GWJ Conference Call Episode 292

Conference Call


Torchlight 2 Beta, The Secret World Beta, Port Royale 3, Guild Wars 2 Beta, Skyward Sword, Special Guest James Stevenson From Insomniac Games, Your Emails and more!

This week James Stevenson from Insomniac Games joins Shawn and Elysium to talk about their newly announced Facebook title Outernauts and a whole lot 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.

Sponsor

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Good Old Games

Insomniac Games Full Moon Show
Outernauts
Awesomenauts
The Secret World
Torchlight 2
Guild Wars 2
Port Royale 3

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Norn Theme - Guild Wars 2 - http://www.guildwars2.com/en/ - 40:03

Title Theme - Torchlight 2 - http://www.torchlight2game.com/ - 58:08

Comments

This week's salubrious rundown, courtesy of Fen & Feng Hair Care Pharmaceuticals, regrowing hair in places it had never grown before:

00.01.40 Awesomenauts
00.06.31 Zelda: Skyward Sword
00.11.25 Torchlight 2 Beta
00.18.10 Port Royale 3
00.23.93 Guild Wars 2
00.31.17 The Secret World Beta
00.40.32 This week's topic: Insomniac's Outernauts, a Facebook game!
00.58.34 Your emails
01.20.21 ... and more!

After hearing a few of the songs from Bastion, I downloaded the game demo. While I did not purchase it (didn't find the combat particularly interesting), I would not have even looked into the game if not for the music.

Love the extra bit at the end... nice surprise!

Oh on the extra people running around in TSW. It doesnt pull me out as much as it seems to do others because the society you're part of is essentially invading Kingsmouth. There's supposed to be all those extra folks around doing the same thing your doing. Thats part of the story.

ranalin wrote:
Love the extra bit at the end... nice surprise!

Yeah, kudos to Jonathan for coming through on Shawn's request.

Shawn, you're a very bad man. I got all excited about Secret World from your description, then sank into a despair as you described its MMOness.

I think the reason Nintendo always makes Zelda games and Mario games more or less the same way is because they feel that that demographic is always going to be important - namely the young gamer market from 8-16 years old. Many of us got into gaming at that point, and presumably, there are always new people being born, so that demographic renews itself on an annual basis so long as the population is not on the decline.

"Advancing" Zelda to cater to older gamers can be a risky proposition for the simple reason older gamers die off. Also, the only guys going to be entertaining an "advanced" Zelda are those who bought into it in the first place.

Confession time. I do not love Zelda. The first Zelda I played was Wind Waker, which I sort of liked, and Twilight Princess, which I liked less. I have never played Link to the Past, nor Majora's Mask. I'm not stoked for either of them.

Like the podcasters, I do not like (and have never liked) the slow build up from mundane nothing, which is a hallmark of most Zelda titles, as far as I can tell from the two games I've played, and reading discussions and seeing material about the others. I didn't like it as a young gamer and I only like it a little better now that I have more patience.

As to the Facebook Insomniac game: as soon as I hear "pay to make it go faster," I'm out.

I don't want to be one of those people who says, "Have you heard about x feature in Guild Wars 2?", but I feel like some of the things GW2 does addresses James' concerns. GW2 can easily be played for 30 minutes or even less, it's designed that way through the dynamic event system. Also, you don't need to level up with your friends or even play on the same server, since if someone parties with you it drops the higher level person to your effective level. You can also guest onto other servers if people play elsewhere. From every angle it seems like GW2 is trying to address the reasons people feel "obligated" to play and get burnt out.

It's just a shame that most people have the attitude of "Guild Wars 2? Eh, I wasn't really into Guild Wars 1" when they are entirely different games. Just seems like a general lack of enthusiasm or plain burnout from MMO players.

Ok, thanks for telling us your views on Port Royale 3.. and I feel less alone now.

I guess I feel the same way. It's a game that you can just load up, play, and take back in a month without stress.. Love those trading sims games. (And pre-order as well Port Royale 3)

And now, I want more of that Torchlight 2 game.. Urgh!

drew327 wrote:
As to the Facebook Insomniac game: as soon as I hear "pay to make it go faster," I'm out.

