GWJ Conference Call Episode 150

Conference Call

Wolfenstein, Shadow Complex, Spider, Special Guest Ken Levine, Do Lead Designers Matter Anymore?, Your Emails and more!

This week 2K Boston's Ken Levine joins us to celebrate our 150th episode! We talk about whether or not he's necessary, game design, rabbit's horrible, horrible taste in iPhone games and more! Thanks to Ian "Podunk" Dorsch for music from his work on Love. 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

"Love Trailer Soundtrack" (Ian Dorsch) - www.willowtreeaudio.com - 0:42:37
"Love Main Theme" (Ian Dorshch) - www.willowtreeaudio.com - 1:10:26

Comments

Congrats on 150

Brainy Gamer has a great couple of few posts about voice acting:

http://www.brainygamer.com/the_brainy_gamer/2009/04/voicing-concern.html

http://www.brainygamer.com/the_brainy_gamer/2009/04/voice-for-change.html

http://www.brainygamer.com/the_brainy_gamer/2008/09/voice-acting.html

The main point I took away from this is that voice actors should be in on the game development process from a very early stage to give them a better feel for their character resulting in more natural dialog. I think budgets and the limited vision of game designers has made this sort of adjustment difficult to carry out, not unlike what happened with my "Drive out the Capitalist Evils" campaign toward the end of the Cultural Revolution. It would have worked, we just lost our funding as investors got executed.

Gratz on 150 :D. Great show as always.

Ok down to business:

Higgledy here from the Far Cry 2 defence force.

*Flashes official looking badge at such a speed that no detail can be seen.*

I really, really like the voice work in Far Cry 2. It might not be perfect but the accents and the naturalistic style of the dialogue really adds to the atmosphere. Some of the buddies can sound stilted but I think it is because English often isn't the characters first language rather than because they are poorly acted (although in some case it might well be that the dialogue is poorly acted by someone who doesn't have English as their first language.)

Ken talked about having arguments with fellow creatives. I used to argue a lot with an editor I worked with. One of the worst moments in a heated argument is when it suddenly dawns on you that the other person is infact right. You have to continue arguing for a little while as you work out a graciously way to admit you were wrong.

Great show guys, and congrats on 150! It's always a pleasure listening to the podcast crew, and for some reason Ken Levine seems to fit in just perfectly. I can't wait for episode 200!

I disagree with Wolfenstein, I'm mad at raven even. The more I play it the angrier I get, this Wolfenstein is nothing but derivative garbage. For instance:

Weapon swapping and grenades are right out of COD along with the regen of health.

The "powers" are total rip of crysis

Power 1: Speed - You can see secret areas!!! That have a giant mark on them so you can see them without it..
Power 2: Strength
Power 3: Shield
Power 4: Bullet time

Don't even get my started on multiplayer.

But I will agree it is mildly fun, but I ran through the game stealth be damned on hard.

The fact that Ken Levine flamed a little boy on XBox Live makes my life a little richer, like most things that good sir does. Thank you, Mister Levine, for all that you do.

Am I the only one who feels like he needs a cigarette followed by a shower after the discussions of the NHL and Lost Planet 2 demos?

Congrats on 150!

I always love the episodes that Ken Levine is on. Ironically, it's partly because it's the only ones where BioShock isn't constantly referred to as an example no matter what the official topic is.

When I was earning my worthless degree in university, one of my teachers taught me that a work of art stands on its own. If it needs any explanation from the artist, it is incomplete (which isn't to say the artist isn't allowed to intentionally leave things vague or unexplained). I didn't know that Shadow Complex had anything to do with Orson Card till it became "an issue." There is NOTHING about that in the game. It seems to me that boycotting it because of Card's beliefs is denying the message (the message being Shadow Complex) due to one of many messengers. I don't know if he deserves that much credit, to be honest. After all, Shadow Complex does not have the most unique, refreshing storyline. In fact, I'm pretty sure that Jason's motivation, namely "a girl I met at the bar last night has finally shown me that there are things worth killing and dying for," is sort of bullsh*t.

Great episode, guys. Always nice to have Ken on there.

Higgledy wrote:

I really, really like the voice work in Far Cry 2. It might not be perfect but the accents and the naturalistic style of the dialogue really adds to the atmosphere. Some of the buddies can sound stilted but I think it is because English often isn't the characters first language rather than because they are poorly acted (although in some case it might well be that the dialogue is poorly acted by someone who doesn't have English as their first language.)

I like it too. Much of clipped, abrupt quality of the performances seems to me to be right in line with the way a lot of South Africans actually talk, at least based on videos I've seen. "Naturalistic" really encapsulates it, I think, and I agree that it adds to the atmosphere. But, again, I'm a total FC2 fanboy, so WTF do I know.

Ken talked about having arguments with fellow creatives. I used to argue a lot with an editor I worked with. One of the worst moments in a heated argument is when it suddenly dawns on you that the other person is infact right. You have to continue arguing for a little while as you work out a graciously way to admit you were wrong.

Man, ain't that the truth.

Hearty WOOT for 150!

Hi Ken. We're on to you. What is your account name? Come on, out with it.

Woohoo! Congrats on 150 episodes! Get crackin' on the next 50 so we can have Ken Levine on again. I think two a week should get it done in time enough.

That was a very entertaining, content-filled episode for this milestone.

Sidenote - Rabbit, I think your subtle dig at Bioshock about (I'm paraphrasing from memory) "Yeah, no one would want to play a game that's criticizing capitalism [etc.]" deserved a way bigger laugh than it got; I think you just got unlucky with the timing.

Thanks, GWJ, and congrats!

I thought I saw a Len_Kevine around here somewhere...

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The great Ken Levine wrote:

Games aren't real life.
Good voice acting is good.

