GWJ Conference Call Episode 244

Conference Call

LA Noire, Terraria, Six Gun Saga, Candy Train, Frozen Synapse, E3 Thoughts & Reactions, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Julian, Rob Zacny and Rob Borges react to E3 and think about what it all means. Julian and Rob Zacny also take indie darling Terraria to Pain Town.

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
Game Thing Daily
Good Old Games

Terraria
LA Noire
Frozen Synapse
Candy Train
Six Gun Saga

  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Subscribe with RSS
  • Subscribe with Yahoo!
Download the official apps
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android

Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Terraria - Daytime music - http://www.terraria.org/ - 33:29

Mass Effect 2 The Sound of the Galaxy OC ReMix - http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02037/ - 1:15:51

Comments

Some more info on the Wii U's alleged tech specs have been revealed. The GPU is based on the R700, which the Radeon 4000-series cards were based on, and it supports directx 10. The CPU is something similar to what is used in the Watson computer, which is more advanced than the PS3's Cell processor, but no clockspeed has been announced. RAM is probably embedded in the CPU, but the amount isn't known.

Not sure how much this matters, but the disc format is proprietary with capacity up to 25GB. I would guess it supports DVD, but a machine that can output 1080p yet doesn't play Blu-ray discs seems odd. Probably to fight piracy though.

http://www.dailytech.com/Report+Proprietary+Disc+Format+AMD+GPU+Found+in+New+Wii+U/article21901.htm

Essentially sounds like it could be about 1/2 to 1 generation ahead of the Xbox/PS3' tech.

Forget it, Rob. It's L.A. (Noire).

But you're absolutely right. I really appreciated Red Dead Redemption's pastiche (to be appreciative) and like Sean/Shawn said, if you're going to crib, crib from the best. At least here's one of the few games whose cinematic influences (to borrow a PR phrase) are broader than Lord of the Rings/Aliens/Star Wars.

I read through the article you linked to, Mao, and I found one really weird tidbit:

A final item of interest is that the 6.2-inch touchscreen controller will be capable of output [sic] 1080p graphics via an HDMI connection.

That's... really bizarre. I'm having a hard time thinking of a use case in which one would want to plug a console into one TV, so that it could wirelessly stream a second video picture to a touchscreen controller, which could then be plugged into a SECOND TV which would presumably just mirror the image that's being shown on the controller.

I mean, I suppose an extra feature in the toolkit is never a bad thing, but I really don't see why it would be worth the trouble and expense to include it. But maybe I'm just dumb and there's some super awesome reason why you'd want to do that.

As far as the disc format goes, I imagine they didn't go with Blu-Ray because they wanted to avoid paying a licensing fee to use the technology, similar to the way Wii discs are really just DVDs that have been tweaked juuuuuust enough to avoid the patents on that format. It also strikes me that the maximum size of a dual-layer HD-DVD is 30GB: it's possible the new format is a variation of the HD-DVD standard, as IIRC HD-DVDs were slightly cheaper to manufacture.

hbi2k:

If you have two HD TVs, you can attach the Wii U to one, and then remove to the other using the controller as a source output without having to move the console, assuming that the primary HD screen is unavailable for some reason.

Why the Conference Call continues to try to equate handheld gaming to smartphone gaming is beyond me. The two remain completely different beasts. It's like trying to compare browser gaming to PC gaming.... there is almost no common ground.

Yes, for god's sake, watch Chinatown already!

As a fellow Rob, this episode was somewhat painful for me to listen to.

What I'm taking from this is that they really need to make more Blade Runner games.

wordsmythe wrote:

What I'm taking from this is that they really need to make more Blade Runner games.

IMAGE(http://www.gonemovies.com/WWW/Pictures/Pictures/BladerunnerLeon.jpg)

Regarding Certis and his love for Nier:

Have you listened to the Big Red Potion podcast discussing the finer (and perhaps more meta concepts) of Nier? It's interesting listening.

wordsmythe wrote:

What I'm taking from this is that they really need to make more Blade Runner games.

If they made more Blade runner films how would that make you feel?

I'm only about ten minutes into the podcast, but I have to say that the "negative" discussion of Terraria makes me want to play that game more than I've ever wanted to play Minecraft. Even if the enemy design and combat mechanics are lacking, it appears to have an element of tension that seems to be completely absent from Minecraft.

And I understand why Minecraft -- which I think is interesting and cool in a very specific way, but incredibly overrated in broader gaming discourse -- is designed that way. At this point in its development, Minecraft is a construction game that thrives on collaboration and persistence to enliven the creations that emerge from it and introducing any substantial aspect of antagonism would only get in the way of its most expressive mechanics. But that lack of tension also robs the game of an arc or a possibility for deeper engagement; it results in an environment where the primary player dynamic is building crazy, wacky things Just Because You Can, where engagement never quite crosses into any sense of "investment" in the engagement hierarchy. Even though it invites player creativity in a way that most games never bother to even touch, it still ends up "just" being sugary, diversionary fun to me. (Which, for some people, may be exactly what they're looking for.)

