GWJ Conference Call Episode 174

Conference Call

Mass Effect 2 Spoiler Section, MAG, No More Heroes 2(ish), Comfort Gaming, Sound Waves, Your Emails and more!

This week the crew tackles comfort games and what happens when a half deaf idiot discovers surround sound headphones. Sean Sands and Shawn Andrich also go way deep on Mass Effect 2 in a post-credits spoiler section. 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

"Anxious Tedium" - Ouranos OST (Tom Quinn) - http://thomashquinn.googlepages.com - 0:22:06
"The Way Your Journey Ends" (Tom Quinn) - http://thomashquinn.googlepages.com - 0:39:13

Comments

AgitatorAcademia wrote:

I love the whole thing. I figure the only drawbacks would be the cabling, (going to get some extra long optical cables to fix some of that), and a little lackluster bass. (But if you want bass, you can get those Dr. Dre beats things for a similar amount. Not that you'll hear much more than the bass, but if that's your thing...then again, the iPod doesn't exactly provide the power those things probably need for accurate sound produciton.)

Those things are overpriced Monster brand crap with a celebrity name slapped on the package. You're way better off with the Astros.

Jayhawker wrote:

Not done with the podcast, but I came here looking for a link to the headphones Certis was pimping. :-(

Oh really?

gore wrote:

I think there are some real misconceptions about how much horsepower you really need and how much money you really need to spend. The iMacs should actually be quite capable.

I agree, but what is a problem is compatibility. If you upgrade a processor or something, it can cause a cascade of other necessary upgrades. If you keep your expectations within reason, though, then it is not so bad. For example, high settings on a 1680x1050 screen is fairly easy to achieve with budget components, even with AA turned on for some games (e.g. L4D). The graphic quality in that case will rival the 360 and be on par with games like Uncharted 2 on the PS3 (depending on the particular game of course).

garion333 wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

Not done with the podcast, but I came here looking for a link to the headphones Certis was pimping. :-(

Oh really?

My pair arrives today. Ever since I put on a pair of Earforce X41's I only want to play games with surround headphones. I like the surround speakers for movies, but for games surround headphones are pure sex. The AX 720's will round out my collection.

gore wrote:
DudleySmith wrote:

Re: the "unwinnable" fight in Dragon Age:

Spoiler:

If you're talking about the fight with Ser Cauthrien after rescuing the queen, it is perfectly possible to win it, and you can just go back to Arl Eamon's place.

Yes, if this is the encounter in question, I think that Dragon Age handles it perfectly.

One thing the email glosses over is that the fight is obviously designed to be lost; upon death you're taken to a cutscene instead of the typical "YOU SUCK" loading screen. It's very clear that failure was always an option.

What I love about this fight is that it can be won, and the game isn't "broken" in any way if you do so (as the email seemed to imply). How many games hand you instant defeat via a cutscene? Or at the hands of a boss monster with a million hitpoints that you can't scratch? Dragon Age wants none of that bullsh*t. It lets you be the badass that you are, at least in this particular case.

See, I don't know when this became the norm. When I encountered this fight and lost, the cutscene that followed told me that the fight was meant to be lost. At the same time, it also told me that the fight could not be won because it was scripted. That's the way it's always been as far as know. I've never encountered a scripted fight and thought "Oh well hey maybe if I just reset I could kill him!" I had no reason to treat this fight any differently.

I can think of a few fights in other games that are unwinnable. Many other RPGs, the Metal Gear Solid series... It never once crossed my mind to reset the game to try and save Emma from Vamp. I found out later that people did try to kill him before he killed her but the game doesn't allow it. The player is meant to lose.

When losing is part of the script, it's hard to tell if one is given the option to win as well. Most of the time, the player doesn't have the option. When I find out later that yes, the fight you had to lose could be won, I'm stuck wondering if the game had dropped a clue that the battle can be won somehow. For this Dragon Age fight, I'm going with "No." The fight was over so quickly that winning never crossed my mind.

HedgeWizard wrote:

I am fairly OS/System agnostic; I run windows, OS X, Ubuntu and FreeBSD each for their own specific reasons. However, my home system is (presently) a ~2-year old 24" iMac.

I bootcamp windows 7 on it, and I have yet to find a game I can't max out the settings on. Plus I have the nice form-factor of the iMac. No tower, no jumble of cables, etc. Just a nice big, gloriously vibrant monitor to play games on. I am surprised, given Cory's predilection for all things Apple, he didn't go a similar route?

