GWJ Conference Call Episode 255

Conference Call


Deus Ex: Human Revolution, The Myth of The Simple Gamer, Theme Park Games, The Original Deus Ex, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Elysium, Allen and Rob Zacny talk about Deus Ex: Human Revolution and a bunch of topics spinning off that theme. Plus post-credits nonsense.

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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Good Old Games

Elysium's Deus Ex: HR Impressions
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Catch All
Duex Ex: Human Revolution Spoiler Thread

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Main Theme - http://deusex.com/ - 31:41

Deus Ex Main Theme - http://deusex.com/ - 1:03:07

Comments

Wow, Zacny and I are pretty much playing and experiencing DXHR exactly the same, however I don't think I'll be playing through a second time for quite a while. Years probably.

I've just reached my third location and I'm bored of many of the systems in the game. I can't seem to stop hacking because I want all the information I can get, but at this point I'm pretty much a hacking genius. I'm actually getting kind of bored. Next time I think I'll just play through the game and stop trying to find everything, but right now I don't want to miss anything. It's a trap of my own making.

I think the DXHR conversation has been great so far. I got through a portion of the topic section before I got home from taking the kid to school.

While I agree that some of the side quests are out of character, I love that. I declined the crooked cop quest because I was busy. I might miss some stuff, but my character didn't have time. I had no problem helping out Megan's mom, because that is storyline my character is invested in. I was really on the fence as far as helping the co-worker gt out of trouble. I would have preferred just reporting him and having him arrested, but his problem hinted to stuff that might be of interest to my character.

On my playthrough, I don't hack anything I don't need to. I don't search rooms unless I am there purposely. I don't duck into vents or do any of the OCD stuff. I'm in China right now, and I have a much more nerfed character than what you guys probably have. I haven't invested in hacking, deciding to go with a more resistance to damage. And that has prevented me from accessing parts of the game.

So for me, a second playthrough I going to be blast. after finishing the story in my character's way I will then explore the entire world the devs created and see whatI missed. I imagine there will be lots of ah-ha moments and neat things to find. But this first time, I want it to be really organic, which means missing out on a ton.

garion333 wrote:
I've just reached my third location and I'm bored of many of the systems in the game. I can't seem to stop hacking because I want all the information I can get, but at this point I'm pretty much a hacking genius. I'm actually getting kind of bored.

I'm reaching a similar point. I played a couple more sequences after the show and three things really started to frustrate. First, I am sick to death of the color palette. This is a teal and orange game. Every location is just washed in this golden light that looked really slick at first, but now it's getting really monotonous. Surely our glorious cyberpunk future can have more than one shade of neon.

Second, I finished one sequence out of all my ammo, and was then railroaded into an extended mission packed with enemies where I basically had to be in stealth mode for a long, long time. That means a lot of sitting around, memorizing patrol routes.

Third, this is just not a very well-written game when it comes to the stuff you find scattered around the gameworld. The Ebooks aren't worth reading, and neither are most of the emails. The cool thing about reading everything in the original game is that it provided insight on characters and locations. I felt rewarded for exploring and hacking. Here, I feel a little discouraged.

I like the emails better than the ebooks as they have more personality. The ebooks tend to read like wiki entries and they feel like they all say the same thing.

One I just read (really, skimmed) was pretty cool. I'll spoiler it just because, but it's completely unrelated to gameplay or plot.

Spoiler:
The ebook was talking about human exploration of space and colonies. I thought that was a nice change of pace from the stuff about limbs and eyes.

I think the environmental storytelling in DX:HR actually is good, there just isn't a whole lot of it. There's a big contrast between Jensen's apartment and a random apartment you break into, but it's not like every room in BioShock had something to say either.

Rob Zacny wrote:
Third, this is just not a very well-written game when it comes to the stuff you find scattered around the gameworld. The Ebooks aren't worth reading, and neither are most of the emails. The cool thing about reading everything in the original game is that it provided insight on characters and locations. I felt rewarded for exploring and hacking. Here, I feel a little discouraged.

Yeah they chose to write a lot of the emails in a weird way, it doesn't fit with who the people writing the emails are supposed to be. The ebooks are just technical manuals which get boring, but I don't know that random quotations of philosophy books in DX were much better.

