Weekend Confirmed Episode 19

By Garnett Lee, Jul 30, 2010 12:00pm PDT Starcraft 2 released! How strange does it sound to finally hear those words? Brian begrudgingly pulled away from the game long enough to share his impressions with Garnett and Jeff who've also been playing it. Knowing it will be part of the conversation for some weeks, the guys also bring Hydro Thunder Hurricane and the Medal of Honor multiplayer beta now out on 360 for some variety in Whatcha Been Playin? Your comments on music, teaching friends games, and being the anti-Cannata lead the Warning before and excellent track from Module, who did the Shatter soundtrack. And in the Front Page negative financials can't dampen the enthusiasm for the dual Street Fighter and Tekken crossover games announced.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 19 - 07/30/2010

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Weekend Confirmed comes in four segments to make it easy to listen to in segments or all at once. Here's the timing for this week's episode:

Whatcha' Been Playin: Start: 00:00:00 End: 00:30:32

Whatcha' Been Playin and Cannata-ford a New Game: Start: 00:31:24 End: 01:03:19

The Warning: Start: 01:04:04 End: 01:38:59

Music Break featuring "Twilight Stolen (remix)" Module vs Benny Tones: Start: 01:38:59 End: 01:41:31

The Front Page: Start: 01:41:31 End: 02:16:49

Music Break this week comes from Module, creator of the exceptional Shatter soundtrack. The featured track is "Twilight Stolen" the Module vs. Benny Tones Full Moon Drum and Bass Remix featuring Jess Chambers on vocals. You can get a 128k mp3 version of it for free on bandcamp, and if you like it get a full 320k mp3, lossless, or whatever else you might want for $1.99. And if you haven't already got it, the Shatter soundtrack along with all his other work is available on Module's bandcamp home page.

Original music in the show by Del Rio. Get his latest single, Small Town Hero on iTunes and check out more at his Facebook page.

Jeff can also be seen on The Totally Rad Show. New episodes come out weekly on Tuesday.

Our Official Facebook Weekend Confirmed Page is coming along now so add us to your Facebook routine. We'll be keeping you up with the latest on the show there as well.

Weekend Confirmed will be taping live at PAX! Hope you can join us Saturday, Sep 4 at 2pm in the Serpent Theatre.

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42 Threads* | 149 Comments

  • Happy birthday, Jeff! Wahay!

    During the discussion of whether gameplay or story should come first, someone (Jeff?) was complaining that it sometimes feels as if the designers said "Let's have a snow level. Now let's have a lava level" and built the story around that.

    I don't know if any of you are Indiana Jones fans, but this is pretty similar to the way that Raiders of the Lost Ark was made. The writers sat down and hammered out a bunch of set-pieces they knew they wanted in their film -- the boulder-chase, the dragging behind a truck, the mine-cart sequence -- and then wrote the story of the film around them. The ones that they couldn't make fit (the mine-cart sequence) were held over for other films.

    Okay, I realise it's not quite the same as banging out lazy, uninspired levels because you think they're expected in a game or because you can't be bothered thinking of something more interesting or unique. Still, it's worth keeping in mind when you're discussing the merits of building a game (or movie) around set-pieces.

  • Wtf just saw that Gamestop now is the exclusive way in to the Assassin's Creed Brotherhood beta. I realize the main point of a beta is to server test for the developers, but isn't a secondary function to let potential customers decide whether or not they wish to purchase the game, sort of like a multiplayer demo?

    I hate buying from Gamestop, but I had to preorder Medal of Honor there for the beta, and they won't let me move my money over to another preorder or refund it or anything, even though the beta showed me that I don't want the game.

    What are your thoughts on this trend?

  • I suppose I have a Warning question I'd like to hear everyone's opinions on (I'm going to try to keep it short):

    What are your opinions on outsourcing in the game industry?

    I've heard this discussed a few times on gaming podcasts, but never on here. Apparently, back in 2009, a report was done where 200 anonymous studios completed a survey on outsourcing. From 2007 to 2008, apparently the percentage rose from 76 to 86, which is already a large majority. Here is a link to the article on Gamasutra: http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=23008

    Price of modern day game production on the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles obviously is in large part the reason for this. I know that recent AAA games Alan Wake and Heavy Rain used outsourcing in their development and I am fairly sure that Mass Effect 2 used it to some extent as well.

