GWJ Conference Call Episode 385

Conference Call

Thief, Banished, Drunken Robot Pornography, Chaos Reborn, Death in Games, A New Reading by Graham Rowat, Your Emails and More!

This week Shawn, Julian, Cory and Allen talk about DEATH (in games). We also have a new reading from Graham Rowat!

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
00.03.19 Thief
00.13.30 Drunken Robot Pornography
00.16.58 Chaos Reborn
00.19.41 Julian Murdoch plays Laster Quest in Montreal
00.22.39 Men of War: Assault Squad 2
00.28.10 Banished
00.34.28 This week's topic: Death in Games!
00.52.33 Graham Rowat reads Julian Murdoch's "Yes, Dad"
01.00.14 Your emails!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Seba - Echoside - http://echosidetracks.bandcamp.com/a... - 33:56

Waking Up - Dexter Britain - http://freemusicarchive.org/music/De... - 52:15

Comments

Hooray for a new reading by Graham. I look forward to hearing it.

I'm also posting to say thanks to all involved. I know individuals rotate in and out sometimes but you guys are knocking out a fresh, enjoyable podcast every single week without fail and it's much appreciated. Special thanks to Jonathan.

Loved the podcast this week, was really great. Julian's piece read by Graham was extremely moving and heart-wrenching, I'm not ashamed to admit I shed a couple of tears...

About death in games, I generally agree with what was said, in the sense that it truly depends on how the mechanic is implemented and if it fits from the perspective of the narrative.
Death in MMOs is definitely an interesting aspect of death in games. I have vivid memories of wandering off in the Wilds in the Realm Online back in the 90s. After level 3, you really didn't want to die. You lost 1000 experience points, and there was a fair chance you'd lose gear. As you were incapacitated for about a minute or so (alternatively, you had the option to be teleported to the nearest town), you had to watch your lifeless body, holding your breath and hoping your stuff wouldn't be picked up by the monsters in the area. If that happened, well... Most of the time, you asked guildmates or passersby for help to kill the monster in the hopes that it would drop it. Which wasn't always the case, sometimes it would "eat" your gear. And there was the potential for raging when a monster ate your starry mage hat.

Ultimately, my favorite and most memorable death in gaming remains this one...

Where was the discussion of Irrational games closing? As soon as I heard the news last week I was looking forward to the GWJCC take on the issue. Every gaming podcast has been discussing it as its very interesting a relevant.
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting them to hang Ken out to dry, or jump to his defense but a discussion about how game budgets and staff balloon out of control, how sales expectations are far too high, whether Ken took the fall for 2K simply axing a unprofitable studio and a discussion of the lack of Infinite's sales would of been nice.

I know Ken is a friend of the show and you don't want to talk bad about him but completely ignoring the biggest gaming story of the week which concerns a game that the podcast has discussed at length seems a bit strange.

And before any one says they did mention it at the top of the show that didnt count as a discussion!

I got a severe case of deja-vu from that reading... So either I hear Graham's voice when I'm reading Julian's work or the brain-bugs are winning. Good stuff regardless!

deff row wrote:

Every gaming podcast has been discussing it...

I don't want to speak for the podcast crew, but maybe this is the reason they didn't talk about it. The GWJCC has never really been a current events in gaming show. Others do a much better job of that.

I went to Laser Quest a few months back, it is AMAZING.

Yeah, we're really not a news show. We also don't know anything beyond what was announced so what's to discuss? Make wild guesses and then form strong opinions based on them?*

*Don't answer that, Internet.

I fully understand that GWJCC isn't a news podcast, I listen to many gaming podcasts where they don't cover the news, they just talk about what they have been playing but they talked about irrational closing.
To say there is nothing to discuss is a bit of a cop out. You don't have to directly talk about Kens statement but you could at least start a discussion about AAA titles and studios having unrealistic expectation of sales. Hopefully in a upcoming show these issues will be discussed as its worth talking about and I would be very interested to hear what the team has to say on the subject.

deff row wrote:

I fully understand that GWJCC isn't a news podcast, I listen to many gaming podcasts where they don't cover the news, they just talk about what they have been playing but they talked about irrational closing.
To say there is nothing to discuss is a bit of a cop out. You don't have to directly talk about Kens statement but you could at least start a discussion about AAA titles and studios having unrealistic expectation of sales. Hopefully in a upcoming show these issues will be discussed as its worth talking about and I would be very interested to hear what the team has to say on the subject.

Duly noted!

Really great topic this week. Tabletop RPGs are typically where I find death the hardest (save for maybe Paranoia where it is fun and relatively consequence free or Call of Cthulhu where it feels kind of inevitable). But there is also something satisfying in character who dies in a way that feels like it fits a broader narrative, where the death is permanent but also woven into the arc of the story in really profound way. Spending months, or even years, with a character and having them go out in spectacular or dramatic fashion is awesome. Video games rarely get the same thing, even rogue-likes... FTL is fun, but the random fire that kills a crew member isn't quite the same thing as... Crap. I won't mention it for spoiler reasons.

I'd love to see more video games that experiment with using the death of a main character in a compelling, narrative way, much like [YOU PROBABLY KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT]. In terms of how games treat the mechanics of death, I'm always fascinated with the ones that weave it into the game world in an interesting and effective way that totally supports the designer's vision (like Planescape: Torment, or XCOM on Iron Man).

