Weekend Confirmed Episode 48

By Garnett Lee, Feb 18, 2011 12:00pm PST

Billy and Christian join Jeff and Garnett in the studio for this week's show. A look back at the Halo: Reach campaign as played solo as opposed to cooperatively gets things started in Whatcha Been Playin? GoldenEye also gets a brief reassessment before yielding to Marvel vs. Capcom 3. There's time to catch up on your comments during the Warning and the open question of how intimidating the competitive nature of some games can be to players who just want to have fun. The Front Page closes this week's show with a full slate of new game and DLC announcements from Double Fine's Sesame Street kinect game to a da Vinci-themed add-on for Assassin's Creed Brotherhood.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 48 - 02/18/2011

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And if you're on GameCenter, you can play the show here: Download Weekend Confirmed Episode 48.

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: 00:30:21

Whatcha' Been Playin? and Cannata-ford: 00:31:10 End: 01:01:36

The Warning: 01:02:39 End: 01:34:24

Featured Music "Hangman" by Room 16 : 01:34:24 End: 01:38:03

The Front Page: Start: 01:38:03 End: 02:12:54

In the Featured Music break this week it's "Hangman" from Room 16. They are a straightforward rock band from Scotland who like playing music with guitars in it. Room 16 has been making music for better or worse for about 3 years now and has had the pleasure of gigging across the country. Their line up consists of singer Ewan McCall, guitarists Andrew Gordon and Adam Gatherer, bass player Kyle McLellan and drummer Ronan McLellan. Hangman was written by Andrew Gordon with additional lyrics from Ewan McCall.

If you're fortunate enough to be around Glasgow on Saturday, March 12 you can check them out at Barrowlands 2. They've also graciously offered to send a free track to Weekend Confirmed listeners just for the asking. Connect with Room 16 via Twitter, Facebook, the official Room 16 site, and their bandcamp 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!

Remember to join the Official Facebook Weekend Confirmed Page and 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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Comments

39 Threads | 251 Comments




  • On Matchmaking...

    There should be no reason in the gaming world today of an avalanche of recorded data that I should not be able to jump online and play a game against people at the same skill level as mine.

    Yes, a new game that you've never played online will need to collect and collate data before being able to provide a useful set of numerics to enable accurate matching but the mathematics behind it certainly can't be too difficult.

    Take CoD BlOps for example. For a start any franchise game should be able to pull on it's previous iteration's metrics as a baseline to use when first jumping online with a new version. Games on Xbox & PSN can obviously do this, Mass Effect is the perfect example.
    Next, can't they just average out my kill/death ratios and match me against those with similar stats? If there are too many then why not break it down further as to accuracy of my shots or number of headshots, etc. etc.

    Halo 2 was lauded for it's "amazing" matchmaking functionality but I can't say it did much more than group you with a bunch of people on the same ranking/level (or was that their level based on my skill not points collected - too long ago). Regardless I can't say matchmaking is good at all today and with the amount of useless info these games collect and the masses online that play them it really needs to be focused on more. If not only to improve your gaming public's experience but in turn by doing so having them play the game for longer and buy more overpriced DLC for it. Win, win.

    Long story short. Activision hire a Mathematician or stats guy!

    PS. Here in Melbourne (Aus) I have a 20min walk to & from work each day that I listen to the podcast on. So basically I'm listening to you guys for half the week! After meeting Jeff & Garnett at PAX a few years back you'd think I'd be sick of you guys already ;) Keep up the good work fellas.

    Raj.













  • Regarding Controllers:

    I think what we're currently going though right now with motion controllers is more of a learning experience than a harbinger of the future. Every setup has it's advantages and disadvantages, and adding accelerometers or UV cameras or whatever new input device does have benefits in certain types of games. Certainly, we've seen Nintendo change the way they use motion control in their own games, no doubt based on what they've learned from throwing the whole thing against the wall in the first place.

