GWJ Conference Call Episode 271

Conference Call

The Old Republic, Pushmo, Trine 2, iOS Games, Chasing The Launch Day High, Your Emails and more!

This week is all about the MMOs! Mainly The Old Republic, but Sean, Shawn, Julian and Cory also get into their fondest memories from MMO launches of yore.

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.

Sponsor

Audible
Tech Thing Daily
Game Thing Daily
Good Old Games

Pushmo
Trine 2
The Old Republic General
The Old Republic Grey Council
The Old Republic Imperial Paper Pushers
Pollinate Worlds
[url=
iPad Boardgames
Containment

  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Subscribe with RSS
  • Subscribe with Yahoo!
Download the official apps
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android

Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

The Mandalorian Blockade - Star Wars: The Old Republic - http://www.swtor.com - 42:43

Main Theme - Everquest - http://www.everquest.com - 52:19

Comments

Listening tot the podcast I have to say you can't (well shouldn't) give credit for influencing companions to Dragon Age, that comes from KotOR.

Valmorian wrote:

I can't help but shake my head at all the anti Dark Souls sentiment on the podcast. Seriously! Rabbit often talks about how hard Mario is, but you don't see him talk about it being a masochist's dream the way he does Dark Souls.

Maybe they should actually give it a good try instead of just rolling their eyes and dismissing it.

You're new. Welcome to the site!

I think you're misreading the comments. The CCers like to make how casual, approachable, and how non-hardcore they are - right before they talk about how awesome Flight Simulator X is because of how true the cockpit controls are on a triple monitor setup with Track IR and customized map textures. It's really hard to overstate how hardcore rabbit is because he makes his own frickin' MAME cabinet.

When he says a game is too hard and disses it as a masochist's dream, I interpret that as one of his many vain attempts to fool us about how big his gaming physique really is. He just doesn't want to scare you off, is what I'm thinking.

Of course, Dark Souls isn't really hard so much as it is niche. When people complain about how hard it is, what they're really saying is that they're having problems buying into the game's premises, and that's something to which no gamer is immune.

Regarding Graphical Blandness:

I found the commentary about the blandness of the scenery interesting. This is not endemic to Biowaree, or at least of all their studios. Baldur's Gate was blah-ish but Throne of Bhaal had a bunch of memorable locales.

Notably, I found nearly all of the locations in both Mass Effect games to be memorable and remarkable, whereas the environments in both Dragon Ages were weaker. In fact, my memory of my many playthroughs in both ME games are rooted in the progression of locales, whereas in the Dragon Age games, they're tied to character events.

Regarding "cut-scenes":

Bioware's interactive story bits are derived from its RPG past - it's from when games had long dialogues and multiple options choices in dialogue boxes. This has since died out from Western gaming until recently, but has always enjoyed great popularity among Japanese otaku as AVNs, known in the West as "Japanese Dating Sims."

Often (fairly or unfairly) characterized as pornographic games, Japanese AVNs have nonetheless developed into games with complex interactive game and character design, primarily because it's frickin hard to jerk off to generic nude cartoon illustrations. If that were all an AVN offered, they'd have died off from the competition with doujinshi.

I don't know which Bioware staff member has a secret stash of these things, but it's a good thing that he does, because Bioware has brought this sort of game into mainstream Western gamer sensibility. If you've played through either Mass Effect or Dragon Age enough to have bedded anyone, congratulations, you have now played through a Japanese Dating Sim, or should I say, a Western Dating Sim. Your character even gets to have sex.

In fact, Dragon Age 2 is almost prototypical of the modern Japanese adventure story game, including a cast of complex characters, the requirement of multiple playthroughs to see all the narrative content, and fleshing out a complex narrative from multiple perspectives through multiple playthroughs.

The only other similar mash-ups of story-game + other-game that I know are Sakura Wars, and the Persona JRPG series, both of which feature significant amounts more "gaming" in the personal interaction parts of the interactive story.

Apart from bringing the format Westward, Bioware is also notable in being the first in making their story games animated rather than read.

So since SWTOR is a Bioware game, does that mean the next time Rob Zacny and Pyroman are on the podcast you'll dedicate an hour to how bad it is?

I keed, I keed!

I think you're misreading the comments. The CCers like to make how casual, approachable, and how non-hardcore they are - right before they talk about how awesome Flight Simulator X is because of how true the cockpit controls are on a triple monitor setup with Track IR and customized map textures. It's really hard to overstate how hardcore rabbit is because he makes his own frickin' MAME cabinet.

