GWJ Conference Call Episode 184

Conference Call

Splinter Cell: Conviction, Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, Strategry, Collaborative Storytelling, Your Emails and more!

This week the crew bands together to discuss collaborative storytelling in games and they totally get along! 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

"Twilight Bay" (James 106) - 0:25:41
"Chloe" (James 106) - 0:53:45

Comments

I think the install base and sales momentum is a relaly big hurdle though. Based on last quarter, Apple's still selling 100k phones a day world wide (36mm projected for 2010). Then you have to more than *double* that for iPod touch sales, on an installed base of over 75 million units.

That's a hell of an addressable market.

Like I said int he iPad thread, I am NOT excited by this, because I think really strong competition makes for better products.

I have to agree with Lara on the Sleep is Death thing. I've done a fair bit of cooperative storytelling online way back when BBS's were the main form of online ANYTHING. I fail to see how adding bad 8 bit graphics and a significant delay to actions add anything to the experience.

Lara is absolutely right when she talks about this being a barrier and she should have stuck to her guns on this. In a purely text based setup, if someone does something unexpected, it's trivial to adapt to it and describe the effects. With this "tool" I either have to settle for a text description, hope that I have a tile that is appropriate (and FIND it) or create a new one. In the first case, you're no better off than the text version, and in the other two you are just wrestling with the toolset to what benefit? So you can have a poor graphical representation?

Put me in the "I don't get it" camp.

Just wanted to add, for Lara, I am a Final Fantasy fan. Not a big one. Just a fan.

I played more than five minutes (about 6 hours actually).

I found myself dozing off more than once.

Did Laura pronounce Lumines as "loo-mines"? And yea, Rob hates everything. Thank gawd Cory subbed for Andrich cuz the Laura/Rob tag-team hating on games I like made me wanna quit this ep. But I stuck with it for Cory and Rabbit.

rabbit wrote:

I think the install base and sales momentum is a relaly big hurdle though. Based on last quarter, Apple's still selling 100k phones a day world wide (36mm projected for 2010). Then you have to more than *double* that for iPod touch sales, on an installed base of over 75 million units.

That's a hell of an addressable market.

Like I said int he iPad thread, I am NOT excited by this, because I think really strong competition makes for better products.

There's a fundamental difference in the way the iPhone and Android markets have developed.

The iPhone was a device that tapped into a massive pent up demand for what I'll describe as a "non sh*tty smartphone." At the iPhone's initial release, the true depth of that market was revealed. All at once. Boom.

In the post-iPhone world, you suddenly had two categories of smartphone users: those who will only use a device that doesn't suck, and everybody else. In the category of "non sh*tty smartphone," the iPhone was pretty much the only contender. In retrospect it should be no surprise how quickly the developers flocked to it, and how vibrant its ecosystem is.

Android is starting from a much more difficult position, and it has to fight tooth and nail for every percentage of the market. It's a smartphone that doesn't suck, but who's left to use it? You don't have an untapped market this time around - you have the dregs, those late adopters who have been limping along with their crap smartphones, those iPhone users who are tired of their devices. But there's no new market here. It can only chisel away at the edges from an established market.

This means that Android has to win solely by being better, and that's a damn tough sell right now. But it's proving itself over time, and it's peeling away more and more people who don't want an iPhone but do want a device that doesn't suck. And every iPhone user that converts represents a whole, clean slate from an app vendor's perspective: none of their investment in iPhone apps will carry over. They've got to buy it all. Again.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: don't be dismayed that Android's 3rd party software ecosystem isn't competing in the same league as Apple's yet. It's in the middle of an uphill climb, and I don't think we'll see it reach maturity for quite a while. Apple's "mature app marketplace in a month" success story is impossible to replicate, and Android failing to do so is not a sign that Android is failing in general.

Assuming that capabilities and install base are roughly even - and I think eventually they will be - Android retains one key advantage: it's an open system. Don't discount that as a deciding factor in the long run.

Elysium wrote:

It is, to me, totally acceptable to have a discussion based on a concept instead of actual experience.

Case in point, I, being a visually confirmed Black guy (more of a mocha actually), am not as eager to play FFXIII because I am tired of comic relief in the form a Black guy with any thing or animal in his afro.

