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

Don't name your kid Wolfen. Not unless you want to pay to have his fursuit dry cleaned.

On the subject of buying games more than once: during the Steam holiday sale, I rebought a couple of games so that I wouldn't need to keep track of their discs anymore, and ISTR a number of other people mentioning doing the same thing....

...all of which further demonstrates that convenience is worth some $$$.

On the topic of FFXIII's datalogs: I think they are nice for people who want more story. I do not think they are mandatory reading to follow the story. The only datalogs I've read are the ones that pop up on the loading screen. I am about 14 hours into the game and I can pretty much figure out what is going on. If there is something I don't understand, I figure maybe I will later or at least by the end of the game.

Personally, I've never been a huge fan of any video game story. Thats not to say I don't like this story, I'm enjoying it. The cutscenes are great and a nice way to give my hands a rest from the action every 10 minutes or so.

Certis wrote:
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.

The other difference is that all the characters in The Wire know what's going, so even if the viewer is clueless, he can take as much time as needs to figure it out while the story, propelled by knowledgeable and competent characters, goes on. In a video game the player is one of the characters, and a clueless character is going to stall the story. Novel elements of the gameworld have to be introduced to the player-character in some way. Dropping the player-as-audience into the story cold is all well and good, but when he also has to understand the world and make decisions as an agent within the fiction, he'll be boned.

This has to be my favorite podcast of the year so far. Except for the ones with Lara... and where McChuck had some sexy time.

Regardless, Bethesda seems to section off two or three quest lines in every game to go above and beyond. There's the one with the tree in FO3, the one with the painting in Oblivion, the one with the deer head in Oblivion.

For ruined worlds though my favorite is the one from FO3...

Spoiler:

... which as I recall was part of the main quest. You get into a VR machine in one of the vaults, and travel to a space where the war has not happened yet. It's a bit like Pleasantville, going back to the 50s and doing a few quests. There was not a dramatic love-this-world-scripted-heartbreak like in Guild Wars, but it was more subtle. And, from the look of it, took an awful lot of time. But it gave context to the Wasteland.

If you missed it, I recommend finding a way to go back.

Re: Portal discussion and James bashing

Demiurge wrote:

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.

(not sure why the tagging isn't working)

I was the James who wasn't quite as cool as Wolfen in the email section on this episode... it's funny how differently people read emails than intended... I found it amusing just listening to the tones and inflections given to my email, which really vastly changed the meaning. I figured that would happen anyway, but it was fun to hear.

I totally see not replaying it twice just to get the radios, and also agree with almost everything everyone said in response... I happened to have finished it with my Steam account years ago, so it was easy to just jump in and check it out, and I got re-hooked and played all the way through again. The intent of my statement of none of 'you' actually playing it wasn't really calling out, it was just a statement of fact... without actually playing it, you wouldn't get a sense for the effort put into it... Not really faulting you for NOT playing it, just maintaining that it was easy to overlook it at face value.

My point with the '26 new puzzles' was exactly as the Dan had mentioned... the radio placement and broadcast locations aren't just give-me's, and not random. You have to really puzzle through solutions to a) FIND the radios after the first couple levels, given audio cues only much of the time, b) GET the radios, which often presented it's own crazy problems, c) figure out where the transmission location is (as you wander, you start to get static the closer you get to them, so you have to use audio cues from your radio to figure out where the transmission might be), and d) get the radio TO the transmission location's central point

The first level is a give me... you have the radio right with you, as in the original portal, and the location is super-obvious, involving just picking up the radio and walking to the big read button. The tricks get progressively more difficult, and only the first level or 2 have them localized on big red buttons... this is the Portal-style difficulty progression, where they establish one or two ideas at a time, and slowly add more and more to it, until the final levels are combinations of all the previous types of puzzles with a lot of the hints and cues removed.

Yes, they exist within the old levels (though there are a few cases where little chunks of an edge are removed, or a ledge is added, or a little bit of the level is moved 2 feet to the left, to accomodate some of this), but they way to solve the puzzles (which, again, break down into multiple steps, from acquiring the radio to finally getting it to it's end point... the fact that you can't fire the portal gun while holding the radio adds a lot of twists in a few levels, and

Spoiler:

not being able to get a radio through a particle field

makes things difficult in other areas)... there are a lot of them you have to solve the puzzle in ways you actually never had the opportunity to do in the original levels...

So I still maintain that it added a fair amount of content... I don't think I'd have paid for it as DLC, but for FREE DLC, I think it is valuable...

I also agree that it isn't for everyone... I'm not saying you are wrong about it being no fun for you. Only that it WAS fun for me, as it would be for a good segment of people, and should be noted not only for marketing brilliance but also for the thoughtfulness put into the placements of the radios and receive-points, and the planning to fit those into the existing levels in unique ways with a minimum of changes to those levels, while still sticking to the Portal puzzle approach of starting with simple, easy, obvious puzzles to teach mechanics and develop connected-logic to certain situations, and then later turning that on it's head and making you rethink those assertions.

