GWJ Conference Call Episode 539

Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Fire Emblem Heroes, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Beta, Pit People, Going Into The Big Game, Your Emails and More!

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This week Shawn, Allen, Julian and Amanda talk about the moments when you feel like you're going into a "Big Game."

To contact us, email call@gamerswithjobs.com! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind.

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Spellbound - Broke for Free - http://brokeforfree.com/ - 38:51

Note Drop - Broke for Free - http://brokeforfree.com/ - 50:29

Comments

Ooh! You've played Pit People!

I'm envious. I'll have to pick that one up once my budget allows it.

00:01:10 Ghost Recon: Wildlands
00:12:07 Pit People
00:18:50 Life is Strange
00:26:32 Sniper Ghost Warrior 3
00:31:13 Fire Emblem Heroes
00:32:45 The Witness
00:35:17 Mystic Messenger
00:36:42 Mass Effect 3
00:38:51 Going Into The Big Game
00:50:28 Your Emails

Listening to this now, and got hit by the pure wrongness of opinions.

Having to kill everyone in Dishonored 2? What.
Finished it a few weeks ago, enjoyed it much more than Dishonored 1, and killed zero people.
Don't know how much character builds matter, played as Emily and only useful ability she seemed to have was the one linking people to knock them out all at once.

TLDR: Git gud! :p

Hi, I'm a new GWJ fan. So far I've listened to a couple of episodes of the back catalog. It's so great to have a video game podcast for "busy people".

Now I know this might come across a little nosey, but I have one huge thing that stands in the way of total enjoyment of your conference call podcasts. And that is the audio quality of the attendee you have over Skype (or Facetime, etc.). I guess that's Lara, right?

From the way her voice sounds, the connection seems to be very low-bandwidth, and there are these audio artefacts and micro-dropouts, as well as shifts in volume, that make her sound like she's constantly "sobbing", so to say (which I know she isn't because she seems quite upbeat). I think she deserves a better audio connection.

Could you look into this please? It's a minor issue but as the audio quality of the other attendees is so great, it is distracting to say the least.

Thank you, and keep up the good work!

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is from a different developer than the Sniper Nazi Zombie Army games. Those Zombie Army games are an off-shoot from the Sniper Elite series, made by Rebellion. Their next game, Sniper Elite 4, is being released next week.

Busby wrote:

Hi, I'm a new GWJ fan. So far I've listened to a couple of episodes of the back catalog. It's so great to have a video game podcast for "busy people".

Now I know this might come across a little nosey, but I have one huge thing that stands in the way of total enjoyment of your conference call podcasts. And that is the audio quality of the attendee you have over Skype (or Facetime, etc.). I guess that's Lara, right?

From the way her voice sounds, the connection seems to be very low-bandwidth, and there are these audio artefacts and micro-dropouts, as well as shifts in volume, that make her sound like she's constantly "sobbing", so to say (which I know she isn't because she seems quite upbeat). I think she deserves a better audio connection.

Could you look into this please? It's a minor issue but as the audio quality of the other attendees is so great, it is distracting to say the least.

Thank you, and keep up the good work!

That was resolved a few shows ago, thanks for the feedback!

Beckett wrote:

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is from a different developer than the Sniper Nazi Zombie Army games. Those Zombie Army games are an off-shoot from the Sniper Elite series, made by Rebellion. Their next game, Sniper Elite 4, is being released next week.

Too many snipers. Thanks for the heads up!

I feel sorry for anyone who got momentarily distracted only to focus in when Pyro mentioned "healing frosting."

Re: gimmicks

To me, a gimmick is a thing we see once, and then never again in subsequent installments. The FLUDD, for example, is a gimmick. A really fun gimmick, to be sure.

By that definition its easy to see what was a gimmick in retrospective, and we can make some kinds of predictions about current and future games. Mario's hat is alive, and can be used for jumping puzzles. That seems neat, but I'd put money on it not being in the next game. I can only be validated by time passing and seeing what happens in future games, but for now that aspect of the game seems like a gimmick.

All that said, gimmicks aren't always bad. The Toad mini games were gimmicky, and we got Captain Toad out of them. I think that's a great game. Yoshi was introduced in Mario World, and the reception was positive enough that yoshis are a staple of the franchise now. We probably won't see FLUDD again, but it made Sunshine a really unique experience. So, just like anything else, sometimes they're good and sometimes they're bad.

Re: 3 seconds

I think Allen was the one who brought up Saints Row 4, and it reminded me of when you get the power armor and the game plays "You got the Touch". So awesome.

