GWJ Conference Call Episode 303

Conference Call

Spec Ops The Line, Spelunky, 1000000, D&D: Dungeon Command, Wizard 101, 175 Hours of Diablo III, The Free to Play Future, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Elysium, Julian and Cory dip into free to play games and look at what the future has in store.

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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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Composer - SGX - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 32:55

Amity [Short Edit] - SGX - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 54:23

Comments

A good way to decide which game to play next is to pick six or so likely candidates and play five minutes of each. Almost certainly one will grab you. If they don't, move on to another six. A bonus to this system is that you will hit a few games where you think, 'ok, five minutes was enough of that game,' and you can remove them from the pile (or at least leave them there and know you'll never darken their virtual door again.)

I wonder if Demon Souls' multiplayer qualifies as the kind of dimension hopping Rabbit is looking for in a game.

Sweet! A Spec Ops: The Line spoiler section! I can't wait to sit there and cry "WAAAH! WAAAH! It's actually a good game you judgmental bastards! Waaah!"

Very exciting for me.

No seriously, I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it.

Here's your weekly GWJ conference call rundown, brought to you by Olympic Badminton, where losing is the new winning.

00.03.32 Temple of Elemental Evil
00.08.00 Path of Exile
00.13.55 The Inquisitor
00.15.05 1,000,000
00.17.01 Spelunky
00.18.05 Spec Ops: The Line
00.20.20 Rohan (LOTRO)
00.24.47 Dungeon Command (board game)
00.33.23 This week's topic: F2P games!
00.54.53 Your questions

Another recommendation for a good turn-based strategy game on Android is Great Little War Game.

On a minor pedantic note, the game is 10000000 (ten million), not 1000000 (one million). I enjoyed it a lot, won my way to freedom the other day with a score of 10.9 million. I'm not sure if it has a ton of longevity, but I got a good 5-6 hours out of it, and that is hard to complain about for the price. It should also perhaps be mentioned that the game is rather on the ugly side (looks like it came from the late 80's or early 90's). I didn't mind that, and when you are playing it doesn't get in the way, but it is unarguably true.

I just finished Spec Ops.

This interview with the game's writer is a must listen:

http://uk.gamespot.com/features/game...

Pacman wrote:

On a minor pedantic note, the game is 10000000 (ten million), not 1000000 (one million). I enjoyed it a lot, won my way to freedom the other day with a score of 10.9 million. I'm not sure if it has a ton of longevity, but I got a good 5-6 hours out of it, and that is hard to complain about for the price. It should also perhaps be mentioned that the game is rather on the ugly side (looks like it came from the late 80's or early 90's). I didn't mind that, and when you are playing it doesn't get in the way, but it is unarguably true.

This is why society uses commas in numbers, people.

Though the developer of 10000000, EightyEight Games, is clearly tracking people talking about One Million instead of Ten Million. They found my tweet about the game, missing zero and all.

In summary: this game is brilliant. Highly recommended.

Funny that this episode was released after EA announced Old Republic was going F2P later this year (how they did that before Rift is astounding).

Also, Spelunky HD cannot get on PC soon enough. Stupid MS exclusivity deals

EDIT: The Fez patch issue has a very strong whiff of past update issues that were cited by Uber Entertainment and Gearbox where patches were held up due to the certification process. There's also rumors about some allotment of free updates that a developer is allowed before MS starts requiring users to be charged. I don't know if this is something that's going to change with the next XBox but it's really striking how MS and the other console makers approach DLC and patches vs. platforms like Steam and the Apple App Store.

Well, I think Rift is performing better to its expectations. Rift, from all accounts, is fairly healthy, whereas EA had much bigger plans for SWTORs market share, so I'm not entirely surprised they're doing something drastic.

I still don't think it's actually a good idea.

Elysium wrote:

Well, I think Rift is performing better to its expectations. Rift, from all accounts, is fairly healthy, whereas EA had much bigger plans for SWTORs market share, so I'm not entirely surprised they're doing something drastic.

Now that I think about it... Is Warhammer still running on a subscription model?

EDIT: Also, I think you're dead on about expectations. There was some serious saber rattling from EA prior to launch, plus the various reports on the amount of money they sunk into developing the game. EA clearly wanted Old Republic to be a direct assault on WoW and they've come up fairly short on that.

Plus, there's the fact that EA is trying to shift a large number of their brands to a F2P or online multiplayer+DLC microtransaction model in a drastic attempt to stem the bleed out they're experiencing (probably why the recent replacement of their CFO isn't much of a shock). So it's drastic, but it's 100% following their current corporate mantra of doubling down on the "games as a service" model.

shoptroll wrote:

There was some serious saber rattling from EA prior to launch, plus the various reports on the amount of money they sunk into developing the game.

I'm not 100% sure what you can ever tell from a company of the size of EA making a big show of their big games, it's in their DNA that they've got to be loud about what they do. It's almost not a decision for them, they have to do it for all their games. Personally the problem is that with such volume, everything being at 11 all the time, it becomes background noise.

ccesarano wrote:

Sweet! A Spec Ops: The Line spoiler section! I can't wait to sit there and cry "WAAAH! WAAAH! It's actually a good game you judgmental bastards! Waaah!"

