GWJ Conference Call Episode 263

Conference Call

Batman: Arkham City, Dark Souls, Orcs Must Die, Sticky Game Mechanics, Your Emails, Twitters and more!

This week Cory, Julian, Allen and Shawn talk sticky game mechanics and hit a whole bunch of your Twitters and Emails.

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

Main Theme - Batman: Arkham City - http://community.batmanarkhamcity.com/ - 35:33

Comments

garion333 wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
doubtingthomas396 wrote:

I never fail to find it alarming how quickly the folks on the podcast-- especially Corey-- are willing to throw away consumer choice just because you don't want to have to put on pants.

I find it alarming how quickly they throw away a good discussion to avoid spoilers. :P

Quoted for truth. Seriously, the gaming community is losing out on so much for fear of spoilers.

I dunno, I have even less interest in playing DA2 now that an emotional core to the story was laid out in open during the CC about 4 or 5 months after release of the game.

Of course, Bioware games are largely about story, so ...

I am with you Garion - I listen assuming that the hosts are not going to throw out spoilers without warning, and I feel pretty miffed when they do so.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

I'm probably weird for thinking that interest in experiencing a story is less appealing to me than a conversation about the story. I guess that's why I'm an editor.

I'm the same way. I've never found my experience with a story to be lessened by knowing what will happen next, but I've had countless conversations hamstrung prematurely by a fear of spoiling things. What's fun in a story for me isn't seeing what happens but how it happens and why it happens and what techniques are used to make it happen, all of which can be made richer through conversation.

Added in a little something.

I agree with you both, but I'm also a person who really enjoys the journey of discovery and when you know the end or important pieces of the puzzle it turns into a different journey. I re-read books all the time for the things you mention, but when we're talking first time through I'd like to go in with as few "answers" or preconceived notions as possible.

I also agree that the gaming community at large is a bit obsessed with spoilers (especially considering game completion percentage), but that doesn't mean I think we should ignore the negative impact spoiling things can have on other people.

Also, health insurance should be free and not funded through taxes.

Michael wrote:

I just can't justify not using the superior service because I'm afraid of some nebulous Bad Thing that MIGHT happen someday.

I can't speak for doubtingthomas396 but, for me, it's not just that some "nebulous bad thing" could occur, though that's certainly something that could happen.

The core issue with Steam's model of digital-only distribution (and, to a lesser extent, all digital-only distribution) is that it requires an exchange of consumer ownership, rights, and privacy for purchasing convenience. It's a trade that gives the service provider all the leverage.

To their credit, Valve has piled on a lot of sugar to sweeten the deal: easier application upkeep through automatic patching, community features, etc. And, arguably, no other provider has pushed the savings from digital distribution to the customer like Steam has done through their various sales and bundles.

But none of that changes the fact that this trade, at its very core, shifts a much more favorable return to the provider, just like GameStop's various machinations for used sales or pre-orders. And the point, I think, is that all the sugar in the world doesn't make Steam's version of the exchange "superior" for the marketplace at large, even though it might make it a more appealing deal for you as an individual consumer. It just makes it different.

Also, I tend to agree with the concern that convenience is some kind of worthy trump card over everything else. After listening to all of the various discussions of digital distribution on the internet, one might believe that purchasing a game in person at a brick and mortar store is some kind of unfathomable tragedy. (Note: I do acknowledge that, regrettably, GameStop's customer "service" is not an effective refutation of this point.)

Convenience is nice, sure, but it isn't so important to me that I would consider any concession of rights to obtain it to be inconsequential.

Though I don't much care for him, I have to admit Chuck Klosterman remains spot on regarding spoilers:

Klosterman wrote:

Every so often, a random contrarian will publish an essay titled, "In defense of spoilers" (or something along those lines). The writer inevitably explains why the concept of media outlets (or rogue bloggers, or quasi-celebrity Twitter accounts) preemptively ruining movies or books or TV shows is an infantile complaint and a minor nuisance. Not surprisingly, almost no non-critic takes this argument seriously. It comes from a purely egotistical point of view; the writer believes his or her thoughts about a piece of art are more valuable than the art itself (and therefore can't be constrained by the collective experience of the audience).

I appreciate the segregated spoiler sections--if I care, I can avoid them, if I don't, I can listen. Gives me...what's that word...Agency.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

Convenience is nice, sure, but it isn't so important to me that I would consider any concession of rights to obtain it to be inconsequential.

This is really what it all boils down to, nicely said. I am absolutely willing to make that tradeoff.

So I just ordered Shadows of the Damned due to the podcasters gushing over it - don't let me down, you sassy bastards!