And I thank you for making it clear how a recipients mood and general mindset can completely alter the intent of text communication... seriously, hearing that email read, I had to go back and re-listen to see if it was REALLY mine! It matched word for word, but man did it sound different than the email I wrote!

Also, all this (Vanna White gesture to above documentary) is the reason that 3/4 of my email was skipped over when read aloud. I 'tried' to split it into the short and long version, but.. my short version alone ended up being pages. Verbosity... I have it. And can't get rid of it!

JMnITup wrote:

... It's funny how differently people read emails than intended... I found it amusing just listening to the tones and inflections given to my email, which really vastly changed the meaning. I figured that would happen anyway, but it was fun to hear.

...

Also, all this (Vanna White gesture to above documentary) is the reason that 3/4 of my email was skipped over when read aloud. I 'tried' to split it into the short and long version, but.. my short version alone ended up being pages. Verbosity... I have it. And can't get rid of it!

I can fix those things!

wordsmythe wrote:

I can fix those things!

This is how most people fix it, of course (I should just fill the middle with 'blah blah blah corn blah blah airport blah blah chicken blah'), leaving the meat of my point out. In the email case, I noticed they ended up focusing on my statement about catching things I'd missed the first time around, but THAT was just a sideline, not directly related to the update (as was noted, that could happen just from replaying Portal, regardless of the update). It wasn't my closing point, or in any way a reason why the update was cool... and it worked for ME because I hadn't replayed every level 6 times, I had gone through the game 1 time plus some challenge maps the first time, years ago...

Also, Portal is great! This closing note is likely all you read, and is hardly related to the rest of this post, but at least it's short, and true!

Also, any idea why tagging isn't working for me? Artifact of being a newb poster on the site?

JMnITup wrote:

Artifact of being a newb poster on the site?

You got it in one. It's an anti-spam measure. If you hang around for a bit, you'll get the ability to quote and spoil to your heart's content.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
JMnITup wrote:

Artifact of being a newb poster on the site?

You got it in one. It's an anti-spam measure. If you hang around for a bit, you'll get the ability to quote and spoil to your heart's content.

Spoiler:

He speaks the truth. But smileys, images and videos don't dissapear into spoilers. :(

Also, James, I think you pointed out exactly why your email was too long. You made points that were ancillary / side notes and they didn't need to be there. Take those out, get to the point and just let the CC'ers roll with what they get. Brevity FTW

JMnITup wrote:

The intent of my statement of none of 'you' actually playing it wasn't really calling out, it was just a statement of fact... without actually playing it, you wouldn't get a sense for the effort put into it...

Hi. Thanks for writing.

I'd hate to speak for the rest of the cast, but I've got a pretty good sense of the effort involved in the Portal update. It's never easy to add additional content and it's much harder to add content that's going to lead into the kind of ARG-like data dump we saw when Valve pushed the initial radio update. Yes, it's a lot of work.

Our focus of that episode wasn't so much, "Wow, this is another example of free DLC from Valve! They're our BFF!" but more that Valve is in this unique position in the industry where they can push an update to a game and turn it into promotion for the sequel. Regardless of your thoughts on the new Radio puzzles, the focus of the update was to get their hardcore fanbase energized. It worked as marketing because people were excited and news outlets reported on it.

Did Valve need to do this sort of viral advertising for Portal 2? Of course not. You were going to get Portal 2 regardless. Me too. But they *did*, and that completely fascinates me. My hope is that our discussion two episodes ago was as interesting to our audience as it was to me. Maybe it wasn't... but it wasn't meant to be a review of additional game content.

No comment on the way we read emails or if we get their intent, though. If we misinterpret an email on the air, feel free to send a clarification. Maybe we'll read that one, too, or maybe we won't. We're a fickle bunch.

A small update on FF13 for the few people still reading this thread: After thinking all week about jumping back in, I truly just don't care. Square is asking too much of me.

I think I know someone who will appreciate my copy more than I will. It's best if Final Fantasy and I just stay as friends, not lovers.

Demiurge wrote:

No comment on the way we read emails or if we get their intent, though. If we misinterpret an email on the air, feel free to send a clarification. Maybe we'll read that one, too, or maybe we won't. We're a fickle bunch. :)

Maybe they'll just re-read the original e-mail!

Demiurge wrote:

I think I know someone who will appreciate my copy more than I will.

It's sweet of you to think of me, Cory. Let me know if you need my address.

JMnITup wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

I can fix those things!

This is how most people fix it, of course (I should just fill the middle with 'blah blah blah corn blah blah airport blah blah chicken blah'), leaving the meat of my point out.

No, seriously. I'm an editor. I fix writing.

By the way, Cory, I just got to listening to the end of the episode, and I have to say: I'm with you on Metroid Prime. I loved the jumping mechanics in that game.

Demiurge wrote:

A small update on FF13 for the few people still reading this thread: After thinking all week about jumping back in, I truly just don't care. Square is asking too much of me.

