Weekend Confirmed Episode 33

By Garnett Lee, Nov 05, 2010 12:00pm PDT Microsoft unleashed the Kinect sensor add-on that brings controller-less play to the Xbox 360 and we've been playing with it and the first batch of games. But Dance Central, Kinect Adventures, and Kinect Sports aren't the only thing in Whatcha' Been Playin? The GoldenEye remake for Wii, Z.H.P., Fable 3, and more get in on the act as well. Your thoughts on videogame length, achievement systems, and the concepts of universal design spur the conversation in the Warning. We break down both sides in the challenge to California's law to prohibit the sales of violent games to minors heard by the US Supreme Court as well as rumors of a poker game headed to Xbox Live, the cancellation of NBA Elite, and more.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 33 - 11/05/2010

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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: 00:31:02

Whatcha' Been Playin and Cannata-ford a New Game: Start: 00:32:05 End: 01:06:02

The Warning: Start: 01:07:08 End: 01:42:08

Music Break featuring "Fireworks": 01:42:08 End: 01:45:36

The Front Page: Start: 01:45:36 End: 02:18:38

NFL 'Tailgate': Start: 02:19:40 End: 02:26:37

Music Break this week features "Fireworks" by yOya. This track is from their "Nothing to Die" album available on iTunes. For more from them check out the official yOya site and follow them on Facebook. And if you live in the LA area, they're playing a free show tonight, Friday, Nov 5 at 7:30 at Ground Zero with Moving Picture Show.

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 | 291 Comments
  • Great show guys.

    Really enjoyed the discussion on urgency and time limits and just wanted to share one of my best experience of urgency without the use of an obvious time limit. That experience was with Metal Gear Solid 4 in the 'microwave' segment towards the end.

    It's a typical 'hammer button to survive' moment but the sense of urgency was created by Snakes on screen behavior and my connection to him as a character. I've grown up with the MGS series and Snake is a character that I love, so having him visibly show how much pain he was in just triggered something in me and I hammered that button until I couldn't lift up arm any longer.

    Ofcourse the genius part of that scene was that he wouldn't actually move any faster, but I bet I wasn't the only person that spamed the controller believing Snake's life depended on it.

    I guess what I'm getting at is if developers can create characters like Snake, or Gordon Freeman and Alex in a way that players get attached to them, you can create urgency in much more subtle ways.

  • Just wanted to make a couple points real quick.
    On the subject game adaptability I must say that the Fable 2 combat systems came the closest to actually pulling it off that I have seen. You could easily work your way through the game button mashing if that was level you wanted, on the other hand by leveling up your abilities and learning the timing system your could perform an amazing array of combat. From shooting guns from peoples then hands quickly using three or for spells and finishing with a flourish of your sword all a small group of enemies.

    Which brings me to my next point. Which is my big problem with Fable 3. From the fade to black interactions to the teleporting to your "menu" (which luckily you do not regenerate health during) to what feels like a much less refined and enjoyable combat system and yet another teleport to your "skill tree" I find Fable 3 to be one of the least immersive games I have played in quite sometime. It feels as thought in order to players pretty swords and "the weight of the world" they end up doing just the opposite. By making the act of meeting people into a fade to black mini-game followed by a cookie cutter fetch quest they have taken any immersion out of it. The fluid way you would gather a group in fable 2 and perform their approval always put a smile on my face taking me out of the game to dance with just one player and the be dropped back into the game leaves my feeling unaffected if not annoyed. That was my favorite part of fable, feeling immersed in the world ,and with as often as they remove me from it, it has started to feel like fake and ill conceived in parts. Lionhead lost sight of it's true start in the franchise, Albion.

    Last bit comment and then I'll go. I promise...

    On the 2-3 game discussion. I feel that it is true I rarely finished 10-15 hour games that do not support the game with good mechanics and stories (which I never skip), most so recently with the amount of top tier games released this year. I think the 2-3 game market would be huge if the price was kept low enough to make a somewhat valuable option. I would love nothing more than another uncharted released in the engine that was something I could set down to play (and have my girlfriend watch) on a rainy afternoon. That being said the value for a three hour piece of entertainment has already be set by disc prices. A blu-ray is about $25-$30 new and game would have to be around that price to compete as well as have gameplay that would keep players coming back to play it on occasion.

    I lied. too many great talking points this week.

    it was mentioned that it might be a possibility to start a player a small social game like pub games and then give them the choice to branch out in a bigger experience. Fable 2 kind of tried this with the buy as you go model which I believe was said top have gone ok. What a great way to get people to try some thing new start them off small and then offer more and more of the world to at a small fee. A great way for game that has finished it sales cycle to find new legs.

