GWJ Conference Call Episode 197

Conference Call

RUSE, Death Spank, NCAA 2011, Echalon Book II, Starcraft II, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic, League of Legends Season One, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Elysium, Allen and Rob talk games, reaching back to comforting tropes and old mascots. 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

chandra - (b-sides) - workbench-music.com - 0:35:19
blink - (b-sides) - workbench-music.com - 0:51:02

Comments

Ah cool, will check it out...

And I would like to add. Eve is not that hardcore, people should just give the free 14 days or whatever it is a try. There's very helpful people in this thread. And tools that make the game far more accessible.

It's pretty unique though in that it is a game you can play while playing another game, or watching TV, or reading.

DRM works?

Ubisoft Posts 94% Q1 Sales Jump

The figure is in line with recently announced forecasts, and represents a 94 per cent increase (or 81 per cent at constant exchange rates) on the €83 million (£70.1m / $107m) generated during the same period in 2009.

The French publisher said the results were driven by the “solid performance” of Splinter Cell Conviction, which sold in 1.9 million units, and “a good performance by back-catalog and casual titles, spurred by the sustained sales of Just Dance, as well as Assassin’s Creed 2 and Avatar”.

That is across all platforms, so it's tough to relate it to the DRM. And they've had some really anticipated titles launch compared to last year (I think, can't remember what came out in Q1 last year).

The Avatar game was probably a mover, as movie tie ins tend to be.

None of those games are PC exclusives, they don't outline what the ratio is between console SKU sales and PC.

Certis wrote:

None of those games are PC exclusives, they don't outline what the ratio is between console SKU sales and PC.

Right, what matters is PC sales quarter over quarter, I'd like to see that broken down. Of course actually getting PC sales data is quite difficult.

Certis wrote:

None of those games are PC exclusives, they don't outline what the ratio is between console SKU sales and PC.

You are right. Although it is worth noting that console versions use DRM, too.

But you are correct that the basic premise, that DRM works, isn't supported by that story.

Anybody know where I can pick up Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic*? Don't see it on any of the Digital Servers (Steam/Gog/Impulse)

*Legally

Iridium884 wrote:

Anybody know where I can pick up Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic*? Don't see it on any of the Digital Servers (Steam/Gog/Impulse)

*Legally

It's a bit old, which may not help. My google skills couldn't find any DD store that has it besides gametap, which isn't really a store. There's a few around as physical copies.

This talk about refusing to buy excessively DRM'd software goes back to the conversation about voting with your wallet from a while back. Don't just not buy, tell Ubi and the developer why. Drop Ubi a line saying, "Hey, I really wanted this game but the DRM is too obtrusive. You just lost a sale, not to piracy, not because the PC market is shrinking, but because of your DRM decisions." And drop a line to the developer (if they're not wholly-owned by the publisher) saying, "Hey, I hear you made a great game, congratulations. Unfortunately, I won't be playing it because of the DRM. I hope you can make a deal with another publisher next time around, because you're losing sales for being in bed with the wrong people."

It might not do any good, but it'll definitely do more good than doing nothing, and certainly more good than sucking it up and buying a game even though the DRM bothers you.

Meh, don't overestimate the technological advances during the next ten years. when I was a kid, I devoured Science Fiction novels and marveled at how the authors of the 70s and 80s envisioned the new millennium. So far it has been a huge disappointment. No hoverbords, Virtual Reality still blows and we haven't even been to Mars yet.

You might get foto-realistic characters in 3D, but you probably still steer them with the WASD keys.

Nice to hear Robs voice again.

Amoebic wrote:

Oh Shawn, were you referring to this horrible earworm?

Horrible earworm?! I sometimes imagine people on this forum living the life that video portrays.

YES. League of Legends isn't legitimate until it gets a techno song about playing it.

Certis wrote:

YES. League of Legends isn't legitimate until it gets a techno song about playing it.

Someone get on this. I believe the video should also be replete with dancing eurobabes.

NotCoffee wrote:

the general production has been a lot better lately

One new thing has exacerbated an old technical issue that I've sort of learned to deal with but is becoming rather annoying. The beep. However, the problem isn’t the beep between outtakes, but the overall volume.

The volume level on the GWJ podcast has always been low. Low enough that I have to crank my car stereo to the max in order to listen (setup is iPhone > Car). The beeps, in comparison, are LOUD. So, when I have my volume cranked, it’s BEEP mumble mumble ahahaha mumble BEEP. I don’t have this issue with other podcasts or music, just GWJ.

So, if possible, can you turn up the recording output volume, or whatever it is called? People can always turn it down, but we can only turn it up so far. You should know you're at a better level when the outtake Beeps don't sound 10x louder than everything else. Thanks.

