GWJ Conference Call Episode 390

Conference Call

Infamous: Second Son, Trials: Fusion, Luftrousers, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Elder Scrolls Online, Goat Simulator, Talking Game Clones, Your Emails and More!

This week Cory Banks, Sean Sands and Graham Rowat talk game clones!

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
00.01.45 inFAMOUS Second Son
00.05.55 Trials: Fusion
00.07.28 Luftrausers
00.09.37 Fez
00.12.51 Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
00.24.38 Bioshock Infinite DLC: Burial at Sea part 2
00.32.47 Elder Scrolls Online early access
00.36.45 Goat Simulator
00.43.03 Dark Souls 2
00.47.43 This week's topic: Game of Clones!
01.12.05 Your emails!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Push Anyway - BigBot Audio Drop - SGX - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 47:11

Amity - BigBot Audio Drop - SGX - http://sgxmusic.com/ - 1:11:32

Comments

I was playing Threes as I was listening. Just saying!

My SO is not a gamer in the least and I got her addicted to Threes, fantastic game.

You guys are totally right about a new player jumping into Diablo III now. I tried the starter edition post Loot 2.0 about a month ago and shortly thereafter purchased the full game and pre-ordered the expansion. I'm amazed at how much fun this game is.

Veloxi wrote:

You guys are totally right about a new player jumping into Diablo III now. I tried the starter edition post Loot 2.0 about a month ago and shortly thereafter purchased the full game and pre-ordered the expansion. I'm amazed at how much fun this game is.

Wholeheartedly agree. I stayed far away from D3 at launch, mainly due to the problems that they had. After hearing a lot of people gushing about the game post Loot 2.0 I got the starter edition as well. Pretty sure I bought the full version about an hour later. It is a LOT of fun, my only regret being that I am miles behind other Clan members, but that's ok.

*love Threes*

All right, I'll be that guy...

I didn't like Threes. I didn't like the color scheme. I HATED the sounds. But as far as game play was concerned, it just didn't click with me. I never felt in control. I never felt like I was learning new strategies and I certainly never felt like I was getting better. No matter what I did, I always scored around the same, except twice when I got ridiculously high scores for no apparent reason other than luck. I deleted it after I realized I'd never score that high again on purpose. I wouldn't say I rage quit, but I'm acutely aware of certain pain points in games after which I decide that I'm simply "done" and it's time to move on.

However, I have been playing 2048 and enjoying it a whole lot more. I can't quite say why, but I just like it better than Threes. Perhaps it's the way the tiles double? It doesn't have the horrific sounds! It does seem simpler to me, even though I've come no where near to beating it. I can't put my finger on it.

That said, I can see why the devs are upset, especially when people think Threes is a copy and not the original. That must be infuriating. Threes may have just kicked off a new style of game that others will now keep improving on.

Great discussion... it just made my head hurt a bit.

Isn't Flappy Bird a clone of Piou Piou?

To set the record straight, Cory said that Goat Simulator costs $20, which is incorrect. It's only $10. I highly recommend it for some great, ridiculous fun.

MeatMan wrote:

To set the record straight, Cory said that Goat Simulator costs $20, which is incorrect. It's only $10. I highly recommend it for some great, ridiculous fun.

Oops! Sorry about that.

Edit: whoops.

40 year old gamer - 4 games on Steam ! ha ha ha
What else have I got .....
5 PS3 games, + about 20 XBox 360 titles ... 2 on Origin, about 10 PC disc games.
I should have a spending spree.

Hasn't it kind of always been the case that the game of a particular kind fails to achieve the success that later entries into the new genre get?

There are a few exceptions, sure, but does anyone remember Guitar Freaks? Guitar Hero was basically a clone of that one that achieved a wider audience.

Further, didn't Maze War kind of create the FPS genre? It wasn't until Id ran with that ball that FPS became a real success with Wolfenstein and, later, Doom.

The fact that the iterations are happening faster is just a symptom of how fast technology moves. The result is that the creators of new ideas get shafted much quicker than they did in the past.

I tend to agree with Elysium, though; Trying to legislate this problem away will create more problems than it solves. We'll wind up with more legal battles of the sort when Bethesda filed a suit against Mojang because they thought they held exclusivity over the word "Scrolls."

I dig Threes, and was amazed at 2048 when I first found it.