Those aren't remotely the same kind of difficult/hardcore. Finding something to invest time and dedication into is not the same as encountering a game that is obstinately operating from a position of being intentionally difficult. There are audiences for both, but I suspect that you are being intentionally obtuse about the obvious distinction so that you can get to the part where you do the catty psychoanalysis.

Doesn't make it right, though.

I think that the obviousness of that distinction depends on where you are on a game - whether its systems tickle your fancy or not. Flight Simulator X could be a much simpler, much easier game; but its designers specifically chose not to go that route, arguably making the game "intentionally difficult." Dark Souls seems like a similar design, with the exception that it doesn't teach you any complete skillsets that are directly applicable to operating real machinery, or earning real money.

There's also this distinction of a game being difficult just to be difficult - such as a random lottery gateway that kills you 99% of the time, with a 20 minute forced replay section in front of it. That's just obnoxious however you spin that. "Difficult" games of the ilk of Dark Souls are hard because they demands a rather complex skill set to be mastered, and they demand it up front - which is an issue of learning curve and tutorial design.

I note that building a MAME cabinet also has a rather steep learning curve, nonexistent tutorial design, and has an indeterminate percentage of random project failure. Rated as a game, it'd be hella hardcore.

I think the problem is labels, and applying them across everything. There's many aspects and flavours that fit under 'gaming', so as I see it, it would be like me saying I really like reading crime thriller novels, someone describing me as a 'hardcore book reader', and someone else assuming I absolutely love all types of books. The label doesn't describe enough.

Possibly stepping on a discussion landmine here, but perhaps rabbit needs to be a little more open with his preferences if he's coming across as stating absolutes. Perhaps he just doesn't like DS as much as he likes Mario/Flight sim. And that's perfectly fine.

This is all assuming I'm reading this discussion correctly, as I don't really listen to the CC any more.

LarryC wrote:

There's also this distinction of a game being difficult just to be difficult - such as a random lottery gateway that kills you 99% of the time, with a 20 minute forced replay section in front of it. That's just obnoxious however you spin that. "Difficult" games of the ilk of Dark Souls are hard because they demands a rather complex skill set to be mastered, and they demand it up front - which is an issue of learning curve and tutorial design.

I note that building a MAME cabinet also has a rather steep learning curve, nonexistent tutorial design, and has an indeterminate percentage of random project failure. Rated as a game, it'd be hella hardcore.

Difficult just-to-be-difficult doesn't necessarily mean random death lottery. It also means a game with, for example, incredibly unforgiving timing. That's what I understand is the case with dark souls-- you have a 43 millisecond window to press the attack button, and if you miss it either way you're dead. That's difficult just to be difficult. And that boils down to a physical reflex-time capability that some people will never be able actually learn.

And that's different for different people. I, for example, have never been good at Bullet-hell schmups. Too much going on at the same time, and I literally can't process it all-- it's a brain chemistry thing. Some people, like my wife, process visual information faster and can therefore do better at that sort of thing than I can. I can no more teach myself to be better at schmups than Julian can teach himself to differentiate red and green.

That doesn't mean I don't consider myself a gamer, or that I shouldn't. And it doesn't mean I'm valuing some sort of amateur status where I pretend I get benefits by pretending I'm bad at games in general.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

Difficult just-to-be-difficult doesn't necessarily mean random death lottery. It also means a game with, for example, incredibly unforgiving timing. That's what I understand is the case with dark souls-- you have a 43 millisecond window to press the attack button, and if you miss it either way you're dead. That's difficult just to be difficult. And that boils down to a physical reflex-time capability that some people will never be able actually learn.

You're understanding of Dark Souls is wrong, sadly. Dark Souls is much more forgiving than an arbitrary button press within a certain window that will end your game "if you miss it either way". That sounds more like God of War and it's infernal QTE's.

In Dark Souls almost nothing can one-hit kill you (on your first playthrough) and the margin for error, while narrower than many modern spoonfeed-the-player-victory games, is substantial.

AndrewA wrote:
doubtingthomas396 wrote:

Difficult just-to-be-difficult doesn't necessarily mean random death lottery. It also means a game with, for example, incredibly unforgiving timing. That's what I understand is the case with dark souls-- you have a 43 millisecond window to press the attack button, and if you miss it either way you're dead. That's difficult just to be difficult. And that boils down to a physical reflex-time capability that some people will never be able actually learn.