Aside: It is interesting watching how vocabulary transitions from one Conf Call member out to the general community, until hardly a conf call or thread can exist without it being invoked.

And now we must all stop using the word trope(s). Please, think of the children.

Shoal07 wrote:
NotCoffee wrote:

the general production has been a lot better lately

One new thing has exacerbated an old technical issue that I've sort of learned to deal with but is becoming rather annoying. The beep. However, the problem isn’t the beep between outtakes, but the overall volume.

The volume level on the GWJ podcast has always been low. Low enough that I have to crank my car stereo to the max in order to listen (setup is iPhone > Car). The beeps, in comparison, are LOUD. So, when I have my volume cranked, it’s BEEP mumble mumble ahahaha mumble BEEP. I don’t have this issue with other podcasts or music, just GWJ.

So, if possible, can you turn up the recording output volume, or whatever it is called? People can always turn it down, but we can only turn it up so far. You should know you're at a better level when the outtake Beeps don't sound 10x louder than everything else. Thanks.

Yes, the podcast volume is quite low when compared to other sources.

Regarding League of legends and balance with 50+ champs.
I believe that is what is interesting is that they are not balanced. But... they make sure none is over powered.
There are many champs which simply aren't that good no matte how well you play them.
An analogy might be that the fermenting barrel of LoL champs has a thick cream at the top, some float in the bottom and are only there as points of interest. And if one tries to rise above the cream, he gets hobbled.

Ok - not a great analogy - but some how it all works out so that in general - it is a well balanced game even though all the champs aren't balanced equally.

edit - Also I am so glad that LoL is getting the WoW respect it deserve... although in a left handed way.

Edxactly wrote:

Regarding League of legends and balance with 50+ champs.
I believe that is what is interesting is that they are not balanced. But... they make sure none is over powered.

There are certainly some heroes that are not balanced 1v1, but LoL is a team game, so that metric doesn't matter too much. That's part of the beauty of the ban picks. It doesn't matter if there are a couple overpowered heroes. They'll get banned before the game ever even begins and become a non-issue. Likewise, if there is one hero that your team really doesn't want to play against because it has certain abilities that screw over your team comp, or maybe you just don't like the way it's looking at your woman, you can ban and make it irrelevant.

DOTA has been doing this for years, and they still have a very diverse competitive scene, even with a massive hero catalog (I think the roster is up to 99 or 100 by now). There are 4 alternating bans from each captain, then the 5 heroes per team are chosen. Of course, not all of the heroes are used competitively, but having a huge roster doesn't somehow screw the balance of the competitive scene. One of the most exciting things to witness is when someone figures out how to use one of those "bad" characters with a team composition or item build that suddenly makes it dominant.

Ah cool, will check it out...

And I would like to add. Eve is not that hardcore, people should just give the free 14 days or whatever it is a try. There's very helpful people in this thread. And tools that make the game far more accessible.

It's pretty unique though in that it is a game you can play while playing another game, or watching TV, or reading.

I'm an Eve expat (I stopped because of a combination of frustration and an impending baby). It's really not as bad as some people make it out to be, provided you make the effort to educate yourself, play the tutorials and make (or bring) friends. It's a great game, and can be very absorbing. And it's pretty.

Edit: I have no idea why the quote isn't working.

Toanstation wrote:

Edit: I have no idea why the quote isn't working.

Quoting, links etc. are disabled for new posters to prevent spammers - stick around and it'll fix itself.

hbi2k wrote:

This talk about refusing to buy excessively DRM'd software goes back to the conversation about voting with your wallet from a while back. Don't just not buy, tell Ubi and the developer why. Drop Ubi a line saying, "Hey, I really wanted this game but the DRM is too obtrusive. You just lost a sale, not to piracy, not because the PC market is shrinking, but because of your DRM decisions." And drop a line to the developer (if they're not wholly-owned by the publisher) saying, "Hey, I hear you made a great game, congratulations. Unfortunately, I won't be playing it because of the DRM. I hope you can make a deal with another publisher next time around, because you're losing sales for being in bed with the wrong people."

It might not do any good, but it'll definitely do more good than doing nothing, and certainly more good than sucking it up and buying a game even though the DRM bothers you.

The only thing I'd add is send a dead-tree letter, not an email.

I forget what the ratio is, but the rule of thumb is something like 1 paper letter = 10 emails to a company. That's because taking the time to write, proofread, print, sign, stamp and mail a letter takes more time and effort than firing off an angry email or forum post, and thus the writer gets taken more seriously.

Totally agree on the "voting wth your wallet" thing. The beginning of every moral decision is "would the world be a better or worse place if everybody did what I'm about to do?" My $60 may not make a difference, but if everybody followed suit (as unlikely as that may be), then people start to notice.

