GWJ Conference Call Episode 206

Conference Call

Halo: Reach (Bonus Spoiler Section After The Credits), Plants Vs. Zombies 360, Vindictus, A Special Guest Segment With Three Moves Ahead, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Elysium and Jonathan hold down the fort. The crazy smart strategy gamers (and Julian) from Three Moves Ahead also provide us with a great segment on getting into the genre. Finally, we have update on the donation drive and a worldwide GWJ get together on October 23rd!

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

Overture - Halo Reach OST - http://www.bungie.net - 16:33

Menu Music (Glass Halls) - Shatter the Official Video Game Soundtrack - http://sidhe.bandcamp.com/ - 26:28

End of the World - Shatter the Official Video Game Soundtrack - http://sidhe.bandcamp.com/ - 40:47

Comments

Who decided to change the date format in the direct download filename from underscores to dots? Now my files aren't in date order any more!

This is Madness! This is Blasphemy!

My worlds are converging!! TMA on GWJ!?!?! Perhaps there will be a singularity come 2012!!!

Thanks for not bogging down too much into Halo talk. I'm not a Halo hater, I just don't particularly care for the series and after all of the Starcraft 2 talk on podcasts (and I bought SC2) I'm a little burned out on hearing about the bigger, more familiar game franchises.

Anyway, Jonathan sounds like he's settled in nicely and I really liked how you threw a bit of a curveball in the middle with the TMA segment. It was a good change of pace. You guys should have Rob on at some point since he now officially writes for the site, though you'd have to find a game he's been playing that you guys have, so ... uh, umm, okay. Point taken.

Elysium,

In Plants vs. Zombies on the 360, you can use the triggers to suck up the sun rather than chasing each bit of it down with the analog stick.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

Elysium,

In Plants vs. Zombies on the 360, you can use the triggers to suck up the sun rather than chasing each bit of it down with the analog stick.

Which is silly that they don't advise you of in game. The only reason I knew that was because of this forum.

BTW - great recommendation. My wife and I have been having a fun time playing through together.

Next time, please don't describe something called a "Slap & Tickle" as having a "creamy GWJ center". Thanks.

I'll echo garion333's TMA and Halo sentiments. Also, maybe I was up too late playing Civ 5 but I laughed at "split up duties".

I really enjoyed the TMA segment and thought it was a great topic. I hope in the future there are more guests segments. I have no interest in Halo so I'm also glad that was kept short.

garion333 wrote:

Thanks for not bogging down too much into Halo talk. I'm not a Halo hater, I just don't particularly care for the series and after all of the Starcraft 2 talk on podcasts (and I bought SC2) I'm a little burned out on hearing about the bigger, more familiar game franchises.

I think that's a good idea in general, getting bogged down in any topic gets boring.

I enjoyed the change of pace this show. You folks are keeping things fresh. Also, thanks for the HALO spoiler section. I will never play the game anyhow, so it's nice to hear about the cool stuff and get more witty banter.

I, for one, am incredibly disappointed that Herr Doktor Certis did not include the completely bad ass poster that 7inchsplit created for the S&T Heard 'Round the World.

So here it is.

IMAGE(http://imgur.com/T77gR.jpg)

Portal 2 with President Michael Wilson?

Civ IV was mentioned as a good intro to the genre. Does this count for Civ V as well? It's soo shiny.

Thanks

Civ V may, in fact, be a slightly better intro to the genre game.

I think Civilization Revolution is a good intro into the genre on the consoles for someone who doesn't have access to Civ 4 or Civ 5.

garion333 wrote:

My worlds are converging!! TMA on GWJ!?!?! Perhaps there will be a singularity come 2012!!! :P

+1. I just finished the latest Three Moves Ahead and switched to GWJ CC, when suddenly a merger came. Hooray for Gamers With Three Jobs Ahead!

I don't recall actually hearing the TMA guys mention Plants vs Zombies in their intro to strategy section. Of course, it seems anything where you have to make a decision on what is the best choice for the situation could be considered a type of strategy game. PvZ is also so well packaged/designed and removed from the you-must-do-this-for-that-result formula it feels like almost doesn't fit at times.

On strategy, it was touched on briefly, but Company of Heroes is great. I am not a strategy guy by any means, but my wife got this for my birthday back in 2006 and it may be one of my most-played of all time. It's easy to get into, and the scale is small enough to always feel manageable. Furthermore, it's less about rock-paper-scissors and mass-rushes than it is about smartly using your units strengths and weaknesses against others, combined arms, and using terrain and structures to your advantage. It also has a hotkey to retreat your infantry forces, which gives them a speed and defense bonus as they run back to their HQ. It's a brilliant game that I really enjoyed. At the very least, someone can get many good hours out of playing the campaign and skirmishing against the AI. It's a lot of fun.