    Had every one of those Wii consoles out there come bundled with a classic controller, the game library for that system would have been very different. Developers could have simply designed games exclusively for the classic controller since 100% of the install base would have one. This would have been better for core gamers in the short term, but then we might not have learned what we now know. And now, Sony and Microsoft have the benefit of a few years worth of Wii hindsight, and systems that do come bundled with traditional controllers, and as they push the technology forward, we'll continue to learn, and refine.

    I'm gonna throw this out there:
    I think Sony had the right idea with the Sixaxis, even if the execution didn't quite back it up. I think what we need going forward are traditional controllers with *some* motion functionality thrown in. After all, many of the best Wii games of the past few years have been about 85% traditional control and only 15% motion.

    One thing that is holding us back is the belief that motion control is best served by making people physically imitate the actions of game characters, or that any other use of motion controls would be too abstract for people to comprehend. This is complete nonsense. Tilting a controller is merely an input, it calculates a bunch of ones and zeroes and uses them to instruct a response from different set of ones and zeroes.

    This is precisely why Child of Eden has my attention. From the moment I heard about... ahem... Project Natal, my first thought wasn't of standing in front of a TV, trying to reenact the games, it was sitting in front of a TV, arms out in front of me, using the position of my hands in 3D space as analogue inputs. My fear at the time was that we'd have to wade through a pile of "jump and flail" games before reaching those that use the tech in interesting and worthwhile ways. My fear now is that the groupthink regarding kinect and motion gaming in general will label them "the devices used to jump and flail" before we get a chance to see what this technology is really capable of.

    We now have controllers that know when they're being tilted, that can be tracked in three dimensional space, and some that respond to a pen tip or finger being pressed up against them. There really ought to be tons of applications for these devices that we haven't even begun to imagine yet, and many that can be accomplished by integrating these technologies into traditional controllers.

    Anyway, those are my two cents.



  • My Cannataford recommendation for this week: Infiniminer

    Otherwise known as one of the main inspirations for Minecraft.

    It's kind of a pain in the butt to get working (or at least it was for me cause I'm not very good with computers) but it has a vaguely similar aesthetic and a handful of similar mechanics as Minecraft, but is otherwise a very different game, and really cool in it's own way.

    At the heart of the game is team based competitive multiplayer (something that's usually not my cup of tea), and there's different types of miners and different types of blocks that allow you to build strategically in order to mine gold ore faster and more efficiently than the other team.

    Or you can play on a sandbox server and use the base building blocks to create a huge playground with some friends or strangers, which is what the game became popular for, and the seeds of Minecraft were sown.

    It can be downloaded, for free, over here:
    http://thesiteformerlyknownas.zachtronicsindustries.com/?p=713

  • I don't think I can listen to this show anymore. I just can't stand the middle segment. It's way too long and the topics are either based on semantics or getting two sides that will never agree with each-other to go at it for the hundredth time. You guys don't even seem to enjoy it. Garnett starts a topic and after a few minutes someone is saying, "What you are saying is totally ridiculous/insignificant" or "I don't want to talk about this anymore."

    I want to know who you think you're servicing with all this talk about social games. These are the games people are talking about in these comments: Rainbow Six, Call of Duty, Team Fortress 2, Virtua Fighter 5, Cave Story, Heavy Rain, Halo Reach, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. No one here is talking about Zynga, Farmville, or Cityville. Two people are talking about Angry Birds: one of them is saying, "I don't think it stands up to games of a larger scope" and the other guy is saying, "Shut up! Just pretend it doesn't exist!"

    I'll ask it again: Explain to me why I should care. The show consistently fails to tie what's going on in social gaming back to the gaming experience of the vast majority of Shack's audience. You can't just name-drop Brian Reynolds and expect me to instantly give a poop.


