GWJ Conference Call Episode 179

Conference Call

Final Fantasy XIII, Bad Company 2, Scrap Metal, What If Crazy Things Happened?, Your Emails and more!

This week we gaze into our crystal ball (rabbit's head) and see what the industry would be like if things like the 1983 video games market crash never happened. Spoiler: Nolan Bushnell becomes emperor. 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

"Interstate '76 Theme" - Interstate '76 Soundtrack (Bullmark) - 0:38:04
"Interstate '76 Theme" - Interstate '76 Soundtrack (Bullmark) - 1:01:35

Comments

Certis! Lost Odyssey! 4 discs!

I agree with Demiurge's comments on FFXIII. Personally, I'm 22 hours in and lost interest.

Interesting discussion about copyright. This ties in directly with piracy and Ubisoft's attempts to prevent piracy. In the US, here's what the constitution says:

The Congress shall have Power . . .
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Author and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries

So the whole purpose is to further progress, learning, and art, NOT make as much money as possible for the producers of said content. Theoretically, this could be interpreted as meaning as soon as you've covered costs, your copyright expires. But just as your discussion shows, having access to all those tools allows all sorts of wonderful creativity to bloom. Fortunately, lots of engine makers like Unreal not only allow modding of their IP, but actively encourage it. But copyright owners have corrupted the original meaning by plying congress with tons of cash, so we end up with stupid copyrights of 80 years or so for some IP. There is stuff created decades ago that won't enter the public domain in my lifetime. It's frustrating.

LOL
Buying FFXIII for the X360 isn't a sign of intelligence...
3 Disks and blurry FMV and engine graphics.

The fight system is great after I finally understood. Similar to Batman where first I didnt understood the fight system and was underwhelmed.

God damn that is a f*cking awesome soundtrack. I am very sad to hear I76 isn't working in Windows 7 because I was absolutely considering it--how could it work in Vista and not 7? Makes no sense.

I thought the FF13 discussion did a good job of summing up the spectrum of viewpoints that exist on the game... that spectrum being from those who agree with me to those who are completely wrong.

I actually like that they took out all of the stuff I never do anyway. It makes it easier to find the hallway to the next cut scene, which is really what FF games are really about anyway. IMHO.

Small point about seeing post-apocalyptic environments before they're trashed... This was the one of the primary reasons I liked Prototype more than Infamous. Prototype gives you a normal city, introduces a small outbreak and then has things quickly degrade to complete chaos. You got to see what a functional city looked like, making the contrast of the post-infection city much more effective.

Since when did GWJ get a What If? machine?

I was just listening to the 10th muse podcast and one of the guys had also just had his WOW account hacked. He came out of it pretty good though, with a lot of money and profitable goods on his characters. The only downsides being that he lost his previous inventory in their place and the inconvenience.

Also, Interstate 76 was amazing! That music took me back. I spent so much time with that game when it came out. Played it for years and even made a few maps for it with a shifty map editor someone bought out for it. I was so disappointed with Interstate 82...

Just finished listening to the main topic segment. Very interesting discussion. Before I continue the podcast, I wanted to post what was on my mind, in case I forget later.

During that mid-80s gap between the downfall of Atari and the rise of Nintendo, what kept me going as a gamer was the opposite of copy protection (which rabbit claims saved gaming). What I mean is that I had a Commodore 64 and friends that also had one. So due to the old 5¼" floppy disks being so easy to copy, I actually played many more games on my C64 than I had on any previous platform. And there were a lot of good games released on the C64, which I can honestly say was as big a part of the reason I'm a gamer as anything I played before or after.

Of course, after becoming an adult, I realize that what we were doing was violating copyrights, but being just a teenager at the time, I/we didn't even know the term copyright, not to mention understand the concept. We just wanted to share our games (and music on cassette tapes) with each other. So we made copies, which in those days was ridiculously easy.

Edit to add:

In response to the email about seeing game worlds before they're destroyed, Guild Wars did this too. When you created a character, you started the game in Ascalon, which served as the tutorial area. Once your character had "ascended" and you chose to leave the area, the great battle called "The Searing" takes place. Afterwards, you play through the "post-Searing" (post-apocalyptic) version of Ascalon. It was quite interesting from what I remember.

MeatMan beat me to the Guildwars thing. That was the best part of the game for me. Exploring that area for the first time for a few hours in all its beauty then seeing all these by now familiar places destroyed was incredibly effective.

Oh, man. How in the world did I forget how utterly fantastic the music is in Interstate '76?

Also, I agree wholeheartedly on the point about games needing to use more "reminders" for narrative, especially for players who haven't played after a long period of time. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world when Phantasy Star IV did this back in the day with the "Talk" option on the party menu; you'd hit "Talk" and your party would launch into a little conversation, talking about the current objective from the perspective of the characters themselves. Not only did it help remind you where you were in the game at that point, but it also provided a little extra characterization for your party.

