamers) that are either exclusive or significantly better on one platform than the other, then the 360 has a much higher TCO than the PS3.

Just as in the previous generation, the PS2 had a much higher TCO than the Xbox, and the cheapest console was probably the Dreamcast.


Hey guys, great show! Enjoyed the stuff from Eskil. You need to have him on more often.

Glad you guys have enjoyed Eskil's appearance! It was a loooooooong time coming.

Even if I might somewhat disagree with a few of his statements, I thought he offered an interesting perspective. Most importantly, he easily drives discussion. In some things he even provided some refreshing insight. Overall I really liked what he had to say. I have a hard time finding time for podcasts, so I'm relatively picky on which of these I listen to, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

So, Eskil, if you're reading this, thanks for your time.

Nice to hear Eskil again, IIRC he was on some 1up podcasts during E3.

I'd just like to comment regarding Natal and Microsoft. First off, it's interesting to know that Johnny Lee (the "wii mote guy") is now working at Microsoft Research, on the Natal project. So it seems like they are at least getting interesting people in on the project as well. The interesting bit about the Natal hardware is also not the depth camera per se, those have existed for some time, but the body mapping. Being able to get the location of multiple people is seriously hard (as in, no one else can do it hard).

Microsoft still has a lot to prove in this area, I didn't even bother getting their last 360 camera and I'm glad I saved my money. But historically they have been better at providing APIs for their stuff than Sony. What Natal needs is a bunch of efficient libraries which will make it easy for developers to add it to their projects. If you have that I'm sure we'll see interesting stuff like having characters in FPSs look at you (the player) instead of at the camera. Small things like that could really add to the experience.

BTW I was seriously unimpressed by the Sony demo. That looked like a school project to me (university level, but still). And it's worth noting that something like Natal would be able to do that as well (it's all done in software).

Oh well, whatever happens it's going to be interesting to see the industry try to innovate a bit again. Nintendo hasn't really done anything with the Wiimote since Wii Sports (until Motion+), their other games have largely been "waggle controls" instead of trying to involve the gamer.

Loved hearing what Eskil had to say - insightful and controversial. If nothing else, the man got me thinking.

He could cut back on the use of the word 'Awesome' by about 400% though. =)

FredGarvin wrote:

Eskil was by far the smartest observer and commenter on video games I have ever heard. Bar none. Please have him back often.

I enjoyed hearing from him; he's a very engaging fellow. But he was also wrong on quite a few points, or rather had a very narrow or skewed perspective on some points.

As for a game series that I would like to see brought to the modern world ala Monkey Island (i.e. all the original gameplay with a new UI/Skin/Graphics) for me that would be Ultima IV - VII.

Eskil is a great guy, a wonderful guest, and his game will be awesome. Seriously looking forward to getting my hands on it! I hoped you could've spoken more about Love.

Lots of bases covered there and you know, I think you could do that more often. Like maybe have two topics. Or three. It's better if you run out of time per topic than out of steam, which has been known to happen on occasion. This show got me thinking about lots of things.

garion333 wrote:

I'm also all for game critique and not reviews, so scores are fairly pointless to me, but there is a fairly lacking amount of discussion about a game weeks or months after release outside of forums and podcasts. Is this endemic to gaming sites (by that I mean the Gamespot and 1ups of the world) because they exist to drive traffic their way and FIRST!!!! reviews do that while actual discussion doesn't? Or are forums the place these post mortem discussions are meant to be held?

I agree with you, and would love to see more in-depth, thoughtful critiques and not just reviews. I would really love to see critiques of games like Anthony Lane's of film. (Those film critics have it made - the most they ever have to watch normally is 3 hours.)

I love Edge's running feature where they take a very in-depth look at a game of yesteryear with the benefit of hindsight. Without scores, as well.

Great show guys. Eskil is a pretty insightful dude.

Plus, Freedom Fighters is all sorts of awesome.

Grubber788 wrote:

Plus, Freedom Fighters is all sorts of awesome.

FF is one of my favorite games of the last generation. I still can't understand why it wasn't a sales success.