GWJ Conference Call Episode 245

Conference Call

Child of Eden, Duke Nukem Forever, Death Rally, Homefront, Game Review, Special Guest John Davison, Your Emails and more!

This week Cory, Julian and Allen are joined by Metacritic and Gamespot VP John Davison to talk about the state of game reviews, the minds of readers and more!

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

John Davison Daily
Child of Eden
Death Rally
Duke Nukem Forever
Candy Train
Six Gun Saga

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

We Ride By Night - Ian Dorsch - http://www.willowtreeaudio.com - 0:21:44

Samarra - Ian Dorsch - http://www.willowtreeaudio.com - 0:41:41

Comments

LarryC wrote:

This also goes for games like Muramasa, the Demon Blade. I know of no reviewer or review article that played that brawler on Shura, which was the setting Vanillaware recommended. On Musou, the game's so easy that it loses all of the technical aspects of the brawling, which is basically like setting life bars to infinite in Street Fighter. Shura itself is pretty damn easy as technical brawlers go; most reviewers said that it would be really tough to play through it. None of them collected all 108 swords, which is necessary in order to truly finish the game.

How long does it take to "truly finish" a game like that, and how much do you expect a reviewer gets paid?

Beyond that, what percentage of players do you expect to "truly finish" such a game?

It would take about 26 hours - same time to finish a game like Mass Effect, as an example. Few gamers finish games of any sort. That said, I think that the number of gamers who finished Muramasa is a high percentage of those who played it. It's not a story sort of game. You play it because you like technical brawling, and over a few months of playing it on and off, you will eventually finish the game.

LarryC wrote:

It would take about 26 hours - same time to finish a game like Mass Effect, as an example. Few gamers finish games of any sort. That said, I think that the number of gamers who finished Muramasa is a high percentage of those who played it. It's not a story sort of game. You play it because you like technical brawling, and over a few months of playing it on and off, you will eventually finish the game.

Alright, so say it's 26 hours. How much do you think the writer should be paid for their work?

The problem with voice control for the new ME game is that when you say the line the game just doesn't continue on. The problem isn't that character than says something different (although that is rather stupid) the problem is that if I say the line into the mic than I have already said what I wanted! Move on! I am speaking for the character at the point, I don't need them to say something else. I want the character to respond to what I just said.

So, I'm going to agree with the Julian hater here -- anyone who paid me to review SFIV would be an idiot. However, it's unlikely I'd ever be given such a review, nor would I take it. In fact, I don't write reviews at all, period. I've done previews for genres where I feel I have a solid track record and a deep understanding (even if I suck), but even for something like an MMO, no reviews for me.

Does this mean I don't think non-experts should write about games? Absolutely not. In fact, I really, really appreciate it when an outlet goes out of their way to post "second opinion" review snippets on a game. A lot of you know I love strategy games (enough that Zacny and I do a whole nother podcast on them at ThreeMovesAhead.) But one thing we run into there all the time is that we're SO far down the rabbithole, we're not good advocates for NEW strategy gamers.

To me, the ultimate reviewer -- in the buying-guide sense -- is someone JUST LIKE ME. I don't really need to read a review of the next Madden from some guy who lives Madden. I need to read a review of the next Madden from a 45 year old dad with limited time who likes football and has put time into madden every third version off and on since the dark ages. If that guy (whomever he is) says "this is the year to jump back in," well, that's useful to me.

Similarly, if I (god forbid) wrote a review of SFIV, I think it would be useful really only to folks in my shoes -- gamers who like fighting games, but aren't particulary good at them or deeply versed in every character since SFII. But would my thoughts be useful to someone who'd been waiting patiently with a picture of Ryu on his wall? Of course not.

rabbit wrote:

Does this mean I don't think non-experts should write about games? Absolutely not. In fact, I really, really appreciate it when an outlet goes out of their way to post "second opinion" review snippets on a game.

I take issue with many things about Game Informer's reviews in general, but the second opinion reviews they post are something I have always really appreciated. I wish more outlets could do this, but few can afford the time or resources that would be necessary to make it feasible.

wordsmythe:

I think it would be fair to pay that writer the same wage paid to the writer who reviewed Mass Effect, and about half the amount paid to the writer who's expected to finish Final Fantasy XIII.

