Weekend Confirmed Episode 43

By Garnett Lee, Jan 14, 2011 12:00pm PST Whatcha' Been Playin? gets off to a big start this week with a lively discussion on the windup to the end and boss fight in Uncharted 2, first impressions of LittleBIGPlanet 2 and Ghost Trick, and, of course, an update from Cataclysm. Garnett, Jeff, and Billy then move on to your continuing comments on the topic of reviews before considering whether you can be addicted to buying games and what happens when a pay-to-play MMO goes free-to-play. Top stories like the brewing storm over Splosion Man developer Twisted Pixel calling out Capcom mobile for ripping off their game, anticipation of the Battlefield 3 unveiling due to come at GDC, and rumors of a Final Fantasy XIII sequel finish the show on a strong note in the Front Page.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 43 - 01/14/2011

Subscription Links:

We've got a handy player to listen to the show right here on the site if you like:
Listen to Weekend Confirmed Episode 43 (player window will pop-up)

And if you're on GameCenter, you can play the show here:
Download Weekend Confirmed Episode 43

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: 00:34:10

Whatcha' Been Playin? and Cannata-ford: 00:35:15 End: 01:08:00

The Warning: 01:09:00 End: 01:41:40

Featured Music "Chemistry" by Tyrannosaurus Grace: 01:41:40 End: 01:44:56

The Front Page: Start: 01:44:56 End: 02:15:04

Tailgate Playoffs Wild Card Special: Start: 02:16:05 End: 02:28:37

The Featured Music segment presents Tyrannosaurus Grace, a 5 piece Pop Rock band from Ellensburg, WA. founded in late 2009 by childhood friends Tim Held and Justin Foss. They released their first self titled album in October of 2010 and currently play shows all over the Pacific Northwest as they continue to write and record new material all the time. The members are: Tim Held-Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Justin Foss-Guitar, keyboard, audio production, Jeff Gerrer- Bass, David Hoffman- Drums, Lakyn Bury-Vocals, guitar, keyboard. Their album is available on iTunes, Amazon.com, and CDBaby.com. Their website is tgraceband.

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.

Click here to comment...


66 Threads* | 280 Comments
  • Great show guys!

    Garnett, you asked for ideas on the future of shooters, and what developers can do other than follow the current popular model.

    I actually think that Shooters as a genre are actually enjoying a time of great diversity, with lots of truly top-tier games that take very different approaches to game design.

    I'm assuming that by "popular model" you're reffering to Modern Warfare. That being the case, I actually don't think shooters are in much of a rut. I see lots of great shooters that are not simply copying Modern Warfare's formula. In fact, most of the truly successful shooter franchises do unique things with the genre. Halo, Gears of War, Bad Company, Crisis, Killzone, Call of Duty.... they all do their own things with the genre. Even Mass Effect could now be included in the genre, or at least as a title that shooter fans will enjoy. Modern Warfare has been such a massive success that we are bound to get a steady flow of copy-cats, but that's true of any gaming benchmark. A few years later, the copycats won't be remembered.

    However, that doesn't mean that I don't have ideas of where I want shooters to go in the future :)
    I'm very curious to see what Bungie is planning with their next game. We've seen them innovate with the Halo series by way of taking a fantastic core-shooter mechanic, then giving the players a bunch of different ways to enjoy the game engine. What if Bungie's next title takes all the seperate elements they have developed with the Halo Series (Sanbox combat, adanced AI, Theatre mode, Forge, Co-op, competative multiplayer, custom game creation, etc) and finds a way to bring all these isolated experiences together in a more connected way?

  • Guys I gotta disagree with your assertion that reviews were all "just someones opinion. That in may ways is true. However certain things are not opinions. Such as plot holes, characters behaving in ways human beings don't actual behave, glitches, bugs, long load times, crashing your system when you run it, screen tearing, low polygons, and the controls literally being awkward enough to cause discomfort. Things like these are inherent truths of the game. You may say in your review that despite these flaws "this this and this" make its still good. Which would be a matter of opinion. However there are certain criticisms that are technical so neglecting these is not a matter of opinion. If you wrote a review of New Vegas and gave it a good score and ignored all these issues it would be dishonest. If you said it was still great despite technical difficulties then that would be honest and your opinion. I think most of reviews is a matter of opinion but I think you should be careful to not get carried away with making everything subjective.

    Secondly. For niche games I personally don't bother reading mainstream sites. I usually see no point at these reviews as the reviewers all ready go into ti disliking it. So its unlikely they will overcome their personal bias and give it a fair shake. You can say if a game is good it should be able to make people overcome their bias against said genre. However, that is of course ridiculous because it ignores human nature. People are defined by their biases and no matter how hard they try they can never be completely objective.

    Love the show. As a big Planet Gamecube & NWR fan glad Billy is on.