Rob Zacny wrote:

I'm reaching a similar point. I played a couple more sequences after the show and three things really started to frustrate. First, I am sick to death of the color palette. This is a teal and orange game. Every location is just washed in this golden light that looked really slick at first, but now it's getting really monotonous. Surely our glorious cyberpunk future can have more than one shade of neon.

The first thing I did when I fired the game up was turn off post processing, which gets rid of the "piss filter" (not my term) and makes the game look a lot better, I think. There's still no shortage of gold in the palette, but at least it's a nice breeze instead of a hurricane.

Console gamers are kinda hosed though.

kyrieee wrote:
I think the environmental storytelling in DX:HR actually is good, there just isn't a whole lot of it. There's a big contrast between Jensen's apartment and a random apartment you break into, but it's not like every room in BioShock had something to say either.

Rob Zacny wrote:
Third, this is just not a very well-written game when it comes to the stuff you find scattered around the gameworld. The Ebooks aren't worth reading, and neither are most of the emails. The cool thing about reading everything in the original game is that it provided insight on characters and locations. I felt rewarded for exploring and hacking. Here, I feel a little discouraged.

Yeah they chose to write a lot of the emails in a weird way, it doesn't fit with who the people writing the emails are supposed to be. The ebooks are just technical manuals which get boring, but I don't know that random quotations of philosophy books in DX were much better.


I really, really enjoyed reading the emails in
Spoiler:
Picus HQ
as they were fascinating. There's plenty of rooms where I do break into the computer and go "Oh, that's it?" but there are areas where you get some really fascinating side stories through the emails.

It's kinda like the level design complaints where I acknowledge the factual nature of the complaint and completely disagree with the emotional component. There are some boring and cookiecutter parts in the game, but the parts that aren't are brilliant. Are the guard patterns easily detectable? Yeah, it's not Thief. That's a good thing. This game has a ton of different things to do, each shallow in it's own way. It has just enough depth to the mechanics that I'm enjoying them, but not so deep that it becomes a slog to get through each room. If I get bored trying to sneak past guards, I switch to knocking them out, or tranquilizing them, or hacking turrets and robots. Or I just stealth past.

Same way on the emails and supplementary text. And really the level design. If a game has 3 kinda fun bits and a brilliant bit, I consider it brilliant. Nothing is so boring to pull me away from the brilliant parts. The beauty of a game like Deus Ex is the fact that it has all these things going on and gives you choice. Not that it's the best stealth game ever, or every email is riveting. Forest for the trees problem here, are all the trees the greatest tree ever? No. I came for the forest.

kyrieee wrote:
Yeah they chose to write a lot of the emails in a weird way, it doesn't fit with who the people writing the emails are supposed to be. The ebooks are just technical manuals which get boring, but I don't know that random quotations of philosophy books in DX were much better.

I actually enjoy the emails and ebooks. They may not always have something to do with what's immediately going on in the game but they add a lived in quality to the environments. If anything, I'm getting a small chunk of knowledge about something I didn't know before.

Anyway, another good show guys! Keep it up!

garion333 wrote:
I like the emails better than the ebooks as they have more personality. The ebooks tend to read like wiki entries and they feel like they all say the same thing.

You didn't think the aug romance novel had any personality?

Also, I'm staying away from hobos now.

certis wrote:
Deus Ex: Human Revolution, The Myth of The Simple Gamer, Theme Park Games, The Original Deus Ex, Your Emails and more!

I read this before listening and thought, "RollerCoaster Tycoon?"

Rat Boy wrote:
garion333 wrote:
I like the emails better than the ebooks as they have more personality. The ebooks tend to read like wiki entries and they feel like they all say the same thing.

You didn't think the aug romance novel had any personality?

Also, I'm staying away from hobos now.

I'll act like that emphasis was there to begin with. I like some of the ebooks, but they're fewer and farther between. They started out kinda cool, but then got rather samey to me.

Great show.

