GWJ Conference Call Episode 223

Conference Call


Ghost Trick, 1960: The Making of the President, Sly Cooper HD Remake, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Remake, Just Dance, Favorite (and Hated) Game Mechanics, Your Emails and more!

This week Cory, Lara and Allen talk about some of their favorite (and most hated) game mechanics.

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!

Sponsor

CastMedium
Good Old Games

Ghost Trick
1960: The Making of The President
Sly Cooper
Prince of Persia HD

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

When I Grow Up (Just Dance 2 Trailer) - Pussycat Dolls - http://www.pcdmusic.com/ - 25:15

Tell Me a Story (Compendium Mix) - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 57:0

Comments

The counterpoint to the 'Moms watching Dead Space' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jC-P...

I couldn't disagree more with the criticism of the star-collecting mechanic in the Mario Galaxy games, especially the first one (I felt they backpedaled a little on this SMG2, one of the few ways in which I liked the second less than the first). I loved the way it opened the game up and allowed you choose what you wanted to do next in a totally non-linear fashion, while still retaining a general sense of progression in which the easier levels are available sooner than the harder ones.

The stars aren't really collectibles in the sense of hidden objects that you have to explore the world to find: you get them by playing the game, which presumably is something you enjoy doing or you wouldn't be, y'know, playing the game.

What bugs the crap out of me are collectibles in the Banjo-Kazooie sense, where you get dropped into this fairly open 3D space and then have to search for X number of Dumbass Tokens before you're allowed to move on to the next level. Inevitably I wind up with [X-1] tokens, wandering through the same area I've already explored a million times searching for that last one that's hiding just off-camera or behind a tree or something stupid like that, bored out of my skull. This is the opposite of fun, and if developers can't think of a better way to entice me to explore an entire 3D level rather than just running along the shortest possible path to the exit, then they can get shot out of a cannon at a brick wall.

(Side Note: This is also why I could never quite wrap my head around why Psychonauts has gained such a cult following, since from what I recall of the couple hours I put into it when it first came out, it was just that same terrible gameplay formula with a coat of Tim Burton-colored paint slapped on it and slightly worse gameplay. Tim Shafer and Double Fine are great for writing dialogue and giving each game a unique aesthetic. What they really need is to pair up with one of any number of developers who can design a decent-playing but unimaginative by-the-numbers type game and get locked in a room with them until between the two of them they can make something that's clever and unique AND actually plays decently.)

Lara and Alan must not be big into RPGs if they want dialog trees that DO NOT lock you into long term consequences. Bioware-style dialog trees are great for immersion precisely because your actions have real consequences.... just like in life.

Also, people who game the system by replaying dialog trees over and over to get "the best result" are missing the point, IMO of course.

AndrewA wrote:
Lara and Alan must not be big into RPGs if they want dialog trees that DO NOT lock you into long term consequences.

There are more RPGs in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your single-choice dialogue trees.

KaterinLHC wrote:
AndrewA wrote:
Lara and Alan must not be big into RPGs if they want dialog trees that DO NOT lock you into long term consequences.

There are more RPGs in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your single-choice dialogue trees.

Okay fine: story-driven RPGs.

Was "Nixon's back" a sound clip? That was awesome, Lara.

[insert form letter professing hatred for the Meat Circus level in Psychonauts]

Sincerely,

Lostlobster

Man, I really want Ghost Trick. Damn country doesn't stock PW 3 anymore, but 1, 2, and APOLLO JUSTICE are in my top ten of all time.

I think we got the name of the thread wrong here. It should be:

GWJ F***in' Conference Call Episode 223

Jayhawker wrote:
I think we got the name of the thread wrong here. It should be:

GWJ F***in' Conference Call Episode 223


Yeah, sorry about that. We can do better.

Demiurge wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:
I think we got the name of the thread wrong here. It should be:

GWJ F***in' Conference Call Episode 223


Yeah, sorry about that. We can do better.

It actually didn't bother me at all, as I assure you, I couldn't do better. I'm kind of an F-Bomb machine. I just found it really funny.

So what does Ajawa(mumblemumble) actually mean then? I'm still confused.

Is it stress? Or a small, wooden boat?

El-Taco-the-Rogue wrote:
So what does Ajawa(mumblemumble) actually mean then? I'm still confused.

Chairman_Mao wrote:
Agita

How old do you have to be to consider "My mom doesn't like it" to be a selling point? And Dead Space 2 will be rated M, so if EA is respecting that (I know) then how wide is that intersection (17 and older, still care if parents provoked)?

And didn't we already have this exact same conversation with Dante's Inferno? Thanks again, EA marketing.

McChuck wrote:
Was "Nixon's back" a sound clip? That was awesome, Lara.

Aroooo!

I loved Lara for saying agita (heartburn in Italian), because it reminded me of my crazy Italian side of the family. But then it also reminded me of why I can't return to the summer vacation spot of my youth and I was sad. Thanks, Jersey Shore.

Gravey wrote:
How old do you have to be to consider "My mom doesn't like it" to be a selling point? And Dead Space 2 will be rated M, so if EA is respecting that (I know) then how wide is that intersection (17 and older, still care if parents provoked)?

