GWJ Conference Call Episode 253

Conference Call

Deus Ex Modded, Driver: San Francisco, 40K Kill Team, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, MMOFPS Games, Blurring of Genre Lines, Payments Systems and more!more!

This week Shawn, Cory and Julian are joined by Michael Zenke to talk about MMOFPS games, blurring lines and the state of pay.

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.

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Deus Ex New Vision Mod
Driver: SF
Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Beautiful Women - Secret Mountain - http://www.sans-concept.com - 26:07

Peripatetic - Chroma - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 59:27

Comments

Excellent podcast as always, guys.
RE: MMO and F2P shooters. Not sure I agree that it is a particularly new trend: Combat Arms, WW2 Online, War Rock, AVA, S4 League, BF Heroes, Wolf Team, Sudden Attack, Soldier Front, Global Agenda, Cross Fire to name just a few (there are lots more out there). You could also add in RPGs like Fallen Earth which have shooter gameplay. You may not have heard of all these titles, but some of them (e.g. Combat Arms) have multiple million registered users in NA/EU. Most of them are very guild/team-oriented and use aggresive commercial models based on gameplay-enhancing gun rental and purchase. Some even charge for bullets...

Just to recommend games. I will support Portal and Bioshock although after the twist it kind of falls apart. I also recommend Call of Duty 4. The singleplayer is quite short and it was the first(and best) example of where shooters have gone.

My recommendations for the newly freed-up dad - perhaps depending on genre preference:
Beat 'em up: Batman: Arkham Asylum
Shmup & music: Beat Hazard (for breaks between other games, esp)
FPS/action: Bioshock and or Mass Effect 2 or Bastion or Just Cause 2
Puzzle: Portal 2
Multiplayer shooter: Battlefield BC 2

Thanks for another great podcast!

Just Cause 2? I know it's an alight game but when I think of important games that doesn't jump to the top of the list.

Batman is such a game. Thinking about it makes me want to play it again.

I'm not a huge MMO person, and have been turned off by every one I've tried, but I'm looking forward to Firefall. Their forums say the beta will begin opening up just after PAX, and they'll be doing a system where, when you are in, you can send out invites to your friends. Sounds cool to me.

Batman is a great call. Wish I'd thought of it on the show!

gunjin wrote:

Excellent podcast as always, guys.
RE: MMO and F2P shooters. Not sure I agree that it is a particularly new trend: Combat Arms, WW2 Online, War Rock, AVA, S4 League, BF Heroes, Wolf Team, Sudden Attack, Soldier Front, Global Agenda, Cross Fire to name just a few (there are lots more out there). You could also add in RPGs like Fallen Earth which have shooter gameplay. You may not have heard of all these titles, but some of them (e.g. Combat Arms) have multiple million registered users in NA/EU. Most of them are very guild/team-oriented and use aggresive commercial models based on gameplay-enhancing gun rental and purchase. Some even charge for bullets...

We were mostly talking about massively multiplayer shooters, but that regular shooter free to play list is longer than I thought it would be none the less. Good pull! WW2 Online is one I'd totally forgot about. Do people still play that?

This episode was right up my alley. Thanks for that.

I hadn't realized that Zenke played Global Agenda or that Rabbit got deep into Planetside. I returned to the game some time ago and am having fun.

It's got an aged engine and a frustrating UI, but I get to experience this: Our standard base capture is interrupted by a swarm of 14 Reavers in tight formation. The descend, flatten us, and we respawn to grab countermeasures.

I've written word-thingies about it, but here are some other thoughts:

I share the same curiosity as to why nobody's done the seasons approach. I'd love to try it.

Global Agenda's MMO elements are much harder to access for casual players. You can't just jump into the MMO part, as with Planetside. You have to be in a group with exactly X amount of people, and have a contest against another group with the same amount. And there's a timer. One attacks, one defends. It's a much less organic.

In reference to the Planetside 2 stuff, if you love the flat progression of the existing certification system, prepare to be afraid.

The game will feature a vast set of skill trees comprising, according to Matt Higby, thousands of certifications. Skills are said to affect everything in the game, including weapons, attachments, vehicle training, upgrades, gameplay features and more. There will be so many skills that you could "play for a whole year, and still not max out something like a vehicle."

That's from this wiki. I can't imagine how you could possibly balance play with thousands of certs. I really hope he was exaggerating. Maybe I just fear change.

