GWJ Conference Call Episode 187

Conference Call

Halo: ODST, 100 Rogues, iBlast Moki, Frozen Synapse, Retro Game Flood, Emails, Emails and Your Emails and more!

This week we finally get our email backlog cleared up! 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

"Impeller" (Ian Dorsch) - www.willowtreeaudio.com - 0:20:11

Comments

CS:S is simple, but it's also like a second home to me for FPS games. (assuming a good community server) I find 18 player servers as the sweet spot, but up to 24 players is doable. Perhaps 20 is a nice balance in this case. What's the preferable handicap for good players? Say I was a good player and I felt like I was ruining the fun, what would be the best way to counteract that so I could still participate without feeling intrusive? What about creating little metagames? Perhaps a new quirky handicap could be introduced frequently by the opposing team for fun. There's a random element to CS:S, which helps, but some players can just dominate.

I particularly restrict myself from playing subscription-based MMOs, but that's pretty easy -- just annoying when all my friends get sucked into WoW or something. Clans can overwhelm your time in any game. (which I don't do anymore)

It's interesting that when people talk about emotional responses to games, they're almost always talking about sadness or maybe other negative emotions. The thrill of winning a game is still just as emotional as grief. But sadness is like games' Turing test of emotional communication.

My PS3 has restricted me from playing everything by suddenly deciding to believe it is overheating when in fact it is not.

To Certis talking about killing the religious freak as an emotional experience: I felt really disappointed with myself that I let my instincts take control there. It was a manipulative moment, but it felt fair to me, and that had I controlled my emotions better, I totally could have avoided pulling the trigger. It showed me something I didn't really know about myself.

The game might have made me cry if I had functional tear ducts and it wasn't a robot child I was trying to save. Let's work on that mocap people! Or just get Naughty Dog to help out.

But Rabbit, a good novel pulls off emotional heart string tugging as good as any movie, and books almost always lack the continuity movies have--not too many people are reading a 500-page novel in one sitting. Like a book, games requires multiple sittings, so I don't think continuity is the problem--it's more that there really isn't much incentive to create emotional impact. Until the biggest selling games are sappy rom-coms (a sign your medium has hit maturity), I don't think we'll be seeing many mainstream games going for a strong emotional response.

The thing about bad enemy AI is that it affects not just the challenge, but also the immersion in the world.

The other day I was playing Bioshock 2 and I came upon a Splicer and a Big Daddy who were caught in a loop. They were both trying to walk through the same narrow doorway in opposite directions at the same time. They'd approach the doorway, then the Big Daddy would get mad and shove the Splicer back, and the cycle would repeat. They did this for like five minutes before I got bored and shot the Splicer in the head. It yanked me right out of the experience, reminding me in no uncertain terms that I was NOT exploring a living, breathing city, but just playing a video game.

Great show, guys. Listening to the four of you (which I consider the original cast since this is the lineup that did the show every week back when I became a fan 2 years ago) reuniting to record the podcast was like putting on that comfortable, old pair of jeans. It just feels right.

Anyhoo... on the topic of games that hold up well, after recently getting the BSOD on both The Witcher EE and Dragon Age (in Windows 7 no less), I said f*ck this and looked at my collection of old games. I installed Freelancer on my Windows XP drive, which I hadn't played in years, and played for about 4 hours straight. For a 7-year-old game, it holds up really well IMO, not only in terms of gameplay, but graphics too, especially the combat - so smooth and polished. I'm enjoying it just as much (if not more) as I did the first time I played it.

On Portal2/Bioshock2, one thing that strikes me is that Portal is going from a short but sweet game as part of the orange box, to a full fledged game. Presumably in addition to coop, they've got ideas to expand the game to a big release.

Bioshock2 seemed like an expansion to BS1, but padded out a bit too much to full the clothes of a full AAA game. I think if it had been more compact (and sold as an expansion) it would have better received.

As far as cool games to revisit is concerned: Just this morning, I was playing some Master of Orion 2 on the bus. It works just fine on my netbook. It doesn't seem to matter how many years pass, the game remains playable.

Great show, by the way. My bus ride just flew by. I can't wait to play some CS:S on Friday.

Not to bring it up again (but I totally will :P), the most recent game I got an emotional response from playing was most definately Neir. Gameplay aside, the whole story is tinged with tragedy and sadness.

Spoiler:

Such as a wedding scene which ends badly and the ultimate fate of one of the main characters at a couple of key points during the game.

