Weekend Confirmed Episode 31

By Garnett Lee, Oct 22, 2010 12:00pm PDT Garnett, Brian, and Jeff confirm what's sure to be an awesome weekend (and week to come). The festivities kickoff in Whatcha Been' Playin? with Medal of Honor, Rock Band 3, Costume Quest, Fallout: New Vegas, and more. Our skipping cutscenes discussion became the most talked about subject this past week and leads off the Warning. There's also the question of how well shooters handle the sensitivities of real-world situations and whether game designs include things like crouching simply out of habit. A full slate of news wraps the show up in the Front Page with Patrice Desilets' new THQ Montreal studio, Kinect adding support for seated players, Steam posting tremedous growth stats, and more.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 31 - 10/22/2010

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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: 00:31:19

Whatcha' Been Playin and Cannata-ford a New Game: Start: 00:32:23 End: 01:07:37

The Warning: Start: 01:08:47 End: 01:45:11

Music Break featuring "Good Times Remix": 01:45:11 End: 01:48:30

The Front Page: Start: 01:48:30 End: 02:19:29

NFL Pick Three: Start: 02:20:30 End: 02:31:10

Music Break this week features a reprise of Ongaku's "Good Times" remixed by and featuring the lyrics of our own Del Rio. He was inspired to pen the verses when he heard the song the first time, contacted Ongaku to setup this collaboration, and the result speaks for iteslf.

Original music in the show by Del Rio. Get his latest single, Small Town Hero on iTunes. Check out more, including the Super Mega Worm mix and other mash-ups on his ReverbNation page or Facebook page.

Jeff can also be seen on The Totally Rad Show. They've gone daily so there's a new segment to watch every day of the week!

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.

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51 Threads | 262 Comments

  • Garnett, I wanted to address the point you brought up regarding players being able to make their own decisions about whether or not it's worth it to continue with a game (or book or movie) that isn't grabbing you. It is certainly every person's right to make the decision to drop a game that he isn't enjoying after an hour, or a movie that's uninteresting after fifteen minutes, or a book that's too slow in the first chapter. Nobody owes any responsibility to an artist to complete the experience of an offered work, and the judgment about the value of our time and effort in engaging with a piece of art can only be made by ourselves.

    On the other hand, by making the choice to abandon any piece of art that doesn't grab you quickly, you are almost certain to be cutting yourself off from works that you would ultimately find to be worthwhile. There are works of art in every medium that start slowly but by the end achieve something transcendent. Not every piece that starts slowly will pay off in the end, and even if I think that a particular piece's ending makes it worthwhile, you might have a different opinion if you force yourself through it. So I certainly can't say that you or anyone should always force yourself to finish every game, book, or movie you start. Especially since there are also pieces of art that end well and also start quickly. But the fact remains that you might be missing out on something that would otherwise be the best thing you ever experience.

    Now, that in itself isn't such a huge deal, since in the end you're only hurting yourself, and most likely this is a trade-off that you're making consciously. The problem arises when enough of the audience shuns a slow burn that publishers become unwilling to finance or distribute such works. The reasons why that kind of mass shift in the audience's willingness to engage with a slower work are going to be complex and certainly beyond the scope of an Internet comment to fully explore, and even if I could figure it out, I don't know what would need to happen to change the audience, nor even whether changing the audience would be the right thing to do. But it still seems like it would be a tragedy if it weren't possible for a great but slow game, movie or book to get made.

  • Something to possibly discuss on the Warning:

    To me, this month has been absolutely insane with regards to the sheer volume of game releases. However reading reviews and through discussion with various people, some of the games that have come out appears to really fall short from the potential shown when they were demo'd at conventions and such, with the most recent being Star Wars: The Force Unleased 2, where it appeared that the game mechanics were improved from the previous game but the story felt unfinished, Medal of Honor and Fallout New Vegas with their bug and glitch issues.

    Now I don't think its new to have a mass of games appear roughly around the same time, but just this year, I get the impression that all these games have been rushed out, just to get something out there to compete. Actually when the whole 'taliban' controversy was made aware for Medal of Honor, I was surprised at how late that news came out in relation to the release date of the game, which had me wondering how finished this game really would be.

    The main thing I was wondering is if there should be a mandatory period for QA after a game is 'finished', regardless of the release date. Basically if QA is not passed, then a delay should be imminent. Obviously one should not have it go as long as Duke Nukem Forever. Afterall, it does suck to have a great game that is either mired in bugs and glitches that break the experience, or a great game that ends up feeling like a beta campaign.


    In fact, it's pretty much common sense. Friendly fire is on by default in that game. Why? Because they want players to be aware of each other and work as a TEAM. Team work has ALWAYS been a strong point of Left 4 Dead. If you're just standing there and shooting in circles, you're going to piss off your team. Crouching allows you to shoot from whatever point you want, even if it's directly in front of someone else. Doing this not only creates a wall of fire, it keeps the team close together and makes it harder for anyone to get over run or dragged away.