And didn't we already have this exact same conversation with Dante's Inferno? Thanks again, EA marketing.

Your parents will hate this game!*

*(Childrenunder17shouldseekparentalpermissionbeforeplaying.)

Bah, I was going to retract that post because I realized I couldn't care less about DS2 or marketing, but now you've quoted me and condemned it to posterity.

I was going to replace it with this, hopefully much more interesting and constructive, post (but I obviously took too long writing it):

One of my favourite game mechanics is Thief's core reliance on sound. Great sound design is one thing, and not something to be dismissed either—Battlefield Bad Company's expansive and bombastic soundscape with their non-stop orchestra of gunfire and explosions echoing across huge expanses (and respecting that whole "sound is slower than light" thing!), or the bustling audio of an Assassin's Creed city with heralds' voices echoing across the buildings, blacksmiths' anvils ringing through the crowds, breathing life into the public space. Thief took it not one but two steps further: in the first step it deepened the world for the attentive listener, and in the second it meant the difference between success and failure for the player.

Sure, Thief has notes and other texts scattered around to be read like so many games' backstory collectibles. But there are also the in media res dialogues and monologues of each mission's characters that elevate them from discrete levels to lived places, each one a window into a larger world that exists around the game. A priest's resentful mutterings about the incompetence—incompetence!—of his colleagues hints at weakness in the dominating church; a tired guard can't wait for his shift to end; an aristocratic fop is incensed he wasn't invited to the big party (or was he?); two rival groups of guards argue about each others' employers. All of these exchanges and more shed light on different facets of the world or story of Thief, humanize the NPCs, and bring the world, a world larger than Garrett and the player's role in it, to life. But only if you're paying attention—which of course you have to be.

Because the actual mechanic of sound in the game is as important to the player's success as the visuals (and better realized, from a technical standpoint). The propagation of voices, yawns, or hollow groans that indicate the presence and distance of unseen enemies, the echo of approaching footsteps that alert the player to a guard that may soon spot him, these sounds populate the level and fill out the gamespace as surely as what's on the monitor does (this is abetted by the deliberately vague maps). He also has to pay continual attention to his own speed and even the surfaces he's traversing so as not to make too much noise that a nearby guard might hear, or make sure he has the arrows to mask or divert. And hopefully he isn't tricked into picking up something heavy. In a game that's seemingly about paying attention to the shadows, Thief actually monopolizes the player's hearing as much as his sight. With these senses so focused on the game, and the tension inherent in Thief's other mechanics, immersion, that holy grail of video games, is total.

Warehouse levels? I keep thinking of Rise of the Triad. Wasn't most of that game set in warehouses?

Tanglebones wrote:
Warehouse levels? I keep thinking of Rise of the Triad. Wasn't most of that game set in warehouses?
And it was GREAT! People knew how to use warehouses back in the early-90s before the FPS glut. It was a simpler time, where people weren't afraid to put teleporters in any situation, regardless of how ridiculous it was.

PyromanFO wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:
Warehouse levels? I keep thinking of Rise of the Triad. Wasn't most of that game set in warehouses?
And it was GREAT! People knew how to use warehouses back in the early-90s before the FPS glut. It was a simpler time, where people weren't afraid to put teleporters in any situation, regardless of how ridiculous it was.
You know what game mechanic I miss? Gibs.

So has anyone else experienced the same sound issues with the Prince of Persia re-releases on PS3 that Lara mentioned?

Demiurge wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:
I think we got the name of the thread wrong here. It should be:

GWJ F***in' Conference Call Episode 223


Yeah, sorry about that. We can do better.

Don't apologize. Be proud! The last time I checked, this was a podcast by adults, for adults. Nothing wrong with using a few adult language words here and there. Like Jayhawker said, it only proved to enhance the enjoyment of the show.

More swearing than a Ken Levine episode, that's quite an achievement. And personally I'm fine with that.

KaterinLHC wrote:
McChuck wrote:
Was "Nixon's back" a sound clip? That was awesome, Lara.

Aroooo!

May death come swiftly to his enemies!

Headless body of Agnew approves this message.
IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/lGuF5l.jpg)

El-Taco-the-Rogue wrote:
So what does Ajawa(mumblemumble) actually mean then? I'm still confused.

Is it stress? Or a small, wooden boat?

IMAGE(http://www.rocketfettscollection.com/swchpics/jawa.jpg)
?

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2003) can be played on the PC and it looks nice! I finished it recently and apart from the jerky face animations I found it very pretty (but I can't compare it to the recent HD-upped version of course as I don't have current console). But you absolutely must play it with a gamepad it is just so much better. The platforming is fun, the combat goes from unbearable to annoying and I did not notice any audio weirdness. It's a great game and you can run it on pretty much any PC nowadays.

Oh and re hated game mechanics: Jumping puzzles in FPS games need to die a fiery death! I'm looking at you, Half Life series! If I can't see my feet, jumping to a certain point in front of me is pure guess work. Hate it hate it hate it!

Jayhawker wrote:
I think we got the name of the thread wrong here. It should be:

GWJ F***in' Conference Call Episode 223

Kind of glad I turned it off after the first f-bomb then.