Sadly, I will play it, enduring countless hours until it gets good. I am sure that he gets separated from his chocobo. And like every annoying Disney animation, playing on human heart strings, I will get a little misty when they are reunited.

Ah the self-hatred I endure for JRPGs.

LiK wrote:

Did Laura pronounce Lumines as "loo-mines"?

Sadly so.

For the record, it's pronounced phonetically as if the vowels were Latin or Italian: Loo - mee - nehs

Or at least, that's how Tetsuya Mizuguchi pronounces it, and he made the game.

Baaspei wrote:
Elysium wrote:

It is, to me, totally acceptable to have a discussion based on a concept instead of actual experience.

Case in point, I, being a visually confirmed Black guy (more of a mocha actually), am not as eager to play FFXIII because I am tired of comic relief in the form a Black guy with any thing or animal in his afro.

Sadly, I will play it, enduring countless hours until it gets good. I am sure that he gets separated from his chocobo. And like every annoying Disney animation, playing on human heart strings, I will get a little misty when they are reunited.

See, this is exactly what turned me off about Sahz. Would it kill developers to create a black character who is neither wise-cracks or macho-tough-guys his way out of a situation? Just a normal guy placed in extraordinary situations--like a black Gordon Freeman or Jill Valentine or Jade Archer.*

*I tried to think of a black female character in games for this post, and my brain Error 404'd me. Are there any out there?

Podunk wrote:
LiK wrote:

Did Laura pronounce Lumines as "loo-mines"?

Sadly so.

For the record, it's pronounced phonetically as if the vowels were Latin or Italian: Loo - mee - nehs

I'll pronounce it however I want until people can start spelling my name right. LOO-MINES, bitches.

Also, The Loo-Mines Bitches would be an awesome name for a prog band.

KaterinLHC wrote:

*I tried to think of a black female character in games for this post, and my brain Error 404'd me. Are there any out there?

Rochelle in Left 4 Dead 2. Alyx in Half Life 2 is of mixed race, but her father is black. Grace Holloway in Bioshock 2. I think there must be more, but I'm having a terrible time thinking of any.

I'll pronounce it however I want until people can start spelling my name right. LOO-MINES, bitches.

Also, The Loo-Mines Bitches would be an awesome name for a prog band.

It would!

KaterinLHC wrote:

I tried to think of a black female character in games for this post, and my brain Error 404'd me. Are there any out there?

Nabooru from The Ocarina of Time.

Sheva from Resident Evil 5 was not white, although I can't remember if she was meant to be a light-skinned African or Indian.

And Lisa/La Mariposa and Niki from the Dead or Alive series I think were supposed to be black, but I'm not sure they're the sort of role-models you were looking for.

The only non-stereotypical black female character I've played in a game? Helena Shepherd from my playthrough of Mass Effect.

Except for the bird in his hair Sahz is actually a pretty nuanced character. Unfortunately, the writing and pacing in the game sucks, so you don't find this out until later.

psu_13 wrote:

Except for the bird in his hair Sahz is actually a pretty nuanced character. Unfortunately, the writing and pacing in the game sucks, so you don't find this out until later.

Yeah, I wouldn't say that Sahz really fits the bill for either Black Comic Relief Guy or Black Macho Thumper. His main shtick is being the concerned daddy. I suppose this makes him a bit like Barret, but without the gratuitous swearing or fist shaking. I found Sahz to be the least annoying character in the game (which isn't saying much... psu is correct, the dialog and story are pretty bleh throughout).

Podunk wrote:
LiK wrote:

Did Laura pronounce Lumines as "loo-mines"?

Sadly so.

For the record, it's pronounced phonetically as if the vowels were Latin or Italian: Loo - mee - nehs

Or at least, that's how Tetsuya Mizuguchi pronounces it, and he made the game.

This reminds me of the arguments I've had with New Yorkers concerning Mario. Even though Mario says in Mario 64 "It's a me, Mario" they still try and convince me that the correct pronunciation is: Mahrio...and then tell me they just played Board 1-1.

