GWJ Conference Call Episode 213

Conference Call

Kinect, Move, 007 James Bond: Bloodstone, Hoard, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, The Impact of Youtube on Gaming, Your Emails and more!

This week Allen, Julian and Shawn talk about the Kinect, a ton of games and the impact of Youtube on the gaming scene.

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

Crocodile Tears - (Zoo) - workbench-music.com - 0:36:12
Zoo (dawn) - (Zoo) - workbench-music.com - 54:21

Comments

Forget XBLA and Steam (and PSN for that matter), Hoard, especially if it's all about short head-to-head competition, sounds like it'd make a great board game. If rabbit described it without mentioning that it's on PSN, I might have assumed it's wooden pieces on a board. It sounds very eurogamery.

Dangit, I know there is a thread on HOARD...I was kinda hoping you wouldn't cover it.

I'm enabled

Re: Difficulty in games. I believe the Max Payne games had the most elegant solution to difficulty ever. The game kept track of how often you died and if you failed enough times, the game made the AI's shots go a little bit wilder. This allowed the player to keep the illusion that "yeah, I am totally getting better at this game" while never disturbing the immersion because it was still awesome to see Max jump into a room with debris flying anywhere.

When the player had not died for a certain amount of minutes the difficulty slowly ramped back up to it's normal levels.

Such an elegant solution and I still wonder why so few games use it.

Mogg pointed out on Twitter that YouTube footage of NBA Elite 11 in pre-release form probably helped get it cancelled.

http://www.sportsorgtfo.com/nba-elit...

Certis, you said something like "What I don't want is a boss fight where the weak spot is a big glowing orange ball." This surprised me since you went on at some length about enjoying Vanquish. After playing the demo, this kind of boss fight was exactly what turned me off of the game. Do others later in the game get better?

Gravey wrote:

Forget XBLA and Steam (and PSN for that matter), Hoard, especially if it's all about short head-to-head competition, sounds like it'd make a great board game. If rabbit described it without mentioning that it's on PSN, I might have assumed it's wooden pieces on a board. It sounds very eurogamery.

Funny you say that... the designers started with it as a board game before moving to PSN. Did rabbit leave that story out?

I'm piling on the love for Hoard. It's a great 10-minute game and a blast with four players. If *only* PSN had a better invite/chat system, it'd be perfect.

Fredrik_S wrote:

Re: Difficulty in games. I believe the Max Payne games had the most elegant solution to difficulty ever. The game kept track of how often you died and if you failed enough times, the game made the AI's shots go a little bit wilder. This allowed the player to keep the illusion that "yeah, I am totally getting better at this game" while never disturbing the immersion because it was still awesome to see Max jump into a room with debris flying anywhere.

When the player had not died for a certain amount of minutes the difficulty slowly ramped back up to it's normal levels.

Such an elegant solution and I still wonder why so few games use it.

Haven't listened to what they said on the CC, but you reminded me of what fighting games like Soul Calibur 2 did, where the AI basically had a base level set by the diffuculty and then they would 'learn' your moves and patterns as you played through the arcade mode, so if you used a couple attacks for more than a couple rounds the computer would just start blocking that every time you tried it unless your drastically changed your approach. It was interesting and kept people from beating that mode using stupid cheap moves like nightmare's 3 vertical strikes. That one sticks out b/c I hated that combo because I never quite got the quick recover timing down so I could avoid it after being knocked down.

philosofrenzy wrote:

Certis, you said something like "What I don't want is a boss fight where the weak spot is a big glowing orange ball." This surprised me since you went on at some length about enjoying Vanquish. After playing the demo, this kind of boss fight was exactly what turned me off of the game. Do others later in the game get better?

I thought the Vanquish demo was great, so your milage may vary. Vanquish is all about dexterity and action, so having to find angles to get at those unprotected parts of the enemy is fun. Same with games like Lost Planet. So yeah ... maybe not the best off the cuff example.

Better examples are things like the glowing golden trail in Fable 3 (the game is almost unplayable without it thanks to having no mini-map) and the all-seeing-eye approach of 007 Bloodstone. You get on screen prompts, NPCs telling you what to do and sometimes the camera will even swing to the spot. You'd might as well just go Perfect Dark Zero have give me a flashing arrow line to follow.