Me too. I'm sure it'll make them millions, but I don't want to waste time playing a game that's deliberately limited like that when I can just spend $3 on some amazing iOS game instead.

It's just a shame that most people have the attitude of "Guild Wars 2? Eh, I wasn't really into Guild Wars 1" when they are entirely different games.

It's almost as if they shouldn't have bothered with making a sequel and instead just made an unconnected MMO.

Valmorian wrote:
It's just a shame that most people have the attitude of "Guild Wars 2? Eh, I wasn't really into Guild Wars 1" when they are entirely different games.

It's almost as if they shouldn't have bothered with making a sequel and instead just made an unconnected MMO.


Brand recognition, you could say the same thing about many other games that take a radical departure from earlier entries.

Wow, I've never heard that Homeworld track. Lyrics about "seekers," "looking skyward," and "ancient dreamers," with some noodly instrumental breakdowns. Definitely a Yes song! Love that you included it in its entirety.

It's fun when they try and recreate their seventies sound, but the modern production always introduces some cognitive dissonance for me.

LarryC wrote:
I think the reason Nintendo always makes Zelda games and Mario games more or less the same way is because they feel that that demographic is always going to be important - namely the young gamer market from 8-16 years old. Many of us got into gaming at that point, and presumably, there are always new people being born, so that demographic renews itself on an annual basis so long as the population is not on the decline.

"Advancing" Zelda to cater to older gamers can be a risky proposition for the simple reason older gamers die off. Also, the only guys going to be entertaining an "advanced" Zelda are those who bought into it in the first place.

Confession time. I do not love Zelda. The first Zelda I played was Wind Waker, which I sort of liked, and Twilight Princess, which I liked less. I have never played Link to the Past, nor Majora's Mask. I'm not stoked for either of them.

Like the podcasters, I do not like (and have never liked) the slow build up from mundane nothing, which is a hallmark of most Zelda titles, as far as I can tell from the two games I've played, and reading discussions and seeing material about the others. I didn't like it as a young gamer and I only like it a little better now that I have more patience.

To be honest, shortly after Twilight Princess released I came to the realization that Nintendo needs to tell people "Look, Zelda is what we want it to be. You've liked what we've done, so trust us. If you want a Grimdark version, then nag the third party developers making Grimdark games." Probably one of the reasons I really dug Game-That-Must-Not-Be-Named, as it basically delivered that "darker, more grown up Zelda".

At least, the "more grown up Zelda" that kids think they want.

In any case, I have no problem with people ripping Zelda off, as it's a great formula for a game. The puzzle and upgrade aspects, at least.

Though James bringing up the very first game IS indeed interesting. Miyamoto's inspiration for the first game was memories of wandering the woods as a child, pretending to be out saving a princess, discovering caves and lakes that were home to fairies and such. It's pretty much why the nature of the first Zelda game is one of the first "open world" games out there. Even though each dungeon has a number, you don't have to play them in sequence. It creates a world to explore, trusts that the player will figure out when they should turn back, allows them to keep going if they're up for the challenge, and is basically about exploration.

Normally I don't really get into open-world games, but that's partially because the environments are repetitive and you simply don't get the same sense of discovery and reward. The first Zelda has a lot of different regions to explore and find, and you never knew when you'd find a new heart container. Or perhaps you'd get a tool later that lets you know how to get another hidden item earlier.

I just beat Ocarina of Time on the 3DS, and on the whole it's a much more linear game. Exploration is fun, but it feels like Hyrule Field is...well, I wish it wasn't there. It actually keeps me from wanting to go back and explore other areas if I don't have a proper shortcut. Basically, I visit Lon Lon Ranch once when I'm a kid, and once when I'm teenage Link, and that's it because there's not much else to do in Hyrule Fields.

I'm enjoying Skyward Sword a bit more, but I last left it at the second dungeon myself. But oddly enough, while I complained about how repetitive the franchise was when I was 18, I'm now afraid they will have changed it too much.

Found myself shaking my head during the Zelda conversation. How is it people have gotten it in their head that the obtuse, random bullsh*t from Zelda 1 was the pinnacle of design? Other than a slight dip at TP (it was a port!), I've liked each entry more than the last.

