GWJ Conference Call Episode 246

Conference Call

Shadows of The Damned, FEAR 3, Dungeon Siege 3, SPAZ, LA Noire, Special Guest David Heron, Changing the Direction of The Industry, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Elysium and Cory are joined by returning guest David Heron to talk about how to shape the future of games and a ton of new releases!

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!


Game Thing Daily
Good Old Games

Dungeon Siege 3
Shadows of The Damned
Cross Country Canada
Space Pirates and Zombies

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Track 1 - Shadows of the Damned - - 51:40

Trailer 1 - Space Pirates and Zombies - - 1:17:22


Still listening to the podcast, love the show as always, great discussion regarding the concerns for the future of the Industry. Just had to post something quick while it's still in my mind.

The main think I get from David Heron is (or at least my reaction to it is): games cost too much money to make. That seems to be the crux of it.

That risk drives both development and marketing decisions. The negative part of that is that because "money men" are risking large sums of money even for "mid tier" games now, they want the big pay off of the AAA sales figures. To be fair, one might say that they need the AAA pay off to justify the large investment, but either way everyone ends up chasing the same dollars, with games that become increasingly similar. But the market doesn't buy dozens of the same games, it buys the best and/or the lucky few. So while some have success, most just end up throwing themselves head on into a brick wall. Which is the industry as a hole. This further increases the risk (lowers the chances of success/payout) which makes the decision makers even more risk averse, and so the product homogenizes even more, further reducing chance for success, until we have this vicious cycle. EA isn't making money, so they are making "less games" now, on the face of things that sounds like a good idea. Less quantity = more quality, right? But who do you think the games that are left standing are gonna be? - the least risky ones. Which ironically ends up being the ones that cause the most problems when (as the majority do) they "miss" with the market.

A troubling way to look at it. Fine for gamers at the moment (we can just play the creme that rises to the top), but bad for development and the industry, which ultimately will hurt gamers in the long run.

The only way out I personally can see, is to reduce the cost of making games. It's something that always sticks with me: as technology improves humans are supposed to become more efficient, ie. to more, faster, cheaper etc. Yet games are costing more to make, and getting harder. So maybe the industry needs to focus on how to improve the "art" of making games. (Not just better developer tools, but making the entire process more efficient). Eskil Steinberg (maker of LOVE the quasi-mmo that Elysium mentioned) posted on this on his website a while ago, and it was an interesting read.

Rather then focusing on higher res textures that require legions of artists (outsourcing can only work so long), we need to find new ways of making the games we love that don't require astronomical budgets. The indy space kinda does this, but they cheat by using the same process just on a smaller scale. If a small team of 10-15 people could make classic games 25 years ago, shouldn't that same amount of people be able to make a substantially improved game after 25yrs of technological improvement?

Just my thoughts anyhow. Now back to enjoying the show.

MannishBoy wrote:

So I game on the main screen, and keep Vent open in the second along with tweetdeck, email, and media player.

So it's not so much about playing a game on the second monitor, it's just for everything else.

Right there with you, I felt like the guys didn't really respond to what that email was asking.

Having 2 monitors just lets you keep an eye on all the other stuff you have running on your PC whilst gaming, it's handy for Vent and similar voice comms (especially if you don't know everyone's voices and you get visual queues when a certain person speaks), MSN, browsers etc.

It's invaluable in a game where you're looking at tips or a quest walkthrough or something to have it open and viewable on the second screen rather than flicking back and forth or looking to a laptop/ipad.

I also have various PC monitoring desktop widgets on my second screen - very handy when overclocking your video cards for example to see how they're performing or how hot they're getting.

I am with Shawn on the whole games before spouse while drunk thing. The married folks understand.

"Salma Hayek is totally likeable." According to Google image search, that is correct. Wow.

One game play element that I hate in all games is dodging. This is especially true in hack and slash games like DS3 or God of War. I just want to wade into my enemies and spill their blood. I just want to smash faces. I like a game that gives me that choice to be defensive, via blocking and dodging, or offensive, via relentless attacks.

