GWJ Conference Call Episode 550

Overwatch Uprising update, Accounting, Nioh, Bayonetta on Steam, Nier Automata, Emotional Sincerity in Games, Lots of Your Emails and More!

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This week Amanda, Allen and special guest Scott "bombsfall" Benson talk emotional sincerity in games and more!

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00:01:59 Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality (VR)
00:09:00 Thumper (VR)
00:11:10 Nioh
00:25:46 Hollow Knight
00:29:06 Flinthook
00:30:23 Ballz (mobile)
00:33:52 Overwatch: Uprising
00:36:28 PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
00:38:00 Bayonetta
00:39:42 Nier Automata
00:42:32 Mass Effect: Andromeda
00:46:42 Emotional Sincerity in Games
01:07:22 Your Emails

So, so much Duke Nukem hate

I'm not one for emotional games in general, but that's probably because I'm non-neurotypical and navigating real-world, emotional relationships is so draining that I can't see any fun at all in trying to replicate that experience in my liesure time. It seems like it would be comparable to a person who really hates their job as a log-haul trucker kicking back to play American Truck Simulator on their day off. Why would I want to do that?

As for the other sort of emotional sincerity, I'm glad games have gotten away from the "I'm too cool to enjoy this" attitude to the "isn't this awesome?!" attitude. Video games are better when they realize they're a product of geek/nerd culture and don't try to pander to the cool kids.

After much thought and mental hand wringing I've decided to pass on Mass Effect: Andromeda.

From the podcasts I've listened to and the more measured Youtube impressions I've watched, the game isn't for me. In the original Mass Effect series I loved the characters (even many that appeared in later games,) the 'realistic' interactions, the writing and the alien races. All the races, although humanoid in form, were very well thought out and had an underlying logic to their appearance.

I was looking forward to being in a new Galaxy with Andromeda and encountering lots of new and interesting races. Unfortunately, and this is a personal thing I realise, there just aren't enough new races for me and the two that are there are, visually at least, are incredibly disappointing. I don't feel that there was much effort put in to match the thoughful design of the original trilogy.

I used a rather over the top analogy in the ME:A thread to describe my experience playing Assassin's Creed: Unity that involved eating a ice cream while being hit on the back of the head with a stick. Having thought about it a bit more Assassin's Creed: Unity was more like finding a gently meandering road through the Scotland highlands, surrounded by wild heather and high mountains, that had, inexplicably, been seeded with speed bumps every hundred yards or so. It's still a gorgeous road and you are effectively still free to drive along it and enjoy that amazing place but the speed bumps keep interrupting your reverie and, ultimately, serve to sap all the joy from the experience.

I suspect Mass Effect: Andromeda would be a similar combination of pleasure overwhelmed by regular doses of disappointment and frustration.

Higgledy wrote:

After much thought and mental hand wringing I've decided to pass on Mass Effect: Andromeda.

I'm finding myself in the same boat Higgledy.

The Mass Effect trilogy was one of the highlights of my years of 360 ownership. Devoured the entire thing.

But I’m looking at Andromeda, and feeling…nothing…no excitement to get back into that world. If anything, feeling a bunch of “urgh”, like when I look at a big pile of laundry that needs folding.

I’m pretty sure that a lot of that is an inner recognition that I don’t really have the space for A Bigass Game right now. I currently have plenty of bigass games sitting in half-finished states, many of which are objectively better games (e.g. Zelda, Witcher 3), and a brand new (to me) FFB steering wheel that is sucking all the oxygen out of the room anyway.

But even given all that, it doesn’t change the fact that were I to suddenly discover an untapped reservoir of free time, I’d still rather be playing something else (hi Nier: Automata!). Maybe there’s a GOTY copy of Andromeda in my future, when it’s been de-janked and I have less else going on.

If I learned anything from the Assassin's Creed series it's that, looking back, I could easily have skipped two or three of those games and not missed them.

The great thing is that, if there is some amazing de-janked version in the future, I/we can always change our minds and give the game a go but I'm getting more and more comfortable with completely side stepping entire games if they seem to be just more of the same in a different wrapper and no one is championing them as a new high for X series or X developer.

This episode is anti-Nioh propaganda trash. My phone and earbuds went straight into the bin which I then lit on fire, such was my disgust & overall triggering.

Sadly (and foolishly), I diligently thumb tapped a message while on the subway and it was promptly devoured by the cellular data gods. Let's see if I can regurgitate the general gist of it now.

On Nioh: if you're on the forums much lately you may know that I'm currently deep in this game's love/hate grip. Where I have previously bounced off the genre's (arguable) gold standards (Dark Souls, Bloodborne), I have been motivated to press on with Nioh and actually having a grand old time at it, too. The more intricate combat system has played a huge factor in holding my interest and Team Ninja's first go at Diablo-style loot and RPG stats fiddling have injected a fair bit of freshness to the Soulsborne formula.

