Weekend Confirmed 81 - Rage, Dark Souls, television on Xbox 360

By Garnett Lee, Oct 07, 2011 12:00pm PDT

Billy "plan B" Berghammer joins Jeff and Garnett on a show that sounds like it would be full of angst. Rage and Dark Souls both came out this week, and there's a lot to talk about, including how the guy who "loves loving things" takes to a game renowned for its bleakness. Microsoft's additions to the television offerings on Live also become a hot topic, but the group doesn't seem nearly as impressed as the press release would lead one to believe. The iOS update and iPhone 4S also spark some debate on how mobile gaming continues to grow, as does the news that Unreal Engine 3 runs in Flash 11. The rest of the news of the week, a few other games, and your feedback and questions round out the show before wrapping up with Finishing Moves and the weekend football tailgate.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 81: 10/07/2011

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If you're viewing this in the GameFly application, you can play Weekend Confirmed Episode 81 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:

    Show Breakdown:

    Round 1 00:00:00 - 00:30:20

    Whatcha Been Playing 00:31:07 - 01:01:33

    More Playing and the News 01:02:30 โ€“ 01:29:12

    Featured Music Break: 01:29:12 - 01:31:42 -- "Sun Dog" โ€“ Thunderhead

    Listener Feedback 01:31:42 โ€“ 02:05:43

    The Tailgate 02:06:25 - 02:13:34

Weekend Confirmed is brought to you this week by Random House Audio where you can experience books like you've never heard them before. That includes titles like the excerpt in this week's show:

Stand by Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation star Wil Wheaton reads Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours plugged into OASAIS, a virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be. When the OASIS creator hides a series of puzzles in the game, will Wade be able to complete the challenge and stay alive in the process?

Featured music this week comes from Thunderhead, a 17 year old drum and bass and soundtrack producer from Edmonton, Canada. Get all of his latest tracks for FREE on Soundcloud.

Original music in the show by Del Rio. Get his latest Album, The Wait is Over on iTunes. Check out more, including the Super Mega Worm mix and other mash-ups on his ReverbNation page or Facebook page, and follow him on twitter delriomusic.

Jeff Cannata 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!

Follow the Weekend Confirmed hosts on Twitter! Garnett Lee @GarnettLee, Jeff Cannata @jeffcannata and Xav de Matos @xav.

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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  • "Hardcore" versus "Intuitiveness"

    Just to pick up on Garnett's point about Dark Souls, I think it is a pretty big misnomer to call Dark Souls "hardcore" in the way we usually use that term or even "hard." The word hardcore is usually reserved for someone that basically makes a lifestyle out of playing a certain game like "hardcore" Street Fighter or Quake players. A hardcore Devil May Cry player is one that continuously plays thorough and triple S ranks every game.

    I would argue that Demon souls is not a "hardcore" game in the same way that fans of a particular genre or series need only apply. By the aforementioned definition, I have never in my life been a hardcore player of anything. I like Street Fighter, but I suck at it. I'm not very good at Halo or Call of Duty. I almost always come in near the bottom when I play online matches. When I went back to finish Gears of War 2 before 3 came out, I bumped it down to "easy." I don't platinum rank games or play bullet hell shooters. I'm not masochistic and I'm barely competitive at all when it comes to videogames. I came into Dark Souls totally blind having never even played Demon Souls. And I did so hesitantly because I don't typically like hard or frustrating games.

    And yet, after 10 hours, I absolutely adore Dark Souls. Let me try to briefly explain why.

    What Dark Souls has made me realize is how passive I play most games. Recovery mechanics in modern shooters mean that we barely have to worry about being shot as long as we retreat for 10 seconds behind something. Most modern Action games and JRPGs have become so passive that most of game time is spend mashing on attack buttons and only boss encounters demand much more.

    I've learned to compensate for this lack of real engagement. I listen to podcasts, I chat with friends, I drink lots of beer while I play. I admire the eye candy of explosions and vistas around me and pay more attention to that stuff than I do the enemies I'm fighting most of the time. But Dark Souls made me realize how great a gaming experience can be when I don't have resort to those distractions. When the gameplay can be good enough to hold my attention fully on a moment by moment basis. There is no more immersive experience than that. The prettiest mega-textures in the world won't get you there.

    Dark Souls isn't overly hard, or non-intuitive, or obscure. It simply demands your attention. It is such a conscious choice that the designers go out of their way to refuse players the ability to use voice chat while they play. You can't button mash in Dark Souls, not even on the easiest enemies. And it's not because they are hard, it is because the game is interesting enough that even the weak enemies are going to try to engage you--they will block and flank and try to gang up on you. They will wait until you attack and try to counter. It isn't that they are "hard" in the traditional way we think of games being hard. You don't have to have lightening reflexes, you just simply have to pay attention to them and your surroundings.

    The same could be said for figuring out where to go, what weapons to use, what to upgrade. There is no right way to do this stuff (unless you ARE one of those crazy hardcore players trying to make a perfect build). There is only the way that works for you. Everything else is just for the New Game Plus crowd.

    Every really good game has moments where you are on the edge of your seat or when you feel a sense of real accomplishment. But in Dark Souls those moments come minute by minute. if I have a real criticism of Dark Souls it is almost that it is to exciting, too exhilirating. Sometimes I have to take a break because it is too intense too often. I have had harrowing encounters with basic enemies. I have never been more scared my life than I have been playing this game and having a giant black knight chase me down a stair well. I never felt so much was at stake before in whether or not I land a blow or manage to down a potion in time. There are big moments in Dark Souls and they happen all the damn time.

    So maybe it isn't for everyone, but Dark Souls isn't a "hardcore" game in the way we typically use that term. You don't have to spend years honing your skills in tournaments or learn some secret slang language or gain muscle memory by practicing combos to enjoy it. You don't have to be a member of a clan or drink a pile of energy drinks or be 18 with the reflexes of a god to find it engaging. You simply have to learn not play games as passively as you have been conditioned to play them. And you'll probably end up wishing more games were good enough that you didn't have to resort to distractions to tune out all the repetition.