GWJ Conference Call Episode 232

Conference Call


Dragon Age 2, A Little Shogun 2, Rock Band Pro Guitar, Soren Johnson Talks Dragon Age Legends, Facebook Games Going Legit, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Julian, Cory and Lara are joined by Soren Johnson. He's been working on Dragon Age Legends and now he's spreading the gospel of good games on Facebook.

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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Dragon Age 2
Shogun 2
Dragon Age Legends
Rock Band Pro Guitar

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Dragon Age: Origins - Tavern Bowl - http://dragonage.bioware.com/dao/gam... - 0:30:10
Dragon Age: Origins - The Circle Tower - http://dragonage.bioware.com/dao/gam... - 0:58:35

Comments

wordsmythe wrote:
kyrieee wrote:
I think that facebook game you guys talked about sounds disgusting. "Pay if you don't want to play the game as much", "pay if you're not patient enough", "look, some eucker spent 99$ on it, haha!". Why didn't you guys call him on that? The goal of the game design is to add annoying elements that you either have to pay or promote the game to get around. It's not designed to entertain gamers, it's designed to exploit them. Like I said, I was disgusted.

So you want us to go back in time and burn everyone making hint guides, cheat codes, Game Genies, and arcade cabinets that give you extra lives for inserting more coins?

Maybe the arcade makers. It would have saved me a hell of a lot of money as a teenager (tying this to your loathe of suburbs: what else was there to do?).

Gravey wrote:

Maybe the arcade makers. It would have saved me a hell of a lot of money as a teenager (tying this to your loathe of suburbs: what else was there to do?).

Spoiler: Skip to 4:37.

Gravey wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
kyrieee wrote:
I think that facebook game you guys talked about sounds disgusting. "Pay if you don't want to play the game as much", "pay if you're not patient enough", "look, some eucker spent 99$ on it, haha!". Why didn't you guys call him on that? The goal of the game design is to add annoying elements that you either have to pay or promote the game to get around. It's not designed to entertain gamers, it's designed to exploit them. Like I said, I was disgusted.

So you want us to go back in time and burn everyone making hint guides, cheat codes, Game Genies, and arcade cabinets that give you extra lives for inserting more coins?

Maybe the arcade makers. It would have saved me a hell of a lot of money as a teenager (tying this to your loathe of suburbs: what else was there to do?).

Three other options:
1) Drugs
2) Vandalism
3) Practice until you are half as good as Neil Peart.

Listening to the conversation about DA: Legends got me wondering about how the business model works for a set of related games for a given IP. Can one title be funded by another? And more specifically, would a company like EA be more willing to develop a niche game if the risk could be hedged by a series of related releases on mainstream platforms like Facebook? Games like DA: Legends seem a lot like merchandising options are to other media. It would be great if they encouraged game companies to develop games they might have otherwise rejected for fear of financial failure.

I tend to be skeptical about the idea that profits from any mass-appeal product directly benefit the creation of a product of niche appeal. Companies, big and small, tend to follow the money.

Case in point: Runic makes Torchlight and says that they want to put the profits from it toward developing an MMO. Torchlight sells pretty well and makes them a pretty good amount of money; rather than turn directly around and start their MMO project like they had originally planned, their next two projects are porting Torchlight to another platform and a direct (non-MMO) sequel to Torchlight that addresses the biggest complaint about the first one (lack of multiplayer), and the Torchlight MMO is put on the backburner.

I'm not saying the Runic guys were dishonest; I'm sure that at the time they said it, they sincerely believed that if Torchlight was a success, they'd put all the profits toward the Torchlight MMO. Funny, though, that when it actually happened, they took the path of least resistance when it came to re-investing their profits.

(Not that I'm complaining, either, you understand: I'm at least as interested in TL2 as I would have been in TLMMO.)

Likewise, companies might say with the best intentions in the world that they intend to use browser and mobile games to fund more ambitious, more niche projects, but if the browser and mobile stuff turns out to be more profitable, why wouldn't they stay where the money is?

I'm just speaking in generalities here. In the specific case of Dragon Age, I haven't seen any indication that the Facebook game is/will be any more profitable in itself than the core franchise on console/PC. If it makes back its development cost and does its promotional duty for its daddy game I'm sure they can call that a success.

On Torchlight, I'm not sure if TL2 is them not being as confident in TLMMO as it is them taking two smaller steps to it rather than one big step, or perhaps making TLMMO with Perfect World is more complex than they first thought, and they need more time, but they also need cash flow.

Yeah, I think the path of least resistance makes the most sense for Runic. Cut their teeth developing some small multiplayer before investing whole hog in an MMO, as dangerous a market as video games has (and free-to-play no less); make the relatively easy port for console gamers to bank roll future developments. What sense could it ever make for a small independent studio with developers' histories like theirs to take the path of greater resistance?

And who loses in this route? Xbox gamers who get to play a fantastic port? PC gamers who get an interim modern take on Diablo II co-op? Potential MMO players who can stave off a developer possibly biting off more than they can chew? I think everyone wins in this reassessed and cautious path Runic has chosen.