GWJ Conference Call Episode 267

Conference Call

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D Land, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Civilization World, Take on Helicopters, More Skyrim, Skyrim Mods, Why Should We Care About Your Quest, Your Emails and more!

This week Allen and Rob Zacny join Shawn to talk a bunch of new games and where Skyrim falls short. Karla also hops in for a segment to talk about Zelda: Skyward Sword!

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

Zelda: Skyward Sword
Super Mario 3D Land
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
Skyrim Mod Thread
Civ World
Take on Helicopters

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Menu Theme - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - http://zelda.com/skywardsword/ - 35:30

Explore Day 2 - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - http://www.elderscrolls.com/skyrim/ - 47:46

Comments

No Saints Row The Third talk? No thanks.

Speedhuntr wrote:

No Saints Row The Third talk? No thanks. ;)

Still no discussion of To the Moon? I say no thanks as well.

Can't wait to listen tomorrow.

Here it goes...

00:01:11 Super Mario Land 3D ("The Thing that Makes that Impulse Purchase I Made OK Now")
00:06:18 Madden... 11? GO BEARS
00:11:56 Civ World on Facebook - Like an old best friend now living out of his van - and the unsolved problem of social gaming
00:19:30 Take on Helicopter
00:27:29 Assassin's Creed: Revelations (00:31:52 - 00:33:20 a little bit of story/plot talk)
00:35:59 Karla and Certis talk Skyward Sword (some spoilers here and there)
00:48:40 Why we hate Skyrim. (Possibly hyperbole)
01:12:35 Skyrim mod talk (nude ladies among the top 10? Stunned.)
01:16:06 Your emails (01:23:54 - 01:25:16 a clearly stated spoiler alert for Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
01:33:34 my jet lagged sorry self going to bed.

nb someone forgot the transition music before the emails

Speedhuntr wrote:

No Saints Row The Third talk? No thanks. ;)

Seconded.

They spent a month talking about games I didn't care about (Uncharted, Battlefield, Dark Souls, Forza 4, Dragon Age), or massive sections about games I do care about but can't listen to (Arkham City spoilers) an episode about Skyrim, and now they're back to games I don't care about again.

I almost let the CC'ers talk me out of buying Batman, Arkham City, but it came up as a black Friday deal on Amazon so I bought it with money I've been promised for Christmas. Hope I don't regret it.

Just the price of loving games nobody else does, I guess.

Surprising downer of a podcast. 25 minutes devoted to why skyrim is unsatisfying, balanced by a 30 second disclaimer about how Certis is enjoying it and it's worth playing? I can understand the CC'ers feeling like this is balanced by last week's love talk, but I think you guys came across harsher than you intended. So much negativity at once can leave a lasting impression, and it seemed that most of the criticisms weren't specifically about Skyrim, but more about the limitations that RPGs in general face.

I picked up Skyrim about a week after it came out. I didn't really like Oblivion, and didn't expect to like Skyrim. It took a lot of positive feedback from the gaming community to get me on board. A wet blanket like this discussion from an outlet I trust and admire may have kept me from picking up a game that I currently consider my game of the year - possibly my game of the last 2-3 years.

To be fair, a great deal of the criticism in this podcast about Skyrim was extremely specific, and unlikely to dissuade gamers who like this sort of game. It's a sandbox sort of game, and that kind of design really doesn't lend itself well to pacing or engaging storylines, or to reactive worlds with profound changes according to how the PC acts.

On the other hand, much of this sort of criticism is a little like being down on Street Fighter for its narrative paucity. Of course, no one who likes Street Fighter could possibly take that kind of talk at all seriously.

My comment was less about the content of the criticisms, many of which were fair, and more about spending so much time downing a game without coming up for air or putting context around the criticisms. They did this with Rage, too. But unlike Rage most of the podcast crew seem to wholely endorse Skyrim.

I dont get too caught up on whatever the specific games are that the CC crew are discussing during a particular week. I don't really have an expectation that they are going to discuss my game, though its of course interesting when gaming paths are aligned. Maybe I take things too simple, but I just enjoy hearing them discuss gaming. I leave it up to myself how that relates the games I currently have installed and am enjoying.