Then I read the "dev diary" from Threes, and haven't really looked back at 2048. I 100% agree with those on the 'cast this week - you're no longer a clone when you add something.

pinkdino99 wrote:

40 year old gamer - 4 games on Steam ! ha ha ha
What else have I got .....
5 PS3 games, + about 20 XBox 360 titles ... 2 on Origin, about 10 PC disc games.
I should have a spending spree.

I might be mistaken, but aren't you a little new to pc gaming? Just wait till you've been through a couple of Steam holiday sales. Depending on your willpower, your games list might jump exponentially!

Demiurge wrote:
MeatMan wrote:

To set the record straight, Cory said that Goat Simulator costs $20, which is incorrect. It's only $10. I highly recommend it for some great, ridiculous fun.

Oops! Sorry about that.

If we stopped to post about all the times Korey was wrong about things we'd never do anything else.

Great podcasts.

There are still many folks playing on the 360. My friends list on 360 is as active as it's ever been. From the perspective of those who've moved on to next gen or PC players it may seem like the 360 is already distant history or only fit for gathering dust in the bottom of some seldom visited wardrobe but it's wrong to suggest that everyone has moved on.

Playing on 360 still is actually a rather great position to be in. I'm playing Dark Souls 2 and finding tons of players to co-op with. I'm enjoying working through the dozens of games in my pile that I still want to experience and I'm benefiting from quite a few free 'games with gold.' (Hitman: Absolution turns out to be rather good.) I also get to watch from on high as the Xbox One and PS4 get their acts together.

Korey

OK, now you're just trying to hurt his feelings.

wordsmythe wrote:
Korey

OK, now you're just trying to hurt his feelings.

Kory 2012!

wordsmythe wrote:
Korey

OK, now you're just trying to hurt his feelings.

It is hard to be a "Korey" (:)) that isn't also a Haim or a Feldman.

Completely agree with everything Sean said about Burial At Sea Ep. 2. Looking forward to the eventual spoiler section.

Also Diablo 3 clan chat reminds me a lot of how chat in Kingdom of Loathing feels. Even if you're not playing in the same game instance, or just playing solo, there's just this warm feeling from chatting with other people and being able to share in your collective accomplishments.

Speaking of warmth... "Warm embrace of Sander Cohen" is phrase no one should ever say.

maverickz wrote:

Isn't Flappy Bird a clone of Piou Piou?

Only if you consider Bioshock to be a clone of System Shock 2.

There are certainly immediate similarities - the primary verb (flap), the rules surrounding it (flapping propels you upward, gravity pulls you back down), and the structure that affords an interplay between the two (gravity is constant and obstacles are always scrolling in your direction, so flap to fly as long as you can) are identical.

But there are also very important differences. The sensation of movement in both games is tuned differently, as gravity is much stronger in Flappy Bird. In Flappy Bird, the horizontal axis of movement doesn't come into play like it does in Piou Piou; running into an obstacle in Flappy Bird results in an immediate fail state, whereas obstacles in Piou Piou push you backwards and give you an opportunity to flap or float around them before scrolling into a fail state. There are also items in Piou Piou that can temporarily alter the characteristics of your flight, whereas there are no items at all in Flappy Bird.

The fact that Piou Piou came first doesn't make it a more "legitimate" design. The fact that Flappy Bird became more popular doesn't make it a more "legitimate" design. They're both interesting, if shallow, amusements that offer different things to different players.

And yet, the discussions that surround Flappy Bird or 2048 or, if you want to kick it old school, Great Giana Sisters on the Commodore 64, almost always carry a judgmental subtext because we collectively fetishize Innovation with a Capital I. We celebrate innovation because it is The New, but we often do so at the expense of meaningful iteration and I think that's a mistake.

Rather than argue whether a game is a clone or not, I'd rather talk about what makes that game and its inspirations tick. What made Threes interesting enough to inspire 2048 in the first place? (Certainly can't be the awful sound design, that's for sure.) What draws players to these games?

I'm just glad to hear Cory's dulcet tones again. It's been too long.

S0LIDARITY wrote:

I'm just glad to hear Cory's dulcet tones again. It's been too long.

Thanks Mom!

Demiurge wrote:
S0LIDARITY wrote:

I'm just glad to hear Cory's dulcet tones again. It's been too long.

Thanks Mom!

I love the idea of your mom having a handle like that.

Honestly, I don't think there's any good way to determine what is or isn't a clone except which is viewed favorably by press and consumer.

