Weekend Confirmed Episode 38

By Garnett Lee, Dec 10, 2010 12:00pm PST Two hallmarks of the season come together this episode of Weekend Confirmed. Brian got hit full force with the flu this week and is out recouperating (get well soon buddy). But this time of year always brings people together and in that spirit, joining Garnett and Jeff this week are David Ellis and Billy Berghammer. A massive show ensues. All four have been playing Cataclysm and share their different experiences both with the early and high-level content. But this isn't Warcraft Confirmed and there's more Gran Turismo 5 talk and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood to round out Whatcha' Been Playin? Your insights on the future for Modern Warfare 3 lead the Warning, where the topic of whether our expectations have risen too high for games in general. Big time game announcements in advance of the VGAs anchor the news in the Front Page.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 38 - 12/10/2010

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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: 00:29:57

Whatcha' Been Playin and Cannata-ford a New Game: Start: 00:30:54 End: 01:06:03

The Warning: Start: 01:07:05 End: 01:41:47

Music Break featuring "Shake the Heartbreak" YUG: 01:41:47 End: 01:45:07

The Front Page: Start: 01:45:07 End: 02:24:42

NFL 'Tailgate': Start: 02:25:42 End: 02:34:02

Music Break this week features 44th and Filth artist YUG with "Shake the Heartbreak". It's a massive track with a serious beat, fantastic vocals, and a great drop. "Shake the Heartbreak" is available now in both the iTunes Store and from Beatport (please support the artists who generously let us feature their music each week if you like what you hear). Connect with more from YUG at his artist page and from all their artists at the 44th and Filth Facebook page.

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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  • On the subject of why memorization is so much less excusable in shooters, I think Garnett started to make a very good point, and I'd like to finish it for him.

    The only FPS that I really played with any real amount of dedication was the SNES version of Doom, which was all I had access to at the time. I played the hell out of it (mind the pun), and before long, I had - at least in the early stages of each episode - the locations of all the monsters memorized. Once you know where the enemies are, it becomes really easy to get the jump on them, and to plan out your attack strategy in advance, and the game ceases to be challenging. Playing on the harder difficulties, the enemies themselves become much more dangerous and you can't afford to be reckless, but at the same time, you still know when and where each one is going to pop up, and after a while the whole thing ends up being completely rote.

    Stand here, strafe to the right, fire three shots, move to the other side of the hall, strafe to the left, fire three shots, wait a second, fire three more, walk up to the door, as the door opens, fire about four shots while walking backwards, backtrack to the previous hallway, lay and wait, and so on... (I'm sure most hardcore Doom players probably probably remember the steps needed to get 100% on the first stage of Knee Deep in the Dead off the top of their heads.)

    Now, this might not be the case with modern shooters, though I'm willing to bet that it is, but the thrill of a game like Doom came from the possibility of something threatening being around that next corner, and needing to constantly be alert to that threat and aware of your environment such that you have cover and/or an escape route in the event that things get hectic. When you know the placement of every enemy on the map, this ceases to be the case, as you have advance knowledge of the upcoming threats and are therefore much more in control of the situation. This is a big part of the draw of multiplayer, as other players are inherently more skilled and less predictable than AI that you ultimately do need to remain steadfast the whole time.

    In a game like Super Mario Bros, on the other hand, knowing in advance what lies up ahead gives you much less of a strategic advantage. Maybe you can get through a level faster once you know the layout, but even without that edge, you always have enough advance warning of any incoming obstacle that you can deal with it by the time it reaches you. (the exception being those maze castles, but that's a whole 'nother)

    That said, I think there are examples in other genres of games that rely on rote memorization in ways that are detrimental to the experience. Going back to the NES again, Battletoads made you memorize instant death traps, and sometimes entire levels to a degree that was inexcusable. And repeatedly dying so as to locate all the secret death traps is practically the stock and trade of so-called "platform hell" games like I Wanna be the Guy or Syobon Action.

    Any game where you need to execute a very specific set of actions with little margin for error will eventually lead to repetition and rote memorization. This is the main reason why I still haven't tried Super Meat Boy, because I know it's going to be one of *those* games.

    Thread Truncated. Click to see all 4 replies.

    • This reminds me of Far Cry 1, where all of the enemies were instanced into the map on load (as opposed to being spawned into sections when the player crosses a trigger, as was the case for games like the Soldier of Fortune series, and later on the Call of Duty series), and technically the best way to play the game was via stealth, since the enemies would stay in their scripted positions or routes, but the game got a lot more exciting if you decided to kill one mercenary with a loud weapon, which would then stir up a number of other mercenaries into either the "searching around" state (where they would sometimes shout out goofy one-liners), or into the "alert" state if they saw you. My favorite thing to do was to set off an explosion at an outpost very far off in the distance, and then walk through toward that swarm of mercs searching around, hopefully taking them all out before they get alerted. Their AI would force them to stray off of their scripted posts, and that injected a bit of variety into the game.

      Doom and Doom II were sort of the same way, where a gunshot would startle some enemies, who would then wander through the map toward your location. It would be funny and scary to have a spectre sneak up behind you for no apparent reason.

      This is why I'm disappointed in game franchises that stick so hard to the "cinematic" focus, because they're basically hogtying themselves to ultra-scripted enemy placement in a roller-coaster shooting gallery environment. And then the developers that want to do something a bit more open go all the way over to making a "sandbox RPG shooter".

      I'm disappointed that there's enough processing and rendering resources in the average gaming PC and/or console to develop a game where all of the enemy NPCs in a large zone could be instanced and active in the world, and there's enough AI expertise to program in semi-random routines to inject some varetiy (or even preprogrammed waypoints and/or routes to inject some realistic variety), but all of the developers either gravitate toward roller-coaster shooting gallery with 2-weapon inventory and regenerating health, or sandbox RPG with 2-weapon inventory, contrived annoying health system that strongly discourages adventurous exploration, and deteriorating weapons that are either difficult to find or expensive to repair.

      Maybe Rage will find this middle ground.