/headexplosion

In an earlier show, Cory actually said Sahz was one of his favorites because of his motivations and depth. Kind of surprised he didn't mention it.

It's pretty normal for people to get frustrated when they think something they like is getting glossed over, but it's the hazard of podcasting. We like to talk about stuff, but we can't always put the kind of time in required to give it a "fair" shake. My general rule of thumb is "don't spend more time talking about something than you've played it" and I think Lara managed to keep under her five minutes.

But really, grain of salt, folks. It's a conversation, not permanent opinions chiseled in stone.

Certis wrote:

In an earlier show, Cory actually said Sahz was one of his favorites because of his motivations and depth. Kind of surprised he didn't mention it.

Sahz is absolutely one of my favorites. I didn't mention it because it was Lara's turn to speak, not mine.

You're the host, it's always your turn to speak. I suggest a loud "BLAH BLAH BLAH. WHATEVER" to disrupt their flow and then charge in to make your own, much more valid and interesting point.

Certis wrote:

You're the host, it's always your turn to speak. I suggest a loud "BLAH BLAH BLAH. WHATEVER" to disrupt their flow and then charge in to make your own, much more valid and interesting point.

Did Garnett Lee just hack your profile?

Spit take.

Assuming that capabilities and install base are roughly even - and I think eventually they will be - Android retains one key advantage: it's an open system. Don't discount that as a deciding factor in the long run.

I find the analogies to the Mac in the 80s more and more relevant as time goes on. Apple sees a market that is languishing because of terrible user experience. They craft a beautiful, but closed and proprietary, user experience. Market explodes. Then a competitor comes along as realizes they can service the same market with 95% of the experience, but in an unrestricted and developer-friendly manner. The developer-friendly push eventually drives over enough developers that suddenly the killer apps are all cross-platform, or even non-Apple exclusive. Then Apple fails to anticipate this, or react accordingly, and they rapidly lose marketshare.

I think Apple understands this as well, with their recent "no cross-platform development" EULA changes.

I think if Google can get their development game together you're going to see some big companies heading their way as their marketshare gains ground.

Then there's also HTML5 which would make the "which platform" question largely a question of "which browser".

Dysplastic wrote:

I feel like the Shawn/Sean's have been absent a lot more than usual this year. This makes me sad. That is all.

If it gave us more Cory and Lara, is it a fair trade?

I feel like the Shawn/Sean's have been absent a lot more than usual this year. This makes me sad. That is all.

Jesus himself would not be a fair trade.

rabbit wrote:

Thats a systemic issue emblematic of wide open systems. I agree that there are lots of benefits, but there's a reason we don't have open source game/broad licensed game consoles.

Wait, we sort of did -- it was called the 3do.

There's also a little thing called the PC that you may have heard of

With just about every phone maker in the world that isn't Nokia or Apple pushing hard on Android, I think it's only a matter of time before we see a massive increase in Android marketshare, perhaps even eventually outrunning Apple. As the market grows, I'm sure the developers will come -- it'll be too big a potential market for them to ignore, even if it never reaches the size of the iPhone market.

Yes, there are compatibility issues around supporting multiple devices, but Apple is clearly heading down this path as well. Also, don't forget that Apple is now intent on making life harder for developers, now that it sees itself as being the dominant player, unless you're a big enough player that Apple decides it can flaunt its own SDK restrictions for you.

Valmorian wrote:

I have to agree with Lara on the Sleep is Death thing. I've done a fair bit of cooperative storytelling online way back when BBS's were the main form of online ANYTHING. I fail to see how adding bad 8 bit graphics and a significant delay to actions add anything to the experience.

Lara is absolutely right when she talks about this being a barrier and she should have stuck to her guns on this. In a purely text based setup, if someone does something unexpected, it's trivial to adapt to it and describe the effects. With this "tool" I either have to settle for a text description, hope that I have a tile that is appropriate (and FIND it) or create a new one. In the first case, you're no better off than the text version, and in the other two you are just wrestling with the toolset to what benefit? So you can have a poor graphical representation?

Put me in the "I don't get it" camp.

