GWJ Conference Call Episode 334

Conference Call

Tomb Raider, Pixel People, Fire Emblem, Plague Inc., Backflip Madness, Special Guest Susan Arendt!, Your Emails and more!

This week Sean Sands and Cory Banks are joined by The Escapist's Susan Arendt to talk Tomb Raider, reboots 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.

Chairman_Mao's Timestamps
00.02.26 Pixel People
00.06.41 Fire Emblem: Awakenings
00.11.33 Talkin bout the DS
00.16.05 Plague Inc.
00.21.58 Backflip Madness
00.25.28 This week's sponsor: The Gel 2013 Conference
00.26.43 This week's topic: Tomb Raider!
00.47.30 Your emails!

Tomb Raider
The Escapist
Plague Inc
Backflip Madness

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Beautiful Women - Secret Mountain - http://www.sans-concept.com - 26:16

8 Bit Samples - Workbench Music - http://workbench-music.com/ - 47:04

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Comments

Late to the thread (because I only got around to listening to the 'cast today) but wanted to add some feedback to the question about demos.

Go look at the Truck Simulator thread and see how many people only bought the game because of the demo. I would never have even looked at the game without the demo, but I played it and, when the demo expired, forked over the cash to keep playing.

That's why you give out good demos people.

That's right!! I'd completely forgotten until Tanstaafl mentioned it, but I myself played the Plants vs Zombies demo on Steam and immediately bought it the minute the demo ran out of time (you can play an hour before it locks up). That certainly worked out in PopCap's favor.

Also, I've been playing Plague Inc non stop because of you guys! Great game, thanks a bunch for talking about it!! (Curse you, Greenland!!)

I can think of several more games that I've avoided due to demos than games I have bought because of them. Actually, I can't think of a single game I have bought due to a demo off the top of my head. I'm sure there are one or 2, but I can't think of any right now.

I'm much more likely to be sold on a game by a Let's Play or Quicklook style video than a demo.

kyrieee wrote:
strangederby wrote:

Wow. Really pleased to get my question answered! Like a fool I got my DLC's mixed up and asked about Leviathan when I meant From Ashes but even so you all made very good points.

In your defence I think Leviathan does exactly what the hosts said it didn't. It is crucial and it does complete the story.

I agree with this assessment of Leviathon, and found this episode on a whole to be full of these kinds of contradictory assessments. Been listening for at least five years and will continue to listen, but I couldn't finish this episode with the amount of misinformation it contained. This sounds really harsh. I love you guys. There, maybe that made it better.

Dyni wrote:

I can think of several more games that I've avoided due to demos than games I have bought because of them. Actually, I can't think of a single game I have bought due to a demo off the top of my head. I'm sure there are one or 2, but I can't think of any right now.

I'm much more likely to be sold on a game by a Let's Play or Quicklook style video than a demo.

There's a potentially missed function of demos here, which is to keep up the hype and keep the game in the mind of journos and gamers. I'd be willing to bet that there have been many games that, if not for a half-decent demo, would have gotten a less excited reception come launch.

I agree with this assessment of Leviathon, and found this episode on a whole to be full of these kinds of contradictory assessments. Been listening for at least five years and will continue to listen, but I couldn't finish this episode with the amount of misinformation it contained. This sounds really harsh. I love you guys. There, maybe that made it better.

Ok, let me try this from a different angle.

What exactly is a complete story? Is there some volume of story where Mass Effect will be officially complete? And if so, what if someone adds new story to a complete story, does that mean we were wrong about what was complete before or that the new information is a different story? Also, who gets to decide?

If a new piece of DLC comes out, and you play it and think "oh, that thing adds another whole new layer to the story," or "that fills in this bit that now seems crucial and like missed information from the original" does that mean that information was "missing" from the original?

I'm sorry, I am open to being convinced, but I don't know if we were contradictory/wrong, or if we just disagree with what the information in Leviathan represents. I haven't played Leviathan. Does that mean I'm wrong in thinking I have a complete Mass Effect story, just because someone added new information after the fact?

None of the paid DLC content for ME3 is critical for the story, unlike(arguably) all of the DLC for ME2, especially Lair of the Shadow Broker and Arrival.

