GWJ Conference Call Episode 207

Conference Call

Civilization V, Minecraft, Alan Wake Stuff, What to Do With $500, Your Emails and more!

This week Julian, Elysium, Allen, Rob Borges and special guest Rob Zacny talk Civ V and imagine what someone new to gaming might want to do with $500.

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Alpha - (b-sides) - workbench-music.com - 32:36
Coactive (Over My Shoulder Mix) - Chroma - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 50:36

Comments

AndrewA wrote:

I'm starting to cringe every time I see "Minecraft" on the topics list.

I WILL BURY YOU IN GRAVEL.

wordsmythe wrote:
blackanchor wrote:

I agree that the PC would make a good $500 purchase if the goal of the consumer is to play outdated or insignificant games

There are plenty of cheap, downloadable games that are neither outdated nor insignificant, despite their age.

To add to this, once you pass the minimum requirements, PC games have options to tailor games to your system capabilities. Even for the most recent releases, and especially for big budget releases, it makes sense to allow the largest audience possible able to play the game.

wordsmythe wrote:
blackanchor wrote:

I agree that the PC would make a good $500 purchase if the goal of the consumer is to play outdated or insignificant games

There are plenty of cheap, downloadable games that are neither outdated nor insignificant, despite their age.

I enjoy older games as well. Right now I'm playing Baldurs Gate for the first time (Thank you GOG). My intention isnt to bash older games or even indie games that are less expensive. But again, anything on steam that cost less than 10.00 is going to probably be insignificant to a gamer who is interested in returning because they saw a fantastic commercial for GTA IV. Hmm...lets see, an xbox 360 that can play GTA IV and look beautiful or an under 500.00 PC that can barely keep the game open before CTD or freezing.

Oh look, it's this discussion all over again...

IMAGE(http://imgur.com/QJ55N.gif)

Rob Zacny wrote:
estorino wrote:

Hmm, I feel Rob Zacny kinda missed the point when it comes to Alan Wake. His complaint with the storytelling is that the voiceover overexplains everything and states the obvious. But to me, he seems to forget something very important, that the entire game, everything you see and hear is a horror-novel, written by Alan Wake. When you keep that in mind, the voiceover actually makes perfect sense, since you have to explain way more when it's just words and no images.

Yeah, but my problem wasn't confusion about why we had a voiceover, but the way that voiceover is used. If a voiceover isn't adding anything to what you can see on the screen, it's detracting from the experience. So when Wake is telling us what's going on, and we can see exactly what he is telling us, then his v/o is just so much noise. It doesn't matter if there is narrative justification for why we are hearing Wake telling his story. He is still not adding anything beyond literal description of what we can already see.

The narration in Alan Wake didn't give its audience any credit. It assumed that we wouldn't remember that Alan was a writer if he wasn't constantly spouting bad prose, that we couldn't understand what we were looking at without being told, and that we couldn't follow the events of the plot without someone holding our hand and walking us through it. If Alan were to enter a room where he was expected to meet someone only to find it empty, the game's writer doesn't trust us to piece this together for ourselves and to understand the full implications of the disappearance. Instead, it's all spelled out for us, like we're playing the game with the Cliff Notes on.

Sure, if you want to go with the obvious one.

wordsmythe wrote:

Sure, if you want to go with the obvious one.

I'm less hip like that.

"My wii only gets turned on by my son right now." - rabbit

...*Sigh*

LobsterMobster wrote:

"My wii only gets turned on by my son right now." - rabbit

...*Sigh*

IMAGE(http://purplejesus.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/chrishansen.jpg)

Another great switch-it-up episode.

However, I'd like to offer a correction. I'm not sure who you talked to at PAX, Rabbit, but the OnLive folks actually turned me away from the free-sign up because I hadn't tried it out on the other side (I figured that I'd read enough about it to try it). They instructed me to do that before singing up for the service.

I would agree that had they asked you for a credit card before they let you try it, it would be sleazy as hell. I can only imagine that you might have misheard, learned the detail incorrectly from a passer by, or one of their booth-helpers was huffing paint. All those possibilities are certainly valid for consideration.

I particularly liked the Civ V insights. I'm looking forward to purchasing it after lots more bugs (and hopefully the AI) have been worked out.

docbadwrench wrote:

Another great switch-it-up episode.

However, I'd like to offer a correction. I'm not sure who you talked to at PAX, Rabbit, but the OnLive folks actually turned me away from the free-sign up because I hadn't tried it out on the other side (I figured that I'd read enough about it to try it). They instructed me to do that before singing up for the service.

