GWJ Conference Call Episode 170

Conference Call

Darksiders, Bayonetta, Borderlands PC, The Hunter, Our Amazing 2009/2010 Predictions, New Music By Ian "Podunk" Dorsch, Your Emails and more!

This week we shake things up a bit for 2010 with new music and some format tweaks! Brace yourself as Podunk rocks your face off. 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

"Washaway" (Ian Dorsch) - www.willowtreeaudio.com - 0:36:12
"Carving Away Stone" (Ian Dorsch) - www.willowtreeaudio.com - 1:10:39

Comments

Will games "age" more slowly? I think certainly they will, for several reasons.

Modern systems allow for games look so good these days that it takes a huge budgets and amount of effort to create them. At some point a developer reaches a point of diminishing returns pouring effort into how games look. So games will get better looking more slowly as developers intentionally limit the amount of detail they put in the game, whereas before the limit was caused by the system limitation.

The same goes for new game engines. Companies like Epic and Havok spend years creating complex engines used by dozens of companies. It takes longer to make more sophisticated engines, so they will be introduced more slowly keeping new games on current engines longer.

Games are being tied to consoles and their lower resolution and long lifecycles. Sony and MS have both said they won't be introducing a new console for some time. This will keep games (including many on PC) at a similar level for a longer period.

Resolutions are pretty much maxed out. In the past we were always looking forward to higher resolutions b/c pixels were so large: 640x480, then 800 x 600, etc. Resolutions are so high today that you don't get much difference running at 1980 pixels vs 2560.

Arclite wrote:

Resolutions are pretty much maxed out. In the past we were always looking forward to higher resolutions b/c pixels were so large: 640x480, then 800 x 600, etc. Resolutions are so high today that you don't get much difference running at 1980 pixels vs 2560.

They're pretty maxed out with the current technology. Our ability to fill in the gaps and filter visual noise is highly, quickly adaptive, so everything new looks realistic/lifelike/etc. right now. As soon as the next big thing comes along it'll look like crap, and our grandchildren will scoff and wonder how we could watch something made of pixels and consider it realistic.

I have $3 (AU) sitting on my desk at work that I would spend on the app if it wasn't just for the iphone but I guess I will just spend it on coca-cola. I blame the calories on GWJ.

What is the cheapest you can charge for something on itunes? Would it be possible/worthwhile to charge 20-50c for a single item of bonus content so that people without iphones could pick up something they thought looks interesting but such that in the long run it is still more expensive than the app?

John Carmack isn't saying tessellation is bad, he's saying his new approach he's working on achieves "infinite" geometry without tessellation and is an improvement on it.

Arclite wrote:

Will games "age" more slowly? I think certainly they will, for several reasons.

I'm not sure. I still think that humans in 90% of games look pretty terrible right now - Valve has gotten it right, and so did Crytek and a few other companies, but most people out there are making faces that have shiny, nasty, molded clay look that will definitely look ridiculous in a few years. And mouth animation is utterly awful currently.

If you go back and play the original Half Life 2, it looks dated (admittedly it is old).

Switchbreak wrote:

I'm not sure. I still think that humans in 90% of games look pretty terrible right now

So, my point wasn't that they couldn't be improved, but that improvement would come more slowly. And if humans is all you can talk about, you're kind of supporting my point. CG in movies was the same: "human" characters are really the final frontier, everything else looks pretty good.

Switchbreak wrote:

but most people out there are making faces that have shiny, nasty, molded clay look that will definitely look ridiculous in a few years. And mouth animation is utterly awful currently.

Heh, Oblivion?

harrisben wrote:

If you go back and play the original Half Life 2, it looks dated (admittedly it is old).

I played this for the first time last year. I think that HL2 is closer to Crysis than say the original UT is to HL2. Meaning, there was a greater improvement in the 5 years btw UT & HL2 than btw HL2 & Crysis.

Really liked the new intro and format - sounded very fresh.

