GWJ Conference Call Episode 240

Conference Call

Brink, Age of Empires Online Beta, Mortal Kombat, Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword, Harbingers of Things to Come? Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Elysium, Cory and Rob Zacny tackle a bunch of games and whether or not they're harbingers of things to come. Or it's an game doldrums intervention for Shawn.

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

Brink
Age of Empires Online
Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword
Mount and Blade: Warband
Mortal Kombat

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword - Battle theme - http://www.taleworlds.com/ - 0:33:25

Age of Empires Online - Victory theme - http://ageofempiresonline.com/ - 0:49:26

Comments

Just a minor point but since a few on the podcast weren't sure; SLA stands for "Service Level Agreement".

wordsmythe wrote:
RoutineMachine wrote:

I think that the word "meme" has mutated a bit from its original meaning; and "trope" is kind of cliché.

The definition of "meme" has morphed a bit, but that's the nature of words in a living language—it's the sort of thing that keeps my lexicographer friends employed.

"Trope" wasn't an exciting word when I learned it in junior high English class. Oxford says it's been in use in English since the 16th century. I don't see why we should expect it to be funky fresh now.

Well, I was mostly just trying to be amusing with puns. A cliche can mean about the same thing as a trope; and the meaning of “meme” mutating a bit seems fitting. But less flippantly...

The word meme was specifically coined to emphasize the genetic analogy. If this is what you want to do, then go right ahead. But, in the common usage, the internet meme, it just means a catchy piece of media that’s widely distributed. The word has been overused to the point of people forgetting its original meaning, (and it sure didn’t take long).

Trope isn’t as commonly misused, but I suspect people say, “Trope” when they think, “Cliche” to avoid sounding like a judgmental snob (“hipster”). And the word is a bit of a catch-all. Chances are that there exists a more precise category than “trope” to describe a game trope.

You guys are all up in arms over this "trope/meme" stuff. I'm just shocked people can't tell me and Julian apart.

Demiurge wrote:

You guys are all up in arms over this "trope/meme" stuff. I'm just shocked people can't tell me and Julian apart.

Some people be crazy, no worries-- it's easy for the rest of us to tell you two apart (not sounding alike and all).

Maybe Certis just has a case of pre-E3 ennui.

Demiurge wrote:

You guys are all up in arms over this "trope/meme" stuff. I'm just shocked people can't tell me and Julian apart.

When I started listening I struggled specifically with you two, but that was many moons ago.

Something that just occurred to me about Certis' ennui. Maybe you're just bored of the hyper polished, focus tested AA game? The stuff you seem to have enjoyed the most are either small and quirky (Don't take it personally, The Wager) or large and flawed (Dragon Age 2).

The Witcher was a great game, but even after the Enhanced Edition it was very flawed, and one of my favourite games ever. Even before playing the sequel you would have had to be delusional to think that CDProjeckt RED would pull off a perfect game. Yet I, and it seemed that you, was just about giddy with excitement.

Now I'm playing it and it's a little janky, has some bugs, is beautiful, ridiculously hard and incredibly good. While much better as a game than its predecessor it's still a startlingly original vision, unlike the over tested and streamlined games we are more used to.

Isn't the whole doldrums situation a natural development of the 'medium gets big' phenomenon when capitalism overplays the hell out of successful ideas in any entertainment form? What true lover of the respective art form can stand listening to more than 15 minutes of contemporary radio or watch the latest 'hilarious' teen romp? Once a medium becomes popular it becomes harder and harder to find worthwhile ideas being expressed but when one does find them it's that much better... if you have the patience for it. Finding TV on the Radio and Pinback on the internet was, for me, worth having to listen to Brittany Spears and Nickleback in the store lineups. Gaming - you've really hit the big time.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the word trope. It's a perfectly good word, with a meaning set apart a little from other words. It's more specific than 'theme.' For example, you could say 'theme' but that tends to refer to larger ideas. For example, you'd describe 'daddy issues' as a theme and perhaps as a trope as well. But stuff like 'wise bartender' and 'mexican standoff' aren't really themes, they're better described as tropes. I can't think of a better descriptive word for them. Cliches, perhaps, but they again describes something slightly different.

Here's a genre that I'm feeling pretty fatigued on and I'm wondering if I'm the only one: Zelda games and Zelda-alikes like Darkstalkers, Okami, etc.

I saw the announcement of Skyward Sword and I said to myself, "You know what, I'm done." It looks like a perfectly fine game, but it also looks exactly like the last four console Zelda games I played, and more than a little like the last few handheld ones too. Is that just me? Have I become a bitter and cranky old man?

hbi2k wrote:

Here's a genre that I'm feeling pretty fatigued on and I'm wondering if I'm the only one: Zelda games and Zelda-alikes like Darkstalkers, Okami, etc.

I think you just listed all the games in that genre for the last 5 years. I'm not saying we need more, but it doesn't feel like a glut either.