If we're recommending PopCap games, what about Plants vs. Zombies?

Funny, I thought the UI in DXIW was supposed to resemble how a HUD being shown on your eyes was supposed to look. Didn't mean it was great.

Rat Boy wrote:

Funny, I thought the UI in DXIW was supposed to resemble how a HUD being shown on your eyes was supposed to look. Didn't mean it was great.

Crap. So you're saying the future will be in 64 bit? But I hated those ugly polygons.

Great podcast as always.

From my perspective I can't see single player going anywhere. I'm loving a lot of the multiplayer games at the moment and, when I'm in that multiplayer grove, single player seems eminently dispensable but my best gaming experiences in recent years have been single player by a mile.

The argument that games were multiplayer for thousands of years, and therefore multiplayer is some kind of natural state to be returned to, sounds impressive until you start comparing it to other forms of entertainment.

For thousands of years watching sports was a live communal experience (through necessity) but that doesn't mean that watching a game on the TV in the comfort of your own living room/den going to die out as a way to consume sports. At one time you could only see films, and before them plays, in a crowded theatre but now we have the means to see films out of that setting with our families or on our own. I enjoy going to the cinema but watching a film on my own is an equally valid and often less stressful experience.

Multiplayer games are fun but sometimes I want a controlled experience closer to a film (never thought I'd be saying that) or a book where I'm engrossed in a world and where I'm going to get a measured, carefully crafted experience and not have the stress and upsets involved in playing with and against real people.

Single player games are definitely like books. They're your own experience. And while I definitely agree that online connectivity of games is going to continue to increase as our daily connectivity continues to increase, I too don't see single player games going away because I don't see books going away.

Hell, Farmville is a single player game that forces you to interact with people for gifts and stuff, but at its core it's still all about you and your experience.

Yeah, Deux Ex 2 suffered from what I called the Final Fantasy 8 problem. They were both great games, but because they followed fairly groundbreaking experiences in both Final Fantasy 7 and Deus Ex, the follow-ups felt lackluster.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet has a great art style, but the game requires the use of too many fingers.

The next time my wife asks me about having kids, I will just tell her about the dad with no time to play games. "Do you want to take away my happy forever??" Ah, good times.

For the dad, I'd say definitely Braid and World of Goo! Both are short and sweet.

Maybe some STALKER? You could play a few hours and get an idea of how it is...
Is Frozen Synapse essential enough? Company of Heroes? It changed RTS games, but I don't know if it's all that good as a single player game...

Stalker probably has way too high a barrier of entry. It just throws you into the grinder.

World of Goo is a great recommendation.

The question from the father on home vacation really highlighted to me the ascendency of the console in the last 5 years (which makes me sad). The real highlight games have been either console exclusive, or console lead sku. Since he doesn't have a gaming PC anyway, I'd say go get a used Xbox 360 or an arcade version, then spend the time on Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Fable 2, or the first Modern Warfare. Or get a PS3 and get Uncharted 2, Little Big Planet, MGS 4, and Arkham Asylum. The last 5 years of PC gaming have really been dominated by World of Warcraft. For me, the only other must play games on PC for have been Half Life 2, Episode 2 and the Portals. If he can't get a console, I would at least try to get Mass Effect up and running on the laptop. Skip the side quests and it won't chew up too much time.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with Certis on the whole 'Deus Ex' has aged well thing.

I tried to play it (for the first time) early this year, and I just couldn't make it past the clunky combat, and old graphics. Playing it felt like a chore, and while the plot was cool, I didn't get to see enough of it fast enough, and so I lost interest.

Dust 514 and the Tribes MMO weren't mentioned in the MMOFPS discussion I think.

Dust 514 is hooked into the EVE Online universe so it'll definitely give you something to fight over.

Section 8: Prejudice, not an MMO, does have seasons.

Certis wrote:

WW2 Online is one I'd totally forgot about. Do people still play that?

I believe so. Lots of regular player events, news updates and a very active forum suggests it still has a vibrant player community... However, I have not played it myself for years!

Yes, a WW2 Online player posted a looong comment to one of my posts, taking issue with the assertion that Planetside's the only thing out there (for large scale stuff). Turns out, it's not.

Though it manages the high-level strategic stuff differently than PS, it is definitely in the same league. It's also surviving by being a boutique game with an intensely loyal fanbase.