On time limits in games, I hate them too. But I also thought back to Mass Effect 2, where there is a segment where you must unlock a series of gate controls before a timer bar runs out. That was a better implementation of it, since you wouldn't fail the mission if you ran out of time, but there were other consequences that would affect the outcome of the mission. That game was also very good at making you feel a sense of urgency, even when there was no time limit, such as the last part of the mission where you're on the derelict Prothean ship. I much appreciate getting the sense of urgency without having a fail-state if I don't make it before some arbitrary timer ticks down before I finish.

On dangerous presidents, I'm not sure if you guys are regular listeners to the Joystiq Podcast, but Justin McElroy has been a vocal advocate for the yet-to-be-conceived game Founding Fighters. He says some developer needs to make a fighting game that features all of the Founding Fathers as characters. They would have unique special attacks (Abe Lincoln throwing his top-hat Oddjob-style?) and moves. It's only a concept in Justin McElroy's head, but this is a fighting game that needs to be made.

I disagree with Jonman. Artificial constructs like "lives" and "timers" only add tension in the same way Resident Evil 5's "different" controls add to the tension. Even if it works, it's an illogical contrivance and it's lazy. It is possible to motivate the player without showing them a direct and material consequence for dawdling. It's just really hard.

In Dead Space, there's a mission where the ship is entering an asteroid field and you are tasked with getting its point defense guns back on line so they can blast any asteroids on a collision course. I am 90% sure there is no time limit, and if there is then the game doesn't take any steps to convey that information to you. Then I came to a wide open room with huge bay windows. I saw massive chunks of rock hurtling by right outside and heard others battering the hull. Time limit or no, I started to rush because I got the sense that I needed to fix that problem right now.

The fact of the matter is that it's never fun to lose because a timer hit zero, while if you succeed before the timer hits zero then it might as well have been infinite because it didn't take you that long anyway.

LobsterMobster wrote:

The fact of the matter is that it's never fun to lose because a timer hit zero, while if you succeed before the timer hits zero then it might as well have been infinite because it didn't take you that long anyway.

"It's never fun when you run out of lives, but if you succeed, you may as well have had infinite lives."

Does this also hold true for you?

A game I wish I'd brought up on the show is Little Big Planet. For me -- and almost no one else -- that game is broken because of its silly little lives/checkpoint mechanic. It absolutely ruins the game for me.

LBP2 is solving this in a way that is satisfying to me.

Hadn't ever listened to Three Moves Ahead before, but I was excited to listen to their perspective based off the intro. After listening, I'm a little confused as to their purpose for being on the show.

It was said they were coming on to talk about games that aren't usually covered by Gamers With Jobs and then they proceeded to talk about Starcraft, Civilization and Rise of Nations. These games have all been covered on the show at length. And if Starcraft/Civilization are the shallow end of the pool, I'm curious what they think is in the deep end. But this question was never asked.

And I'm genuinely curious because this made me feel like I must be missing out on some strategy goodness all these years. My best guess is the Total War series but that doesn't seem like much of a leap up from Civilization.

Also, if the definition of "strategy game" is broadened to included The Sims and Pokemon then the genre has become a meaningless superset. And having a podcast about Strategy Games is analogous to having a podcast about All Games.

Although I was disappointed with the segment, I will be checking about the catalog of TMA podcasts. And am excited for some good strategy talk.

I really enjoyed the music on this show. I've been meaning to buy the Shatter soundtrack for a while and I think this tipped me over the edge.

Sorax wrote:

It was said they were coming on to talk about games that aren't usually covered by Gamers With Jobs and then they proceeded to talk about Starcraft, Civilization and Rise of Nations. These games have all been covered on the show at length. And if Starcraft/Civilization are the shallow end of the pool, I'm curious what they think is in the deep end. But this question was never asked.

I think you took that a little too literal. They were coming on to talk about strategy games which aren't talked about too much on this show. Yes, the TMA guys did talk about some of the more familiar strategy games, but that was kind of the point of the topic: where to start. If you want the deep end, perhaps they'll have another segment, but really you should check out the show, which you said you'd do.

Sorax wrote:

And I'm genuinely curious because this made me feel like I must be missing out on some strategy goodness all these years. My best guess is the Total War series but that doesn't seem like much of a leap up from Civilization.

Total War is basically an introduction to grand strategy games like Europa Universalis. TMA doesn't really spend much time talking about the TW games outside of the episodes they did when Empire was released. Total War is still firmly in the mainstream.

Sorax wrote:

Also, if the definition of "strategy game" is broadened to included The Sims and Pokemon then the genre has become a meaningless superset. And having a podcast about Strategy Games is analogous to having a podcast about All Games.

Well, this is a long running half-joke/argument on the show about just what makes a strategy game. The point they were making is that people who don't think they'd like strategy games or are intimidated by them don't realize that they probably already have certain skills for strategy gaming that come from playing the Sims. Tom Chick (who wasn't on the segment), however, fully believes that the Sims is a strategy game. Tom likes to cast a wide net when talking about what is a strategy game. Not everyone agrees with him. I certainly don't. And, clearly, neither do you.