Leviathan added context to what the Reapers are. It didn't change the fact that they are hateful murder machines hellbent on the murder of all sentient life in the galaxy. It doesn't change the context for any of Shepard's actions, before or after. All it does is add history and lore. It absolutely is not required. Is the story more "complete" in regards to the reapers backstory with it? Sure. But it doesn't change the overall story arcs, or anything else. There is nothing critical or crucial about what's said in there for the overall story.

From Ashes added the same context, only for the Protheans. Again, the story didn't change. And again, it's not required for the "entire" story. All Javik adds is some context and lore to what happens.

Omega and Citadel are side stories. Omega finishes Aria's story, and Citadel is just pure fan service with these characters. Neither have any real effect on Shepard or the other characters.

Elysium wrote:
I agree with this assessment of Leviathon, and found this episode on a whole to be full of these kinds of contradictory assessments. Been listening for at least five years and will continue to listen, but I couldn't finish this episode with the amount of misinformation it contained. This sounds really harsh. I love you guys. There, maybe that made it better.

Ok, let me try this from a different angle.

What exactly is a complete story? Is there some volume of story where Mass Effect will be officially complete? And if so, what if someone adds new story to a complete story, does that mean we were wrong about what was complete before or that the new information is a different story? Also, who gets to decide?

If a new piece of DLC comes out, and you play it and think "oh, that thing adds another whole new layer to the story," or "that fills in this bit that now seems crucial and like missed information from the original" does that mean that information was "missing" from the original?

I'm sorry, I am open to being convinced, but I don't know if we were contradictory/wrong, or if we just disagree with what the information in Leviathan represents. I haven't played Leviathan. Does that mean I'm wrong in thinking I have a complete Mass Effect story, just because someone added new information after the fact?

To make a comparison, J.R.R. Tolkien went back and edited The Hobbit while he was writing Lord of the Rings so it could fit with his new creation better. Does that mean his original version of The Hobbit was incomplete?

Are you getting an incomplete version of Lord of the Rings if you bought the regular edition instead of getting the extended edition? Should we be angry at New Line Cinema that they didn't just release the extended Hobbit in theaters this past December when you KNOW there were cut scenes?

I played Dragon Age: Origins without the Shale DLC or other content that came with it. I played ME3 without Jarvik or whatever his name is. I don't feel like I played less game. I feel like what was there was fine. Leviathan answering some questions or whatnot to me is the same thing as watching the extended scenes of a film. Sometimes they provide more! Sometimes the Director's Cut is the best version of the film. But if I enjoyed the film BEFORE I saw all that content, then what's the problem?

ccesarano wrote:

To make a comparison, J.R.R. Tolkien went back and edited The Hobbit while he was writing Lord of the Rings so it could fit with his new creation better. Does that mean his original version of The Hobbit was incomplete?

Shakespeare was doing it long before Tolkien. Or, to go even further back, how about all the revisions that have been made to The Bible?

Elysium wrote:
I agree with this assessment of Leviathon, and found this episode on a whole to be full of these kinds of contradictory assessments. Been listening for at least five years and will continue to listen, but I couldn't finish this episode with the amount of misinformation it contained. This sounds really harsh. I love you guys. There, maybe that made it better.

Ok, let me try this from a different angle.

What exactly is a complete story?

Bioware didn't integrate my Shepard/Grunt slashfic into the game. The complete story has yet to be released!

Tanglebones wrote:

Bioware didn't integrate my Shepard/Grunt slashfic into the game. The complete story has yet to be released!

Actually, Shepard says he loves Grunt in game.

I really enjoyed Susan as a guest (though now I have a niggling desire for a bird watching game).

To be fair to the hosts I did get my DLC's mixed up. The reason I felt so burned was because I kept reading forum after forum comment about the From ashes day one DLC. How it filled in so much interesting informatiom about the Protheans and how they couldn't imagine playing through at least once without the prothean companion. But who knows maybe that was all just hyperbole.

strangederby wrote:

To be fair to the hosts I did get my DLC's mixed up. The reason I felt so burned was because I kept reading forum after forum comment about the From ashes day one DLC. How it filled in so much interesting informatiom about the Protheans and how they couldn't imagine playing through at least once without the prothean companion. But who knows maybe that was all just hyperbole.

I didn't take the Prothean with me on the mission where he provides the most background/emotional resonance (the mission to the Prothean temple), and I still feel like I had a complete game experience. The branching characters and storylines in ME3 made it so that there were about a few hundred "complete, real stories" that could theoretically be played. If you missed out on a couple of them due to not having DLC, so be it.