The voicemail from the marine was quite powerful - it really made me think about how something like a Modern Warfare 2 might not have any effect on me but could on people in his situation.

On the topic of Natal and Sony's wands - I think Microsoft are taking a bigger risk then Sony here. Sony seem to be introducing a new peripheral similar to the PS Eye, SingStar mics or Buzz Controllers ie something that they'll develop minigames for much like that did with the EyeToy while Microsoft seem to want Natal to be huge and it want it to bigger and better then what the Wii can offer. They want it as a platform rather then something you just plug in when you want to play with it.

While I have no interest in either of them - it will be interesting to see how so called "non-gamers" react to them.

The Marine's story is profound, but I feel like I've heard it goes both ways--some people use video games to conquer the trauma brought on by terrible experiences. I remember reading that virtual reality was even used to treat people who suffered PTSD from the 9/11 attacks, by taking them back to the scene, albeit in a carefully controlled environment. Something about reliving it in that way helped them come to terms with it.

On that note, I would hardly call MW2 a carefully controlled environment. It's more like a illegitimate inbred love child, the second sick result of a marriage between Michael Bay.

superslug wrote:

I have $3 (AU) sitting on my desk at work that I would spend on the app if it wasn't just for the iphone but I guess I will just spend it on coca-cola. I blame the calories on GWJ.

What is the cheapest you can charge for something on itunes? Would it be possible/worthwhile to charge 20-50c for a single item of bonus content so that people without iphones could pick up something they thought looks interesting but such that in the long run it is still more expensive than the app?

I think the cost of this app is used to pay for the services of the folks who created it for GWJ.

Our agreement with the creators of the App had a minimum that we could charge for the product. We priced the App at that minimum. I don't want to go into the terms of the deal, but put simply the way we are doing things is the way that we could get a product out there. We had choices to make -- no way to have our cake and eat it too -- evaluated where the downloads were coming from and decided to go with what we've got.

I understand that some people have frustrations, but our choices were a partnership to build an app where we had to give up a perfect world to meet the business needs of our partner or no app at all for anybody anywhere for now.

Call me not frustrated. You guys put out enough good content for free that not getting the for-pay content is but a hair in a feather on a bird pooping on my cap. I've written enough self-criticisms for the work hours I've spent reading the blog posts and listening to the CC as it is.

wordsmythe wrote:

I think the cost of this app is used to pay for the services of the folks who created it for GWJ.

And here I was thinking it paid for their sports cars and excessive gold chains :p

Re: Facebook gaming. For me it boils down to a ver simple question. When I want to play a game, do I want to a) Start up my PC, click on browser shortcut, go to facebook, login, and start up a game, or b) start up my PC, and click on a game shortcut.

The answer is always b. I want as few layers between me and a game as possible.

Alien Love Gardener wrote:

Re: Facebook gaming. For me it boils down to a ver simple question. When I want to play a game, do I want to a) Start up my PC, click on browser shortcut, go to facebook, login, and start up a game, or b) start up my PC, and click on a game shortcut.

The answer is always b. I want as few layers between me and a game as possible.

This is one of those things where the margins are getting blurred. You can now create special browser windows for web-apps that are almost as responsive as apps on your hard drive, so you can have a shortcut for gmail instead of dedicated client app. You have adobe air applications that seem like flash in an app. Also with things like steam or the EA account being embedded into lots of games now you're rarely playing offline and not exchanging data with some server somewhere. I don't use facebook, but I don't see why a future development couldn't have a facebook game as something that appears as it's own app.

Alien Love Gardener wrote:

Re: Facebook gaming. For me it boils down to a ver simple question. When I want to play a game, do I want to a) Start up my PC, click on browser shortcut, go to facebook, login, and start up a game, or b) start up my PC, and click on a game shortcut.

The answer is always b. I want as few layers between me and a game as possible.