Meanwhile, a game like Skyrim with the worst puzzles and dungeon designs possible get a free pass because you get to wander around.

Maybe this is just an ingrained trait. I am not interested in wandering randomly. Those voices telling me how to progress are generally welcome.

Tanglebones wrote:
Shawn, you're a very bad man. I got all excited about Secret World from your description, then sank into a despair as you described its MMOness.

Insanity: getting excited about new MMOs over and over again and expecting different results.

HockeyJohnston wrote:
Meanwhile, a game like Skyrim with the worst puzzles and dungeon designs possible get a free pass because you get to wander around.

Skyrim doesn't get a free pass—wandering around is the point. Nobody plays it for the few and perfunctory puzzles. The Elder Scrolls and Zelda are two vastly different styles of game.

HockeyJohnston wrote:
Found myself shaking my head during the Zelda conversation. How is it people have gotten it in their head that the obtuse, random bullsh*t from Zelda 1 was the pinnacle of design? Other than a slight dip at TP (it was a port!), I've liked each entry more than the last.

Meanwhile, a game like Skyrim with the worst puzzles and dungeon designs possible get a free pass because you get to wander around.

Maybe this is just an ingrained trait. I am not interested in wandering randomly. Those voices telling me how to progress are generally welcome.

I appreciate more linear experiences myself, but there's room for everything. I find the Elder Scrolls games boring because, yes, every dungeon looks the same and you're seeing nothing but trees all over. However, one of my favorite gaming stories is still when I was playing one of the Aquatic Iguana folk in Morrowind, just swimming around at Level 1 or 2 or whatnot, and stumbling upon a temple with a Fire Elemental that started blasting hadoukens my way...and after I swam away from it discovered that Fire Elementals can walk under water, and was still giving chase chucking hadoukens.

It's silly, it shows a fatal flaw in the game (that Fire Elementals can exist under water), but it was something special.

The original Zelda has a lot of those moments, but at the same time has the benefit of being a smaller game and thus it's easier to be simultaneously linear and open based on whatever play style you're looking for.

And considering the time period, yes, those old Nintendo games were amazing in terms of design. They took usability into account in a way a lot of other developers at the time did not.

That said, even though it's a lot less open, or at least holds your hand a lot more, I still favor A Link to the Past over the original Zelda. Part of that definitely lends itself to accessibility. Even so, the game was very good at establishing mood for the player at the start, and it didn't take too long to get to the action. It also allowed the player to discover little secrets on their own.

Take the first foray into Hyrule Castle to rescue Princess Zelda, and you approach the basement. The enemy guards are frequently approaching the edge of a cliff. In fact, the first one is always turning and walking towards the edge when you enter. Odds are by time you reach him, he'll be at the edge. You swing, he gets pushed away and then falls to his doom on the edge. The game just taught you how to execute these foes more easily, a lesson which is valuable the entire game, while also demonstrating a danger.

Having just played through Ocarina of Time 3DS, I can say Nintendo doesn't trust the user as much. Navi popped up just to tell me how to unlock doors and what keys were for. I wanted to shout "Duh, I know, I didn't need you to tell me on the Super Nintendo and I don't need you now".

It's not lazy on Nintendo's part, as they still try to design games so you can infer the purpose without being told, but it's like they don't trust people anymore and think new gamers need to be told everything. That's the point I think Shawn and co. were getting at.

If you don't know, Dragon's Dogma comes out next Tuesday, not this week. So you have time to finish up Max Payne and Diablo before then.

Does nobody else remember Nine Inch Nails providing the soundtrack for Quake? That had to be the most colorful part of the whole game.

ccesarano wrote:

It's not lazy on Nintendo's part, as they still try to design games so you can infer the purpose without being told, but it's like they don't trust people anymore and think new gamers need to be told everything. That's the point I think Shawn and co. were getting at.

I get that, but the Zelda series peaked so far after the first (and least hand-holding) game that it seems to invalidate that line of thinking. Those games got *better* as they grew willing to hold your hand a little. If you're going to ask me to solve puzzles, you've gotta show me all the tools at my disposal before we start and make sure I understand them before we move on.

