Weekend Confirmed Episode 35

By Garnett Lee, Nov 19, 2010 12:20pm PST

Thanksgiving might be a week away but the new release feast is in full swing. After a couple of quick follow ups to last week's Black Ops coverage, Garnett, Brian, and Jeff serve up Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, 007: Blood Stone, and Donkey Kong Country Returns as the main dishes in Whatcha' Been Playin? The reactionary commentary of ESPN's 1st and Ten cast in response to Kobe's appearance in the Black Ops ads starts off the Warning. Your thoughts on shooter fatigue, urgency without a ticking clock, and more take the conversation right up to the Front Page. October's NPD sales numbers and Bizarre Creation's uncertain future headline a full slate of news.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 35 - 11/19/2010

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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: 00:31:07

Whatcha' Been Playin and Cannata-ford a New Game: Start: 00:32:10 End: 01:03:58

The Warning: Start: 01:05:08 End: 01:37:16

Music Break featuring "Never Get 2 See U Again": 01:37:16 End: 01:40:30

The Front Page: Start: 01:40:30 End: 02:11:14

NFL 'Tailgate': Start: 02:12:15 End: 02:20:42

Music Break this week features "Never Get 2 See U Again" by Beta. Chris Contreras aka Beta is an emcee and aspiring filmmaker hailing from Southern California. The Hip Hop culture and movies have made a huge impact in his life, and to his work. Beta is also an avid gamer. "Never Get 2 See U Again" is a collaboration between Beta and his brother Brandon Menace (who is currently in the military stationed in Japan). He has known and worked with Tak/Ribkat from the acclaimed groups Fort Minor and Styles of Beyond, for many years. For more from Beta, keep up with him on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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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58 Threads* | 298 Comments
  • Dear Jeff Cannata - I typically enjoy your point of view but I found it incredibly offensive when you claimed that the ESPN overreaction to videogames was somehow related to the Protestant history of our country. I, being a Conservative protestant Christian, personally am tired of the videogame industry blaming the Christians (particularly conservative protestant Christians) for the overreaction to violence in videogames. While it is a very fringe group of Protestants who are part of the anti-violent videogame noise, it is not the majority. The fact is, similar to other demographics, this is typically the viewpoint of older individuals who have no experience playing them.

    I have been a youth pastor and many weekends were spent with my students playing these types of games, in the same way we got together to play football. This is more of the norm than you may think. Before marginalizing and blaming the "right", the "religious, or the "Protestant" please do not marginalize our beliefs.

    Thank You.

  • First, fantastic show guys. I complained about last week's episode being too much Black Ops and I've been so happy with all the different games you've touched upon this week.

    I really hope you'll get back to RDR as Jeff suggested because no one I know has finished the game, and I'd love to hear what Jeff's thoughts were.

    One complaint...

    Garnett, it's a bit of the old pot calling the kettle black for you to criticize the ESPN guys for criticizing Kobe's involvement in the ad and their alleged ignorance of the topic when you so cavalierly disregarded Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood earlier in the show for having the real estate system and then throwing Fable 3 under the bus again for good measure for also having real estate once you are crowned.

    You admit you disliked AC1 and then confess to never having played AC2 but then criticize another title you haven't played, AC:B, for implementing a real estate system that in your ignorant opinion has no place in the game.

    If you had played AC2, you would realize that your character inherits an estate, so again, he is nobility and a landlord, and it is perfectly natural for him to sell and acquire properties as part of the realistic nature of the game. In a nutshell, THE DEVELOPERS WERE RIGHT TO INCLUDE IT IN BOTH GAMES BECAUSE IT RINGS TRUE TO THE HISTORY AND THEIR VISION.

    I even pointed this out a few weeks ago regarding Fable 3 on the boards of your own show---which really doesn't have that many comments and was near the top of the page---about royalty owning land and being referred to as landlords. The show is Weekend Confirmed, so I imagine you'd read the boards of your own show.

    I get that you are not an expert on history, but how about phrasing your remarks like this in the future?

    "So I hear AC:B has real estate purchases like Fable 3, which rings false to me because I wouldn't expect that in these titles. Does it makes sense to you, Jeff or Brian, in this game world? Well, I guess I'll have to hold comment on that until I've played AC2 or perhaps that's an aspect of the history or world I don't understand."

    Kudos to Brian for being the voice of reason and saying that it's just people of different worlds speaking their mind and out of turn on topics they are largely ignorant of, so the only reason I brought this up is so you can get off your high horse, Garnett, and admit you are guilty of the same thing you condemn.

  • The single player campaign in the Call of Duty franchise is no longer a roller coaster ride. Few! Thank God that's over with.

    Nope, now it's more like jumping out of a airplane without a parachute. It's a brief, intense, rapid paced experience that inevitably ends in a huge ridiculous mess.