Technically, you're missing out on the complete DA2 and ME3 experience by NOT playing each at least 3x over, but many people are satisified with just the one play-through. If you're happy not taking Javik along on any mission whatsoever, and on not talking to him (because he's kind of a dick), then you don't lose anything significant by not having that content.

I played through ME3 twice without him and then once with, because I felt I'd possibly missed out, but other than a couple of short conversations he really had very little effect on the game. He looks fantastic though :).

LarryC wrote:

Technically, you're missing out on the complete DA2 and ME3 experience by NOT playing each at least 3x over, but many people are satisified with just the one play-through. If you're happy not taking Javik along on any mission whatsoever, and on not talking to him (because he's kind of a dick), then you don't lose anything significant by not having that content.

And played from every possible viewpoint, and as both sexes, each with varying sexual orientations.

Elysium,

I agree with your philosophical statement on story. I have enjoyed numerous stories in my life that might seem at first to contain plot holes. A lot of Japanese anime comes to mind when I think of successful stories that contain plot holes. These stories feel complete regardless of these unaddressed questions. (Not that this was your entire point, but it serves as an example.)

The first Mass Effect game presented a story driven by uncovering a universe. The player still felt emotionally attached to characters, but I loved the prevelent, old-school science fiction mystery. Subsequent games shied away from this aspect to refine the cinematic experience and the characters.

Yet, Leviathan was reminiscent of the first Mass Effect, because it was thematically on par with the first reaper encounter of that game. This kind of storytelling, with its emphasis on discovering the universe rather than the characters within that universe was my favorite part of Mass Effect. Subsequent games moved away from this kind of story telling, and to relegate this style to DLC decreased my affinity toward the series.

I will re-listen to the podcast to clarify my statement about "contradiction" with regard to the Mass Effect discussion, since it seems to be of interest to you. Also, the GWJ community has been extremely warm toward me as I have begun to comment on the site in the last week or two. Thank you all for the intelligent replies.

Edit:

After re-listening to the show, I was again struck by Susan Arendt’s claim that, “If something comes out a year after the game is released—a good long time, then it’s clear that it is not intrinsic to the story.” This is not always the case, nor did she know this was the case for the Mass Effect Leviathan DLC. She would be right if we considered all that is intrinsic to a story to be only that which is part of the original version. Yet, a writer may have crafted intrinsic elements of a story beyond those contained in the initial version. These elements do not appear in the initial version, but predate it. Overall plot or character development can be planned in this way.

The Leviathan DLC seems to contain elements intrinsic to the Mass Effect story and universe. Fundamental information about the universe is conveyed to the player during Leviathan. This is the kind of information I wish sequels to Mass Effect revealed, but was withheld after the first game and until this DLC. It seems a change in writing style from science fiction mystery to blockbuster character emotion left these story elements on the cutting room floor. I don’t know this, but my point is Susan does not know the opposite, and that was the kind of self-contradictory statement that forced me to stop listening.

After re-listening to the show, I was again struck by Susan Arendt’s claim that, “If something comes out a year after the game is released—a good long time, then it’s clear that it is not intrinsic to the story.” This is not always the case, nor did she know this was the case for the Mass Effect Leviathan DLC. She would be right if we considered all that is intrinsic to a story to be only that which is part of the original version. Yet, a writer may have crafted intrinsic elements of a story beyond those contained in the initial version. These elements do not appear in the initial version, but predate it. Overall plot or character development can be planned in this way.

I can go deep on this (academic style!) if you want, but I think that a work that existed in public for at least a year, being played and discussed and re-played and re-discussed, is a complete work in and of itself.

Related story: An author (I believe it was Herman Melville) wrote a novel once that he was fairly proud of, only to realize that, based on his bills and the amount he was getting paid per word, the book needed to be longer if he was going to avoid bankruptcy. All told, he added about 50% to the original copy. The book was published only in the expanded version, and widely regarded as the author's work novel. A century later some enterprising academic carefully checked hand-written manuscripts to try and piece together the shorter draft, which many regard as a better book.

And that author was Robert Jordan /tugs braid

Or JRR Tolkien. There are a lot of authors (and game designers) that could use a good editor.

The point is that when it comes to trying to suss out what an author intended, it's not only a messy question, but often the answers are themselves ugly. Ultimately, it's a lot easier and more useful to just take what actually was made available to and received by the public than to fret about what the book or game might have been.