Speedhuntr wrote:

No Saints Row The Third talk? No thanks. ;)

It's on my list of games to play in a few weeks. I don't like playing more than two at a time when I can manage it. Saints Row was one too many

Another demanding Saints Row 3 be played and conversated!

Oooh, oooh! Can we vote on which games get lynched next? I vote for Civ Rev on the iPad! It'd make a nice counterpoint to Civ World discussed this week.

trueheart78 wrote:

Another demanding Saints Row 3 be played and conversated!

Thirded.

Spoiler:

See what I did there? =P

I knew I came into work for some reason today. Listening now.

Quick note about Madden and sliders - Bill Harris is no longer doing them. He's lost interest in the game. Can't blame him as the broken stuff (a la coverage) continues to be broken.

Yes, good points about that Deus Ex moment that fell flat, and the need for there to be some kind of undercurrent (beyond simple 'triumph') for an encounter to excel. I don't know if it was intentional (since they don't really follow up on it), but the game sets up a Some Kind of Wonderful-esque triangle that created the biggest emotional charge of the game for me, halfway through. Not exactly a boss battle, but it made that battle 'boss'.

Re: Saint's Row 3

The only reason there was no discussion is because I wasn't on the show, once again highlighting why it's awesome when I'm on the show. On the upside, this will hopefully give me some time to dig into SR3 a little more before talking.

Spoiler: It's pretty damn good.

Morrowind was 2001, just for the record, not 1995. Actually there was a lot of inaccurate stuff in the Skyrim talk, but it isn't that big a deal.

MojoBox wrote:

Morrowind was 2001, just for the record, not 1995. Actually there was a lot of inaccurate stuff in the Skyrim talk, but it isn't that big a deal.

It's what happens when you reach 30. (For the record, Certis may have meant to refer back to Arena, which was 1995 or so.)

Bullion Cube wrote:

My comment was less about the content of the criticisms, many of which were fair, and more about spending so much time downing a game without coming up for air or putting context around the criticisms. They did this with Rage, too. But unlike Rage most of the podcast crew seem to wholely endorse Skyrim.

Actually... I put about 15 or so hours into Skyrim and haven't felt much of an urge to play it these past few days. It's impressive, but the issues I mentioned are also the sort that drive me crazy. And I concede that, as LarryC says, it comes with the territory in this genre.

But I'm speaking as someone who struggles to get into this genre at times, for reasons like: intentionally vague characters, poorly-developed or nonexistent relationships, impersonal storylines, unconvincing worlds, etc. So I look at a game like Skyrim and think, "Maybe this time," but so far it isn't working out that way.

It is a beautiful game. But in 15 hours on Adept, while I saw a lot of breathtaking views and enjoyed wandering the world, I felt neither challenged nor invested. Those are two major problems for me. I think it's worth raising them, even if it doesn't agree with the vast majority of people's experience (like the one you're having). If I were on the fence about this, I might want to hear this perspective, and take it with the grains of salt we provided.

"Speak, outlander!"

Playing as a Nord, I get a lot of Nord-friendly barks from NPCs. And if a fellow Nord catches me thieving, he is profoundly disappointed.

Rob's story about the Justicars is odd. I goad Justicars into their deaths left and right, and have never had a problem with the law. Maybe an NPC somewhere saw Rob's attack. I've had bounties voided when I killed the last/only witness, a la Red Dead Redemption. If no one sees or survives an illegal action, there shouldn't be a bounty.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

Here it goes...

00:01:11 Super Mario Land 3D ("The Thing that Makes that Impulse Purchase I Made OK Now")
00:06:18 Madden... 11? GO BEARS
00:11:56 Civ World on Facebook - Like an old best friend now living out of his van - and the unsolved problem of social gaming
00:19:30 Take on Helicopter
00:27:29 Assassin's Creed: Revelations (00:31:52 - 00:33:20 a little bit of story/plot talk)
00:35:59 Karla and Certis talk Skyward Sword (some spoilers here and there)
00:48:40 Why we hate Skyrim. (Possibly hyperbole)
01:12:35 Skyrim mod talk (nude ladies among the top 10? Stunned.)
01:16:06 Your emails (01:23:54 - 01:25:16 a clearly stated spoiler alert for Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
01:33:34 my jet lagged sorry self going to bed.

nb someone forgot the transition music before the emails

Thanks for doing this man, I've been struggling to keep Skyrim all blacked-out until I can play it on the 30th.

