GWJ Conference Call Episode 159

Conference Call

Uncharted 2, Panzer General: Allied Assault, Brutal Legend, Borderlands (A Little), Bioshock Spoiler Section, Scary Games & What Works, Your Emails and more!

This week Lara Crigger joins the cast for her first full non-live show! We talk scary games, answer some pressing emails and we finally record a Bioshock Spoiler Section. You can catch that after the credits if you really want to take your drinking game straight to the emergency room. 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

"Step Into My Gardens" Bioshock Soundtrack - www.bioshockgame.com - 0:30:42
"Dancers On A String" Bioshock Soundtrack - www.bioshockgame.com - 0:50:54

Comments

I've often found that games that really frighten me are the ones where I feel completely helpless against the antagonist. If you have a rocket launcher and enough armor to stop Rob's rage, its a bit difficult to really feel like you're in any type of real danger. But those games that limit your ammo, throw enemies that are far more powerful, and use atmosphere and all of the tools at the game's disposal leave me sweating bullets.

On a different note, Lara and her pink snuggie need to be a recurrent character on the show. Between her and Cory, my slavering hunger for dulcet tones has at long last been sated.

I would officially like to retract anything I said about not liking Brutal Legend, or not being able to finish it. I take it all back. I love you, Brutal Legend. I'm sorry I said you were Pikmin. I was just disgruntled because Cory was making fun of my Snuggie.

Once I stopped thinking of Brutal Legend as a console RTS and started thinking of it as an action game with AI helpers (as Tim Schafer suggests, actually -- link has gameplay spoilers, of course), I warmed up to the gameplay immensely. And while I doubt I'll ever be a professional Stage Battler, I've had a lot more fun as the game has progressed.

trichy wrote:

Between her and Cory, my slavering hunger for dulcet tones has at long last been sated.

She lulls you to sleep with whispers of "Bitches......".

KaterinLHC wrote:

I love you, Brutal Legend. I'm sorry I said you were Pikmin.

I liked Pikmin.

Thinking about being frightened, the most recent game that really scared me is Cryostasis. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.

For a true horror game, think two and a half words: "M-rated peripherals"

Nipple clips hooked up to a rumble pack and eletrical nodes you can hook up wherever that interact with your game.

Target audience = frats for hazing purposes, S&M crowd, and the Japanese.

It wasn't fair of us to label games like Brutal Legend, Pikmin or Overlord RTS games. That label makes me think of Starcraft, and Brutal Legend has very little in common with that.

But I still haven't worked up the excitement to go back to BL, even as much as I love its atmosphere.

It wasn't fair of us to label games like Brutal Legend, Pikmin or Overlord RTS games. That label makes me think of Starcraft, and Brutal Legend has very little in common with that.

But ... but that's what they are. Controlling multiple units in real time. You can call it an "action RTS" if you need to make the distinction, but I think that's splitting hairs when you're talking about the stage battles.

You'll also need to get further in the game, they get more complex and RTS-like in structure with larger map areas and more unit allocation considerations.

For Laura, in case she missed it on Twittah: Fatal Frame: The Card Game

Interesting topic to choose considering Certis was basically left out of the conversation... anyway, Fatal Frame 2 was simply too frightening for me. Thank the gods I never played the first one.

I can't believe no one mentioned Silent Hill 2. I dunno, maybe scary isn't exactly the right word for it, but as a young married person, deeply disturbing on a very personal level works, too.

harrisben wrote:

Fatal Frame 2 was simply too frightening for me. Thank the gods I never played the first one.

Oddly enough, I didn't find Fatal Frame 2 nearly as terrifying as the first game, and granted, that was partly because I went into it already knowing what to expect re: cameras and creepy sacrifice and stuff. But I also felt that FF2 focused far more on the combat elements, which gives the player a feeling of being more in control--which, for me, really removed the fright from the game. It's when you're too weak to fight, when you have to run away more often than not, that's what I think makes for a truly fearful experience. The original Fatal Frame did that superbly (I quite literally had nightmares for weeks), as well as the original Resident Evil.

ETA: I thought Silent Hill 2 wasn't so much scary as disturbing. It's the difference between Alien (which terrified the bejeezus out of me) and the Saw movies (which are just plain gross).

Re the Hitchcock reference: His example started off with a group of people in a conference room and then a bomb goes off. That's not suspenseful. Now, take the same example, have people meet in a conference room, and have the camera show the bomb under the table and counting down while the characters go about their business oblivious to the fact that they're about to be blown away. Kind of hard to capture that in a video game.

Another game that deserves mention is The Dark Eye. Poe's stories played by very weird puppets, with unsettling music score and William S. Burroughs reading one of Poe's poems. A very memorable scary game for me.

Good episode...but, seriously, Silent Hill 2. As far as scary games go, I'm not sure you're going to find anything better than that one and it touches on complaints/ideas that every panel member mentioned in the conversation. If you've never played it - and, given it's early release within the last console cycle, I wouldn't be surprised - I highly recommend that you check it out, especially if you play games primarily to experience the storyline.

EDIT: Nice, this is what happens when I type up a response and then forget to post it until about 45 minutes later. D'oh!

Minarchist wrote:

I can't believe no one mentioned Silent Hill 2. I dunno, maybe scary isn't exactly the right word for it, but as a young married person, deeply disturbing on a very personal level works, too.

I finished Silent Hill 2 on the morning of my wedding day, so I can fully corroborate this.