    In a game that slaps you in the face with the concept of team work, however loose you coordination is, I don't get why this wouldn't occur to anyone.

    There are also plenty of moments where you're not only moving slow, you're at a complete stand still. A wall of bullets would be a great thing to use against a wall of zombies during any of the dozens of times you wait for a horde to show up while you hunker down in one spot.

    P.S. Using your radar in Halo is NOT cheating, and crouching to sneak around without showing on the radar isn't cheating either.

    If you disagree at all, I challenge you to ask any of these developers face-to-face what their opinion is on this.

  • Garnett, if you were blanking on a game which has essentially useless crouching, look at Bioshock. The only time you manually crouch is to get into vents or under decks. This mechanic could easily be replaced by code that says, "I'm pressing towards a vent, I want to crouch." At no other time during the game does the A.I. respond differently whether I'm standing or crouching. They locate and shoot me with the same perceived effectiveness in either case.

    Crouch is a mechanic that affects the way other entities (either player or non-player) relate to you. If crouching does not affect the way those other beings relate to you, then it may be omitted.

    There is a reason crouch has become a mainstay in FPS games. In many games, crouching also increases your accuracy and decreases recoil (eg: Counter Strike). These are elements of realism that are designed into a game that have a significant impact on the gameplay to create balance and strategy.

    Also, Jeff, saying that it's "ridiculous" to be moving around on your knees in a FPS game parallels the ridiculousness of running around holding a gun out, ready to fire. Nobody in the armed forces walks or runs from place to place with their gun held to their shoulder while looking down their sites. You can't just bring that point up in a vacuum without acknowledging that many "ridiculous" gameplay elements exist, are prevalent and are required in order to produce an effective FPS experience.

    If you want to talk about gameplay elements that are used simply because it's the norm, what about RPG elements? Cliff Blezinsky even admitted in an interview that the Gears 2 leveling/ranking system added absolutely nothing, NOTHING, to the gameplay. Why did they put it in? Because other games did it and they wanted to superficially give players a reason to hold onto the game longer. That's it.

    I think this topic had the potential to expand into a broader and deeper discussion, but you guys got too focused on the crouching (Garnett included).

  • Have you ever gone back to a game you loved or hated and felt the total opposite?

    I recently picked up my old copy Dragon Age, a game that I loved when it first came out, and was completely bored to tears. It was so strange because I was excited to see the different viewpoint of playing one of the origin stories I had not chosen my first time, but the combat seemed terribly slow and I was horrible annoyed by the dialog and situational redundancies that I ran into.

    Conversely, while trying Killzone 2 again after being underwhelmed my first time playing it I found that the slightly sluggish control, the over-the-top cussing, and the barely-there story bothered me much less than it had the first time through. I actually found myself getting pumped for Killzone 3, which was just barely on my radar before.

    Just last night I tried Heavenly Sword again after being obsessed with Enslaved for the last few weeks, and found that game to be just as weak as I had when I first played it. Sure, it looks great and the story is extremely entertaining, but the weak exploration elements and slight depth made the experience just as murky as it was when I first played.

    Have any of you ever gone back to a game and felt radically different than you did when you played it the first time?

  • Love the podcast.
    However, regarding crouching in game, Garnett, have you ever even played L4D? The whole over/under crouching thing isn't some advanced strategy, it was easy to figure out and is something that was born organically by just playing the game. I think the first time I ever played it we were all using it. It adds a lot to the game, not to mention other games.
    Like Brian mentioned in Halo, crouching can be used as a strategy that has it's pros and cons. Of course it makes you slower, that's the downside of not being able to be seen on the radar, etc. If you don't like crouching, maybe just don't crouch. I don't see how removing it would add anything to the game, especially in L4D where it's a pretty integral to the experience.

  • Im Happy with my console for the moment.

    Firstly, love the podcast, great to listen to people chatting about the details of the gaming world.

    Following dicussions on whether we are ready for the next generation of consoles, I am happy with my PS3. I would probably have a 360 too if I could afford and justify to keep both. The PS3 in my house is used for gaming, media streaming and my mother gets a lot of use from displaying pictures and music when she hold events around our house. I also like to commit to a product, I have a Playstation Plus membership, aswell as a FirstPlay membership (paid weekly episodes, on PSN done by the same team as OPM UK) . I recently bought Move too, as the Wii simply being a SD console has me struggling to get one.

    The PS3 fills my needs for the time being. If Sony were to release a PS4 in the next 2 years I would struggle to convince myself to get one. The current console are still pushing more out and with innovations such as Kinect and Move, there is easily enough to keep us going another 4 years.

    Finally to cover the PC spectrum. I stopped playing PC games because the time and cost of keeping a machine up to date is exhausting. I have though committed myself to build a super machine if and when Half Life (EP) 3 is released. Until then im happy with what I have.