    As long as people want to take the plunge, developers and Activision are going to be more than happy to keep kicking people out of the cargo hold, or flushing them out of the air lock, or trapping them in floating mirror with Zod, or nuking them from orbit because it's the only way to be safe. What I'm I talking about?

  • Oh yeah, also to comment on the urgency thing: I don't mind the ticking timer, especially when their is a hud on screen that already takes away from full emersion.

    For those games that do try and sink you into an experience by removing the hud, they can just give you something visual in the environment, like water rising or an object coming closer to you, to tell time.

    So an avalanche is coming, you have 3 minutes to evac, BUT you don't want that ticker on screen. Well first you make sure that the avalanche is visible. Then you give the player a set amount of time, like someone says over intercom, "Oh crap! An avalanche is coming!! You have approximately 3 minutes to evac!!! Get that computer chip and get out of there!!!!". So now you have a mental time frame, you can see the avalanche slowly creepy towards you, you have an objective to complete within that time frame, and now you should feel some urgency.

    As for a bomb exploding, i'd just have a guy yelling over intercom, "you have 30 secs"....."you have 10 secs". Or in the environment, place screens in the map every so often that'll give allow you to see the time that's left. Of course that need to be in the right context, like a command station that has a self-destruct button and screens that displayed the self-destruct time but yeah....you get my point hopefully

    So yeah thats my solution Making it an environmental timer, rather than a obvious clock above your head would deal with Jeff's problem i think.

  • I don't see buyers remorse setting in for me with Kinect for two big reasons.

    1. I have enough space to leave Kinect set up and it not be a hassle to get it up and running.

    2. I am using the device mainly as a workout aid.

    I have been wanting to get in better shape for a long time. Wii Fit was too much hassle, and the board felt flimsy. The controller didn't feel responsive at all and I hated how obvious it was that I could cheat the game by just flicking my wrists rather than actually work out.

    Yourself Fitness is providing great motivation to keep working out, and doesn't feel as punitive as Wii Fit did at times. I am also eating better. So, Kinect is a part of a lifestyle change for myself and my wife. Moving with Kinect is much more of a full body activity than playing with the Move or Wii remotes. While I think those two have some fine (even great) applications, they have not become a part of my everyday life like Kinect has in such a short time.

    I don't think Kinect is perfect by any means, and I definitely don't think my situation applies to a wide swath of gamers, but so far I am very happy with it.

  • Long time listener but this time i actually had something to say!

    In regards to how we would change Blops, i didn't like the way everyone was so set on drastically changing the way Cod operates. Instead of "how would you improve Cod?" it seemed like it turned into "how would you improve a shooter".

    Cod is NOT a sand box shooter, and while i wouldn't hate it if it turned into one, it'd loose a lot of what makes it exciting and it might as well just be another game. Cod games, at least to me, are all about the cinematic experience. Whether it was a realistic world war shooter, or a modern roller coaster ride, it always lead you through a short, linear, movie like experience; not the long, methodical, book like experience you might have in a game like Half Life 1 and 2.

    With that said, the Cod experience is not perfect. The ways they could change it would be to, like i believe Brain, add some type of competent AI and remove the enemy closet. This way, when you do die, its not just a game of shoot here, move here, shooter there, move there, every single time you respawn. Then, and i hate remove this Cod staple, plus it's hypocritical of me to do this, but remove the jumping to and from different locations, characters, and times. Why i say this is because all that jumping back and forth is confusing and doesn't give you much time to resonate with the characters at all. Blops made a change for the better by keeping its focus on just 1 character's story but even though, all the jumping still felt sporadic. Also by cutting the jumps, you can allow for team dynamics. Maybe follow a team of man and women, and interact with them instead of keeping it limited to one man's story; a Medal of Honor scenario, done better basically.

    I still want them to keep they're roller coaster ride stories, they're fun; but with AI and a little editing to the way they tell their story, i think the SP of another Cod with those 2 changes would feel fresh

    (sorry this is so late haha. also sorry if this doesn't read well, college is stressing me out, can't wait for Thanksgiving break)

  • I would like to throw in my two cents on the debate over sense of urgency in games without the use of a ticking clock.

    Heavy Rain

    The scene with Shelby and Lauren trapped in a sinking car, with the glass cracking and water rushing in, I can't think of a single scene in any other game that had me rushing to figure out how to escape in time.
    But the other reason I like this scene, there is NO fail state, they create such a perfect sense of urgency through the sounds and visuals of the car taking on water but if you just let the controller sit nothing will happen.

    Heavy Rain is actually full of these moments, and I think we should see more of this and less of the clock.

  • On the show Garnett was trying to convey what it is he likes about Call of Duty, narrowing it down to the feel of the guns. I think that really comes form the responsiveness of the controls.

