GWJ Conference Call Episode 199

Conference Call

StarCraft II, WoW: Cataclysm, Hydro Thunder Hurricane, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, Dragon Quest IX, Limbo, A Few of Our Favorite (Gaming) Things, Your Emails and more!

This week the crew talks about some of their favorite things about gaming and says "The Bomb" more than anyone ever should. If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563. This podcast brought to you by TweetMTG!

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

Lo-Fi Attitude - Chroma - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 0:46:32

Composer - Chroma - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 1:01:11

Comments

Regarding the "Firefly" aspects of Starcraft: I watched Firefly and Serenity before playing. I finally played Starcraft and I immediately got that space cowboy vibe with the Terrans. However, one of the things I liked about Starcraft was the shift in tone and mentality when switching to the Zerg and Protoss. To me, the Protoss were some sort of High-Elf civilization, while the Zerg were...different. I'm not sure how to describe it.

Great show!

I'm actually shocked that I heard so much agreement that DS games at $40 is cheap. I find that unacceptably overpriced. I will not even consider purchasing square-enix games since they all come out at $40 each. I really feel DS games should be $30 or less. This also makes most big Nintendo games too expensive for my tastes, too. Thankfully I've had some gifted to me, so I've played a few.

Certis wrote:
One question: what is the save function like? Will I be able to shut it at a moment's notice, or is there a process of hunting for save points?

You can just snap the case shut like any DS game and resume when you open it. I think there's a quick-save too.

For "proper" saves you still have to hit a church to save the game.

This feature really needs to bleed, nay hemorrhage over (is that possible?) to all other console systems. It would save my already pretty empty existence the additional burden of so many "I JUST HAVE TO REACH THE NEXT CHECKPOINT" it's time to eat dinner arguments with my more treacherous half.

I loved DQ VIII. I actually enjoyed the story quite a bit. But mostly I enjoyed "...becoming awesome!"

Over lunch today I went to the local GameStop and priced out a DS XL and DQ IX at about $230.

I don't know why I am asking (because I am going to buy this package) but is $230 too much to play a game?

Certis wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

Certis, any chance you could link that Mario wallpaper you mentioned in the Harmony of Despair talk?

There's a site dedicated to old game wallpapers like this, but I can't remember the name! Here is one of them though.

These aren't as big, but you might like them.

SMB 1
SMB 1
SMB 3
SMB 3

Three of those are from SuperMarioBrothers.org

Rat Boy wrote:

Linking sci-fi to westerns is by no means a recent phenomenon. Gene Roddenberry pitched Star Trek as "Wagon Train to the Stars" and Han Solo was short one hat to complete the cowboy look. Firefly and StarCraft just made the connections more blatant.

Inevitably, I can't remember the details... but an SF magazine back in the '50s mocked its competitors for taking Western stories, replacing the horses with rocketships, and passing them off as "real" science fiction.

I have tried to like RTS games... really I have. None seem to take hold. I haven't tried an RTS since Disgaea. (Still have it because it was funny and I hope to one day play it again.)

I have a feeling that all the people having fun with SC2 is starting to wear down my defenses (and maybe... better judgement).

If I am ever to find the joy of an RTS, is this my best shot? Is SC2 the best that it gets? Help!

mrtomaytohead wrote:

I'm actually shocked that I heard so much agreement that DS games at $40 is cheap. I find that unacceptably overpriced. I will not even consider purchasing square-enix games since they all come out at $40 each. I really feel DS games should be $30 or less. This also makes most big Nintendo games too expensive for my tastes, too. Thankfully I've had some gifted to me, so I've played a few.

It's a case by case thing. Dragon Quest IX is an insanely large game, regardless of its platform. Getting something that feels as big and fully featured as its PS2 predecessor for $40 seems like a steal to me.

Baaspei wrote:

I have tried to like RTS games... really I have. None seem to take hold. I haven't tried an RTS since Disgaea. (Still have it because it was funny and I hope to one day play it again.)