Bullion Cube wrote:

Surprising downer of a podcast. 25 minutes devoted to why skyrim is unsatisfying, balanced by a 30 second disclaimer about how Certis is enjoying it and it's worth playing? I can understand the CC'ers feeling like this is balanced by last week's love talk, but I think you guys came across harsher than you intended. So much negativity at once can leave a lasting impression, and it seemed that most of the criticisms weren't specifically about Skyrim, but more about the limitations that RPGs in general face.

I picked up Skyrim about a week after it came out. I didn't really like Oblivion, and didn't expect to like Skyrim. It took a lot of positive feedback from the gaming community to get me on board. A wet blanket like this discussion from an outlet I trust and admire may have kept me from picking up a game that I currently consider my game of the year - possibly my game of the last 2-3 years.

I felt the same way about how they handled Batman, Arkham City (except they didn't devote previous podcasts to how great it was). If it weren't for the constant, explicit statements of "This is a great game" I wouldn't have come away with the impression that the game was any good at all. It's like the love affair between Padme and Anakin. The only way you know they like each other is because Lucas made them say it every five minutes.

I understand why people who write for a living to say "I really love this! Here's fifty reasons why you shouldn't!" Negative criticism is more fun and puts more eyeballs on screens (Yahtzee built a career out of it) And sometimes it's even helpful in managing expectations (if you go into a game where every comment has been sunshine and unicorns, it's almost impossible to enjoy because your expectations are set so high they cannot possibly be met).

At the same time, though, sometimes it just feels like the person doing the criticising is just jaded and doesn't like fun anymore. There's a lot of movie reviewers like that, people who couldn't be coerced to say a nice word about a fun movie even if you threatened to sit on his hornrim glasses and stupid hat.

Then again, hearing everyone repeat the mantra "So Good" for an hour and a half wouldn't make for a good podcast, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

All that said, I love the podcast. Keep up the good work.

There is a way to describe the good qualities of a game without repeating the same platitudes over and over; but I'm not sure anyone would really be inteterested in hearing the minutiae of game design. Moreover, game design and game theory is so varied and so little studied that I don't know that anyone is qualified to discuss it in a purely scientific manner.

Finally, a podcast is a spoken medium. There's only so much you can say on air before you become a droning voice that puts everyone to sleep. I think Cory could be asked to make a comparative and detailed analysis between the design of Batman, Ninja Gaiden, and Street Fighter, but no one would stay awake through the experience (not his fault, though).

I understand the desire for fair and balanced (yeah, I said it) views on games where good and bad get equal representation all the time, but we're not robots. We can't spend an hour building perfect context for every game and still have fun doing the show in the off the cuff way we do it.

My views on Assassin's Creed: Revelations don't exist in a vacuum. I don't need to spend an extra 10 minutes extolling the virtues of stuff the series has always done well when I have a half dozen shows previous that do just that. Same for Skyrim in this case.

Certis wrote:

I understand the desire for fair and balanced (yeah, I said it) views on games where good and bad get equal representation all the time, but we're not robots. We can't spend an hour building perfect context for every game and still have fun doing the show in the off the cuff way we do it.

My views on Assassin's Creed: Revelations don't exist in a vacuum. I don't need to spend an extra 10 minutes extolling the virtues of stuff the series has always done well when I have a half dozen shows previous that do just that. Same for Skyrim in this case.

That's understood. I think it's a pitfall of playing all the games, or at least all the relevant ones. If you hadn't played all of the other Assassin's Creed games, or if you hadn't played Oblivion or any of the older Elder Scrolls games, then the show this week would be different.

The most instructive example is in this weeks show-- Jumping from Madden 2001 to Madden 2011 without playing the interim Maddens means that you can see the forest without getting into a deep dive on all the termites living in the trees. But playing Madden every year, yeah you're going to get hung up on the stuff they didn't fix.

