GWJ Conference Call Episode 235

Conference Call


WWE All Stars, The Hunter Revisited, Don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story, Pro Gaming, Would We Play Non-Action, Non-Puzzle Games?, Official International Goodjer Day Announcement, Your Emails and more!

This week Julian, Cory, Elysium and Shawn imagine games that don't require shooting, puzzle solving or any of the usual game mechanics. We also announce the date for International Goodjer Day, 2011!

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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WWE All Stars
The Hunter
Don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story
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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

The Hunter (atmosphere) - http://www.thehunter.com/pub/ - 0:27:52

Starcraft 2 Terran Theme - http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/ - 0:47:37

Comments

I'm super skeptical of the idea that smartphones can actually push down the price of portable games beyond puzzlers. Touch interfaces and sharing battery life with my phone are downsides that I don't see getting much better.

Demiurge wrote:
demonbox wrote:
I know that there are some iphone games that have depth (Civ Rev, Monkey) but there are few. I dont know if the difference is the platform or the storage that a cartridge can afford, but at this point I think it's impossible to gloss over the fact that there is a difference in the types of games available.

You raise a good point. Just because I want the physical media to go away doesn't mean I want the complexity of the game to drop. And you're right, a lot of iPhone games are not meant to be played for 20+ hours.

I think you both make some excellent points. I have been an iPhone owner/gamer for nearly 4 years now, and I've had some great gaming experiences on it. Games like Tiny Wings, The Creeps, Plants vs. Zombies, Auditorium, Helsing's Fire, Space Miner, and Game Dev Story have given me little reason to complain about IOS gaming. More recently, Infinity Blade and Swords and Sworcery have given me a glimpse at the possible future of IOS gaming. These are great games. I've dumped dozens of hours into some of them. The convenience of having them all on one multi-purpose device cannot be overstated.

2 weeks ago, I talked myself into getting a 3DS. This is my first DS system, so I have been catching up on a lot of the DS games I've missed over the past several years. Between games like Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, Dragon Quest IX, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, and New Super Mario Brother's, I have had zero interest in picking up my iPhone for gaming outside of a 5 minute break standing in line for something. There are very few comparably deep gaming experiences on the iPhone. Games like Mario and Castlevania could be put on an IOS device, but I wouldn't want to play them there. Buttons and Dpads matter for some games. Dragon Quest IX and Ghost Recon: SW could easily be made on an IOS device, but they are not. For years now, we've been hearing about the potential of these smartphone platforms to outdo anything the DS and PSP can do. Technically, they can, but talk is cheap. I'm sure I'm in the minority in this regard, but I want deeper portable experiences, and right now, those experiences (with rare exceptions) are on the DS and PSP.

That said, I can't argue with Cory's points about digital distribution and physical media. The cartridges are a hassle and undoubtedly drive up the price.

On my Motorola Xoom, the only games that get play time in my house are Angry Birds, Tower Raiders, and Robo Defense. I am hoping to see official versions of Peggle and PvZ soon. Sadly, Android 3.0 gaming is pretty limited at this point, at least in terms of quality titles, from what I have seen.

I think the last time I cared about a wrestling game was something on the NES that had a green guy who chewed on people's heads.

Having dialog choices that all lead up to the same battle should have some kind of effect on the battle depending on what you pick. Maybe the monster uses a different set of a tactics depending on your choices? For example, try to reason with it and it will use mostly defense abilities, but piss it off and it will go all out with offensive skills. Something like that would give at least a little meaning to these so-called choices.

"First of all, I am married, which means… he's right." Somewhere Bob Hope is smiling.

In response to whoever wrote in wondering what to do with old games that have little or no monetary / Goozex value, I work at a library, and that is absolutely a great place to donate old games. Lots of libraries have teen video game nights (usually on older, donated systems), but even if yours doesn't, libraries have employees whose only job is to process donated items and make sure that anything they can't use gets into the hands of someone who can. The library where I work typically passes along donated items that aren't fit to be added to the catalog for whatever reason to children's hospitals, juvenile detention centers or prisons, senior centers, rec centers, etc. That goes for movies, audio CDs, casette tapes, random pieces of electronica, and video games as well as books. If absolutely nothing else, they'll make sure that anything electronic (systems, cartridges) gets disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Outlandish Beats wrote:
People gave you crap over liking Zenbound?! Zenbound is amazing! The mechanic is like NOTHING I've ever seen before and that alone is applaudable. But it also rubs a basic relaxation sector of the mind (or at least my mind) that enjoys wrapping things in string. Then ties the whole thing together *snicker* with a solid puzzle element. Easily one of my favorite iOS games.