    So I was wondering if you all felt it is being used responsibly and is beneficial in getting games made in more reasonable amounts of time. Also, is there something to be said for a "pure" game that was made entirely in-house? Do you think something with the creative artistic vision of a game like Bioshock would be possible with outsourcing? Or can freeing artists and designers of the need to create everyday objects like chairs, trees, and grass free them to contribute to a project in more meaningful ways (i.e. focus on creating things unique to the game they are working on).

    Anyway, just food for thought. What do you all think? I'll reserve my opinion for now.

  • Really enjoyed the show this week guys. Glad you are having Geoff on next week. It's been a while since you've had any guests. Don't get me wrong, I love you guys, it's just that guests are good to switch things up.

    I kind of wanted to clarify what I said about generic storylines in huge RPGs being useful. I think you guys sort of missed my point by way of my interchanging "generic" and "traditional". I swapped those words as a sort of way to detract from calling Dragon Age generic myself, but in recognition of the OP's opinion. Because, as you guys said yourselves, there is a negative connotation to the word. I usually, like most people, use it as a negative thing, but by definition it really just means general or pertaining to a group. And that is what Dragon Age's story is. If you look at it as an outsider, it isn't some fantastically incoherent drama like Final Fantasy XIII. It's The Lord of the Rings. It's "traditional" or "generic" high fantasy, with some elements of low fantasy thrown in to make it all edgy and cool. It is where Bioware takes the story after the traditional setup that makes it interesting and unique and thought provoking. This is something Jeff and I totally agree on but I think he might have missed the fact that I was by no means talking mess about Dragon Age's story, just being realistic about a few of the cliches that are ostensibly in the game. (like dwarfs, elves, and dragons, etc.) You can easily look at Dragon Age and think, "Oh, cool! A LOTR RPG! Awesome! I'm going to play as an elf and use archery to kill those things that look like orcs!" Then, once you get into the game itself, you realize it's actually very much it's own thing. I feel like Bioware are masters of that technique. Look what they did with Star Wars.

    Anyway, I just felt like clearing up what I was trying to say. Oh, and Garnett: Jeff is right. The details of Dragon Age's story are incredible. Not just in volume, but in metaphorical weight and moral ambiguity. As in, weird rituals and character issues are only one level removed from real issues and human emotions. I know I got all arty there, but I'm trying to do the game justice.

    Also, I don't know how far you played the game, but Morrigan and Alistair are two of the best characters Bioware has ever written. Good enough to make the Mass Effect fan in me go green with envy. :)

  • I've listened to part of the podcast thus far.

    I myself have been outside the general consensus internet conventional wisdomish kind of opinion before. CS is probably the biggest example for me...I never got it...still really don't. I used to think I hated "realism" in FPS games but I think I just didn't like CS and some of the games that tried to do what it did too closely (I've loved SoF2, CoD 1-4, the Battlefield series, and many many other multiplayer games that have gone down that road of stylized limited realism...and there are a ton of single player games where it hasn't bothered me).

    I also run into games that I enjoy but I think are waaaay overrated and that they have flaws...and sometimes bringing those up will get you in trouble. I remember back when BF42 was new there were people going on and on about how it was the best MP game ever and anyone who didn't see that was crazy...and I enjoyed it a lot but I felt that the infantry combat was lacking. The guns lacked oomph and the run speed was really really slow (I've described it as geriatric combat more than once)...but that game is really fun if you're playing with all the nifty toys it gives you and when the experience comes together its really great and I could overlook that. Thats the only example I can think of offhand...but its probably not the best.

    There's also the fascinating issue of games that aren't for me that I completely respect and know that this wasn't meant for me (and in a few cases I've bought those games just to play around with them out of curiosity...ARMA is a good example of thise). Another example for me would be WOW...its a well constructed game, it just doesn't appeal to me personally.

    I'll reply to this comment with more stuff as I listen and think of stuff (and I want to mention the Dragon Age story discussion and the PC gaming discussion, but I think I'll post those when I get home as replies to this...I'm in a cafeteria at a firing range that has wifi (I have satellite and can't play games at home due to the latency, so I use wifi hotspots at places I frequent to get my BF:BC2 in on my gaming laptop)). Enough rambling, I'll post more later.

  • Happy birthday Jeff!

    And big props for picking Thief: The Dark Project this week. Definitely a great stealth game, and no doubt where Splinter Cell borrowed a lot of it's ideas. That's not to say that it plays the same as Splinter Cell... I think it's a lot more fun actually. There's a lot less in the way of frustrating deaths / restarting at a distant checkpoint.

