GWJ Conference Call Episode 370

Conference Call

XCOM: Enemy Within, Bioshock: Burial at Sea Spoiler Section (After Credits), Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, Mage Wars, The Changing Nature of Game Input, Your Emails and More!

This week Shawn, Julian and Elysium talk about game inputs and lots of new games. We also have a Burial At Sea spoiler section after the credits!

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
00.02.10 Bioshock: Burial at Sea
00.09.51 X-Com: Enemy Within
00.20.39 Battlefield 4
00.28.56 Madden 2014
00.30.34 Mage Wars
00.33.00 Panzer General online
00.35.53 Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
00.41.14 This week's topic: The changing nature of game input!
01.03.31 Your emails!
01.22.40 Spoiler Section: Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea

  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Subscribe with RSS
  • Subscribe with Yahoo!
Download the official apps
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android

Show credits

Music credits: 

Luminous - Broke for Free - http://brokeforfree.com/ - 40:46

Blow Out - Broke for Free - http://brokeforfree.com/ - 1:03:02

Welcome to Rapture - BioShock OST - http://www.bioshockgame.com/ - 1:22:38

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Comments

Always love listening to our Conflins Call : D

Still listening but had to comment:

evocative: adj. The new visceral.

Good podcast guys.

With regards to the nausea issue: FOV and fps are really good things to alter. Altering the resolution generally (not to my experience) will not change the FOV. I don't get nauseous but I do get a slight feeling of disorientation sometimes when playing games that feel too "zoomed in". In HL2 you can at least use the console commands to increase the FOV. IIRC, it's default is something like 70-80 in HL2. Don't know what it is in other source games but they also tend to be more closed environments and I think that can sometimes make a difference, along with darker environments.

I usually try and have as high a constant fps as possible, as this reduces lagging, jumping and other artefacts that can contribute to the disorienting effect. For FOV I usually like to stick it between 100-110 for pc games where I'm close to the monitor and around 85 for console games.

IF I get the choice...

Thank you Jonathan for turning me on to Broke for Free. Awesome music!

I'm a little disappointed that a spoiler section was done before anyone really had a chance to play the game. But I guess it's good that the crew is adding the spoiler section archive.

Yeah, it's a tough call, but we're likely to have our most clear and specific thoughts shortly after playing. Waiting a week or two would likely leave us forgetting key elements or items we would discuss.

I do hope the archive is something people will use.

Elysium wrote:

Yeah, it's a tough call, but we're likely to have our most clear and specific thoughts shortly after playing. Waiting a week or two would likely leave us forgetting key elements or items we would discuss.

I do hope the archive is something people will use.

Or, you know, in future you could record it now and edit it into the next show?

Just a thought.

Edit: I personally don't care when it's added but I'm not seeing the "tough call" when it's a recorded show...

Or you could just wait until you'd played it and then go back and listen to it!

Re: Collectibles in games:

I'm not enough of a historian to note when they first became a thing. My point of reference is Super Mario Bros. and coins, but they functioned very differently than a lot of modern collectibles manage. They were everywhere, clustered together, and collecting them all didn't do anything particular. However, grabbing more and more of them continued to regularly reward you with a 1-Up.

They were a lot more enticing back when loading a save game (assuming you had a save game) reset your extra lives, though. So in Super Mario World (which also introduced Yoshi coins and had the chromatic switch palaces and multiple endings to select levels to create alternate paths throughout the map...), you may save your game with 11 spare lives, but when you load back up you have somewhere around 3-5. Compared to newer Mario games, where I have well over 100 extra lives in NSMB2 and Super Mario 3D Land...

However, in the context of most "hardcore" games, I think what you should really draw from is Metroid and Zelda. There's not a worthless collectible in either of those games, really. Pieces of heart and energy tanks expand how much health you have, missile packs and satchels increase how many missiles, bombs, or arrows you can hold, etc. Everything you collect somehow improves your character's capabilities.