I'm in two minds about the return of more complex games. I'm not sure I actually enjoyed them all that much. My comfort level, when it comes to complexity, is around about the level of Far Cry 2, Assassin's Creed 2, Red Dead, Mass Effect, etc. I enjoy a bit of that kind of stuff, as flavouring, but I don't want a game where the 'house keeping' out weighs the game play.

My impression of a lot of the old games, that had a ton of involved mechanics, was that the combat (which, I've decided, is where my real interests lie) often got lost or ignored while most of the focus was placed on what I would consider extraneous stuff like loot, stats, inventory management, etc. Modern games may lack a lot of sophistication but many of them (I'm constantly amazed how many) are spot on when it comes to the combat, etc. Assassin's is getting more complex now (and the first game was way too underdeveloped in terms of mechanics) but it's building on a fantastic base of fun combat and a brilliantly movement system.

Games like the new Deus Ex ring alarm bells for me because I'm starting to hear an emphasis being placed again on things other than combat. It's very possible that, going forward (nice bit of management speak there :P,) we might get games with complexity and, at their heart, polished, fun combat or, more likely I suspect, some games for people who want a big pile of complexity in their game and some games that focus on really fun engaging combat, of course, would be fine :).

Higgledy wrote:
Games like the new Deus Ex ring alarm bells for me because I'm starting to hear an emphasis being placed again on things other than combat. It's very possible that, going forward (nice bit of management speak there :P,) we might get games with complexity and, at their heart, polished, fun combat or, more likely I suspect, some games for people who want a big pile of complexity in their game and some games that focus on really fun engaging combat, of course, would be fine :).

The thing is that a lot of games are very simplistic in how you advance through the game. Generally you have a start, a finish, and obstacles in the way. For the vast majority of games the obstacles are enemies, and you remove those obstacles by killing them, and often there's gates that you can't get past until you've cleared out an area. Deus Ex and a lot of RPGs give you flexibility to choose your path by giving you alternatives to killing to achieve your goal, combat isn't the only way.

Scratched wrote:
Higgledy wrote:
Games like the new Deus Ex ring alarm bells for me because I'm starting to hear an emphasis being placed again on things other than combat. It's very possible that, going forward (nice bit of management speak there :P,) we might get games with complexity and, at their heart, polished, fun combat or, more likely I suspect, some games for people who want a big pile of complexity in their game and some games that focus on really fun engaging combat, of course, would be fine :).

The thing is that a lot of games are very simplistic in how you advance through the game. Generally you have a start, a finish, and obstacles in the way. For the vast majority of games the obstacles are enemies, and you remove those obstacles by killing them, and often there's gates that you can't get past until you've cleared out an area. Deus Ex and a lot of RPGs give you flexibility to choose your path by giving you alternatives to killing to achieve your goal, combat isn't the only way.

I think it's partly a taste thing. I have played the original Deus Ex and never felt that it was a transcendent game as many seem to. I haven't had a go at the new one yet so I want to resist commenting too much (and perhaps I shouldn't have used it as an example.)

In general terms there seems to be a sense that games with just combat and weapon choices are too basic and what we need is stuff other than that to make them interesting where as I want the complexity and sophistication to be put into the combat. One of the guys from 1up (can't remember his name) once commented that he loved the combat in Halo because each encounter felt like an event in it's own right. It wasn't 'shoot those two guys, wait for the third guy to appear, shoot him and move on,' it was more of a battle of wits that was challenging and exciting. Those are the kind of fights I enjoy and I think it takes a deceptive amount of work and skill on the part of the game developer to get to that.

Some comments during the podcast around the exp and augmentation system being fairly "weak" compared to the original game. In my mind it fits the context of this game. As a prequel of sorts and set in time before the first game it makes logical sense that both Jensen and the Augs would be far less powerful than the tech JC gets to play with as a genetically bred test tube "superman"

It would have felt "off" for Jensen to improve that drastically given the "timeline" as well.

Actually, that's a really good point from a timeline perspective. Hadn't thought of it that way.

Having finished the game, something about the podcast's production makes sense. And I hope the spoiler section includes a rant about how awfully long credit sequences are in games these days. I could've made a couple sammiches during that time.

wait, where is a spoiler section?

We'll be doing one on the next show. Even I was confused for a minute there

thanks. glad to hear that.