I don't think we're the target market for Facebook games, exactly. Lots of Facebook users are already logging in 5-10 times a day anyway, so the games are just something they do while they're there.

Facebook games are definitely for people who are primarily into social gaming, not gaming gaming.

For the most part, the draw there is the delayed/filtered/screened social interaction inherent in Facebook and similar applications. How the game actually works is largely immaterial to the draw of who you're targeting -Facebook gamers game with Scrabble and with Fishville. It's more about gaming with others on a social network than about gaming.

If I had to draw an analogy, I would say that most people who go into a singles place aren't into hardcore alcohol consumption. They go into singles bars to meet people, not to drink. If they wanted quality alcoholic beverages, they would go to a real bar or a winery.

Regarding Facebook Gaming: There are a few things I find interesting along these lines.

On the internet, I feel like I really only want one online public (??) identity that friends can find. However, I'll admit my paranoia about privacy concerns makes a whole bunch of randomly named accounts seem appealing. My current usage pattern is to have Facebook be reserved primarily for family connections. I feel my Steam, Live, & GWJ identities exist in an alternate reality; one where I can freely admit I'm card-carrying fan of video games and can meet up with other like-minded nerds. Like was mentioned in other posts by others, I'm not sure I want to make each group of contacts intimately aware of the other or tell them the same things. But, I wouldn't mind discovering some of my family (or other contacts) is interested in a game of Peggle, etc. I also want to visit one site (customized to me) to know that cousin Jane just had a kid right next to gamer friend Bob just topped my high-score.

The game that opened my mind that Facebook gaming (above and beyond an aggregator of Achievements, MMOs, guilds, game news, etc.) would be interesting was none other than The Hunter (which is even linked to on this podcast info). Starting you out with a bot-"friend" that acts like a tutorial and quest-giver over email/ IM. A "web" game pushing my GPU. Very interesting... I've gotta feel The Hunter's social aspects would do much better integrated into a community like Steam, Live, or GWJ.

Facebook has an un-ignorable community size; and its got to be made up of more than just casual gamers. Unfortunately, until Facebook actually solves their gaping privacy holes, I'm not touching their apps, surveys, etc. However, the idea of them (or a competitor) fixing those issues, helping people manage social circles, allowing like-minded people to discover each other (even anonynously), and alternate reality gaming potential certainly whets my appetite.

Facebook games? Aren't those the things I'm constantly having to hide on the interface?

That's right, Harris. I got really sick of seeing reports of lost sheep in Farmville and Mafia Wars crap so I hide them all. I'm very curious about the forthcoming Civ game - just to see what they do, but I'm quite sure I'll be hiding "Person built a granary!" reports as well.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

Prediction: games will be looking way better than they do now in 2014. Today's games will look very outdated.

I totally agree. Although this will is a rather nerdy quote, I'll throw it out there anyways. It's from Bill Bryson's book: A Brief History of Nearly Everything.
“At the beginning of the 20th century the best scientific minds in the world couldn’t actually tell you where babies come from. And these were men who thought science was nearly at an end.”

I think everyone will agree that games look fantastic today and have made huge strides in graphic fidelity in the last several years. But it is quite narrow-minded of anyone to assume that we've reached a wall where games graphically look as good as they can get. Make no mistake, we're hardly nearing the end of that curve. We may have reached a point in the gaming industry where the financial investment necessary to improve graphic fidelity is prohibitivly large. But the evelope will be pushed, and the inevitable forward march of technology will bring about improvement. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, and it may be in a completely different industry, but - it - will - happen. And eventually those improvements will make their way into games such that, as Chairman_Mao says, 'games will be looking way better than they do now in 2014'

Also,

docbadwrench wrote:

I got really sick of seeing reports of lost sheep in Farmville and Mafia Wars crap so I hide them all. I'm very curious about the forthcoming Civ game - just to see what they do, but I'm quite sure I'll be hiding "Person built a granary!" reports as well.

Ditto - soooo annoying.