Imagine if, in Assassin's Creed II, instead of having Ezio buy upgrades, they had select characters you could kill and loot or pick-pocket to gain weapon upgrades? Replace feathers and flags with bomb satchels and such instead.

I think the only reason to have an economy is that it is easier to find ways to give a player cash and therefore allow them to purchase an upgrade. That, and it seems to be the general direction of Western games as well. Purchasing upgrades and better gear instead of discovering it.

Granted, this also varies from game to game. I wouldn't have a space flight sim where you have to find better gear for your fighter in a map, because it doesn't speak to the experience. Yet if I can climb a tower in Assassin's Creed, use Eagle Vision, and then spot collectibles while I unfog the map, well, I now have even greater reason to climb them towers now, don't I? And the rewards for snagging all those items on the map are substantial and contribute to gameplay.

I really liked how inFamous implemented the shards and drops, though. You had a minimap on screen, and by pressing a simple button it would hint to where you could find pickups. Those pickups either rewarded with narrative or being able to upgrade your powers. It actually feels mechanic based.

In fact, now that I think about it, Ubisoft should play inFamous 1 and 2 before making the next Assassin's Creed.

ccesarano wrote:

Imagine if, in Assassin's Creed II, instead of having Ezio buy upgrades, they had select characters you could kill and loot or pick-pocket to gain weapon upgrades? Replace feathers and flags with bomb satchels and such instead.

THIS.

I think this is where Elysium was going on the podcast. If the reason for the collectibles is to move a number, then kindly DIAF. But if you give me a gameplay reason for collecting things, I will go out of my way to get everything I can.

HL2 is the only game that made me nauseated, and it was only during the airboat section. It took me a couple of days to get through that part because I could only play for maybe 10 minutes before having to do something else. Preferably lying down.

rabbit wrote:

Or you could just wait until you'd played it and then go back and listen to it!

You can change the episode name in iTunes so I usually add something like 'Brothers spoilers' to the end of the name and leave it in the stream.

I have a little list of spoiler sections to get to and have only just listened to the Bioshock Infinite one.

The deal where you hand over any old game in exchange for a new one sounds like something that would happen in a dream. Hopefully we'll get some juicy deals on 360 games here in the UK once next gen is underway.

I'll be interested to hear how the 360 version of AC: Black Flag holds up, especially in terms of frame rate and visuals. I'm not overly sensitive to either so, at the moment, I'm on track to pick up the 360 version.

In a lot of the Youtube videos I've watched of AC:BL there seems to be fog in the distance. I wondered if that was introduced for this game but, loading up AC2 recently, I realised that the distance is pretty much always fogged out in that game was well. I kinda like it as long as it isn't over done.

I've said this since the Wii was first being talked about, but my biggest problem with motion controls (despite the fidelity simply not being there yet) is that there isn't any feedback. When I hit something in real life, I feel the thing against my fist. When I fire a gun in real life, I feel the kick of the weapon. When I'm boxing in Wii or doing some random Kinect game, I feel nothing... I'm swinging at air and it's just not satisfying. I'm not saying that motion gaming doesn't have its good games. I think they brought up some good examples in the podcast (dance central, etc). I'm saying that, for the games I want to play, where I'm climbing, exploring, fighting, shooting, or doing other physical things, I can't see where motion gaming can ever replace a controller for me.

And since I brought up fidelity, I think that, if the voice control in Kinect worked as it was supposed to, it could be fine. Not preferable to a controller, but fine. As it is now, I can't just be like "Xbox, netflix, futurama." I have to be like

"XBOX... XBOX! XBOOOOOOX!!!! NETFLIX. NET.. oh for the love of... Hand me the controller."

With regard to the Burial at Sea spoiler section

Spoiler:

What I want to know most of all is, if Elizabeth's mission was to find Comstock and take him out, who didn't she just do it in his office, or at any point along the way? Why include all of this business with finding Sally, who doesn't seem to be related to anything?

benu302000 wrote:

With regard to the Burial at Sea spoiler section

Spoiler:

What I want to know most of all is, if Elizabeth's mission was to find Comstock and take him out, who didn't she just do it in his office, or at any point along the way? Why include all of this business with finding Sally, who doesn't seem to be related to anything?

