GWJ Conference Call Episode 260

Conference Call

RAGE, DOTA 2, The Binding of Issac, Board Games, Special Guest Jeff Cannata, Breaking The Status Quo, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Julian and Cory are joined by Jeff Cannata from The Totally Rad Show! Thoughts on Rage, DOTA 2, The Binding of Issac, breaking the status quo and much 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.

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Burning Jacob's Ladder - Mark Lanegan - RAGE - http://www.rage.com - 54:30

Menu / Trailer Theme - Dota 2 - http://www.dota2.com - 1:18:37

Comments

Gravey wrote:

Yes, part of the playing RL is creating that board, but when you've exhausted the creation aspect, you aren't left with a destroyed and useless board. Like wordsmythe said, you've now got a completed and unique Risk board that you can keep playing Risk on, like every other copy of Risk you've ever owned.

You missed my question, though: isn't part of the point of having Risk Legacies at all, as opposed to just Risk with maybe some house rules, that creative aspect? And aren't you losing that aspect once you've exhausted the board? As near as I can tell, yes, you can continue to play Risk with your nicely personalized board, but you can't play Risk Legacies any longer with that board.

To return to the analogy, perhaps imperfect, of Resident Evil: Mercenaries: you can continue to play the mercenaries missions all you want on that single, permanent save file where you've unlocked everything and maxed everything out, but isn't part of the point of the game that very process of unlocking and maxing out?

Er, I'm not sure that anybody was contending that the game would be completely destroyed after a number of sessions. Let me attempt to clarify.

When I write "game material", I'm including all of the components in the game: not just the board (which is undoubtedly going to stick around), but all of the cards and chits and whatnot that comprise the experience. And the "destruction" of some of that material was something that was explicitly mentioned on the call; I'm pretty sure Rabbit talked about tearing up one of the cards as an example of the kind of action that could be taken during play.

My question was aimed directly at the quality of the individual game sessions outside of the meta-gaming concept (or, less charitably described, gimmick).

If half of the fun afforded by the game comes from applying those irreparable modifications to the board, then what happens when you cross the finish line and run out of modifiers? Is the end result all that distinctive or interesting when compared against the more traditional versions of Risk? Are the players compelled to purchase another Risk Legacy board to go through the progression again, as if they were rolling an alt in an MMO? (Obviously, that's probably what the publisher's banking on happening.)

It's a fascinating concept and one that definitely deserves further attention and exploration, but the conversation can't just start and stop at adulation, right?

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Gravey wrote:

Yes, part of the playing RL is creating that board, but when you've exhausted the creation aspect, you aren't left with a destroyed and useless board. Like wordsmythe said, you've now got a completed and unique Risk board that you can keep playing Risk on, like every other copy of Risk you've ever owned.

You missed my question, though: isn't part of the point of having Risk Legacies at all, as opposed to just Risk with maybe some house rules, that creative aspect? And aren't you losing that aspect once you've exhausted the board? As near as I can tell, yes, you can continue to play Risk with your nicely personalized board, but you can't play Risk Legacies any longer with that board.

No, I understood you're point and I think, as you bolded above, that is the point of the game: the legacy. I interpret the creation as being, while important and definitely the main draw of this version, the preamble to the final board. That will be the legacy that you and your group worked to create and now get to enjoy in all future games: that is Risk Legacies (plural of course since every legacy will be unique to each group).

OzymandiasAV wrote:

If half of the fun afforded by the game comes from applying those irreparable modifications to the board, then what happens when you cross the finish line and run out of modifiers? Is the end result all that distinctive or interesting when compared against the more traditional versions of Risk? Are the players compelled to purchase another Risk Legacy board to go through the progression again, as if they were rolling an alt in an MMO? (Obviously, that's probably what the publisher's banking on happening.)

Creation aside, you still get a copy of Risk. Everyone knows what Risk is and basically how it plays—if that's not enough of a draw outside the legacy creation, or is going to be a surprise to the customer, then I don't know what to tell them.

So yes, the end result will be Risk, but on a board unlike any other, and filled with your history. I think that's enough to distinguish it from every other static version of Risk. It's sort of a legendary game for spawning countless war stories, and now this version memorializes them and let's the players live with the consequences of their own histories. Plus it's Risk. So you either like Risk or you don't.

Also, the idea that a publisher is banking on customers buying multiple copies of a board game is a little ridiculous. As much as they're taking off right now, board games aren't exactly a cash cow. No one in their right mind would count on getting rich off them, let alone hope to sell more than one copy to the average customer! That sort of conspiratorial BGG fantasy is myopic enough to be naive. Unless board game publishers are rolling in dough, then I want in on that.

Gravey wrote:

Also, the idea that a publisher is banking on customers buying multiple copies of a board game is a little ridiculous. As much as they're taking off right now, board games aren't exactly a cash cow. No one in their right mind would count on getting rich off them, let alone hope to sell more than one copy to the average customer! That sort of conspiratorial BGG fantasy is myopic enough to be naive. Unless board game publishers are rolling in dough, then I want in on that.

I wasn't saying that Risk Legacy was engineered solely as a cash-in project for Hasbro. The only point behind that little side comment is that I'd be very surprised if the possibility of multiple purchases wasn't factored into the pitch or the business case for the product.