I have a feeling that all the people having fun with SC2 is starting to wear down my defenses (and maybe... better judgement).

If I am ever to find the joy of an RTS, is this my best shot? Is SC2 the best that it gets? Help!

I have totally drunk the Kool Aid with this game and all I can say is, 'I don't know.'

Mechanically it isn't as streamlined as most other modern RTS' but the Single Player is pretty accessible. As Certis says in the podcast, units are introduced one at a time when they will help you, so confusion is minimal.

The story is cheesy, but cool in its own way, it's very slick and well put together, it runs on anything.

I don't know if any RTS can be that RTS that flips your switch if you've never liked one before, but I would say Starcraft 2 has a good chance.

*edit*

Oh and I've decided to pick up a DS this weekend. You guys, especially Certis with, 'It reminds me of Icewind Dale' have really made DQ9 sound appealing.

I like discussions of games I don't play, even WoW, I feel it exposes me to new ideas. I love SC2 as much as the next guy, but I'm about done with talking about it. Now it's time to play it, so hearing about other things is cool.

Except iPhone games.

Angry Ginger wrote:

Does Hydro Thunder get any faster, I've played the Demo and although the control is very good, I feel as though I'm going very slow at what appears to be top speed. Maybe I need to try it again.

The Novice-class boats do feel a bit slow, although personally I welcomed that as I was getting used to the fact that the boats actually control like boats, not karts. The sense of speed picks up quite a bit when you unlock the Pro class.

Baaspei wrote:

I loved DQ VIII. I actually enjoyed the story quite a bit. But mostly I enjoyed "...becoming awesome!"

Over lunch today I went to the local GameStop and priced out a DS XL and DQ IX at about $230.

I don't know why I am asking (because I am going to buy this package) but is $230 too much to play a game?

Well, you could save $60 by getting a Lite; you'd lose the bigger screen, but you'd have a more portable system and you'd get GBA backwards compatibility into the bargain. You also have to factor in the fact that the 3DS is set to hit next year, so if that's something you're likely to be interested in, you probably don't want to spend too much on what's going to wind up being a stopgap system.

But to answer your question more directly: If you're at all into JRPGs, and especially if you're the sort of person who likes to do all the optional side stuff and enjoy beefing up your characters for its own sake, I'd call DQ9 a system-selling game. There's a LOT of gameplay in there. And it's not like it's the only great game out there for the DS, which is a great (if aging) system with a huge library. I'd recommend some flavor of DS or another for almost anybody.

Let's face it: anybody who ever bought a video game system ultimately did it for one game, and then played the others because, hey, they already had the system.

Certis wrote:
mrtomaytohead wrote:

I'm actually shocked that I heard so much agreement that DS games at $40 is cheap. I find that unacceptably overpriced. I will not even consider purchasing square-enix games since they all come out at $40 each. I really feel DS games should be $30 or less. This also makes most big Nintendo games too expensive for my tastes, too. Thankfully I've had some gifted to me, so I've played a few.

It's a case by case thing. Dragon Quest IX is an insanely large game, regardless of its platform. Getting something that feels as big and fully featured as its PS2 predecessor for $40 seems like a steal to me.

At LEAST as big and fully-featured. If you're the sort who'll keep on diving into the randomly-generated treasure map dungeons after the core story is completed, there are hundreds of hours of gameplay in there as opposed to "just" the 80-odd that DQ8 offered. And the character customization is much deeper than 8's relatively simple skill system. The only thing I really miss from 8 when playing 9 is the excellent English dub.

Somewhat related to mrtomaytohead's concerns about pricing:

http://gametheoryonline.com/2010/07/...

First of all I like the serious attitude this site takes toward gaming, and it has a very strong focus on the business of the industry. Second, if you believe their argument, when it comes down to the cost per time of entertainment we get from games and their DLC, the prices are actually very reasonable, and possibly too low. Look at how well MW2 PC sold despite a markup, and how well their expansion packs sold as well.