I spent $700 on the new PC. New iMacs start at $1200 (Sorry, $1199). As much as I love the iMacs, I needed to be cost conscious. How much was your 24" when you picked it up?

That extra money's gonna go toward a fancypants i7 Macbook Pro, or whatever other hot upgrade Steve drops on us. At least, that's the plan.

Mystic Violet wrote:

See, I don't know when this became the norm. When I encountered this fight and lost, the cutscene that followed told me that the fight was meant to be lost. At the same time, it also told me that the fight could not be won because it was scripted. That's the way it's always been as far as know. I've never encountered a scripted fight and thought "Oh well hey maybe if I just reset I could kill him!" I had no reason to treat this fight any differently.

The first fight against Vile in the original Mega Man X, on the intro stage, is winnable. I'm at a loss for any other examples.

mrtomaytohead wrote:

The first fight against Vile in the original Mega Man X, on the intro stage, is winnable. I'm at a loss for any other examples.

There are a wealth of them in JRPGs, as Laura mentioned. One in particular that comes to mind is the early fight against Kratos in Tales of Symphonia. It's certainly designed to be un-winnable. However, ToS has a new game + option, and you can be powerful enough at that point to defeat him. Since ToS is one of my very favoritest games ever, I managed to do that (it really isn't hard by your third playthrough). The result is actually pretty neat: you're rewarded a bunch of XP (yay!), and then pitted against an even harder boss, to whom you do a single point of damage regardless of your level. To my knowledge, this fight is un-winnable — although the guy who managed to beat Abyssion on hard with nothing but a level 6 Collette (!) may have managed it. I just thought it was a noteworthy way to handle beating an "unwinnable" boss battle.

Demiurge wrote:

I spent $700 on the new PC. New iMacs start at $1200 (Sorry, $1199). As much as I love the iMacs, I needed to be cost conscious. How much was your 24" when you picked it up?

That extra money's gonna go toward a fancypants i7 Macbook Pro, or whatever other hot upgrade Steve drops on us. At least, that's the plan.

For sure; the price is higher than a dedicated gaming rig that you build yourself.

My wife (software engineer) just bought a new system. She had recently been using my iMac and has really come to like the OS. That + the all-in-one form factor tipped the tide. We bought a 21.5" iMac, 3.06GHZ intel core 2 duo, 8 GB of RAM, GForce 9400M graphics card, for $1400. That isn't a bad price if you are looking at comparable manufacturer-built systems.

You can get WAY cheaper if you build yourself, especially if you already have things like a monitor, keyboard, etc. And of course, advantage of a true PC is you can swap and upgrade as necessary, esp. if you have a good motherboard.

Certainly if cost is an issue, they're not the way to go, but the new line of iMacs + boot camp are a great way to have a very nice gaming rig + OS X and Apple design (if that's your wish).

mrtomaytohead wrote:

The first fight against Vile in the original Mega Man X, on the intro stage, is winnable. I'm at a loss for any other examples.

When X's health reaches a certain point, a cutscene occurs and Zero jumps in to save the day. Vile doesn't even have a health bar during that fight and it's damn near impossible to dodge him. At least, that's how I remember it.

I know there's a fight in Chrono Trigger that was "unwinnable." Instead of the Game Over screen, the player was treated to a cutscene after losing. It's only after speaking with hubby did I discover that the fight could be won. I wouldn't even think of trying again especially in a jRPG. JRPGs are notorious for unwinnable fights, most of which are completely unwinnable. To me, it would be like resetting the game to try and save Aeris or kill Sephiroth.

I guess the times are changing.

Mystic Violet wrote:

When losing is part of the script, it's hard to tell if one is given the option to win as well. Most of the time, the player doesn't have the option. When I find out later that yes, the fight you had to lose could be won, I'm stuck wondering if the game had dropped a clue that the battle can be won somehow. For this Dragon Age fight, I'm going with "No." The fight was over so quickly that winning never crossed my mind.

I had the opposite experience. It never crossed my mind that you couldn't beat the fight. While it took 3 tries, 2 quickloads, to get in the optimal position and win, it wasn't until days later that I read these forums and learned that you COULD lose the fight and experience a whole other part of the game.

As for clues, all the enemies health go down, and as long as you can keep the majority of enemies occupied with Crowd Control, whittling down the boss's HP is pretty manageable. The point of the fight is that you are facing daunting odds, enough to make you want to consider surrender. Honestly it's probably the most difficult fight in the game, and it's nice that they DO make it optional. If you think quick, get in an ideal position, and use your tactics, you have a chance.