If you still haven't gotten into Fallout: New Vegas, you probably won't if you put in more time to it. I've hit a point fairly late in the game and just like Fallout 3, I don't have the inclination to continue on. It's the same with Oblivion, too. It's not like any of the games were boring or anything bad like that, it's just that...I don't know why. Maybe I squeezed all the fun out of it that I could just like the other two and feel like moving on.

Anyway, if you don't like it now, you're not going to like it later on.

On youtube, I think you covered the point quite well of games where the player is in charge, like minecraft, where youtube can't convey the experience as well as of a linear story game. If anything this shows the differences between the mediums, if you can't portray a game as a film, isn't it a sign of a great game? Isn't it the ideal game where the player makes a difference in the world, and their actions make the world, rather than pressing a button to get the next plot point.

Just a thought as I'm listening.

The EA/Harmonix marketing people must be crying hearing you guys get Dance Central's name wrong so many times.

Scratched wrote:

On youtube, I think you covered the point quite well of games where the player is in charge, like minecraft, where youtube can't convey the experience as well as of a linear story game. If anything this shows the differences between the mediums, if you can't portray a game as a film, isn't it a sign of a great game? Isn't it the ideal game where the player makes a difference in the world, and their actions make the world, rather than pressing a button to get the next plot point.

I disagree. I have an article in The Escapist next week talking about this in a bit more depth, but I don't think videos ever convey the experience of playing a game, even a linear story game, because they simply can't capture the interactivity of that experience. Consider a game like Bayonetta: you don't make a single decision in the game that has a meaningful impact on the story. You don't make a difference in that world, your actions don't make the world, and you more or less just fight from cutscene to cutscene. However, Bayonetta is a great game because of the experience you get when you actually play it. The crisp controls, the frantic pace, and the elation you feel when you really nail a combo: those aren't well conveyed by YouTube videos. You could watch all the cutscenes, and even all the gameplay, from Bayonetta and not get any closer to that game than you would to Minecraft by watching videos of it being played.

That's sort-of what I was saying. Games are on a bit of a spectrum though, from doing a simple task over and over to get through the plot points, to ones where the player can have their own experience with it.

That show was tight.

I agree that bosses don't need highlighted weak spots. I think the critical flaw some developers have made, and may be overcompensating for when they highlight like that, is to create a boss that doesnt provide some form of feedback that it is being damaged. Requiem (an old game) is one example that comes to mind where one of the main bosses gave players no indication that it was being hurt.

Are you sure PSN is to blame for the online in Hoard though? Or are you basically saying that the XBLA party and invite system would have compensated for the game not doing this right? Because although I have both, I mostly play just on PSN, and yes, it depends on games supporting it well, but generally the quality of voice chat or connections, support for friendslists and invites are a matter of how well a game supports all of these. But any issues with connections and such are generally not related to PSN or XBL - if you track this, most games that release for both suffer very similar issues, as they both generally use the same kind of netcode (and for some reason on XBL even more peer-to-peer than on PSN)

But XBLA definitely shows the value of standardisation. In that respect, I appreciate the Home 1.4 update coming out that will support group chat (yes, voice!) channels for up to 8 (coincidence? friends, anywhere you are in Home, as well as support for Club related channels (this of course besides the support for proximity chat for up to as many people as fit in a personal space or a clubhouse).

With all the load-time improvements and other good progress Home has made (being able to launch any game from there and return being a big one), I'm hoping that more games will at least consider supporting setting up a game from Home, because I actually really like the way that works for the relatively few games that currently support it, and the group chat coming with 1.4 would make it considerably more interesting.

It will also be interesting to see how much this resembles the 16 player text chat channel support that is currently in XMB - there has been a lot of speculation on whether or not this would evolve towards supporting voice chat as well, and the support now in Home could be a final test to see if it works, what the stats are in terms of cost, and if they can add it to XMB.

Ah well, just rambling.

Oh, and great to finally hear Move (and Kinect) come into the podcast. I've been enjoying Move a tonne, and would definitely have gotten Kinect as well if I could have set it up in our livingroom.

PyromanFO wrote:

Mogg pointed out on Twitter that YouTube footage of NBA Elite 11 in pre-release form probably helped get it cancelled.

http://www.sportsorgtfo.com/nba-elit...

"Look at this dude standing there like Jesus."

