GWJ Conference Call Episode 347

Conference Call

Skyward Collapse, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, SimCity 5 Check-In, The Resurgence of Mid-Price Games, Your Emails and More!

This week Shawn, Elysium and Julian talk about mid-tier games on the eve of the E3 AAA onslaught.

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
00.01.33 Skyward Collapse
00.08.35 Sim City 5 Check-in: Amusement Park--$10??
00.12.51 Kerbal Space Program
00.14.28 Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
00.17.46 Kentucky Route Zero: Act 2
00.20.25 D&D
00.22.38 This week's topic: Mid-tier games!
00.42.04 Your emails

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

None - Workbench Music - http://workbench-music.com - 22:09

Alpha - Workbench Music - http://workbench-music.com - 41:38

Comments

101.5 is WPDH where I'm from.... So very confused.

Gunslinger. Whoo!

I've just finished Assassin's Creed 3 (no comment) and they again locked me into the endless credits sequence with no way to skip it and be sure the after game would load. Pointless, unless their goal was to have me do other things other than play my xbox for a while and only occasionally glance at some random team names while quietly seething at their unnecessary imposition on my valuable gaming time.

The list however was a bit of a revelation in terms of the sheer number of personnel involved and the number of rolls filled by three to eight people that I would have assumed would have been only one aspect of one persons job. When you see a list like that it's no wonder AAA games are, financially speaking, such unwieldily beasts.

Re Cosplay, I think the negativity is about Cosplaying at E3. A lot of people are saying these days that people should cosplay at places where it's a conference for Fans, rather than one where it's a conference for the press and retail establishments. Places like Pax and conventions are great for Cosplay.

On FUSE, I think there were leaks talking about why they changed their direction. The focus testers that they brought in looked at what they had, and thought that it would be a game for their younger brothers, rather than for them. Often even 12 year olds saying this. Thus, EA focus testing swerved them in the CoD direction. (Gritty juvenile immaturity rather than cartoony humorous immaturity.)

Loved the "what games are on your desktop" part about 40min in!! I think that our desktops say a lot about ourselves. For example: I'm kinda cuckoo when it comes to clutter, so the entire contents of desktop amounts to: "my computer icon" (which I could remove, really, I always use the shortcut win+E), the Recycle Bin... aaaaand... Guild Wars 2. That's it! Most days, I just fire up Steam (in the most recently launched programs) and right click on the icon to launch whatever game I'm currently playing.

I pretty much agree on your analysis on the mid tier games. Granted my perspective as a gamer is rather limited, but I get the feeling that we're going to see a continuing downwards trend regarding AAA games. That's okay, though, I'm perfectly fine with AA games (Torchlight 2, woohoo!!).

If anything, I have anything but the utmost respect and admiration for cosplayers. Those are some seriously talented people. Some of those costumes are just astounding.

Also: Did Sean change something in his microphone set up? His voice sounded different than usual (not in a bad way, just different - or maybe my earphones are dying, who knows). Also, I could hug him for citing the SNES/ Sega Genesis as better than today's generation.

Think the modern cosplay grief is just a pile up of not-authentic/doing-it-wrong and self-loathing comments rage. It's often that transferal/transgression thing... "I won't let you profane my interests by not taking it seriously enough, rawr!" .

Cosplay is performance art and spectacle, people are weird about that. Probably doesn't help mimes are neighbors, ontologically speaking. Having watched the Mega64 Journey lark recently, I do have to admit to some cringing myself.

And as an old timer, I'm kinda whiplashed hearing D&D is the latest elementary school craze. Guess we're finally past the dark old days when the media insisted D&D is trying to kill me, zomg, protect the children.

Did Sean change something in his microphone set up?

I did. I had my microphone set up a little wrong previously.

I definitely hope we're not stepping back from grand cinematic spectacales.

I know there's folks on both side of this paticular fence, but games like TL2 and Path of Exile hold my attention for 5 min or so until i'm wishing i was playing D2 or D3.

FYI

Shawn mentioned War Thunder on his desktop reminded me that War of Warplanes will be starting open beta soon.

Oh and screw you guys on the betas you cant mention!

Will have to check out that Skyward game at some point. Sounds like a fun puzzly take on Populous/Black & White.

Really liked the discussion on "mid-tier" games (which I sometimes refer to as "big indie") since that's where I've noticed my gaming tastes are gravitating toward lately. One of things I like about these games is that they really evoke a lot of the feel of games from the 80's/90's where the designs were more constrained by smaller teams, lower specs, smaller budgets, etc. (and.... Julian just hit on this while I'm typing this post).

Is this the point where Nintendo's "Blue Ocean" strategy was justified? I think a lot of people dismissed the Wii (and more recently the Wii U) because the specs weren't competitive, but Nintendo's argument was that this would keep development costs down. Or even Double Fine's shift from AAA publisher backed games like Brutal Legend to smaller downloadable titles like Stacking and Costume Quest.

