Conference Call

GWJ Conference Call Episode 355

Stealth Inc, A Ride Into The Mountains, Shadowrun Returns, rymdkapsel, Are AAA Games Held to a Higher Standard?, Last of Us Spoiler Section, Your Emails and More!

It's a big one this week as Shawn, Elysium and Julian talk about whether or not AAA games are held to a different standard than indie titles. After the credits, the long awaited Last of Us Spoiler Section with Rob Zacny, Dean Tate, Cory Banks, Karla Andrich and Shawn!

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
00.01.17 The Last of Us
00.03.58 State of Decay
00.05.12 rymdkapsel
00.06.18 Stealth Inc.
00.10.30 Shadowrun Returns
00.20.05 SolForge
00.23.27 Kerbal Space Program update
00.27.27 A Ride into the Mountains
00.32.51 This week's topic: Do we hold AAA games to a higher standard?!
00.52.35 Your emails!
01.15.09 Last of Us Spoiler Section!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Peripatetic - BigBot Audio Drop - SGX - - 32:23

Span (Malcos Remix) - BigBot Audio Drop - SGX - - 52:08


Ravenlock wrote:

What is the IndieGoGo swordfighting card board game thing? A link was promised. I want to give them my dollars!


misplacedbravado wrote:
Ravenlock wrote:

What is the IndieGoGo swordfighting card board game thing? A link was promised. I want to give them my dollars!



Love Love Loved the spoiler section. And as others have stated, the game deserved it. Most games don't have enough meat to warrant two hours of discussion.

The most interesting things about the spoiler section to me were the reactions of the parents and non-parents. The last conversation about Joel's motivations just really solidified how excellent this game is.

I feel like I'm in the minority here:


At the end of the game I didn't Rambo through. I shot as few people as possible and didn't even kill anyone in the final corridor (maybe one don't quote me). I threw 2 smoke bombs to get through the final door taking minimal damage. I viewed the Fireflies as a positive force in the world even though I was going to save Ellie at all costs I was going to spare as many of them as possible.

The other interesting thing about TLoU is the way it toys with the player's agency. It almost annoyed me at times. This really isn't anything new, but for some reason the game had drawn such strong emotions from me, when I had agency taken from me I became disappointed. It really is a fine line to walk for games with strong narratives.

Maeloch wrote:

I enjoyed the spoiler section, but after listening to several spoiler casts, I have never heard anyone discuss the problems that I personally had with the story.

That really pulled me out of the game too - although I thought I might be being overly sensitive since I work that kind of area.


Quite aside from the technical issues which can be handwaved aside for the sake of the story, I agree that the medical/science teams of the fireflies were just ridiculously, implausibly stupid. There's about a dozen things I can think of on top of your list that would need to be investigated, none of which could be done if the patient was dead. No scientist is ever going to rush into something irreversible; if anything we tend to be overly conservative. It was also stupid of Marlene to tell Joel what was happening, stupid of them to decide that a man they knew to be incredibly dangerous could be escorted out by a single soldier (why not just shoot/imprison him?). I really enjoyed most of the game, but that segment in the hospital really annoyed me since it just seemed dumb on so many levels.

Great show as always, sadly I skipped over the spoiler section since I haven't played Last of Us yet. Really liked the AAA vs. indies segment and like the hosts I'm finding myself increasingly drawn to smaller games with the occasional release like B:I sprinkled around.

Sean, you need to come down to the Solforge thread and start some games with the rest of us!

shoptroll wrote:

Great show as always, sadly I skipped over the spoiler section since I haven't played Last of Us yet.

Leave it in the feed and label it 'Last of Us spoilers' or something then return to it when you're done. That's what I tend to do.

So the other day, I was discussing The Last of Us with my husband. Pretty loosely, mind you, because he's no gamer, I just gave him a quick sum up of the plot, and discussed the "parental love is selfish" comment that had been bugging me. He had a very interesting take on the ending:


In his opinion, Joel saving Ellie in the end isn't specific to parental love at all, but to plain and simple "love". The scenario would've been the same for a significant other, for example. This is about someone's attachment to another person, and his profound unwillingness to give that person up. It's about love, plain and simple.

I'm not sure that I agree 100% with his view, but it did make for interesting discussion, and certainly made me rethink my view, so thought I would share.