Spoiler:

She seemed to need him to remember who he was before he died. Leading him through the story brought him to that point. Until the very end, Booker didn't seem to remember being Comstock. It's actually a fairly common trope in a Noir story, the mysterious lady ending up having it out for you on some revenge trip.

Where can I preorder Battlefield: Kegel Edition?

FireFox.

The movie where Clint Eastwood had to think in Russian to fly the plane is FireFox.

I believe kegels were also involved.

The only game I ever got motion sick in was the first Descent. At the time being in a true 3D world just made my stomach do a flip-flop. Could not play it.

For some reason the Borderlands games give me a headache. I don't have this problem in any other game. I finished BL1 with lots of aspirin help mainly because I was playing co-op with awesome people. But when I tried BL2 I had the same thing so have given it a miss. Maybe the cel shading is what does it, I don't know. I tried adjusting the video settings every which way but nothing worked.

I have gotten motion sick on a few games... all FPS. The first one I can remember was Condemned. I couldn't play that game for longer than maybe a half hour without wanting to vomit. I also recently tried to pick up the original Half Life and FEAR 2, and both made me nauseous. I can play Halo fine... I can play CoD and Boarderlands without any effects, but some games just have something that triggers in my head but I have no idea what it is.

I have yet to try FEAR 2 without head bob, so I may try that and see how it works.

I believe Half-Life and F.E.A.R. use wide-angle-lens style view (or am I thinking fish-eye? I can't recall), but Halo and Borderlands do not. Could that be part of it?

I get a twinge of motion sickness from the Borderlands games, but it's only when I'm falling. You see, there's no fall damage in the game at all, so you can jump off really high places without any consequences.

But 2k gets the physics just right so that I get a little light in my stomach after the first second of the fall.

Oh, that's been happening to me since Metroid Prime. Some games it bothers me more than others, so on occasion, when there's no fall damage, I'll look away as I drop down in order to avoid that "holyCRAPI'MFALLING!" feeling.

That I can hardly handle a fake drop from a great height is why I continue to avoid roller coasters.

Burial at Sea spoiler-free Public Service Announcement

If you are playing on PC with mouse and keyboard, make sure you have a key mapped to 'switch weapon'. I just had the scroll wheel mapped to switch between the two weapons (not sure if this is default) and could not figure out how to bring up the weapon wheel for the longest time. Have to hold down the switch weapon button, which you can't do for mouse scroll wheel.

I went through a brief period of relative obsession with achievements on the 360. I think I enjoyed the first Gears of War less than I would have because of it. I was always looking at the ground and in empty corners of the maps for those freakin' Cog Tags. What a useless pain in the butt.

It seems strange to me; calling one task in a video game "useless" as though another were "useful" (of course, use is not the only measure of value). But there is something about those kind of collectables. It just seems so utterly pointless.

Occasionally, I would look up during one of the periods of downtime between crouching behind chest-high debris and say "hey, the environments in this game are really quite stunning," and regret that I spent most of my time looking at the brown floor.

Even if the collectables only led you on a kind of sight-seeing tour and showed you interesting (but not gameplay related) things, I might be alright with it.

In regard to having, "THAT game" in BF4. Yes I've had THAT game. And right in the middle the server crashed. Oh the manly tears shed that day.

The keyboard is not always a good means of input. Indeed, the default QWERTY keyboard was designed to be as perverse as possible in order to decrease the speed of input from a typist's fingers. However, even a Dvorak keyboard is only good for two hands on a level surface with a visual feedback system.

For smartphones, the keyboard has proven to be such an incredible failure that there are such things as textspeak. There have been innovations to make typing on a small touch interface better. The one I prefer at the moment is the swipe-predictive interface, which is currently based on a QWERTY layout for familiarity, though there is no real proof that this interface is best for swiping.