Re: rabbit:

Julian hater calling in. I agree with Julian, and I like how he puts a nice nuance to it. The prospective reviewer should be in line with what the concerns of his target audience would be. Specifically, what kind of gamer or purchaser would be interested in reading his material in relation to buying or appreciating the game?

I don't think it's worth a guy's time or a reader's time to devote a full page rationale on why Dora The Explorer: Snow Princess isn't going to be appropos for teenaged males. Anyone who can see the cover already knows that. Rather, the review should focus on what's likely - a gamer in his situation who might want to buy Dora the Explorer for his kid sister or a young friend, with special emphasis on the interests of that age category.

Special mention of perspective here. I'm sure a 5 year old reviewing a fork and a socket would find those items extremely interesting and would highly recommend them to other 5 year olds, but it's not appropriate for an adult to endorse the same thing for children's entertainment.

I generally like the media coverage of the BlazBlue games and MvC3. There's an attention there for gamers who are all gaga about fighting games; but true to the nature of those games, there's coverage for casual fighting fans and total newbies who just like to button-mash.

Still waiting for a reviewer to come along who really understands what it's like to be a lonely paranoid dictator... Would anyone else really understand how transcendently sublime Populous was for me??

Chairman_Mao wrote:

Still waiting for a reviewer to come along who really understands what it's like to be a lonely paranoid dictator... Would anyone else really understand how transcendently sublime Populous was for me??

"The Grand and Supreme Dictator has really mellowed out recently. Instead of immediately executing dissidents, he just banishes them to that low-lying village next to the dormant volcano. I really think he's beginning to loosen up."

TheHipGamer wrote:

Even if Microsoft's Kinect tech somehow made that issue go away, is the goal we are running at in our RPGs really to feel like we are playing an online multiplayer shooter? I suppose that might be in line with Bioware's latest offerings and efforts, but it's not the experience I am looking for.

Nope, because online MP shooters generally do a horrible job of making you feel like part of a squad.
It's supposed to make you feel like a bad ass space hero in charge of an eclectic squad of other bad-asses.
Mass Effect is likely achieve squad-ness before any MP shooter.

RolandofGilead:

If that's true, then online shooting's not progressed very far from ten years ago when I tried it and proclaimed it leagues behind LAN game shooting. Something as basic as Counterstrike 1 back then was able to achieve squad-like play, with designated spotters, snipers, assault specialists, map strategy, and positional tactics. I haven't played a squad in a while, but I presume TF2 is even better in that regard, presuming you're playing in a community or locally.

I'm firmly in the camp that's skeptical about any progress Kinect can make in the Mass Effect experience, especially when that progress requires me to tie my shooter into a dual analog control scheme.

RolandofGilead wrote:
TheHipGamer wrote:

Even if Microsoft's Kinect tech somehow made that issue go away, is the goal we are running at in our RPGs really to feel like we are playing an online multiplayer shooter? I suppose that might be in line with Bioware's latest offerings and efforts, but it's not the experience I am looking for.

Nope, because online MP shooters generally do a horrible job of making you feel like part of a squad.
It's supposed to make you feel like a bad ass space hero in charge of an eclectic squad of other bad-asses.
Mass Effect is likely achieve squad-ness before any MP shooter.

I had that experience with Terra Nova. I definitely did not feel it with either Mass Effect.

A Levine version of Duke Nukem? That is a really good idea. Gearbox, are you hearing this?

Despite the flaws, I enjoyed my play-through of Duke Nukem Forever. It is surely not a 60 dollar game, but as a budget title I think it does deliver the "shoot that thing in the face" fun.

Reviews are a good way to gather data and perspectives, but I say just buy what you think you will enjoy.

I was kind of surprised when I listened to this today about the response to Child of Eden. I haven't really played it yet, but I purchased it, so this has me a bit worried. I liked Rez, but I didn't necessarily need more Rez. And I really didn't need harder Rez.