I may be alone in this, but I feel that it's actually a slightly troubling mechanic to enjoy. Maybe it's the name: Zen is much more about unwinding and releasing than winding and binding.

Vargen wrote:
I think it's possible to turn a FPS into a good spectator sport. The catch is the levels would have to be designed with camera and spectators in mind. That would add another whole layer of complexity to the level designer's job. I'm not sure if it's worth the extra effort, especially since there's a good chance designing for spectators would compromise the quality of the gameplay a bit.

See also: attempts to change NFL rules to make the sport more "spectator friendly."

Late to the party, but...

Regarding non-action/non-puzzle games. Personally I have always wanted to see a good game where exploration is the central focus. A game like The Hunter say, without the weapons. One where I could wander around, find hidden glades or waterfalls or whatever. Maybe an evocative ruin or two. Just someplace to explore. Minecraft falls into this category easily, but I've had fun in lots of Bethesda games (Elder Scrolls/Fallout) or the STALKER series ignoring the plot and quests and just wandering around the landscape to see what I could find.

Another game that came to mind was an old 1980s game called Portal. No, not the game with the orange and blue circles, this was an interactive fiction type game. You played an astronaut who had returned to Earth after a century-long interstellar journey to find the human race gone. Cities were slowly falling into ruins and the like but there was no sign of anyone or of what happened. You then discover a working terminal and slowly start piecing together the history and events of the century you have been gone. You search news reports, encyclopedia entries, emails and the like. Eventually you find out what happened. Again, this was an exploration based game, except this time you were exploring what was essentially the Internet (though they call it something else in the game; this was the time when AOL and CompuServe ruled). (Here's the Wikipedia entry on Portal if anyone is interested.)

Does anyone know of any games that could properly be called "exploration" games?

tanstaafl wrote:
Another game that came to mind was an old 1980s game called Portal. No, not the game with the orange and blue circles, this was an interactive fiction type game. You played an astronaut who had returned to Earth after a century-long interstellar journey to find the human race gone. Cities were slowly falling into ruins and the like but there was no sign of anyone or of what happened. You then discover a working terminal and slowly start piecing together the history and events of the century you have been gone. You search news reports, encyclopedia entries, emails and the like. Eventually you find out what happened. Again, this was an exploration based game, except this time you were exploring what was essentially the Internet (though they call it something else in the game; this was the time when AOL and CompuServe ruled). (Here's the Wikipedia entry on Portal if anyone is interested.)

Does anyone know of any games that could properly be called "exploration" games?

That description of Portal vaguely reminds me of Cosmology of Kyoto, which has the dubious distinction of being something Ebert actually liked.

Demiurge and Dyni, you raise good points.

It seems to me the limited nature of ios games are likely due a few possibilities:

1) the limitations of the device
2) the limitations of delivering a game through a phone network
3) the perceived nature of what the audience wants

The limited nature of development time plays into option 3) the perceived nature of what the audience wants. There is less time put into development as a formula for how much can be recouped by a title on ios (what people want and what they will pay). The pick up and go nature of the device can’t be overlooked. However, if games with depth aren’t made then this can’t really be tested. I would offer, however, that it is possible to strike a medium (a game like Clash of Heroes is something I would throw as a mid-point).

I don’t know how much the hardware is a limiting factor to games with more depth (again, talking DS level depth, not a major console). As well I don’t see that the phone network need to be a major factor in terms of delivering software to a device, but it is possible that the distribution becomes limited when it has to fit through a cell network (it can’t be assumed that everyone will be on wi-fi at time of download).

Anywho, interesting conversation—just making some guesses.

It has to be a download. Space is an issue.

I have a game called Kudos that is a very zen game. You play a young person living through your life. You are trying (if you want) to make friends, have money to do things, stay healthy, keep your house clean, and is kind of like Sims but you don't move around. Its just a menu that is your apartment. The music as much as the simple mechanics is very zen-like and hypnotic. I always stop playing after a few hours though, because I feel like I'm wasting my life by playing a non-eventful game in which all I do is waste my life working and sleeping, and not doing much with my "friends" because I don't have enough money...like in real life.