Fans of opaque storytelling and deep level exploration are going to come away from Nioh disappointed. The story here is presented in a much more conventional manner. Within levels you'll find many bite-sized "audio logs" in the form of spirit echoes. They are uniformly one-note (wailing, agony & despair) but they still do a fine job of setting up some backstory and atmosphere. The hub and mission-based structure of Nioh also contributes to making the narrative more disjointed than I needs to be. But even then the historical context, combined with the magic realism is undeniably charming. Few games can pull off this mix of self-seriousness and whimsy (See: kodama, certain adorable guardian spirits, talking cats, etc.) and frankly, I'm surprised a studio like Team Ninja could even pull it off at this level. And the direct pulls from Japanese mythology! I've surprised myself in wanting to do extra readings behind yokai and wheelmonks. It's all been fairly fascinating.

So this is all to say: Nioh really isn't a Dark Souls clone nor is it trying to be. It's made my devs who clearly acknowledge and love the From Software games but it is its own thing. This is for the admittedly small subset of gamers who have secretly wished for an RPG version of the Ninja Gaidens of the past decade or so.

Now that I've sufficiently defended the honour of my fair maiden/abusive spouse, I'll go weep softly in this corner here because I'm stuck on yet another boss fight.

-Mac

Great topic and discussion this week!

Although I mainly play games for fun and escapism, I appreciate that games have matured to the point wherein so many diverse and different experiences are available to so many.

However, I gasped when Scott implied that stories do not necessarily need an end because they do not always end in real life. I couldn't disagree more. Yes, yes they do need to end, else they're not stories. I like all types: simple concise stories, and large complex stories. They can even be stories about "real life", but at the end of the day they are not. They are stories and should always have an end. It bothers me to no end in fiction where characters, ideas, or themes are introduced and then dropped or forgotten.

I actually look for reviews that mention unfinished or unrealized narratives because a good story is important to me. Just my $0.02.

Great show everyone!

PaladinTom wrote:

However, I gasped when Scott implied that stories do not necessarily need an end because they do not always end in real life. I couldn't disagree more. Yes, yes they do need to end, else they're not stories. I like all types: simple concise stories, and large complex stories. They can even be stories about "real life", but at the end of the day they are not. They are stories and should always have an end. It bothers me to no end in fiction where characters, ideas, or themes are introduced and then dropped or forgotten.

I'm on team Scott here - A story or narrative beat doesn't need to resolve to be interesting or satisfying. I think about them in the same way I imagine musicians think about chords. You can have a chord - like a story - resolve or not. Both choices have their uses, and both can be well executed or botched. But I love it when things leave space open, and I firmly believe that you can give a narrative a wide berth and still stick the landing successfully - even if you've left things unanswered or open ended.

Yeah for me at least an ending to a story can happen at a comma instead of a period. Or in the middle of a word. It just needs to be a pretty decent comma or syllable.

I had similar feelings as Ameobic towards a lot of the characters in Andromeda...except Ryder, who falls into the discussion about the gruff hero (Shepard) versus the fun hero (Ryder).

Ballz.

LvnLar wrote:

Ballz.

Speaking of which, WOOT! I just got 100!

I don't know what a "good" score is' but I'm pretty pleased with that.

Ok I'm sure it didn't pass unnoticed during production but I gotta mention that every one of Allen's p's sounded explosive. I totally understand that audio is hard to get right, just want to make sure that's on the improvement agenda

This was a great discussion. The three of you made a unexpectedly awesome hosting trio. And I could absolutely listen to bombsfall talk about Dark Souls-likes for a whole lot longer.

Great episode, I really like the dynamic between all participants.

After trying Dark Souls I can conclusively say that they're not for me. But a lot like MMOs I find the discussion around Souls-likes is more interesting than the games. I'd like to hear a Waypoint Radio episode with Scott talking Souls-likes with Austin and Patrick.

Great episode! Amanda is a good host.

On the subject of backlog fatigue. Every few months I get the same anxious feeling from looking at my list of installed Steam games. One thing that I like to do when that feeling sets in is that I will make a rule for myself of the following format:
"For the next X months, I will not play any open-ended, infinitely-replayable, or sandbox-y game." Basically, I ban any game that doesn't have a defined story and ending. No Minecraft, Dwarf Fortress, RimWorld, Crusader Kings, Civilization, rogue-like, roguelite, 4x, EvE Online, or whatever. I even avoid them on my mobile phone if I can help it. I use those X months to dig into at least one or two story-based, finish-able games. That usually lasts me for about 6 or so weeks before I'm back to a new start in DF or something. It helps temporarily assuage the nagging feelings, though.