Who knows how much that video had to do with it, but EA was pushing hard on NBA elite 11 and even announced the downloadable version of NBA Jam as a bonus for purchasing it. Supposedly this was going to be the only way to get NBA Jam on the 360 and PS3. Then the demo came out, then clips like the one in the article above came out, and then the game was delayed and finally canceled. There are supposedly manufactured box copies that got out into the wild, so it seems that they already had some produced retail copies.

During the discussion on difficult bosses, I was surprised no one brought the conversation back to youtube. That's what I do when I hit a rough patch or annoying boss, check out a youtube clip of how to beat it.

There's not much question that if Hoard had been developed by a giant game studio with a whole team focussed on matchmaking, they'd have been better off. But then again, in every XBLA game, I can generally hit the "X" button and then just go invite friends who are logged in. Thats critical functionality for a short pick up and play game.

To expect small developers to write their own matchmaking systems seems a bit silly.

Regarding the RDR DLC. It seems that Rockstar just gets DLC, the mini campaigns for GTA 4 are pretty highly regarded as well, some prefer them to the main game.

I'm tempted because more focused games in Rockstar's Liberty City are a great idea.

Oh, and Shawn's explanation for why the California legislation to limit sales of videogames is a bad thing was the clearest and most logical explanation I've heard. Most people seem to jump to wrapping themselves in a flag and yelling 'FREEEEDOOOOOMMMMM.'

Ooh, email from another Saffer. Nice suggestion regarding boss fights, which are probably my least favourite gaming convention. Progressively increased hand holding is an interesting idea.

"I can generally hit the "X" button and then just go invite friends who are logged in. Thats critical functionality for a short pick up and play game.

To expect small developers to write their own matchmaking systems seems a bit silly."

Well, again, obviously XBL has managed to make it easy enough (and required), so all kudos to Microsoft there. But displaying the friends list and showing friends who are online and/or playing the same game is in the SDK, so I'm still going to blame developers for not implementing it.

Even just supporting the setup the game from Home would have been easy enough - as far as I know, you can define all settings you want to offer in xml and get the information of the users in the 'party' easily passed to you when booting up.

Hopefully now with the new version of Home, developers will consider this option more or Sony will push it further. I think they should - if ever they add the functionality that Home is getting now for cross-game invites (just noticed that is also in there), group channels, club channels etc. directly to the XMB, then it should be easily to reuse that information for Sony to automatically upgrade support for these games to the XMB level. Though if the stuff they've added to Home 1.4 works well, I am actually fine with going into Home for these things, as long as games start supporting it.

I just noticed that the new version of Home is released today/tomorrow by the way. Here is the full list of changes:

http://community.eu.playstation.com/...

Scratched wrote:

On youtube, I think you covered the point quite well of games where the player is in charge, like minecraft, where youtube can't convey the experience as well as of a linear story game. If anything this shows the differences between the mediums, if you can't portray a game as a film, isn't it a sign of a great game? Isn't it the ideal game where the player makes a difference in the world, and their actions make the world, rather than pressing a button to get the next plot point.

There is more to this though and a point in the podcast that made no sense. Looking up some information about a game on youtube means different things for different games. Looking up how to do interact with the environment/system for things for minecraft or a complex flight sim is in effect replacing the function of a manual. The business of the game lies elsewhere in those case (building crazy off the wall madness in minecraft for instance).

But when you look up the solution to an adnventure came of a puzzle game like cut the rope you're not cleverly accessing the unexplained complexity of the game, you're breaking the puzzle. The object of these games is to solve the puzzle, that's where the game bit of such games lies. Just looking up the solution and learning the sequence effectively breaks the puzzle. And sure games have compelling worlds that you want to be immersed in but if you're just going to skip the game why not watch a movie (which is not to say I'm adverse to looking up the solution to really frustrating puzzles)?

Then there is also the sort of looking up that isn't about replacing the manual but more about whethere something is achievable. Maybe you just can't get a specific time on some Mario Kart track. Looking up someone doing it helps encourage you by showing you that it's possible and helps you understand any assumptions you've got wrong. In that case I don't think it breaks the game because you still have to go away and execute what you've seen.

You guys buy everything on XBLA it seems. Do you buy the cards? How do you deal with the points.. I HATE the Microsoft points system, and much prefer the PSN system of paying the dollar amount.

El-Producto wrote:

You guys buy everything on XBLA it seems. Do you buy the cards? How do you deal with the points.. I HATE the Microsoft points system, and much prefer the PSN system of paying the dollar amount.

