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

wordsmythe wrote:

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

I think it's because of the way they use analog sonic signals to communicate. You'd think they'd have learned binary by now.

I hate to say it, but Everquest is actually worth a re-look. Especially if steam does another one of their $2.50 for the game, 15 expansions and a month free play time.

It's remarkably fun to play now, they got rid of death penalties, the need for parties, travel restrictions, crappy loot at low levels, leveling time, potions, hirable mercenaries, etc.. Just sayin', if you enjoyed it in the past, you might get a kick out of it. I too played it on Day one and hit it pretty hardcore for the first 2 years, but then drifted away disillusioned. It's kinda cool to go back and see what's changed in the past 11 years.

LarryC wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

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

I think it's because of the way they use analog sonic signals to communicate. You'd think they'd have learned binary by now.

Exactly. There'd be no need for silly books about "Getting To 1." It's either 1 or it's 0. Move on.

"Bitches"- Sexy, Strong, Confident, and Goosebump inducing.

"rrreeeooooowww"- weak, pathetic, pitiful and crawling out to the woods to die painful. (But funny as hell!)

Memorable emotional responses: The Longest Journey and Dreamfall. I totally bought in to the story and characters in these games - the Zoë and April stories are still very much with me. If Ragnar Tørnquist is able to bring some of that to MMOs with The Secret World, it would be a good thing...

Emotional Response: I'm assuming the statute of spoilers has expired for Portal, but I'll keep it vague. I bought in to the atmosphere and environment of Portal: the creepy voice, the lonely-sounding but homicidal sentry bots, the deserted and sometimes run-down environment - it all combined to make for a great experience. The sporadic but well-timed use of music enhanced it. What tipped it over from tension to a real reaction was the end. Picking up the last orb, the red one, and having it freak the hell out was great and totally unexpected.

There have also been particular characters I remember quite fondly: HK-47 in KOTOR, for example.

And I second the Homeworld comment earlier. Again, a game with great atmosphere and music, with a surprising moment that left me feeling untethered.

stevepop wrote:

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.

Company of Heroes skirmish vs. Expert AI. I think it gets a multiplier on its resource intake, but it is smart and fast. You have been warned. Normal AI, which I believe does not get any resource bonuses, is still tough if you're looking for a challenge that's on even ground in terms of resources.

On FPS AI, of course we don't want "smarter" AI. I think that's one of the biggest complaints about AI right now, that they are too smart: They can see you from hundreds of yards away through concealing objects like bushes, and they can shoot you accurately and repeatedly from just about any range. It forces you to game the AI rather than engaging it as if it were a human opponent, who doesn't have super-perception. The best example I can think of is GRAW coop, when we would think we were sneaking up on a position only to get wiped out by a volley of fire while we were hidden behind a row of bushes.

I'm experiencing this right now with Far Cry 2 as well. You can sneak up OK for the most part, but once they spot you, they are locked on to you, and can hit you through concealment from hundreds of yards out. It's not as immersion-breaking as the GRAW scenario though, since it's not a tactical shooter.

Also, with regard to simultaneous turn-based games, Solium Infernum is a recent, and great, entry into that genre. I believe that Rabbit dismissed it as too complicated, but, Rabbit, I'd be happy to host a game for you if you want to try it out again, and I'm sure we'd be able to find four other GWJers to join us.

burntham77 wrote:

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?

Ugh. I'm the complete reverse of that. I despise configuration options in games. I want to know that if something goes wrong, it's the developer's fault, not mine. I spent ages tweaking drivers back in the '90s, I don't have the energy any more.

If anything, consoles have become too configurable this generation. "Full range HDMI"? Huh? I just want to plug it in and have it look as good as it can.

Evo wrote:
stevepop wrote:

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.

Company of Heroes skirmish vs. Expert AI. I think it gets a multiplier on its resource intake, but it is smart and fast. You have been warned. Normal AI, which I believe does not get any resource bonuses, is still tough if you're looking for a challenge that's on even ground in terms of resources.

On FPS AI, of course we don't want "smarter" AI. I think that's one of the biggest complaints about AI right now, that they are too smart: They can see you from hundreds of yards away through concealing objects like bushes, and they can shoot you accurately and repeatedly from just about any range. It forces you to game the AI rather than engaging it as if it were a human opponent, who doesn't have super-perception. The best example I can think of is GRAW coop, when we would think we were sneaking up on a position only to get wiped out by a volley of fire while we were hidden behind a row of bushes.

I'm experiencing this right now with Far Cry 2 as well. You can sneak up OK for the most part, but once they spot you, they are locked on to you, and can hit you through concealment from hundreds of yards out. It's not as immersion-breaking as the GRAW scenario though, since it's not a tactical shooter.

One of the things with AI, is that for a lot of categories of games there are numerous ways it can be 'smart'. A tactically dumb bot in a FPS that just runs around randomly, but has perfect aim won't be fun to play against, and vice-versa a bot that knows the rules of the game and how to use them, but is crippled in it's aiming too much (to emulate a human opponent) won't be fun. I think part of the problem is that the AI is part of the game and it becomes part of the challenge is to seek out the deficiencies in it's design, as the goal of a player is to find advantages over the challenge.