It feels like AAA has reached a sort of "event horizon" where budgets have hit the point where the audience can no longer support development of these games without major concessions from the publishers and developers to start scaling back.

You guys have a lot of games. Not much else to comment except I still listen to the podcast every week, still love it, keep it up guys, thanks

Mex wrote:

You guys have a lot of games. Not much else to comment except I still listen to the podcast every week, still love it, keep it up guys, thanks :)

Yes, please keep playing all the games, so we don't have to.

jonnypolite wrote:
Mex wrote:

You guys have a lot of games. Not much else to comment except I still listen to the podcast every week, still love it, keep it up guys, thanks :)

Yes, please keep playing all the games, so we don't have to.

Pretty much

Well, I'm probably going to spend some time playing games tonight. So, you're welcome.

Cosplay is for weak minded children that think everyone want to know what their favorite game or character is.

Now, excuse me while I iron my authentic Adam Wainright jersey for the Cardinals game tonight.

Eleima wrote:

Loved the "what games are on your desktop" part about 40min in!! I think that our desktops say a lot about ourselves. For example: I'm kinda cuckoo when it comes to clutter, so the entire contents of desktop amounts to: "my computer icon" (which I could remove, really, I always use the shortcut win+E), the Recycle Bin... aaaaand... Guild Wars 2. That's it! Most days, I just fire up Steam (in the most recently launched programs) and right click on the icon to launch whatever game I'm currently playing.

Same here. My desktop consists of recycle bin, a notepad file, a RiffTrax video that I recently bought but haven't watched yet, and the Door Kickers demo that I just downloaded yesterday. To get to my games, I just click the Steam icon on the taskbar, as I have it always running. The only reason the Door Kickers demo is on my desktop is because it doesn't actually "install" on the computer, so I can't create a Steam shortcut for it.

Put me in the "Just the Recycle Bin and use Steam as a launcher" group too.

Before Steam existed I had a folder on the hard drive where I kept short cuts to all my games, and I added that folder to the task bar to create a popup list of all my games.

Jayhawker wrote:

Cosplay is for weak minded children that think everyone want to know what their favorite game or character is.

Now, excuse me while I iron my authentic Adam Wainright jersey for the Cardinals game tonight.

Now QS, is that kind of talk really necessary?

[whispering off camera]

Oh, that wasn't QS?

I'm a huge fan of cosplay, but put myself in similar shoes as Rabbit - I'd love to do it, but I really don't have much time. Meanwhile, if someone wants to chip in to make a Nick Fury/Malcom Reynolds mashup costume for next PAX East for Rabbit...I'm totally down to help.

Great Call as always.

One thing that always puzzled me about MMO pricing models was the jump from $15/month to Free-To-Play/Micro-Transactions. I'm not an MMO guy, so $15 always seemed way too high a commitment on top of the purchase price for a game I might not even enjoy. Did any games ever try $5 per month or any other "middle of the road" type model? It always seemed like each new game was $15 per month, until mobile gaming came along and everyone started going FTP.

PaladinTom wrote:

One thing that always puzzled me about MMO pricing models was the jump from $15/month to Free-To-Play/Micro-Transactions. I'm not an MMO guy, so $15 always seemed way too high a commitment on top of the purchase price for a game I might not even enjoy. Did any games ever try $5 per month or any other "middle of the road" type model? It always seemed like each new game was $15 per month, until mobile gaming came along and everyone started going FTP.

I think Ragnarok Online was asking for $10-12/month but they eventually opened up a F2P server.

Re: Cosplay

I scrapped the back of my brain and came up with these negative feelings I might occasionally experience toward cosplay:

1) Some of the more elaborate ones are such a pain that it's not worth it to shower off and re-apply the next day, so people just leave it on and don't shower for days. This is the unsustainable AAA bloat of cosplay, but it is not the norm.

2) When I see "cosplay" in a headline online, it's usually an excuse to use T&A for clicks. This makes me upset.

Was so happy to hear chatter about Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Certis' tweet about it over the weekened started the ball rolling toward me buying it. Such a good game.

And Cosplay is awesome, done it my own self once or twice, know a freaking ton of people into it. That's my favorite part of cons, honestly. Such much dedication and creativity is always awesome to see.

I strongly do not recommend Prison Architect. Only game I've ever played that not only made me feel unwelcome during the tutorial, it implied I was a terrible person for wanting to play the game. Not in a good way, either.

I usually admire risky innovations in a game, but Prison Architect makes me angry I gave them my money. And all I played was the tutorial.

S-N-E-S
The Nintendo Entertainment System was just N-E-S, what possessed your mind to think adding the 'S' to the front warranted saying it like a word? It's still an acronym, not all of them are pronounced as words.

PyromanFO wrote:

I strongly do not recommend Prison Architect. Only game I've ever played that not only made me feel unwelcome during the tutorial, it implied I was a terrible person for wanting to play the game. Not in a good way, either.

