GWJ Conference Call Episode 329

Conference Call

Kentucky Route Zero, No No Kuni, Dust 514 beta, MGS Rising Revengence Demo, SimCity 5 Beta,
Strike Suit Zero, Bad Hotel, Little Inferno, The Burgeoning Genre of Low Mechanics Games and more!

This week Allen, Julian, Cory and Shawn talk about the (potential) new genre of games with little in terms of mechanics.

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
00.02.13 Kentucky Route Zero
00.10.02 Ni No Kuni
00.19.54 Strike Suit Zero
00.28.39 PlayStation Website Store
00.29.36 Metal Gear Solid Rising Revengeance
00.30.43 Dust 514 demo
00.32.22 Sim City 5 Beta
00.35.14 Little Inferno
00.36.59 Bad Hotel
00.38.12 Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
00.39.11 This week's sponsor: Chore Monster!
00.40.50 This week's topic: Minimalist Mechanics!
01.01.58 Your emails!

GWJ Blacklight Playdate Feb 4th
GWJ 8 Bit Intro Theme
Ni No Kuni
Little Inferno
Metal Gear Solid Rising
Dead Space 3
SimCity 5 Beta
Dust 514
Strike Suit Zero
Bad Hotel

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Main Theme - Ni no Kuni - http://ninokunigame.com/ - 40:22

Never Get Outta the Car - Interstate '76 - http://www.gog.com/gamecard/intersta... - 1:01:26

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Comments

Fantastic podcast, as always.

Re: the low mechanic game style that's been popping up over the past couple of years, I feel like it has the potential to be an important* new avenue for games. It seems to be closely tied with accessibility, and when you strip away/pare down things like combat, fast reactions times and sometimes overwhelming multiplayer, and replace them with story, stylized art, mood, etc, it's sure to bring in people who previously had no desire to play games.

From a personal standpoint, I feel much more welcome in those worlds, and much less pressure to be something I'm not (aka good at games). I feel like I'm allowed to suck, because in Kentucky Route Zero, all I need to do is enjoy the fireflies and drink in a lonely diner.

*Also necessary?

Today I learned that I suck at games far more than I'd thought, because I gave up on Bastion when I reached a part that was too hard for me.

Great ep. Music from Ni No Kuni and Interstate 76 to boot. Very nice.

Oh wow, I like the low-fi title music a lot.

EDIT: just heard it was OzymandiasAV, so great!

3 cheers for the 8bit intro mix!

grobstein wrote:

Oh wow, I like the low-fi title music a lot.

EDIT: just heard it was OzymandiasAV, so great!

I agree, fantastic

Also not into sword and sorcery or bastion for the same reason corey wasnt into flower.

ranalin wrote:

3 cheers for the 8bit intro mix!

Was a pleasant surprise and I dig it!

The grind becomes a routine 20 hours into Ni No Kuni, which is where I'm at. Otherwise, it is a fantastic game. There is a work around to the problematic MP-intensive AI: when exploring the overworld, don't give the monsters healing abilities or any abilities at all. I only heal up with Oliver after battle.

00.29.36 Metal Gear Solid Rising Revengeance

Just a heads up: there is no "Solid" in the game's title.

Just chiming in to agree with Shawn that it is perfectly acceptable to listen to vulgar rap songs in one's crib.

Totally awesome 8-bit intro!!!!

Great job, OzymandiasAV! Love the chiptune intro.

Adding Kentucky Route Zero & Strike Suit Zero both to my wishlist.

Link to the Past is the best one absolutely.
It's probably the best game ever.

Loved the 8-bit intro!

FeralMonkey wrote:

Today I learned that I suck at games far more than I'd thought, because I gave up on Bastion when I reached a part that was too hard for me.

And I'm in with FeralMonkey - I quit when I got to the part where rolling around became really crucial because I was playing with a keyboard and mouse. Movement like that is just not natural with wasd controls. Been meaning to go back with a controller....

First of all, the music was great this episode. Now I want to see the GWJ logo recreated as an NES cart!

Allen's praises of Little Inferno caused me to purchase the iPad version as soon as it was released. I then stayed up an extra hour burning things. Thanks Pyroman!

