GWJ Conference Call Episode 195

Conference Call

Singularity, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Elemental - War of Magic, Pinball, Questions With Shawn, Your Emails and more!

This week Allen, Julian and Sean Sands talk pinball, new games and buckle under the pressure of Shawn's hard hitting questions. 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

The Amethyst Caverns - Shatter the Official Video Game Soundtrack - http://sidhe.bandcamp.com/ - 0:27:24
Freon World - Shatter the Official Video Game Soundtrack - http://sidhe.bandcamp.com/ - 0:51:48

Comments

I think part of the proud/ashamed (delete as appropriate) feeling comes from how much you buy into the hobby (and all the crap gaming companies want you to), versus what your real life social contacts do. Swap 'gaming' for anything else.

Latrine wrote:
OzymandiasAV wrote:

Apple's not obligated to make it easier for developers to take their applications over to competing phone platforms, are they?

The way you phrased it no, they don't have to make things easier. But from a moral or ethical standpoint they are obligated not to make things worse for their clients, which includes developers. From a practical standpoint they're not obligated and can do anything they can get away with. Legally it can fall under anti-competitive business practices. There were rumors of Adobe filing a lawsuit back in April but I guess nothing has come of it.

Considering that Apple invited Adobe to create HTML5 tools in one of its kool-aid statements on the Flash controversy, I'd guess Apple is very aware that they're probably within the law on that one, as frustrating as that approach may be.

PyromanFO wrote:

Since when is saying something is bad for developers implying an obligation on Apple's part? If you advertise "ease of development", but actually make it very difficult for a certain type of developer to develop for your platform, it sucks. If you want or need to develop for another platform for any reason, developing for iOS just plain sucks. I wasn't implying Apple should do this or Apple owes me that. Simply stating a fact, Apple has made it very clear they're willing to go to great lengths to make cross-platform development that includes iOS a pain in the ass.

The emphasis above is from me. If you're not arguing from a position of entitlement -- if you're simply griping about it -- then pay no heed to my snark upthread.

Obadiahstarbuck wrote:

Rabbit's trek into NH to go to Canobie Lake Park inspired me to shout-out Funspot in Laconia. It's a lot further away, up near Lake Winnipesaukee, but it has a ridiculous collection of classic video and pinball games.

Oh man, that place is so on my list for an eventual roadtrip. In my dream, we have a New England S&T up there, rent some hotel rooms, etc.

Sigh. I don't even think there's a train that goes up there. No way around it but a 2 hour bus or car trip from Boston.

I got Quagmire-esque vision of Allen leading his date into his apartment and with the flip of a wall switch, pictures rotate revealing monitors, couches fold down from walls, and an entire wall rotates revealing every console known to man.

Giggity.

Oh yeah, music examples that are pretty high quality and that are short can be found on the soundtracks to Shin Megami Tensei games: Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga and DDSII.

Phone gaming platforms:

I think the iphone is currently the console of gaming on phones. It has a locked down and managed ecosystem, the hardware is fairly "generational" to develop for vs wide open hardware specs. You could almost even argue that the games environment right now is starting to approach the confusion Atari 2600 console game implosion due to the shear weight of offerings making it hard to find the good stuff for the average person.

Android is kind of the PC, with wide open software loading and wildly divergent hardware in both power, form factors, and input methods.

Win Phone 7 is an interesting thing. It's going to try to be between the other two. It's got minimum hardware specs, a locked down market place, and even Xbox Live integration and achievements. But it's not as hardware standardized as the iphone.

I think Win Phone 7 could shake things up with MS's development tools, XNA environment allowing for ports of Xbox indie and arcade games, Live integration with the shared save games they've demoed, and the crack that is Live Achievements. MS has a big opportunity here to make Win Phones "cool" again outside of business markets.

I don't think MS will initially necessarily wow the gamer, but I think given a year or so it could make definite inroads.

Interesting market. Should be fun.

@garion333

Yep, that's me! Hopefully you like the choices.

@Rat Boy

Rob edited the shows with different software from me. Is the bass output bothersome?

Sorry for the weird addressing. The quoting function was not working correctly.

Jonathan Downin wrote:

@garion333

Yep, that's me! Hopefully you like the choices.

@Rat Boy

Rob edited the shows with different software from me. Is the bass output bothersome?

Sorry for the weird addressing. The quoting function was not working correctly.

