Weekend Confirmed Episode 23

By Garnett Lee, Aug 27, 2010 12:00pm PDT With Metroid Other M and Halo: Reach to open get Whatcha' Been Playing? you know you're in for a big show, and that's only the beginning. Garnett, Brian and Jeff also work Shank and Elemental into the conversation. Cannata-ford includes a game Garnett declares as one of the most pure fun plays he's had all year. The Warning begins with your stories of how gaming figures in your circles and later hits on whether trailers give up too much of the games they seek to promote. And in the Front Page, Brian brings the word on Torchlight's console plans, Gamescom awards, and more.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 23 - 08/27/2010

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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: 00:29:26

Whatcha' Been Playin and Cannata-ford a New Game: Start: 00:30:52 End: 01:07:42

The Warning: Start: 01:08:17 End: 01:46:45

Music Break featuring Helen Garcia's "" Start: 01:46:45 End: 01:50:02

The Front Page: Start: 01:50:02 End: 02:21:54

Music Break this week features Helen Garcia's "Soul Soothing Sunshine (Ibiza Terrace Radio Edit)" available now at Beatport.com. This 2010 update of the 2002 hit highlights Helen's vocal work over a wicked summer groove. The track is out on "The Home of Proper House" 44th & Filth label. Check out their website for more from their artists and an excellent sampling of promo tracks and keep up with them on the 44th & Filth Facebook 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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Comments

43 Threads | 280 Comments








  • One game that has come up repeatedly in this weeks discussion is Bioshock. While the main topic has centered around violence in videogames, another common theme has grabbed my attention.
    It seems that almost no one who played Bioshock has anything good to say about the game's shooting mechanics. This is an opinion that I share. Personally, I think Bioshock played like crap, but it seemed to win most players over thanks to its fantastic presentation.

    This got me thinking.... how many of us will play and enjoy a game because of high production values, even if the core gameplay isn't very good? This sounds like a silly question, but the longer I think about it, the more I realize that some of gamings biggest hits over the past few years realy don't play very well.

    Examples:

    a) I already mentioned Bioshock, but what the heck... I'll bring it up again. I found the first 15 minutes to be briliant. But as soon as I picked up that pistol, the game went south. Boring weapons, repetative encounters, complete lack of enemy AI.... not a very imoressive shooter. Bioshock 2, although fairly positively recieved, gets none of the praise that the original enjoys, yet every review I read pointed out that Bioshock 2 plays much better than the original. Strange, no?

    b) Uncharted 1 and 2: Incredible visuals, fantastic settings, great sound and voice acting, convincing animations.... all Unchated's strengths are arguably no more than skin deep. Atrociouse enemy AI, boring weapons, sloppy targeting with bad hit detection, inconsistant and unpredictable platforming.... nothing about these games really preforms well at a core level, yet players are so wrapped up in the "experience" that they still love it.

    c) I know I'll get some flak for this, but what the hell: Red Dead Redemption. I played the F$#K out of this game. I got 100% campaign complete and everything. Yet looking back, I can't remember a single moment of truly compelling gameplay. Nothing that makes me want to go back and play it again just to experience the raw mechanics and challenges of the game. I played because I was so engrossed in the story and the characters. Like everyone else who played the game, I would ride my horse to the top of a ridge just to watch the sunset. But now that I've seen the end, I have absolutely no desire to go back and play the game.... because the actual gameplay just wasn't fun.

    d) Modern Warfare 1 & 2. Now, credit where it is due; the Modern Warfare series controls fantasticaly well. Player movement, targeting, and weapon handeling is all top notch. Beyond that, however, I can't think of modern warfare without picturing a cardboard cutout shooting gallery, because that is basically all it is. There is no enemy variety, nothing dynamic to their behavior. Combat boils down to targets poping out of windows or doorways, and you have to shoot them before you move on. This one single gameplay mechanic is surrounded with the best pyrotechnics money can buy. But really, after the first 15 minutes you've seen everything the game has to offer.

    Anyway, these are just my personal examples, but what about everyone else? Are there other games you feel get by on presentation over gameplay? Will you put up with flawed mechanics or core gameplay if the presentation is engaging enough? Or am I just completely crazy :)




  • First off, Board Games ROCK!