XBLA has my CC on file, just like PSN has my CC on file. When I need more points, I just buy them with my controller. Yes, it's a little annoying, but its just one or two clicks more.

When Amazon has some crazy sale on points cards (which they do occasionally) I grab them.

rabbit wrote:
El-Producto wrote:

You guys buy everything on XBLA it seems. Do you buy the cards? How do you deal with the points.. I HATE the Microsoft points system, and much prefer the PSN system of paying the dollar amount.

XBLA has my CC on file, just like PSN has my CC on file. When I need more points, I just buy them with my controller. Yes, it's a little annoying, but its just one or two clicks more.

When Amazon has some crazy sale on points cards (which they do occasionally) I grab them.

Aren't the points more expensive buying them on the console, than if you were to buy the cards. I really hate the system because there are always leftover points.

El-Producto wrote:
rabbit wrote:
El-Producto wrote:

You guys buy everything on XBLA it seems. Do you buy the cards? How do you deal with the points.. I HATE the Microsoft points system, and much prefer the PSN system of paying the dollar amount.

XBLA has my CC on file, just like PSN has my CC on file. When I need more points, I just buy them with my controller. Yes, it's a little annoying, but its just one or two clicks more.

When Amazon has some crazy sale on points cards (which they do occasionally) I grab them.

Aren't the points more expensive buying them on the console, than if you were to buy the cards. I really hate the system because there are always leftover points.

I think it's the same price, unless the card is on sale in the store for whatever reason.

Arwin wrote:

Are you sure PSN is to blame for the online in Hoard though?

I logged on to post pretty much the same thing. It was hard to listen to the hyperbolic misinformation oozing out of the podcast this morning (I listen on my commute to work). The onus is on the developer to implement the friend-invite implementation. Other PSN games have it. I have both XBL and PSN and play on PSN if I have a choice (hardware reliability issues, mainly).

Despite the PSN-hate, the banter about Hoard on the podcast sold me on the game. This happens so often with podcasts, where they sell me on a game, I wish there was some kind of "referral code" I could use when making my purchase that would give some kickback to the podcast. Or does that exist somehow with Amazon (etc) selling codes for PSN/XBLA games?

My point is -- in XBLA games, nearly universally, you hit the X button, you invite to game. On the Playstation, every single game's implementation of how you deal with your friends list is unique and different.

Sure, the Hoard team could/should do something on their own to do it better. if they'd developed for Xbox, my sense is they wouldn't have had to. I've had the same horrible party/invite problems with Fat Princess, Calling All Cars, Zen Pinball.

You can call me biased if you want, I just like things that work easily. I actually don't care WHOSE fault it is that Hoards matchmaking is ass. I just know it's almost always easy on XBLA titles and frustrating on PSN titles.

Before this show I had no interest in either of these motion controllers. Now I am seriously curious about the PS Move. You guys make a good point. Before Rock Band, I never sang in front of people or played air guitar. Now I am all in with the rawking. Will the same hold true for dance? Will they be able to put Robby in a corner?

What about Cubs of War? Would they ban cute little bear cubs who just like to roll around in the grass? There is a solution to this hoopla about violent video games, but it would require rational thought, and we all know that most people don't have time for that sort of thing.

I am with the South African fellow on the difficulty of games. The worst part of it for me is when I am playing a game that I am really enjoying, like Darksiders or God of War, and I hit an area that I cannot pass, even after dozens of attempts. That's a quick way to get me to quit playing a game.

The last thing I need is to be shouting at the screen like I did when I was 10 years old playing Ninja Gaiden on the NES. Decades later, I still hate that game.

burntham77 wrote:

The last thing I need is to be shouting at the screen like I did when I was 10 years old playing Ninja Gaiden on the NES. Decades later, I still hate that game.

What makes this worse is watching Ninja Gaiden playthroughs on YouTube of people playing through without dying.

I can't help but be amused that the only people to step up and defend PSN are coffee grinders.

Y'all ain't from 'round here, are ya?

It's not that the podcasters are biased against Sony, it's just that Xbox360 came out first so that's what everyone (GWJer or not) plays on.

(Full disclosure: I have a PS3 but not an Xbox360, and I don't plan on getting a 360 unless someone gives me one for free. So I guess you could call me biased the other way, and you'd probably be right.)