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Though I don't much care for him, I have to admit Chuck Klosterman remains spot on regarding spoilers:

Klosterman wrote:

Every so often, a random contrarian will publish an essay titled, "In defense of spoilers" (or something along those lines). The writer inevitably explains why the concept of media outlets (or rogue bloggers, or quasi-celebrity Twitter accounts) preemptively ruining movies or books or TV shows is an infantile complaint and a minor nuisance. Not surprisingly, almost no non-critic takes this argument seriously. It comes from a purely egotistical point of view; the writer believes his or her thoughts about a piece of art are more valuable than the art itself (and therefore can't be constrained by the collective experience of the audience).

I appreciate the segregated spoiler sections--if I care, I can avoid them, if I don't, I can listen. Gives me...what's that word...Agency.

Hear, hear.

In regards to spoilers, I just hate when an interesting conversation is put on hold for the sake of not spoiling the game. All too often I see podcasts say "we'll go back to this later and have a spoiler conversation", but most of the time that never happens. We all know there are way too many games coming out for a show to be going back weeks later to talk passionately about a game they are no longer playing or thinking about.

On another note, at least on the 360 the Catwoman stuff integrated into my game as soon as it was installed (I initially started the game without it). The hysterics I've heard on a few different podcasts over the Catwoman DLC is pretty stupid (I'm looking at you Garnett Lee) considering what a minor part of the game it is. Yes, it's a lot of fun, and damn she's hot, but having played all that content I would not have noticed if it were never there in the first place. Her roll in the story is peripheral at best. It brings up a lot of interesting topics on where DLC can go wrong, but most of the complaints being leveled against it are ringing hollow to me.

Also, 4 hours for 250MB? Holy crap PSN sucks.

muttonchop wrote:
doubtingthomas396 wrote:

The Plants Versus Zombies steam patch and the Portal ending retrofit are just two examples of warning shots that people have completely ignored.

They're not "just two examples", they're the ONLY two examples anyone ever brings up whenever we re-hash the "is Steam an evil monopoly?" argument.

The Plants Versus Zombies argument is ridiculous because it was PopCap that implemented the change - Steam was just the distribution mechanism. Any other download service could have done the same, or PopCap could have built an auto-update mechanism directly into PvZ, but because they chose to use Steam that apparently makes Valve the bad guys.

And the Portal ending? They extended the original ending by what, 5 seconds? Over 3 years after the initial release? Oh, the humanity.

Can we please retire these examples? They're terrible, and they do nothing whatsoever to further your argument. Any game can be designed in a way that allows it to automatically receive updates, Steam just makes it easier. This is not a Steam-specific problem.

Fine, some other examples of Steam forcing content updates for negative effects: Terraria added items, and changed the way the game played regardless of where you were at prior to the update and an update that broke game saves from before the update in Mount & Blade. Both affected me. In the case of Mount & Blade, I was 15-20hrs into the game, but there was a work around of running the game through the 'demo' with, but now I cannot get the demo to load, so I've lost ~35hrs of a nearly completed campaign.

Point being, Portal and PvZ are not the only times Valve has forced an update that's caused issues, they're just the biggest instances and just about the only ones that got press. Yet, I still make Steam my much preferred PC gaming platform, because they have yet to rip a game from my library or do something of nearly unforgivable measure. It should also be noted that the game updates for all but Portal were mandated by the developers. I just wish Steam would have an option for delaying updates when it will impact gameplay/progress.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

I appreciate the segregated spoiler sections--if I care, I can avoid them, if I don't, I can listen. Gives me...what's that word...Agency.

Didn't they cancel that game?

Anyway, I'm probably just miffed that the cast of the show doesn't immediately turn around, write up an amazing article about what they stopped themselves from saying, and send it to me so we can have it edited and workshopped for the following week's Front Page.

wordsmythe wrote:
SpacePPoliceman wrote:

I appreciate the segregated spoiler sections--if I care, I can avoid them, if I don't, I can listen. Gives me...what's that word...Agency.

Didn't they cancel that game?

Anyway, I'm probably just miffed that the cast of the show doesn't immediately turn around, write up an amazing article about what they stopped themselves from saying, and send it to me so we can have it edited and workshopped for the following week's Front Page.

You are being lax with your discipline. You must punish them in order to get results!

wordsmythe wrote:
SpacePPoliceman wrote:

I appreciate the segregated spoiler sections--if I care, I can avoid them, if I don't, I can listen. Gives me...what's that word...Agency.

Didn't they cancel that game?

Anyway, I'm probably just miffed that the cast of the show doesn't immediately turn around, write up an amazing article about what they stopped themselves from saying, and send it to me so we can have it edited and workshopped for the following week's Front Page.

Dude, I'm trying!

mrtomaytohead wrote:

Point being, Portal and PvZ are not the only times Valve has forced an update that's caused issues, they're just the biggest instances and just about the only ones that got press. Yet, I still make Steam my much preferred PC gaming platform, because they have yet to rip a game from my library or do something of nearly unforgivable measure. It should also be noted that the game updates for all but Portal were mandated by the developers. I just wish Steam would have an option for delaying updates when it will impact gameplay/progress.