    This generation, Call of Duty is almost the only shooter that runs at 60 frames per second on consoles. A while ago Eurogamer did an article that showed that framerate has a big impact on how much lag there is between a button and the action on screen, which in turn affects how tight the controls feel.
    You can find the article here: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-lag-factor-article

    Beyond framerate, developers also have to make sure to code the game to make sure the controls don't feel laggy. Apt comparisons might be between Heavenly Sword and Ninja Gaiden, or between LittleBigPlanet and Super Mario Bros.

    They figured out that developers in certain genres always make sure to have 60fps AND the most responsive controls. These included fighting games, racing games, and music games, but not shooters. Running at 30fps (which most shooters do) limits the twitch response to begin with, and certain cases like Killzone 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV add bad coding to the mix.

    The only shooter Eurogamer tested that matched the responsiveness of the fighters, racers, and music games was Call of Duty.

  • I liked hearing the part about "what I'd like to see in a Modern Warfare 3", especially the main 3 things that you guys wanted: more open-world-esque segements, better NPC AI, and more HUD customizability to do things like turning off the waypoint indicator after you've basically memorized the generic route, or if you want a more "go forth and explore" play experience, instead of "follow waypoint X".

    However, I really don't see the Call of Duty franchise fulfilling any of those requests, for the following reasons:

    - AI is a complex thing to code, especially AI that does complex analysis of what the player is doing, and isn't just a simple "run script X and follow behavior Y after the player has crossed trigger brush Z" routine. There are a relative few FPS games noted for their good reactive AI, and the Call of Duty series isn't among them. Even the few less-linear levels in the series (the first Hill 400 level in Call of Duty 2 where you're clearing out the houses, and Safehouse in Call of Duty 4 where you're... clearing out the houses) are heavily triggered to spawn enemies when you're drawing close to a region.

    - Creating open levels in FPS games is apparently pretty hard to refine. I'm not a developer, so I don't know firsthand, but I'm guessing that there's more elements to worry about, more playtesting to perform, and so it would make the development cycle longer. Far Cry had some great "open objective-oriented" levels that let you explore around while still trying to head to point B, but it also had some levels that ended up being duds (particularly the Dam level).

    - Apparently, developers have been taking too much pride in their UI design to consider allowing for customizability. I like the "compass at the bottom of the screen" system of CoD4 better than the "HUD dot right in your view saying 'Follow' over Brooks' head" approach, but there's nothing I can do about it, because I don't believe there's a setting for it in Game Options. It would be pretty hard for me to adjust and test my mouse sensitivity with a slider buried two levels deep in a game menu (once upon a time I could pop down the console, query for the current sensitivity, type in a new sensitivity, and test it right there by moving the mouse). None of the sliders show their numeric value (possibly because the developer doesn't want you to know the range of this value).

    - Call of Duty's dev cycle is written in stone as 2 years. It's what Activision has been doing since the first game sold so well back in holiday 2003. They want to deliver one Call of Duty title each year, so they can't let any of their developers take an extra year on their title, as that would mean a year without Call of Duty. Therefore, they've focused on the Bruckheimer-Baysplosion genre of heavily-scripted shooters without much AI and with small, streamlined corridor maps interspersed with railshooter vehicle segments. Those are relatively easy to develop within 18 months while making enhancements to the engine tech, and following up later with DLC map packs. But apparently, things are changing around a bit with the IW shakeup and Raven rumored to be helping out with post-release content on Black Ops (that rumor was back in the late spring, so we'll have to wait and see if it's valid). Sledgehammer's pinned as having the "Call of Duty space" title, but they've only had one year to break ground and start working on a title that's probably coming out in holiday 2011.

    Like I said before, I don't think 2 years is enough development time to make a game that goes beyond what the Call of Duty series delivers, which I think is rather good, but always seems to be missing that extra something to make it excellent. Valve has Valve Time, and Steam to bring in revenue, so they have the luxury of refining longer.

  • Before I forget: there was the mention of whether Black Ops is truly a Call of Duty game. By the same logic, is Bioshock Infinite truly a Bioshock game?

    Call of Duty started with a number of unique features back in 2003: iron sight aiming (this was very rare in FPS games back then, as polycount was still too low for usable iron sights; the real John Mullins mentioned wanting to see it in a Soldier of Fortune game back when he was interviewed prior to SoF2's release, and America's Army was the biggest significant FPS title with it back then, unless I'm missing a few prior historical games), class-based multiplayer with TDM, CTF-style, and other objective-based modes, and a linear cinematic single-player gameplay. Black Ops still fits that rather nicely.

    Bioshock had plasmids alongside weapons, and tonics to upgrade, as well as a deeper single-player storyline with NPC back stories. Back when Bioshock Infinite was revealed, there were plenty of people saying "This isn't Bioshock!", but Ken Levine said that it was, for the reasons listed above.