Conference Call

GWJ Conference Call Episode 259

Gears of War 3, F1 2011, Hard Reset, Old School Gaming & What Makes a Good Throwback, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Julian and Rob Zacny talk about what makes for a good "throw back" game.

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.


Tech Thing Daily
Game Thing Daily
Good Old Games

International Goodjer Day Shirts
GWJ Donation Drive Prize Pool
Hard Reset
Red Orchestra 2
Gears of War 3
F1 2011

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Forever Omen - Gears of War 3 - - 40:32

Adjusting to Reality - - 53:43


I'm taking it back to the old school, 'cause I'm a old fool who's so cool.

Okay, let's say this together: Gears is for the masses.

MisterStatic wrote:

Julian, there are plenty of FFB wheels on the market right now. As Rob said in the CC, braking is the most important thing in simracing. The wheel/pedal sets on the market offer great options for pedals. Fanatec uses a load cell to better simulate brake pressure. Thrustmaster uses some heavy springs to give the brake some feel. This is actually an exciting time for wheel peripherals because Fanatec is about to release a whole new line of wheels through their partnership with Forza 4. So what are the options right now and in the near future if people want a good wheel? I'll list these from low-end to med-high end (I am not talking about ECCI and FREX which are priced well above consumer level:

I would go so far to say it's never been better. Fanatec are putting out top quality products at reasonable prices. Logitech and Thrustmaster still make good stuff too (though I wouldn't recommend everything). The top of the line stuff will run you thousands to get setup, but choose wisely from Fanatec, Thrustmaster and Logitech and $250 to $500 can net you a fantastic setup that will, as Rob said, last you 7 years.

Not sure if anyone here frequents, but there is a member there selling a practically new MOMO wheel for $75 + shipping. I can't link because you have to be a forum member to view the post.

He is selling until tomorrow, then he puts it on ebay.

That's not a bad price, but the Driving Force GT is a much better wheel and can be had for ~$100 new.

Just keep in mind the Logitechs don't play with the 360. So for Forza, it's eBay for a MS wireless wheel or a Fanatec. I actually used the Fanatec CSR at the Forza demo booth at Laguna Seca during ALMS weekend. It is a great wheel and well worth the cash. Also, I should have mentioned in my previous post that Fanatec has expanded its pedal line to fit to different budgets; just stay away from their base pedals (the plastic ones).

Yeah, it sucks to want to use a wheel on the 360. I believe Fanatec has a new wheel coming out for pc, PS3 and 360, which would be nice if I had any money left over.

There hasn't been anything new since Shakespeare, right? Don't you remember the space marines running around in the background in Hamlet? True story.

Hearing that the multiplayer in Gears of War 3 can actually be social really makes me want this game. Part of why I do not like most multiplayer shooters is that they are so frantic. Unless you have the reflexes of a hamster on crack, you aren't going to not die much.

Thank you Rob Zacny for making my 24 inch Dell monitor feel inferior. Dagnabbit. Time to move up to 27 inches.

I have always enjoyed the phrase "nothing to write home about." Especially when it comes to women. "Yeah, she was cute but nothing to write home about." As if after a great date, I might write: "Dear Mom and Dad, You will never believe the piece of ass I just had. She was so flipping gorgeous, I about punched myself in the face. Love, Your Fornicating Son."

This podcast reminds me that we are now only 10 podcasts away from #269. I think you should begin planning frisky and risque gaming topics to celebrate the occasion and bring the first 269 episodes to a happy ending.



PS Hey what can I say, random thoughts like this help me survive the excel spreadsheet I'm working through.

(Post-edit counts should never come up as a topic in a podcast)

I know what you are saying about immersion, but I think a large part of it was that we were forgiving... because we knew no better. We hungered for the experience and everything was so new.

As someone also in my early 40s, I get pangs of nostalgia for an old gaming experience, but the reality is that as a gamer, I've learned a lot more about my likes/dislikes and absorbed a feel for good/bad design over the years. Immersion needs to first survive the interface, GUI and mechanics at this point for me to get to the point where I can be immersed in a game environment. I dont know that I could go back to F-117 Stealth Fighter, Shogun, Master of Magic, Moo1 (forgive me), Sword of Aragon or a gold box game because a moment of nostalgia will quickly evaporate in the face of reality and how far my expectations have come.

