GWJ Conference Call Episode 376

Conference Call

Our Favorite Games of 2013 and More!

This week Shawn, Julian and Sean Sands talk about their favorite games and experiences of 2013.

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

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Comments

Whoo! Conference Call on Christmas day.

It shall be listened to. Possibly after the Queens speech and before turkey butties.

Wow, I've heard some complaints about Hearthstone but I haven't heard anyone complain about its pricing model before. Personally I think it's one of the more honestly designed free-to-play games as well as trading card games.

You can pay for exactly two things, booster packs and arena plays which cost almost the same as a booster pack and guarantee you at least one booster pack if not an effective return on your investment. The normal mode is not a throw away and it's the main way for new players to get the in-game currency to play the arena. I've played many hours of Hearthstone and have only spent maybe $4 on a couple of arena plays. In fact at this point I have a nice surplus of in-game currency and don't know if I'll ever spend any more real money.

Also unlike most trading card games, you can't actually buy individual cards with real money, so it's not quite as "pay-to-win" as people say. I think the game is well designed enough that at lower skill levels you can design decks that can win with a limited card pool. At higher skill levels decks use rarer cards but if you get to that point you can get a lot of cards just from playing. One of the better players I've watched on Twitch said he got to the highest ranking while spending only $20 total on the game. (Although he said he dusted all the gold foil cards he got, which is kind of heartbreaking if you know what that is.)

If you compare Hearthstone to Magic (or MTGO) I'd say it's a much better value proposition in almost every way.

Need the list of games you guys loved in the notes! What do you think it's Christmas or something.

I'm with Certis on Last of Us. That's my top spot this year, and probably a very high spot of all time.

I love these end of the year podcasts, they're always such a treat. I'm definitely going back to listen to last year's edition (hint, fellow goodjers, the "Bold Predictions" podcast is number 325).

My number one was Dishonored, but I'm horribly late to that party!

Also:
Hehe... "Studs and Duds"... You said it, you can't unsay it!!!
(you could have Mr. Downin edit it out, but what fun would that be? )

Great podcast as always.

Gunslinger is great.

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is well worth a try. It has plenty of quirks and may not be your thing but, if you click with the game, there are many, many hours of exploration and glorious monster fighting in there. You haven't had a fight with a dragon until you've been clinging to the underside of one and stabbing it in it's scaly armpit as it flies up into the sky.

Brothers is on sale this week for anyone who hasn't tried it.

I will say this podcast is always a treat, as some of the games you discussed positively I've heard others completely trash. It's so great to have such simple love for something, whether it lived up to expectations or not.

And yes, Aliens: Colonial Marines was a major disappointment. I should probably trade it in, but I have a feeling I'll get nearly nothing for it.

Latrine wrote:

Wow, I've heard some complaints about Hearthstone but I haven't heard anyone complain about its pricing model before. Personally I think it's one of the more honestly designed free-to-play games as well as trading card games.

Yep, definitely a strong visceral aversion to the Hearthstone microtransactions that I didn't share at all. Very interesting.

However, that's exactly how I felt about Card Hunter. I loved almost everything about this game, but I got sick of all the little $ signs all over the interface: Buy these extra characters, now buy some new maps, and don't forget your paid subscription to get more shiny loot.

(Yes, I'm a curmudgeonly miser that likes to nickel and dime indie developers)

That's what hung me up on Card Hunter too. Spent a few hours in it, felt like I was starting to get my bearings, and then I felt like I ran head-long into a payway.

My take was "pay more to get more content, or keep playing what we've given you, but you won't get anything cool/won't level/etc".

So looking forward to the Bold Predictions podcast. Went back and listened to last year and all the talk about the consoles, the disappearance of Steam sales (yeah right!) and GTA5, and I think my favorite line is Cory saying "I'm not going to be the person to say 'yes, there's going to be a Steam console,' because I do think that's kinda a bat sh*t crazy idea." This is gonna be good.

kexx wrote:

I'm with Certis on Last of Us. That's my top spot this year, and probably a very high spot of all time.

I still feel like I'm in a Twilight Zone episode when people talk about that game. People seem far to willing to forgive the glaring flaws in the gameplay and design of the game just because they connected with the story.

Call of Juarez was/is great! Was totally stoked when you mentioned that in your podcast. Great setting, but really just great gun mechanics, and the graphical style is a great compromise between realism and Borderlands 2 style cartoonish. Do buy!

Stunned: the CC crew forgot to mention Company of Heroes 2.

So happy to hear EU4 get some love. Sean is obviously a man of great and distinguishing taste. It was my #1 game of the year too.

I totally understand the feeling of avoiding starting a new game because of how deeply it will drag you back in, I share it. But, when in the right frame of mind, I always get back to it. Or CK2, I am still deeply in love with that game too. It is amazing that two games, by the same developer, can be so superficially similar yet provide such disparate experiences.

Keithustus wrote:

Stunned: the CC crew forgot to mention Company of Heroes 2.