See, I don't think I can agree with that definition either, especially since no one seems to tout the whole gimmick thing at Nintendo and nobody else (God, here I come batting for Nintendo again).

For example, time-jumping in Titanfall 2. No one has called it a gimmick. Why isn't it called a gimmick? By the logic that it doesn't appear elsewhere in a whole series, time-jumping must be a super gimmick because it's only in one level of the entire game!

Or... perhaps there's no real need to bring the concept out again.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds throws Link flat against the wall and it makes for some great puzzle design, but does that mean I want it in every single Zelda from now on?

Or let's spin it another way. How come Glory Kills in Doom aren't a gimmick? How come the hook blade in Assassin's Creed: Revelations a gimmick? Hell, why weren't the boats in Assassin's Creed 3 a gimmick? Why weren't vehicles in Unreal Tournament a gimmick (let alone recognized as blatantly copying Halo's vehicles)? Why wasn't the sky hook in Bioshock Infinite a gimmick? Why wasn't the Gravity Gun in Half-Life 2 a gimmick? Why isn't Overwatch's Play of the Game a gimmick?

I think the Conference Crew honestly got it right, in that a gimmick is something that the developer leans on too hard to create the fun. Read Nintendo's archives of Iwata Asks and you'll see that they want each game to stand out in some fashion rather than just iterating like the Call of Duty games (why wasn't Zombies mode just another gimmick? Why weren't Gears of War's executions just a gimmick?). They want to find a new concept that 1) fits with that game specifically, and 2) differentiates it from the others (also keep in mind that Nintendo is one of the only companies that believes time does not automatically devalue their product), and 3) is fun.

Perhaps the reality is "gimmick" is just what people throw around when you're basically some of the only game franchises as old as The Simpsons and have consistently kept going. But if they really were nothing but gimmicks, then I think the interest in these franchises would have seriously waned.

ccesarano, I stand by my definition, so many of the things you've called out in your post absolutely are gimmicks. I think you've mostly just highlighted that if someone (or some group of ones) doesn't like something then it's a "gimmick", and if they do then it's "innovation". I think that makes the word "gimmick" unfairly negatively loaded. Kind of like "novel" and "novelty".

e.g. Why wasn't the Gravity Gun a gimmick?

Answer: It totally was. But people liked it, so it gets a bye.

Zombies are basically always a gimmick, except in like... Resident Evil, or Dead Rising.

So, I think that Iwata basically confirmed that Nintendo loves gimmicks, and uses them all the time. So sometimes we get Yoshi, and sometimes we get FLUDD. Not everything needs to be incorporated into the franchise, right? It just needs to be done well when it is done.

I haven't gotten to that part of the show yet, but the way I understand a gimmick is the same way I understand schtick as a comedy writer: It's not inherently a bad thing, but whether it adds value to something.

Like my Duke Nukem Forever schtick, or the "is X the Y of its kind?" schtick I throw in at the end of the TLDP "reviews." I continue doing the "Is X the Y" thing every week because it's reasonably relevant and can usually be mined for a chuckle, but also because it forces me to think critically for a moment and answer a serious question about a given game, i.e.: how much will this game piss me off? Theres value in keeping that gimmick going.

You'll notice that I don't reference Duke Nukem as often as I could, because I gauge the audience patience for that routine to be shorter, and because it's not the kind of joke that gets funnier through use. If I were to keep hammering on that one it would become the bad sort of schtick, where I pigeonhole myself as "the Duke Nukem Guy." There's no added value from leaning on that joke.

The motion features of the Wii lend themselves to the bad sort of gimmickry because they felt shoehorned into a lot of games. As in, let's shake this stick instead of pressing a button because isn't this fun!? Its not that the controls weren't interesting, but there really wasn't a whole lot that could be done with them and as a result games that used them ended up feeling samey.

Not all of that is on Nintendo, mind you, as the millions of third party shovelware took their toll. But at the end of the day the only thing the wiimote seemed to be used for was either 1) a pointing device or 2) a motion capture device. It didn't do either of those things particularly well. Pointing was jittery as heck, and I never had a good experience when a game expected me to move the wiimote in a specific position. (Cooking Mama was not fun in the Wii. It was too frustrating to get her to do anything consistently) The end result was usually shaking a thing instead of pressing a button, which felt like the bad sort of gimmick because there wasn't any value-add to it being there in a lot of cases. I mean, was it really all that satisfying to shake the controller to make Donkey Kong roll instead of pressing a button?