When you fight and win, you actually are given a clue that there is an alternative when you talk to the queen. When you meet with her later she tells you "that fight was unnecessary." I didn't know what she meant when she said it, but looking back I'm nothing but impressed by the way they handled that whole bit of the game.

Mystic Violet wrote:

See, I don't know when this became the norm. When I encountered this fight and lost, the cutscene that followed told me that the fight was meant to be lost. At the same time, it also told me that the fight could not be won because it was scripted. That's the way it's always been as far as know. I've never encountered a scripted fight and thought "Oh well hey maybe if I just reset I could kill him!" I had no reason to treat this fight any differently.

I can think of a few fights in other games that are unwinnable. Many other RPGs, the Metal Gear Solid series... It never once crossed my mind to reset the game to try and save Emma from Vamp. I found out later that people did try to kill him before he killed her but the game doesn't allow it. The player is meant to lose.

When losing is part of the script, it's hard to tell if one is given the option to win as well. Most of the time, the player doesn't have the option. When I find out later that yes, the fight you had to lose could be won, I'm stuck wondering if the game had dropped a clue that the battle can be won somehow. For this Dragon Age fight, I'm going with "No." The fight was over so quickly that winning never crossed my mind.

The truth of the matter is this: the fight is really, really hard. It's designed to be unwinnable by an average party (at least on the harder difficulty settings), and the game doesn't give any hints to such a player that victory is an option.

And why should it? While the encounter is not technically unwinnable, it's going to be practically unwinnable for a large number of players. If a player's party dies instantly, then, to be frank, they probably should just skip the encounter since it's unlikely that they will be able to defeat it within a sane number of reloads.

If a player's party is powerful enough - and mine happened to be - it shouldn't insta-lose this fight the first time. In my case I got the boss down to 75% health or so, and when I lost I knew that I could get her to 0 (whether or not that resulted in a different plot outcome, I had no idea).

So, yes, the fight was winnable: for certain parties. But for a party that dies instantly on the first attempt? Well, for that party, the fight is probably so difficult as to be effectively impossible, so there's not really any reason for the game to encourage them to retry it.

What was the name of the Wii game that is a roguelike?

kabutor wrote:

What was the name of the Wii game that is a roguelike?

Shiren the Wanderer. We got a DS version a couple years ago. It was awesome.

Mystic Violet wrote:
mrtomaytohead wrote:

The first fight against Vile in the original Mega Man X, on the intro stage, is winnable. I'm at a loss for any other examples.

When X's health reaches a certain point, a cutscene occurs and Zero jumps in to save the day. Vile doesn't even have a health bar during that fight and it's damn near impossible to dodge him. At least, that's how I remember it.

I know there's a fight in Chrono Trigger that was "unwinnable." Instead of the Game Over screen, the player was treated to a cutscene after losing. It's only after speaking with hubby did I discover that the fight could be won. I wouldn't even think of trying again especially in a jRPG. JRPGs are notorious for unwinnable fights, most of which are completely unwinnable. To me, it would be like resetting the game to try and save Aeris or kill Sephiroth.

I guess the times are changing.

That ending is the fight in Zeal, where something big happens and well I won't spoil it, for the people thinking about picking up the DS version, but it's another chance for one of the many endings in the game.

Many thanks for the GamerDork UK mention, guys. I almost crashed my car driving home form work when I heard it.

Mystic Violet wrote:
gore wrote:
DudleySmith wrote:

Stuff

Spoiler:

If you're talking about the fight with Ser Cauthrien after rescuing the queen, it is perfectly possible to win it, and you can just go back to Arl Eamon's place.

more stuff

If this is the fight I'm thinking of, then I had no idea that it was supposed to be lost!? No wonder it was so bloody tough.

I ended up dropping down to 'casual' and retreating into the tiniest room I could find and fighting a few of the guards at a time, out of the view of the spellcasters (I kept a character next to the door, shutting it every time they opened it to cut their LOS :P).

The problem is, I tend to reload before everyone dies in a fight if it looks like I'm losing, so I had no idea that there was anything other than a game-over screen.

Podunk wrote:

I think my Antec Sonata III is pretty tasteful

Very nice indeed.

Spoiler:

I have one too

A lot of the "unwinnable fights" in JRPGs are actually winnable, you just have to be extremely lucky and/or powerful to do it. Most of the time, when you win one of those fights, something else happens to force the game back along its intended storyline.

