Weekend Confirmed Episode 32

By Garnett Lee, Oct 29, 2010 12:00pm PDT Videogame consultant and columnist N'Gai Croal joins Garnett, Brian, and Jeff on the show this week. Heavy-hitters like Star Wars Force Unleashed 2 and Fable 3 step to the plate in Whatcha' Been Playin? along with hands-on reports from Blizzcon on Diablo 3 and the upcoming custom StarCraft 2 maps. A quick consideration of whether game design stagnates at times by falling in to habits leads off the Warning which moves on to topics including whether derivative design is inherently bad and why we care so much about achievements. And wrapping it up in the Front Page are details on the relaunch of the Games for Windows Marketplace, Zenimax beefing up its development resources with the addition of Shinji Mikami's new Tango Gameworks studio, and more.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 32 - 10/29/2010

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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: 00:31:12

Whatcha' Been Playin and Cannata-ford a New Game: Start: 00:32:16 End: 01:06:30

The Warning: Start: 01:07:40 End: 01:44:34

Music Break featuring "El Cuerno": 01:44:34 End: 01:47:48

The Front Page: Start: 01:47:48 End: 02:16:09

NFL Pick Three: Start: 02:18:09 End: 02:26:30

Music Break this week features "El Cuerno" by 44th & Filth co-founder Andy Reid. Latin percussion lays a strong foundation for the track but it's the wicked horn line that really makes it possible to not get moving to. This brand new track is available now in the iTunes Music Store and on Beatport. On Facebook you can connect with both 44th & Filth and Andy Reid.

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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38 Threads* | 232 Comments

  • Garnett, you made an interesting point this week regarding achievements when you said that is playing a game a particular way was fun, then you would already be doing that. This was in response to the point that many achievements encourage the player to play in different ways, using different techniques.

    I think this can help in some cases where the achievement awards a strategy or technique that the player may not have even thought of... like if Left for Dead awarded an achievement for killing a zombie while crouching ;p

    Jokes aside, I just found an achievement in Force Unleashed 2 for using particular lightning towers to kill enemies... I haden't even realized you could do that, so in this case the achievement was used as a sort of a learning tool, and a helpful one at that.

  • ~ Discussion for The Warning ~

    Do you think former PC developers are doing a good or bad job of bringing their ideas and genres into the console space?

    There's this class of PC gamers worried about all their games being "consolified" or dumbed down. They say that BioShock is a dumbed down version of System Shock 2, that Mass Effect and Fallout 3 aren't as deep/challenging as Baldur's Gate and Fallout 2 respectively. The biggest example is what's happening to Dragon Age - the differenes between the PC and console versions as well as the new directino of Dragon Age II. They are also worried about Crysis 2.

    Do you think that trying to port games from mouse and keyboard to controller (and weaker hardware) is inevitably constricting them, or the developers just having trouble adapting to their newfound console homes? (The comparison would be to Japanese devs who've always been good at designing games around limitations).

  • I found Garnett's criticism of Fable 3's real estate system continuing after you've reached the throne to be interesting because historically monarchs have been the largest landowners, or second to the dominant church, with their lords/lesser nobles being minor landowners or landlords, lords of their land, granted titles (i.e. Duke of Windsor) to properties through heredity, conquest, or acquisition. So of course your monarch character would be chiefly involved in acquiring property, raising taxes, and evicting tenants since Fable 3 has a lightweight connection to historical realities. Revolutions throughout history have been predominantly caused by nobles raising taxes and having their occupants violently resisting so again, Fable 3 is accurate to have this as an optional role in the game play.

    As far as the expression system, I don't find it to be any better or worse than Fable or Fable 2 since none of the systems have accurately expressed how humans interact with each other beyond farting, belching, dancing, posing, etc. Still, Molyneux's series has had more serious human interactions (flirting, engagement, marriage, childbearing, child-raising, adultery) than any other rpg title I can think of.

    Perhaps people wouldn't think you are down on the game, Garnett, if you listed all the positive attributes of the title. Molyneux's reach typically exceeds his grasp, but God, I love the man for continuing to reach in what is a rather stale rpg environment since the death of epics like Baldur's Gate.

  • Brian Leahy's commentary on subscription-based multiplayer shooters got me interested:

    I think the problem with the way most companies are set up, in that... like... I can't count the number of times that a developer would be like, "Oh, we've got plans for DLC for 8 months, we've got, y'know, 12 months of DLC to get goin' on," and then either their sequel gets canceled, and they no longer have any need to link the two together, or they need to start working on the sequel and all that DLC drops away. If Treyarch were to do something where, "we're gonna kick out a bunch of content based on this subscription and... oh shit, we're NOT anymore, 'cause we need to make the next Call of Duty!" What are you paying for at that point?