    Now, on the case of used games. I buy used games due to availability issues. First a little setup, I don't have a lot of money, and so i usually get one game every month or two, I also tend to like quirky weird games. so when two games i want come out in the same month, I have to pick one. when I come back a month or 2 later and because nothing new i want is out i decide to get the game from a few months ago that i passed up. In a world without used games this wouldn't always be possible because the games I want don't stay on retail shelves. Stores buy one or two copies and when they sell thats the end of it. Without used games i would never be able to play these games, it's not that i wouldn't buy it new its that i can't unless i get it in the first few months it comes out. Digital Distribution fixes this to some degree, but I'm one of those few people that still "collect games" so i like my boxes (and will not buy used if there is no box/booklet).


    P.S. if you want me to buy your game when it comes out, add something cool to the box for no extra charge [like the soundtracks that come with some Atlas games]







  • Garnett: When you inevitably talk about the Xbox live price hike, can you at least temper your discussion with the fact that live has had several substantial applications developed for it, and of those applications, several are available in the US only (last.fm [the only other region is the UK], netflix, and likely this new ESPN thing) as well as the fact that other regions have been paying the equivalent of $60/yr for years now?
    I'm not trying to defend Microsoft, but I really dislike all the knee-jerk reactions I'm seeing without considering any of those factors.




  • Love the show. Though I have to comment on the Dominion discussion. Dominion is a great game (and the expansions do make it even better imo) but I personally prefer Thunderstone. If you liked Dominion I highly recommend trying to locate Thunderstone at PAX and give it a play. It has essentially the same mechanics but a little less downtown and a decent dungeon crawling theme. The base game is excellent and the organizing tools they give you in the first expansion (specifically a box made to hold all the cards and the nice labeled dividers) make it an absolute delight to play.

    -miyu

  • Thanks for talking about my comment about used games.

    I guess my main wish is that the pricing of gaming would go down. That way I could buy all my games new and buy more of the games that I have to pass on now because of a tighter budget. Sadly, I only see the price of gaming on the home consoles going up unless the future of digital distribution includes a rental option like OnLive. Despite the great sales on Steam it sure does seem like digital only products go down in price rarely and at a much slower pace than at the big box stores.

    As far as Jeff's comments on returning games. The dirty secret of retail is that you CAN return games. All you have to do is be an asshole who rants and raves and complains to the stores corporate headquarters or district manager.

    I can't tell you how many times I had to refuse a return for a good, non-verbally abusive customer out of fear of getting fired just to watch the DM break policy time and time again for the absolute worst customers just because they made a stink.

    It is sad, but oh so true!





  • Hey Garnett, Jeff and Brian,

    Thanks immensely for finding the time to discuss my post. As I'm sure is quite clear by now, I love you guys and, still being extremely new to the industry, I'm fascinated by how you guys approach reviews: with what mindset, etc.

    My main question wasn't just that the review was 6 days after release, it was that, the next day, Lara would be overshadowed on the marketplace by new Arcade titles. It ties completely in what Jeff said about the pace in which new games are being released. There's always the next game to play; There's always another experience to be had, and I need to know if it's worth spending my time on the new hotness or not.

    I also really like what Jeff said about the idea of a discussion being had about a game after release, and it's something I definitely do enjoy on the Totally Rad Show. However, I think the idea of not reading a review until after I've played the game is somewhat flawed. It's something I do myself, but usually only:

    A: After I've played through a game I picked up on a whim, and surprisingly enjoyed it. This doesn't happen as much anymore - I simply don't have the expendable income to say "Oh, this looks interesting." Also, I tend to follow the news to such a degree that I tend to know what every game is like before I go into a store.

    B: If I'm really looking forward to the game anyway. The only real example I can think of right now is Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. I've never played a NFS game before, but I love Criterion so damned much that it's pretty much the only game I'm excited for this year. I won't read any reviews until afterwards, and then I'll go online and tell everyone how much I loved it.

    C: I guess this one is very, very new to me, but it's also valid now. Guardian of Light was the first game I ever received early, and there WERE no reviews for me to read. Once I'd posted mine on embargo, I was curious to head to other outlets and see if my opinion matched up with everyone else's.

    I think Brian's right as well - it's a lot to do with the internet being what it is. People want information, and they want it now. I think John Davison did a great job with Gamepro, in posting the review online quickly, and then doing that magazine feature which compared a large variety of major outlets and saw what the general consensus was.