People just get aggravated with Zelda games because they remain forever aimed at a very broad audience. That's their niche: the combat is easy, the puzzles put a priority on clarity, and the visuals make an attempt at appealing to girls/women. There's a whole contingent of superfans who wish it would turn into Nintendo's Skyrim.

HockeyJohnston wrote:
hbi2k wrote:

Here's a genre that I'm feeling pretty fatigued on and I'm wondering if I'm the only one: Zelda games and Zelda-alikes like Darkstalkers, Okami, etc.

I think you just listed all the games in that genre for the last 5 years. I'm not saying we need more, but it doesn't feel like a glut either.

3D Dot Game Heroes says hi. But yeah, not a whole lot of action in that 'genre'

HockeyJohnston wrote:

I think you just listed all the games in that genre for the last 5 years. I'm not saying we need more, but it doesn't feel like a glut either.

I'm not saying there's a glut, just that I'm fatigued. I think part of it has to do with the fact that the Zelda series proper hasn't really grown or updated itself in any meaningful way since Ocarina of Time. It doesn't matter whether there have been five games in the series since then or fifty: it's still the same game with a new skin, and dangit, I've played that game. They never quite give the genre enough of a rest to make returning to it seem like a fun nostalgia trip, but nobody's really pushing it forward either, even with the sort of incremental changes that you see in a genre that gets multiple installments per year like sports or FPSs.

And maybe that's enough if every time a new installment comes out, they can catch a fresh audience of kids who haven't already played Ocarina of Time over a decade ago. But I'd love it if Nintendo-- or, heck, ANYONE-- were to give the genre the Mario Galaxy treatment. The 3D platformer genre seemed darn near dead when Galaxy came out of nowhere and smacked it upside the head with the Awesome Stick. I think there's still enough life in the old 3D Zelda formula for it to get the same treatment, but nobody seems interested in doing it as long as there's still money to be made rehashing the same tired old OoT formula.

hbi2k, have you played Majora's Mask? I find it to be a significant departure from the Ocarina of Time formula. It was also not a critical or commercial success, or at least not nearly as much as Ocarina of Time, so Nintendo seems to have decided that it's not a direction the series should explore further.

You mean the game with the same controls, same combat and puzzle-solving mechanics, and same ASSETS as OoT, except that every few hours it resets all your progress? Yeah, I played some of that one. I also quit the first time I had to do an entire dungeon over again to get something I missed the last time I'd cleared that dungeon. So no, not exactly the direction I want the series to go in. When I say I want the genre to move forward, I mean I want it to IMPROVE, not take the exact same formula and layer an infuriating and pointless mechanic on top of it.

Now, Four Swords Adventures, that was an interesting twist on the formula. I could go for another one of those, preferably with a multiplayer component that you could actually get the stuff together to set up more than once per decade.

Arguably, it's been the same game since Link's Adventure. Similarly, we have arguably only been playing the same FPS since Doom with small, non-essential modifications.

Sometimes, you're just done with a genre and you need to give it a rest. I played Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, but I have no desire to seek out any of the Zelda adventures on DS. I'm done with that game until Skyward Sword.

I have a lot of friends who really like Brink, most of whom own Team Fortress 2. Glad to hear someone else in the world enjoys it for as much as the press hates it.

Holy crap, someone else whose played Daggerfall!!!! Man was that game glitchy but man I loved it.

Yeah I'm pretty tired of standard shooters too. I'm more fascinated by interesting takes on FPS games like Mirror's Edge, Zenoclash, or Portal 2. I think Deus Ex will be my only FPS game I purchase this year. Strangely enough I don't know what platform to get it for. I feel like I should default to PC as I do with most games (Fallout 3, Mass Effect, etc) but I just can't decide. Any insight into that developer? Skryim for instance I'm going PC for the Bethesda mod community.

At the same time, I don't like being the popular kid. I like popular things but I like having that unique experience that not everyone necessarily enjoys. I also can't play the same type of game all the time anyway.

As for the industry, there are always places to improve but as is there is at least one game a month coming out that I want to purcahse (Deus Ex, Infamous 2, Catherine, Batman, Uncharted 3, Skyrim, etc). Add a stack of games at home that I haven't got to yet and I'm pretty happy. If I had to ask for one thing, it would be for crazy Japanese RPG's to go to an HD platform. If that ever does happen I hope it stays unpopular as I'll never have time to play more than 1 every half year. On the other hand, I never would have beaten Tactics Ogre had it not been on handheld. OH! I would love to see a return of games like Master of Magic and Masters of Orion. And Star Control 2 (although that's kind of Mass Effect).

Also, I get really annoyed when a game doesn't come with Steam. Seriously Bioware, fix it!

I thought Nocturne was really fascinating on a religious and mythological basis, you just have to have a billion hours free to play it. And I'm talking about the Shin Megami Tensei one, not the weird PC Batman-esque adventure game from way back when.

I promise not to type this much every episode!