GWJ Conference Call Episode 298

Conference Call

Endless Space, Batman 2: DC Superheroes, Gravity Rush, Civ V: Gods & Kings, FTL, Le Havre, Magic Duals of the Planeswalkers 2013, Pathfinder, Microsoft Surface, Kinect 2.0, Your Emails and more!

It's a five man show this week as the guys talk Microsoft Surface, Kinect 2.0, the 3DS XL and 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.

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Audible

Microsoft Surface
Endless Space
Civilization V: Gods & Kings
Batman 2
Gravity Rush
Magic 2013
FTL
Le Havre

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Span (Game Edit) - BigBot Audio Drop - SGX - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 31:40

Coactive (Holidayrain's 2011 Remix) - BigBot Audio Drop - SGX - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 57:42

Comments

Spoiler:
I am a god, because I'm told, if asked, I should say yes.

*slow clap*

I kick myself often for not contributing to the FTL kickstarter.

Speaking of Kickstarter and also the pre-purchase->get into the beta model of Endless Space made me think of something. Not long ago people complained about paying for games that were not finished, saying that they were basically paying for a beta. Now people pay for the privilege of playing a beta prior to release. What has changed to make this model not only possible but popular?

padriec wrote:

I kick myself often for not contributing to the FTL kickstarter.

Speaking of Kickstarter and also the pre-purchase->get into the beta model of Endless Space made me think of something. Not long ago people complained about paying for games that were not finished, saying that they were basically paying for a beta. Now people pay for the privilege of playing a beta prior to release. What has changed to make this model not only possible but popular?

Information. I think we're able to get such a strong sense of what a game is going to be like (and what people are saying about it) so quickly it makes the purchase feel less risky. I can't speak for people who buy something a year in advance, but I suspect games like Endless Space don't gain a lot of pre-order traction until the beta is out and word of mouth spreads.

Ghostship wrote:
Spoiler:
I am a god, because I'm told, if asked, I should say yes.

*slow clap*

+1

Certis wrote:
padriec wrote:

I kick myself often for not contributing to the FTL kickstarter.

Speaking of Kickstarter and also the pre-purchase->get into the beta model of Endless Space made me think of something. Not long ago people complained about paying for games that were not finished, saying that they were basically paying for a beta. Now people pay for the privilege of playing a beta prior to release. What has changed to make this model not only possible but popular?

Information. I think we're able to get such a strong sense of what a game is going to be like (and what people are saying about it) so quickly it makes the purchase feel less risky. I can't speak for people who buy something a year in advance, but I suspect games like Endless Space don't gain a lot of pre-order traction until the beta is out and word of mouth spreads.

I think it is also the fact that most of the earlier games people were complaining about were most definitely not in Beta form. They were advertised as a complete and finished game, and then you found yourself being a guy that just paid money for bug fixes.

Now, well, there's a bit of a mixed deal. A lot of times Beta is looked at as Early Access to a game. In the realm of Kickstarter, however, it's more like "Hey, I get to support these guys, and then I get early access to the beta! And then I get the finished game!"

It's sort of like rearranging the order in which you pay for the game, play it, and then because it is a Beta you get some level of participation in how the final product turns out.

In other words: it's all about perception. The Kickstarter is clearly saying "You're giving us money for an unfinished product, but we'll let you in the beta if you pay now." Whereas back in the day it was more "This product is finished! Give us money! Oh, wait, no, we gotta actually patch the sh*t out of this for about six months before it is playable."

thank you for pointing out how there are no games on 3DS haha

I agree that Blizzard's current shenanigans will probably hurt them more in the long term than seems apparent right now as they're furiously fashioning money hats.

Going into Diablo III, Blizzard was a company that had my implicit trust. I paid my money for Diablos I and II/LoD (and the Warcraft games and the original Starcraft) up front, and I got amazing games that kept me entertained for the better part of a decade apiece, that were constantly being updated and improved and patched for years after any other company would've shut off the servers and turned the job of ensuring compatibility with current OSs to modders, and they never asked me for a penny beyond that original purchase price.

Now, maybe if I'd ever been a WoW player I would've seen the writing on the wall, but I never was. That game was just never for me, but I waited and held out hope for Diablo III, because I had that faith. When Blizzard merged with Activision, I still kept the faith. When they announced the always-online DRM, I still kept the faith. I didn't blame anyone else for being skeptical, I agreed with them in theory, but I said to myself, "Blizzard runs WoW. They gave me the first two Diablos and Starcraft and Warcrafts I-III. If anyone can make this work, it's Blizzard." There was never any question that Diablo III was an instant, blind Day One purch for me. I went on total media blackout and ignored everything I could about the game, because it didn't matter. I was going to get it on Day One and I'd find out everything I needed to know about how glorious it was then.

