GWJ Conference Call Episode 189

Conference Call


Alan Wake, Red Dead Redemption, Jedi Academy Playdate, Which Gaming Era In Your Life Would You Re-Visit?, Emails and more!

This week we talk about games, games and more games. We also delve into our gaming pasts and talk about our fondest gaming eras. 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

"PodunkStump" (Ian Dorsch) - www.willowtreeaudio.com - 0:41:46
"Los Pistoleros" (Ian Dorsch) - www.willowtreeaudio.com - 0:49:30

Comments

RDR discussion ends at 16:30, Alan Wake discussion ends at 32:23, in case anyone wishes to skip them till they've played through.

We're pretty careful but I wouldn't blame you. I've been doing the same with other podcasts for two weeks leading up to release. Oi.

Yeah there's definitely no big spoilers, to be sure. But

Spoiler:
Even comments like Allen's that the ending to Alan Wake blew his mind can set up certain and possibly inflated expectations.

I understand it's impossible to avoid that if you want to have a meaningful discussion about the games, though.

My week in gaming to go back to--basement LAN parties on the ping-pong table using mammoth 486 towers with 15-17" CRT monitors, BNC coaxial connectors and IPX/SPX protocols. I think we spent half the time just getting the LAN set up. But it was all worth it.

Call me crazy, but I really loved the original Xbox's XBL experience. Flawed as it may have been, I thoroughly enjoyed beta testing it, playing the early XBL games like MechAssault and Midnight Club II, and then finally the later releases such as Phantom Dust and RalliSport Challenge 2. Now that Microsoft pulled the plug, I've been especially nostalgic of these past experiences.

Sure, I loved my Sonic 3 & Knuckles, my GoldenEye and my Dreamcast (yet another great online experience), but... the Xbox really had something. If you played enough, the flaws of XBL weren't enough to keep you away from the communities for each game. I might not have had a job at the time, but I was still a gamer... and now that piece of time is Lost Forever.

I'm loving Red Dead at the moment. I haven't been bothered by the length of the cut scenes at all, they're actually interesting and well acted and I've been quite drawn in to the characters. I also didn't mind that after the talk between Bonnie and Marston that Cory mentioned, you had to herd cattle. To me that made sense in the story/environment I was in. We had a chat about our pasts and then she needed some cattle herded. Fair enough. Life doesn't stop because you had an emotional chat, right?

Usually I hate those types of missions but I've actually enjoyed these more mundane tasks purely because of the exposition that the chat between the characters brings during it. Far more so than in GTA IV.

Also, I just like riding horses.

Minor nit-pick time! I'm going to agree on the 'hooker stabbing' not being emergent, but scripted as well. It sounds like just a random event. Emergent suggests to me that choices you've made will impact your game experience without the designer scripting it for every possibility.

Wow, Cory had a completely opposite reaction to RDR from me. I'm guessing your enjoyment of the game depends on how much you buy into the world. I was engaged from the start and had a ton of fun just soaking up the atmosphere and talking to great characters like Bonnie. I did get an itchy trigger finger when it was looking like I wouldn't get to shoot anyone for a while (they could have done with a small shoot out early on maybe) but I enjoyed the herding, the race and the horse breaking just because I felt I was in a western.

Thinking about it, I've always loved westerns (especially Lonesome Dove, Deadwood-esque westerns) and never really enjoyed gangster movies that much, so, perhaps this is a game that is done well enough to fulfil my "I want to be in a western" fantasies.

The world looks empty and it looks like you could explore for hours without encountering interesting stuff but in my experience you can't go far before you trip over a random event or meet a homicidal mammal of some description.

As far as embarrassing mistakes:

In my first Myth multiplayer match I tried using satchel charges (explosive sacks you lay on the ground) to kill other players but, unlike AI enemies, the player controlled units refused to run over my carefully placed but clearly visible traps.

I have a tendency to not read manuals until I'm dying too much so I also tend to miss abilities that would have made my last X hours of playing much easier and more enjoyable.

Scratched wrote:
Minor nit-pick time! I'm going to agree on the 'hooker stabbing' not being emergent, but scripted as well. It sounds like just a random event. Emergent suggests to me that choices you've made will impact your game experience without the designer scripting it for every possibility.

Indeed. Something emergent has to, well, emerge from the systems set up within the game. The hooker stabbing was clearly pre-conceived and scripted, albeit scripted to appear at a random time. How can I be so sure without ever having played the game? The Giant Bomb crew recounted an almost identical story on the Bombcast this week:)

In my first Myth multiplayer match I tried using satchel charges (explosive sacks you lay on the ground) to kill other players but, unlike AI enemies, the player controlled units refused to run over my carefully placed but clearly visible traps.
Myth had some of my favorite multiplayer moments ever because almost every mistake was full of explosions. Even the Trow kick was semi-explosive. It turned a slightly amusing mistake into a hilarious slapstick routine.

Another great podcast, I wish it was twice as long.

We need more Rise of Nations!