The only time shaking the wiimote in Mario Galaxy felt satisfying was when I finally got the game to register a shake and connect with a boss for that last hit. And that wasn't the good kind of satisfying; it was the "F*** you! I win!" kind.

The flip side was the WiiU, which had the second screen that nobody seemed to know what to do with, so it looked like a gimmick in search of a point. Again, there was no added value to this unique thing that Nintendo put in front of us.

So yes, zombie modes and time travels and portal guns are all gimmicks, but they feel like they add something. There's a point to their existence, and they add some value to the thing they're a part of. It's not being different for the sake of being different.

I don't mean to knock the Wii. I like the Wii. It's good for what it's good for, but the Wii motion controls never really clicked, and there was a lot of unfulfilled promises there. Sure, Wii sports and Wii play were neat, but nobody truly capitalized on that stuff except for, say, that Zelda game with the one-to-one sword movement, and even that felt cumbersome and unnecessary.

I think you guys are either just stubborn about using the word "gimmick" and don't want to change your lexicon or... I dunno. Maybe don't have enough of an established lexicon for what you're discussing?

Motion-controls in the hardware and a second screen are features. These features can be as useful as nipples on a man or they can be as awful as tastebuds in your asshole, but they're features nonetheless.

Once you get into the game's implementation of such features you get into mechanics, which is what these things really are. They are mechanics, and mechanics can either be executed terribly, sufficiently, or excellently. When you dodge as Bayonetta and time slows, that's a mechanic. That's not a "gimmick", because "gimmick" cheapens it. Even if you mean it positively, you're attaching all kinds of meaning to the intentions of the designer.

Because a lot of the time, these mechanics don't come about without someone thinking "Wait, y'know what would be cool?" as opposed to "We need to make Call of Duty, but with a twist". The latter, to me, is a gimmick, though of course it can be confusing. After all, what was the creative process of Respawn when they left Activision and Call of Duty and moved on to Titanfall? Seems like Call of Duty, but with a twist, right? And maybe it was, but that starting point of a gimmick (Call of Duty, but with robots) led to a series of "But way, wouldn't it be cool if?", which have a completely different type of inspiration.

Nintendo's process is more along the lines of "Okay, we're making a Zelda game, but why play this one instead of the previous?"

I mean, if we really want to argue semantics then 1) someone call Wordsmythe, but 2) I say it requires evaluating why "gimmick" is used so often and why it's used almost exclusively to describe Nintendo games since I never really hear it referenced for anyone else, or at least not in the same manner (in fact, I typically hear it referenced as a synonym to mechanic, which is inaccurate).

I honestly don't think most games use gimmicks, though. They simply use mechanics, and those mechanics are either implemented well or implemented poorly.

This is why we don't define words as topics on the show anymore

Wait, an email about failing to click with a game that everyone else loves?

And I wasn't on the show?

That email sums up my gaming life. It's probably good I wasn't on because I could fill a show with that topic.

Probably my main three second moment is mines both in Battlefield and Uncharted multiplayer. There is nothing like doing something completely different and getting that little notification that your mine just destroyed a tank or took out a player.

Certis wrote:
Beckett wrote:

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is from a different developer than the Sniper Nazi Zombie Army games. Those Zombie Army games are an off-shoot from the Sniper Elite series, made by Rebellion. Their next game, Sniper Elite 4, is being released next week.

Too many snipers. Thanks for the heads up!

Doesn't help that they both start with Sniper as the title

The AI was dialed in MUCH better than the Ghost Recon beta. Was actually one of the more impressive parts of the beta for me.

Big game was Asheron's Call and the pvp. Nothing like having someone else being able to take your stuff to get the heart racing. I got that feeling back again playing Darkfall. Harvesting and hearing footsteps or a horse running behind you was an instant adrenaline rush.

ccesarano wrote:

I mean, if we really want to argue semantics then 1) someone call Wordsmythe, but 2) I say it requires evaluating why "gimmick" is used so often and why it's used almost exclusively to describe Nintendo games since I never really hear it referenced for anyone else, or at least not in the same manner (in fact, I typically hear it referenced as a synonym to gimmick, which is inaccurate).

I'm all for having semantic arguments about the applications of words, but... I'm gonna need you to clarify your point 2 here. Gimmick can't be used as a synonym for... gimmick? I feel like you accidentally a word there.

I did accidentally a word. That's what I get for writing long posts at work.

Synonym for mechanic. My bad.

ccesarano wrote:

I did accidentally a word. That's what I get for writing long posts at work.

Synonym for mechanic. My bad.

