GWJ Conference Call Episode 327

Conference Call

Nier Round 2, Kentucky Route Zero,Minecraft, Persona 4 Golden, CES Hardware Oddities, Jon Shafer's Chilling Future, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Elysium, Julian and Jon shafer talk about some of the weirdness out of CES and Jon's chilling view of a keyboardless future. We also have a new reading by Graham Rowat!

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.

Chairman_Mao's Timestamps
00.01.34 Persona 4
00.04.48 Minecraft
00.10.34 Nier
00.12.37 Kentucky Route Zero
00.16.16 Rabbit's Shameful Poker Con
00.19.12 This week's topic: Technology!
00.35.33 Jon Shafer's Chilling Future
00.49.47 Graham Rowat Reads Managing to be a Gamer by Elysium
00.57.27 Your emails!

Jon Shafer
Nier
Minecraft
Kentucky Route Zero
Gabe Newell on Steam Box

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Tomato Soup Is For Winners - Michael Hermes - flavors.me/michaelehermes - 19:27

Stop It - Creative Commons Vol. 2 - Dexter Britain - http://freemusicarchive.org/music/De... - 51:18

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Comments

No live Rabbitcon show makes me a sad monkey.

Looking forward to the future:

IMAGE(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_C8e0UzLBRTA/TPZ8iKV8UtI/AAAAAAAABeI/GHJdjtdNJmg/s1600/scotty.jpg)

The conversation today reminded me of Back to the Future 2 where Marty is in the future diner and there is the old western arcade game. After two boys watch him play...

Boy 1: You mean you have to use your hands??
Boy 2: That's like a baby's toy!!

[size=18]Uncle Rabbit needs YOU![/size]
IMAGE(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f3/Uncle_Sam_%28pointing_finger%29.jpg)

Let's see if we as a community can help get something justifiably awesome promoted onto Steam. There's NO risk or actual commitment to buy on your part -- just click the "Yes" button on the Pinball Arcade Greenlight page, and help make this a reality.

Good idea, I just clicked Yes. Is there any way to see how close a game is being greenlit?

Fantastic reading of a great article. It made me a little emotional. Not sure why.

For those of us who haven't learned to type without looking at the keyboard the speed loss involved in 'typing with your eyes' doesn't seem that great ;).

merphle wrote:

[size=18]Uncle Rabbit needs YOU![/size]

Let's see if we as a community can help get something justifiably awesome promoted onto Steam. There's NO risk or actual commitment to buy on your part -- just click the "Yes" button on the Pinball Arcade Greenlight page, and help make this a reality.

Yes! I really want to see this Greenlit

I think this is just an example of a flaw in Greenlight. Even with the 50 or so games that have already been approved we're already getting questions like "how did Postal 2 get greenlit?"

The problem is that Greenlight is just a popularity contest. A niche indie game that would only appeal to a small audience is never going to get greenlit because not enough people are going to be interested enough in it to vote for it. Basically Greenlight is going to drive everything towards the safe, common games that the majority wants. The same thing we accuse the big studios of doing and that indie games were supposed to save us from.

tanstaafl wrote:

I think this is just an example of a flaw in Greenlight. Even with the 50 or so games that have already been approved we're already getting questions like "how did Postal 2 get greenlit?"

The problem is that Greenlight is just a popularity contest. A niche indie game that would only appeal to a small audience is never going to get greenlit because not enough people are going to be interested enough in it to vote for it. Basically Greenlight is going to drive everything towards the safe, common games that the majority wants. The same thing we accuse the big studios of doing and that indie games were supposed to save us from.

I don't recall that greenlight was ever meant to function in that way, it was supposed to be an aid to Valve to find out what's worth getting on their service. I don't remember Valve appointing themselves saviour of PC gaming, or even the saviour of indie gaming.

I think it's a really risky premise to assume that everything is in some way worthy of getting on any service they like just by virtue of existing, they've all got different qualification criteria, and greenlight is steam's.

I'm sorry, in which parallel universe does Far Cry 3 qualify for phenomenal writing in video games?

rainynight65 wrote:

I'm sorry, in which parallel universe does Far Cry 3 qualify for phenomenal writing in video games?

Apology accepted.

Some of the monologues were quite good. Like Julian said, as a whole it wasn't amazing, but in spots it was good.

Yep. Individual bits, combined with great actors. As a whole work? Meh.

Didn't sound like it on the show

And yes, I agree. Bits and pieces are very good. Vaas especially is a character I really enjoyed. But as a whole? Nope. There's more wrong than right with that game.

I don't think Jon's vision will come to pass. Two points of reference:

The Wii

Many gamers do not appreciate what the Wii represents, but what it does point out is that many people cannot or will not project through traditional game pads. We can do it, but not everyone can. The Wii allows nontraditional gamers a way to play a game that uses modalities more familiar to them.