Spoiler:

[color=white]Example 1: The Dalton fight in Zeal when he summons the Twin Golems. That fight is extremely hard to win, but it is possible. When you do it, they even lampshade it by having Dalton say "IMPOSSIBLE!" and then dropping something on you that knocks you out anyway.

Example 2: Defeating Lavos in the underwater fortress is also possible, albeit really hard. You won't be doing it until your 3rd or 4th playthrough, and it leads to one of the extra endings, as a user had already noted.

Example 3: The "unwinnable" Vile fight (both of them, actually) are winnable. It's not that Vile doesn't have a energy meter, it's just hidden and very very large, and you're limited to only doing one damage to him regardless of what you hit him with. This actually gets easier to do when you get him into capture mode since he isn't actually trying to hit you anymore. Just time your jumps and never jump toward him. The game will cheese and Zero will intervene once you do enough damage to him. The second fight works the same way.[/color]

Ack! Why is the file I downloaded missing all the caps letters? Instead of GWJ Conference call I got gwj conference call. It worked just fine for the past 173 episodes so what changed? It just looked so out of place I had to rename the file and add all the letters back in.

garion333 wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

Not done with the podcast, but I came here looking for a link to the headphones Certis was pimping. :-(

Oh really?

There's a different Tritton surround sound headset on sale right now.

On No More Heroes 2 - I definitely don't disagree with you on the way the series treats female characters. It's pretty shameless. Even though I don't excuse that stuff, though, I do like the game. The variety of influences, from anime, from Kurosawa films, from westerns, and from 70s surrealist film is really appealing to me. If your game intentionally references Takeshi Miike and Alejandro Jodorowski, you have discovered one of the keys to my heart. I could draw a parallel to Metal Gear Solid here; while both games have flaws, they both feel like games where the passions of the author shine through rather than a stale design-by-committee triple-A title, and I can respect that.

Plus I really like inventive boss fights in brawlers and this game is busting at the seams with those.

"They excised the Mako."

Wow, Certis, you make it sound like a tumor!

gore wrote:
garion333 wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

Not done with the podcast, but I came here looking for a link to the headphones Certis was pimping. :-(

Oh really?

There's a different Tritton surround sound headset on sale right now.

Sale is over. That model has been discontinued and replaced by the AX Pro, which does a better job of cable management, but still a mutant octopus of cables.

LobsterMobster wrote:

"They excised the Mako."

Wow, Certis, you make it sound like a tumor! ;)

I calls em' like I see em'

LobsterMobster wrote:

"They excised the Mako."

Wow, Certis, you make it sound like a tumor! ;)

I think that comparison casts unfair aspersions on tumours.

Sonicator wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

"They excised the Mako."

Wow, Certis, you make it sound like a tumor! ;)

I think that comparison casts unfair aspersions on tumours.

A tumor would have been easier to drive.

Another reason getting a surround sound rig might be letting you hear more in your games is that either your console is trying to send a 5.1 signal to a 2 or 2.1 sound setup without downmixing, or lazy sound design. A friend of mine has Prototype for the PS3, and he can never hear the dialog because it's all being directed to his non-existent center speaker for some reason. I'm pretty sure he's tried changing the audio settings for the PS3, but to no avail.

BF2 is an excellent game for surround sound, however. The atmosphere it adds makes me actually feel nervous that I'm about to get the crap blown out of me.

7.1 is the new standard I guess for surround sound, but I think we still need more speakers, more more more! One thing I still hate about playing games like MW2 is that I cannot tell if sounds are coming from objects/people that are above or below me. Maybe sound engineers will figure out a way to simulate this, but ultimately some sort of 12.1 setup has to come about.

HedgeWizard wrote:

I am fairly OS/System agnostic; I run windows, OS X, Ubuntu and FreeBSD each for their own specific reasons. However, my home system is (presently) a ~2-year old 24" iMac.

I bootcamp windows 7 on it, and I have yet to find a game I can't max out the settings on.

You got some 'splainin to do. Is it the video card, the Win7-ness? I have the identical iMac you just bought ('cept 4GB RAM, not 8GB, and running XP), and I can't max anything on it that I didn't buy from GOG.com. I have to rock 1280x720 and medium settings, and any reasonable degree of effects brings the FPS noticeably down in games from L4D2 back to STALKER. How you do it?

I'm with you - I have almost the exact same iMac model and I can't even max out some games from like 2007, although most games look decent on my machine. As much as I love the stylish iMac, I'll probably go back to buiding gaming rigs for my future pcs.