Got it. I figured it was something like that.

Features, mechanics, and gimmicks aren't synonyms, but they do make for a nice venn diagram. Depending on how broadly things are defined, gimmicks might be a circle wholly contained by the mechanics and features. And I guess mechanics are a kind of feature. So...

And now I've taken to Paint and made the most eye-searing, but still readable, venn diagram of my previous paragraph that I am capable of.

BEHOLD!

Alright, so... moving on.

I'd actually like to turn this around a bit. Bearing in mind that I played enough Half Life 2 to find a guy chopped in half with a giant saw blade, and then I noped right out: Why is the Gravity Gun /not/ a gimmick? I can't see any reason not to classify it as a gimmick, but you provided it as an example as part of a set of (what should be) obvious counterpoints, so I'd like to understand why it seems that way to you.

The more I think about cheating in games the more my ideas seem a little odd.

I don't consider looking up answers to puzzles, if I'm truly stuck, cheating. I know when it's come down to two options: A. Looking up the answer and move on in the game or B. Stop progressing and don't play the game anymore.

I don't really consider looking at how a boss can be beaten (specifically in Dark Souls) cheating. It's research but it can remove some of the 'fun' of learning a fight and working out it's tricks and patterns. These days, if I like a fight, I'll do it blind and on my own. If I find a fight boring or unfun I'll summon co-op partners and look up the best way to kill the boss quickly.

Subconsciously, I seem to consider playing on Easy cheating but I've talked myself into doing it twice. Once for Ninja Gaiden on original xbox and once for Alien: Isolation. Both times it was the right decision.

Zudz wrote:

I'd actually like to turn this around a bit. Bearing in mind that I played enough Half Life 2 to find a guy chopped in half with a giant saw blade, and then I noped right out: Why is the Gravity Gun /not/ a gimmick? I can't see any reason not to classify it as a gimmick, but you provided it as an example as part of a set of (what should be) obvious counterpoints, so I'd like to understand why it seems that way to you.

That level, Ravenholm, is actually where I'd say you get to make a lot of use of it as a tool. If you want to break it down to its most cynical purpose, the gravity gun is just Valve's way of saying "Isn't our physics engine awesome? Our physics engine is so awesome you guys. Now bow down and worship us as Gods, you dogs of PC gaming".

...my own hyperbole aside, at its most cynical it is a tech demo, but if you use the gravity gun to snatch that sawblade you get into where Valve began to treat the device as a tool instead, much like the crowbar or shotgun are tools. Throughout all of Ravenholm are various items scattered about the environment that all have different behaviors when thrown with the gravity gun. For example, if you throw a rock, it will just hit and bounce off of the enemy. Nothing major, and behaves much like a rock. Grab a saw blade and you'll cut the enemy in half. Grab the whirling blades from one of the traps and you can slice a whole group of baddies. Grab an explosive barrel and it becomes a rocket propelled grenade.

The final level also uses it as one of those great tools of adrenaline-rushing empowerment.

Again, though, let's say the gravity gun was thrown in there and the developer didn't really try to create proper environmental clues or different effects of each object. What if it was this awkward, clunky, pain in the ass weapon that just didn't work and made the game unplayable. Would it be a "bad gimmick", or would it just be bad design around an intended feature? I don't think something is a "gimmick" based on good or bad design or based on personal preference.

Certis wrote:
Busby wrote:

Hi, I'm a new GWJ fan. So far I've listened to a couple of episodes of the back catalog. It's so great to have a video game podcast for "busy people".

Now I know this might come across a little nosey, but I have one huge thing that stands in the way of total enjoyment of your conference call podcasts. And that is the audio quality of the attendee you have over Skype (or Facetime, etc.). I guess that's Lara, right?

From the way her voice sounds, the connection seems to be very low-bandwidth, and there are these audio artefacts and micro-dropouts, as well as shifts in volume, that make her sound like she's constantly "sobbing", so to say (which I know she isn't because she seems quite upbeat). I think she deserves a better audio connection.

Could you look into this please? It's a minor issue but as the audio quality of the other attendees is so great, it is distracting to say the least.

Thank you, and keep up the good work!

That was resolved a few shows ago, thanks for the feedback!

No, it wasn't, because it still sounds like that to me. Maybe that's just the way Amanda's voice naturally sounds?

Everyone records a local track and then they are spliced together, so there's no Skype tracks used in the show unless someone has a crash and loses the local. Amanda got a new mic which stopped doing that weird condensing thing with her voice a few shows ago.