Zelos wrote:
burntham77 wrote:

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?

Ugh. I'm the complete reverse of that. I despise configuration options in games. I want to know that if something goes wrong, it's the developer's fault, not mine. I spent ages tweaking drivers back in the '90s, I don't have the energy any more.

If anything, consoles have become too configurable this generation. "Full range HDMI"? Huh? I just want to plug it in and have it look as good as it can.

I'll agree partially with both sides, a developer should choose smart defaults, but it really is a strength of the PC that you can scale a game depending on the hardware available (within limits) and to personal choice (pretty and sluggish versus ugly and smooth, or a balance inbetween).

Alien Love Gardener wrote:

"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.

Indeed. That musical montage in the beginning is possibly the most blatantly manipulative sequence I've ever seen committed to film.

It felt a lot more ham-fisted than Pixar's other releases, but my thoughts on the movie are... unique.

Indeed. That musical montage in the beginning is possibly the best animated work I've ever seen committed to film.

FTFY!

doubtingthomas396 wrote:
Alien Love Gardener wrote:

"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.

Indeed. That musical montage in the beginning is possibly the most blatantly manipulative sequence I've ever seen committed to film.

It felt a lot more ham-fisted than Pixar's other releases, but my thoughts on the movie are... unique.

Just read your review on Up. Let me be the nth person to say "You're wrong." Watch it again when you can set aside the first viewing and maybe you'll get more out of it.

How I can be sure of your being wrong is that you seem to have a positive view of Cars, which is Pixar's only truly bad film. ;P

lostlobster wrote:

How I can be sure of your being wrong is that you seem to have a positive view of Cars, which is Pixar's only truly bad film. ;P

No, no, don't you get it? Cars has an environmentalist message, because it says that roads like Route 66 that twist and turn a lot are more in tune with the Earth than roads that go straight like the current highway system.

You know... an environmentalist message. Given by cars. Automobiles. Internal combustion engines. Let that sink in for a second. Roll that around in your mouth and see how it tastes.

Head.

Desk.

Slam.

Didn't help that I live in Arizona right around where that film is ostensibly set, and they got a lot of their geography hopelessly wrong. Which is nitpicking, I know, but it affected my enjoyment.

Zelos wrote:

Ugh. I'm the complete reverse of that. I despise configuration options in games. I want to know that if something goes wrong, it's the developer's fault, not mine. I spent ages tweaking drivers back in the '90s, I don't have the energy any more.

If anything, consoles have become too configurable this generation. "Full range HDMI"? Huh? I just want to plug it in and have it look as good as it can.

Seconded. I spent decades being the tech geek and I'm about ready to play dumb every time I'm asked a question now. Enough with the video drivers, right?

I like futzing around with details and controls as much as the next guy, but I find that the most useful futzing around and the most appreciated settings come when the following conditions are met:

1. There are acceptable default settings. If the default settings suck, most people simply won't bother and stop playing, usually leaving with an impression that your game is awful.

2. The adjustment settings are meaningful. I have enough experience adjusting the settings on my monitors to know that if there are settings to be adjusted, I want them on a 5-option scale, not on an eleventy-billion option scale. Don't drown me in 70 different shades of blue. Just give me the one that works the best and I'll tweak it from there.

3. There are preset alternatives that work. For me to care about changing the settings, you have to make be believe that changing the settings actually does something I would want to see. I don't want to futz around with the settings only to struggle to recreate some kind of setting that doesn't make aliens look human and humans look alien.

Given the 'fact' that one of the downsides for PC development is that they need to test on a wide range of hardware to be sure it's bug free (although I'm sure this is just to check it's not broken), I'm surprised they don't do meaningful performance profiling too.

One of the things you hear about console development is that they tune it a lot so that they're squeezing everything they can out of the hardware, they get the memory load just right, they analyse scenes so that it's not overloading the hardware in terms of the texture fillrate, shaders used, or whatever else, so that it (usually) runs at a solid framerate.

The impression I get of PC games, and to be honest there's a lot of console to PC ports, is that they just copy & paste the console content over and make the engine run on PC and fix any glaring bugs. There often doesn't seem to be much in the way of care and attention to making something optimised for the platform, or to work out what each contributing piece of hardware is capable of.

It's not something one company can solve, occasionally you do see the AMD or nvidia logo to show there's been some cooperation, but there seems to be a lack of care from everyone involved in the PC gaming sphere. It's a strength and a weakness that there's no one body concerned for PC gaming being better than anything else, and removing obstacles to improving it.

I don't mind tweaking options being THERE, I just don't want them to be required to get something that looks/plays decent.

Mass Effect 2 on 360 is a good example. You pop in the disc and it looks fine. If you want to futz with turning the film grain on and off or whatever, you can, but you don't have to in order to enjoy the game.

Naturally PC games are always going to be an order of magnitude more complex than console games since they have to support such a variety of hardware, but it should still be much easier than it typically is right now for you to install a game, have it do a quick scan of your hardware and then auto-configure itself to something that can run decently on your system.