I usually admire risky innovations in a game, but Prison Architect makes me angry I gave them my money. And all I played was the tutorial.

Strong words. I have this on my Steam wishlist, so would you care to elaborate?

Additionally, even though you can pay for the game and play it now, the game is still admittedly in alpha phase, so I encourage you send your feedback to the devs in hopes that whatever frustrated or offended you can be addressed before the full game is released.

My PS3 has been quite a nice machine, which I'll probably still use for a few more years (backward compatibility via keeping the old system around is a proud tradition in this house).
Also, the latest GUI changes to the Playstation Store are quite nice.

MeatMan wrote:
PyromanFO wrote:

I strongly do not recommend Prison Architect. Only game I've ever played that not only made me feel unwelcome during the tutorial, it implied I was a terrible person for wanting to play the game. Not in a good way, either.

I usually admire risky innovations in a game, but Prison Architect makes me angry I gave them my money. And all I played was the tutorial.

Strong words. I have this on my Steam wishlist, so would you care to elaborate?

Additionally, even though you can pay for the game and play it now, the game is still admittedly in alpha phase, so I encourage you send your feedback to the devs in hopes that whatever frustrated or offended you can be addressed before the full game is released.

I think part of the being offended part is that "Prison Architect" is only a small jump away from "Slave Plantation Architect." You're essentially creating a slave labor camp. Fun, right?

LarryC wrote:

I think part of the being offended part is that "Prison Architect" is only a small jump away from "Slave Plantation Architect." You're essentially creating a slave labor camp. Fun, right?

Yeah, I think I'm gonna disagree with your assertion that convicted criminals are a "small jump" away from plantation slaves. IMAGE(http://static-cdn.jtvnw.net/jtv_user_pictures/chansub-global-emoticon-c8a77ec0c49976d3-22x30.png) Would you kindly take that discussion to P&C.

I'm only specifically interested in learning what aspect of the gameplay Pyroman experienced that caused him to have such a negative reaction. I've been tracking the Catch-All thread, and I've watched a couple gameplay videos and haven't seen or read anything to turn me off the game. Pyroman's comment is the only really negative opinion I've seen, so I genuinely want to know, before I spend any money, if there is something in the game that warrants it being avoided.

I'd be interested if PyromanFO has played Introversion's Defcon or Uplink, both have similar grey aspects in the background. If I remember right, in Defcon they would adjust the background sound and music depending on what you've nuked lately, so while cities are turning to ash you've got people sobbing in the back ground.

I have not played their other games, so I do not know. I know that there is a way to get themes that are dissonant from the gameplay right. Unfortunately Prison Architect doesn't manage it. It's hard to get specific without getting into spoilers.

Spoiler:

The tutorial asks you to build an execution chamber for a specific prisoner. Then halfway through the very SimCity-like tutorial, you are treated to a view of his crime from his perspective, where he catches his wife in bed with another man. Still presented from the sterile, top-down city-building perspective, with comic-book panel overlays. Then, back to the prison! Yay! Also, you have to keep your head down and remember you're just doing your job. Also, execute him now.

I can't see how you're supposed to take this. If this is a game about the banality of prison maintenance, fine. If it's a game about the horrors of the prison system, okay. But I don't feel like this game knows what it's about well enough to really nail it. What you get instead is something partially boring, partially disgusting. It did not work for me

McIrishJihad wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

Cosplay is for weak minded children that think everyone want to know what their favorite game or character is.

Now, excuse me while I iron my authentic Adam Wainright jersey for the Cardinals game tonight.

Now QS, is that kind of talk really necessary?

[whispering off camera]

Oh, that wasn't QS?

I'm a huge fan of cosplay, but put myself in similar shoes as Rabbit - I'd love to do it, but I really don't have much time. Meanwhile, if someone wants to chip in to make a Nick Fury/Malcom Reynolds mashup costume for next PAX East for Rabbit...I'm totally down to help.

Hey what?!

PyromanFO wrote:
Spoiler:

The tutorial asks you to build an execution chamber for a specific prisoner. Then halfway through the very SimCity-like tutorial, you are treated to a view of his crime from his perspective, where he catches his wife in bed with another man. Still presented from the sterile, top-down city-building perspective, with comic-book panel overlays. Then, back to the prison! Yay! Also, you have to keep your head down and remember you're just doing your job. Also, execute him now.

I can't see how you're supposed to take this. If this is a game about the banality of prison maintenance, fine. If it's a game about the horrors of the prison system, okay. But I don't feel like this game knows what it's about well enough to really nail it. What you get instead is something partially boring, partially disgusting. It did not work for me

Just before posting my previous comment, I watched a playthrough of the tutorial and saw the part you just described. While I feel that it seemed a bit out of place for a prison building/management simulation game, it certainly didn't offend me. That said, thanks for the clarification. If I end up deciding not to get the game, it won't be because of the tutorial.