GWJ Conference Call Episode 606

Revisiting Skyrim, MachiaVillain, Deep Town, Speed Dating For Ghosts, What Makes You Care About a Game Setting?, Your Emails and More!

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This week Shawn, Amanda, Sean and Cory talk about what makes a character in a game relatable. 

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.

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I'm so there with you on the Skyrim. I had started yet a third playthrough, on the SE this time, somewhat recently. I got about 30-40 hours in and stopped. My first playthrough was a dual-wield one handed / sword and board depending on my mood. Second playthrough I went full mage. Third on the SE I was archering it up, that was actually super fun.

But then I realized I had never tried Enderal. So I reinstalled Skyrim Classic and started a playthrough of Enderal. OMG it's AMAZING. I'm really digging the world and storytelling so far. Digging reading all the books. I really like the changes to the skill system and leveling system. Having a blast. I suggest since you're back on the Skyrim kick if you haven't tried Enderal, do so immediately.

I think I have a combined 500 hrs into the SE and Classic at this point. Ugh... I hear you guys.. I hear you.. I ask myself the same thing when installing, WHY WHY AM I DOING THIS WHATEVER LETS GO.

Thanks for recommending the Templin Institute - I love their videos.

Also, I started playing Skyrim again.

Thanks a lot, Amoebic and Elysium. Now I've re-installed Skyrim and have jumped back in! I enjoyed having some semblance of a life, and now you've gone and ruined that dream!

Excellent topic. I think, for me at least, the reason I fall in love with a world is that it FEELS like one. Its not just a collection of zones, levels, or segments, but a cohesive environment that is just different enough from reality that I can get lost in the details. The animals, monsters, and just the ethereal appearance of certain areas that provide just enough realism that I could see it as a real place.

That's probably why I don't love the Mass Effect universe as much as other game worlds, such as as Azeroth, Tamriel, or the Battletech universe. For all the "world-building" Mass Effect has, it still feels like a series of levels, rather than a world that I'm traveling through. In the Elder Scrolls games, while I have the option to fast travel to previously-visited location, I don't HAVE to do it. I can travel by horse or on-foot. While I'm making my way, I may stumble across a dungeon or hidden encampment, which of course I have to check out. In ME, you don't have that. You have long-loading elevator sequences, and the ship flying to its destination. Just isn't the same.

I've been back on the Skyrim train because VR is a helluva way to be in Tamriel.

I've gone full stealth-archer, and I'm starting to think that the combination of faster movement due to VR-teleport locomotion, and easier aiming due to motion controllers means that my build has broken the game somewhat.

To be fair, I'm still in the early game (lv 16, still knocking around in Whiterun), so maybe it'll scale up a little, but currently, I'm effectively invisible and one-shotting mobs sequentially.

Had a hilarious encounter at a fort with a dozen or so guards where I found a spot behind a rock where they couldn't see me, and just picked them off over the course of about 60 arrows. They kept running around all like "who's there?" as the bodies literally piled up.

00:04:06 MachiaVillain
00:09:32 Deep Town (mobile)
00:14:25 Gods Will Be Watching
00:17:00 Speed Dating For Ghosts
00:21:12 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
00:26:30 What Makes You Care About a Game World?
00:47:00 Your Emails

Discussions about game settings is interesting. Especially since the end of 2018 and 2019 is going to be all about the first implementation of game worlds being delivered 'as a service'.

No game in recent memory has had a setting better than the Witcher 3, especially the Blood & Wine add-on.

Some times it was enough for me to go through a ride through the countryside with Roach.

Regarding "adulting," I mainly struggled with not knowing where to start when it looked like a ton of crap was in front of me. It was easy to say "This project is too big, screw it. I'm going to play video games instead and leave this for Tomorrow-Greg. That guy's awesome, he does everything for me!"

Recently I learned a neat trick to stop procrastinating and giving up. It starts with the question: "Is there anything that I can do right now?" If I answer in the affirmative, I'll ask "Is there anything I'm willing to do right now?" If the answer is no, then I go back and ask the first question again, this time targeting smaller jobs.