I have two monitors at home (one 24", one 20") and it is handy, but I have to admit I am finding that the second monitor gets in the way more often than not. What I plan to do at some point is to replace the 24" with a 30", ditch the 20" and replace that with a middle of the road laptop. That way I can dedicate my entire system to the one big monitor, and have the laptop for looking things up with playing, as well as gaming on the go.

Most Canadians are huddled near the America border like an army about to invade. Don't think we Americans haven't noticed you hosers. Sitting there with your tuques and your back bacon and your snow.

Fellow Aussie chipping in on the gouging at the Retail level.

In the olden days, they used to blame costs on localisation. This may still be the case.

We are part of the PAL territory, which includes England and Europe. Because European games can have instances of being localised for 5+ different languages, English, German, Spanish, Italian, etc (I don't know, they're all the same place aren't they Elysium? ) we get to 'share' that localisation cost. We then add into the equation shipping from one side of the world to the other, usually to Sydney, then this is distributed again across our 'wide brown land' (not a euphemism, but it should be).

To give you an idea of distance, Perth to Sydney is meant to be the same as London to Moscow, so not a cheap operation by any means. I think our NZ friends then get it thrown across the pond, they get charged again, and their dollar is weaker in exchange rate, so it gets cranked up a notch again.

I have a US XBLA Account which I use from time to time, with some regionalised MSPoints I picked up off eBay, and I have a reliable importer from the UK that specialises in shipping to Australia and NZ. Anyone down here interested, PM me, and I'll give details, not shilling or connected to the company, just sharing the love, (and allowing us some spare change so we can buy our Vegemite sandwiches).

Great podcast as always.

Finally got to listen to the show and thanks for reading my email - woohoo! Just to be clear, I wasn't asking whether games are educational - of course they are, h/t Jim Gee - but which games made with the intent to educate / enlighten / "make a point" are Good Games in their own right?

Civilization, I assume (edumacate me if I'm wrong), was made with the primary intent of earning a profit. Oregon Trail was made with the primary goal of, er, I think it was to teach people about cholera? Of course you've got games with both goals, just as there are George Clooney flicks with both goals - check out Fate of the World, for example.

Speaking of which, while the flat market of iOS / XBLA / PSN does allow a kid in the basement to make the next Minecraft, you really need to consider how much more critical marketing becomes in this environment. If there are 1,000 good games out there, the one with the best marketing wins. And that means the startup game team of today is really just a miniature version of the big dev teams, with "the suit" already at the table (just that "the suit" is probably wearing skinny jeans and Tweeting nonstop).

Anyway, thanks again for reading my question "on air." You guys make my week... just not always on Wednesdays.

Padmewan wrote:

Civilization, I assume (edumacate me if I'm wrong), was made with the primary intent of earning a profit.

isn't this the motive of any game created by a private developer and publisher? I think the line can be drawn as games designed with the primary intent to entertain, and those with the primary intent to educate. While the former doesn't need to do much of the latter to be considered successful, the latter probably does need to do a fair bit of the former to be successful.

Best example far and away for me is Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego? I always found those games exciting and damn hard, and that I was learning stuff about different countries and parts of the US never really crossed my mind.

I just noticed that David Heron was bemoaning the "reaction to Dragon Age 2," and EA's statements about making it "more mainstream."

That's deliciously ironic. Despite EA's words and David's fears, Dragon Age 2 is actually a less mainstream-friendly game than Dragon Age Origins. This is primarily because the main objects of improvement in Dragon Age 2 are in the greatly improved combat mechanics, which you will only experience at the Hardcore and Insanity settings, which most players of DA2 decry as being much too hard.

The main objects of downgrading from DAO are in the touristy and story elements of the game, which are more easily accessible to casual fans of RPGs. In having most of its meat being in the tactical gameplay and having relatively poor exploration and interactivity over the open map, DA2 most resembles something like Fire Emblem.

For voice mails, have you considered using a Google Voice number (with call screening disabled)?