I would agree that had they asked you for a credit card before they let you try it, it would be sleazy as hell. I can only imagine that you might have misheard, learned the detail incorrectly from a passer by, or one of their booth-helpers was huffing paint. All those possibilities are certainly valid for consideration.

I know Julian heard this from me, at least. They turned me completely away. No demo, no trial, no discussion.

I believe DSGamer also tried it and was turned away.

I do know they didn't do it the entire time. Maybe someone in authority found out about it and put the kibosh on it.

Bad form, for sure. I visited the booth within the first hour of the expo hall on Friday and nothing seemed amiss. There was no activity that would have caused me to narrow my eyes. Now I'm curious to find out just what was going on....

The iPod Touch recommendation is, IMO, the best recommendation of the bunch. Assuming a budget, I'd vote for the $200 Xbox 360, an iPod touch, 2-3 Platinum Hits 360 titles and that will leave around $20 for iPod games (pretending tax isn't a factor).

For around $20, you can get the following right now:

Puzzle Agent
Mirror's Edge
NHL2K11
NFS Shift
Peggle
Angry Birds
Osmos
Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor
Tiger Woods PGA Tour
Secret of Monkey Island 1 & 2
Resident Evil 4

...you get the gist. This doesn't include some of the great free games like Undercroft and Galaxy on Fire 3D. Sure, the iPod Touch is a good $100 more than a DS Lite, but you'll save far more than $100 in game purchases. Don't discount the platform as a true gaming device, because it really, really is one.

Given Microsoft's silly prices for non-bundled hard drives and the fact that the 4 GB Slim won't work with an El Cheapo castoff 20 GB unit that you can likely beg, borrow, or steal for a song, I'm not sure I could in good conscience recommend an HDD-less 360 to anyone, no matter how much of a budget they're on. You might save a bit now, but you'll inevitably pay for it with interest later.

Unless you happen to already have a spare 16 GB flash drive lying around that you could dedicate to the task, I suppose. I bought one to supplement my 20 GB launch-era hard drive just because I refuse to pay Microsoft's prices for proprietary hard drives, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone on a budget. The $-per-GB ratio just isn't very good for flash of any kind.

Great episode. Good to have some rage back, and Zacny is a great commentator as well as a credit to the front page.

hbi2k wrote:

Given Microsoft's silly prices for non-bundled hard drives and the fact that the 4 GB Slim won't work with an El Cheapo castoff 20 GB unit that you can likely beg, borrow, or steal for a song, I'm not sure I could in good conscience recommend an HDD-less 360 to anyone, no matter how much of a budget they're on. You might save a bit now, but you'll inevitably pay for it with interest later.

And don't forget, the 4Gig can't play Reach co-op. It may not be a deal breaker for everyone, but I don't doubt that hardware based tiers, now that they have started, are going to become more prevalent.

hbi2k wrote:

Given Microsoft's silly prices for non-bundled hard drives and the fact that the 4 GB Slim won't work with an El Cheapo castoff 20 GB unit that you can likely beg, borrow, or steal for a song, I'm not sure I could in good conscience recommend an HDD-less 360 to anyone, no matter how much of a budget they're on.

Actually, you can use your 20GB (or 60, 120 or 250GB) harddrive with a 4GB Xbox 360 Slim. It's not without risk though, but you do not void the warranty on your console.

What you do is remove the actual hard drive from the plastic bracket it came with, and insert it into the slot on you 360 slim. Explained on youtube here.

I'm considering it, I upgraded my launch 360 with a 120Gb harddrive a year ago. My 360 already died on me once and was fixed by MS, if it dies again, I will probably get a 4GB 360 and add my own hard drive.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

And don't forget, the 4Gig can't play Reach co-op. It may not be a deal breaker for everyone, but I don't doubt that hardware based tiers, now that they have started, are going to become more prevalent.

FYI: Microsoft responded to this same day that it is a bug being fixed in a patch (It didn't recognize the internal flash as being official storage). It only effects online co-op, not split-screen.

EvilDead wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

And don't forget, the 4Gig can't play Reach co-op. It may not be a deal breaker for everyone, but I don't doubt that hardware based tiers, now that they have started, are going to become more prevalent.

FYI: Microsoft responded to this same day that it is a bug being fixed in a patch (It didn't recognize the internal flash as being official storage). It only effects online co-op, not split-screen.

Ah, okay. +10 points to MS.

Just now listening to the show, but wanted to comment that I'm the guy who wants to walk around a wasteland in an MMO. I would LOVE the ability to have my own private server (legally), as my only gripe with MMO's are the annoying other people.