    We already saw what happened with Bioshock 2: the necessary development of the PC patch, Protector Trials, and Minerva's Den was allegedly running to the point where developing it to the quality level that it could be sent to MS for GFWL certification was past the point of them moving on to their next project. Pow, end of post-release support, until two weeks later they said, "Okay, we made our PC fanbase very angry; maybe we CAN finish those."

    FPS games need to have a hard stop for post-release support because of the need to update the engine, whether it's more graphics features, a better AI system, rearchitected netcode, and so on. The average AAA title seems to need at least 18 months of development. Bioshock 2 was a game that seemed to be on a codebase that was mostly the same as Bioshock 1; I never played Bioshock 2, but that game had to have its own "widescreen fix" ( http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/62364 ), and I've seen forum posts about mouse lag in Bioshock 2 (similar to the mouselag in Bioshock 1).

    I personally wouldn't go for a subscription FPS, and I haven't even bought a DLC pack yet (though I've played plenty of Valve's free add-on content for L4D2, TF2, and Half-Life 2). I'm a bit strange, though, as I won't buy a game until I've researched that I'll really like it, and then I'll squeeze as much playtime out of that initial purchase price as possible.

  • I love well-designed achievements!

    Well-designed achievements can break you of static gaming habits, as in "I always use Ranged attacks, but there's an achievement for getting so many Melee hits, oh what the hell, hey Melee is fun, too!"

    They can be a great way to give your open world game some extra-playability and focus, as in "Shit, I can't decide which mission I want to do. Fuck it, let's go for that 'Flip the Car Five Times' achievement."

    And, they're great for boasting against friends/checking their progress, as in "Hey, it looks like we both got past the Ice Queen! But he's stupid cause I can see he didn't upgrade his fire spell all the way first! Man, I'm smart."

  • Great show once again boys!

    I couldn't decide if I wanted to talk about achievements, or The Force Unleashed 2, but I realized I could talk about both at the same time.

    First of all, I completely agree with Jeff's opinion of the game. I would actually take things even further. I played through the game on normal difficulty in 4 hours. That is a joke. Limbo took me longer to complete the first time through. When I finished the game, I was so completely shocked at the games legnth that it actually made me angry. I just spent $70 (Canadian) on this, and the best they could give me is a 4 hour game, with only 3 environments (I refuse to count the Degobah level)?

    One thing Jeff didn't mention was the bugs. Several times during the game, my character would get stuck in animation loops that would lead to my death. There are also many cutscenes throughout the game, where the camera moves away from your character to give a better view of a new enemy entering the room, during which the rest of the enemies nearby continue to shoot at you, and you continue to take damage. REALLY!!?? My character is off camera, I have no control over them, and I can still take damage? AND I CAN'T SKIP THESE CUTSCENES!!!! Oh, and my favorite bug was during the entire final level (that's 1/4 of the game), no fire effects would appear on screen. Try fighting those giant robots with flamethrowers when you can't see the fire!

    Ok... I feel a little better. Now on to the achievements.

    As I said, I felt pissed when I got to the end of TFU2. However, despite my anger, I looked at the achievements I unlocked and saw I had over 500 gamerpoints already. I am now replaying the game on the hardest difficulty, the thought process being "well, I may as well put in another 4 hours and get as many achievements out of this as I can."

    How fucked up is that?

  • LOL!

    Apathy is not a banner I'd really want to wave around, but I guess if we limit the purview to just games, then yeah, I suppose I am advocating that people care less.

    Okay, that's not entirely accurate. I'm advocating that if you don't want to care, that in itself does not mean in any way that you're having a lesser experience than someone who does, nor are you a lesser gamer, nor do you love games less than someone who does care.

    It's a game, after all, and you are the player, and short of hacking the game, you're pretty much limited to the rules imposed upon you by the game's creators... but within those rules, it's entirely up to you how you choose to play your game. Not just whether or not you watch the cutscenes, but whether or not you even remotely take the experience seriously, or even attempt to see the game through to the end, or just flick on the cheat codes and go on a crazy power trip.

    You work hard for your money, you chose to put it towards this piece of entertainment, and if you enjoy it, you'll tell your friends, and maybe they'll buy it too. Once the game's yours, you don't owe the creators anything anymore than you owe the clerk who sold it to you. I might not agree with how you play your game, I might think you're missing out, but it doesn't really matter. As long as you're NOT actively ruining the experience for other people, how you choose to play your game is nobody's business but your own.

    Care as much as you want... see if I care.