As for Terraria, some of that tension may couched in a somewhat monotonous set of interactions, but repetitious gameplay doesn't bother me, as long as it's building toward something. I don't mind click-spamming through combat in dungeon crawl games like Diablo, as long as the challenges of that combat are framed within an overall struggle of attrition/survival/progression through a hostile environment. I don't mind button-spamming through encounters that ultimately boil down to simple tactical exercises in JRPGs like Final Fantasy, as long as the tactical options are interesting and/or the battles are training my understanding of my party's abilities for grander conflict down the line.

And I guess that's the big question: does Terraria actually build that tension towards some kind of satisfying release? Julian didn't seem to think so (though he stopped after a couple of hours of play) and there doesn't seem to be any kind of narrative conceit driving the player toward some sense of resolution either. But the systemic breadth of the game -- platforming, combat, and building with the same environment -- makes me want to find out.

DanB wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

What I'm taking from this is that they really need to make more Blade Runner games.

If they made more Blade runner films how would that make you feel?

You're not helping. Why are you not helping?

Wow, Julian almost made me hate gaming this episode.

In re indies at E3: If Bastion hadn't made a splash at PAX I think you would've heard a ton about it at E3. Now it's part of the Summer of Arcade and had banners on buildings, but before PAX no one knew anything.

And I think Certis undersold From Dust a bit. We had seen a bunch of footage before, but they were actually showing gameplay now. We now know it as a game.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

I'm only about ten minutes into the podcast, but I have to say that the "negative" discussion of Terraria makes me want to play that game more than I've ever wanted to play Minecraft. Even if the enemy design and combat mechanics are lacking, it appears to have an element of tension that seems to be completely absent from Minecraft.

...

And I guess that's the big question: does Terraria actually build that tension towards some kind of satisfying release? Julian didn't seem to think so (though he stopped after a couple of hours of play) and there doesn't seem to be any kind of narrative conceit driving the player toward some sense of resolution either. But the systemic breadth of the game -- platforming, combat, and building with the same environment -- makes me want to find out.

I'm glad you took this away from the discussion. I totally see why this game would fascinate people, and you articulated a lot of what I was trying to get at when I explained why the Minecraft comparison was a flawed one.

My concern is that most later enemies seem to have more hit points but are not more complicated or interesting than the slimes you kill at the start. I kind of wish the game require more evolution of technique. I'm too impatient with the game's core processes to want to put much more time into it, but I know that other people could find them rewarding. Definitely worth a look for $10 if it sounds like your bag.

AndrewA wrote:

Why the Conference Call continues to try to equate handheld gaming to smartphone gaming is beyond me. The two remain completely different beasts. It's like trying to compare browser gaming to PC gaming.... there is almost no common ground.

I agree. I buy handhelds because my phone doesn't give me Super Mario. I guess phone games are great for those who just enjoy "playing video games" as an abstract concept without any care for which game they are playing, but I like certain games, not "video games" in general. And those certain games, 95% of the time, are a lot deeper than Angry Birds.

If I had to choose between Super Mario and Angry Birds... I'd choose Super Mario. There aren't enough Video Games with a capital "V" on mobile devices to pose a threat. When Insomniac starts making Uncharted for iOS, then it'll be an issue. But I feel like phone games are still only when-there-is-no-other-choice gaming.

I think it's also important to remember that handhelds get a lot of use at home as well, because you can play them in any room, sitting any which way. So I really don't understand the I-won't-carry-two-devices-with-me argument because personally, most of my handheld gaming happens either in/around a hotel, cottage, or at home. These are places where I do have the choice between phone or handheld, and I choose handheld 95% of the time.

People buy consoles for the games, and handhelds will only fall by the wayside once phones offer the same experience.

I think you guys are missing the point of the Wii U altogether. You mentioned several times that the system is "not for you". The possibilities that come with the new control mechanism aside, which of the following points sounds like something that is not "for you".

1. Owning what would be the most powerful gaming console on the market at the time of its release by a stretch, boasting a graphics card based on last gen Radeons vs 360's weak even for 2005 gpu. And if this is released next year, Nintendo will probably have a two year lead on their competitors in the race to the next gen. If you think games still look good on 360, wait until you see how the same cross platform games can perform on a more powerful system. We could be potentially talking Dreamcast vs ps1 level differences eventually. There would be no reason to still play on the 360 at all, unless you are married to your gamer score/Halos.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/wii-u-graphics-chip-based-on-last-gen-radeons-will-support-directx-10-1/

2. Playing high fidelity first party Nintendo games. I don't think I need to add anything to that.

As far as the possibilities with the Wii U controller (or whatever it is called), again, I really think you are missing the potential this thing has. No it can't do all the things an iPad can do. That's because it isn't a tablet, it's a game controller with a screen. Nintendo never mentioned playing your entire game on said screen, its meant to be an accessory for developers to use to come up with new and interesting gameplay mechanics that weren't possible before. Even something as mundane as managing your menu or looking at a mini map would be a great use or even picking your play in Madden, once they inevitably allow for multiple Wii U controllers on the same system.