So again, Steam's only involvement is as a distributor. This isn't a Steam issue, it's a general digital distribution issue. You don't even need a platform like Steam for this to be a problem, there is plenty of software out there that automatically updates itself. Microsoft, Adobe, and Mozilla products do it, hell even Minecraft does it. If Steam pushes out a bad patch, blame the developer that failed to adequately test their update, not the distribution channel. If Notch pushes out a Minecraft update that breaks the game I don't start blaming the Internet.

Demiurge wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
SpacePPoliceman wrote:

I appreciate the segregated spoiler sections--if I care, I can avoid them, if I don't, I can listen. Gives me...what's that word...Agency.

Didn't they cancel that game?

Anyway, I'm probably just miffed that the cast of the show doesn't immediately turn around, write up an amazing article about what they stopped themselves from saying, and send it to me so we can have it edited and workshopped for the following week's Front Page.

Dude, I'm trying!

Cynicide wrote:

Dark Souls loves you and would never lie to you about your abilities, that's why it feels the need to stomp you into the ground when it senses weakness.

Brilliant. Dark Souls loves me. It all makes sense now. Dark Souls is sitting in my console saying "It hurts me more than it hurts you".

freebeema wrote:
Cynicide wrote:

Dark Souls loves you and would never lie to you about your abilities, that's why it feels the need to stomp you into the ground when it senses weakness.

Brilliant. Dark Souls loves me. It all makes sense now. Dark Souls is sitting in my console saying "It hurts me more than it hurts you".

On the other hand, Dark Souls isn't annoyed that I'm in their way, screwing up their fancy QTE cutscenes.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

I'm probably weird for thinking that interest in experiencing a story is less appealing to me than a conversation about the story. I guess that's why I'm an editor.

I'm the same way. I've never found my experience with a story to be lessened by knowing what will happen next, but I've had countless conversations hamstrung prematurely by a fear of spoiling things. What's fun in a story isn't seeing what happens but how it happens and why it happens and what techniques are used to make it happen, all of which can be made richer through conversation.

But...you don't know how you would have felt about the story previously. How can you know that your enjoyment wasn't lessened? Have you been traveling in time and sexing up your grandparents again?

Michael wrote:
OzymandiasAV wrote:

Which will only make their inevitable betrayal that much more painful.

What betrayal are you concerned about? That someday they're going to throw the giant knife switch in the sky, turn off the lights and take all our money? Or that they'll do something that makes Left 4 Dead fans angry about dlc? (Everything seems to make them angry anyway.) More hats?

I just can't justify not using the superior service because I'm afraid of some nebulous Bad Thing that MIGHT happen someday.

I'm not saying we shouldn't use Steam. I myself own a few games on Steam (Plants versus Zombies is one of them) I'm saying I don't want Steam (or any digital download model) to be my only option for buying games.

They're always talking on the podcast about how the elimination of plastic disc based media is going away and how awesome that future is. I'm saying it's a future I don't want, any more than I want a future where the only restaurant is Taco Bell.

Saying you want to have the ability to choose not to do something isn't the same as saying you don't want anyone else to choose it. In this scenario, I'm not the one who gets giddy at the prospect of someone elses choices being reduced.

muttonchop wrote:

Can we please retire these examples? They're terrible, and they do nothing whatsoever to further your argument. Any game can be designed in a way that allows it to automatically receive updates, Steam just makes it easier. This is not a Steam-specific problem.

And the fact that ANY DDO system can do what Steam has the capability to do but "won't" because they're too nice is supposed to be a strike against my argument? You're right, it's not just steam. It's any DDO provider. I fail to see how this makes it better.

It's bad enough that disc based games often have the same patch problem. But at least if I don't like a patch I can uninstall and reinstall to an older release. With DDO you can't back it up, you can't resell it, you can't even give it to a friend once you're done because you don't actually get anything for your money. Not even a disc that contains a gold copy of the media.

Gamestop may be operated by some mythical creature of unparalleled voraciousness (possibly a grue), but at least I can take a stack of games I don't want to play anymore and get credit to buy new games. I bought Oblivion on disc because I loved Fallout 3 so much. Couldn't stand the game, so I traded it in. In the DDO world that everyone here seems to want to live in, the full purchase price would have been forfeit and the only evidence that I received any value for my money would be a PDF of a receipt.

I'm not so adamantly opposed to pants that I want that to be everyone's experience.

kazooka wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

I'm probably weird for thinking that interest in experiencing a story is less appealing to me than a conversation about the story. I guess that's why I'm an editor.