Something interesting was said in the topic section - essentially that it doesn't matter if the narrative is weak, as long as there's gameplay to get you past it.

I sometimes wonder if I'm the only gamer who thinks the exact opposite (and I know I'm not). For me, the narrative is all that it's about. It is very rare that I play a game for its gameplay - some multiplayer titles come to mind. But in a single player game, if there's no story to speak of, there's nothing for me to play for. Mechanics alone don't cut it for me.

Best recent example is (again) Far Cry 3. Yeah, it's a nice big open world world with lots of things to do. Don't care. Hunting? Boring, once you've figured it out. Challenges? Repetitive and uniform. Side quests? Random and without context. The only thing that interested me was how that hogwash story would end. As soon as I was done with it, I was done with the game. The worst thing was that the narrative was at such absolute odds with the open world the game presented.

To me there's no draw in just randomly doing things in a game, for the sake of doing them. Something like Spec Ops: The Line would absolutely not fly if it wasn't for the story. The duck and cover, pop and shoot mechanic gets old after an hour. The draw for me in that game is the story. Even Mass Effect would have a lot less appeal without the story - and I loved those games.

mondits wrote:

The grind becomes a routine 20 hours into Ni No Kuni, which is where I'm at. Otherwise, it is a fantastic game. There is a work around to the problematic MP-intensive AI: when exploring the overworld, don't give the monsters healing abilities or any abilities at all. I only heal up with Oliver after battle.

I'd have to say I have a different opinion on Ni No Kuni. As seen in the thread specific to the game, I almost didn't buy the game over concern for grinding but I've found that it isnt that bad (I'm 35 hours in) though that may be because I cant help myself but follow all the side quests, they seem to keep me on par with the bosses level wise and there have only been two or three out of fourty quests that felt grindy to me, and I could have just ditched them.
You can avoid intensive party MP usage via the tactics option in battle, or later there is a shortcut button you're given to make everyone go all out attack or all out defence. And Oliver is only able to heal a single player where I'm at at the moment, whereas other familiars have Heal All abilities and even revive abilities.
There are some gripes with the game, but the positives greatly outweigh the negatives for me and I'm completely hooked on Ni No Kuni.

Apollo0507 wrote:
ranalin wrote:

3 cheers for the 8bit intro mix!

Was a pleasant surprise and I dig it!

Agreed! Put a big doofy grin on my face when I heard it. Excellent work.

Also, I need to play I-76 and Kentucky Route Zero.

Oh, and the Nintendo reader mail was grating. They do generate new franchises usually at a cadence of 1 or 2 per generation. While they might not appeal to some people, they are making new properties. For example: Wii gave us Endless Ocean and the Wii series of games (casual titles featuring Miis). DS gave us Fossil Fighters, Big Brain Academy, and Brain Age. So far the 3DS has only added Pushmo to the stable of properties, but it's still a young platform.

troubleshot wrote:
mondits wrote:

The grind becomes a routine 20 hours into Ni No Kuni, which is where I'm at. Otherwise, it is a fantastic game. There is a work around to the problematic MP-intensive AI: when exploring the overworld, don't give the monsters healing abilities or any abilities at all. I only heal up with Oliver after battle.

I'd have to say I have a different opinion on Ni No Kuni. As seen in the thread specific to the game, I almost didn't buy the game over concern for grinding but I've found that it isnt that bad (I'm 35 hours in) though that may be because I cant help myself but follow all the side quests, they seem to keep me on par with the bosses level wise and there have only been two or three out of fourty quests that felt grindy to me, and I could have just ditched them.
You can avoid intensive party MP usage via the tactics option in battle, or later there is a shortcut button you're given to make everyone go all out attack or all out defence. And Oliver is only able to heal a single player where I'm at at the moment, whereas other familiars have Heal All abilities and even revive abilities.
There are some gripes with the game, but the positives greatly outweigh the negatives for me and I'm completely hooked on Ni No Kuni.

The side quests where you have to tame specific monsters are the worst "grindy" moments in the game. Took me almost two hours to get the banana-bunch guy for the first one. And probably just as long to get one of the winter monsters. I just couldn't stop until I completed the quest.