Very exciting for me.

No seriously, I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it.

I tried to start a form topic on that one, but ended up with an unfinished page and a half long essay and just tabled the whole thing. It's hard not to give it a lot of back-handed comments, but it's almost more interesting as a conversation piece than as a game. I'd say it's worth playing (though not for it's original price), just because some of the experiences you get out of it are so unique in the world of gaming.

kazooka wrote:
ccesarano wrote:

Sweet! A Spec Ops: The Line spoiler section! I can't wait to sit there and cry "WAAAH! WAAAH! It's actually a good game you judgmental bastards! Waaah!"

Very exciting for me.

No seriously, I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it.

I tried to start a form topic on that one, but ended up with an unfinished page and a half long essay and just tabled the whole thing. It's hard not to give it a lot of back-handed comments, but it's almost more interesting as a conversation piece than as a game. I'd say it's worth playing (though not for it's original price), just because some of the experiences you get out of it are so unique in the world of gaming.

You're right. I plugged a review up on my blog for it and as I was writing it I found myself making a lot of critiques. But it does a lot of cool stuff, too. I actually appreciate the effort they put into trying to make the "chest high walls" seem like objects and obstacles that belonged in the environment. Granted it didn't always work, but it shows that the care they were trying to put into the game wasn't just based on script and cut-scenes, but in the world itself.

It's not a perfect game, but dammit, I certainly like that they tried.

Also, I may need to try out Dungeon Command at some point.

Re: Rabbit's love with the damage-choice mechanic in the D&D Dungeon Command board game. There is a similar mechanic in the Battles of Westeros game (based on the command and colors system). You can elect to take morale damage to trigger a power/ability over the course of the battle, knowing that Morale can be damaged and if you drop to zero Morale, you lose the fight regardless of win conditions. The other differences here are 1) you're not trading damaging a unit or damaging morale, and 2) there is one morale tracker. As you lose morale, your enemy gains morale.

I was really disappointed by your very simplistic discussion of the Spelunky patching issue. You focused on whose fault it was, and that's really not the issue at hand. The issue is giving developers the ability to support their games.

In the old days it was reasonable to expect you could release a game pretty much bug-free because they were simple things on simple hardware, but nowadays even the simplest games can have problems that slip through testing. The Spelunky issue affects less than one percent of users, and so obviously has a very good chance of failing to be caught in testing. That's why it's a GOOD thing that developers regularly release patches for their games on Steam, on Xbox when they can afford it and so on. Or, to put it another way: try to think of a game you've played Xbox 360 that has never had some sort of patch. Maybe you can, but I can't off the top of my head.

When we updated The Wager recently, one of the minor things we fixed was an issue where text wouldn't display right if someone's font settings in Windows were weird. It could be fixed on the user end, but we figured it'd be a nice thing to do to make it a non-issue for everyone. We fixed it and a few other things, then released the patch.

In the next couple of months we had thousands of people play the game but 3 reports of people not able to see any text at all. To this day we have no IDEA why that'd happen with the fix we put in, but we decided the best thing to do is remove the fix, and just tell the people who very rarely had the other problem what the manual fix was, because at least that way it'd potentially work for everyone.

It took thousands of plays to realise that this could even possibly be an issue, we had no reason to suspect that it should be, and we did everything we could to support the game for as many people as possible. But if we'd had a different but similar-scale problem on an XBLA game, our bill would have run to $80,000 by now.

Tim Schafer has run into similar issues with patching his games in the past, and complained vocally about it, yet nobody is mad at him. Fish might not be gifted with Schafer's natural charm, but they're basically talking about the same thing.

In summary, it's not about whose fault it is; it's not about 'getting it right the first time' which is a demand which frequently is simply unreasonable in reality; it's about giving developers a reasonable chance of supporting their game.

Everyone can play Mechwarrior now. You just need to buy a Founder package (ie pre-purchase), and you can be under NDA with the rest of us.

Good post, SurprisedMan.

MeatMan wrote:

Another recommendation for a good turn-based strategy game on Android is Great Little War Game.

Good suggestion.

Anomaly: Warzone Earth works really well on my Kindle Fire (also a 7" tablet). It's maybe not the style of "strategy" game you're looking for, but it works well for me! I picked it up as part of the Android Humble Bundle.

Had the announcement about SWTOR going totally free to play hit before the podcast? Because if not, great timing, guys

Tanglebones wrote:

Had the announcement about SWTOR going totally free to play hit before the podcast? Because if not, great timing, guys :)

We recorded before the announcement. When my knee gets a bit stiff that usually means somethings going free to play. Thanks knee!

SurprisedMan wrote:

I was really disappointed by your very simplistic discussion of the Spelunky patching issue. You focused on whose fault it was, and that's really not the issue at hand. The issue is giving developers the ability to support their games.

*snip*

In summary, it's not about whose fault it is; it's not about 'getting it right the first time' which is a demand which frequently is simply unreasonable in reality; it's about giving developers a reasonable chance of supporting their game.