If DQIX really takes 600+ hours (was that Lara who said so? I believe anything she says), you're paying pennies per hour of fun. Hard to beat, isn't it?

I was wondering if one of you could throw up that nintento mario wallpaper thing you were mentioning in the podcast, it sounds really awesome.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

Somewhat related to mrtomaytohead's concerns about pricing:

http://gametheoryonline.com/2010/07/...

First of all I like the serious attitude this site takes toward gaming, and it has a very strong focus on the business of the industry. Second, if you believe their argument, when it comes down to the cost per time of entertainment we get from games and their DLC, the prices are actually very reasonable, and possibly too low. Look at how well MW2 PC sold despite a markup, and how well their expansion packs sold as well.

If DQIX really takes 600+ hours (was that Lara who said so? I believe anything she says), you're paying pennies per hour of fun. Hard to beat, isn't it?

I really dislike dollar per hour formulas like that because they fail to take into account the quality of the experience, an important and almost entirely subjective factor.

I have two jobs, a girlfriend, a family, and other hobbies making demands on my time. At this point, the time commitment of a video game is at least as big a barrier to entry as the money commitment. I'm more concerned with the fun : minute ratio than the dollars : hour ratio. Likewise, if I go see a movie that turns out to be bad, I'm more pissed at having wasted two hours of my life than ten dollars of my paycheck.

hbi2k wrote:

I really dislike dollar per hour formulas like that because they fail to take into account the quality of the experience, an important and almost entirely subjective factor.

I have two jobs, a girlfriend, a family, and other hobbies making demands on my time. At this point, the time commitment of a video game is at least as big a barrier to entry as the money commitment. I'm more concerned with the fun : minute ratio than the dollars : hour ratio. Likewise, if I go see a movie that turns out to be bad, I'm more pissed at having wasted two hours of my life than ten dollars of my paycheck.

If you're fortunate enough not to have to worry about the costs of gaming, that's great. I'm somewhat in that situation as well. But I think a lot of people do have to consider the cost very carefully, especially when faced with a $60 purchase for a game they really want, not one they're unsure about. And now, as games become more and more a pay-as-you-play service rather than a one time purchase, and it's not so easy to see what the total cost of ownership will be for such a game, gamers have to start considering their gaming costs as an hourly/daily/monthly expense.

The thing I find slightly insidious about pay-as-you-play is that it really does make it easier to get people to pay more for a game, in the same way credit cards make it easier for people to think they can afford things they actually can't. Granted there's no interest charged by the game companies, but the credit card you might be using to play said game... so yeah, it's more important now than ever to look closely at what you're really paying for.

$/hour is definitely not an ideal metric for analysing games, but until there's an objective unit for fun it's really all available to express value for money.

And videogames, as a luxury item, really are not as expensive as we should expect. If anything game prices have deflated compared to most other expenses.

Chairman_Mao wrote:
Certis wrote:
One question: what is the save function like? Will I be able to shut it at a moment's notice, or is there a process of hunting for save points?

You can just snap the case shut like any DS game and resume when you open it. I think there's a quick-save too.

For "proper" saves you still have to hit a church to save the game.

This feature really needs to bleed, nay hemorrhage over (is that possible?) to all other console systems. It would save my already pretty empty existence the additional burden of so many "I JUST HAVE TO REACH THE NEXT CHECKPOINT" it's time to eat dinner arguments with my more treacherous half.

Agreed, it's not as though computers haven't had the ability to go into sleep mode for decades or anything.

hbi2k wrote:

I really dislike dollar per hour formulas like that because they fail to take into account the quality of the experience, an important and almost entirely subjective factor.