If the old school game was designed well and Is able to jump that usability hoop, then I can settle back in.

Great example for me is Colonial Conquest (an SSI Risk-like Global domination game from the 80s.) Loved it. Loved memories of playing it. Someone even reverse engineered it and rebuilt it true to the original for modern computers, but its so true to the original that the interface is a major obstacle to the enjoyment at this point. It was just designed to a different standard and a different time. I still return to it on occasion, but... its playability is so compromised by how far interfaces have come and what I now require to get to the point of immersion.

For some reason, when reading the above few posts the first thing that came to mind was this ad

The World's Most Powerful Graphics Technology

I was biting my tongue listening to the "old school" discussion. I am a 40 year old ( as of this month, sigh ) gamer who has been gaming since pong (literally) and when I think of "old school what I am really thinking about boils down to one word, immersion.

To me "old school" games mean games from an era where creativity and imagination had to stand in for the inabilities of the technology. There was an almost implicit understanding in the mind of developers to intentionally divert a player’s attention away from technological limitations by adding immersive elements. On a very fundamental level it was like a writer immersing a person into the world of a book by directing them away from the fact they were reading words on paper and getting the reader to suspend their disbelief and immerse themselves into the world within the book.

With current technology that can put a player on a city street with a bird pooping on his head while a can gets clink clank clonked by a breeze into a storm drain, that undefined goal of a developer/designer to use those little immersive flourishes has all but vanished. Sometimes older gamers get a pining for those games and just write it off as nostalgia without the recognition that some of it is a true paradigm/focus shift moving immersion as a primary goal into the backseat of gaming that occurred in the early 2000’s. Wing Commander made me feel like a fighter pilot onboard a carrier, in Fallout I was walking the wastelands, XCOM I had to look out my window to make sure they really hadn’t landed, In CIV/MOO/AC/MOM I was really in charge of a civilization, and when that Spanish guitar came on in Diablo I thought about all the layers of earth I was going to have dig through to get to hell and kill the devil. I still think I have another homeworld out there in the universe from where my real ancestors hailed or maybe its that I still just don’t know who I am, after walking the planes in my tormented state.

I could write a whole article on this subject as well as what those flourishes were and how they compare but for a quick reply to the show I just wanted say this was a major point that was missed about old school games.

Jam3, have you read Racing the Beam? Seems like you might like it, if you can handle how deep it goes.

It's a bit of a derail, but there's an alternate version of that Infocom ad:
Where the Sun Don't Shine

Nope but just added it to my reading list, thanks. I'm a comp sci guy.

MisterStatic wrote:

i would still go fot the Fanataec GT2, looks more real and full alcantara, but thats just me, I drive street cars in my racing games the most.

there is also a 50$ 3rd party box emulator that makes G25/27 work on Xbox. its a decent solution but not the best, that was covered by SRT too.


I actually have played MoM and MOO2 recently. They're still awesome as ever. Interface doesn't come with all the bells and whistles, but it'll do. After all, chess doesn't need a mouse over interface that tells you what each piece does.

Might be why I actually enjoy playing games on my Wii.

Apparently my "graphics processor" hasn't weakened at all in the intervening years. Still can't play Dwarf Fortress though. ASCII graphics hurt my eyes. Yes, I'm a graphics whore.

I didnt mean to imply an emphasis on graphics too strongly, so if I did it was poor writing on my part. Its about interacting with the content. Going back to my old fav Colonial Conquest example, it was designed around the tech of the time, which wasn't single button joysticks. Strategy game interface design has also developed so much cleaner standards since then, that it just grates a bit along the way to re-experiencing that game and I guess returning even momentarily to a younger moment of 'me.'

Moo2 is still one I can fire up too. The music drives me a bit batty at this point, but I love what you can do in the game. (Like being a truly evil master of the universe, mwahahahaha) Master of Magic was possibly a poorly chosen example on my part. There is some variation between developers, but that 4x genre of games generally developed its interface 'standards' early for a computer age and they kinda nailed it.

Chess probably has the perfect interface, in that well, there is none.