I was about to bring up the favorable response to Shadow Complex, which is pretty much a Super Metroid clone, versus the response to Darksiders, viewed as being derivative, but I'm pretty damn sure I've discussed that before. And before that. And another time before that.

So for a new example, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. While I feel like they were trying too hard to be different from Smash Bros., I feel like their knock-out system actually allows the game to be more accessible, easier for everyone to have fun, without giving a damn about score until the very end. Getting pummeled only matters if you're paying close attention to everyone else's power-up gauge, and unless the skill gap is huge, you won't really notice that you're not doing as well. As a result, it's easier to stop caring about it competitively and just have fun.

But despite any gameplay differences, it's still viewed as a clone and was pretty much Dead on Arrival due to press and consumer response. For some reason we can have yet another RTS that looks just like StarCraft, or yet another fighting game that looks just like Street Fighter or Tekken, but make a game that's similar to Smash Bros? Can't have that!

What's worse is it ignores any actual merits or flaws of the game and just dismisses it outright on concept. That's like people dismissing Jurassic Park because the notion of dinosaurs in modern day is "silly" or "absurd".

Okay, maybe it's not like that at all, because dinosaurs are always awesome (until they're eating you but hey, what a way to go, right?)

I think the topic played seriously fast and loose with the semantics of "clone".

Let's remember, a clone is a genetic copy, not a evolution. Referring to Halo as a clone of Doom is laughable in this regard - while it's indisputable that there's a line that can be traced from one to the other, they're such distinct creatures.

Ours is a hobby, like most creative media, that lives and breaths evolution of form and genre. That constant re-invention and riffing on prior tropes is what makes the gaming industry possible. Lineage and heritage are far better descriptors for the decades long treadmill of incremental improvement, and while clones do and will continue to pepper that lineage, they're not the ones that are advancing the state of the art, nor defining genres as they evolve. They're largely peripheral to the moving target that is gaming's zeitgeist.

Another find episode. This one could only be made better by talking about Diablo 3 the entire time.

Jonman wrote:

Ours is a hobby, like most creative media, that lives and breaths evolution of form and genre. That constant re-invention and riffing on prior tropes is what makes the gaming industry possible. Lineage and heritage are far better descriptors for the decades long treadmill of incremental improvement, and while clones do and will continue to pepper that lineage, they're not the ones that are advancing the state of the art, nor defining genres as they evolve. They're largely peripheral to the moving target that is gaming's zeitgeist.

I'll add to this a quote from Greg Costikyan's 2005 GDC Rant:

I’ve been doing some research recently into the history of British and American boardgames in the 18th and 19th centuries, and I’m seeing an interesting pattern—one that persists into the 20th centuries, into the digital era, and through the modern day. It’s a pattern that Dan Scherlis describes rather cynically this way: “Genre is what we call one hit game and its imitators.” Jeffreys publishes “A Journey Through Europe,” and suddenly we have a whole genre of track-based travel games. One fishing game appears, and we have dozens. Mansions of Happiness begets dozens of games of moral improvement, George Parker creates the business game, Little Wars spawns miniatures. Charles Roberts creates the board wargame, D&D produces the RPG, Magic: The Gathering produces the CCG. Donkey Kong appears, and we instantly have dozens of platformers, Akalabeth and Wizardry produce the digital RPG, Dune II and we have RTS, Doom and the FPS, The Sims, and the autonomous agent game.

You're both pretty right too. We're still trying to sort out what to call "DotA-clone" and there's a weird push to replace "roguelike" or "roguelikelike" with "procedural death labyrinth" (which is a terrible term by the way). Or the tongue-in-cheek classification/dog-whistle (depending on who you ask) of "walking simulator" for games like Dear Esther, Proteus and Gone Home (which I think most people classify as adventure games in the traditional sense).

While I agree that clones are lazy and unfortunate, they are a part of the landscape and having imitators and derivatives of specific things are how related creative works solidify into a genre. I'd be surprised if you can't find parallels in music, literature, and movies too.

Good article

Every human endeavour at this point is a constant progression over something that was created before, you know standing over the shoulders of giants (even though that was more a jab at a fellow scientist, Sir isaac was a little difficult it seems) the problem right now is the immediacy, and the difficulty to differentiate easily those who are searching for the easy buck and those who like something and want to iterate on it and refine it and give it´s point of view, you can find it in music, books, movies...