(Of course, that didn't stop everyone from complaining about the broken pass-across-the-middle thing, but that seems like a legitimate gripe if you're into simulations.)

I will say, however, that if I had all the criticisms about Skyrim that you guys had, I wouldn't continue playing it. I don't have enough money or time to play games that I don't love so I can keep up with the Stans. But I have that luxury, since I don't do a weekly podcast about games.

Incidentally, the criticisms of Skyrim in this episode pretty much read like a laundry list of why I hated Oblivion (I stopped playing shortly after becoming a Blade, and well before I hit level 10 because I couldn't invest myself in the world). Personally, I don't feel the same way about Skyrim. I think it's because the story, while as important to the world, isn't as urgent. In Oblivion, gates to hell were opening up all over the place but nobody cared and everyone wanted me to help them with their inlaws. In this game, the dragons are a problem but they're not everywhere all at once threatening the fabric of spacetime. The story here lends itself more to the leisurely sandbox pace, in my opinion anyway.

But that's probably me putting myself into it. Your character starts out as a prisoner, and ends up the DragonBorn. For me that makes this a story of redemption, so all the side quests and delays become a character study. Character studies are out of fashion these days, however, so I can see where it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea.

I agree wholeheartedly that the main story arc of Fallout 3 was a prime example of how to do this sort of thing correctly. Make the story personal. You can save the world, just don't explicitly say "Hey, this dude is the Chosen One." That's a recipe for letdown.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

I will say, however, that if I had all the criticisms about Skyrim that you guys had, I wouldn't continue playing it.

Considering (assuming I'm remembering this correctly) you're the one who won't play Uncharted because you didn't like the original's demo, I can understand where you're coming from

From a broader perspective, I don't think I could have the same disappointment with AC: Revelations or critisisms of Skyrim if I didn't love the series they belong to. You have to invest in something to really be able to drill down into the things you like or don't like about it. I can criticize Skyrim for what I largely consider to be limitations of the genre and still play the game for 60+ hours and enjoy the experience.

Bullion Cube wrote:

Surprising downer of a podcast. 25 minutes devoted to why skyrim is unsatisfying, balanced by a 30 second disclaimer about how Certis is enjoying it and it's worth playing? I can understand the CC'ers feeling like this is balanced by last week's love talk, but I think you guys came across harsher than you intended. So much negativity at once can leave a lasting impression, and it seemed that most of the criticisms weren't specifically about Skyrim, but more about the limitations that RPGs in general face.

I didn't want to reply to this until I had time to re-listen to the segment. I actually book ended that discussion with mentions of how much I liked the game and followed that up with a discussion about how cool modding is. I understand criticism can sound a bit louder, but there was positive things in there and we did speak more broadly about genre limitations. If someone passed on the game based purely on that discussion, I suspect we did them a huge favor. Mission accomplished.

Certis wrote:
doubtingthomas396 wrote:

I will say, however, that if I had all the criticisms about Skyrim that you guys had, I wouldn't continue playing it.

Considering (assuming I'm remembering this correctly) you're the one who won't play Uncharted because you didn't like the original's demo, I can understand where you're coming from ;)

Certis remembers who I am. Squee!

Certis wrote:

From a broader perspective, I don't think I could have the same disappointment with AC: Revelations or critisisms of Skyrim if I didn't love the series they belong to. You have to invest in something to really be able to drill down into the things you like or don't like about it. I can criticize Skyrim for what I largely consider to be limitations of the genre and still play the game for 60+ hours and enjoy the experience.

Makes sense to me. Kind of like Red Sox fans, except you don't riot when Bethesda gets a 10/10 score on metacritic.

I should have known not to listen when I saw the Negative Nancys were on! LOL, JK. I don't agree with the Skyrim talk, but to each his own. I don't think I could go a week without listening to the podcast anyway...

Did someone forget to add music? Usually you would put in a little game audio in between segments after a transition. But Certis says "And coming up, your emails!" *Silence*...*Silence*...*Silence*... AAAAND WERE BACK!

It was music and commentary for a dog game. Lassie thought they were a bit harsh, but totally fair.