The real heartbreaking stuff happens on playthrough B though, when you are given certain insights into what's REALLY going on - and some of it is so crushingly sad that I wasn't even sure if I would be able to finish some of the latter boss battles.

I liked the original Kat Sound better.

"I cried in Up for God's sake."

Really rabbit? You're going to hold claim that crying at Up as some sort of evidence for your blubberiness? Crying at Up is the norm. *Not* crying makes you some sort of deviant.

Hmm. Big emotional moments in games. There's the sublime "Longing" moment in Planescape: Torment, which I believe Lobo covered in some depth on the site. The end of Ico got to me bigtime. The end of Shadow of the Colossus as well, to a slightly lesser degree, as did killing the horse colossus. And for sheer awe, most of that game qualifies, especially the flying colossus in the desert.. The opening of Outcast was something special in that regard as well.

And for darker emotion, few games have made me feel as wretched as Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. Specifically,

Spoiler:

taking Heather's college money

and killing

Spoiler:

the thinblood informant on the beach.

I totally could have done the right thing instead, but the lure of money and experience made me do terrible, terrible things.

Please don't listen to the guy who called you all WoW haters. I think it was one of you who once said there is nothing more boring than listening to someone talk about an MMO you don't play. Especially one that's incredibly intricate with all sorts of byzantine terms and undecipherable vocabulary. You might as well talk about rebuilding car engines or making a good marinade for salmon. Sure there are people who are interested and know what you're talking about but for most people? Right over their head.

I don't think most gamers actually want smart AI, we just want AI that does a good job of convincing us that it's not an AI. For example, consider one of the more impressive early improvements in shooter AI: the soldiers in Half-Life that would take cover and run from grenades. It wasn't necessarily all that smart, but it did a good job of convincing us that it was aware of our actions and responding to them appropriately.

muttonchop wrote:

I don't think most gamers actually want smart AI, we just want AI that does a good job of convincing us that it's not an AI.

Building on that, I think it's not necessarily smart AI that players want, but interesting AI - because when the game is mainly about interacting with AI, then the AI has to be varied or the game quickly becomes boring.

If the entirety of SMG (Super Mario Galaxy) was identical to the first level, then it would be a dull, dull game.

Another example of AI that's interesting and good: the one in GalCiv2 (Galactic Civilizations 2). Not only was it adept at using the resources in its territory, it was also adept at planning betrayals, bribes, and fakes. At one point, a powerful Korath Fleet made a point of showing itself at my borders and commanding my attention, while the whole time the majority of their invading force was circling through a third party's space to get at my supposedly undefended production planets. Shrewd.

AI doesn't have to be smart to be entertaining. Goombas aren't particularly smart-moving. Neither are Koopas. The enemies in Bayonetta and DMC have attack patterns and specific weaknesses. Same as in RS2 (Red Steel 2). Enemies in brawlers are not smart AI and we don't think of them as being controlled by another person. Instead, brawler AI is based around the game being a game of pattern recognition - like a more complex Punch Out!!.

For the record, I used to be annoyed when you guys would get off on a WoW tangent, but then I discovered that my mp3 player has this handy-dandy 1.5x speed function for podcasts. So if you don't mind the fact that every time the word "WoW" comes up in conversation, someone somewhere is listening to you as a bunch of nerdy nerdy chipmunks with no lives, then go right ahead. (-:

Maybe we don't want FPS AI to be too smart, but how about RTS AI? I haven't played them all, but a decent fight against an RTS AI opponent who hasn't been given a big advantage in troops, weapons or position is pretty damned hard to find.

Edit: accidental double-post

Heck, if they could just get RTS PATHFINDING right it would be a start. Or get units to use squad-level tactics intelligently to free the player up from micromanaging and let them focus on high-level strategy. And as long as I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony.

Poor rabbit. Everyone was dogging on him in this show.

MeatMan wrote:

I installed Freelancer on my Windows XP drive, which I hadn't played in years, and played for about 4 hours straight. For a 7-year-old game, it holds up really well IMO, not only in terms of gameplay, but graphics too, especially the combat - so smooth and polished. I'm enjoying it just as much (if not more) as I did the first time I played it.

I loved that game. Especially once I'd finished the main campaign and realised I still hadn't seen most of the game. Some amazing visual design - where that last mission takes place, those later systems with collapsing neutron stars and so on - and just so much to see.

Probably outside the statute for spoilers, but I'll do it anyway for one of the mid-late stages pf exploration:

Spoiler:

I think my favourite moment was when I was trying to build rep with the spanish-themed pirates to buy that superheavy fighter, and I discovered the remains of the lost colony ship floating derelict in space.