Can't speak for the others, but I was pretty underwhelmed by CoH2.

My biggest disappointment was with one of the year's best games. Bioshock Infinite just felt like a huge missed opportunity. I understand that they were making a shooter, so the violence and carnage was their goal. But that world was great, and I would have preferred more story, exploration, and dialogue in place of much of the action.

At times, Infinite reminded me of how I felt about the film, Man of Steel. A great story was interrupted by overblown and seemingly never-ending action sequences. And
I thought a lot of the action, including the skylines, was fun as hell.

I hope Ken Levine takes an opportunity to craft a sequel, prequel or spinoff on this world that no longer focuses so heavily on shooting every person you meet.

Demiurge wrote:
Keithustus wrote:

Stunned: the CC crew forgot to mention Company of Heroes 2.

Can't speak for the others, but I was pretty underwhelmed by CoH2.

Yes, exactly.....you guys mentioned SimCity and Rome 2, so why not CoH2? CoH2 was like the Spore of RTSs.

I didn't buy CoH2, so didn't have much to say. Kind of a blip for me this year.

Keithustus wrote:
Demiurge wrote:
Keithustus wrote:

Stunned: the CC crew forgot to mention Company of Heroes 2.

Can't speak for the others, but I was pretty underwhelmed by CoH2.

Yes, exactly.....you guys mentioned SimCity and Rome 2, so why not CoH2? CoH2 was like the Spore of RTSs.

Oh! Sorry. Misunderstood.

In order to be able to listen to Giant Bomb's game of the year podcasts without fear of spoilers, I've played through Brothers. It is an incredible game. I wasn't feeling it for quite a while and thought it would be one of those games I didn't connect with in the same way as others but it gets better and better the further you go.

I would like to see more of that world but may be the mystery would be lost.

Spoiler:

I loved the little owl-lion creature

I never played it either. I guess, actually, it was so big a disappointment that I went from interested to complete apathy, so you've got a point.

Company of Heroes 2 is good and deserves none of the apathy, or at least not on the multiplayer side. Multiplayer was excellent and I played something close to 100 hours of it with other GWJ people. Didn't really play the campaign.

And Call of Juarez Gunslinger is indeed an excellent game that deserved even more attention than it got. Getting in the arcade mode and stringing together every enemy in a level in one giant kill combo is glorious and some of the most satisfying gaming I got all year long.

Happy to hear you talk about Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Picked it up on steam sale and I am absolutely blown away by how effortlessly it all looks and feels. Incredibly tight and focused effort. Amazing art direction, fantastic gunplay and the narration might well be the best I've heard in a game so far.

Brothers was also high on my list until they had to do the ending thing which I won't talk about for spoilers. Suffice to say it felt cheap and killed it for me.

Game of year for me is Spelunky which is perfect in every possible way.

shoptroll wrote:

If SimCity (2013) is the New Coke of the franchise, what does that make SimCity Societies?

Crystal Pepsi.

shoptroll wrote:

If SimCity (2013) is the New Coke of the franchise, what does that make SimCity Societies?

Coca-Cola Blak, maybe?

If SimCity (2013) is the New Coke of the franchise, what does that make SimCity Societies?

EDIT: Having finally tried Hearthstone this past weekend, I think I can see where Sean is coming from with his hatred. That is one really really slick presentation. I haven't felt like there's any sort of pull to put money down on it, but it's very clear they're just trying to hit all the right dopamine secretors in the brain with the presentation. Seriously, the "You Win" screen gives Peggle a run for its money, and the game is laden with references not only to WoW but also reaches further back to Warcraft II with the music track when the matchmaker is running. The game screams "must do everything to get hooks in you and then suck your wallet dry". I don't get the same feeling from SolForge and Duel of Champion because the presentation is a lot colder. It's really really weird how similar games can elicit different reactions based on some very simple things in the user experience.

I haven't gotten enough play with Hearthstone to really say much about the mechanics, but my brain already has it in the same "stay clear of this" mental label that I assigned to Hex.

shoptroll wrote:

...Having finally tried Hearthstone this past weekend, I think I can see where Sean is coming from with his hatred. ....

I think hatred is correlated with how one wants to play. For folks like me who enjoy playing with constructed decks (Casual/Ranked), the game is fine. You can pay a bit if you want to speed up your card acquisition, that's your choice, and the game is playable either way. But a lot of people seem to mainly want to play Arena, which costs 150 Gold or $1.99 each time. The crack references seem quite appropriate for those players.

Certis wrote:
shoptroll wrote:

If SimCity (2013) is the New Coke of the franchise, what does that make SimCity Societies?

Crystal Pepsi.

Nailed it.

Also wanted to say that I absolutely agree with your comment just before talking about Last Of Us, regarding how much games are more and more in a place where they appeal do different people in very different ways, even if they're mechanically similar.

EU4 is, of course, a bright example of this. It's also fabulous.