If you don't like the grind, you can skip the quests or wait until you get the perk that increases your tame-rate but this grinding time actually beefed me up so I could run through the following bosses without any trouble. I just reached the last chapter and I'm finally caught up to where the battles are challenging again and the monsters start chasing me.

Firstly, I also enjoyed the Chiptune, and actually thought it was all part of a special tenth anniversary thing.

In topic to "low-mechanic games", I feel like this more has to do with whether "video games" is a proper term for the medium now that it has matured. A lot of people have tossed about the idea of changing the name, typically in the form of "Interactive Entertainment", but you can't really shorten that unless it is to a punny term like Intertainment.

And then we'd all have to kill ourselves for saying such a thing with a straight face.

Thing is, what's more important? That it replicates the ideas of a "game", where it is an activity following a set of rules that lead a player towards victory, or that it is an interactive experience designed to entertain?

I like to follow the latter definition, as it is much more broad an idea that makes room for a greater variety of experiences. I like to use The Walking Dead as a perfect example of a game that may be story heavy, but due to its interactive nature the emotions you feel progressing through the story are much more personal. It's almost like some magician's slight of the hand.

I remember a moment in the first episode, the one where you first meet Larry and Lilly. I took part in an argument in a video game that was as tense as any gun fight I've digitally been a part of. I was on the edge of my seat, not because I was curious what would happen to these characters, but because I was so hooked to my dialogue options wanting to prevent things from getting worse. The writers cleverly put in another conflict as well, one that was much easier to ignore even though it required greater attention.

Spoiler:

Clem having to go to the bathroom.

Then there's a moment in episode two where you have a choice.

Spoiler:

To spare the cannibal brother or stick a fork in 'im.

I was so wrapped up in my own emotions that I made the choice for selfish reasons. However, the following consequence was not only a surprise, but made me feel shame.

Does it matter that The Walking Dead's mechanics aren't as response-heavy as Gears of War? That it doesn't require me to constantly be pressing buttons? In the end, my few interactions in that episode of The Walking Dead carried more emotional weight for me than the dozens of rooms of Locust I've cleared in Gears of War.

What shouldn't matter are whether a game has a bunch of mechanics or not, but how the game utilizes its interactive nature. We give a pass to mechanics-heavy games because that's how the medium started and what we're used to, be it Pong or Pac-Man or Galaga. Yet the real reason this medium has potential is simply because it is interactive, and by being interactive it requires active involvement from the player. This means the player is always thinking, and at the same time always putting a little bit of themselves into the experience.

It just so happens that a game with a good story and bad mechanics or good mechanics and a bad story can still have an audience. Games are capable of actually being more broad than other forms of entertainment because it has multiple angles to work on.

troubleshot wrote:

And Oliver is only able to heal a single player where I'm at at the moment, whereas other familiars have Heal All abilities and even revive abilities.

When I do eventually get such a familiar, then I'll ditch my Oliver-only healing.

TheGrey wrote:

If you don't like the grind, you can skip the quests or wait until you get the perk that increases your tame-rate but this grinding time actually beefed me up so I could run through the following bosses without any trouble.

Because of how the game is structured, you can end up either overpowered or severely underpowered during a boss fight. Depends on how much time you devoted on the side quests.

God I love your show guys. Playing Kentucky Route Zero tomorrow! Thanks!

Jobbers buy books in bulk, and then sell them to libraries. But yes Certis is right, the term was banned by the ALA when too many confused and lonely librarians kept inquiring about handjobs.

ccesarano wrote:

A lot of people have tossed about the idea of changing the name, typically in the form of "Interactive Entertainment", but you can't really shorten that unless it is to a punny term like Intertainment.

I put a lot fo milage on interactive or "ergotic" narratives in academia, in part because it's that narrative space I'm focusing on, and how the game's rules expand and contract possibilities through the course of play.

Sorry this is late, seriously behind and getting caught up, but I had to say one thing...

Strike Suit Zero in the same sentence with Wing Commander and ESPECIALLY TIE Fighter?

What?

No. No. Just no. No no no. There is no number to measure this wrongness.

SSZ is...ALRIGHT, but c'MON now...