Beyond that I don't know what to tell ya. She sounds fine to me.

ccesarano wrote:
Zudz wrote:

I'd actually like to turn this around a bit. Bearing in mind that I played enough Half Life 2 to find a guy chopped in half with a giant saw blade, and then I noped right out: Why is the Gravity Gun /not/ a gimmick? I can't see any reason not to classify it as a gimmick, but you provided it as an example as part of a set of (what should be) obvious counterpoints, so I'd like to understand why it seems that way to you.

That level, Ravenholm, is actually where I'd say you get to make a lot of use of it as a tool. If you want to break it down to its most cynical purpose, the gravity gun is just Valve's way of saying "Isn't our physics engine awesome? Our physics engine is so awesome you guys. Now bow down and worship us as Gods, you dogs of PC gaming".

...my own hyperbole aside, at its most cynical it is a tech demo, but if you use the gravity gun to snatch that sawblade you get into where Valve began to treat the device as a tool instead, much like the crowbar or shotgun are tools. Throughout all of Ravenholm are various items scattered about the environment that all have different behaviors when thrown with the gravity gun. For example, if you throw a rock, it will just hit and bounce off of the enemy. Nothing major, and behaves much like a rock. Grab a saw blade and you'll cut the enemy in half. Grab the whirling blades from one of the traps and you can slice a whole group of baddies. Grab an explosive barrel and it becomes a rocket propelled grenade.

The final level also uses it as one of those great tools of adrenaline-rushing empowerment.

Again, though, let's say the gravity gun was thrown in there and the developer didn't really try to create proper environmental clues or different effects of each object. What if it was this awkward, clunky, pain in the ass weapon that just didn't work and made the game unplayable. Would it be a "bad gimmick", or would it just be bad design around an intended feature? I don't think something is a "gimmick" based on good or bad design or based on personal preference.

I don't want to be too much of a jerk here, but I'm not sure you actually made your case. I see an explanation of what the Gravity Gun is, and how it works. And some stuff about level design. And then you end with a hypothetical, and your opinion that quality doesn't affect a things status as a gimmick. Which is all fine, and I agree with, but it doesn't address whether or not the Gravity Gun is a gimmick. Either the dictionary definition (Dictionary.com: an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal), or by my personal rule of thumb (a thing seen once in a franchise, then never used again). As far as I can tell, the Gravity Gun is a novel device, and it was used to increase the appeal of Half Life 2 and it's DLC. (I'm counting DLC as part of the game it's attached to. That seems like a reasonable consideration to me, but I'd be willing to hear arguments against it.) And, to the best of my knowledge, the Gravity Gun was never used again by Valve. Or it's functionality, at least. I'm not so picky as to require the specific name and model or implementation to be used. That's needlessly pedantic, even for me.

MrMetonymy wrote:
Certis wrote:
Busby wrote:

Hi, I'm a new GWJ fan. So far I've listened to a couple of episodes of the back catalog. It's so great to have a video game podcast for "busy people".

Now I know this might come across a little nosey, but I have one huge thing that stands in the way of total enjoyment of your conference call podcasts. And that is the audio quality of the attendee you have over Skype (or Facetime, etc.). I guess that's Lara, right?

From the way her voice sounds, the connection seems to be very low-bandwidth, and there are these audio artefacts and micro-dropouts, as well as shifts in volume, that make her sound like she's constantly "sobbing", so to say (which I know she isn't because she seems quite upbeat). I think she deserves a better audio connection.

Could you look into this please? It's a minor issue but as the audio quality of the other attendees is so great, it is distracting to say the least.

Thank you, and keep up the good work!

That was resolved a few shows ago, thanks for the feedback!

No, it wasn't, because it still sounds like that to me. Maybe that's just the way Amanda's voice naturally sounds?

I'm not sure that it is. It still happens sometimes. I noticed it a few times Rabbit's audio this episode, but quite a lot more on mine. Thanks for mentioning it, because then I know I'm not crazy.

Revisiting and looking into this, thanks.

I'm one who was bothered by the sound issues before and I didn't notice anything this episode. It's obviously below my aggravation threshold.

Just thinking about the gimmick discussion and I like Julian's definition. It really does seem whether someone considers something a gimmick or not boils down to whether they enjoy it.

I'm currently playing Doom and I might be with Certis on this one. I want to love it but the pure run and gun just isn't doing it for me. The melee kills look cool and everything but all I'm really doing is pressing a fast quick time event button (Does this count as a gimmick?). The environments and level design do kick @ss though.

Man, when LOTRO shuts down I'm going to be super-sad.