Certis wrote:
It wasn't fair of us to label games like Brutal Legend, Pikmin or Overlord RTS games. That label makes me think of Starcraft, and Brutal Legend has very little in common with that.

But ... but that's what they are. Controlling multiple units in real time. You can call it an "action RTS" if you need to make the distinction, but I think that's splitting hairs when you're talking about the stage battles.

You'll also need to get further in the game, they get more complex and RTS-like in structure with larger map areas and more unit allocation considerations.

I like how your use of ellipses shows how I completely baffled you with my statement. It's like candy.

Controlling distinct units in real time? Or squads? Is there base building? These are the things the differentiate it for me. I should have brought it up on the show, but I didn't want to pick a fight.

Was Overlord labeled an RTS when it came out? I never thought of it that way.

Demiurge wrote:
Certis wrote:
It wasn't fair of us to label games like Brutal Legend, Pikmin or Overlord RTS games. That label makes me think of Starcraft, and Brutal Legend has very little in common with that.

But ... but that's what they are. Controlling multiple units in real time. You can call it an "action RTS" if you need to make the distinction, but I think that's splitting hairs when you're talking about the stage battles.

You'll also need to get further in the game, they get more complex and RTS-like in structure with larger map areas and more unit allocation considerations.

I like how your use of ellipses shows how I completely baffled you with my statement. It's like candy.

Controlling distinct units in real time? Or squads? Is there base building? These are the things the differentiate it for me. I should have brought it up on the show, but I didn't want to pick a fight.

Was Overlord labeled an RTS when it came out? I never thought of it that way.

I've heard these called "real-time tactics" games, since there isn't as much of a long-term strategy involved.

Ooh, that whisper of "Bitches" gave me chills.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Ooh, that whisper of "Bitches" gave me chills.

I think it moved.

wordsmythe wrote:
Demiurge wrote:
Certis wrote:
It wasn't fair of us to label games like Brutal Legend, Pikmin or Overlord RTS games. That label makes me think of Starcraft, and Brutal Legend has very little in common with that.

But ... but that's what they are. Controlling multiple units in real time. You can call it an "action RTS" if you need to make the distinction, but I think that's splitting hairs when you're talking about the stage battles.

You'll also need to get further in the game, they get more complex and RTS-like in structure with larger map areas and more unit allocation considerations.

I like how your use of ellipses shows how I completely baffled you with my statement. It's like candy.

Controlling distinct units in real time? Or squads? Is there base building? These are the things the differentiate it for me. I should have brought it up on the show, but I didn't want to pick a fight.

Was Overlord labeled an RTS when it came out? I never thought of it that way.

I've heard these called "real-time tactics" games, since there isn't as much of a long-term strategy involved.

Agreed. I feel like Dawn of War II rests pretty comfortably within the same boat and the RTT description has been used all over the place to describe that game, though Overlord and Brutal Legend both emphasize more action on the part of your avatar. Maybe you could call them Action/RTT games?

(Yay, genre semantics!)

I've played very few games that could come close to be considered scary in my lifetime. The only game that ever truly scared me was the first Doom. I played it in the mid-90s with the lights turned off and headphones on, so that added to the scary factor. Plus, the gameplay was so new to me. I had never played anything like it before, so that may have also contributed to me being scared.

It's kind of the same with horror movies. After seeing Friday the 13th and Halloween, it was hard for other horror movies to scare me, because I had learned to expect the scary parts and had become desensitized to the dread/suspense that is supposed to build up to them.

In re story in games: You want stories in games that are as good as books? They do exist. Where? Interactive fiction. Booya!

(Note: It should be noted that I don't think games will ever tell stories as well as books, but games do other things that books can't, yada yada yada.)

Blaz Blue is also out for the PS3. You can even play it on the ps3 game on the psp using the weird connect thingy. During the podcast you said it was only for the xbox 360.

Rat Boy wrote:

I think it moved.

Uh, okay, I wouldn't go that far.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:

I think it moved.

Uh, okay, I wouldn't go that far.

We really don't need to discuss how much further anyone's could, would or should move.

The most afraid I've ever been playing a game was playing Alone in the Dark on the PC. Most of the fear stemmed from being trapped inside an evil house that totally wanted to kill you, but a good part came from the fear that if you were confronted by a monster, killing it with the janky-ass controls was terrifyingly hard.

The Shalebridge Cradle from Thief 3-- An insane asylum and an orphanage rolled into the same building, which of course caught fire and killed all the residents.

The only logical conclusion? The building gaining a malevolent sentience and a personal investigation of the grounds in question. By you.

For anyone interested, PC Gamer did a wonderful article back in the day, available online, called "Journey into the Cradle".

I hate to feed her ego, but it's SO AWESOME to have Lara on the show. Even if she's wearing a Snuggie.

Especially if she's wearing a Snuggie.

1. I stopped playing Fatal Frame 2 because it was just too phenomenally creepy.

2. I think the e-mail about story in games is complaining more about *execution* than anything else. And I think he is for the most part right. Video games depend on using elements of other media to try and execute their stories (writing, graphics, sound design, dialog, plot, pacing) and most if not all fall short from a purely technical standpoint along these axes. Even the best games fall pretty short, and yes I'll include Bioshock in there. My general feeling is that video game stories are poorly paced, badly written, and generally adolescent, and this detracts from the overall experience. There are some exceptions to this, but I think I can count them on one hand.

But even with these weaknesses, video games still deliver an experience that can be enjoyable and entertaining and even emotionally involving. But the best of them center around that ill-defined concept that we call "gameplay" rather than narrative.

Going to find my flame suit now.