This. In the last 3 generations I typically do not replay a lot a games much, while during the NES and SNES days, I would replay even FF3(6) many times. The list of games I replayed more times than I can remember is quite long and they're all SNES and older titles. That may have also been youthful tolerance to repitition, but I can still play through MegaMan 2&3 fairly easily and enjoy it throughout. There are only a handful of games I've played through more than 2 times in the last 3 generations, one of them being Eternal Darkness, which has different enemies (their abilities, for most) and endings. In the end, I think it's a sub-concious thing of I'm not getting the same value I once was from games since I'm not compelled enough to take the time to replay them, even if I don't really have the time to do so.

"My ovaries hurt."

Nice podcast this week. Sober Lara = Win.

Flying_Norseman wrote:

Nice podcast this week. Sober Lara = Win.

And I was just thinking that drunk Lara was more entertaining last week. Either way I do enjoy having a different perspective on the podcast, it's...

wait for it...

The BOMB!

Chairman_Mao wrote:

If you're fortunate enough not to have to worry about the costs of gaming, that's great. I'm somewhat in that situation as well. But I think a lot of people do have to consider the cost very carefully, especially when faced with a $60 purchase for a game they really want, not one they're unsure about. And now, as games become more and more a pay-as-you-play service rather than a one time purchase, and it's not so easy to see what the total cost of ownership will be for such a game, gamers have to start considering their gaming costs as an hourly/daily/monthly expense.

I'm not saying that price and length shouldn't be factors, just that it seems silly to me to break it down to a formula. When I'm done with a game, how satisfied I am with the value of that game is the result of a number of factors of which length is only one, and probably not the most important one. And it's not that I don't have to worry about the costs of gaming, but if I'm finished with a game and don't have enough money left in my budget to buy another one for a while, I go do something else. I'd rather play a short game that I really enjoy and then spend the rest of my free time reading a book or replaying an old favorite or something else that doesn't require an additional expenditure, than play a long game that I enjoy less.

You bring up an interesting point with the pay-as-you-play service model. I have less of a problem when it's actually pay-as-you-play in the sense of something like Neptune's Pride, where you can pay to set up a premium game and then when you're done with that game, you're done paying. What bugs me with the service model is when it's a monthly fee that continues whether you actually use the service or not, a la WoW and most other subscription-based MMOs.

I've never played WoW, but from everything I know about it, it sounds like exactly the sort of thing I would love to get into. The problem is, I don't play games the way you need to play them to get your money's worth out of that kind of subscription model. I don't tend to play just one game for a month at a time. I play this game for a couple hours, and then that game for a couple more, and then tomorrow I might play a third game. I want to play what I feel like playing at the moment, not what I feel I have to play because I'm paying for it whether I use it or not.

Monthly-fee service models only work for me if the service offers either a large variety of experiences (Gamefly, theoretically GameTap although in practice it's usually a better deal just to buy PC games individually, possibly PSN Premium if I had a PS3 which I don't) or if the per-month cost is negligible (Xbox Live Gold). At $30 a year (as long as I keep my eye out for discounted Gold cards), I'm out less than $3 if a given month goes by and I don't wind up using my Gold account for anything. I'm okay with that. I'm less okay with being out $15 if I have a WoW subscription that I don't wind up using in a given month.

hbi2k wrote:

The problem is, I don't play games the way you need to play them to get your money's worth out of that kind of subscription model. I don't tend to play just one game for a month at a time. I play this game for a couple hours, and then that game for a couple more, and then tomorrow I might play a third game. I want to play what I feel like playing at the moment, not what I feel I have to play because I'm paying for it whether I use it or not.

I felt the same...and then I got into WoW. I think I played maybe 5 other games in the 5 years I played it. I never felt an obligation to play it because of the subscription, I just always had so much to do in the game that I never felt the need to venture elsewhere. It's like a disease. A fun disease, but a disease nonetheless.