Regarding the email concerning potentially under-performing games this Christmas season, you guys mentioned that Skyrim won't under-perform and used how popular Oblivion was as a reason (the reason, but there may have been more had more time been spent on this particular point).

I think you're forgetting that when Oblivion came out there wasn't much else available on the 360 and that overall the game itself wasn't great.

harrisben wrote:
Regarding the email concerning potentially under-performing games this Christmas season, you guys mentioned that Skyrim won't under-perform and used how popular Oblivion was as a reason (the reason, but there may have been more had more time been spent on this particular point).

I think you're forgetting that when Oblivion came out there wasn't much else available on the 360 and that overall the game itself wasn't great.

Well the relative quality of Oblivion is obviously an opinion and not fact. I know lots of people that loved it. Competition or not.

Also, harrisben, I would say the release of Fallout 3 since then has really solidified Bethesda and there are a lot more people that will be highly aware of any release from this company. Also, enough people did end up playing Oblivion for whatever reason that anticipation for a sequel will be naturally high.

I just want to point out that, no matter how close to each other Zacny and I grew up, I was absolutely befuddled when he claimed that there were not enough mayors in Human Revolution.

Rat Boy wrote:
And I hope the spoiler section includes a rant about how awfully long credit sequences are in games these days. I could've made a couple sammiches during that time.

Really? You can skip the credits you know, pause, insert your console/computer button here.
And frankly when do these guys/gals get any credit, let em have their due.

The second music piece with the DeusEx Theme just brought a rush of emotions onto me that I didn't even know I had!
I played the original DeusEx a long time ago and frankly I don't remember much about it. I remember being truly amazed about the story, I played some sections with my jaw firmly dropped. But it is all a bit hazy and I didn't really feel the need to go back but that music - I almost crashed my car when the theme came on!

Your conversation made the game sound extremely interesting but it was the music that got me. Must have that game now.

Way to start right off with the Deus Ex jokes. Deus Ex is the first game in a long that has me thinking about it when I am away from the computer. I have already finished one play through as a stealthy, mostly non-lethal, compassionate Adam and then I immediately started a new game as a fully lethal, heavy weapons, in-your-face, dick Adam. It's like a whole new game.

My overall impression of the game is that it is a brilliant, extremely fun game… except for the boss fights. I spent 40 hours on the game, but I think 10 hours of that were the first four boss fights. In the eight years my wife has known me, she has never heard me swear so flippin' much.

"I will never say no to a hooker with a heart of gold." Really though, don't all hookers have a heart of gold?

"I'm going to solve ALL the crimes!" Show me a new air vent and I'll show you experience points! You need not ask "Why is that vent there?" You should just smile, crouch and crawl.

I liked Pritchard, despite (or maybe because of) his snarkiness. I thought he was a nice counterbalance to Jensen's grittiness.

The lack of mirrors seemed really odd, especially since it was always in a small space (so there would not be much to reflect) and mirrors have been done on other console shooters. Maybe they didn't want to bother with trying animate Jensen's feet?

Another great thing about Deus Ex is that from time to time the game allowed characters to talk to each other about meaningful things. As fun as games like Gears of War or Halo can be, they simply lack the narrative depth of Deus Ex. If I recall, the cut scenes in Gears of War involved a lot of grunting and a few "we're going to need a bigger orbital canon" moments.

I really appreciate the ambiguousness of the characters. It made them feel all the more realistic. There was never a cheesy "Mwah ha ha!" moment.

Despite its flaws, Deus Ex makes me way less interested in the upcoming (and already kind of bland-looking) Call of Duty and Battlefield sequels.

A good game to play prior to a vasectomy? Cut the Rope, of course. And you can play it from the comfort of your couch.

I don't mind social situations (games or otherwise), but I don't like new people. Especially when they call me a "cockfag" or say that I am "terrible at this game."

Comment unsafe for work, home, a crappy bathroom or an Andrew Dice Clay comeback tour.

Spoiler:
All I remember from this episode is hobo f#$king. This show has just elevated itself above the norm. - sniff - I'm so proud. It has now joined the ranks of Idle Thumbs and their love of donkey c*%k.