Did Blizzard get my money for Diablo III? Of course they did. And I can't even say it's not a good game, because it is. But the mountain of batsh*t crazy shenanigans surrounding the launch and the DRM and the RMAH have broken my faith in Blizzard. Whatever their next game is, it won't be a Day One purch for me. It'll be a wait-and-see-if-this-one-is-as-broken-as-the-last-one. It'll be a wait-on-reviews-and-word-of-mouth. It'll be a maybe-I-will-maybe-I-won't. And that's a far cry from my relationship with the Blizzard of the past.

I can't be the only one. It might not come around to bite them in the ass until the next game, or the next game after that. But if this is the way they conduct themselves now, I believe it WILL come around to bite them in the ass.

The thing is, as I see it Blizzard as a company can only fail through internal problems now (within limits). They can put out dud after dud and keep the lights on until we're all gaming in a drug induced shared consciousness.

It sounds silly to have to say (or type) it, but to judge if "Blizzard's best days are behind them" or similar, all you have to do is just judge the games they produce like any other developer. They don't get special treatment just because of who they are. If X is bad in any other game, it doesn't become good just because a different company did it.

Best quote of the show was from Julian:

"There are plenty of things that involve looking at a persons whole body that make for an
interesting interactive experience."

Totally needs to go on the Kinect Box.

An entire segment about the MS Surface and not one mention of the Zune? Well done for not going for the low hanging fruit.

BlackSabre wrote:

Best quote of the show was from Julian:

"There are plenty of things that involve looking at a persons whole body that make for an
interesting interactive experience."

Totally needs to go on the Kinect Box.

Glad I could help out.

Soooo, Le Havre asynch? I agree it will probably take months but I'm in! (Destrin on Gamecenter)

Had to stop halfway through the response to the Diablo 3 email about launch issues and I remembered, Diablo 2's discs had a pretty big issue with reading due to the DRM (then called copy protection). I went and did a quick google search and this long list of issues and fixes was my first result. Also, here's a gem from that one:

2. Download the D2 patch from Blizzard (yes the game has been patched already and another one is due out soon).

Oh, how far we've come with day one patches felling like the norm.

This week's rundown, arriving faster than a Chinese bullet train

00.01.36 Endless Space
00.08.20 Gravity Rush
00.10.19 Le Havre
00.13.09 D&D Next and Pathfinder
00.14.15 Lego Batman 2 with DC characters in it
00.17.00 Civ 5 Gods and Kings
00.23.45 Faster than Light beta
00.27.26 Magic: Duel of the Planeswalkers
00.32.08 This week's topic: Microsoft!
00.58.09 Your emails

Sean's D3 AH speculation sounds similar to the arbitrage you can find in Kingdom of Loathing if you try to play the low-end Flea Market against the Mall.

EDIT: On the topic of where the money goes for defunct companies, RPS had a good article on the earlier this year.

How dare you casually suggest someone simply skip Mass Effect Uno? MAKO 4 EVER.

But seriously, in some odd ways it's the best one, with its two clear villains that are dealt with by game's end, the introduction of all those key crewmates, etc. Yeah it's got jank, but i can't imagine skipping it. It's the only installment I completed multiple times.

Oh, play the game, and watch the plot, and never the twain shall meet,
Just get the sequel that iterates the series' mechanic feat;
But there is neither Game nor Plot, Software, nor Sport, nor Art,
When Peter Molyneux sheds a tear at the sound of a virtual fart!

Slumberland wrote:

How dare you casually suggest someone simply skip Mass Effect Uno? MAKO 4 EVER.

But seriously, in some odd ways it's the best one, with its two clear villains that are dealt with by game's end, the introduction of all those key crewmates, etc. Yeah it's got jank, but i can't imagine skipping it. It's the only installment I completed multiple times.

For several moments, I thought you meant Mass Effect had its own version of Uno. How massively disappointed I am, despite agreeing with your point for a different reason (how you could possibly skip the first game in a trilogy with a continuous storyline semi-conducted by the player).

Gravey wrote:

Oh, play the game, and watch the plot, and never the twain shall meet,
Just get the sequel that iterates the series' mechanic feat;
But there is neither Game nor Plot, Software, nor Sport, nor Art,
When Peter Molyneux sheds a tear at the sound of a virtual fart!

Bravo sir. I read it twice!

When Cory said "5-man," I thought he was going to imagine the CC as a Japanese Sentai Group. Certis One! Elysium Two!...

Great episode. Several topics right in my wheelhouse.