Bold prediction: This system will come out at a very competitive price. I'm thinking 250, and Nintendo will still be making money or breaking even on their console out of the gate because that is just how they roll. God knows those components will be cheap by the time the system is released.

AndrewA wrote:

Why the Conference Call continues to try to equate handheld gaming to smartphone gaming is beyond me. The two remain completely different beasts. It's like trying to compare browser gaming to PC gaming.... there is almost no common ground.

Not sure I buy that. iOS is clearly evolving as a gaming platform far beyond anything "phone" related. The install base is just over half phones, the rest is touch's and ipads. Are the experiences different? Sure, but I'd argue thats entirely a design issue. There's nothing magic about playing games on an iPad that make them "smartphone" games. And I'm sorry, I'm just not going to dismiss things like Civ Rev or Infinity Blade or DeadSpace or Fifa 12 or Guardian of Light as 4 minute time wasters. Most major game studios are now seeing iOS as a core platform for their big IP, not as a puzzle game wasteland.

Of course there are games that will always only be on one system or another. The iOS doesnt have tactile control scheme, but has monster connectivity. The DS has 2 screens. and 2 cameras. The Vita has -- all that stuff it has.

But to suggest that somehow they aren't in competition because half the IOS base is "smartphones" is denying the current reality of game development. Have you seen shadow gun?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSuN9...

Please watch that footage and tell me why this isn't a real gaming platform?

Sorry to rant, but really, it's where the money is, it's where the market's headed. Single-use gaming handheld platforms are, I think going the way of the dodo. Doesn't mean they don't morph into something that looks a lot more like an iPhone over time, but in the real world, I still believe iOS is winning out.

LizardKing wrote:

1. Owning what would be the most powerful gaming console on the market at the time of its release by a stretch, boasting a graphics card based on last gen Radeons vs 360's weak even for 2005 gpu. And if this is released next year, Nintendo will probably have a two year lead on their competitors in the race to the next gen. If you think games still look good on 360, wait until you see how the same cross platform games can perform on a more powerful system. We could be potentially talking Dreamcast vs ps1 level differences eventually. There would be no reason to still play on the 360 at all, unless you are married to your gamer score/Halos.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/wii-u-graphics-chip-based-on-last-gen-radeons-will-support-directx-10-1/

While I agree with what you're intending, I think you're being a bit hyperbolic. The graphics card is a step up form the PS3 and 360, but it's only a step up in pc generations (read: a year), not what we would normally see in console generations.

We don't know enough about the processor and ram to make any judgment calls other than the Wii U will be able to run 360 and PS3 games and they can look somewhat better. That's all we really can say.

Dreamcast vs. PS1. No way. Graphic fidelity doesn't move like that anymore.

LizardKing wrote:

Nintendo never mentioned playing your entire game on said screen, its meant to be an accessory for developers to use to come up with new and interesting gameplay mechanics that weren't possible before.

They did, actually. When Certis mentioned this he was referring to the ability for the Wii U to stream the game to the controller while someone watches something else on tv.

garion333 wrote:

While I agree with what you're intending, I think you're being a bit hyperbolic. The graphics card is a step up form the PS3 and 360, but it's only a step up in pc generations (read: a year), not what we would normally see in console generations.

You're off by a few years. The xbox 360 graphics card is based on the radeon X1900 series of gpus circa 2005. The 4xxx series of cpus, one of which will power the Wii U, started manufacturing in 2009. If you compare a PC game in early 2005 to one in late 2009, there is a huge difference graphically. Whether or not it is similar to that between PS1 and DC is in the eye of the beholder, but it is still a significant difference.

garion333 wrote:

They did, actually. When Certis mentioned this he was referring to the ability for the Wii U to stream the game to the controller while someone watches something else on tv.

Point taken, I missed that part of the Nintendo Conference I guess. I agree, this doesn't sound like something I would use either. I still feel like they were a bit dismissive of the things that could be done with the controller because they were so busy focusing on the things it can't do.

While the debate about the new gaming systems real or imagined is fun, the bottom line is I know that I will end up owning each one of them anyway so the debate is rather pointless to me. It's fun though!

rabbit wrote:

Have you seen shadow gun?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSuN9...