  • Regarding being addicted to game-buying. I am guilty of being addicted to purchasing games, but I never every purchase full-price games (mostly because a 60 USD game where I live (Sweden) costs about 105 USD. The reason for the insane prices can be discussed for any length of time (greed, VAT, exchange rates, etc), but I think that what is more important regarding purchasing full-price games is if you are the intended audience or not.

    My brothers (15 and 21 years old) usually buy full-price games since they want to play the latest games, the same games their friends play. I on the other hand is 30 years old, married with children does not have that much time for gaming. Which means I am generally behind the curve (I can finish about 3-5 full games a year) which means that I don't feel that I can wait for when they are used games with a decent price tag.

  • Garnett you asked for us to comment on whether you thought shooters have to stick to a formula to be successful. I would say absolutely.
    My examples would be Rogue Squadron and Dark Void both of which approached the subject of gameplay in a new fun way.
    Rogue Squadron which was for PS2 was the first game I ever played that had shooting out of cover in a spray method instead of just standing behind a box. It also gave you powers by downloading chips of your fallen clone fellow soldiers.
    Dark Void was a shooter but also had the awesome flying that the team was known for in crimson skies. You could switch between either mechanic and it was awesome. They also added a cover mechanic where you could leap from one spot to the other. This was best utilized in going up or down a column and using your jet pack for a boost.
    These two games are both innovative and did not stick to the recipe for shooters at the time they came out. Although both suffered from budget looking graphics the gameplay was more than fun enough to make up for it. Alas they both failed.

  • On pigeonholing of FPS design:
    I find this question somewhat amusing because its basically a continuation of the trend that brought the FPS to such prominence in the first place. FPSes were doing well, so more and more developers began making FPSes. Then Infinity Ward hit on a FPS formula that does better than others, and now everyone is copying that. However, with each one of these steps, the room for innovation grows smaller. Given the incredible amount of FPSes currently in production, eventually the pace of innovation will slow down to the point that people will grow tired of the "perfected" formula, and then the masses will pick another type of game to make into a mega-hit.

    I'm going to use this question to go to a more conceptual level and ask whether gamers and game journalists have a duty to challenge developers and publishers on gameplay diversity. What is currently happening in the FPS genre demonstrates a process of homogenization in gameplay mechanics and design. Another example is the Mass Effectization of Dragon Age 2. This process had led to a discarding of gameplay mechanics which are still (I believe) perfectly valid, yet nobody seems to be challenging this process of gameplay homogenization. I don't think any of us are comfortable with the idea of a one-FPS future (a bit of an exaggeration there, I suppose), but will gameplay diversity in triple-A titles be so easy to reclaim after throwing it by the wayside? Do we need to protect "endangered genres"?

  • Show Notes:

    Man, I was bummed about Brian's sudden departure. I started listening for Jeff, who I had a big fanboy crush on, but then he let me down over and over again disagreeing with anything I posted or giving up on games I thought we might have in common (Epic Mickey). And then it turned out that Brian, who I had nothing in common with was the voice of reason for me on the show.

    Granted, I was turned off by his droll tone but you really can't judge a person by things they can't change. Who knows if that's Brian's personality?

    Garnett, you rock at reading the news and you're so much better than Brian in this regard since he seemed to be doing it begrudgingly. It only makes sense the host would do this and let the other two-three chairs comment. Plus you have the enthusiasm and skill to phrase the news as ideas to discuss.

    Can't wait to see who you get to permanently fill the third seat---I like Billy but agree you need a min/max gamer to fill the void that Brian has left---so that the show is on a more even keel.

  • Re: Game Endings

    New Super Mario Bros., ironically this throw back does mix up the boss formula for the end. Spoilers when you get to Bowser at the end they make it seem like you will battle him as normal, but after you defeat him he grows to giant size and you have to run from him. In fact you have to bait him into breathing fire on certain obstacles so you can pass.

    I think that games can come up with new climaxes other than fight a giant guy at the end, especially in platformers the idea of escaping a crumbling structure and leaving the antagonist trapped inside works well, especially if the characters are not intended to be superhuman.

    On Uncharted 3 I think Garnett over thought the new ending. Instead I would just have Drake barely beat him to the sap, have him flip out ignite it since he can't have it all to himself and then you have to escape while he chases you shooting at you with a grenade launcher. You can shoot back to slow him, but you loose speed aiming. A nice climax where the bad guy's greed is his undoing.

  • About game reviews and buying games. What happen if money is not a factor.

    I don't care about game reviews, I've played games for more than 20 years now, at this point I just try anything. I love gaming podcast more than anything else because allows me to discover new games and opinions in what I think is the best way, talking. When you read a review you often get one opinion but when talking people tend to challenge that opinion and I get more from that than anything else.

    But I don't what to talk about that, I want to talk about what happen when money is not the deciding factor. I live in Argentina and here buying games (or software for that matter) is extremely rare. Piracy is rampant down here and is not because is cheaper, it become a cultural thing, you don't buy software, software is -in everybody's mind- free. Of curse there are people like me that still buy games, but we are few and far away to matter.