PyromanFO wrote:
In my first Myth multiplayer match I tried using satchel charges (explosive sacks you lay on the ground) to kill other players but, unlike AI enemies, the player controlled units refused to run over my carefully placed but clearly visible traps.
Myth had some of my favorite multiplayer moments ever because almost every mistake was full of explosions. Even the Trow kick was semi-explosive. It turned a slightly amusing mistake into a hilarious slapstick routine.

One of the most important strategies, when fighting with dwarves, was to have them standing as far apart as possible so you didn't get a chain reaction when one of them inevitably blew himself up.

RDR's sounding a bit like Oblivion without the guild quests. And with less vegetation.

I've noticed that you've gone back to the old format — first chair naming the other people on the podcast instead of them naming themselves, and the three-act "what we're playing/topic/emails" structure.

Is the Great Experiment of 2010 over? I'm not complaining mind you — it always felt slightly "off" to me with the little changes you made.

But then I've only just recently stopped wearing the black arm band in memory of the original intro music.

wordsmythe wrote:
RDR's sounding a bit like Oblivion without the guild quests. And with less vegetation.
Which makes me not want to play it, as the Dark Brotherhood quests were the only thing I enjoyed out of Oblivion besides randomly hitting things with swords.

My "easy button" moment was finding out the Mako in Mass Effect had a cannon...near the end of the game. Yes, I played through most of it using only the machine gun to take on thresher maws and geth colossi.

Higgledy wrote:
Wow, Cory had a completely opposite reaction to RDR from me. I'm guessing your enjoyment of the game depends on how much you buy into the world. I was engaged from the start and had a ton of fun just soaking up the atmosphere and talking to great characters

Ditto for me. Because of those characteristics of the game, I quickly became completely immersed. With all the things there are to do, the variety of characters with great voice acting, the beautifully crafted landscape filled with several types of wildlife, and the scripted but seemingly random events that you can either ignore or participate in, RDR has really sunk its teeth into me. And I'm nowhere near being ready for it to let go.

Certis mentioned that he has spent a full hour playing in-game poker. I've probably spent 3 hours playing it. Not because I'm a big fan of poker, but that, for me, the gambling minigames (particularly poker) are just one more thing to make you feel like you're really in the Old West. After the sun sets on a day of doing missions or collecting bounties, it feels good to stroll into a saloon with lots of chatter going on all around and a guy playing western piano tunes, then walking to the bar for a few shots of whiskey before sitting down at the poker table.

Like Cory said about taking his time to savor Alan Wake, that's what I'm doing with RDR. I've clocked in 20 hours so far and according to the game progress meter, I'm only 33% done.

Rise of Nations is a great game, no doubt. But what I really loved was Rise of Legends. Not only fun to play but gorgeous to look at. The unit design was very creative. Sadly, the different sides did feel a bit too similar. I would love to see a follow up that made each army more unique, like C&C or Starcraft.

I honestly couldn't disagree with Cory more about the worlds of RDR and GTA4 in comparison to each other. He specifically said that there's a lot to explore in GTA4 and RDR has a bunch of open plains where there's not much to do. The way I see it, GTA4 builds an illusion of "things to explore" by creating this deep, detailed city but making 98% of the doors in the city jammed. Furthermore, while there may be minute details to differentiate the Burroughs of New York in GTA4, there's no real difference in urban terrain between them except for zones designed specifically for flavor (construction areas, docks, etc).

In this, I feel that RDR is a little bit more honest with its density; almost every door in RDR is open to you, regardless of what may or may not be interesting inside. Every new area has new obstacles to grapple with based on the geographical attributes of the zone, whether it's mountainous, riverside, planar, etc.

RE: The question of gaming on a Mac.

I have a 2007 era Mac Pro where the only upgrades from the standard configuration are an 8800 GT and a few extra gigs of RAM. I dual boot Windows 7 and in the last 8 or 9 months have played all of the following games with max settings (or very close to it) with good frame rates at 1680 x 1050 (my monitor's native resolution):

Dragon Age
Mass Effect 1 and 2
Crysis
Trine
Torchlight
Civ 4
Left 4 Dead 2 (only the demo, though)
The Witcher
Risen

Don't get a Mac Pro unless you need it for something else as well, but I would guess that a current iMac should do just as well or better than my aging Mac Pro. Point being: if you want to buy a Mac, and you are fine with setting up boot camp to dual boot, it can be every bit as functional a gaming PC.

I had a terrible one of those embarrassing mistakes with Dead Space. I was really struggling with the asteroids section until my friend who was watching said "So why is only one of the guns firing?"

As far as a game period to go back to... while I have nostalgic memories of things like the Sega Master System and playing TIE fighter when the schools were shut due to snow, if I'm honest with myself this is the best gaming period of my life. The quality and variety of games is just outstanding. I do sort of miss the brief time I tried raiding in WoW a couple of years ago, since I was playing with a great bunch of people and the whole "group overcoming a challenge" aspect was really satisfying. In reality, though, I wouldn't be able to fit it into my life any better now than I did then.

Nostalgic period/game. Oh man, so many.