Been playing a lot of Gravity Rush the past few days - really enjoying the game. It's a bit rough (the open world is nice, but very empty, and the mechanics are very gamey), but it does a great job at making you feel like a total badass right from the very beginning.

I've also checked out Endless Space a bit. I love (most) of the UI in that game. The extremely clean look that's not weighed down with lots of cosmetic elements makes it really easy to navigate. If I were to nitpick, I wish they'd included text with all of the icons since a lot of the time I just don't know what that little disc thing (or whatever) means. Because the UI is so open there's plenty of room for that sort of thing. Still haven't played a ton of it yet, but I like where they're going. I've heard the game actually comes out in a few days as well, so everyone will get a chance to check it out soon.

- Jon

Slumberland wrote:

How dare you casually suggest someone simply skip Mass Effect Uno? MAKO 4 EVER.

But seriously, in some odd ways it's the best one, with its two clear villains that are dealt with by game's end, the introduction of all those key crewmates, etc. Yeah it's got jank, but i can't imagine skipping it. It's the only installment I completed multiple times.

I just finished Mass Effect 1 on the PC for the first time. I agree the story is good, but the gameplay is rather painful at times. I decided to download Genesis so I could create a fem Shep and was very impressed with how well they sum up the ME 1 plot. My recommendation to new players would be to just get Genesis and YouTube the sections where you have to make moral choices.

I think the thing about ME1 is that you can now classify it as 'an old game', not so much in terms of calendar age, but that gameplay and UI conventions have moved on. Like many old games, there's a lot that's worth seeing in it, but there's a lot of jank that could use improving, there's easy examples like the inventory. With retrospect, all 3 games could have used another pass of development to make them great, but ME1 stands out a bit because they did an overhaul and amputated it a lot for ME2.

I don't know that that gives it a pass. ME1's gameplay was painfully outdated when it came out; it's just that no one had had the exact idea to meld TPS cover-based games with RPG in just that manner before. That doesn't mean that the inventory systems weren't outdated on release.

LarryC wrote:

I don't know that that gives it a pass. ME1's gameplay was painfully outdated when it came out; it's just that no one had had the exact idea to meld TPS cover-based games with RPG in just that manner before. That doesn't mean that the inventory systems weren't outdated on release.

I'd add that even the FPS combat wasn't particularly interesting. For example Bioshock is from the same era but does a lot better job of giving you cool powers and setting up interesting encounters. I'm only a few hours in to ME 2 but that games feels a million times better in terms of options.

jdzappa:

I came to enjoy ME 1 combat a lot more when I figured strategy and squad tactics into it. I don't know of any other shooter to date that allows you to control your squadmate actions so tightly; not even ME2 or 3.

That said, ME2's squad level combat really is a revelation, even though you often have to influence squaddie actions indirectly. The combination of JRPG-style power combos, fierce TPS cover-based shooting, and squad level tactical combat is quite unique to the franchise.

You don't need so spend $150 to mess with XNA. That's just to give you the ability to work with the Xbox. You can do all your learning on the PC for free.

Alternatively I would steer a budding level designer who is mature enough to deal with C# and XNA towards Unity I suppose.

Here's a link to that usb device Julian talked about that makes Kinect look absolutely primitive. Could be all smoke and mirrors, but live demos seem to hold up well under scrutiny. I preordered one based on the the potential and because I'm a sucker for stuff like that.

If it really performs as advertised Kinect 2.0 will have a lot to live up to.

https://live.leapmotion.com/

Hey guys, it's my first time posting but I just had to after your discussion of the new Microsoft Surface.

I'm an artist in the games industry and have access to things that most people just don't. I work on a 21 inch Wacom Cintiq at work and for years I was looking for a portable version of this that I could use for my personal work. When the iPad came out I was excited but the lack of any kind of pressure sensitivity killed that excitement pretty quickly.

About 6 months ago I found out about and bought a Samsung Slate 7. It's a strange hybrid tablet which is currently running Windows 7 but was used to show off the demo of Windows 8. It has a Wacom digitizer pen which allows it to be used with software like Photoshop and Sketchbook with pressure sensitivity and has enough power under the hood to run software like 3d studio and Zbrush. Since it's running Windows 7, I have Steam installed and play the odd game here and there (Plants vs Zombies, Magic the Gathering 2013, Limbo, etc). It really isn't built to push polygons but does a really great job with multimedia and the like.

I'm not trying to sell anyone on it but just wanted to throw it into the mix since it seems to be pretty much what Microsoft is trying to launch... without the pressure sensitivity. That keyboard/case does look pretty handy since carrying around my wireless keyboard is a bit of a pain.

Anyway, thanks for the fun podcast. Keep it up!