GWJ Conference Call Episode 234

Conference Call

Crysis 2, Pro Guitar Lessons, 3DS Updates, MoW Cherry Poppin', An Interview With Sword & Sworcery Creator Craig Adams, Dragon Age 2 Spoiler Section After the Credits, Your Emails and more!

This week Cory, Julian Elysium and Shawn catch up on some games and emails. Julian sits down with Superbrother's Craig Adams to talk #swocery and after the credits, Karla, Rob and Shawn spoil the heck out of Dragon Age 2!

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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CastMedium
Game Thing Daily
Good Old Games

Sword & Sworcery
CollisionEffect
Nintendo 3DS
Dragon Age 2
Men of War: Assault Squad
Partial Objects
Rock Band Pro Guitar

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Sword & Sworcery EP - Dark Flute - http://www.swordandsworcery.com/music/ - 0:31:13

Sword & Sworcery EP - The Prettiest Weed - http://www.swordandsworcery.com/music/ - 0:53:17

Comments

Whoa this episode is loooooo

Spoiler:

edit: Phew, 1-hour spoiler section. For a moment I was afraid I wasn't going to get any work done the entire afternoon.

ooooooooooong.

That's two weeks in a row where Rabbit says the 3DS graphics are basically Nintendo catching up to the PSP. Am I mistaken for thinking they're way, way beyond what the PSP has to offer? If you look at a shared title like Pro Evolution Soccer, the PSP runs it like a PSX 1.5 game, while the 3DS version looks like a slightly lower res Gamecube/Wii game.

I feel you on the cartridge thing though. I'm like a little kid carrying cartridges around, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

Whoa this episode is loooooo

nossid wrote:

ooooooooooong.

If you don't play Dragon Age II or Sword and Sworcery, it's a very short episode.

Last week I didn't bother looking into Sword and Sworcery because the descriptions left me baffled (and I also have no way of playing it). When the interview started in this episode absolutely nothing was making sense, so I went and watched a couple videos. Interesting looking game, though I will admit I ended up skipping the rest of the interview. Seems like something you need to experience before you can get a lot out of it. Even after watching the videos, I was still being confused by some of the talk about. Alas ...

Slumberland wrote:

That's two weeks in a row where Rabbit says the 3DS graphics are basically Nintendo catching up to the PSP. Am I mistaken for thinking they're way, way beyond what the PSP has to offer? If you look at a shared title like Pro Evolution Soccer, the PSP runs it like a PSX 1.5 game, while the 3DS version looks like a slightly lower res Gamecube/Wii game.

I feel you on the cartridge thing though. I'm like a little kid carrying cartridges around, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I wouldn't say you're mistaken, but I don't agree with you. It's an incredibly subjective thought, though. Easier to say that the 3DS has better graphics than the DS.

And to my eye, neither the 3DS or the PSP can pull off Infinity Blade-level visuals.

Ha ha I listen to the spoilers for Dragon Age 2 but haven't played the game. By the time I play it I will have forgotten it all. Ha ha Baron wins again.

I just wanted to say thanks for the way the GWJ podcast handles spoilers. Putting spoilers after the credits makes it incredibly easy to avoid hearing them. Too many podcasts do something stupid like saying "Fast forward 30 seconds if you don't want to hear this" then injecting spoilers into the middle of the episode. You can't always get to the controls fast enough when they pull that.

Seeing as how Dragon Age 2 isn't on my list until after they release the Ultimate_Final_Game_of_the_Year version and it goes on sale cheap, I appreciate not having my gaming several months in the future preemptively spoiled.

Elycion wrote:

I just wanted to say thanks for the way the GWJ podcast handles spoilers. Putting spoilers after the credits makes it incredibly easy to avoid hearing them. Too many podcasts do something stupid like saying "Fast forward 30 seconds if you don't want to hear this" then injecting spoilers into the middle of the episode. You can't always get to the controls fast enough when they pull that.

Seeing as how Dragon Age 2 isn't on my list until after they release the Ultimate_Final_Game_of_the_Year version and it goes on sale cheap, I appreciate not having my gaming several months in the future preemptively spoiled.