I'm surprised at the barrier ASCII graphics are for me when they serve as both the content and interface to a game like dwarf fortress. When I was young, one of my favorite 'toys' were pads of graph(grid) paper. I would spend hours drawing up armies and fortresses, erasing and moving them against each other. The soliders were x's or o's. Their tanks and vehicles were all based around rounded or squared themes... and they would slug it out in constant battle sheets of paper. Oh the mileage I got out of a single sheet of paper was probably amazing. That this didnt translate later in life to a love of wargames or better patience with ASCII baffles me a bit.

We use the Wii a lot in our house too. Some pointer style motion controlled games(i.e the core Sports games or Wii Party), but a lot of the games we play also tend to be holding the controllers in a traditional SNES style with motion (i.e. Brawl, Kart, Mario Bros, Kirby, etc)

jam3 wrote:

Nope but just added it to my reading list, thanks. I'm a comp sci guy.

Then you should be fine.

I think you're seeing "old school" the wrong way. If its "old school", It's good in a way it used to be, as opposed to plain old outdated. I guess that means something else for everyone. To me, old school would be...

RPGs which use the original pen&paper ruleset. This would apply to the Mechwarrior reboot too, but I've lost hope there.

Actors. Yes, I like Civ 5, but I do miss someone anouncing "You're letting our crack troops going to waste! Let's go bomb some heads!"

Open Lootdrops. Oh wait, Drophack. Nevermind.

Anything that uses a joystick, except flight-simulators. Because at this point, flight-simulaters ARE old school. H.A.W.X. does not count.

Self describing as "Old School" is different from actually being old school. Self describing usually means some marketing person saw the game and said "Hey! These graphics suck. Maybe it was on purpose. Yeah. Let's run with that!"

The term Old School, when it's not marketing speak, is largely meaningless because it means something different to every person who says it. Sometimes it even means different things to the same person depending on the context.

In general, my definition of the term is "A game that reminds me of the best parts of why I got into gaming in the first place." That's as close to a general definition of "Old School" as I can think of, while still allowing for the flexibility of personal taste.

For me, that would be a game that's challenging without too much frustration, has well tuned mechanics that are fun to use, and lets me score chase myself.

Recent examples, for me: God Hand, Chili Con Carnage, Super Stardust HD and Duke Nukem Forever.

You may have gone to a different school. For example, if you grew up on a PC instead of arcades and Atari 2600s, you're more likely to consider the latest Deus Ex game, or Torchlight to be old school.

You'll also note that this definition has the benefit of taking nostalgia into account. Being old school doesn't mean you want every game to be a bit for bit knockoff of Zelda (*cough* 3d dot game heroes *cough*). It means that you want games that remind you of how you felt when you played Zelda. Darksiders fell into this category for my wife (I never played Zelda), though for some reason Rabbit hated it-- which seems to me to be a bit like hating chocolate cake with peanut butter icing. (Sure it contains nothing that you haven't eaten before, and it's largely derivative of a Reeses peanut butter cup, but you know what? Reeses peanut butter cups are freakin' good.)

Some publishers may use it as a catch phrase that means "We lack original ideas and QA testers" but that doesn't render the term without merit.

I'm playing Renegade Ops, and every time it saves you see an image of a 3.5" floppy. There's no reason for doing that, other to let guys like me know that this game is "old school."

Aristophan wrote:

I'm playing Renegade Ops, and every time it saves you see an image of a 3.5" floppy. There's no reason for doing that, other to let guys like me know that this game is "old school."

There's no good reason for it in Word either, and a lot of the games RO draws from never supported a floppy disc. However, it's a symbol. They don't mean they're literally saving on a floppy disc, but that they're storing information. A floppy disc is a very recognisable sign for data storage than say, a memory chip, a flash key, or a CD/HD disc. It's iconic.

This is the call when Certis mentions Onlive correct? I've been behind lately. Anyway I gave it a shot after it was mentioned here and I too was impressed. I've got my laptop on the other side of the house from where our Wifi router is (which is streaming gloriously terrible DSL) up here in the mountains and I managed to play both Dirt 3 and Homefront within 5 minutes of my initial thought. The video quality was garbage but what got me was the near complete lack of input lag! I don't know the magic involved but it's quite potent.