    But I don't want to talk about piracy (or our particular situation), want I want to talk about is what happen when money is not a deciding factor about gaming. Do people still care about reviews? Do people still assign the same value to a game even if it is free? The short answer is yes, they do, they care about reviews, they value the game even if they won't pay for it, and if they value the game a lot they will buy it as a reward for the developer (this is the best you could say about a game here, is the game sells well here is because a lot of people just love the game).
    But people doesn't care too much is about length, we don't have the discussion if you're going to pay for a 10 or a 30 hours game because most people won't pay either, a good game is a good game even if it is a three hours game.
    Discovery is a different process too, because we don't have retail outlets (there are, but they are poor managed and sparse) we won't have the release of the month but what people is talking about. And we don't have ads about games (Nintendo is the only company that sometimes appear on TV) See the Halo case, Halo was never a big hit here, the 360 was never launch here and now the time pass and new games are coming, a new Halo game will be just the new installment on a series that no one talks about, why play it?
    Internet changes things a lot, now we see what's big up there and we want it, but ultimately what people will get is what they see on their friends houses, or what they hear someone talking about. A deciding factor is not a review, not how much it costs, not it's length, is what people say about it.

  • My love-hate relationship with WoW

    I love WoW, and I love it because I enjoy the experience to be in that universe. I love Warcraft's lore and that's the only reason I keep playing the game. But I don't like the endgame, I hate the grinding and having to work dungeons over and over in order to experience the raids. I want to kill the Lich King because I feel bad about him since he kill his dad. I was invested in his story since Warcraft III and I don't have the time to do grind gear in order to defeat him. I enjoy a challenge but this is not challenge, it's a time sink. I would love to have a new difficult level for raids, for people like me that just want to experience the lore, don't give me any gear, I don't care, I just want to experience the raid.

    Blizzard, give me casual raids (with random groups) and I will love you even more. And love, you know, is the most important thing in this world.

  • One of the best game endings I've ever experiences was...Lost Odyssey. The way the game allows the immortals to learn skills from Mortals throughout the game only to force the player to rely on the leveled immortal is fantastic. Forcing that dynamic upon you during the endgame is awesome. Then, the sense of surprise and awe at the climatic confrontation and the proposed resolution left me broken yet yearning for more.

    Boss fights have to fit but I will say this...if Mass Effect 3 has a similar ending to Mass Effect 2, I'll be highly disappointed. I think the final confrontation in ME3 may delve into simple RTS territory based on the alliances Shepherd built through the first two games. If that's the case, I think it would work better than the final boss confrontation is Mass Effect 2.

  • So I'm listening to the podcast now and wanted to chime in on the review scores. I recently started my own blog site www.restarttheuser.com and i'll be reviewing things such as movies, software, games, etc... I only have 3 game reviews and I originally gave them a score (rated from A to F). For everything else I did not. I'm not exactly sure why, but I felt video games required score. Perhaps it was just programmed in my head. I decided to remove the actual score and read it again and I think the reader will get the gist of it.

    Review scores will be tough to remove because the reviewer represents the business. Fortunately my site is just a personal one, i'm not making any money out of this and I'm not running a business. Moving forward I'm not going to provide any more video game scores and just provide the best writing I can to convey my opinion. Sadly my writing is suspect at best :( but hey its just a hobby...

    As a reader, if I ever came across a scoreless review site, I would certainly be happy to frequent it.

  • Here are the contradictory quotes from EA CEO John Ricitiello. And, as it turns out, they were from the exact same interview with IndustryGamers:

    "At the end of [2011], the digital business is bigger than the packaged goods business, full stop. No questions in my mind. Then, you know, I think that we’ll find ways to even sell our packaged goods content in chunks and in pieces and subscriptions and micro-transactions,"

    "Do I believe longer term that the disc will go away? Not any time soon. I think the disc can actually be a great starting point for a digital business, like an MMO, World of Warcraft, for instance. Pushing that off to the side for a minute, we make services, we don’t make products, and I think the challenge I would have in answering the question the way you framed it is I don’t think people want a streaming game service. I think they want their games to work. At times, that will be delivered best with streaming. At times, you should just download the game.

    So John Ricitiello is at times a walking contradiction, however, the main message he's been trying to push for the past year is the phrase "we don't make products, we make services." Boxed products don't return recurring revenue; services do. Services can sometimes even bring in $5000 in one month from one customer (who apparently has more money than common sense).

    Another funny quote from there: "I don’t think you’d bring OnLive to a LAN party for first person shooters, because latency matters a lot in those circumstances." That's interesting in the context of the FPS games that EA has released in the past year, because none of them would be able to be played at a LAN party, since the server is only available through a GSP like GameServers.com.

    Oh, and John Ricitiello hates DRM: http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=20655 ...but he still wants you to register an EA.com account and submit to an activation DRM scheme in the games his company publishes.