Q: What can I do right now?
A: Clean the Basement
Q: Will I do that right now?
A: No. It's too big a job.
Q: What can I do instead?
A: I can sort the stuff in the basement into things to keep, throw out, or donate.
Q: Will I do that right now?
A: No, there are too many boxes.
Q: What can I do instead?
A: I can sort this specific box of stuff into things to keep, throw out or donate.
Q: Will I do that right now?
A: Yes. It's only one box.

Here's the cool thing: Sorting that one box gives me a dopamine hit because I've accomplished something, even if it wasn't as big a thing as I wanted to accomplish in the first question. That makes it easier to do again some other time, which then makes it easier to do again, and again, and again, and the next thing you know I have a decluttered basement. Maybe it takes weeks or months, but it's done.

I'm asking myself those questions all the time now, and I'm finding that I procrastinate a lot less. I don't leave dishes soaking in the sink for as long, I'm remembering to 5S my kitchen, I'm getting my laundry done earlier in the weekend. I find I don't need external rewards, because I'm getting personal achievements in my own head and when I go to bed at night I can think "I got some sh** done today."

Maybe "adulting" is just learning to take satisfaction from doing a job well. Or maybe I'm just weird.

Breaking down large jobs into smaller tasks has definitely helped me procrastinate less as well.

So MachiaVillain is sort of a remake of one of my favorite games, Evil Genius, but not set in the 1960s-70s super spy era?

I was into the Mass Effect universe from the first moments of game one. I loved the design of the creatures and the look of the citadel. Star Wars has never really worked form me. In Mass Effect I found my own cinematic universe to be invested in.

I've been pondering the question on and off what brings you into a games setting and I've realised that I am strongly drawn to and get absorbed in, tactical shooters or stealth games set in the modern world. I realise that that is problematic in all kinds of ways but those games are where I truly feel present in a world. Not over the course of a game or because I'm invested in an overarching story. Instead I get taken up in moments. Small areas or situations. I inhabiting the character I'm playing and am invested in steering them through incredibly dangerous situations.

One of the original Ghost Recon games had you infiltrating an enemy compound in the mud and rain. The sense of place in the first few moments of that mission was incredible, moving slowly towards a chainlink fence with raindrops drumming on your uniform and the tropical vegetation around you and noise of your boots pressing into and out of thick mud.

It's small moments like that where I get absorbed into a world.

Another great Podcast everyone!

For what it's worth I really like the way you'll sometimes talk about 'older' games like Skyrim. I'm someone who enjoys moving onto new games and always has his eye on upcoming releases but I think it's good to look back at games I really enjoyed but haven't played in a while. Going back to 'older' games is something I'm trying to do more of and Skyrim is definitely on that list for me!

While I'm at it, here's my 'Adulting' points system. It's a checklist I use at the end of each day to figure out what kind of reward I deserve...

Did all three children survive the day? (500 points)
Did you and your wife both survive the day? (200 points)
Does the house look even slightly like it did this morning? (100 points)
Did you get anything above and beyond looking after the family done today? (1,000 points)
Take some bonus points if everyone is fed and clean when they get to bed.

The reward system is as follows: If my points total is equal to or greater than five points I get to play whatever game I want until I start nodding off and my Pro-Controller falls out of my hands onto the stupid hard wooden floor!

Stevintendo: too strict

Loved the topic!

I agree that the Bethesda games -- Elder Scrolls and Fallout -- REALLY create that sense of place that you want to revisit.

While Mass Effect is a resonant series, it's hard for me to imagine a specific place, apart from maybe the Normandy. What sticks with me mostly are the interstitial Normandy takeoff / landing screens and loading screens with the music playing.

Music also goes a long way to creating a sense of place, together with environment.

Other games that create a strong sense of place for me are Deus Ex: HR, MGS IV & V and the Dishonored games.

I guess stealth games invite absorption because I tend to spend a long time in them looking for vents/ crannies, or perched somewhere checking everything out, plotting my moves.