    Ok, now I gotta go!

  • I had to comment on the part where the guy said games should be 2-3 hours long with the ability to go back and play it again only it being a different experience each time you play it. I would have to completely disagree with this idea. I have a limited income on games, I buy maybe 5-10 games a year, sometimes less, depending on what's coming out or what's delayed. But I don't purchase new games every month. I am a full time working adult who has to work 7 days a week, so not only is my money limited but my time is as well. So I typically play a game for at most 2 hours a day, sometimes more on the weekends cause I get off work in the afternoon. And of course there are nights when I don't play at all, so on a weekly timeframe I say I play about 10 hours a week. Now in that time frame I have plenty of time to beat a game that is only 2-3 hours long, in fact I could beat it twice, maybe even three times if the game experience actually could change that much. But after 1 week I have beaten this game 3 times, why would I want to keep playing it? And now I have this beaten game that I don't want to go through again, and it cost me 60 dollars so I don't have enough money to go buy a new game, so my systems just sit around collecting dust and I have to find something else to do with my free time? Right now I am playing Fable 3 on my Xbox and F1 on my PS3 (while I wait for NFS HP to release) and I've been playing Fable since it showed up on my doorstep, and I've not beaten it yet. Which is the point, it typically takes me at least a month or so to beat a game, sometimes longer if it has a lot of interesting side quests to do, or if I feel like getting all the trophies or achievements. So 1 game can take me a couple of months to beat like Star Ocean did, for the cost of just 60 dollars. I don't have to worry about trying to find a game to play and I don't get bored with it cause I don't play it for 8 hours or something like that in one sitting. I typically get a bit irritated at games that only last about 5-6 hours cause once I beat a game I usually can't go back and play it again unless it has a really engaging story or something. I like my games to be long, like 80 hours long like original Final Fantasy games and even more recent ones. I like long epic games, I don't want developers to give those up and go to a 2-3 hour game. Those games would not be bought by someone like myself and if that was all that was being produced that I would only go back and play my old epic games and stop buying new games all together. I think trying to compare Video games to Movies is impossible to do. A movie is just something you sit and watch with no interaction, a video game is designed to keep you the player engaged for a longer period of time to tell you their story. And it can be longer because you are engaged in the story, you are interacting with the narrative. Yeah if you were just sitting there then there is no way a person could sit through a 60+ story line like FF VII. Well my thoughts are a bit jumbled as you can tell, but I think you get my points. I think a 2-3 hour game would be destructive to the video game industry and I for one hope developers get back to more epic length games. Just because some people don't like them doesn't mean everyone won't like them. There are still plenty of people who want long games, and I applaud studios who make long story line games.

  • On the subject of the 2-3 hour games thing, the PC version of Portal could be bought by itself for $30 I think (now $20) and it was a roughly four-hour experience that felt complete. Would you like to live in a world were more singleplayer retail games were like this - shorter but also cheaper?

    Technically we already have $15 downloadable games, but I still feel like there's too wide a gulf between those and $60 games, both in price and production values. Do you think we may ever see more games of the size and production value of Portal (or either of the Half-Life episodes) in the downloadable space for $20-$30?

  • Regarding some wacky terrain features that were going to be in the defunct game, Ignition, poster JingleTard has come out of the closet as a hater of "nifty terrain stuff." http://www.shacknews.com/laryn.x?id=24490409#itemanchor_24490409

    He asserts that this is merely a gimmick, and cites the Red Faction franchise as another example where these alleged gimmicks impede his appreciation of the game.

    Now, that might be one perspective, but there was nothing more satisfying than taking apart entire buildings piece-by-piece in RF:G. The gameplay itself wasn't too bad and the challenges were surprisingly fun. It's one I look forward to replaying in the future.

    So is it a gimmick? Maybe, but a fairly effective one, considering it turned a mediocre game into something extraordinarily memorable.

    I remember one friend confiding in me that she refused to play Half Life because she felt as if the "long jump" maneuver (as necessary to navigate Xen) was a gimmick. And the same could be said of the gravity gun... Two excellent games that include what was construed as a gimmick. Still, remove the gravity gun and do you still have an excellent gam experience in Half Life 2?

    I posit this question to the WC Warning: In gaming, what constitutes a gimmick in video gaming? Does it count as a gimmick if the feature arguably enhances a gameplay experience? Can a game be founded entirely on a gimmick be insulated from the ridicule by virtue of its design or story? How gimmicky does a game need to be before it enters the territory of absurdity shared with the wackier titles by indie developers? What sorts of "gimmicks" would you like to see in games?