The producer is a newbie? No official title with full privileges? Someone's in trouble... (hopefully the canadian...)

Jonathan Downin wrote:

Sorry for the weird addressing. The quoting function was not working correctly.

That'll be because your account is a new one - I imagine the benevolent overlords can fix it though.

Jonathan Downin wrote:

Rob edited the shows with different software from me. Is the bass output bothersome?

No, just different, and it's only noticeable when a music track's playing.

I'm not sure I share the doom and gloom about a fractured mobile gaming market. Isn't most of the effort of developing a large game in creating the content - levels, scripting, 3D models and so on? That's all (pretty much) cross platform.

The Java/C++/.NET difference makes porting more difficult I guess, but if that's only a small part of the total development cost then it's not that big a hurdle. Any really complex C/C++ algorithms can be used on Android through JNI, I guess (I'm not a Java developer)?

I think Jeff the voice mail guy was talking about MTGO, not Duels. It seemed that he was saying you get a decent set of cards to start and you can play using just those in limited groups rather than open play.

Jeff-66 (same Jeff?) tried to get some interest in doing something similar in the gaming forum using the Peasant deck but got drowned out by old hands complaining about changes to MTGO that wrecked it for them.

Proud to be a gamer? Hmmm tough one.

I don't consider myself a gamer. I play games more than I do any other amusement, but it's just something I do, not something I am.

I'm definitely not ashamed that I play videogames, if they come up in conversation I will talk about them, I don't hide the fact that I don't own a TV and rather read or game whenever I need to amuse myself at home. But proud? Not really.

*edit*

Deus Ex vs Diablo.

I picked up Deus Ex a while ago having missed it when it was big, I've never gotten very far for whatever reason, but I'm looking forward to the new one.

I got Diablo 2 when it was new and finished it once because I loved the story and the cutscenes. The actual game was boring as sh*t. I also keep buying games in the same genre hoping to enjoy them, but I'm always disappointed when they suck. The only one I've liked at all is Sacred 2 because the writing is goofy and funny.

Now that there's Youtube I will probably just look up the Diablo 3 cutscenes and save myself the agony of playing the game.

Pinball.

Oh man I would love a pinball machine. I loved Tales from the Crypt when I was younger. While, if you want to be reductionist, they are all about banging balls around I agree with rabbit that the flavour and spectacle of the individual machine means so much more.

Trying to do one thing three times in a row for a bonus, or clearing a series of obstacles without accidentally resetting them is a lot of fun.

Proud to be a gamer?

I don't see how you can be proud of something like gaming, it's not like it is a great achievement in general (Same with the fact of being born on one side of the fence). I think I can be proud of certain accomplishments, of things that I actively do to make them good or better. For instance I'm pretty proud of the fact that my kids have so far turned into some non-assholy good people and I think I had some participation in that. But games, movies and TV are just entertainment, nothing to be ashamed about, just something to relax and pass all the time that we have while we don't have to fight for survival anymore.
Nevertheless I can be proud of myself for something that I do in a game or while gaming, like I'm pretty proud when I beat a mission in Devil may cry 3 because I'm getting my crooked old fingers to do things I never knew they could. (Yes, I play old games.)

There's a difference between being proud of something you do and being proud of something you are. I wonder if a lot of people are treating pride in regards to gaming as though both definitions are one and the same.

I am proud to be a gamer because it's part of who I am. It's had a monumental impact on my life and how it has been shaped throughout the years. Without gaming, my relationships with my parents and siblings would be vastly different, and I would have never met the love of my life. Those elements aren't in and of themselves particular reasons to be "proud to be a gamer," but they contribute to the sense of love I have for gaming because of the close personal connections it has made for me. I wear the geeky gamer badge with pride because of everything it has connected me to.

I'm not particularly proud, per se, of the act of playing games itself. It's just something I do like reading a book or brushing my hair. When the narrow views of the world at large consider my hobby to be the superficial domain of teenage boys and pasty basement-dwelling man-children, I take pride in saying that I'm contrary to that notion because I feel gaming, and identifying as a gamer, has potential to be so much more. I'm proud to represent a part of gaming culture that may challenge how gaming is currently viewed and how it may change in the future.

Oh man I would love a pinball machine. I loved Tales from the Crypt when I was younger. While, if you want to be reductionist, they are all about banging balls around I agree with rabbit that the flavour and spectacle of the individual machine means so much more.

