Weekend Confirmed Episode 42

By Garnett Lee, Jan 07, 2011 12:00pm PST Everyone is excited to get back in the studio for this first show of 2011. Though new releases cooled over the holidays, Garnett, Brian, and Jeff have plenty of stories for Whatcha Been Playin? Catch up time includes classics like Uncharted 2 and more recent titles such as Vanquish and Bad Company 2 "Vietnam". Jeff got in some time with a new game too; he has mixed feelings about Lost in Shadow, though. Your responses to how much a review score determines whether a game is worth playing get the conversation started in the Warning. There's even a little homework for next week too on a couple of subjects we'd like to get your thoughts on. And in the news, we've got a look at the video game stories coming out of CES from Microsoft's press conference to handheld gaming PC concept by Razer, indie games nominated for IGF awards, and more.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 42 - 01/07/2011

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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: 00:28:56

Whatcha' Been Playin? and Cannata-ford: 00:30:00 End: 01:03:52

The Warning: 01:04:40 End: 01:37:52

Featured Music "Baba Yetu" by Christopher Tin: 01:37:52 End: 01:41:22

The Front Page: Start: 01:41:22 End: 02:08:20

Tailgate Playoffs Wild Card Special: Start: 02:09:21 End: 02:19:07

The Featured Music segment presents the Grammy nominated track "Baba Yetu" by Christopher Tin. This theme song for Civilization IV has become something of a hit in the video game community. After the game came out in 2005, Tin re-recorded the song as the first track of his debut album Calling All Dawns, which came out last year. This new recording is recorded by the Soweto Gospel Choir and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Tin went to London's famous Abbey Road Studios to record the orchestra, and then down to Johannesburg, South Africa to record the choir; and, it was mixed at Eargasm Studios. It has won awards in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, International Songwriting Competition, USA Songwriting Competition, and now it's gunning for the biggest award of all... the Grammy.

Billboard picked "Baba Yetu" as one of their nominations to watch. It's up for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists and Tin's Calling All Dawns is up for Best Classical Crossover Album.

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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32 Threads* | 115 Comments

  • I have been soo busy and I just finished the podcast. I am so glad to hear (I think it was Jeff) talk about Mount and Blade Warband. I also picked it up recently and it's one of my favorite games of all time. Garnet had it right when he said its like a virtual LARP. I wrote a review on my site www.gameadelphia.com (the review was actually done a few weeks ago) on the game. I highly suggest everyone give it a try, I know there is a demo for the first one, not sure about the sequel. But I would skip the first one as the second is almost the same with better graphics and some tweaked single player.

    The devs don't have a lot of marketing muscle but I guess this says a lot about their fans. We are busy bees in the forums and always promoting the game when we can even if we don't get anything in return.

    In many ways this is my "Civilization" game. Its one of those games i pick at from time to time and when I sit down, hours pass like minutes.

  • Non-plussed by Civ5.

    I'm not a Civ5 hater. Please don't put me in that camp. I think it's an amazing game, and I think the changes from Civ4 are improvements on what was already a very good game. But why did it take so long?! For example, I played Age of Wonders in 1999, and it made excellent use of hex-based maps (vs the square grid in Heroes of Might and Magic). It had good neighbouring hex support mechanics, with no unit stacking (vs the mega stacks in HOMM). I always enjoyed Civ, but at the same time was frustrated by some of it's archaic mechanics. It's great that Civ5 has made these changes, but I kinda feel that they are 10 years late to the party. These mechanics are not new innovations -- just new to Civ.

    I would also recommend Age of Wonders as a Cannatafford game. The entire trilogy is available on both Steam and GOG for under $20 I believe.

  • Brian Leahy: "Big John Henry Tostitos Cornhole Bowl." I laughed so hard, had to pause it. Anyway, Brian, do you have a blog or site that lists some of your SC2 stuff. I couldn't find anything with google. I seem to recall you had some strat videos/recorded matches somewhere.