Amen, brother. I hate when podcasts do that. Often, they say fast forward 30 seconds and talk about said spoiler for 5 minutes. I'm also waiting for the cheap Ultimate_Final_Game_of_the_Year version, and I'm looking forward to coming back to this episode after that.

Just so you guys know, DA2's gotten cheaper where I am, so it's probably cheaper in your locale as well. In addition, until April 30, buying and registering a PC copy of Dragon Age 2 allows you to DL Mass Effect 2 as well.

A lot of the negativity around Dragon Age 2 seems to be about the lack of control Hawke has over the world.......but that's my FAVORITE aspect of it all.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, sh*t happens in life that you just can't stop. Hawke was extremely influential but not King/Queen of Canon.

For me, I'm okay with that.

EDIT:

And, as always, definitely enjoyed listening to Carla's impressions from the game as they're more unique and interesting than those I typically speak to about DA.

I must admit, AUD$1.19 gaming on my Apple device is the best thing to happen to me in a long time.

The last Nintendo device I bought was a GBA-SP. I still love to load up Castlevania on it once in a while (when I can find the cartridges), but the ease of using the app store, and the 'no brainer' price point make it the go-to platform for portable pile-ware.

At AUD$1.19, US$0.99, it's like having a permanent steam sale in your pocket.

+1 from me too on the spoiler handling. I wanted to keep listening because I really love the way you guys discuss the medium, but my better judgement (and the end credit theme) gave me enough time to switch to an older podcast to scratch that itch.

Glad you guys appreciate that format. I do remember a few times where we/I have pulled the skip forward 30 seconds guys, and it never really works out well. I much prefer doing the after show spoiler sections, it lets us just have a more natural conversation about the game at hand.

This is not a comment on anyone in particular but I would just like to point out the language used when discussing the gay possibilities in DA2 and the possibility of other games. Your use of words 'normal' and 'regular' to describe not gay acts reinforce what you think about it (ie that gay = abnormal/irregular).

I don't hold any of you responsible for it since society has programmed you to use that language, even I do it! I just thought I would give you something to think about should you like to.

SWTOR will break sales records... ya might slump afterwards but those sales will be crazy.

ranalin wrote:

(insert MMO name here) will break sales records... ya might slump afterwards but those sales will be crazy.

That's been a trend for a while though.

I'm not even confident the Star Wars brand can make it immune to what happened to other big names such as Lord of the Rings or Warhammer. I can't honestly think of any major difference EA/Bioware have going for them.

harrisben wrote:

This is not a comment on anyone in particular but I would just like to point out the language used when discussing the gay possibilities in DA2 and the possibility of other games. Your use of words 'normal' and 'regular' to describe not gay acts reinforce what you think about it (ie that gay = abnormal/irregular).

I don't hold any of you responsible for it since society has programmed you to use that language, even I do it! I just thought I would give you something to think about should you like to.

Nicely put.

harrisben wrote:

This is not a comment on anyone in particular but I would just like to point out the language used when discussing the gay possibilities in DA2 and the possibility of other games. Your use of words 'normal' and 'regular' to describe not gay acts reinforce what you think about it (ie that gay = abnormal/irregular).

I don't hold any of you responsible for it since society has programmed you to use that language, even I do it! I just thought I would give you something to think about should you like to.

I was under the impression that Elysium was at pains to elucidate that his use of 'normal' wasn't a 'normal sex' vs 'gay sex' point, but more about 'here is the sex part of the game' and over here is the 'normal part of the game' - and that distinction was made precisely because of the point you raise (I understand you aren't criticizing Elysium specifically).

This is not a comment on anyone in particular but I would just like to point out the language used when discussing the gay possibilities in DA2 and the possibility of other games. Your use of words 'normal' and 'regular' to describe not gay acts reinforce what you think about it (ie that gay = abnormal/irregular).