Not being snarky here, just pointing out that your love of pinball is exactly why I love Diablo 2. I can respect that some people will find the gameplay as boring as I find pinball, but if I were recasting that same sentence it might read:

While, if you want to be reductionist, Diablo is just about clicking mouse buttons, I believe that the flavour and spectacle of the game means so much more.

On the pride/shame issue: I'd have to say I'm proud, but mostly because I'm somehow proud of myself regardless of what I'm doing. I've stood up with a proud grin after tripping on stairs.

But I'm also proud because I'm a gamer who doesn't fit many of the gamer stereotypes. I mostly take games much more seriously than the "dumb hobby" prejudice expects. But I'll still proudly admit that Cybertron is mostly dumb fun for me.

Elysium wrote:
Oh man I would love a pinball machine. I loved Tales from the Crypt when I was younger. While, if you want to be reductionist, they are all about banging balls around I agree with rabbit that the flavour and spectacle of the individual machine means so much more.

Not being snarky here, just pointing out that your love of pinball is exactly why I love Diablo 2. I can respect that some people will find the gameplay as boring as I find pinball, but if I were recasting that same sentence it might read:

While, if you want to be reductionist, Diablo is just about clicking mouse buttons, I believe that the flavour and spectacle of the game means so much more.

Fair enough, enough people love Diablo for me to realise that my opinion is probably the extreme minority. I didn't mean to imply that Diablo sucks in some kind of objective way.

I don't like that type of game, yet I keep suckering myself into getting the new one hoping to find the fun, and for me it just ain't there. My frustration with myself is why I came across more acidic than I intended.

I just tried working out now how long it's been since I actually touched a pinball machine and I think it's 16 years, more than half my life ago. Yet the tactility still sits in my memory as something special.

I don't like that type of game, yet I keep suckering myself into getting the new one hoping to find the fun, and for me it just ain't there. My frustration with myself is why I came across more acidic than I intended.

I didn't read it as acidic. I just thought it was interesting that you used language to appreciate pinball that really equally well casts what Diablo 2 fans like about that game.

Elysium wrote:
I don't like that type of game, yet I keep suckering myself into getting the new one hoping to find the fun, and for me it just ain't there. My frustration with myself is why I came across more acidic than I intended.

I didn't read it as acidic. I just thought it was interesting that you used language to appreciate pinball that really equally well casts what Diablo 2 fans like about that game.

Ah, and here's me thinking I've been called into the principal's office,... again.

You're right though, it is interesting. But isn't it the same language that any enthusiast would use in trying to explain the subject of their enthusiasm to someone who just doesn't seem to 'get it?'

Diablo, pinball, soccer, rugby, American football. Only a few of the past times where you get people trying to explain and share the appeal with 'outsiders.'

Elysium wrote:
Oh man I would love a pinball machine. I loved Tales from the Crypt when I was younger. While, if you want to be reductionist, they are all about banging balls around I agree with rabbit that the flavour and spectacle of the individual machine means so much more.

Not being snarky here, just pointing out that your love of pinball is exactly why I love Diablo 2. I can respect that some people will find the gameplay as boring as I find pinball, but if I were recasting that same sentence it might read:

While, if you want to be reductionist, Diablo is just about clicking mouse buttons, I believe that the flavour and spectacle of the game means so much more.

You can take a reductionist attitude with any genre in gaming, though. Mario games are nothing but jumping around on stuff, MMOs are nothing but watching numbers grow, etc.

I am curious, though - if you dug Diablo 2 for the flavour, then what did you think of the first Diablo?
____________________

Aside from that, I actually dug the pinball talk on this episode, though I know full-well that it won't be an ongoing feature of the podcast. (Nor should it be; there may be, what, one new table released this year, if even that?)

I'm probably off on an island, but I see pinball as something that's really unique in game design, and not just for the aspects of physicality that Rabbit mentioned on the podcast. To me, pinball is an elaborate real-time puzzle game, where the player is exploring the table, looking for the most efficient way to accumulate points. Some tables rely on the aforementioned "spectacle" to enhance a general score chase, other tables focus on more objective-based gameplay to provide a very rudimentary narrative of sorts, but all of them involve a weird combination of physics, manual dexterity, luck, and level (table) design that you really don't see anywhere else.

