GWJ Conference Call Episode 274

Conference Call

Deus Ex HR: The Missing Link, King Arthur The Roleplaying Wargame 2, Saints Row The Third, The Old Republic, Special Guests Justin McElroy and Russ Pitts, Your Emails and more!

This week Cory, Elysium and Shawn are joined by Russ Pitts and Justin McElroy to talk about their plans(ish) for their new gaming site.

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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The Old Republic
Deus Ex: The Missing Link
King Arthur The Roleplaying Wargame 2

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Die Anyway (BigBot Audio Drop) - SGX - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 34:05

True (BigBot Audio Drop) - SGX - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 1:01:14

Comments

DeusEx DLC: You had me on shirtless. I gotta go...

Something to really look forward to after my busy day at work.

A great show that I listened to this morning on the way to work. Especially when Justin started berating the emailer over his confession of playing a PSP game for 700 hours over a period of a year!

Haven't listened to the last couple of minutes, due to a quicker than usual commute, but damn fine episode.

Re: Socializing in MMOs - it's an iterative process. As a person with reasonably serious social anxiety issues, even socializing in a game space can be tough for me. Initially, on playing WoW, I was only really 'friends' with my wife and family. I'd talk with people, but I never formed any sort of lasting relationship. Fast forward to shortly before Wrath of the Lich King. I've quit playing for a few months, but I've also begun listening to the GWJ podcast and lurking on the forums. I decide to make a character, join the GWJ guild, and delurk from the forums. I played a bit, enjoyed myself, but still didn't feel like I was making friends as such. Ultimately, I stayed around the forums, though, and began to interact socially with *lots* of people. That's where the real friendships began, loosely as a result of an MMO. Now, on playing TOR, I see people that I feel friendship towards, not because of our shared guild status, but because I've typed to them for hundreds of lines of text, back and forth over the forums. Which never would have happened without the MMO.

Re: VOX media - I agree with Cory (no pun intended here) - in that having authorial voice(s) is critically important in making a site interesting for more than an article or two. I'm not looking for another online home - I've pretty much got that covered, here. I also think that humor should be in service of a theme, or getting a good point across - don't fall into the Spike/G4 trap of thinking that 8-bit fart jokes are enough to sustain an audience that's worth keeping.

Regarding Black n' White options in The Old Republic - did one of the main plot points of KOTOR2 not cover the possibility of a "grey" alternative path?

e.g:

Spoiler:

The grooming of the main character by Kreia to follow Revan's footsteps and choose an alternative path to the rigid good/evil options offered by the Sith and Jedi

.

I could be remembering it wrong through.

What was the email that Justin gave out?? Can't find it.

I HAVE AN EVIL TWIN?!

Rat Boy wrote:

I HAVE AN EVIL TWIN?!

Well, you have a twin. Cute that you assume you're the good one.

Certis: I had bad freeze/studders on Saints Row 3 on PC as well when running DirectX 11 on my 6950. This even though it was running at 60fps or so between these freezes. However, it's completely smooth in DirectX 9 mode.

So give that a shot.

I can't believe Certis spoiled the Giant Bomb GOTY!

My wife and always listen to the bombcast together and we're behind from the holidays. We've gone out of our way to avoid watching the videos on the site so we could listen without knowing the outcome. We watched the videos first last year and it made the deliberations a drag.

I know I can't expect all podcasts to fit into my particular listening schedule, but what are the odds that one podcast will spoil another?

Demiurge wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:

I HAVE AN EVIL TWIN?!

Well, you have a twin. Cute that you assume you're the good one.

Aren't "evil = jerk" and being penalized for not pursuing a moral extreme two BioWare mainstays? Those two things are definitely what have always turned me off any BioWare game I've tried playing.

Demiurge wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:

I HAVE AN EVIL TWIN?!

Well, you have a twin. Cute that you assume you're the good one.

Nobody thinks they're the evil twin.

Gravey wrote:

Aren't "evil = jerk" and being penalized for not pursuing a moral extreme two BioWare mainstays? Those two things are definitely what have always turned me off any BioWare game I've tried playing.

My problem with moral choices in games in general is that they always assume that you're playing evil while twilrling a mustache and giggling about how evil you are.

Real villains, real moral choices, aren't like that. Every ounce of evil perpetrated in the real world is committed by someone with an inferiority complex who "just wants to help."

Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Guevara, Bin Laden: These are men who are trying to make what they think is a better world, but are either too stupid, impatient, or insecure to think of a way to convice anyone they're right aside from murdering them.

What I'd like to see in games is a "two sides to a story" kind of moral choice, one where you can pick how you think the best way to resolve situations is best that doesn't boil down to "everybody wins" versus "everybody dies."

After mentioning what he looks for in a website - "ones I'm able to look at and engage with as a reader. . . there are a few that get my attention" - why wouldn't Russ name a single site?

kashwashwa wrote:

After mentioning what he looks for in a website - "ones I'm able to look at and engage with as a reader. . . there are a few that get my attention" - why wouldn't Russ name a single site?