By the way: Nice reaction to the suggestion of buying a PS3 on the podcast. That'll teach people to think you're biased against Sony!

(Full disclosure: The PS3 is my primary console, and without reiterating my last post on the subject, I've found it to be very cost effective, especially considering how much exercise it gets.)

I love my PS3. It's a great Blue Ray player.

Given a choice, I will play a game on my PC first or 360 second. I hate the PS3 controller, and the community features on the PC and 360 are way better than what Sony has managed to cobble together, and they have had years to fix it.

But it's all personal preference. For me the PC and 360 are the most cost effective GAMING machines. None of the other features each machine is capable of were applicable.

And thanks for all the kind compliments guys.

I think that the reason people still lean to the 360 over the PS3 when recommending a gaming console is that, when it comes to actual games, there is little functional difference and a lower price.

Of course the PS3 does have some awesome looking exclusives, but if someone comes in without knowing what LBP, MGS and Uncharted are then it is safer to recommend the cheaper option.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

I think that the reason people still lean to the 360 over the PS3 when recommending a gaming console is that, when it comes to actual games, there is little functional difference and a lower price.

Of course the PS3 does have some awesome looking exclusives, but if someone comes in without knowing what LBP, MGS and Uncharted are then it is safer to recommend the cheaper option.

That's just it, though. Just about everybody (on these forums anyway) who owns a 360 also has an XBLA gold account. So how is that cheaper?

I can understand wanting to go where the players are, and the 360 did have a whole year to build an online community before the PS3 shipped, but over the life of the machine the PS3 is cheaper than the Xbox 360.

There's more to cost than what's on the sticker.

Is someone who hasn't gamed in a decade going to be going into online MP though? While 360 gamers in this community are all on Gold stats suggest that a significant proportion of 360 owners don't go online.

Just to be clear, I don't have skin in the game. I currently only game on the PC. I'm considering a console if I decide not to go to South Korea next year and I will find choosing between the two tough.

But for a newbie I would still recommend the 360. If someone owns a reasonable PC with a PCI-E slot I would recommend a graphics card, but I wouldn't recommend a new system at under $500.

"outdated and significant" is a bit of a lame dig. You can easily play both bioshocks, both ACs, everything from Valve, etc., on a $500 PC. I don't think it's a perfect answer to the question -- I don't think there is a perfect answer. You don't get the SAME experience from a PS3 or Xbox as you do from the PC.

To me, it comes down to what someone expects out of gaming. If "gaming" means sitting on the couch with a controller, well duh, of course that's not PC land.

As for the PS3 -- I brought it up on the podcast as a serious question. The laughter was spontaneous. For me, it comes down to community presence. When I want to play a game online, everyone I know is on 360. If I want to play a PS3 game online, I have to schedule it in advance to make sure people log in. That's not a dig on the system as much as an acknowledgement of retained first-mover advantage in online console gaming. VHS was an inferior format, but Betamax still died.

'What platform the community is on' is probably going to vary depending on where you are in the world.

rabbit wrote:

"outdated and significant" is a bit of a lame dig. You can easily play both bioshocks, both ACs, everything from Valve, etc., on a $500 PC.

True enough, but you'd be pushing right up against that $500 limit in order to have a good experience, leaving very little extra in the budget for software. To somebody who's just getting ready to jump back into the pool after a long absence from gaming, I think a $200-$300 console with a few hundred left over for games and accessories is a much easier recommendation than a $450 PC and either one current game or a handful of old and/or indie games that don't take advantage of the hardware anyway, or a $300 netbook that only has the horsepower to run games that haven't been current since before they got out of gaming in the first place.

I think a good shopping list would go something like:

Xbox 360 Slim 250 GB: $300
DS Lite (used): $75
Games (used / budget / downloadables): $125

You could shave a hundred or more from the price of the 360 by getting the 4 GB or getting a used or refurb 360 Phat, but you'd adversely affect the experience in the former case (with many of the best downloadable titles pushing 2 GB at this point, you wouldn't have room for much) and would have to deal with greatly reduced hardware reliability / not having a manufacturer's warranty in the latter case.

You could maybe get a $200 4 GB Slim and supplement it with a $30 16 GB flash drive to free up an extra $70 for software, but given the extensive back catalog on both the 360 and the DS (with most of the Xbox 1 and all of the GBA catalogs available through BC), I think you could get plenty of great games for $125.

Did we all miss the part where gaming on a limited budget meant you can't have everything?