Maybe it's just an issue of temperament, but I'm a fan of the leisurely start. I assume I'm in for a few hours of light engagement before the good stuff happens. I kinda like familiarizing myself with the mechanics. Talking to grandma, getting my clothes, etc.

HockeyJohnston wrote:
Those games got *better* as they grew willing to hold your hand a little.

I'd rather say that the games grew to be a bit different. The first game has a very different feel because of that open-ended nature than A Link to the Past, which also feels very different in nature to Ocarina of Time (though partly because of the push to 3D).

I think the move to Wind Waker, or the initial reaction to it, is what started to hurt the franchise. Note I've never played Wind Waker, but I know it is the favorite of a lot of people out there as opposed to Ocarina of Time. Wind Waker was also quite different to the first Zelda, and different to Link to the Past, and different to Ocarina of Time...

Sure there were a lot of similarities, basically the heart of the game remained true and kept a lot of the mechanics that weren't broke and thus didn't need fixing. But the first reaction to Wind Waker was negative, and thus Twilight Princess, a game that sought to make a darker version of Ocarina with shape-shifting abilities, was born. While this game was in development, gamers grew up a bit and realized Wind Waker was a good game, and now, from the perspective of someone who didn't play Wind Waker so this could be totally wrong, is trying to ape some of those mechanics, only in the sky instead of under water.

If anything, though, I'd say the insistence on being long-as-Hell games hurts Zelda more. A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time weren't very long games, but they feel perfectly sized as a result. Zelda didn't need to grow bigger, really. But that's a digression.

Re: The Podcast discussing music...

I think the closest for me was Alone in the Dark from... 2008? 2006? I'm pretty sure it was an even number. The trailers looked interesting, but the music was powerful enough it drew me into wanting to play the game.

I wouldn't say it was a mistake, either. It was interesting, just...they needed to leave some stuff on the cutting room floor and polish other things, and they didn't.

I will always regret that not enough people played it for "I don't have your stone! And f*ck YOU anyway!" to become a meme.

Man, that was a longer song than I expected. I mean, I realize it's Yes and all, but I kind of thought for a "single" for a game they might trim it down to 4 minutes or so.

For what it's worth, I totally bought and played Vice City for the soundtrack. I just drove around, listening to the radio.

wordsmythe wrote:
For what it's worth, I totally bought and played Vice City for the soundtrack. I just drove around, listening to the radio.

The Vice City soundtrack is probably the gold standard for the usage of licensed music. I can't think of anything that comes remotely close.

garion333 wrote:
Man, that was a longer song than I expected. I mean, I realize it's Yes and all, but I kind of thought for a "single" for a game they might trim it down to 3:05.

Fixed your glaring error.

Yes is an old-school English prog rock band. They once put out an album of just 4 songs, the shortest being 18 minutes long.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Yes is an old-school English prog rock band. They once put out an album of just 4 songs, the shortest being 18 minutes long.

They don't do this as much anymore. I got their 2011 album off of Amazon MP3 when it was on sale, and it doesn't have a single song that's 10 minutes. Hell, I don't even know if they have a 7 or 8 minute song!

They've gone mainstream, bro.

That's the problem with a band name like "Yes," I mean, how are you supposed to respond when someone asks if you'd like to go mainstream and sell out?

ccesarano wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:
Yes is an old-school English prog rock band. They once put out an album of just 4 songs, the shortest being 18 minutes long.

They don't do this as much anymore. I got their 2011 album off of Amazon MP3 when it was on sale, and it doesn't have a single song that's 10 minutes. Hell, I don't even know if they have a 7 or 8 minute song!

They've gone mainstream, bro.


Well of course, that was also said of them in '83 when 90125 came out and not a song over 8 minutes, most in the 4 minute range. It wasn't til '94 that they got a song back over the 8 minute mark with Endless Dream, then that continued until 2011. I haven't actually heard Fly from Here because I'm lukewarm on Yes without Jon.

In conclusion, ccesarano, your post, much like your love of American Honey, is wrong and bad!

Wait, Yes actually put out albums after their breakup in the early 80's? I don't think so. You all are just messing with me.

Owner of a Lonely what? That can't be Yes. I don't believe it. lalalalalalalalalala I can't hear you.