Because he'd be excluding the sites that don't get his attention and that might burn some bridges that he would rather not see burned, especially with the new site launch close at hand.

I was hoping for some discussion of the whole gender issue that was going around twitter a while ago. While I'm not sure there's any way to fix it now that wouldn't offend someone, it would be nice to know if they even thought about it or if they are cognizant of how they'll be seen by the community if their staff at launch is only composed of men.

Tanglebones wrote:

Re: Socializing in MMOs - it's an iterative process. As a person with reasonably serious social anxiety issues, even socializing in a game space can be tough for me. Initially, on playing WoW, I was only really 'friends' with my wife and family. I'd talk with people, but I never formed any sort of lasting relationship. Fast forward to shortly before Wrath of the Lich King. I've quit playing for a few months, but I've also begun listening to the GWJ podcast and lurking on the forums. I decide to make a character, join the GWJ guild, and delurk from the forums. I played a bit, enjoyed myself, but still didn't feel like I was making friends as such. Ultimately, I stayed around the forums, though, and began to interact socially with *lots* of people. That's where the real friendships began, loosely as a result of an MMO.

I think the key part of making friends in general is that you have to interact with a person multiple times, and it has to be a situation where there's a justifiable opportunity to talk about stuff unrelated to the situation at hand. In a MMO this is really only likely when the community is very small, like during beta. The same could be said of meeting people in any setting though. Bonding with some dude over sports in a bar isn't going to make a friend if it's an hour chat and you never see them again. The fact that MMOs and whatever else are online has little to do with it.

Another point I think is important that Elysium did touch on is that social interaction simply isn't natural for some people. Speaking personally, I have no trouble talking to people if the opportunity presents itself, but it's not my natural inclination to do so. If you want to make friends it's more than placing yourself in an appropriate setting and waiting--you really have to make an effort and it may feel awkward, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you've chosen the wrong time or venue for whatever you're considering, it may simply be a function of your personality.

None of the recent Bioware games involve protagonists who could be considered evil. In fact, a jerk Shepard creates an interesting contrast with the polite and urbane Saren.

The ambition around the new media site sounds similar to Grantland, the site that Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman created together. They assembled a group of writers to create the kind of content they didn't see anywhere else.

The Vox Media project will have different ways for users to consume content (Grantland is primarily focused on writing and podcasts), but both sound interested in creating a hub for talented creators to do their thing.

complexmath wrote:

Another point I think is important that Elysium did touch on is that social interaction simply isn't natural for some people. Speaking personally, I have no trouble talking to people if the opportunity presents itself, but it's not my natural inclination to do so. If you want to make friends it's more than placing yourself in an appropriate setting and waiting--you really have to make an effort and it may feel awkward, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you've chosen the wrong time or venue for whatever you're considering, it may simply be a function of your personality.

This.

The emailer needs to consider why he's trying to make friends at all.

If he genuinely feels lonely and craves some kind of interaction, that's one thing. If he's only trying to make connections because everyone he knows tells him he should, he needs to decide what he really wants. And if he doesn't want to do it he shouldn't feel bad for not doing it.

Despite what our culture tells us, there's nothing wrong with wanting to be left the hell alone. Life isn't like Facebook-- you aren't awarded points based on how many people you had meaningless conversations with and called them "friends."

If you want to go out and make lots of friends on WOW, you go ahead and do it. Or go somewhere else and try to make friends there. But only do it if you want to, and don't let anyone guilt you into doing stuff you don't want to do because the prospect of you not going to a party every Thursday night makes them sad.

Just to play devil's advocate, everyone seems to have come down pretty hard on the guy who played 700 hours on that game for his psp in the last year. While I agree that is a LOT of hours, if you think about it that comes out to 2 hours a day (or a few 5 hour-ish sessions per week). For some people's schedules that is less than what they dedicate to gaming on a daily basis. That all that time was directed at one game is, admittedly, a little extreme, but the time spent is, perhaps, not as jaw dropping as it was made out to be.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

It's not like anybody on this site has ever written an incredibly personal story about putting 230 months into Dragon Quest IX over the span of a few months, right?

Wow, that's a lot of months. Time machine?

IlleBellus wrote:

Just to play devil's advocate, everyone seems to have come down pretty hard on the guy who played 700 hours on that game for his psp in the last year. That all that time was directed at one game is, admittedly, a little extreme, but the time spent is, perhaps, not as jaw dropping as it was made out to be.

It's not like anybody on this site has ever written an incredibly personal story about putting 230 hours into Dragon Quest IX over the span of a few months, right?

padriec wrote:

I was hoping for some discussion of the whole gender issue that was going around twitter a while ago. While I'm not sure there's any way to fix it now that wouldn't offend someone, it would be nice to know if they even thought about it or if they are cognizant of how they'll be seen by the community if their staff at launch is only composed of men.

You know, I was hoping for it too, but I think it was probably foolish to have expected anything. Russ and Justin are Friends of the Show and, as we've seen on past episodes like the gamification episode, the crew isn't really interested in holding their guest's feet to the fire. (And why would they be? The show is meant to be a fun, friendly chat about games.)