The whole bathroom and gaming discussion happened not too long ago. My opinion is, keep my handheld electronic gaming devices out of the bathroom. Of course, I'm a thinker on the throne.

Re: voice in games
I'm with the caller.
Some games that have a Japanese and English track sound much better in Japanese. Odin Sphere is one that I have that stands out to me. There's just a whole lot more depth to the work being put in and less annoying high pitced women in the voice work.

Re: the art in games becoming politcal
I tend to just enjoy a game if its fun, and don't get caught up in the messages someone is trying to send. The same goes for movies and such. It's kinda like how many people say zombies are great because they represent our fear of death. To me, I don't care one way or another about that and really had never heard of that prior to a few months ago. That's not a politcal thing, but the point remains. I just like shooting zombies, and that's all that matters.

Games aren't real life, but they do need to be internally consistent. If there are bats exploding from everything that's fine, as long as there's a reason for it. I like the theory that Batman's just totally insane.

aaaaand, right out of the gate, Ken Levine is firing on all cylinders. Awesome.

LobsterMobster wrote:

Games aren't real life, but they do need to be internally consistent. If there are bats exploding from everything that's fine, as long as there's a reason for it. I like the theory that Batman's just totally insane.

I disagree. I don't think that games need to have an explanation for the things they do. Julian had a great example in Super Mario Bros.. Why do you coins pop out of bricks when you hit them with your head? Because they do. Why do mushrooms make you bigger? Because they do. Why do people turn into clouds of bats when you knock them out? Because they do.

It's just stylization. It doesn't need logic.

I hope Rob at least rents Batman because he got the wrong idea from the demo. The pacing is perfect. You grapple to a whole lot more than Gargoyles. I agree that the demo gave that vibe though.

adam.greenbrier wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

Games aren't real life, but they do need to be internally consistent. If there are bats exploding from everything that's fine, as long as there's a reason for it. I like the theory that Batman's just totally insane.

I disagree. I don't think that games need to have an explanation for the things they do. Julian had a great example in Super Mario Bros.. Why do you coins pop out of bricks when you hit them with your head? Because they do. Why do mushrooms make you bigger? Because they do. Why do people turn into clouds of bats when you knock them out? Because they do.

It's just stylization. It doesn't need logic.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not saying that the game needs to TELL us the reason. In the Super Mario Bros. universe, coins pop out of bricks. Presumably there is a reason and it will always be the case that if you hit a brick, a coin might pop out. Eating a mushroom does make you bigger (or gives you an extra life). This is getting very artsy now, but it doesn't matter if WE know the reason so long as we get the impression that there IS a reason.

It's kind of like if a character makes a reference to something that only exists in that universe; a person, a movie, an event, etc. Maybe only the writer knows what it actually means and never tells the audience, but the audience still gets the sense that it's a "real thing" in the game world.

LobsterMobster, we're on the same page. I mistakenly took your comment to mean that bits of stylization like the bats needed to be explained to the player at some point.

Fantastic episode. This made my morning of work fun. I appreciate Ken's thoughts on political content in games. I feel strongly that the point of including political content in games is not to sway a particular opinion in a direction, but to just get you to think creatively about something - anything. If you can do that, I tend to like it more.

With Bioshock, being accused of being both pro and anti capitalistic is a great litmus test to know if you're doing it right.

I agree with Lobster.

*clutches chest* Hurk! No ... I ... DISAGREE ... ahhhhh. That's better.

Really though, in Batman the bats represent experience, which you collect and use to buy new skills and stuff. No different than God of War, Fable II (which Rob loves) and other games. It's just bats, which is awesome, since it's Batman. Also glad it's not something you need to "collect" or a button you need to press to hoover the bats in to gain the experience.

Certis wrote:

I agree with Lobster.

*clutches chest* Hurk! No ... I ... DISAGREE ... ahhhhh. That's better.

Really though, in Batman the bats represent experience, which you collect and use to buy new skills and stuff. No different than God of War, Fable II (which Rob loves) and other games. It's just bats, which is awesome, since it's Batman. Also glad it's not something you need to "collect" or a button you need to press to hoover the bats in to gain the experience.

Or LEGO studs you have to nearly touch to pick up and that dissapear in 5 seconds.

adam.greenbrier wrote:

LobsterMobster, we're on the same page. I mistakenly took your comment to mean that bits of stylization like the bats needed to be explained to the player at some point.

I was just being artsy. I get like that sometimes. It makes people either go, "WTF does he mean?" or "Oh, I get it. Wonder if he could have said that without sounding like a douche."

Certis wrote:

I agree with Lobster.

*clutches chest* Hurk! No ... I ... DISAGREE ... ahhhhh. That's better.

Holy crap, that was close! You need to be more careful, man. Consult your doctor before agreeing with me. My opinions may be inappropriate for children, the elderly, people with heart, liver, or kidney disease, women who are breast feeding, pregnant or might become pregnant, and people whose opinions have been weakened from playing too much HALO.

Certis wrote:

Really though, in Batman the bats represent experience, which you collect and use to buy new skills and stuff. No different than God of War, Fable II (which Rob loves) and other games. It's just bats, which is awesome, since it's Batman. Also glad it's not something you need to "collect" or a button you need to press to hoover the bats in to gain the experience.

I just interpret it as part of the UI. Oh, and rabbit, don't have your kid around when you listen to the patient interviews. Who knew the Riddler was such a sadist?

ahahaha

I am not a pothead, and I don't have a basement.

Rat Boy wrote:

Oh, and rabbit, don't have your kid around when you listen to the patient interviews. Who knew the Riddler was such a sadist?

I don't think I'll be playing the GAME with him sitting next to me.