GWJ Conference Call Episode 153

Conference Call

The Beatles: Rock Band, Aion, Talisman, Braid, Pax Impressions, An Interview With The Beatles: Rock Band Lead Designer Chris Foster, Your Seventh Questions, Emails and more!

This week we return to your letters and read some of your own questions from Episode 151. We also quick hit some smaller topics, read your emails and play a few voicemails for good measure. 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

"Small Comfort" - Apoplexia (Benoit Casey) - www.cerebrimusic.com - 0:35:19
"Luna Machine" (Benoit Casey) - www.cerebrimusic.com - 0:57:38

Comments

I am both honored and shamed. Well done Rob.

Whoa. Two hours. I'm clearing my schedule now.

The emo section was funny (aka the part about gaming during low points of your life). Poor Rob, he's such an easy target sometimes, but he takes it all in such good stride.

I also like how Rob totally cut off that guy's voicemail about getting to the point. Well played, sir.

If only the pants had been scared off those waitresses.

Yes, one big tab and that was an event splitting up. Good thing everyone had cash with them.

Is "drawing your own maple syrup" a Canadian euphemism for masturbation, or what?

If not, well, it should be.

I have my own thoughts on Beatles Rock Band which is, it may surprise you, not quite as unabashedly glowing as Cory and Rabbit. I think it's an amazing game, but I am now officially off the 1-band game bandwagon.

And I will confirm what is suspected on the show that the tracks actually are _substantially_ easier. That's not a complaint. It's more about the music than clicking pretend buttons, but having completed both the guitar and drums all the way through on Expert, it's pretty clear that while occasionally challenging none of the songs are particularly intimidating. Again, not exactly a complaint.

I picked up Beatles Rockband a couple of days ago and I am loving it! I am also not a big fan of the 1 band music rhythm game but for some reason Beatles Rockband gets a pass. I love it! My love for the game might also have to do with the fact that I am not as skilled at the game as most and feel like the difficulty level is just right for me. At least for the guitar it is. We'll see if my opinion changes when I do vocals, as that is what I do best.

A finger -> butt joke? Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

lostlobster wrote:

Is "drawing your own maple syrup" a . . . euphemism for masturbation, or what?

If not, well, it should be.

No, and neither is:

-- grinding your loot
-- climbing your skill-tree
-- rocking out on 'expert'
-- getting in a quick speed-run
-- mashing your buttons
-- spamming hadoukens
-- recording your podcast

If only the podcast had recorded a day or two later, they could've gotten on the latest meme bandwagon...

Kanye West wrote:

I'm happy for you, guy complaining about long voice mails. Imma let you finish, but Stylez's drunk voice mail was one of the best voice mails of all time. Of all time!

Rabbit is not obtuse. He's orthogonal.

Rat Boy if you like then you shoulda put a ring on it.

Haven't gotten to the Voicemails yet... Cringing in preparation.

Ok, heard it now.

Rob had it right. I'm not looking for scores, I really like hearing your perspectives on stuff, whether it's new or not. My VM was before the Beatles writeup, but that's exactly the kind of thing I was talking about. Good podcast folks.

*edit*

Perspectives isn't a word you use 8 pints in. Reviews is the word you use, can't you "review" something without assigning an arbitrary value to it, or has the word review been tainted by years of gaming publications?

And Dysplastic is still a jerk for hanging up on you guys. Real class act there Dysplastic.

Yay! my tweet has become permanently etched in the annals of podcastdom.

I initially threw out the question because I've been unemployed for the last month and I've found that I've been playing a lot less games than I did when I was in grad school. Even though I have a lot of free time I feel guilty having too much fun. Interestingly I've started watching more movies and TV than usual, I'm not sure if there's something inherent in the types of entertainment that makes them more suitable for unemployment.

Gaald wrote:

I am also not a big fan of the 1 band music rhythm game but for some reason Beatles Rockband gets a pass.

I still want Pink Floyd Rockband

Well if I had to pick one I would still want, that would be it.

Sigh. If they did Pink Floyd Rock Band, I'd have to buy a modern console.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Sigh. If they did Pink Floyd Rock Band, I'd have to buy a modern console.

CONFORM!

Ha. I definitely laughed out loud when they got to my Super Metroid question as it was pretty much the reaction I was expecting. Here are some of my responses:

Daniel from?

Toronto. ... I'm sorry. I used to live in Edmonton if that makes it any better. No? Sorry.