Anyway, you should definitely check out the podcast, though you should be given fair warning that it's not as polished as other podcasts you might be use to, but the amount of brain power on that podcast is staggering.

Yeah, your posts are limited for the first week or two. Stops spam and whatnot. Your posts will fix themselves once the magic time period and/or posting limit is met.

Good luck finding some more strategy games. TMA covers a lot of stuff, but there's even more games they don't cover. For the most part, though, if you want to get deep into strategy games, you need to leave AAA budgets behind and just accept not as great graphics and sometime poor UI.

I'd recommend checking out Vic Davis's work because he's such a great game designer. Both Armageddon Empires and Solium Infernum are fantastic games with good artwork to boot.

Elysium wrote:

LBP2 is solving this in a way that is satisfying to me.

I haven't read anything about this, details on how LBP2 does things differently please?

also, re: the Fable example regarding comedy at ~45:30. I don't know about Fable 1, but for Fable 2 at least, you or I may not find it particularly funny, but I'm sure there's somebody who thinks that it's hilarious that you can "put the funny into the game" by doing a fart/belch/sockpuppet emote at (cut scenes aside) any particularly dramatic/climactic moment in the story.

I haven't read anything about this, details on how LBP2 does things differently please?

Most importantly, you can turn off the lives limitation and play easily with infinite lives.

Elysium wrote:

Most importantly, you can turn off the lives limitation and play easily with infinite lives.

Sweet.

garion333 wrote:

I think you took that a little too literal. They were coming on to talk about strategy games which aren't talked about too much on this show. Yes, the TMA guys did talk about some of the more familiar strategy games, but that was kind of the point of the topic: where to start.

Yeah, you're right. Just for me, and I presume others, taking a moment to establish the other side of the scale imparts a great deal of context. Otherwise we're talking about a range from 0 to ?, and I really have no idea where you're coming from. Just set that other peg like ...

garion333 wrote:

Total War is basically an introduction to grand strategy games like Europa Universalis.

Yeah!! Now that is what I'm talking about! Awesome. I may have seen this game at some point but never gave it a second thought. Thanks for pointing me in its direction. Looks really interesting. I wasn't even aware there was a Grand Strategy genre. I appreciate the lesson.

garion333 wrote:

Well, this is a long running half-joke/argument on the show about just what makes a strategy game. The point they were making is that people who don't think they'd like strategy games or are intimidated by them don't realize that they probably already have certain skills for strategy gaming that come from playing the Sims. Tom Chick (who wasn't on the segment), however, fully believes that the Sims is a strategy game. Tom likes to cast a wide net when talking about what is a strategy game. Not everyone agrees with him. I certainly don't. And, clearly, neither do you. ;)

I get they were trying to find some relatable ground but that's taking it too far. Of course there is strategy in The Sims, there is strategy in everything we do. On a given day, I'd even argue the lack of strategy is itself a strategy. But when we talk about genres I believe most people are thinking about the specific mechanics. My favorite genre to have this discussion about is Role-Playing; where looking at numbers and standing in lines queuing up attacks is considered paragon. That is a Role I've never heard of @_@

garion333 wrote:

Anyway, you should definitely check out the podcast, though you should be given fair warning that it's not as polished as other podcasts you might be use to, but the amount of brain power on that podcast is staggering.

Will do and thanks again for the tip on Europa.

PS - I've checked the formatting delimiters but they appear to be being ignored on my screen. This may be because I'm a new poster. Either way I'm posting with them in place, hoping they'll work for others.

Besides the matter of repetition which was mentioned, I think the problem with humor in games is that humor is so reliant on timing, and in an interactive medium timing is at least partially in the hands of the player. Hence, the parts of even a "funny" game that are most funny are the parts that are the least game-like: watching a cut scene, reading a bit of flavor text.

Since much of humor relies on the element of surprise, I think it tends to be better when a game is not explicitly advertised as a "funny" game. When humor is the main selling point, they tend to go over-the-top a la Deathspank: [Elcor voice] "(Amused.) There are several anachronisms at play here. The fourth wall has been broken often. Excuse me while I hold my sides in." [/Elcor voice].

Compare that to something like Portal, which was represented primarily as a fun puzzle game, or Splosion Man, which was represented primarily as an old-school-style platformer. When Glados busted out with a passive-aggressive witticism or you picked up a fat scientist and were treated to the sound of "Everybody Loves Donuts," it came as a surprise and was funnier for it. Didn't hurt that the core gameplay in those games was strong enough that they didn't need to be trying for hilarity every second or risk losing the player's interest.

Dangerous Presidents... I'll take steampunk Abe Lincoln with the gatling gun arm. I hear he also was a vampire hunter.
--
TAZ