Toanstation wrote:

I'm an Eve expat (I stopped because of a combination of frustration and an impending baby). It's really not as bad as some people make it out to be, provided you make the effort to educate yourself, play the tutorials and make (or bring) friends. It's a great game, and can be very absorbing. And it's pretty.

I've never been tempted to play Eve, even though I'm a huge space-sim fan and am also fascinated by the news that comes out of there every now and then.

At some level, I think I've mentally classified it as being more like some distant region of the world than a game. Dramatic things like wars and political coups happen every now and then, but most people Over There are ordinary guys working ordinary jobs. Just like the real world, except with more asteroid mining.

Eve's a strange beast. I didn't play it for long, and in many ways it's everything I hate in a game (work) but there was something about it that's just so engaging.

I think it's the real feel you get of being alone out there in space, occasionally coming across another player, hoping not to get ganked. Coming into a major station and seeing all those people landing and leaving, just kind of living their virtual lives.

I guess DRM for me is a non issue at all, played a ton of game with starforce and whatever. Never had one single problem.

So ill play Ruse and love it!

Starforce is a particular pain. I have games I cannot play now because the driver was never meant for modern versions of windows. There are updates to the protection (another patch to keep your eye on), but versions below v5.5, such as the notorious v3 are not compatible and are at the mercy of the game developer/publisher to update them with a new version of the protection, which is very unlikely to happen.

That's before I get to what it might have done to my DVD burner.

In a roundabout way, its a similar problem to Ubisoft's DRM, what happens when they no longer want to support the games that rely on their current DRM scheme? Perhaps they can keep the servers running in some cupboard, but they've essentially signed themselves up to perpetual support on their titles just in case something breaks, which may or may not be directly under their control. Those games are useless because of those links in the chain.

In regards to the attraction of the old familiar in gaming, I think it is actually a sign you are getting old. Not in a bad way, but I think it is a natural phenomenon.

From working at a radio station that had an oldies and an adult contemporary station in addition to the two talk stations I worked for, I learned a lot about how they use music from specific times in our lives to attract a demographic. Basically, despite what we go through in our 20's and into our 30's, most people will yearn for those days in high school. Radio stations program songs by the year in order to target demographics. If they are selling ad space to companies that are sellingto 40 year olds, a station will add a dose of music from the 80's. Even if it plays mostly new music, throwing in specific classics will keep us coming back.

What is interesting is how this might be affecting games. The big difference today is that the demographic of gamers has really begun to trend older. In order to hit that demographic, I have to think publishers understand that hitting that old familiar will attract dollars.

Look at the games that were discussed, including fighting games. There is an entire demographic that is ready to play the same games from now on. There are exceptions to every rule, and most every exception is sure to post to forums. But it works.

Just like I still find the new band occasionally, for the most part I stick to my wheelhouse of music. In gaming, I've found over the lat few years, I have gone back to being primarily a sports gamer. I grew up with baseball and football board games, moved into the LED handhelds that were primarily sports based. Heck, even on my C64, Dr. J vs. Larry Bird, Hardball, and The World's Greast Baseball Game were a core part of what I considered gaming. While I branched out from sports gaming, and enjoy other genres, more and more I feel comfortable falling back to that digit sports battle.

It's the same reason we see remakes of old film and TV series. We even know it is nothing but a corporate money grab, but it works. Who wouldn't get excited for a new Quantum Leap?

But it is an interesting time, because for the first time, publishers have to decide who to go after, because the new teenagers have different needs than us geezers. But we have all traditionally occupied the same space. But that may really be changing. I think it will be a fun process to observe.

I won't be buying RUSE. This has nothing to do with supporting or not supporting Ubisoft or whoever. I just don't want to buy a game that I can't play when my internet goes on the fritz, or when I'm on the move and can't access the 'net.

There are enough games coming out today that don't have this limitation that I don't have to put up with it.

I just wanted to support the use of the term "trope" again. "Mechanic," "genre" and "cliche" have grown overbroad in the absence of "trope."

wordsmythe wrote:

I just wanted to support the use of the term "trope" again. "Mechanic," "genre" and "cliche" have grown overbroad in the absence of "trope."

It's a video game vocabulary ecology. Without strong competition from a broad diversity of words, video game conversation can become dominated by a very small number of them. Only a few years ago, many words were driven to the brink of extinction by the apex predator, compelling. Fortunately, while invasive words like content and visceral must be combated, a growing awareness of gaming vocab has since allowed many other words to flourish, including the evolution of new exotic words like ludonarrative dissonance.

It's been proposed that ludonarrative dissonance may be trapped between sexual-selection-induced peacocking and survival-selected efficiency.