Peggle is probably the closest approximation to that same confluence I've seen in recent video gaming, and it effectively disposed of manual dexterity -- the actual skill-based component of that blend -- altogether.

I'm sorry guys, I just do not buy these arguments on the iPhone development lock in. There is really no more "lock-in" between iPhone and Android than there is between Windows, Linux, and OSX. The reasons you don't see a lot of cross platform gaming on the PC side are less failures of portable APIs, and more because of money and market issues.

C/C++/objective C with OpenGL is highly portable, and the tools of choice for iPhone game development. Java, Javascript, and Flash are just be plain poor choices if you are a developer targeting mobile platforms, or any platform if performance and resources are concerns. Developers choose portable APIs if portability is a goal. ie: don't code for DirectX/XNA if you want your stuff to run on anything other than Microsoft. Don't write in flash if you don't want to be dependent on third party support from Adobe.

"Porting" to iPhone is not all that difficult. Heck, even SDL has been ported to iPhone at this point. I am not a professional developer. I'd classify my personal efforts as squarely hobbyist. But in my own experience it took me all of an afternoon messing with XCode to get a few C+OpenGL hacks running in the iPhone simulator. Apple even made it easy by supplying OpenGL templates right there in XCode.

I think the simultaneous releases across multiple platforms speak for themselves. The Monkey Island remakes, Tell Tale games, PopCap games are all good examples of developers doing it right, thinking ahead, and enabling themselves to tap into the revenue streams offered by multiple platforms.

I'm sorry guys, I just do not buy these arguments on the iPhone development lock in. There is really no more "lock-in" between iPhone and Android than there is between Windows, Linux, and OSX. The reasons you don't see a lot of cross platform gaming on the PC side are less failures of portable APIs, and more because of money and market issues.

If you mention you have an Android version of your app in the iPhone App Store description, Apple bans your app.

My argument isn't that it's not possible. My argument is that it's substantially harder because Apple has taken steps to make it that way. And they will continue to take further steps, should the number of cross-platform apps grow.

PyromanFO wrote:

If you mention you have an Android version of your app in the iPhone App Store description, Apple bans your app.

Isn't that a bit like putting a sticker on all the copies of your software sold in Best Buy that says "Also available at Target"? I'd ban that, too.

Or like an ad in Playstation's official magazine saying it's also available on Xbox. When you're displaying it within the iTunes store, is there really a risk that you'll lose the sale to Android?

PyromanFO wrote:
I'm sorry guys, I just do not buy these arguments on the iPhone development lock in. There is really no more "lock-in" between iPhone and Android than there is between Windows, Linux, and OSX. The reasons you don't see a lot of cross platform gaming on the PC side are less failures of portable APIs, and more because of money and market issues.

If you mention you have an Android version of your app in the iPhone App Store description, Apple bans your app.

It's incredibly petty and, like Wordsmythe, I tend to think that there's really not much of a risk for losing a sale to Android in the iPhone App Store. This isn't like the console race, where there's a non-negligible amount of customers who own the 360 and the PS3; in the mobile phone market, I imagine that most customers will only own one phone and, if you're already staring at the iPhone App Store...

That being said, I'm not sure I follow what difficulty that presents to the actual development of the application. It's a stupid rule, but it's also an incredibly easy one to follow.

Obadiahstarbuck wrote:

Rabbit's trek into NH to go to Canobie Lake Park inspired me to shout-out Funspot in Laconia. It's a lot further away, up near Lake Winnipesaukee, but it has a ridiculous collection of classic video and pinball games.

1ST - I have to berate Rabbit for his pronunciation of Canobie. It is CAN NO BEE - not whatever bastardization he spewed forth. Was that a Berkshire accent?

B - Laconia/Funspot is a lot of fun and has good arcades. - Good point.

* - You should also try out Hampton Beach. No the best arcades (last time I was there 3 years ago) but the whole experience with the beach/boardwalk/arcades/etc is very nostalgic and fun.

I'm still a long ways from using gaming as a benchmark for what phone I would get. As it stands, It seems either Android or the iPhone will probably have something to play. I will buy a phone that fits my needs, and gaming isn't even on the list.

As far as being proud of being a gamer, I'm probably a lot closer to Shawn and his co-founder. I know that when I went to PAX a couple of years ago, it did feel a little uncomfortable explaining what it was and why I went to non-gamers. So I can't claim any pride.