I'll clarify a bit on what my original intent was on the e-mail. I was more upset on how the issue was handled by Polytron publicly. I understand how there are issues on how games are supported on the multiple consoles/phones/etc and there's reason to have a discussion about how these could possibly be improved, especially for the smaller developers with limited resources.

However, that doesn't excuse the behavior in my opinion. They could of brought it to light in a more sensible plea to the public, but instead they wanted to try and stir the pot a bit by pointing fingers and blaming Microsoft.

Plus this isn't the first time Phil Fish has gotten people angry with what he says about the gaming industry. Who knows, maybe this is what he wanted, getting people to discuss his game & the patching process in length.

If I can't figure out what game I should put on my queue next, I'll use Backloggery's fortune cookie feature. When I finish a DS game then, If I can't decide on what DS game to play next, I'll just get a random suggestion from it and try playing an hour of that game. If I get tired of it in an hour, I'll get another random suggestion...

Datyedyeguy wrote:

I'll clarify a bit on what my original intent was on the e-mail. I was more upset on how the issue was handled by Polytron publicly. I understand how there are issues on how games are supported on the multiple consoles/phones/etc and there's reason to have a discussion about how these could possibly be improved, especially for the smaller developers with limited resources.

However, that doesn't excuse the behavior in my opinion. They could of brought it to light in a more sensible plea to the public, but instead they wanted to try and stir the pot a bit by pointing fingers and blaming Microsoft.

Plus this isn't the first time Phil Fish has gotten people angry with what he says about the gaming industry. Who knows, maybe this is what he wanted, getting people to discuss his game & the patching process in length.

That's fair enough. I don't think email was unreasonable, I just expected the GWJ folks to be a bit more nuanced in their discussion about this because I usually find they are one of my favourite podcasts to listen to for that sort of thing.

As for the behaviour, I understand that Phil Fish rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and as a sort of semi-public figure now in the gaming world he doesn't do himself a lot of favours in the way that he phrases things and so on. Which is a shame, because I suspect he's not really a bad person, he just doesn't really get that he could maybe sometimes tone down the way he says things in public as opposed to how he might say things to people close to him.

I know I wouldn't repeat half the stuff I say to close friends in public, or at least I wouldn't say it in the same way - doesn't mean I'm faking it in public, just that my public persona is a little different to my private one, which I think is usual. I think Fish just lacks that filter. Or maybe he's just an ass, I don't know, but even if that's true in this case he's an ass with a good point

Random comment: This is a bit old school, and it did use the video game light/dark mechanic, but "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Fast" basically used a two-dimension system controlled with a magic mirror. It was mostly used to access areas that couldn't be reached otherwise, so it was a sparse usage, but that's the first time I remember seeing it in a game. The Soul Reaver reference was spot on as well. It can be a fun mechanic, and I understand the fascination with it, but server hopping in DayZ still seems cheap to me.

JP

Microsoft's XBLA service is the most developer unfriendly service out there. Worse than any other console. And the sales numbers, unless you're featured by Microsoft, aren't great either. It's been a constant disappointment from many of the developers featured on there.

So Polytron makes a mistake with their patch and finds out that due to MS ridiculously painful and expensive patching process that it doesn't make financial sense to fix it. So that frustration comes out in a very Phil Fish way. In other words, he shoots his mouth off.

The fact that this whole thing is a fiasco is no reason to pretend that MS is innocent here. They created the XBLA rules before Apple revolutionized online stores with the App Store and it shows. The rules are onerous and expensive compared to other services and the customer UI experience keeps becoming worse and worse because MS is focusing on selling ads instead of games. Is it any wonder devs are pissed at MS?

Like most internet controversies, both sides are kinda jerks here. I don't want to pretend it's all Polytron's fault just because "they knew the rules". In this case, the rules kinda suck and they're right to be frustrated. They also reacted to the situation poorly.

"The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Fast"

That is definitely going to end up being my favorite Vin Diesel movie!

Luca Redwood (developer of 10,000,000) just praised GWJs mentions in an article at the PA Report http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/a-pregnancy-an-enthusiastic-editor-and-the-worst-name-ever-the-unlikely-suc

Always get a warm and fuzzy when I see GWJ getting mentioned in press.

Elysium wrote:
"The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Fast"

That is definitely going to end up being my favorite Vin Diesel movie!

Paul walker as link? Vin diesel as a gerudo?

I'm so glad I'm two weeks behind on listening to these podcasts, because I think if I listened to Rabbit instantly dismiss Prometheus as "laughingly badly written" and then not two minutes later seriously suggest Inception "really challenges you to think through the story" the day this was posted I think I would have written a post that would have gotten me banned.

Seriously, I'm completely baffled why a film that perfectly fits the definition of a forgettable popcorn movie is constantly being thrown out as an example of intelligent writing. It also suffers from all the same flaws as Prometheus. But unlike Prometheus, no challenge or thinking on the part of the viewer is required to follow along, thanks to the obsessive amount of exposition explaining everything to you as it happens.