    You said you weren't sure if it still holds up, but I played it only a couple years ago, and it definitely does. The gameplay is what carries it. You just feel like such a badass sneaking through a medieval-esque castle, stealing treasure and knocking out guards. And I've said nothing so far about the story! Great, hand drawn art in Ninja Gaiden style cinematic cutscenes, and very well written and voice acted.

    My only gripe about the game is that some of the levels take place outside of castles and have you fighting skeletons and zombies and stuff. IIRC, these levels don't incorporate any stealth gameplay, and generally aren't any fun. Rush through them as fast as you can.

    I still haven't played Thief II, and now I'm going to have to track it down and play it. Well, as soon as I beat the Starcraft 2 campaign.

    Anyway, great show overall. See you next week!

  • Nice show guys.

    Riffing off the music segment where you were talking about limbo this week I have another question should you choose to use it.

    I've found very often there are games where the music or visuals separated from each other are passable but not amazing but when you meld the two together the shared experience from both the music and the visuals working in tandem is an amazing experience.

    How vital do you think the weaving of both together is? Also do you think that it can hurt the overall experience of a game when one piece of the experience outshines the other even if the other part isn't "bad" on its own?

  • Nice show guys.

    Here's why I agree that Jeff was way off base on the issue with Alien swarm.... he said something along the lines of "if you don't have 4 friends to play with, which is needed to have fun in the game, that's your fault rather than the game's fault."

    That is a pretty serious statement. One of my pet peeves these days is how few games are scaling well to various group sizes, when scaling is fairly easy.

    Consider Diablo 2, on the one hand... it auto scaled in real time from 1 to, what was it? 4 players?... all it did was basically multiply the hit points on creatures by the number of players playing at any given time. That worked!

    On the other hand, MMOs seem to have huge problems with this. They claim that they are solo friendly, but then make non-scalable content (and lots of it) that needlessly splits the community between "guildies" that may be able to run x content, and those not willing to deal with the guild politics, being locked out of it.

    That's only one example though.. Alien Swarm could scale a lot better than it does. I've been trying to coop it, and while it can be done, it does a poor job of it... that, in my opinion, is 100% the fault of the game.

  • Mr. Cannata, I agree with you in that I too find the "'X' character must survive" missions annoying. However, the annoyance is more from their frustratingly higher difficulty because, to people like me and you, micromanagement is hard. As much as we may not like it, these missions are a necessity at introducing the micro factor to gamers. I hope you stop holding your special characters back from now on as you're only cheating yourself out of the exercise opportunity, like doing push-ups on your knees. (which i do cause i'm a pansy.)

  • Referring to the fluctuating prominence of PC gaming you were discussing, I have my own theory. I agree with Cannata that desktops are just less prominent in general these days, but I also think how desktops are made and sold nowadays plays a very large role.

    Everyone seems to agree that the "golden age" of PC gaming was in the early to mid 90s. In that time period, there was really only one or two lines of PCs that you could be buying. You could buy an Amiga, or an x86, or various variants of these. All you had to do was go down to your local computer shop, buy a 486, and all of a sudden you could play literally any Windows or DOS game ever made. The only computers people ever bought could just simply play all of the games for its platform. The popularity of the video card starting in the mid to late '90s changed all of this. Computers became a lot more modular, cheap low-end models were made available that couldn't play new games, and you had to spend more money if you did want to play games, solely for that purpose.

    The thing is, although I'm sure a lot of older guys got into computer gaming as adults (such as Garnett), most of us got into it as kids. Our parents don't want to play games, they aren't going to spend extra money on PCs just so they can play games. They're going to be buying cheap $600 systems that can't even play TF2. We got into PC gaming when the PCs our parents bought, the 486s, could play all the new games. The "casual" market doesn't play games like Peggle because they don't want to play more complex games, they play those games because their computers can't handle anything else. It seems to me that, more than console competition or piracy or anything else, PC sales are lowered because of the hardcore/casual divide created by hardware companies. Another way to look at it, if Microsoft released a $100 XBox 360 that could only play XBLA and XBLIG games, what would happen to the market? Would "core" games on the 360 all of a sudden become niche? That's similar to what happened on PCs.

    Whew, that was long winded, I just wanted to get my thoughts off my chest and wonder what other people think.