FYI: the FF13 ramp up time is 11 chapters (30+ hours) long.

Before I hit that point, I was upset with the characters, upset with the combat, and upset with the linearity of the game. That was not quite the Final Fantasy experience I was looking for.

After that point, the story finally started making more sense, the characters really started developing, and the gameplay opened up: I now see that there may only be a little story left, but there's still the 100 hours of additional open-ended gameplay left to enjoy the way I enjoyed all the other FF games.

As a gamer, I'm glad I persevered through the longest tutorial ever, but as a professional, I can't help but question the wisdom of that gameplay progression.

alingis wrote:

As a gamer, I'm glad I persevered through the longest tutorial ever, but as a professional, I can't help but question the wisdom of that gameplay progression.

From what I've gathered through interviews, they basically designed the main part of the game as a series of cutscene story beats and then inserted four to seven battles between each one. I'd say the primary issue is that they were not willing to take a pen to the script and start cutting as needed. You reduce the story, you don't have to stretch your level (and skill) progression arc like taffy across this giant, perspective-shifting mess.

Being further in than I was when we recorded, I'm still enjoying the story quite a bit, but I'm making a concerted effort to treat it like a long movie with some interactive fights rather than a "video game" per say. Not dissimilar to playing Heavy Rain and dropping some preconceived notions I had of how a game should be delivered. It's a bit of mental engineering on my part, but I'm a player, not a critic, so I do what I can to find the fun.

Good episode. Interesting discussion, but Julian takes the cake for his Say Anything reference.

I'm glad Corey had the same opinion on Hope when I first started playing.

FFXIII really grew on me. Yeah I agree it was a long ass tutorial. But for some reason the best part about the game for me was the characters. I love Lightning like Certis commented. She's just a bad ass. I love how they made a comparison of Lightning and Snow in one the cutscenes. Snow is a big softy. While on the other hand Lightning will probably slap you if you piss her off.

Even though it was a long first part of the game, I just hit the intermission, it was fun. I am really into the story, really digging the characters, and the battle system. Plus Hope isn't as emo as he use to be. Big plus for me. Anyways great show guys.

To Corey: Keep playing FFXIII. Don't give up!

Blammo72Ger wrote:

LOL
Buying FFXIII for the X360 isn't a sign of intelligence...
3 Disks and blurry FMV and engine graphics.

My new favorite commenter. He shall be missed.

alingis wrote:

FYI: the FF13 ramp up time is 11 chapters (30+ hours) long.

That's intense. I'll say this much: If they're going to spend that much time teaching us this system, they better use it in the next game.

Regarding the Portal discussion, they did actually add puzzles to the existing maps in the form of finding and activating the radios. I'm not sure if spoliers are a concern... but just in case.

Spoiler:

A lot of the radios are hidden in places you have to use the portal gun to get to. Chamber 15 (I think) even makes you use the physics to launch your character to an area that you really have no reason to go to without the addition of the radios. Also, you don't necessarily have to take it to a red button. With some puzzles you have to put a portal in the floor to reach the invisible activation trigger volume on the ceiling.

I have not redone all the chambers yet and I really can't fault anyone for not wanting to go back; especially if you have to complete the game before you can see it like Demiurge. This is just me being nit-picky so feel free to ignore it. Hey, maybe I shouldn't have even posted... Nah. I'll do it anyway, maybe someone will find it useful.

Dan wrote:

Regarding the Portal discussion, they did actually add puzzles to the existing maps in the form of finding and activating the radios. I'm not sure if spoliers are a concern... but just in case.

Spoiler:

A lot of the radios are hidden in places you have to use the portal gun to get to. Chamber 15 (I think) even makes you use the physics to launch your character to an area that you really have no reason to go to without the addition of the radios. Also, you don't necessarily have to take it to a red button. With some puzzles you have to put a portal in the floor to reach the invisible activation trigger volume on the ceiling.

I have not redone all the chambers yet and I really can't fault anyone for not wanting to go back; especially if you have to complete the game before you can see it like Demiurge. This is just me being nit-picky so feel free to ignore it. Hey, maybe I shouldn't have even posted... Nah. I'll do it anyway, maybe someone will find it useful.

I'm glad you posted this, actually. I didn't know the radios were hidden.

Going through Portal again on the PC is on my gaming to-do list (yes, I'm sad enough to have one of those) so now I've got some extra incentive.

But I stand by my "retcon'd ending" statement. /ducks

That Interstate '76 music is amazing. It makes me want to buy a copy of the game and a copy of Black Dynamite at the same time.

I still love the radio more than the cube.

Scuigi wrote:

That Interstate '76 music is amazing. It makes me want to buy a copy of the game and a copy of Black Dynamite at the same time.