    I think also, a large proponent of who's to blame here is the publisher/developer. I'm not stupid, I know that Shacknews is a bigger site than Game Rant, but I also know that I got my review code on the... Thursday (I think) before release. I also know that IGN got their code AT LEAST the Monday before that. You know, like Brian said, the embargo goes a long way to sorting it out, but from our discussion in the review thread, you said that you didn't get the code til the day before release, which was the day after the embargo lifted. To me, that sucks. You know, from what I understand, 1UP Yours was a pretty big thing, and from that, a lot of the listeners will realise that "Hey, Garnett Lee loves Tomb Raider, let's see what he thinks."

    I'm not saying that review codes should be given out on a priority basis "Well, IGN is the big dog, so we're going to give them the first code, then the second goes to Gametrailers, then the third..." but perhaps it should be standardised. You know, everyone gets a Press release at the same time, right? Why can't the same be true for game review codes?


    I know this is long, but I'll wrap it up here with my own thoughts about why I write reviews, and the sort of approach I take.

    When I first started writing reviews, they were for no-one but me. I posted them on a tumblr address (Uncharted 2: http://speedydesiato.tumblr.com/post/318672931/uncharted2 ) (Indigo Prophecy: http://speedydesiato.tumblr.com/post/511482529/indigoprophecy ) and I was pretty proud of them. I know I must seem very fanboyish, but screw it, I'm young and haven't had much experience yet - but I was trying to really listen to what Davison had said on Listen UP, which was the idea that you should write a review based on what YOU feel, and not much else. And you should start a review saying straight to your reader "Look, this is what I like. If you like the same things as me, then your opinion will probably coincide with mine, and you should read on." It just seems like such a perfect idea - if someone wants to find out what happens on level X in game Y, they can find it on the MILLION other games websites out there.

    But then it came to writing my first 'proper' review. Here I was, playing a game before thousands of other people in the world, and I had to let people know what I thought. But here's the trick, I also want to suggest to them whether or not they should buy it, but THEY'VE got to be the ones that make that decision. So I was stuck between a rock and a hard place: I wanted my Guardian of Light review to focus primarily on my experience, but I also had to make sure that I explained the mechanics of the game to someone who didn't know anything about it. That, admittedly, I found very difficult. I won't post the link here (I don't want to seem that I'm simply plugging my site - if you're curious, you can find it online... you might even see a name you recognise now writing for us!) but I still think I'm pretty happy with it.

    I feel that I probably went off on a tangent there, but to summarise: Personally, I read reviews because I want to know whether I should buy a game. I then go to people whose opinion I believe I can trust.

    Anyway, if you guys did read this and want to reply, please do so. It's an area of 'games journalism' that I'm interested in, and I'd like to discuss this... especially with someone who's not 17, and only been writing 'professionally' about games for 7 months lol. :)

    PS: It's Phil-eep Bow-sher. :)

    PPS: I'd love to be on the show one day Garnett. Maybe some time next year we could sort something out?

  • While I don't think that shooting in video games somehow makes them more childish or cheapens the experience in some way, but I do agree with Jeff in wishing that maybe there was sometimes more alternatives to shooting or fighting. One example that really stood out to me lately happened while playing Mass Effect 1, in which I was raiding a bar full of gangsters. When I happened upon a couple of workers in the back with guns, I was given the opportunity to bypass the confrontation entirely through intimidation. And while I really enjoyed Mass Effect 2's conversation scenes, I wish it didn't rely so heavily on shooting as a means to an end. It would be awesome to be able to talk your way out of a situation instead of shoot your way out.



  • There is really something that bugs me.
    The discussion on maturity in video games last week sunk into a pretty creepy argument about "life is about confrontation, Video Games are just mimicking this through shooting mechanics" and this week, it came back to this as if the only way you can interact with the world when you are confronted with conflict is to Shoot/punch/cut it in the face.
    I don't want to fall in the cliché of "this is so american" but really, you don't need to shoot the opposition to undermine it. Alan Wake really struck me as a good example of how the shooting mechanics actually takes away from the game. Good horror does not involve you shooting the monster chasing you, you MUST be helpless against it to be afraid. And the fact is that Alan is spending the entire game killing people who during the day are just regular people, there is no consequences to those murders, and it is murder, there is no way around this, even if they are possessed, they are people after all, you kill hicks all night long there, with no consequence, it's wrong.
    The ending of the Boss in MGS3 was mentioned, and I would like to remind you of Heavy Rain as well, for all the flaws this story had, the one moment when you have your finger on a trigger (during the religious fanatic interrogation scene) you are pushed by the game in one direction (shooting) and your head has to remain cool in order to do the right thing (not pull that trigger). This scene was a hundred times more powerful than any shooting gallery you are presented with in shooters.