I think I know someone who will appreciate my copy more than I will. It's best if Final Fantasy and I just stay as friends, not lovers.

Cory, about how many hours did you put in?

I totally agree with Elysium about Scrap Metal. I really really wanted to like this game. When I watched videos of it the nostalgia of Super Off Road and Rock n Roll Racing came flooding back at me.

Then, I played the game. The most important part of simple games like this is the control, which just doesn't feel right in Scrap Metal. I should be fighting other cars, not fighting to keep my car on the road.

I haven't played the game versus some friends, yet, but I did play one multiplayer match online and it was just a jumbled mess. I managed to get an achievement for Blowin' Up 20 Enemies and I came in 1st place, but I never really felt like I knew what I was doing at all. Those other guys must have really sucked.

garion333 wrote:

Cory, about how many hours did you put in?

No more than what I said during the show. 11 hours, I believe.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

By the way, Cory, I just got to listening to the end of the episode, and I have to say: I'm with you on Metroid Prime. I loved the jumping mechanics in that game.

See? I'm not crazy. Unless Clockwork is crazy, in which case I might be a little off.

Gravey wrote:

Maybe they'll just re-read the original e-mail! ;)

Boom!

Demiurge wrote:
Gravey wrote:

Maybe they'll just re-read the original e-mail! ;)

Boom!

Ouch. Now that's just mean.

I think it was Sean who said he hated jumping puzzles - does this include Prince of Persia-type jumping puzzles?

skeletonframes wrote:

I totally agree with Elysium about Scrap Metal.

That was Julian ...

awesomo316 wrote:

I think it was Sean who said he hated jumping puzzles - does this include Prince of Persia-type jumping puzzles?

... and that was Andrich. You guys must miss Sands something fierce.

awesomo316 wrote:

I think it was Sean who said he hated jumping puzzles - does this include Prince of Persia-type jumping puzzles?

Not really, Prince of Persia did one smart thing and gave you a rewind feature to mitigate the usual auto-fail style of jumping puzzles.

Demiurge wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

By the way, Cory, I just got to listening to the end of the episode, and I have to say: I'm with you on Metroid Prime. I loved the jumping mechanics in that game.

See? I'm not crazy. Unless Clockwork is crazy, in which case I might be a little off.

Sounds sane to me. Otherwise, count me in the crazy camp also. I absolutely loved the jumping mechanics in Metroid Prime. It was the first time in a first person game I didn't feel like I was blindly guessing when I needed to jump and where I needed to land. It just felt good.

Demiurge wrote:
skeletonframes wrote:

I totally agree with Elysium about Scrap Metal.

That was Julian ...

Well, whaddaya know? And here I thought I'd finally begun to differentiate between you guys. In my defense, though, I [insert excuse here].

Also,
Sorry, Rabbit. It's a mistake I shan't make twice. And I totally agree with you on Scrap Metal.

Just finished the podcast this morning - I really enjoyed the conversation about buying a game and having access to it on multiple platforms. I am currently trying to upgrade my DVD collection to Blu Ray, and before I buy any disc - I double check to see if anyone sells the movie with a digital copy. I travel a lot, and really enjoy watching movies on my iPod, and that extra value really sells me on some movies I probably wouldn't buy otherwise. I think it would be great if the publishers could put in some sort of option for 360/PS3 purchasers to play on the computer, either for free or for a nominal fee. I can't see that they would work on both consoles, but certainly a console/computer match up would be workable. In any event, very interesting conversation.

Having content available freely, on multiple platforms, on a user-based paradigm would actually be truer to the rhetoric of "intellectual property." Companies say "intellectual property" now, but functionally, it's not really that.

The way it currently functions, game EULAs are closer to rents than anything else. You don't own the property, so you can't demand to have it available anywhere else, nor can you demand for another copy, should you lose the one you have, even if you still have the license. Heck, you can't even use it freely - the EULA stipulates exactly what uses you can make of the game.

Functionally speaking, it's closer to renting than it is to buying. Having content become more freely available for users is a step in the right direction.

I decided to catch up on the podcasts while messing around in the Source SDK. Gotta say it was quite exciting to hear my email read. After finishing Metro 2033 I must say I seen a little bit of what my email said in a way. The world that had been there before survived metaphorically and literally as ghosts.Also since I sent in that letter I purchased and finished Bioshock 1. Talk about a world that would be interesting to see before the fall. Finding those street cars and dead cats just made me wonder what was this world like? In a way you once again see the world through creepy flashbacks and the tapes. I actually am thinking of picking up Bioshock 2 after the rush just to play the multiplayer so I can get a little of the backstory of Rapture.

I realized how much time it takes to build a simple level, about a year or two on a TF2 level including hard drive failures and accidently closing without saving. I realized when I sent that in that building the set up for such a scene would take months to produce when it could be better spent fixing that Hall Syndrome, where you realize it is a straight line, or other issues in the game.

With that I wrap up this longer than I originally wanted post. Good Day to you kind gentlemen.