I was disappointed when I originally tried it, but if it's lasted this long, then it's a whole new game. Maybe I'll check it out when I have some time next week.

On the topic of YouTube + other video tutorials for boardgames: I love this trend. I've even been noodling making my own videos covering the hefty games I own. I think it would be great for those times when I host a bunch of people at my place and they want to play something longer/deep.

FFG started doing video tutorial/overviews for the LCG games (Warhammer:Invastion, Rune Age, etc.) which are very valuable for getting new players up to speed quickly.

El-Taco-the-Rogue wrote:

I'm afraid I have to disagree with Certis on the whole 'Deus Ex' has aged well thing.

I tried to play it (for the first time) early this year, and I just couldn't make it past the clunky combat, and old graphics. Playing it felt like a chore, and while the plot was cool, I didn't get to see enough of it fast enough, and so I lost interest.

Fascinating - I had the polar opposite response. First time playing it this year, and even without the graphics mod to make it prettier, it was incredibly enjoyable. Of course, I'm not much of an FPS'er in the first place, buts till, the combat was reasonably enjoyable and the graphics weren't a problem (though it took about 30 minutes to get used to).

MrShoop wrote:

The question from the father on home vacation really highlighted to me the ascendency of the console in the last 5 years (which makes me sad). The real highlight games have been either console exclusive, or console lead sku. Since he doesn't have a gaming PC anyway, I'd say go get a used Xbox 360 or an arcade version, then spend the time on Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Fable 2, or the first Modern Warfare. Or get a PS3 and get Uncharted 2, Little Big Planet, MGS 4, and Arkham Asylum. The last 5 years of PC gaming have really been dominated by World of Warcraft. For me, the only other must play games on PC for have been Half Life 2, Episode 2 and the Portals. If he can't get a console, I would at least try to get Mass Effect up and running on the laptop. Skip the side quests and it won't chew up too much time.

My friend, you are missing out on a ton of amazing games if you truly believe this. Yes, AAA tends to focus on console and port to pc, but if you expand you horizons beyond the big publishers there is an absolute ton of fantastic gaming to be had on the pc. And I'm not talking about WoW clones.

Again want to point out that pvp <> griefing.

Deus Ex:IW was a pretty good game standing on it's own it just suffered a great deal with it's Xbox first development. That was the primary source of frustration with the game for most people. God awful HUD as well as tiny levels due to the Xbox's memory limitations.

But the story was interesting and the general "DX" feel is there for sure

There are 109 unique weapons in TF2 and counting, not two dozen (as I think Julian said?). And while a few are simply re-skins, that number is in the single digits. Somehow they've managed to still not break the game (the Wrangler came close for a bit, but people discovered counters for that).

Suffice it to say I do think it's possible to bring a greater complexity into the MMO space, but you have to be extremely careful and deliberate about how you do it. Valve, being Valve, seems to have had success at that.

garion333 wrote:

My friend, you are missing out on a ton of amazing games if you truly believe this. Yes, AAA tends to focus on console and port to pc, but if you expand you horizons beyond the big publishers there is an absolute ton of fantastic gaming to be had on the pc. And I'm not talking about WoW clones.

I mostly agree, it's just that if I was excited to show someone who hasn't really been gaming for 4-5 years what they have been missing, I'd want to show the big epic AAA stuff. After his 40 hours are up, and he is re-addicted, then i'd send him off to Limbo, Trine, Company of Heroes, or Sins of a Solar Empire.

BTW, one reason I am so excited for Battlefield 3 is that we are getting a big AAA PC lead sku. You can really see the difference compared to what smaller eastern european teams are doing, even though those games are still good and have their own unique qualities. I'm thinking of things like Metro 2033 or Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.

Certis wrote:

Batman is a great call. Wish I'd thought of it on the show!

I'm surprised you didn't hear me. I was sitting in my car screaming, "Batman! Batman!" But to no avail.

Yeah, I was very charmed by the dad who had 40 hours to play as well. It's an interesting existential conundrum. It's a little like Desert Island Discs, only with games. It is a terrifying situation: limited time, 5 years of backlog.

For my money, play:
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Mass Effect 1

Borrow or rent a PS3:
Uncharted 2
Red Dead Redemption
(play all the way to the end)

And that should hold you for another 5 years. By then I'll have another list for you. After all, Arkham City and Uncharted 3 are coming out this holiday!