I was absolutely going to mention Black Dynamite. I just saw it for the first time a month ago. It took me awhile to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Love the 'what if' discussions. I think the NES came out in Summer of 85 in the US. There is a Purina Dog Chow game that is perhaps one of the most rare and exspensive 2600 carts. I remember reading about how Nintendo or whomever created the Famicom hardware, came to Atari in 83 or 84 and wanted to work together to make a console.
Atari declined.
Oops.
Yes, the arcades were doomed, but it is an interesting theory by Demiurge that they may have extended their golden age if Atari had not imploded. But if you think about it, Atari went into their shell and dove hard into arcade development after the console scene crashed. So many good Atari arcade games from 82 to perhaps 89. Off the top of my head, Toobin, Quix, Gauntlet, The Star Wars games, Cyberball, Tempest, Millipede, and I have a soft spot for the Temple of Doom game.
I really enjoyed the discussion, thanks!
I usually miss Elysium and Rob, but you three made a wonderful trio this week. Bravo!
Oh yeah, having your avatars thoughts be transmitted to you, through text or voiceover, with a toggle would be sweet!

Initially in FF13, I hated all of the characters, and had no clue what was going on. Being Final Fantasy, I gave it more time (would have quit anything else by now). Now 10 hours in, I like most of the characters (Hope, I would have punched about 10 separate occasions), the story is getting more interesting, and the combat, while streamlined, is really fun for me. I may be in control of less than I was in previous games, but I am still performing tons of actions and juggling paradigms to maximize efficiency and get that 5 star rating. I suppose if all you wanted to do was survive in combat, you could stick with two paradigms and go real slow and be bored to tears. But trying to maximize the combo/stagger system, its a great time.

Is it me, or are there an inordinate number of Coffee Grinders in this thread?

Demiurge wrote:
alingis wrote:

FYI: the FF13 ramp up time is 11 chapters (30+ hours) long.

That's intense. I'll say this much: If they're going to spend that much time teaching us this system, they better use it in the next game.

But then the next one would be exactly like the last one.

TheCounselor wrote:

Is it me, or are there an inordinate number of Coffee Grinders in this thread?

I've noticed that front page articles tend to get more, and podcast threads in particular. I'm guessing it comes down to the breadth of exposure of the subject matter.

The more the merrier IMO!

On discussing how you introduce viewers to a large and complicated world that they don't understand (say, a science fiction world on another planet) I believe it is a fasle dichotomy to claim that you either need a character with amnesia or lots of data logs to make sense of the story. As an example, think about The Wire.

That show drops the viewer into a hugely complicated and (realistic) world of drug dealing and gang life, with a large group of characters who don't fequently and conviently refer to each other by their name. That show trusts that the viewer will be able to keep up with and understand the story, and it skillfully reveals parts of the world piece by piece. There is no reason a game should not try the same approach, even if it is far more difficult to pull off then "Hey, I can't remember who anything!"

I think the weapons upgrade system in FF has been the part I dread the most while playing. I don't want to keep a list of what ingredients do what or research online to find the most efficient use of components. I'm also concerned that as soon as I use a bunch to upgrade a weapon, I'm going to find the weapon I really wanted to use in the battle that's just around the corner.

I've been enjoying the interactive movie in general. It's been one of those games that I have to overcome some resistance to boot up, but, once I'm playing, I'm having a pretty decent time and constantly saying "I'll just play up to the next save point".

I pre-ordered an iPad as well, even though I'm sure I'll buy version 2.0 when they launch it for Christmas.

Jexhius wrote:

On discussing how you introduce viewers to a large and complicated world that they don't understand (say, a science fiction world on another planet) I believe it is a fasle dichotomy to claim that you either need a character with amnesia or lots of data logs to make sense of the story. As an example, think about The Wire.

I was talking to Cory about this element too. A game like Mass Effect or a show like The Wire is working within well understood archetypes. People understand "it's the future and humans have entered space" or "cops, detectives, bad guys, guns and gang members" already going into these new stories. A brand new Final Fantasy world where people live inside a giant cocoon and there's all kind of weird things like fal' Cie who provide all the energy, food and protection yet there's different factions within this world but then there's Pulse which is something else entirely has very little assumed knowledge going in.

Familiarity plays a HUGE role in how much exposition and explanation a story and a world needs while trying to draw players into an exciting plot with interesting characters. I'm not saying Final Fantasy XIII does an awesome job of that, but I understand why they ended up leaning on the datalogs a little. Saying they should just "do it like The Wire" ignores all of that and the fact that it's a video game, not a long running TV show.

Really enjoyed the FFXIII discussion. Very fair and civil as I would expect. I'm about 27 hours into the game and I think I'm only halfway through it. You guys have quite a journey ahead of you.

Btw, for the email about worlds that were changed when you revisited them, a good example would be FFX and FFX-2. Whether you liked FFX-2 or not, it was really cool to see how the world changed and what people like your old party members were up to. So many changes were unexpected if you really got into the first game. I liked that aspect of X-2 even tho the game itself was okay.