I'm the same way. I've never found my experience with a story to be lessened by knowing what will happen next, but I've had countless conversations hamstrung prematurely by a fear of spoiling things. What's fun in a story isn't seeing what happens but how it happens and why it happens and what techniques are used to make it happen, all of which can be made richer through conversation.

But...you don't know how you would have felt about the story previously. How can you know that your enjoyment wasn't lessened? Have you been traveling in time and sexing up your grandparents again?

At least for me, I'm far less interested in the experience of the story. Even if the story were half as "fun" for me, if the conversation were then 10% deeper because of it, I would feel like that was a good deal.

There's no shortage of fun or game experiences for me. And frankly, a lot of games don't value my time as much as I do.

muttonchop wrote:
mrtomaytohead wrote:

Point being, Portal and PvZ are not the only times Valve has forced an update that's caused issues, they're just the biggest instances and just about the only ones that got press. Yet, I still make Steam my much preferred PC gaming platform, because they have yet to rip a game from my library or do something of nearly unforgivable measure. It should also be noted that the game updates for all but Portal were mandated by the developers. I just wish Steam would have an option for delaying updates when it will impact gameplay/progress.

So again, Steam's only involvement is as a distributor. This isn't a Steam issue, it's a general digital distribution issue. You don't even need a platform like Steam for this to be a problem, there is plenty of software out there that automatically updates itself. Microsoft, Adobe, and Mozilla products do it, hell even Minecraft does it. If Steam pushes out a bad patch, blame the developer that failed to adequately test their update, not the distribution channel. If Notch pushes out a Minecraft update that breaks the game I don't start blaming the Internet.

Except that in both Microsoft and Adobe's situation (haven't ever gone option hunting in Firefox) they let you disable / put off the updates. Steam has a 'do not update' option that basically just keeps it from updating under some random unknown circumstance or while you are already in another game. That's a big difference. I was able to avoid Windows 7 SP1 (and even do a restore to prior to the update) when there was one small feature I didn't want to lose due to the update.

MojoBox wrote:

The hysterics I've heard on a few different podcasts over the Catwoman DLC is pretty stupid (I'm looking at you Garnett Lee) considering what a minor part of the game it is.

Agreed. We'll see how long that podcast stays in my list. I also found it interesting that no one in that discussion has pointed out that, if you can't or don't use the code, it still has value, whether or not you resell the game. So, you're paying $60 for a $50 game and a $10 code you can choose to use or sell.

Also, 4 hours for 250MB? Holy crap PSN sucks.

Maybe it's because I'm not trying to grab these things on day one, but even 2GB downloads don't take 4 hours for me. I think I typically sustain somewhere between 50 and 100 MB per minute.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

It's bad enough that disc based games often have the same patch problem. But at least if I don't like a patch I can uninstall and reinstall to an older release.

Unless the game has any sort of auto-update functionality, then you'll still need to unplug your router every time you play - better hope it doesn't have any Ubisoft-style DRM that requires an internet connection, or you're doubly screwed. Look, if you can't trust a developer to not mess around with your game, then don't buy their games. Don't blame the infrastructure when the content creator is acting in bad faith.

walkera wrote:
Also, 4 hours for 250MB? Holy crap PSN sucks.

Maybe it's because I'm not trying to grab these things on day one, but even 2GB downloads don't take 4 hours for me. I think I typically sustain somewhere between 50 and 100 MB per minute.

1) The PS3 wireless is slow as crap. Never use it. When I switched to wired my speeds skyrocketed compared to what I was getting before. Could be the issue here.

2) 50mb a minute? You sure about that? What in the hell kind of internet do you have cause I want.

3) Sometimes downloads do take a lot longer than they should. The 1 gig update for GT5 went incredibly slow for me the other week. I think their network just sucks sometimes. And I wasn't downloading it right when the patch was released either. So, it's possible he just got on at the wrong time.

4) I don't like ending on odd numbers.

2) 50mb a minute? You sure about that? What in the hell kind of internet do you have cause I want.

I could pull that down in 10 seconds at home off Steam. What kind of sad, slow connection you running?

Certis wrote:
2) 50mb a minute? You sure about that? What in the hell kind of internet do you have cause I want.

I could pull that down in 10 seconds at home off Steam. What kind of sad, slow connection you running? ;)

lol Yeah, my brain read that as seconds for some reason.

Even 50MB/s doesn't strike me as crazy in some countries.

Broke the spoiler talk into its own thread. I think we had this discussion a year or two ago, but there a lot of new folks now so it could pick up some steam anyway.

It's my dead horse, and I'll beat it if I want to!

Scratched wrote:

Even 50MB/s doesn't strike me as crazy in some countries.

Yeah, but probably not in Seattle. At least not on the cheap.

Are you guys meaning big-B Bytes or little-b bits? 50Mb/sec isn't at all unreasonable, but 50MB/sec (or 400Mb/sec) seems high for pretty much anywhere.