I actually noticed it in the discussion we were having as well. I took it, as I think you did, as an unintentional function of the language we've operated in for years, and not poorly intended at all, but I was even more disturbed when I heard myself slipping into this kind of division even as I was very specifically trying to make the point that it should be seen as just a part of any component of character development.

I was under the impression that Elysium was at pains to elucidate that his use of 'normal' wasn't a 'normal sex' vs 'gay sex' point, but more about 'here is the sex part of the game' and over here is the 'normal part of the game' - and that distinction was made precisely because of the point you raise (I understand you aren't criticizing Elysium specifically).

This is what I was trying to say, but I also really do understand how words like normal and regular even on the periphery of a discussion about sexuality become highly charged.

Scratched wrote:
ranalin wrote:

(insert MMO name here) will break sales records... ya might slump afterwards but those sales will be crazy.

That's been a trend for a while though.

I'm not even confident the Star Wars brand can make it immune to what happened to other big names such as Lord of the Rings or Warhammer. I can't honestly think of any major difference EA/Bioware have going for them.

I agree that TOR will sell boat loads and wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being the highest selling Bioware game to date.

For subscriptions going forward, who knows, that ultimately is the true test of the game. If TOR doesn't measurably ding Blizzard's market share nothing will.

Anecdotally, I do know many, many, people who are planning on switching from their current MMO (including WoW) to the Old Republic. People did stand in line for 10 hours to play the game at PAX East.

I want to address the email about critical analysis. (1:15:25)

I know a lot of people aren't equipped to write or appreciate academic-level artistic criticism of games (nor, as Sean says, do many games seem to expect that sort of criticism), but I also know that these discussions do exist in rarified blogs and academic portals. I don't mean Kill Screen (wonderful though they are), which seems to occupy a middle ground between consumer reviews and critical analysis.

To a couple movements that you specifically mentioned:

For feminist analysis (as well as gender theory, queer theory, and intersectionality), you should be following The Border House and Not Your Mama's Gamer.

I don't know that I've seen much in terms of Marxist theory, but Ian Bogost's classic look at Animal Crossing should be required reading.

You might also find critical theory popping up at Paste's games section, Pop Matters' "Moving Pixels" column, and in the links at Critical-Distance.com (disclosure: I'm an editor at C-D), which gets cross-posted at Gamasutra as "The Week in Game Criticism."

As for Shawn's advice to read Partial Objects, I would throw in Overthinking It.

Or you could just follow my shared items on Google Reader/Buzz. PM me if you need a link.

EDIT: I'll let Ely speak for himself. He's good at it.

Oops. I killed it.

wordsmythe wrote:

Oops. I killed it.

But in a good way, really! It'll take me a while to get through those links, and I can only speak for myself.

wordsmythe wrote:

You might also find critical theory popping up at Paste's games section, Pop Matters' "Moving Pixels" column, and in the links at Critical-Distance.com (disclosure: I'm an editor at C-D), which gets cross-posted at Gamasutra as "The Week in Game Criticism."

I will admit to relying on Critical Distance for a lot of my gaming reading. Makes it a lot easier than keeping up with the bazillion blogs and sites I use to.

Elysium wrote:

I actually noticed it in the discussion we were having as well. I took it, as I think you did, as an unintentional function of the language we've operated in for years, and not poorly intended at all, but I was even more disturbed when I heard myself slipping into this kind of division even as I was very specifically trying to make the point that it should be seen as just a part of any component of character development.

It was a massive coincidence that I had taken an 8 hour work-break from the podcast at the very moment you were explaining this. All I remember is you were saying something before I paused and I had lost the context when I later continued

wordsmythe wrote:

Oops. I killed it.

No, it is neat that you brought it up. I got an overview course of literary theory back in the days which included Marxist and Feminist theory*, and what that helpt me achieve above all was a birds-eye view of how you can approach any written work, or indeed any art-form (in the loosest sense of the word). At the center you have the work of art, with on the left the author, on the right the reader, and a big circle around all of it representing the world.

The work of art is created by the author, and the world outside the author filters into the work of art through the author. The reader consumes the work of art, but apart from the context provided by the work of art itself, the world outside the reader will always filter in through the reader when reading that same work of art.