On Doom and FPSes

We don't talk about Doom every time we talk about an FPS

Well sure, but do you talk about Doom when you talk about Serious Sam? Because that's basically what this is: a new game in a genre modelling itself after a very specific older game. Except Shadow Complex is much closer to Super Metroid than Serious Sam was to Doom. Heck, Shadow Complex is closer to Super Metroid than Super Metroid was to its direct prequel (Metroid 2) or sequel (Metroid Fusion) and far closer than any of the 3D games. The only meaningful gameplay differences between it and SC are: a) In Shadow Complex an optional arrow can point you to your next objective, b) In Shadow Complex you gain (somewhat meaningless) levels, and c) Super Metroid is slightly harder (mostly because of the lack of a)).

I think Jeremy Parish put it best in his review for 1up:

Jeremy Parish wrote:

To call Shadow Complex inspired by the Metroid series would be a terrible slander to the word "inspiration." It's not so much that the developer, Chair, looked to Super Metroid for ideas as it is that they took a sheet of wax paper and did a rubbing of Samus Aran's entire career. It's a clone, albeit one for these modern times -- which is to say, it uses polygons instead of sprites, and it's a reasonably-priced download game for Xbox Live. In practically every other way, though, it's completely identical to Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, down to the powers you earn and the map structure. This is a game where you use missiles to blow up red doors, if that tells you anything. Not that the creators have been coy about what they've been striving for here. They've flatly stated, "We love Metroid, and we want to create something like that!"

On Super Metroid's place in the videogame cannon
Is saying Super Metroid is one of the best games of all time is hyperbolic? Maybe? I don't know. It laid the groundwork for a plethora of games from the obvious, such as Castlevaina Symphony of the Night to more modern games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum. It tells a moving story using almost entirely atmosphere. The speed of getting new powers sets a perfect template for the pacing of progression. It used the level to create environmental hints about how to move forward years before Valve perfected the art.

It's certainly in my top five. I'm not alone in the opinion. EGM ranked it best console game of all time in 2003. The guys doing the CO-OP show did a retrospective on it a couple episodes ago where they basically said the same thing. A year ago Edge magazine deconstructed why it was awesome. Which isn't to say that you should think that it's a great game if you don't feel that way, just that when someone says that Metroid is one of the best games of all time they're probably serious.

Really though, what I'm saying is that if you dug Shadow Complex (which was excellent) you really should go to the Wii Virtual Console and give Super Metroid another try. But why should I be the one to try to convince you of that? Here's a quote from Christian Nutt's Gamasutra interview with Donald Mustard the Creative Director on Shadow Complex.

Donald Mustard wrote:

To me, the best thing ever for Shadow Complex to do is if someone played Shadow Complex and said, "I really like that game, and that made me go back and play Super Metroid, which I've never even heard of before."

I am in the boat of Certis in terms of playing games only when I feel like I earned it. If I have been slouching around all day doing nothing I feel very guilty playing games. When I get back from a hard day of work or I have been very busy with other things, I can't wait to run home and play some games.

I guess this goes back to when I was a kid and I couldn't go out and play or play video games until my homework and chores were done.

Excellent interview at the end. Cory, thank you for asking many of the questions that I asked at E3 and got "we can't talk about that right now" answers for.

Stylez wrote:

Perspectives isn't a word you use 8 pints in. Reviews is the word you use

This. ...No, wait—

Stylez also wrote:

can't you "review" something without assigning an arbitrary value to it, or has the word review been tainted by years of gaming publications?

This. Criticism or critique are also good words, but yes, review should be the word, freed of its numerical expectations—as it is in every other media literature! I can't remember where, but I once read an earnest comment exclaim something like, "How can you call that a review, it doesn't even have a score!" ZOMG Quill & Quire doesn't have scores, book review fail.

grobstein wrote:
lostlobster wrote:

Is "drawing your own maple syrup" a . . . euphemism for masturbation, or what?

If not, well, it should be.

No, and neither is:

-- grinding your loot
-- climbing your skill-tree
-- rocking out on 'expert'
-- getting in a quick speed-run
-- mashing your buttons
-- spamming hadoukens
-- recording your podcast

I like to use the codewords "doing my dailies" and "going on a Heroics run."

Talking about doing 5-mans, is there any more word about lowly GWJobbers joining the WOW reboot group on Monday nights? I've been thinking about coming back but have run into the wall that all my friends are either in their 80s or gone from the game.

Thanks for dropping into the thread and posting all of that so I didn't have to, Yaz!

As one of the many silly "worshipers of the past", (or a nostalgite rather than a "future chaser" if you prefer) I felt a little tightening in my chest when I heard the line "We don't talk about Doom every time we talk about an FPS" in reference to the whole Shadow Complex <-> Super Metroid issue... I found it more than a bit dismissive, considering that every single FPS released in this era has, at the very least, mouselook to set it apart...