    Garnett, you say games have not managed to get you to kill 12 guys and feel like a badass... Ok, maybe not a badass, but Shadow of the Colossus offers 12 colossi and not one more to defeat, and each confrontation is more powerful than any set piece I can think of where mowing through hundreds of enemies is your goal. You say GTA 4 needs truckload of corpses to convey the badassness of Nico? I could not disagree more. That war scared immigrant would be so much more credible if he could hold the violence in check for the entire games until one explosive final showdown where his past catches up with him. That would have been more powerful.

    Violence should be used with parsimony, just like horror is more efficient when it is not thrown in your face, violence is more effective when it is not trivialized. Uncharted was in my opinion a game that should have cut 60 to 75% of it's gun fights.

    To get to my conclusion, I really don't understand why Violence should be a part of games to the extend it is right now. Adventure games such as Full Throttle introduced us to super badasses that don't spend all their time freaking dropping bodies left and right. Shooting someone in the face is the simplest way to interact with it and it is considered a failure by hardcore MGS players (no kill walk through is the ultimate goal in the series). Rapture was not a friendly place? Ok, but have you ever thought about the fact that after that game, because of you, it has become a graveyard where NO ONE LIVES. If you play the game normally, there is not going to be anyone alive in the entire game after you've had your way. Don't you think that this is wrong? That this makes you a despicable individual even if you save a handful of little girls? I do. And the same goes for so many games.

    I'm not saying the no game should be about shooting your enemies, Dead Space is about being attacked by space zombies, so yeah, right, I'll use my mining tools to survive, no problem. But it is both simplistic and puerile to offer NO alternate interaction method with the world the developer want you to believe in.

    One final example : Fallout. Max out you charisma and intelligence, you'll be able to win the game through sweet talk and dialog, even the last boss in the game will kill himself when presented with the evidence of his failure. THAT is choice, THAT is offering a real depth of interaction, and therefore a real living, breathing world I can relate to. You can still shoot everything in the face, but you can do something else as well. THIS is mature gaming.

    Oh, heu, I love the show to death by the way, Garnett I've listened to every single podcast you have made since the 1up yours days and have followed what John and Mangod have been up to because of your podcasts, and Jeff, TRS is the best thing on Revision 3, no question. Brian, I admit I discovered you with this podcast, but man are you a great addition to the people I trust on the web.
    By the way, when is Billy coming back?


  • Something that is incredibly important for all media, but especially so for video games is feeling an emotional connection with the protagonist. Limbo works so well because the player feels lost, alone, confused, and desperate just like the boy. In many AAA retail games the player is supposed to feel like a bad ass controlling a bad ass character. The easiest way to do this is to give the character a bunch of guns and throw a bunch of enemies at him. The guy on the screen does cool stuff and the player feels cool because he had to use his skills to win the fight.
    Contrast shooting with something like using speech in Fallout 3. The player clicks [Speech 55%] and then a die rolls. The NPC then says a line based on success or failure. The character on screen never does anything cool and the player did nothing but click once. Mass Effect 2 is a little better. Commander Shepard does some cool things, but the player is basically doing a quick-time event. Alpha Protocol had many faults, but at least it was trying to add skill to the speech conflict by having the James Bond / Jason Bourne / Jack Bauer choice. Hopefully someday a developer will figure out how to make talking to characters both skilled based and interesting.

  • Another fantastic 'cast, made better by the mention of the brilliant Dominion. I'm a big fan of board ad card games, particularly those of German origin (Imperial, Dominion, Carcassonne, etc).

    A quick point in relation to Trailers and Teasers: I see the majority of game trailers as the equivalent of a teaser to a film, then a game demo as the trailer. Demos have been done in a similar way to great trailers, without revealing the plot (the original Half Life did this, if I remember correctly), this seems to be continuing with both Red Faction Armageddon, Dead Space 2 and Dead Rising 2*. A successful trailer is one which conveys the feeling of the media, without ruining the actual viewing. Should demos occur in the middle of the game, as they often do? In my experience playing a demo, later buying the game and playing that level again, something I am not a fan of. I quite liked the model that Fable 2 episodic used, though didn't buy it as I already had finished the game; it's a pity that it didn't seem particularly successful though.