Getting to play SMB3 for the first time.
My first playthrough of Super Mario World (favorite game of all time)
Warcraft 2
Goldeneye multiplayer on fungi

But the one that takes the cake for me:

Doom. Started with the shareware, played it a million times, but then got the full game and played it a million times. Lights out in the room. Creepy sounds. Things jumping out at me. Gore. My sister was really into Belly and the Breeders at the time, so when I hear them I remember playing Doom. Oh, and the stinky craps our cat would take because our litterbox was in the same room. Absolutely disgusting. So, yes, Doom makes me think of cat poop and I want to relive that period. Doom was unlike anything I had ever played. It blew my mind.

If I were to revisit a gaming era, it would be sometime in the late eighties, early nineties. Sitting in front of a slightly yellowed, cream-colored 15" crt monitor in my parents' basement with a well-worn code book in my hand belonging to whatever Sierra game required it to log in. Back when you couldn't google the walk-through because google didn't exist. So you just threw your pixelated sprite at the challenges via text prompt until some kind of progression happened.

I'd like to experience that very specific sensation of playing Hero's Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero for the first time, despite having to insert a dozen floppies to install it and the brutally addicting process of constantly getting killed in hilarious and horrible ways in order to discover progress.

I would love to go back to that place, even a little earlier than that, because it was before I knew there were other gamers or the notion of video game culture. It was just a littler me, sitting down and clicking on buttons in the same order that I'd seen my dad do it to discover this fantasy world rendered in 2D on this amazing new machine in our house.

I guess I could have summed all that up with "I want to go back to the moment I discovered video games for the first time," so I could relive that dawning process again.

Sonicator wrote:
As far as a game period to go back to ... if I'm honest with myself this is the best gaming period of my life. The quality and variety of games is just outstanding.

Agreed. I sucked a lot out of all my previous eras in gaming, and feel no need to go back. If anything, I'd like more time to spend with the current era's games.

I would like to go back to the feeling I had playing Myst for the first time:

It was sooo beautiful!

I couldn't believe my eyes, could not believe that something like this was possible. That was my look into the future, to see that this ugly machine of DOS commands, config.sys and autoexec.bat could produce such beauty.

Pyroman, second week in a row! Nicely done.

The comment in the show that building a capable gaming machine will only take about $500 reassured me. I'm currently researching pieces and hunting for deals to build my own, so that I can finally start playing big-deal games again instead of living vicariously through websites and youtube videos.

wordsmythe wrote:
Sonicator wrote:
As far as a game period to go back to ... if I'm honest with myself this is the best gaming period of my life. The quality and variety of games is just outstanding.

Agreed. I sucked a lot out of all my previous eras in gaming, and feel no need to go back. If anything, I'd like more time to spend with the current era's games.

You two beat me to it.

garion333 wrote:
Doom. Started with the shareware, played it a million times, but then got the full game and played it a million times. Lights out in the room. Creepy sounds. Things jumping out at me. Gore. My sister was really into Belly and the Breeders at the time, so when I hear them I remember playing Doom.

I've also got good Doom memories along the same vein: spending afternoons in my room playing Doom II with White Zombie on the CD player. Now WZ and Doom are inextricably linked. There are also those late night Final Fantasy II binges, or playing non-stop Counter-Strike during university.

But if I had to pick a time to revisit then I'd like to cheat, and go back to the time I missed, PC gaming circa 1998-2000. This was after I sold my SNES and couldn't afford a PlayStation, when I still had the 486DX100 that saw me through high school (PC speaker FTL) before I finally bought a modern PC (Celeron!). I wasn't into video games at all during this time, either playing or following them (through EGM and Next Gen magazines, of course). I missed some pretty important stuff that I would later rediscover and become the core of what I love in video games (Thief, Half-Life), or just plain missed (Planescape Torment, System Shock 2, Deus Ex). If I could go back and experience that era as it was evolving, I would choose that.

Polliwog wrote:
Pyroman, second week in a row! Nicely done.

The comment in the show that building a capable gaming machine will only take about $500 reassured me. I'm currently researching pieces and hunting for deals to build my own, so that I can finally start playing big-deal games again instead of living vicariously through websites and youtube videos.

Yeah, it really doesn't take too much nowadays. I would personally recommend subscribing to Newegg's Shell Shocker weekly newsletter - it's really easy to catch good deals on processors, motherboards, cases, hard drives, and video cards all with free two-day shipping. I recently just managed to scrape together the parts for a home server via Shell Shocker deals and parts I had laying around for a little less than $300.

Sometime between 9/1/1981 and 5/29/1982, the Rathskellar of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

Tempest, Black Knight, and Volcano. Give me an unlimited supply of quarters and I'm good for the week.

Hans

JonCole wrote:
I honestly couldn't disagree with Cory more about the worlds of RDR and GTA4 in comparison to each other. He specifically said that there's a lot to explore in GTA4 and RDR has a bunch of open plains where there's not much to do. The way I see it, GTA4 builds an illusion of "things to explore" by creating this deep, detailed city but making 98% of the doors in the city jammed.

I agree. At first glance GTA4 seems like it's this big vibrant living world, but absolutely nothing interesting ever actually happens until you accept a mission. RDR's world may seem sparse, but it's bursting at the seams with fun events and activities, most of which just happen naturally in the world.