Emotional moments in a game. I've mentioned this elsewhere, but Homeworld is a big one for me.

When you get back to your planet to find it under attack there is just something so poignant about how Fleet Command says, 'It's burning, Kharrak is Burning' as the camera pans to the planet, you see it on fire and Barber's Adagio for Strings plays.

Definitely choked me up the first time.

Who was that who uttered such an enthusiastic "Hooray" after you announced Counter-strike was the next 'playdate' game. Elysium? Rabbit?

That 'Hooray' sounded like it could have come right out of Fable II, one of the exclamations of a hero adoring citizen after being treated to a flourish, dance or joke in Bowerstone Market.

Are you sure you didnt contribute voicework at Lionhead?

That 'Hooray' sounded like it could have come right out of Fable II, one of the exclamations of a hero adoring citizen after being treated to a flourish, dance or joke in Bowerstone Market.

It would have sounded more like Huu-ray!

Nice show as always.

About the simultaneous action board games, I want to recomend A Game of Thrones, based on the popular books, it is like Diplomacy, with all the backstabbing, the actions are all at the same time, and you can play it under 3 hours

Just make sure you play 5 players, not less, and use the expasion port rule, that avoids that some player can be ruled out the first turn.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardga...

Certis wrote:

It would have sounded more like Huu-ray!

Huu-ray for Chickenchaser!

My Pretty Pony IV!

Huu-ray!

I think I'll join in the CS: Source Game Night. Time to own you NOOBZZZZ! I'll admit that I was a pro in CS 1.6 but I never really got into the Source version as much. I didn't like the new physics and effects.

You guys are right. Part of the fun of PC gaming is the tweaking. Whether it's just tinkering with graphic and sound settings to get the best mix of performance and looks, or upgrading hardware, it is a lot of fun. Any dingo can plug in a console and play a game, but what's the fun in that?

Sometimes spouses confusing passionate gaming with angry gaming. EverQuest, was a punishing, brutal, evil, terrible mistress of a game. Never has any other game invoked such anger and hatred towards developers. I played that game from the day it came out until the day EverQuest II came out, which is about five years, but the last two years I had stopped enjoying it. I only kept playing because I was in a great guild. EQ was essentially a five year bad marriage. Sure it got me laid sometimes, but overall, it was too stressful to last.

Deus Ex IS that good. Well... was. I don't think it holds up now, but back then it was groundbreaking with the way it told the story and the way you could play it a few different ways. I have fond memories of that game.

It is not that WoW is a bad game, it is just that there are so many other games out there, other MMOs that have just as much to offer, if not more, than WoW.

The memorable emotional responses for me come from several Final Fantasy games, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fallout 3 and both Bioshock games. There were others but those are the ones that stick in my brain. Allowing ourselves be manipulated is what makes the experience fun. Forgetting for a moment that this is just a game, and watching Aerith be cut down by Sephiroth is a jarring, sad experience.

"Eat a bag of dicks, Rob!" Ha!

Perhaps you guys should do an email segment called "No. Next." Every email you read would need to have that very response. You could do 100 emails in 15 minutes! It'd be great.

Can't find a thread dedicated to the CSS night yet. I am Totally down for this game. I will be there for sure.

Rabbit compared the re-download process of Steam (e.g. if his house got nuked) to Microsoft's process and held Steam up as some how superior... but honestly, it's really quite the same. If Julian's house got nuked, he could just as easily go across the street to his neighbor's XBox, recover his gamertag, and re-download all of his XBox content. I don't see how this is really all that different from Microsoft. The big difference is that Microsoft also let's you bind a game to the (pre-house-nuke) console so Julian doesn't have to log in so his family can play without Rabbit having to log in. Can you do that on Steam? I'm currently under the impression that you can't... and I don't care enough to research it.

Wolfen Victrocious wrote:

Can't find a thread dedicated to the CSS night yet. I am Totally down for this game. I will be there for sure.

Here you go.

hbi2k wrote:

For the record, I used to be annoyed when you guys would get off on a WoW tangent, but then I discovered that my mp3 player has this handy-dandy 1.5x speed function for podcasts. So if you don't mind the fact that every time the word "WoW" comes up in conversation, someone somewhere is listening to you as a bunch of nerdy nerdy chipmunks with no lives, then go right ahead. (-:

I already listen to all my podcasts at 2x. All these squishy meatbags communicate so inefficiently!