    *I'm not completely happy that they aren't free, though that is besides the point

  • Hey lads, great show as usual.

    Continueing the talk about gaming within one's fishbowl. I live in a fairly small town outside of a capital city in Australia. I'm a huge gamer, but I keep my gaming habits very secret to most of the people I'm around. My immediate circle knows my gaming habits, and I have a bunch of friends that are in the same boat, but outside of that, I don't mention my love of gaming to anybody I don't know, and definitely wouldn't mention it at a job interview (and I'm a Sysadmin). I live in a big footy town (is that a jock town to US folk?) and the stigma still stands, if you like video games other than Tiger Woods golf or other sports games, you're a giant nerd with 0 social skills. So I think demographic in which you live really dictates how one shows their love for gaming. To the general public where I live, gaming isn't even remotely close to being seen as another type of Media for consumers. It's a scary land of nerdy folk that don't go to pubs.

  • Hey guys. Great show as always!

    Your discussion this week regarding the prevelance of 'shooting' in videogames really stuck with me. In particular, Jeff made a few comments that I feel were getting to the root of a very interesting subject...

    Let me say right off the bat that I love shooters. Halo, Gears of War, Mass Effect and Bad Company are some of my favorite games/series of all time.

    However, I do feel there is an industry-wide tendancy to stick shooting into many games that just don't need it. Bioshock jumped right to the top of my mind. The things that made Bioshock special were the story, environment, and sense of wonder as you explore the world of rapture. I, however, was never able to enjoy any of these things nearly as much as I wanted to because the game forced me to run through the environment shooting constantly. Aggrevating this problem is the fact that, when stripped of all artistic ambience and story, Bioshock is nothing more than a 3rd rate shooter at best. The controls, weapon variety and balance, player movement, enemy AI, encounter design..... none of these elements come close to matching today's top tier shooters.

    Brian brought up the point that most games are about conflict and struggle, which means violence, which ends up meaning "shoot things". I have no problem with this, but only if it contributes to the gameplay and story. Nothing about Bioshock made me want to feel like a badass, growing in power as the story progressed. What it did effectively was make me feel small, lost, and in awe of the environment.... the first 15 minutes were absolutley spectacular, but all that went out the window the moment I picked up that stupid pistol.

    I find myself wishing that Bioshock didn't present the obsticles of Rapture as something for the player to 'fight back against'.

    Imagine playing a Bioshock where the goal of the player was to stay invisible to the dangers around you. To avoid or outsmart the enemies, or set traps for them, or pit them against each other. To feel vulnerable or exposed, rather than simply shooting everything.

    I should also point out that I feel truly great storytelling and action based on shooting can co-exsist. Example: Mass Effect 2 (I get the feeling Halo Reach might be in this category as well.... Brian? ;) ). I have no problem with the combat in Mass Effect 2 for 2 reasons:

    1) it fits the story and the universe it takes place in

    2) the shooting mechanics are very well implemented and fun.

    Brian and Garnet seemed to take the discussion in the direction of "Bioshock would suck if you just took the shooting out of it", but I think the point Jeff was trying to get at (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that it would be far more interesting if Bioshock and other games like it were built from the ground up in a different way completely.... a design that wasn't focused on the need to "fight" anything...?

  • I think that the big reason shooters are so popular isn't because fans of the genre have a secret wish to shoot hundreds of people in the face, rather it''s that they enjoy the instant gratification that the shooting mechanic provides.

    Along with the instant gratification there's also the adrenaline rush one gets from surviving overwhelming odds, which then in turn allows the player to feel powerful, if not invincible, kinda like Kurt Russell's character in Big Trouble in Little China after he drinks Eggs magic potion...is it getting hot in here?

    As it's been said, once more developers figure out how to use other game mechanics for action oriented games that deliver the same level of instant gratification that shooting does then I think we'll see the video game body count began to drop.

    Personally I think sophisticated voice recognition and the ability to have full conversations within the narrative of the game might be the game changer. It could be a combination of what we've seen in Mass Effect and Call of Duty's so-called battle chatter. When a character in the game asks the player a question, we'll see hints or suggestions how to respond written in text on the screen but then we'll create the actual dialogue and speak it ourselves. Plus these moments would happen at anytime. The action wouldn't have to come to a grinding halt whenever we wanted to shoot the breeze. I'm sure that's all a long way off though.