One of the more important things to realise therefore is the final part of this 'basic map' is a dotted line that signifies the time-barrier, drawn through the center of the 'world', right through the work of art. There can be a, sometimes considerable, distance in time between the world that the author lives in and the world the reader lives in.

If you want to completely understand the full meaning of a work of art, you need to take all of this map into account. So, when you look at any type of literary theory, I think it is always helpful to first identify where it fits in this map and to identify which areas of the map are being explored, and, crucially, which are left out of the picture altogether. Very often, literary theories develop out of the sense that there is an area of the map that either the previous dominant literary theory left unexplored, or has been left unexplored by the whole body of literary theories up to that point.**

In the end, the purpose of the map is to help put into practice Derrida's distinction between the word (significant) and its meaning (signifiee), and most effictive use of it typically involves looking at the low level text (words, grammar, style) and then bring in the higher level bits of the text (the author and the world s/he lived in) to resolve ambiguity as much as possible (and warranted).

There is no question that all of this can be used to understand the art and beauty (or social importance and technical merit) of games as well. However, the difficulty for the relatively young medium of games is that the low-level theory is highly underdeveloped in the areas that make games unique (interactivity) and complex in where the medium borrows from others (as games use text, sound, music, drawing, animation, etc., so you have to know at least the basics of all of those).

* I also did a full course on Feminist theory when I was an Exchange student at Stockholm University
** There's a universal truth at play here that extends far beyond just literary theorists.

As for the rest of the podcast, although I typically listen to everything, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Rockband 3 is a favorite topic for me if you look at comments for the recent Pro Guitar article ;).

Although I play several guitars and other stringed instruments, I would be the last to state that you are better off using the cash on guitar lessons.

Disregarding advanced music theory for the moment (various scale types, chord theory, inversions, etc.), let's put things into perspective:

What Rockband 3 doesn't teach you:
- how to hold your guitar properly
- your wrist position and technique
- finger placement
- holding your pick
- moving your thumb versus your wrist or even arm when picking
- the virtue of up vs downstrums
- how to do effective bends

What Rockband 3 does offer:
- giving you a path through individual songs, by offering easy modes through to the full song, with training modes to help hone in on the difficult parts
- practice to perfection
- give endless and super precise feedback on timing and placement mistakes
- give endless amounts of encouragements and competition to keep you going

Now I don't know if this goes for everyone, but the parts that rockband doesn't teach you to me were only a tiny, tiny fraction of the time that goes into learning to play and the effort into keeping yourself going. I would definitely use Rockband 3 as a teacher whenever I could, for getting students to put in the hours of practice required is the hardest (and most boring) part there too.

It is almost like that bit on literary theory I wrote: people overestimate the importance of what isn't there, and it is the same with 'real musicians'. I'm not sure if it was in a previous GWJ podcast or a different one (listen to a tonne of them, could have been Weekend Confirmed), but focussing on the negative parts of a game in a review can also really give a wrong perspective on the importance of those negative parts.

harrisben wrote:

This is not a comment on anyone in particular but I would just like to point out the language used when discussing the gay possibilities in DA2 and the possibility of other games. Your use of words 'normal' and 'regular' to describe not gay acts reinforce what you think about it (ie that gay = abnormal/irregular).

I don't hold any of you responsible for it since society has programmed you to use that language, even I do it! I just thought I would give you something to think about should you like to.

Sean addressed this already, but thanks for pointing this out.

I liked Dragon Age Origins so much, I bought it twice. The first time via retail, the second time via Steam.

Perhaps the reason that game critique has not reached the level of movie critique is because of time involved? In 50 hours, I can watch and write about dozens of movies, or I can have one play-through of Dragon Age II.

I enjoyed Dragon Age II very much, but the ending left me feeling a little flat.

The perfect Dragon Age game would take some elements from the second one (the "junk" feature in the inventory, faster combat, better animations) and merge them with the first game. A second play-through of DAO after finishing DA2 only serves to reinforce that opinion.