Look, agreeing to play the game before judging it is not a concession, it is the only way to have an interesting discussion. Asking for a game to legitimize the idea of itself to you before you acknowledge that it even has the possibility of being worthwhile is many things, all of them unpleasant.

How is the game supposed to legitimize itself to people like you, anyway? Your argument is entirely founded on the idea that the things about Sleep is Death that are different make it worse at doing what other things do. The problem with this is that it isn't trying to do those things.

The differences, as subtle as they can sometimes be, allow for completely unique experiences. That is the point.

No, I will not get off your lawn. We're having a drum circle.

edit: tags are...non-functional? I pressed the buttons and everything! Ah well, it's early. You people can figure it out.

double edit: Oh, it's because I'm new, huh? That's, uh...sure, okay.

reruns wrote:

edit: tags are...non-functional? I pressed the buttons and everything! Ah well, it's early. You people can figure it out.

double edit: Oh, it's because I'm new, huh? That's, uh...sure, okay.

Don't take it personally, It's a pretty effective anti-spam measure.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
reruns wrote:

edit: tags are...non-functional? I pressed the buttons and everything! Ah well, it's early. You people can figure it out.

double edit: Oh, it's because I'm new, huh? That's, uh...sure, okay.

Don't take it personally, It's a pretty effective anti-spam measure.

Guilty until proven innocent! That only takes about two weeks though, so it's not too bad.

KaterinLHC wrote:

I absolutely disagree. The "why" here is crucial, because we already have mechanisms for collaborative storytelling in other media (boardgames, cardgames, even in-person games). As far as I can see, the only thing making Sleep is Death different is that it's a videogame, and I don't understand yet why that's a useful or necessary difference.

Most of us didn't get into the hobby looking for something useful or necessary. The "why" is "because."

If that's unsatisfying, then how about this? It gives the storyteller access to another set of tools. Lara is right in that you can just tell someone that something's there, or take a miniature and tell them what it represents and then put it down. If you want to be more subtle than that, you're out of luck.

I saw one flipbook (I think that's what they call a set of interactions between player and controller) where the controller randomly placed a pumpkin in a scene during one turn. The player said, "Oh, a pumpkin!," instantly recognizing what it was without being told, and went to go interact with it. The controller responded by deleting the pumpkin and typing "What pumpkin?"

That is a stupid, confusing joke and a reference to Jailbreak Adventure. Whether or not it's funny is unimportant. The important part is that SiD lets you give visual cues without directly indicating them. If your DM said, "there is a pumpkin in the room" and when you tried to get it he said, "what pumpkin?," that would not work the same way as during the course of that statement, your DM had explicitly directed your attention to the pumpkin.

It also helps you set an atmosphere without sitting there for 10 minutes explaining the splatter patterns on the wall.

As for Lara's dismissal of FF13, I can appreciate that she is a long-time fan of the series and that by all accounts, FF13 is not a typical Final Fantasy game (this is a polite way of saying disliking the game is a valid opinion even if you normally like JRPGs). I also understand that if you fall asleep playing a game after 5 minutes, that's not a good sign. However, in her setup of that situation it sounded like there might be other factors at work; she might not have been bright-eyed and alert when she put the game in and it instantly knocked her out. Either way, she later referenced the game as if it were some sort of torture or punishment and I don't think that's fair after only 5 minutes.

First comment on GWJ, ever, and it is about Sleep is Death. Not everyone in the world is an author, and not everyone in the world has an overactive imagination. A very good friend of mine who loves video game RPGs has never, and will never, play pen and paper RPGs. He does not see the point of playing anything that he can't see or touch. I thought of him when Sleep is Death was mentioned, here is a game that I could play with him that would be a border between a full on tabletop, and a video game.

I guess what I'm saying is that Sleep is Death may not be for Lara, she is more than capable of collaborating on fiction with any number of people. Sleep is Death is for those people who are either not capable, or do not know they are capable of collaborative fiction on its own merits.

Oh! Oh! My thoughts on iPhone vs. Android? WebOS for the win!

opsirus wrote:

Oh! Oh! My thoughts on iPhone vs. Android? WebOS for the win!

I doubt anyone's going to bother with webOS now Palm is up for sale again. I doubt WebOS will survive much longer, really.