  • I was as pleasantly surprised as you were. After a year battling to get off MW2, with a few relief moments provided by Heavy Rain and Limbo, I finally broke the habit and have been COD free for ehm 3 days. Kinect Sports was impressive to me because after awhile I forgot I was playing a game, it felt like a new activity. The one thing you didn't mention during the podcast is the Xbox Live experience which once again makes all the difference in the world. Playing soccer or table tennis against opponents over XBL is awesome and what drives my extended play time - without it I would probably not have spent that much time with the game. For the record I do have Move and gave it a try but while more precise it just doesn't offer anything new and worth for me to continue investing time and money, been there done that with Wii.

    Great Show, keep it up

  • So the subject of the 2 hour highly polished experience came up and there are a couple of issues with it.

    1. Price. That’s a big issue. Some of you may say, yeah I’ll pay $60 for a highly polished 2 hour experience but when another studio puts out a 10 hour experience that’s just as polished for the same price which one are you more likely to buy? Plus I know this is more aimed at mainstream gamers but if any of you have friends like me who aren’t as big of a gamer as we are they tend to seek us out for recommendations. I don’t think I can recommend a 2 hour game that’s $60. And those recommendations do add up.

    2. Accessibility. A big theme this generation has been the discovery by many devs that their games might be too hard for the mainstream audience. Well a highly polished 2 hour game that’s supposed to be $60 is probably going to be introducing some new gameplay mechanics right. So how much of that 2 hour time limit do you spend getting the gamer comfortable with that mechanic? As big of a gamer as I am a tutorial is still necessary for me to get comfortable with a games mechanics. So how much of the time is devoted to that? How do you fit that into the narrative given this new standard? Speaking of narrative…

    3. Storytelling. Jeff said in response to a statement Brian was making “You can tell a story in a film in 2 or 3 hours”. Ever since games moved from primarily 2d to mainly 3d they’ve been trying to mimic movies in terms of storytelling and have failed at this. Games are not movies. Making a narrative focused 2-3 hour AAA game would worsen the already poor storytelling found in games. Movies require nothing from the person it’s presented to. You sit down, relax, and watch. The director tells the story and takes you were he wants to take you, the actors act out their role, and it ends the same every single time you see it. Games by their very nature require you to interact with it. This should change how the story is presented. Compare The Dark Night to Batman AA. Both executed the story in their given mediums fantastically. While the Dark Night told a masterful story in 2+ hours Arkum Asylum told a similarly great story in 15+ hours. Neither felt too long and both left me wanting more but for different reasons. So for arguments sake lets then try to make the narrative focus Batman AA a 2-3 hour experience. So like the Dark Night we can only deal with Joker instead of have a more varied group of villains. So Ivy, Bane, Croc, and the Brilliant scarecrow parts are out. Also since the game is so constrained for time we have to choose between the Combat encounters and the predator encounters. So we get rid of the predator encounters since the fighting may seem more fun. Also all the Riddler challenges are out and also all the Easter Eggs. So now we have a 2 hour game somewhere with all the interesting stuff out. That’s what we want right. I could go on about this but what do you guys think of my points?

  • I don't agree with making two hour games at a $60 price point. I've already stated in my last comment the problem with high price points and shorter games, so I'll just skip on ahead to my next point.

    I really don't think there are THAT many gamers who will consistently and constantly play all of their games for ONLY two or three hours. Of my groups of friends that I've had over the years, I've met only a handful of people (maybe two or three, being gracious) that will tell me they are in the habit of paying full price for a game and only playing a couple of hours of it before shelving it for good.

    In fact, I would say it's the opposite. Many of my friends enjoy games that they can sit down and play like mad on a rainy day. They like a game they can play for several hours, shelve, and then come back to a few days or a week later.

    Yes, you can get a full narrative out of a movie in two hours, but that doesn't mean the same should always be said for games. The first and most obvious factor is that you will never have to spend $60 to watch a two hour movie. You spend $10-$25 to see it, depending on if you watch it in theater or on a DVD, but even then less and less people are paying these prices. I think Netflix is a good indicator of how people feel about these short media experiences. Why pay $10-$25 for each movie when you could just spend $15 each month and watch as many movies as you'd like?

    The second factor is that movies are strictly presentation. They are SHOWING you that these events are happening. In video games, the strongest point has always been that you are DOING these things. That you are in control and that you are experiencing these events first hand. By this very nature, I think you'll find that it's a lot harder to convey a full epic story in just a couple of hours through a video game than you would through a movie.