Unless Russ or Justin brought it up again for discussion, we weren't going to hear a peep. And, considering that Vox removed the Facebook post that started the whole thing, it would be a pretty big surprise if they wanted to bring that up again. Like the song says: "you've got to accentuate the positive / eliminate the negative."

Quintin_Stone wrote:
OzymandiasAV wrote:

It's not like anybody on this site has ever written an incredibly personal story about putting 230 months into Dragon Quest IX over the span of a few months, right?

Wow, that's a lot of months. Time machine?

Well, sure. Now that Braid's been out for a couple of years, time travel has become a common trope in video gaming.

(Edited. Damn it.)

(Side Note: I also found it kind of ironic to hear y'all going on about not caring about things like profitability and advertising in the first episode to feature a full-on TWIT-style interstitial ad for Audible.com. Not that I begrudge you guys, you understand; I don't know Thing 1 about business models or bandwidth costs to run an operation like yours, so whatever you got to do to keep the lights on, that's what you got to do.)

I think that's fair. Sometimes I know I can get caught up in the mentality of where GWJ was born and has been, and that isn't necessarily always where it is at the moment. We're always trying to strike the right balance (meaning sometimes you lean this way, and other times that way) that keeps us independent and relatively lean but helps us maintain what we do.

That's cool, man. I want to reiterate that I've really got no complaints on that front, I just thought it was a cute irony. Y'all are awesome and whatever you've got to do to keep the site and Conference Call up and running is fine by me.

I thought Justin did a really good job of verbalizing the problems facing the gaming press, but in terms of what to do to solve them, boy did he say a whole lot of nothin'. After listening to the whole podcast, I couldn't begin to tell you what this Vox project even is. "Original content." 'Kay. This post is original content, I don't see myself getting a paycheck for it, though. Might be interesting to have him back after the whole thing gets a little less nebulous.

I think part of the problem is the increased blurring of the line between professional and amateur, not just in gaming press, but in almost all areas of media. I mean, GWJ is ostensibly an amateur site, but it's putting out more thoughtful original content than most professional sites, many of which really do fit the stereotype of gaming press as an unofficial PR arm of various video game publishers.

(Side Note: I also found it kind of ironic to hear y'all going on about not caring about things like profitability and advertising in the first episode to feature a full-on TWIT-style interstitial ad for Audible.com. Not that I begrudge you guys, you understand; I don't know Thing 1 about business models or bandwidth costs to run an operation like yours, so whatever you got to do to keep the lights on, that's what you got to do.)

Then you've got something like Giant Bomb, with their focus on the personalities of the crew and lots of video content. That stuff's awesome, I think they've really found a niche that they can serve better than anyone else, and I've been a financial supporter since the day they first asked people to pay for premium memberships because I want them to be able to continue doing what they're doing. That said, when you get down to brass tacks, their Quick Looks and Endurance Runs are just glorified Let's Plays, something the amateur community has been doing for at least five years now. Their other video content also isn't significantly higher in production value or professionalism than what you might find on a particularly well-produced YouTube channel. Same deal on the Escapist, since it seems like most of their video creators ARE amateurs that have been scooped up and incorporated into the site.

Which is not to say that I begrudge them their paychecks. If they can make a living doing goofy crap like that, then I've got nothing but admiration and maybe a little bit of envy. But the sheer breadth of amateur content out there does seem to mean that you've really got to step up your game and set yourself apart if you expect to stand out of the crowd enough to make a living from this stuff.

I found it interesting that Russ said it was a (paraphrasing) great time to start up a new video game website.

It seems to me that a lot of the territory has been covered: community focused (Bitmob/whatever they are now, GWJ, reddit, giant bomb, gaf, quarter to three), indie (tigsource, several others), blog (kotaku, destructoid, joystick), megaprofessional site (ign, ugo/1up, some other stuff), "original content"/niche (rock paper shotgun, escapist, kill screen, gamespite, high scores), video (giant bomb, area 5). Add to this the endless source of free/developing/amateur blogs writing about video games.

To my eye, it seems like all the niches are being filled. Of course, this doesn't preclude them from finding a style and doing it BETTER than everyone else, garnering eyeballs/pageviews/acclaim.

It seems like not such a great time to start up a new video game website, but then again, I'm not a media company with millions of dollars to throw at it.

I certainly wish them well, and I'm curious to see how they approach it. It seems like we've heard the "we're going to do this from the ground up, the right way" talk within the "games media" before. I don't blame them for thinking that, either, because if they didn't it would be doomed already.

This is how it's gonna go down:

00.01.28 Deus Ex: The Missing Link (some light spoilerinos)
00.07.03 Saints Row III
00.14.29 King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame II
00.17.30 More, more more of the SWTOR, SWTOR, SWTOR (spoilers? Dunno, I passed out due to a boatload of Indian buffet)
00.34.35 This week's topic: building a new game media empire!
01.01.42 Your emails

EDIT: And a link to Justin's new home: https://twitter.com/#!/VoxGames (no website yet, fixed link)