I'm very happy that I managed to finally quit. At least now I have an incredible 5 year catalog of great games to catch up on

The downside is that I've spent more on gaming in the past year than I did in the 5 combined years I played WoW. Gaming can get expensive

yeah it's definitely not the only factor to consider, but I think it is a factor, especially to make people realize that those one time prices probably will cost you less in the long run than it will to play a monthly subscription game like WoW, or even free-to-play MMOs that rely on microtransactions.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

I don't know if any RTS can be that RTS that flips your switch if you've never liked one before, but I would say Starcraft 2 has a good chance.

Alright. I will try again. If can't find the love this time I might just have to face facts.

Baaspei wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

I don't know if any RTS can be that RTS that flips your switch if you've never liked one before, but I would say Starcraft 2 has a good chance.

Alright. I will try again. If can't find the love this time I might just have to face facts.

YEEESSSSSSS!!!!!!!!! Enabled!

Seriously though, if you struggle, just play the campaign on easy for the cheesy, fun story. It won't be a waste of money. If that turns out too easy, chase achievements. There's a game here for about anyone.

hbi2k wrote:

But to answer your question more directly: If you're at all into JRPGs, and especially if you're the sort of person who likes to do all the optional side stuff and enjoy beefing up your characters for its own sake, I'd call DQ9 a system-selling game. There's a LOT of gameplay in there. And it's not like it's the only great game out there for the DS, which is a great (if aging) system with a huge library. I'd recommend some flavor of DS or another for almost anybody.

Thanks for the comment. It will make the purchase easier. I like the fact that there are plenty of JRPGs on the platform.

(I am assuming that the 3DS will be fun but not sure how it will improve a JRPG experience. XL is my current choice.)

A Christina Hendricks poster! Where can I get one?

The WoW changes sound neat, but not enough to go back. I think at this point I am twiddling my thumbs for SW:TOR and FF14. EQII is still enjoyable though.

By the way, what sort of masochist still plays the original EverQuest? The only reason so many of us played that torturous, unforgiving hell was because there was nothing else like it out at the time. And don't give me that "Oh I have this great guild there." Time to step away from the PC. /shudder

Comparing the new Dragon Quest 9 to Icewind Dale really makes me want a DS. Santa, are you reading this? Lara, are you sure you don't work for Nintendo's, because you know how to sell a system.

The glitz of a Blizzard game, while not needed, does give the game a solid personality. More than most games out there, the Starcraft series has always had a ton of personality. And as we all know... personality goes a long way.

So wait, now I need to get an Xbox 360 for this great new Castlevania game? Oh for cripe's sake, you guys make an expensive podcast.

Games like Rock Band and Mary-oh Kart are some of the best games out there for bringing non-gamers into our world. I have never had anyone play Rock Band for the first time then say, "Eh, that was boring."

Taking games away from kids completely is a tad harsh, but if helps get the grades up I can see the value in doing so. Besides, once we're adults with mortgages and jobs, we can buy all the games we want. Yay!

I agree that Ultima VI was a great game to go out on.

Before there was OCR and the internet, I used to hook my TV to my old boom box (or just put the mic near the TV speaker) and record NES and SNES songs onto cassette tapes. Those were great for the car when there was nothing on the radio.

I would like to thank you folks on the podcast for giving me some genuine laughs, because I really, really, really needed it after having a bad day at work. Love you all.

I keep reading about people saying they fast forward through parts of the podcast. To those people I can only say... how dare you.

burntham77 wrote:

I keep reading about people saying they fast forward through parts of the podcast. To those people I can only say... how dare you.

To be fair, it's only happened twice (maybe a total of 10min), and those were rough enough days at work as it iss. I much enjoyed Sober Lara™ this week.

Thanks for the email read, Gamers! It made my day.

BTW, the last game a parent bought for me was actually The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, which came with limited edition gold DS (with Tri-Force). It was a Christmas present from...my mom. She's the bomb!

The last game one of my parents bought me was Fallout 2 for the Mac. I'd just gotten my first iMac, and my dad bought me that game on a whim since I'd put so much time into the first Fallout.