Upon further introspection, I think it's really more of an unfair GENRE comparison than a straight up unfair comparison. FPS is a genre that has been refined, iterated on, and downright evolved many, many more times than arguably any other genre in this era. Much like bringing WoW into a conversation about MMO design and trends, nothing about the "arc" of metroidvanias is going to compare to FPSs because the lightning didn't strike and the industry hasn't spent the last decade pushing the core metroidvania design forward so much as winnowing little scraps of pacing, organic upgrade/unlock, and level design into other genres.

That being said, it's probably been a long time since most of us played Super Metroid. It's probably pretty easy to forget that things like:

  • The incremental power armor upgrades (that include underwater liberation)
  • The adjustable vision beam revealing unlock structure (including color coding)
  • The Bionic Commando-like tethered grappling weapon
  • The incremental run-into-hyperspeed boots
  • Etc. etc.

While these were the things that I was thinking about the whole time, I LOVED my time with Shadow Complex BECAUSE of my love of Super Metroid, but design credit where it's due.

I know i'm late to this party but... my thread was specifically mentioned and then Rob just brushes me off as "someone" or whatever. I feel slighted! You're on my list, Rob... you're on my list....

More thoughts later

RE: Titan Quest and Batman.

I agree with Rob on the situation (and Certis and Rabbit). Plus, with Titan Quest, the copy protection was also causing the legitimate buyers problems..... In the end it really hurt both TQ word of mouth and also their bottom line as they had to spend time really sorting out who was pirating and who wasn't and therefore which problems needed solving.

I don't agree with copy protection that bugs the game and even Microsoft flashes up a message the instant it thinks you're cheating the system. No system is perfect (no matter what Valve says).

lostlobster wrote:

Is "drawing your own maple syrup" a Canadian euphemism for masturbation, or what?

If not, well, it should be.

Yoink!

Something that irked me a teensy bit while listening to the podcast is that Aion doesn't run on CryEngine 2. It uses the same engine as the first generation of Far Cry games. A heavily modified version, of course. And it does look very good--just not as good as Crysis

Lovely episode aside from that, though!

Gravey wrote:
Stylez wrote:

Perspectives isn't a word you use 8 pints in. Reviews is the word you use

This. ...No, wait—

Stylez also wrote:

can't you "review" something without assigning an arbitrary value to it, or has the word review been tainted by years of gaming publications?

This. Criticism or critique are also good words, but yes, review should be the word, freed of its numerical expectations—as it is in every other media literature! I can't remember where, but I once read an earnest comment exclaim something like, "How can you call that a review, it doesn't even have a score!" ZOMG Quill & Quire doesn't have scores, book review fail.

I wish "review" didn't have this expectation, but I have long since learned to skip anything in my Google Reader with "Review" in the headline.

Yaz wrote:

I love Super Metroid!

To begin with, "Metroidvania" as a genre isn't just about Metroid, and is really just an adventure-platforming hybrid regardless.

But beyond that, I fear that a comparison of Shadow Complex to Super Metroid may not yield the praise you anticipate for Super Metroid. In fact, you may find that some of the differences between the two titles actually illustrate shortcomings in the elder of the two. Despite the deference given by Complex's designers, I have little doubt that they intended to make a game that was superior.

Just listened to this podcast - 3 weeks behind. Did I hear Rabbit say "There's a bunch of stuff people don't even know is theirs [The Beatles] like 'Roll Over Beethoven.' " Did Rabbit mean the *Chuck Berry* song "Roll Over Beethoven?" These indeed must be some really interesting "music appreciation" discussions!

drphil wrote:

Just listened to this podcast - 3 weeks behind. Did I hear Rabbit say "There's a bunch of stuff people don't even know is theirs [The Beatles] like 'Roll Over Beethoven.' " Did Rabbit mean the *Chuck Berry* song "Roll Over Beethoven?" These indeed must be some really interesting "music appreciation" discussions!

I misspoke -- I meant that people didn't know they recorded. We've listened to lots of covers and dissected what we like abotu different versions, including that song, and a bunch of folks who covered the Beatles (in particular, the soundtrack to across the universe, which I blasphemously has some superior versions of many Beatles songs (Blackbird sung by Evan Rachel Wood remains one of my favorite pieces of recorded music ever, and I think the Jim Sturgess version of I've Just Seen A Face is awesome. I'm also a big fan of Joe Cocker's come together, Eddie Izzards Mr. Kite and Bono's Walrus.)