EDIT: I want to chime in and say I appreciated not having to listen to more opinions about Irrational closing. I think you guys handled it well - it was acknowledged, concern was expressed for those who lost their jobs, and a well deserved shout out was given to the community pulling together and pitching in to help each other out. It was classy, succinct, and totally appropriate. The news about Irrational is everywhere, I'm glad I could listen to people talk about games instead of game business news.

I keep forgetting to mention this on the podcast, but one of my favorite games this year is Nothing to Hide, they're currently crowdfunding with a free in-browser demo that is pretty awesome. It's a fun take on the puzzle game that they're calling "anti-stealth" and I had alot of fun with the demo.

Ken Levine at the live podcast? Nice! But ugh that's going to be kill any chance of getting a good seat for the show :/

Obligatory Corey taking a few shots at console gamers.

Flying_Norseman wrote:

Obligatory Corey taking a few shots at console gamers.

Man, that guy's a jerk.

Anyone else having download issues? It's saying 4 hours for the Conference Call. Can someone kick the hamster's cage and get him going?

In old Sierra adventure games, you could make a mistake and you would die, which meant that you needed to load a saved game. It was a often a source of frustration. One of the innovations of The Secret of Monkey Island was to create an adventure game without a death penalty. Of course, they couldn't help making fun of Sierra when doing so:

Monkey Island high five, Aristophan!!!

Good recommendation on Banished, enjoying it and somehow missed it's rampant success in the forum.

deff row wrote:

To say there is nothing to discuss is a bit of a cop out. You don't have to directly talk about Kens statement but you could at least start a discussion about AAA titles and studios having unrealistic expectation of sales. Hopefully in a upcoming show these issues will be discussed as its worth talking about and I would be very interested to hear what the team has to say on the subject.

Except everyone, including the Conference Call, has discussed unrealistic expectations and over-inflated budgets to death already, especially after Tomb Raider was regarded as a "failure". To discuss that stuff would be like trying to have a worthwhile conversation on the hazards of smoking. There's nothing to be gained from it.

To me, the only way they could have this conversation in an interesting, insightful manner is to actually have someone from the inside discussing the story. Otherwise, you just have more people speculating the same speculations and making conjecture.

Demiurge wrote:
Flying_Norseman wrote:

Obligatory Corey taking a few shots at console gamers.

Man, that guy's a jerk.

It's ok though, because he does it adorably!

I was horrible distraught at the monstours things said against my favorite AMERICAN MADE chips.

Golden Flakes has long been a Southern staple... so much so my wife and I included bags of these in the hotel care packages for our wedding guests... in Alabama... in the good ol' US of A.

Seriously though... these are the best dill pickle chips ever... and everyone should like them or else.

Oh man, I couldn't relate to Julian's passage but it sure hit me right in the feels.

Kudos to Alan for mentioning Planescape. It was the one I was yelling at the speaker in my car. Interestingly enough, I wouldn't say it's the Nameless One's death(s) that are so pivotal to the story, or memorable, so much as those of the NPCs around him. That game gave weight and emotional heft to the chaos and destruction that RPG PCs sow in a way that's generally ignored.

Hey Certis and crew, you didn't mention it on the podcast but how well does the multiplayer in Assault Squad 2 work? It's supposed to be using Steamworks instead of the horrible Gamespy system, so does it pull in your Steam tag and everything like other Valve games?

If it works well I figured I'd just buy it early, something I rarely do. Since I own the first game it's a 30% discount, not bad at all.

Great cast! Listening to the Death in games part, I couldn't help but remember back playing EQ and hearing the "TRAIN!!" and then shudder waiting for the inevitable beat down by 15+ mobs.

Tamren wrote:

Hey Certis and crew, you didn't mention it on the podcast but how well does the multiplayer in Assault Squad 2 work? It's supposed to be using Steamworks instead of the horrible Gamespy system, so does it pull in your Steam tag and everything like other Valve games?

If it works well I figured I'd just buy it early, something I rarely do. Since I own the first game it's a 30% discount, not bad at all.

Seems to just work. Like any steam based game.

Yep, even has your little Steam pic in there and everything.

Hats off to Julian and Graham. Great writing & reading, even if the topic was so tragic. Nice tie-in however.

As for death, I love how it's handled in Borderlands 1 & 2. Instead of forcing you to reload, death becomes a game in and of itself as you desperately try to score a kill before time runs out. And if you fail, death has a bit meaning, as it means you have be recomposited and hike back to where you died to continue playing.

Prey had a similar death mechanic, where you were transported to the spirit world to shoot spirits with your bow before returning to the "real" world.

It's an interesting thing in Borderlands 2. I'm playing it right now. Spawn points in Borderlands 2 are different in that they're extremely forgiving. If you die in a boss fight, you generally respawn right outside his door, sometimes with progress along. If you're in an MP boss fight, you respawn and progress is maintained. You're docked a fraction of your money which you use to buy guns, but that becomes more and more irrelevant as you get better guns and the best guns are locked away in merchants that require alternative payments - and those don't get docked when you die.

PyromanFO wrote:

I keep forgetting to mention this on the podcast, but one of my favorite games this year is Nothing to Hide, they're currently crowdfunding with a free in-browser demo that is pretty awesome. It's a fun take on the puzzle game that they're calling "anti-stealth" and I had alot of fun with the demo.

I'll definitely have to check that out. I remember tossing around the idea of "anti-stealth" with a friend back when Dishonored was new. We were thinking something along the lines of celebrities needing to stay in the spotlight, or maybe something like Santa needing to keep "Christmas Spirit" and belief up in order to make his rounds in Elf.

I see this crew took the idea in another direction.