Gravey wrote:

Also, the idea that a publisher is banking on customers buying multiple copies of a board game is a little ridiculous. As much as they're taking off right now, board games aren't exactly a cash cow. No one in their right mind would count on getting rich off them, let alone hope to sell more than one copy to the average customer! That sort of conspiratorial BGG fantasy is myopic enough to be naive. Unless board game publishers are rolling in dough, then I want in on that.

There's a difference between "here's what the publisher is hoping happens" and "this is a conspiracy on the part of the publisher," and I don't think Ozy's comment crossed that line. I very much doubt that the publisher of Risk Legacy is hoping that everyone just puts down the last marker on their Legacy board then sit around and fondly reminisce about all the fun they had making it. No, the publisher would love it if you bought the game a second time for a fresh start.

OzymandiasAV wrote:
Gravey wrote:

Also, the idea that a publisher is banking on customers buying multiple copies of a board game is a little ridiculous. As much as they're taking off right now, board games aren't exactly a cash cow. No one in their right mind would count on getting rich off them, let alone hope to sell more than one copy to the average customer! That sort of conspiratorial BGG fantasy is myopic enough to be naive. Unless board game publishers are rolling in dough, then I want in on that.

I wasn't saying that Risk Legacy was engineered solely as a cash-in project for Hasbro. The only point behind that little side comment is that I'd be very surprised if the possibility of multiple purchases wasn't factored into the pitch or the business case for the product.

No, I know, but it comes up a lot on BGG, and while I want to live in the world where board games are the place to go to makes tonnes of money, I know it's not the case.

I mean, besides the fact that this is the sixth or seventh version of Risk in the last few years. But how many people have every version, let alone are willing to buy multiple copies? I just don't think the number of repeat buyers (like those who buy two copies of everything Memoir '44) are substantial enough to make this worth pursuing, either on our part or the publisher's.

Anyway, that's all my optimism for Risk Legacies. I think we can all at least agree that if I'm going to evangelize, I should be sent a free copy so I can substantiate my arguments.

The fact that a game like this ever even got made under the Hasbro imprint is borderline crazy. I can absolutely guarantee you it was a hard pitch to convince some suit to make it at all, much less that anyone would be crazy enough to buy two. I read somewhere that 90 percent of the copies of monopoly that are sold are purchased as gifts, generally around christmas. To a suit used to those stats, there's zero chance they were convinced grandma was buying two.

If it was coming out under the WOTC infrastructure, or Wizkids, I'd be right there with ya.

As for the customization vs. destruction issue, think about it a bit like this. When you buy a copy of Warhammer 40k from Games Workshop, it comes with a ton of cool unpainted. Minis. You glue up the pieces, play a few games. You then decide to paint your orcs. You decide to mod the figures to give them upgraded guns, from a spru inthe box that has extra parts.

They look great, but officially, you're always going to have those bigger more expensive guns. You'll be getting less orc on the field, but with a unit a bit stronger, forever.

Do you lament the mod? Or do you revel in having a unique squad of boyz.

That's essentially what Risk Legacy is doing. You can choose to ignore all the scars and stickers and special rules and units that unlock over time, and just go play the game as it came out of the box -- you really can, you never wipe out the original game. You can ALWAYS play that game. Or you can play the fully evolved version, complete with the chaos and complexity that gets introduced over time.

That's another missing piece. All of us accept the slow scaling of complexity that comes with video games. Risk Legacy does this brilliantly. Without giving away spoilers -- the initial game is very straightforward, and plays in 45 minutes. Its fun, short, and brutal. Every game or so thereafter, it introduces a layer of complexity -- sometimes quite a lot of it. If the "end state" game were presented to the average novice gamer, it would likely be overwhelming. But for anyone who'se played any part of the game to that point, or is a "real" gamer, the end-state game is freaking awesome, and way beyond any kind of risk you've ever played.

So consider it an unlocking tutorial that leads to a unique final game.

It sounds really amazing, but I don't have a regular board game group to "evolve" as the board evolves. It doesn't sound like this lends to anything but having the same group play as the rules mutate. It would be confusing for people to come in after not having played the "tutorial" games, and as the host, I'd have too much knowledge advantage over my competitors.

I wish I had people to play with because I think this sounds really fun!

Jeff really sold me on Rage. Although I have heard complaints about bugs, so it might be prudent to wait a couple of weeks.

"If I didn't have to put pants on."

Planescape: Torment and Half-Life are two of my favorite examples of games that broke convention. The interesting thing about those two games is they delivered their stories in completely opposite ways, and yet both of them were compelling, memorable, and replayable.

Rock Band is a game that stands out for me because of Rock Band parties. Even non-gamers want to step up and rawk out. I have never seen any other multiplayer game appeal to such a wide variety of people. It's a game even my father could enjoy. (Thank you Billy Joel.)

I played EverQuest for five years, but I hated it for the last two years. I only stuck around because I had an awesome guild called Vengeance of Lost Souls on The Rathe. What a pain in the ass that game was. Don't get me started on the awful epic quests. I should have joined a comic book club or something.

burntham77 wrote:

Jeff really sold me on Rage. Although I have heard complaints about bugs, so it might be prudent to wait a couple of weeks.

You should totally listen to this week's show.

garion333 wrote:
burntham77 wrote:

Jeff really sold me on Rage. Although I have heard complaints about bugs, so it might be prudent to wait a couple of weeks.

You should totally listen to this week's show.

The impression I get from everything I've heard and read is that if you're going to play it on a console, go right ahead. But if you're a PC gamer, you might want to wait for more patching and driver updates, or wait for a sale, which is what I plan to do.