The decline of voice call

I'm not sure how widespread this phenomenon is, but this relates very strongly to me:

http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/13/alexia-phone-home/

The talk on the conference call today returned me to certain concepts that have been percolating through my brain the last couple of years. That is, intelligence spheres and how they relate to gaming. People possess different levels of aptitude at particular kinds of intelligence spheres. Some are good at 3D spatial orientation, for instance. I suspect aptitude at this sort of intelligence will relate well to projection using a game pad. Some people are better at kinesthetic intelligence compared to projection through tools - they prefer body movement rather than tool use. Their aptitude levels predispose them to prefer the Wii over a game pad.

What I'm driving at here is that our differing intelligence sphere aptitudes make us prefer certain interfaces over others. The gamepad itself has certain designs that are more suited for more people over others, and some that interface better with human understanding, usually based on unstated real-world assumptions about how the world works. It's not a particularly kinesthetic sort of experience. Mouse and keyboard are, especially keyboard. Essentially, the mouse and keyboard were the first, most primitive motion controllers. It makes sense if you just think of the mouse as a 2D Wiimote.

What this tells me is that while certain people with certain intelligence aptitudes will prefer to interface with computers using voice command, others will prefer mouse and keyboard even when voice command is available. We already see this with the decline of voice call. In the communication sphere, the reverse trend was true. Voice call was available before text interface was. When text interface became tenable, many people who preferred text interface due to their unique aptitudes (one-handed kinesthetic texting, for instance) simply migrated more and more to that interface. I, myself, no longer make voice calls unless it is something outstandingly urgent.

Very fast or very good touch typists can type as fast as a person can speak. Moreover, they can type without looking at the keyboard or the screen, and they will not make spelling errors because of homophones. I'm not a very good touch-typist, but even I already experience projection through the keyboard. When I'm typing about something I find interesting, such as this topic, the keyboard just vanishes and my thoughts appear onscreen in typeface almost as if I was willing the words to appear onscreen - much faster than I can speak.

There may be a time with thought-flow becomes a suitable interface, and some people will also gravitate to that, but my impression is that few people will do so. My read is that keyboard interfaces will endure far into the future, even when we can literally think words onto a screen. At that point, like the Wii, we will find that some people will take to it like ducks to water, and others will find to their disappointment, that it was never what they'd imagined it to be.

Elysium, you knock peanut butter in celery, but have you tried it? I used to have this as a snack all the time when I was little, and I still have it now and then to this day.

It's really nice! No joke!

No really! ... I'm serious!

I believe that Sean Sands played an indie game this week. Sure, Minecraft may have sold more than most AAA games of 2012 but it still counts as an indie game.

Redwing wrote:

Elysium, you knock peanut butter in celery, but have you tried it? I used to have this as a snack all the time when I was little, and I still have it now and then to this day.

It's really nice! No joke!

No really! ... I'm serious!

Redwing speaks the truth.

Shame shame on spoilering one of the best "Oh damn" moments of Nier, Shawn (though yes, that is one of the things that elevates it from "this is an alright game" to "Holy crap this game is amazing").

The following text represents my thought process on Blue Grass vs. New (Nu?) Grass.

Blue Grass: "...banjo?"

New Grass: "...auto-tune banjo?"

I have to say that I love when you guys have Graham Rowat on to read a very well written piece. It's always an exceptional read and a highlight on the shows. I realize this topic is from two weeks ago, but the game I am most looking forward to in 2013 is GTA V and I have to say I was slightly surprised to hear no one even mention it on the podcast. Are you guys just not that into the Grand Theft Auto series?

I don't know if anyone feels the same way but I think the article readings would make more sense in a standalone format rather than being spliced into the middle of the podcast. They're just quite different types of content to me.

kyrieee wrote:

I don't know if anyone feels the same way but I think the article readings would make more sense in a standalone format rather than being spliced into the middle of the podcast. They're just quite different types of content to me.

I agree. I would prefer them as separate downloads, but then I might never listen to them. It's also less enjoyable when I already read the article on the site, but I'm sure there are many listeners that don't frequent the website.

Are you guys just not that into the Grand Theft Auto series?

It came up after the show was over, and we all agreed that none of us were particularly looking forward to it. I'm open to being pleasantly surprised, but no. Just not that into it at this point.

LarryC wrote:

I don't think Jon's vision will come to pass.

Good thoughts Larry. Here are my counter-arguments:

Regarding the Wii, we're on the same page. However, as an entertainment device it's only a very niche section of the technology industry. The combined value of the other three ways in which we use computers that I mentioned on the podcast (communication, research, work) is much greater than entertainment for nearly everyone.

On the second point, you're correct that some people can type as fast as human speech, but those folks are pretty unique compared to the general populace. Texting is now much more popular than voice calls, but you can't separate that trend from the convenience of texting. Not only can you respond at your leisure, but texting also allows you to maintain a barrier between you and whomever you're communicating with. Quite a few people are just uncomfortable with more direct forms of interaction and find texting much preferred to something more personal.