You're understanding of Dark Souls is wrong, sadly. Dark Souls is much more forgiving than an arbitrary button press within a certain window that will end your game "if you miss it either way". That sounds more like God of War and it's infernal QTE's.

In Dark Souls almost nothing can one-hit kill you (on your first playthrough) and the margin for error, while narrower than many modern spoonfeed-the-player-victory games, is substantial.

You'll get no argument from me on QTEs. Anything in any game that send you back to the beginning because of one mistake is difficult just to be difficult.

LarryC wrote:

There's also this distinction of a game being difficult just to be difficult - such as a random lottery gateway that kills you 99% of the time, with a 20 minute forced replay section in front of it. That's just obnoxious however you spin that. "Difficult" games of the ilk of Dark Souls are hard because they demands a rather complex skill set to be mastered, and they demand it up front - which is an issue of learning curve and tutorial design.

I totally agree! Dark Souls is similar to another game I love which will probably make people go "HUH?", Team Fortress 2. While playing both games I feel like I'm constantly learning new tricks and new skills that help me succeed.

Elysium wrote:

Those aren't remotely the same kind of difficult/hardcore. Finding something to invest time and dedication into is not the same as encountering a game that is obstinately operating from a position of being intentionally difficult.

I'd suggest that Dark Souls IS a game that rewards time and dedication, and is not operating from a position of being intentionally difficult (at least no more than many other difficult video games). It IS difficult, but only in that it demands a certain skillset, much like many other games do.

I think the real issue with Dark Souls is that it's the only RPG I know of that plays more like a demanding platformer. If you're used to MMO's or RPGs where you walk through all the little baddies like they aren't even there, then Dark Souls will be a shock.

Hey, I say this as someone who eventually abandoned Dark Souls, but to dismiss it as "just that masochistic hard game" is ignoring everything that makes that game so loved by the people who love it. I can SEE the brilliance in that game, and unlike many video games every time I die in that game I feel like it was my fault. Much like a good platformer..

Elysium wrote:

Those aren't remotely the same kind of difficult/hardcore. Finding something to invest time and dedication into is not the same as encountering a game that is obstinately operating from a position of being intentionally difficult.

I'd suggest that Dark Souls IS a game that rewards time and dedication, and is not operating from a position of being intentionally difficult (at least no more than many other difficult video games). It IS difficult, but only in that it demands a certain skillset, much like many other games do.

I think the real issue with Dark Souls is that it's the only RPG I know of that plays more like a demanding platformer. If you're used to MMO's or RPGs where you walk through all the little baddies like they aren't even there, then Dark Souls will be a shock.

Hey, I say this as someone who eventually abandoned Dark Souls, but to dismiss it as "just that masochistic hard game" is ignoring everything that makes that game so loved by the people who love it. I can SEE the brilliance in that game, and unlike many video games every time I die in that game I feel like it was my fault. Much like a good platformer..

Valmorian wrote:
Elysium wrote:

Those aren't remotely the same kind of difficult/hardcore. Finding something to invest time and dedication into is not the same as encountering a game that is obstinately operating from a position of being intentionally difficult.

I'd suggest that Dark Souls IS a game that rewards time and dedication, and is not operating from a position of being intentionally difficult (at least no more than many other difficult video games). It IS difficult, but only in that it demands a certain skillset, much like many other games do.

I think the real issue with Dark Souls is that it's the only RPG I know of that plays more like a demanding platformer. If you're used to MMO's or RPGs where you walk through all the little baddies like they aren't even there, then Dark Souls will be a shock.

Hey, I say this as someone who eventually abandoned Dark Souls, but to dismiss it as "just that masochistic hard game" is ignoring everything that makes that game so loved by the people who love it. I can SEE the brilliance in that game, and unlike many video games every time I die in that game I feel like it was my fault. Much like a good platformer..

It sounds more like a racing game to me.

In order to succeed in later circuits in racing games you have to race ab-so-lute-ly perfectly, which means playing the same course fifty times in a row while never breaking second place.

If you're dedicated enough, you can excel at a racing game. Personally, I don't have the kind of time to dedicate myself to that. I recognize that about myself, and don't play racing games. Sounds like Demon/Dark Souls have the same ethos as racing games-- practice until you're perfect, then practice some more-- which is why I avoid it. Other people dig it, but it's not for me.

That's a good call, Thomas. I think CY even tossed around that idea a bit in early drafts of his article before he settled on the Rocky training-montage theme.