  • I don't think I can listen to this show anymore. I just can't stand the middle segment. It's way too long and the topics are either based on semantics or getting two sides that will never agree with each-other to go at it for the hundredth time. You guys don't even seem to enjoy it. Garnett starts a topic and after a few minutes someone is saying, "What you are saying is totally ridiculous/insignificant" or "I don't want to talk about this anymore."

    I want to know who you think you're servicing with all this talk about social games. These are the games people are talking about in these comments: Rainbow Six, Call of Duty, Team Fortress 2, Virtua Fighter 5, Cave Story, Heavy Rain, Halo Reach, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. No one here is talking about Zynga, Farmville, or Cityville. Two people are talking about Angry Birds: one of them is saying, "I don't think it stands up to games of a larger scope" and the other guy is saying, "Shut up! Just pretend it doesn't exist!"

    I'll ask it again: Explain to me why I should care. The show consistently fails to tie what's going on in social gaming back to the gaming experience of the vast majority of Shack's audience. You can't just name-drop Brian Reynolds and expect me to instantly give a poop.






  • I had the opposite experience that Garnett had with Halo Reach, that final area of the last mission was such a pain for me. It was my first time playing through the game (on heroic, my usual choice for the Halo games) and by the end of it I was so frustrated; I kept shooting the "thing" you shoot with the "big thing" unaware that I was supposed to survive until the "thing" was in position. Even better than that was up until that point I was going around with 1-2 clips of ammo struggling to put a dent in anything before I was taken down seeing as a single clip of bullets don't tend to work on shields very well, I wish I had found those supplies you mentioned!

    I still think Halo 3 is the best of the series, it may have one of the worst designed missions in the series, Cortona, but it also has two of the greatest missions I have ever played in any game. "The Ark" and "The Covenant" both highlight the strengths of the Halo games with smart pacing between tight corridors where you are jumping between melee, grenades and shooting and open areas where the vehicle you choose affects how the scenario will play out significantly and when you bring other players into the mix, oh boy :)

    Also, if you want to have a blast in co-op play legendary with the Iron skull (If one dies everyone goes back to a checkpoint) on with a group of close friends. You wouldn't think it but the the fact that you have to watch your buddies back makes the moment to moment action (and the griefing) so much better!

    We did this to get the Annual achievement for Halo 3 and a similar one for ODST and it was some of the most frustratingly amazing things I have ever done in a game with friends!

    The mission where you are flying around the rainy city was also great to do, when my buddy finally (after many annoying deaths) "skyjacked a banshee I decided to jump out of mine before we hit a checkpoint! It was hilarious for 75% of us!

  • MHSilver made a really good point below, and I'd like to dive deeper into his idea.

    Getting over the "intimidation factor" of a competative game is partially up to the player, but also partially up to the developer, in my opinion.

    When approaching a competative game, there are some players who are intimidated by the 'hardcore' nature of the experience. There are absolutely certain things developers can do to help ease a player into an experience, but there comes a point where it is up to the player to say "It's ok for me to get demolished for a few rounds; I'm learning how to play the game".

    Jeff made a great point this week about being ok with a competative game, as long as he is playing against people at a similar skill level. The only thing a would add to this statement is that most online games do feature fairly decent matchmaking systems.... but you have to play a few games before it figures out how good you are.

    So to Jeff I would say: "Jump on in to Halo Reach, expect to get destroyed for your first few games, but it will even out quickly". You can't expect to jump into a competative online game and be placed in a perfectly balanced match right from the start.

    The other suggestion I would make to new players in any competative game is to experiment a little with the different game modes to see if there is one that you enjoy more than others. This is where the responsibiity of the developer comes into play.

    To use Halo Reach as an example again, I wouldn't suggest a new player dive into the 4 vs 4 deathmatch playlist right off the start, unless you are looking for a very intense, competative experience. Maybe head into the 8 vs 8 "Big Team Battle" playlist, where a new player has more options presented to them; if you haven't figured out all the weapons yet, you can at least jump in a vehicle and drive around for a bit.