There are certainly edge cases where voice control is very much not a benefit. But I do see it as a revolutionary step forward for most of what most people spend their time doing. The question is whether or not that inertia sweeps everything else along for the ride. I think it will, but by no means do I believe it to be inevitable.

The biggest argument I can see against the type of future I talked about is what one of the guys (I forget who now... Sean?) mentioned on the show: privacy and respect of environment. Libraries, trains, etc. would be a much different place if everyone had to speak aloud to get anything done. That may just be a natural evolution, but there could also be serious pushback. Obviously there's no way to know just yet!

Anyways, as I said on the show, this isn't a future that I really want. I love me my fancy keyboard and mouse with 12 buttons. Hopefully we can just skip straight to the nanobots!

- Jon

kyrieee wrote:

I don't know if anyone feels the same way but I think the article readings would make more sense in a standalone format rather than being spliced into the middle of the podcast. They're just quite different types of content to me.

I agree. I tend to fastforward past them. Especially when I realize I've already read the piece. Would it be possible to post the audio version at the same time as the text?

I have to say I really enjoyed this episode. The reading of the article was great. Please do more of that.

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/RTugB.jpg)

Oddly enough, I had just had Siri read that article out loud this weekend, just for the heck of it. Don't know how much of a compliment it is, but Graham did a much better job

Jon Shafer:

On the whole, I agree with this:

"I do see it as a revolutionary step forward for most of what most people spend their time doing."

On that, absolutely, no questions asked. A reliable voice-to-text interpreter would be absolutely paradigm-shifting and put no small amount of people out looking for alternative skill sets and better things to do with their time. Sorry, transcribers.

There are many things that would be better done by voice input that's actually functional (read: at least an order of magnitude better than Siri). I imagine that writing diaries would be a good deal more functional as voice-input for a great deal of people. Many functions on a desk top would be a lot better with voice recognition - search, printing, entertainment app UIs, and so on. On the other hand, can you imagine how much of a royal pain in the ass it would be to try to arrange your desktop layout with voice?

"VLC icon next to Mass Effect 2 icon."
"No, no, not right next to..."
"No, no! Aaargh!"

Clicking and releasing icons on a screen with a motion controller (in this case, a mouse) is much more intuitive as a virtual work environment because the UI is designed as a faux-physical space. Thus, a faux-physical interactive input naturally works best.

Work environments and research environments usually have people doing the same task over and over repetitively. You get really good at it, regardless of natural talent. In these use environments, it is not unique for an individual to get so good at keyboard-input that it will naturally greatly surpass his or her capacity for the same input via voice. Moreover, multiple terminals "overhearing" inputs from various workers at close proximity presents additional practical problems. I just don't see it as realistic to implement this input modality in work and research environments as exclusive or majority input having both worked at white collar tasks and research-oriented tasks.

As a supplementary input modality, it will be fantastic for certain tasks. For home entertainment? It would be game-changing!

Finally, there are additional intelligence sphere quirks that we just don't know at the moment. For instance, it's now apparent that most traditional gamers cannot or will not adapt to a more kinesthetic experience (Wii) when a device that does not require it already allows them to project. In retrospect, it's tremendously obvious that people who are infamous for not favoring pre-existing kinesthetic experiences (sport, dance) would greatly dislike an input device that calls on those faculties.

Visual input and kinesthetic output via the keyboard-screen feedback mechanism comes very naturally for many people. I do not know if the fraction of the population that would more readily use a vocal-visual loop would be greater. I do not think it is. Another thing that's suggestive: remote controlled toys and machines. These toys and machines have simple inputs, maybe 8 or so binary inputs. It's trivial to make a remote controlled toy or machine that would respond well to existing voice input, but we don't really envision that as being all that functional or even fun.

I think this is because our tool-using brains are programmed to project through tools, but not through voice. A keyboard is a tool-input that can eventually melt away. A voice input mechanic never will.

Maybe North American offices are all so huge that it's not an issue for you guys, but how could you possibly have 30 people all dictating in a standard open plan office? Some kind of sub-vocalisation implant might work I guess? If you have to type at work, keyboards aren't going anywhere.

Also, I don't fancy programming by voice: "if open bracket isComplete ampersand ampersand exclamation mark crashed close bracket space open brace newline..."

While I like the voice controls in ME3 and Skyrim, the extra layer of abstraction always seems to work against me.

In ME3 specifically, the lag between my brain thinking "Liara use Singularity", then going "oh, you have to say it", to saying it out loud, to the Kinect processing it, and Liara executing Singularity always seems to kill me. It all happens just a little too slow, and we wind up missing the window I was shooting for.

I'm with a few other folks from the CC and this thread - call me when they can just read my mind

alexjg42 wrote:

I have to say I really enjoyed this episode. The reading of the article was great. Please do more of that.

Not really possible - the piece was posted months ago, and Graham probably finished his recording in the past two weeks.

I do love Graham's work though - love every time they sneak into the CC.