I believe that this sort of gesture-based typing on a touch interface is going to be a lot bigger in the future, possibly replacing the keyboard altogether on small devices. As a one-finger typing solution, it is possible to implement it easily on a controller for a game, allowing players to input complex text messages using only one finger.

This is the basic tracking software developed by Swype. It's about three years old, I think. The updates have improved the accuracy and general performance. It has been paired with SwiftKey predictive software (SwiftKey 4 has Flow/Swipe functionality).

The predictive software cleans up any mistakes you make while swiping, and is so good that in many cases, you will only need to press one of the word options above the keyboard rather than swiping a whole word in, which makes it super fast.

EDIT:

The Samsung Note2 comes with a default Samsung keyboard that incorporates both Swype and SwiftKey technology. It is my understanding that Samsung paid for the tech directly from the innovators. I think the Note3 also incorporates these technologies.

EDIT2:

And I just now saw a radical keyboard design where the interface is a touchscreen and all the letters were in a single, compact row, like a Dvorak on steroids.

I'm waiting for the future when all important devices, like self destruct systems and automated turrets, are activated and deactivated by pulling a long stainless steel cylinder slowly out of a console, rotating it 45 degrees and then pushing it back in again.

Higgledy wrote:

I'm waiting for the future when all important devices, like self destruct systems and automated turrets, are activated and deactivated by pulling a long stainless steel cylinder slowly out of a console, rotating it 45 degrees and then pushing it back in again.

Or for space truckers, having to flick two huge switches before pulling FOUR cylinders out, and then flicking a red button on each of them.

Just wanted to give a big thumbs up to recommendation of Mage Wars, the board game. My 9 year old son and all his friends LOVE this game and always ask me to break it out for them. But there is also a level of depth that allows for highly strategic gameplay. Actually having a physical Spell Book to choose your spells from is so ingenious! So much fun!

Thanks for another great show guys!

McIrishJihad wrote:

I think this is where Elysium was going on the podcast. If the reason for the collectibles is to move a number, then kindly DIAF. But if you give me a gameplay reason for collecting things, I will go out of my way to get everything I can.

I think this is part of the reason why Donkey Kong 64 flopped hard. Rare kept adding more and more collectibles to their N64 games until they ended up on the wrong side of the event horizon with DK64.

I remember in GTAIII I was getting the hidden packages primarily to get free items at my safe houses. Can't remember what the benefit was in Vice City, but when San Andreas came out they decided EVERY area needed a unique set of 100 things to find. I think that's the point where I just stopped caring about these types of objectives.

Certis wrote:
benu302000 wrote:

With regard to the Burial at Sea spoiler section

Spoiler:

What I want to know most of all is, if Elizabeth's mission was to find Comstock and take him out, who didn't she just do it in his office, or at any point along the way? Why include all of this business with finding Sally, who doesn't seem to be related to anything?

Spoiler:

She seemed to need him to remember who he was before he died. Leading him through the story brought him to that point. Until the very end, Booker didn't seem to remember being Comstock. It's actually a fairly common trope in a Noir story, the mysterious lady ending up having it out for you on some revenge trip.

Spoiler:

Now that's just cold.

I really liked that ending bit even though the first twist was telegraphed twice throughout the journey. However, I did not see the Big Daddy attack coming since I thought Sally's Mr. Bubbles was already dead. For what it's worth, I didn't actually see it die since my Motorized Patriot was dealing with what I thought was Sally's Big Daddy, so that made it all the more surprising. The double discovery that I thought I hadn't killed it.

Like Julian, I'm half expecting Ryan to be a Comstock as well, but that seems like a really obvious twist. Plus I feel like that twist was already played out a little with Jack being Ryan's son in the first game.

I'm more expecting Burial Ep. 2 to end in Columbia just to close the loop they started way back in the first teaser trailer for the game.