Please watch that footage and tell me why this isn't a real gaming platform?

My favorite part of the video is the last few seconds, where the player and the enemy stand in the same place and just fill each other with bullets. Movement through the virtual gamepad is so unresponsive and tedious that the player is encouraged to stand still and fire.

The iOS gaming market may be expanding, but that doesn't mean that all experiences are moving over there, or that the expansion of that market will render the platforms that deliver those "richer" experiences irrelevant. There's room for everybody, I think.

AndrewA wrote:

Why the Conference Call continues to try to equate handheld gaming to smartphone gaming is beyond me. The two remain completely different beasts. It's like trying to compare browser gaming to PC gaming.... there is almost no common ground.

Rabbit does a more thorough job of explaining this, but as a gamer who owns both, I can state that my Iphone has mostly replaced my DS. There are plenty of deep gaming experiences to be had on the platform, and for cheap. It's only the occasional piece of DS-specific software that gets me to even charge the thing.

(My GF loves to play Sudoku on it, though).

rabbit wrote:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSuN9...

Please watch that footage and tell me why this isn't a real gaming platform?

Mobile devices will absolutely continue to be successful, and will one day take a big chunk from the adult handheld market, but I don't feel it's there quite yet. I think the 3DS and Vita will be successful, and they will gain momentum before mobile devices are powerful enough (and cheap enough!) to deliver Shadow Gun-power to all age groups and income brackets. After that sure, iOS will be where it's at.

(handhelds won't disappear though, especially for that pre-mobile device 8 to 14 group.)

PS I'm excited to see more inspired game design than Shadow Gun (which I think should be renamed Third Person Shooter: The Video Game). It's a good demonstration of the tech, but... man. Those controls and those every-other-video-game aesthetics just don't do it for me.

pronounced vee-tah, not vigh-tah

AndrewA wrote:

Why the Conference Call continues to try to equate handheld gaming to smartphone gaming is beyond me. The two remain completely different beasts. It's like trying to compare browser gaming to PC gaming.... there is almost no common ground.

Tell that to my daughter that has decided she wants an iPod touch instead of a 3DS or whatever Sony is pimping. I had disagreed with Julian about this before, but I am seeing it for myself now.

And my new Windows Phone has eliminated any need for a DS or PSP for me.

One quick correction: the PSP is outselling the 3DS, but only in Japan. In fact, the PSP is outselling all of the consoles there too, as of late.

The NPD numbers for May, which weren't available when the podcast was recorded, gives the 3DS the apparent lead in the portable market...with an estimated total of 97,000 units. (eek.) So, Nintendo does have the lead in North America, though it's not exactly a commanding or encouraging one.

OzymandiasAV wrote:
rabbit wrote:

Have you seen shadow gun?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSuN9...

Please watch that footage and tell me why this isn't a real gaming platform?

My favorite part of the video is the last few seconds, where the player and the enemy stand in the same place and just fill each other with bullets. Movement through the virtual gamepad is so unresponsive and tedious that the player is encouraged to stand still and fire.

This was clearly thought through by the designers, since the first enemy encountered was announced by a mini cutscene. I imagine they playtested and discovered that the player died too often trying to figure out where the bad guy was, so they added the cutscene and probably carefully chose spawn locations to be in locations the character was guaranteed to be facing (the end of a corridor, for example). I think iOS is definitely a gaming platform, but FPS games are very much not its forte.

I wasn't holding it out as a finished game, or defending FPS on it (haven't played a FPS on my DS I like either). My point was -- it's a high end gaming platform. It, like the DS, just has a different control scheme, which makes it good for some things and not for others.

LarryC wrote:

hbi2k:

If you have two HD TVs, you can attach the Wii U to one, and then remove to the other using the controller as a source output without having to move the console, assuming that the primary HD screen is unavailable for some reason.

I suppose that's a possibility, although I question whether that many people actually have two HDTVs at their disposal within the thing's range.

Of course, we also don't know what the thing's range is yet either (Nintendo has been cagey when asked), but it still strikes me as a rather specific situation.

LizardKing wrote:

[After the WiiU's release] there would be no reason to still play on the 360 at all, unless you appreciate a functional and pleasant online experience.

FTFY.

Nintendo hasn't specified their plans for their online gaming network, but didn't Iwata (or maybe it was Reggie) essentially own up to screwing up online in the past and promise to deliver a better online experience? Maybe they will under deliver, but to assume that their future service will be neither functional nor pleasant is being presumptuous.

Besides, grownups do their online gaming on PCs. [/sarcasm]. But honestly, my 360 is in the closet collecting dust at this point. There are few must have exclusives and most things play and look better on a capable PC. Plus the steam deals. If you are a patient gamer who likes to buy a lot of titles, PC gaming will pay for itself over time.