I've been thinking more about this. It's amazing how radically differently people are seeing the ending in terms of Joel's intent. Part of the division seems to be based on how you regard the balance between Ellie living and Ellie dying to save humanity (which I've since realised is a variation on the Trolley dilemma) If you fall on the side of Ellie's death being necessary to save humanity then Joel's murderous rampage to save her has few redeeming features and Joel lying to her after the event is a cold and cynical act that compounds his crime. If you fall on the side of Ellie not being sacrificed then Joel's race to save her can be seen as an act motivated by his overwhelming desire to protect her and there is the possibility that his lying to her afterwards, about what happened at the Firefly base, is for her sake.

I realise that I may not have been paying full attention, after the traumatic opener, so I may have failed to pick up on Joel's more despicable aspects early on. I remember it was Tess who killed Robert the arms dealer and I thought, at the time, that she was perhaps a bit unhinged and might need watching. Later in the game Joel tortures and kills two of the cannibals. I didn't have a problem with that, as he was out to save a young girl from God knows what fate, and also in a 'you reap what you sow' kind of a way but perhaps I've been watching too much 'Breaking Bad' and 'Dexter.'

Certis wrote:
misplacedbravado wrote:
Ravenlock wrote:

What is the IndieGoGo swordfighting card board game thing? A link was promised. I want to give them my dollars!



Sweet. Thanks.

jam3 wrote:

I thought it was weird that during the AAA vs indie quality discussion you didn't really address the elephant in the room;there are some great discussions about how games are viewed as creative works of art and our stereotypes of exactly what are our cultural value judgement's about a games value. The influx of indie games is giving us another chance to evaluate that value.

You guys stood on the precipice of this great discussion about how games could primarily be judged by the intent and execution of their creator versus pure capitalistic commoditization. Almost the difference in how we as a society view music and movies, we reflexively scoff at musicians who "sell out" and yet intrinsically expect it from Hollywood.

I am not saying there aren't musicians who are mainly in the business well for exactly the purpose of treating it as a business, nor that there aren't directors/producers/actors that honestly want to create a piece of art sometimes at the expense of their paycheck. But culturally the way we value music and art has an impact; we get a much better overall quality of music due to our cultural perception. Its also why we get better books than movies, its not that the written word is some superior form of consuming media, it is the cultural traditions and value we place on the written word that gives us movies made from books and not the other way around.

Games are still not fixed in our cultural value system. I think right now we are standing at a decision point of where games will stand in our cultural consciousness. The birth of video games happened in most our our lifetimes, followed by a golden age of games being created by the artistic/scientific elite who had a particular vision they wanted to convey in media, almost how you define the essence of high art. Then the over reaching capitalistic influx of the past 10 or so years when cross-platform code gave the businessmen an ah-ha moment where you could write a game for both pc and console with a single team and make alot of money by halving your investment and nearly doubling your market but also creating a more generic work.

We are at another sea change moment with a real influx of independents into the community/market, how we react as consumers, critics and game makers matters to how we set video games value as art in our culture.

You obviously have a desired outcome from that discussion, and I think it's one that is ultimately in league with my own views, but let me caution you in a couple things.

- "Art" is a problematic term even when you're talking about painting and poetry. Plenty of people spin themselves dizzy in pointless discussions of what is and isn't "Art," or what is "high art" versus "low art," and it doesn't end up going anywhere beyond the speaker's justification of their own like or dislike of a medium, genre, or individual work.

- I think you're romanticizing the way books have been created and sold over the past few centuries. The publishing and sale of books has been a heavily commercial venture since Gutenberg was still alive, and printed words in general saw a fairly rapid decrease in prestige from that point forward. One need only look at Thoreau or Emerson's thoughts on newspapers to see just how little prestige has historically been inherent in the printed word.

- Furthermore, a book, like a video game or film, is rarely the result of one single creative genius (or "auteur," if you're into that) creating in a vacuum. Rather, the production of a work in any one of these media requires input from a number of sources, each with distinct interests and influences. Sure, there's usually someone in the mix who just wants to make it marketable, but there might be a friend or family member who slips some extra edits in because they don't want the "genius" to look quite as much like a bigot or lunatic in the eyes of the audience, or an intern who mistakenly changes some aspect that isn't noticed until the work is out there for public consumption. Even the "auteur" can find themselves including things by accident.

Given all these cooks in the kitchen, it's clear that what a single chef intended doesn't mean much. What does matter is what happens once the food leaves the kitchen. Is the food tasty? Does it satisfy? Is the plating impressive? Do the diners get sick?

It's a great practice of those working within a craft to look at how implementation of a plan did and didn't succeed, but postmortems are only a fraction of the story. If we want others to take games seriously, then we need to show people what games can do. If we want video games to get better as a medium, we as audiences of players need to care about and discuss what the games do, not what those games were intended to do.