  • On the topic of crouching (having now listened to that discussion)...I think the point Garnett was trying to make was getting lost, perhaps because the examples that he used weren't the best. I think some games DO benefit by having crouch...but some really don't. Quake 2 had crouch...and it felt out of place...they had to come up with places in maps where you'd use it tha seemed forced and in multiplayer you always wanted to be moving and moving quickly. It didn't really add depth there...it was really a sort of useless thing that was kind of tossed in because, hey, people can crouch and Duke Nukem did it. Quake 3 had the same issue, it didn't hurt anything being in there...it just wasn't really a useful thing to have. Quake 1 didn't have it and that game wasn't hurt for its absense. For those sorts of games (fast-paced deathmatch games) I'm not sure if there's a compelling reason to have it. As an aside, Brian mentioned CS being a fast paced game...but thats a relative thing...I always felt that CS was fairly slow paced when it came out coming from a DOOM and Quake background.

    Hell, I'd argue that footsteps were maybe a mistake in Q2 and Q3...it actually took depth away, because it reduced the importance of using item pickup cues to know where someone was on the map...and as those games and Q1/QW are played now...there's an emergent choice that arises from movement tricks that IMHO already allows for that depth...if you want to move silently in Q1 you just run...if you want to move faster (with the trade-off being that you make noise) you bunny-hop (or strafe-jump in Q2 and Q3...though they have footsteps). I've been toying around with making a free FPS game based on the XReal source port of the GPL'd Quake3 engine that would basically be an oldschool DM game in the vein of DOOM or Quake...and I actually have given thought to removing crouching...as it would add nothing to the game that I would be making (and probably won't be making, as I don't have nearly enough free time and right now I'm focused on helping out a Q3 mod team who's stuff I dearly love).

    I think part of where Brian's argument was coming from was for specific kinds of games (and L4D was a bad bad example from Garnett and I think the discussion got hung up on those examples). I also think that Brian tends to come from a very Halo oriented view on competitive multiplayer FPS games because thats what he likes...so that was going to make his stance more rigid. I think that in Halo given its design crouch makes sense for what the developers wanted to do there (though if they'd wanted to remove crouching and radar that would be an equally valid approach and its perfectly fine to take issue with those things in general...otherwise Brian couldn't take issue with things in Ruse or prefer SC2 to it or DoW). Holy shit I got off-topic there.

    What I'm trying to get at is that crouching should be put in or left out on a game by game basis...its a design decision. In some games you won't be taking cover...because moving is your cover...you should never be not moving...and you should never be crouching behind something...in some FPS games you really should be moving toward or away from something...its all about that sort of dynamic and I think the ability to do that, to adjust to fluid circumstances, and to think quickly adds a lot of depth to those old school games that I think we've lost to this fallacy that a slower pace means more time to think so there's more strategy if things are slower. Thats not necessarily true and there's a skill to being able to do a lot of thinking in a little bit of time. I'm not saying that slower paced games are lacking, just that they are different rather than better or worse. And pacing might be one of many factors to consider (as well as what sort of game it is) in determining if a feature (like crouch) is needed.

    Finally, I'll note (and end my rambling) that this discussion of crouching actually got me noticing how much and when I crouched when I was playing BF:BC2 today...and got me wondering if they finally added in toggle crouch...I discovered that they did and I checked it and rejoiced. I like having the option of either holding or toggling the crouch (and the aim down the sights feature if a game has it)...I don't find it comfortable at all to have a button mashed down and a finger made useless in a game...I have a hard time moving my mouse around with the right button held...and I really hate contorting my fingers to get to my movement keys (ESDF) with crouch held down. I really think all games on the PC should offer the option to do it either way...its a preference thing just like mouse sensitivity and different people are going to want different things (I get the impression that archvile is going to want to hold and let go of those buttons and if thats whats comfortable to him, he should have that option).

  • Great show again this week guys. I wanted to address the topic of player choices in games and the content that is triggered or locked out because of those choices. The problem with games that lock out content due to player choice is that they essentially create a right way to play the game and a wrong way to play the game. If you want all the characters/ side missions/ achievements/ etc., you have to play a certain way.

    In order for player choice to have true meaning for the game, developers need to add or lock out content regardless of choice. If I choose to blow up Megaton or not recruit Wrex, I need an opportunity for an equivalent experience somewhere down the line that opens up specifically because of those choices.

    One series that handles this situation pretty elegantly is Persona. In Persona 3 and 4, all of your social link content is laid out in front of you. With the time constraints that the game has in place, it is almost impossible to see all of the content. You have to choose what you want to see and what you want to ignore. If you want to hang out with the basketball team over working at day care, that's up to you. Sure, you can go to day care another day, but you might have to pass up another social link opportunity to do so.

    Ultimately, it comes down to freedom vs. restriction. If players are free to do as they choose and given the tools to open up all content, they inevitably restrict themselves to the path that offers the greatest returns. If players are restricted to systems that limit their content regardless of choice, they are free to do whatever they please.