    I just started playing SC2 over Christmas break and I'm really liking it. I'd love to hook up with some Shackers for some Multiplayer. Somehow, I won all 5 of my placement matches in 3v3 and ended up platinum. I'm gonna get slaughtered if I don't find some mates. But maybe thats good. 1v1, 2v2, yeah.....bronze. But, I just started. Look for me, Doubleja.

  • On the matter of pay to play MMOs: it's been said often enough, but MMO development is the casino of video games, with the house being Blizzard. You've got to do something different enough from WoW if you want to succeed, because the success of WoW (and other Blizzard games) isn't built only the quality of the game, but also the size and quality of the community around it. You need to be successful first to build such a community, which is why competing with WoW on its own ground is nigh impossible.
    I think an interesting question to ask is how a game starting out as P2P affects its success when it goes F2P. P2P games have an aura of higher quality than F2P games, so when they make the transition it helps them stand out from the crowd - these are games that got coverage on major gaming sites, after all, unlike most F2P MMOs. Moreover, you cannot disregard the pressures monetization exerts on the design of F2P games; P2P games have the advantage of perceived fairness in gameplay design, which they (generally) cultivate when going F2P.

    On the subject of the necessity of matchmaking:
    I agree with Brian that on a console (and increasingly on PC) matchmaking is necessary. Matchmaking is the lowest common denominator - the newbie with no friends who wants to play the game and enjoy it, not feel like he's entered a hostile environment where he has no chance of success. It is in the interest of the developers that as many new players join and enjoy the game; a lobby system is too random a way to guarantee a good experience. In the very stat driven game design of today, where developers collect all kinds of statistics, it only makes sense to extend that into improving the chances of new players having fun.
    Of course, the problem with matchmaking is that its ultimate purpose is to bring you to a 50/50 win/loss ratio, which people are rarely happy with. At that point, it is the quality of the community, the sort of the people that you meet ingame, which will determine how much you enjoy the game. Unfortunately, matchmaking tends to attract less understanding people than servers; the ability to blame the matchmaking algorithm actively encourages people to blame others for their loss.
    So you're screwed either way; the choice is between an insular server-based community or a matchmaking community full of jerks. Matchmaking will win in the end, but it'll only happen when the internet finds a way to stop people for being jerks.

  • My thoughts on SOCOM are this: I think a lot of people who played SOCOM 2 would like to keep the lobby system and remember the great games with randoms. The reality though is that the online community has changed since then and those great games with randoms are few and far between. I really think, especially if they add respawns, that SOCOM 4 won't feel like the old SOCOM and will be much more like your typical online shooter. Even in MAG which has lots of mechanics to drive people into teamwork and to take objectives half the people playing (not with their clan) are ignoring objectives and working on their KDR.

  • Posted this in the Episode 41 comments section, but it was kind of brought up again in this show when Jeff made the assertion that Lost in Shadow would have been a better game for NOT having combat of any kind.

    Last night I finally got around to watching the King's Speech. Amazing movie.

    It got me thinking...

    The King's Speech is a full, satisfying story that keeps your gripped from beginning to end, and it does it without firing a shot. There are no action sequences, no shoot-outs, no car chases, and no monsters.

    Can there ever be a videogame, where from beginning to end, all you do is talk to people. Where the challenge doesn't come from aiming a gun, or taking out enemies, but actually trying to figure out various character's personality, motivations, biases, weaknesses and 'win' conversations to get the information you need, or get somebody to do something you want?

    Mass Effect, while still relatively rudimentary, does a great job of making conversing an ACTIVE pursuit instead of a passive one. Trying to figure characters out, anticipate how they'll respond to different conversational tactics, made conversations as fun for me as the combat. I talked to everybody I could, just for the 'game' of navigating those conversations.

    I think more developers and publishers need to look at how to make these kind of interactions active, engaging and powerful.