And like Pyro, I don't talk games to people that don't play, the same way I don't talk sports to someone that doesn't follow the them. But when Halo 3 dropped and it was getting buzz, I didn't mind explaining to my boss what the Halo was and why it was (or wasn't) significant. The conversation never veered into me defending gaming, nor trying to talk him into gaming.

Recently a friend of mind that was pretty anti-gaming, and expected his son to avoid them, came around and decided to get his son a console. His kid really wanted one, and so he asked me abut them. Later he told me that he was really enjoying some of the sports games. But we still rarely ever talk games.

I don't deny playing games, and would not hide the console. It's something fun I do alone and with my family. Pride really has nothing to do with it. Any pride I might have went out the window when my daughter (a big gamer herself) makes fun of my "dorkaphones" when I got a pair of Turtle Beach Ear Force X41's.

I did find the discussion of bridges to gaming interesting. Back in the Dreamcast days, I know several people, some PC gamers, some not gamers at all, that ended up buying a Dreamcast after playing Crazy Taxi at my house. It's such a great simple game, that reveals some deeper strategy if you care, but works if you just want to drive around hit be silly.

But I have a friend that bought a PS3 for Rock Band and ended up really enjoying Metal Gear Solid. I'm not sure how much gaming he still does.

That being said, I'm not sure I follow what difficulty that presents to the actual development of the application. It's a stupid rule, but it's also an incredibly easy one to follow.

If you take point #387 out by itself, sure it doesn't look like that big a deal.

Look at the bigger picture, which is that Apple is willing to do something so petty simply to delay cross-platform Android/iPhone development. Something that if Microsoft had done it in their heyday the EU would've jumped down their throat for antitrust violations

oh wait ....

ClockworkHouse wrote:
PyromanFO wrote:

If you mention you have an Android version of your app in the iPhone App Store description, Apple bans your app.

Isn't that a bit like putting a sticker on all the copies of your software sold in Best Buy that says "Also available at Target"? I'd ban that, too.

The lines get blurred here a bit because it's a distribution method and a platform. It's closer to "Works on PC/Mac" and "also available for XBox/PS3/Wii" in that there's very little crossover. However, it is also similar to a description for a game on Steam saying "also available on Impulse" except you can't install Steam on any platforms that Impulse supports, and vice-versa.

Again, you can keep swatting away the small little details as "no big deal" but the larger pattern of behavior is something a developer can ignore at his own peril.

I think I have specific insight into what makes Diablo 2 interesting, because like others on these boards, I first found the game dull and repetitive -- but later came around.

When the first game came out, I was appalled at it even being called an RPG. To me, it felt little more than a glorified Gauntlet. Later when I tried the 2nd game, I felt similarly.

It was just click, click, click-- and then click again. It was repetitive strain injury in a box. The story was involving, but not enough to make up for what I felt was boringer (there I go making up words) than boring gameplay.

Years went by, and I eventually delved into WOW. Many of the core game mechanics present in the WOW end game (perfecting talent trees, min-maxing gear, and equipping alts), I realized are also present in Diablo 2. What's more, the Skinner-Box perfection of the loot system in D2 is arguable more compelling and complex than that found in WOW.

With these new goggles, I tried Diablo 2 again and found that I loved the game -- and now the genre. Yes, the actual mechanic of clicking through battles is a bit dry, but the wide variety of ways in which you can perfect those scenarios keep it interesting. Plus, the small but consistent rewards of loot that you can use to speed up play, or trick out your alts, makes every session feel like you’re accomplishing something.

(As an aside, I wasn’t kidding when I said that Diablo is RSI in a box. I’m a graphic designer, and I found that playing the game invariable caused me work-ending arm pain. I have a solution for others in a similar position. Use a gamepad like the Nostromo or the Logitech G13 and program the keys for mouse clicks.)

Edxactly wrote:
Obadiahstarbuck wrote:

Rabbit's trek into NH to go to Canobie Lake Park inspired me to shout-out Funspot in Laconia. It's a lot further away, up near Lake Winnipesaukee, but it has a ridiculous collection of classic video and pinball games.

1ST - I have to berate Rabbit for his pronunciation of Canobie. It is CAN NO BEE - not whatever bastardization he spewed forth. Was that a Berkshire accent?

Laughed Out Loud.