Weekend Confirmed Episode 52

By Garnett Lee, Mar 18, 2011 11:00am PDT

Weekend Confirmed celebrates our one year anniversary in style with your help, great games, and special guest James Stevenson, senior community manager for Insomniac Games. He joins the two Jeffs and Garnett for a massive show that wastes no time getting started in Whatcha' Been Playin? with games like Dragon Age 2, Homefront, Ghost of Sparta, and Tera to name a few. The Warning this week comes entirely from listener submitted questions and topics and it fuels some spirited discussions. And the news in the Front Page covers info on the impact of the Tohoku earthquake on the video game industry, February NPD sales figures, a couple of game announcements, and more.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 52: 03/18/2011

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If you're viewing this in the GameCenter application, you can play Weekend Confirmed Episode 52 directly.

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 Part 1: Start: 00:00:00 End: 00:32:55

  • Whatcha' Been Playin Part 2: Start: 00:33:40 End: 01:04:54

  • The Warning: Start: 01:06:00 End: 01:41:58

  • Featured Music "Disconnected" by Living Illusion: 01:41:58 End: 01:45:10

  • Front Page news: Start: 01:45:10 End: 02:25:18

Living Illusion is an independent rock band hailing from Edmonton Alberta Canada (also the home of BioWare). The song "Disconnected - (Kenton Thomas Splice)" is a remixed track off their new album "Suffering". Both versions of the song and the full album are now available on iTunes. For more from Living Illusion check out their official site, myspace, youtube, 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

  • The crew touched on the point of a franchise branching out onto different platforms and whether or not an identical experience on both home and portable devices(e.g. what Dead Space was aiming for) is as compelling as expanding the franchise down different avenues that are designed around the strengths and capabilities of the device.

    With the NGP, I think it's great that we may be playing the same game (Uncharted 3?) on both the PS3 and the NGP and the differences between both versions could be near unnoticeable. I think there is definitely a market for those types of games to succeed, but similarly to Jeff C, I'm not as excited for those types of experiences as I am for the promise of different yet connected experiences on differing devices.

    From what I remember, Microsoft were the first to announce a push for this type of thing at E3 2006 when Bill Gates announced Live Anywhere (The crew discussed this when they mentioned Forza being accessed on your Windows phone, Windows PC and Xbox 360), but it never came to fruition.

    Lionhead Games experimented with a similar idea by bringing the Fable 2 Pub Games to XBLA prior to the release of Fable 2. I think there is definitely room to take this further. Jeff C talked about games that had you thinking about them when you weren't playing them, which sparked in me an idea for the Fable franchise.

    In Fable 2, you were able to buy such businesses as fruit stalls, and then generate revenue from them. Although the concept was great, the execution was very barebones and not very fun. Instead of exploring the world of Albion while you were away from your console, wouldn't it be great to be able to manage these businesses on your phone in a game that suits the strengths of the device? Hiring staff, adjusting prices, making business decisions with local producers etc. Sure it's not Fable in its true form, but it's another way of investing yourself in that world that is unique and fits well with what a phone is capable of doing.

    Is there room for these types of experiences to be had? If so, what franchises do you think could implement them?
    Are we as traditional gamers guilty of labelling these efforts by developers and publishers a simple cash grab?

    Thread Truncated. Click to see all 7 replies.

    • I personally prefer the idea of having a franchise branching out and giving different experiences each. I much prefer this than directly having a console port onto handheld, or vice versa (though this goes into my views about handheld gaming... which perhaps I'll discuss in another thread :o) ).

      I think in order to branch out a franchise, you need to convince the gamer why they should be interested in the lore of the world, the characters, and the potential for any sort of growth; not necessarily with all, but having at least one to me is a key ingredient. Let me point out some that (to me) tried through to ones that have succeeded. I'm also mixing in DLC into the discussion in some cases.

      Killzone tried this with "Killzone Liberation" (?). Only problem is that the game really feels like it was designed for a console game initially before porting onto handheld. While it 'sounds' cool, the PSP controller is not really ideal for this type of gaming. The other thing is that I don't think the lore of Killzone is as interesting as they try to make it out to be. I also don't feel that the franchise has that signature that makes it a franchise worth building a lot around. Besides the Helgast soldiers, you'd be hard-pressed to differentiate it between other good/solid shooters.

      Dead Space to me is also something that lacks a specific signature in the particular context I have been using, but differs from Killzone in that the Necromorph is something that still does not have its origins explained yet with this in mind, give it potential to have branches that highlight stories of early encounters. It also helps that Dead Space is essentially the big fish in the "space-survival horror" genre. Though there really hasn't been memorable characters in the franchise, the key draw to me has been the different encounters with the Necromorphs; something that can be serialized in a way like the Hellraiser series.

      God of War has Kratos as a memorable character, along with a Greek mythology backing; something that gives it an automatic sense of familiarity. Combine with a fictional character of Kratos being involved, it allows for many possibilities to retell certain lore. In this instance, the lore is familiar, but isn't the same as what you know (or heard), thus creating interest in a different take. Like the PSP games highlighting "early" Kratos.

      Gears of War is a strange one. Say what you will about Marcus being an archetype or the story being rather dumb. But one thing that it does well is that it hints at events that have happened, but not crucial to what is happening in the very moment, but enough to pique your interest as to what was in those events. This is where the novels come in that recounts the stories about those events. However to make them into branching games would take away from the Gears games that you know of. Some stories are best told in text than in visual aids.

      Dead Rising meanwhile have had the right idea with the "Case Zero" and "Case West" DLC. It has yet to be shown though whether more can be developed from the franchise.

      GTIV has something similar with the "Lost and Damned" and "Ballad of Gay Tony" where the branching stems from one particular part of the main game.

      Probably one of the oldest/obvious example is Mario. How many different things have you seen that "plumber fella" feature in?

      So to answer your question about whether these types of experiences have room for growth: I would say yes. But as I pointed about, it depends on how strong a foundation you have created with the original game, how much thought was put into the lore of the game and its potential for growth. Star Wars is a great example of something that has left parts of its lore vague enough to allow all sorts of fiction to be created within its universe.

      As to what franchises are capable of this, Halo is one that is trying to, starting with Halo:Wars and Halo:ODST. Both have been okay, but not to the level of what Bungie created. The upcoming Halo title will be a big test. Unchartered could also, working through ("gasp!") episodic content with an "adventures of Nathan Drake" style of game.

      Finally, the question of whether traditional gamers are guilty of labeling the efforts as a "simple cash grab", my answer is yes and no. You have companies that care very deeply about the worlds or franchises they have created. Bethesda with Fallout 3 and Oblivion, Visceral with Dead Space, Blizzard with all their work (minus Lost Vikings), and Gearbox with Borderlands. Each of the branching/DLC keeps the lore of the world fueled, and keeps the fans of the original interested. However you have others that really do come off as cash grabs like some fighting games; Capcom being guilty of quite a few, and especially SNK and anime-based ones like Dragonball and/or Naruto.

      Ones that are great, us fans can definitely see clearly, and for the cash grabs, we can see even more clearly through the facade.