    This is where Bungie once again shows how good they are at designing multiplayer experiences for a wide range of players. They present the player with many different ways to be involved in a match, and still feel like they're helping their team.




  • Honestly, I think that Billys 'Its a videogame" argument in regards to the awards thing can be applied to respond to their Duke Nukem Forever disinterest. Honestly, going into Duke Nukem and expecting a good story, compelling character, and stuff like that is a fools errand. this game is all about fun. Stupid, dumb fun and expecting anything else is just setting yourself up for dissapointment. You can have a game that is stupid fun and it can still be a good game. I think people are expecting too much from this game to be honest. Im expecting stupid, dumb fun. And so should all of you.

  • The problem is that SONY believes that the dualshock design is iconic and what makes Playstation a Playstation. While some of that may be true, it proves that they are rather adverse to changing from what made them great back in the day. they think that they had success with PS1 and PS2 with the same controller, so they brought it over with PS3. However they fail to realize that our tastes in controller ergonomics have changed quit a bit with this generation, and alot of that has to do with the 360 and MS who released, IMO, a better overal controller outside of its fail DPAD.

  • The discussion about controller and Jeff's description of the controller for the Disney ride made me think about this. When we discuss motion controller, we often focus of its two main features. One, it simplifies the gaming interface. Two, it enables translation of movement in game space that once required combination of two joysticks or keyboard/mouse. But I think there is another aspect that I don't hear being mentioned as often. It adds kinesthesia to gaming. In certain situations physical movement adds to the enjoyment. Some people tap their feet or move their body to the music. Some people move their arms like they are punching when they are enjoying watching boxing. When we are kids playing cowboy using our hands as a pretend gun, we would jerk our hands like there is recoil. Why do some of us enjoy air-guitar when listening to music? When I was playing Wii-Tennis, there was a certain enjoyment winding up to slam that ball down the court. If we think about it, most of Wii Tennis could have been replaced with pushing a single button. But imagine how empty that would feel. Why did we buy a fake guitar for Guitarr Hero when there are more than enough buttons on the standard controller? For some reason, physically mimicking the motion sometimes adds to the enjoyment of the games.

  • I am a hardcore Virtua Figher 5 fan. I've been playing it since it was released on Xbox 360, and I usually play the game at LEAST a few hours a month, just to keep my skills in check.

    That game has a well earned reputation for being hard as hell to get into. I thought I was pretty decent at the game, but when I went online for the first time I got ANNIHILATED. But it didn't bother me. Because I felt like I was learning. Every match was the chance to experiment, learn, and improve. It was always very clear to me when I lost, what I had done wrong and what I should have done instead.

    So speaking from that vantage point (as well as someone that LOVES SSF4 and Soul Cali)...MvC3 intimidates the HELL out of me. I'll play buddies online or on my couch, but I'm not going anywhere near strangers online until I spend more time in practice mode.

    MvC3 is so chaotic, and frenetic, with all the special moves and the character switching, I can't tell why the hell I win or lose at the game. It's fun, but I'm very clearly missing out on the kind of understanding that will actually let me learn and improve from the ass-kickings I'm likely to get.

  • Speaking to the idea of getting intimidated about playing online because you feel you aren't competitive enough, that happens to me a lot. It's actually one of the reasons I usually jump into the multiplayer component of games before I play the single-player component.

    But recently, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, I didn't even TOUCH the single-player until I was around level 50 in the multiplayer. Part of that is because I met some really cool people online, and we would team up and just annihilate people in Manhunt and Alliance. But the bigger part was that I didn't want to hop into the multiplayer weeks later, when everybody knew how everything worked but me.

    That's part of the reason I love the ranking system in Halo. It helps to ensure I'm not just getting pasted while I'm learning the new maps and getting the feel for the weapon balance. More games, of all genres, need a similar ranking system. Fighting games in particular, could really use them.