Weekend Confirmed 94 - Vita Japanese launch slows, SWTOR, 2012 predictions

By Garnett Lee, Jan 06, 2012 11:00am PST

Recovered from the holidays, Xav and Jeff join Garnett for the first Weekend Confirmed of 2012. The year kicks off with a special guest in the fourth chair, prolific videogame voice actor Zach Hanks. If you've played a game in the past few months, you've almost certainly heard his work. He gives a unique look inside the voice acting that breathes life into videogame characters. He's also a gamer, and holds nothing back as the conversation go on to consider the rapidly dwindling sales of the PlayStation Vita only weeks after its launch in Japan, games we've been playing like Star Wars the Old Republic, the announcement of new action strategy XCOM game, and a few more thoughts on what 2012 may hold. The group gets so involved they talk right past Finishing Moves, but there's a little time left for Jeff to savor his season win in the football tailgate and get in to the playoff spirit.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 94: 01/06/2012

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If you're viewing this in the GameFly application, you can play Weekend Confirmed Episode 93 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 to 00:24:44

    Whatcha Been Playing Part 1 00:25:20 to 00:52:40

    Whatcha Been Playing Part 2 00:53:41 to 01:20:16

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News 01:21:10 to 01:54:45

    Football Tailgate 1:55:30 to 02:01:21

Thanks to our special guest, voice actor and director, Zach Hanks (Zach Hanks on IMDB).

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, too! 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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  • Garnett's comments about Skyrim were maddening, in part because he had played so little of the game and in part because they seemed to be deliberately obtuse. I'm not sure why he sees this as an effective strategy for fomenting conversation, because it isn't. All of this was followed up by a number of aggressive tweets on the subject of Skyrim that, again, seem to mistake provocation for intelligent discussion. Don't be a narcissist--game designers shouldn't have to cater to the ADHD gamer who can't control a quest log or who don't have the self-awareness to know when enough side questing is enough.

    When you play Skyrim seriously, you learn to distinguish between the radiant (random) quests, the scripted side quests, and the main story quest, and to balance between them to create the narrative flow that is right for you as an individual gamer. I focused on the main quest for a while, then completed a guild quest progression, bought a house, leveled up certain skills, and then returned to finish the main quest before returning to guilds and more side stories. Along the way I stopped wandering from place to place when I realized that most of the barrows, caves, and remote fortresses would in fact appear in the course of all of these quests, which didn't give me less choices but rather more of a sense of direction. Likewise, in the first 40 hours of the game I usually walked from place to place, but then I began to use fast travel more and more since I already had a great sense of the topography of the land and the range of random encounters. All of these have been natural progressions that occurred when they were right for me rather than when some game designer decided they should occur.

    Playing a game that allows this kind of learning, growth, and adjustment is a rare and unmistakeable pleasure. I feel very sorry for the gamer (lookin' at you, Garnett) who is so impatient that this pleasure is not attainable. IT IS WORTH IT! TAKE YOUR TIME.

    Lastly, and also for Garnett: I eagerly await your educated comments on iOS games, which I expect will occur after you have owned the device for more than a week. I've had three iPhones going back to the 3G and have played 100s of games on all of them, ranging from 10-hour RPGs to simple physics puzzlers. Anyone who says these aren't real games needs more time with the device.

    Keep up the good work kids,

    Caspar










  • Garnett's talk about the core story missions for Skyrim reminded me of a blog post I wrote about a month ago after finishing the story missions.

    Basically what I proposed, which I think Garnett could get behind, is that next Elder Scrolls instead of me as the player having to stop whatever I was doing in order to do the core story missions. The core story missions adapt to whatever I'm doing in the game.

    So say this happened in Skyrim, and I was really focused on just doing the Mage College quests, then maybe I start encountering Alduin or information about returning dragons while doing missions for the college. And so you still end up having to fight him eventually, but now you get to that point by playing the way you are playing the game, and you aren't forced to alter your play style of the game while still getting the core story.

    I think what appeals to me about this idea the most is that the way the core story missions are in Skyrim they all feel time constrained, like "you need to do this now or the dragons will destroy us all." But that isn't the case, and I can get right up to a really important moment, staring Alduin right in the face and then just walk away and do something else, and there in no repercussion for you doing that in the game world. Nothing happens or changes if you choose not to do something, and this causes a bit of a problem with immersion due to a suspension of agency (which is when the player gives up some control or choice to get a more immersion in the experience,) however here it is that I am given almost too much choice and it allows me to break the immersion if I choose to exercise it to it's fullest.

    To get back onto the point I was making, having the core story missions adapt to how the player is playing the game does remove that choice of how you are perhaps going to experience those missions, but I think that it would provide a more immersive to the player since it will make the world feel more real and more alive since these main story missions would be progressing with you rather then being frozen in time until you decide to do something about them.




  • For next gen I'm really interested in a WiiU type interface, except with an actually good gamepad, a smaller screen and multitouch. I think one of the big things console gaming could take from PC gaming is the whole idea of a graphical user interface.
    The funny thing about PC gaming is that I think a lot of times the audiences are way more casual, but the games themselves are often way more complex than anything a console can do. So like if you're playing an MMO you have to manage dozens of different skills, but its a lot more natural to do so because you can just impose virtual buttons onto the screen thanks to the mouse, and then players can naturally learn to hot key and so forth.
    So that said, with the Vita, I think it would really behoove Sony to perhaps release a touchscreen only version of Vita down the line that docks into a really nice fully articulated game pad. This way you could have a handheld with that ios/tablet appeal, but for hardcore gamers offers a very flexible device that doesn't try to replace their phone. They could use the game pad to enhance console gaming, and extend the Vita's battery life while playing on the go.
    For gamers interested in a more portable console experience the size wouldn't really be a draw back because the Vita is already way beyond pocket size, and they're probably going to use a back pack or whatever. But for casual users the sort of edgeless touchscreen form factor would make it much more travel friendly, and much more amenably to existing apps and so forth.


  • I have to disagree with Garnett about iphone/ipad games in general. It just takes certain games to get you hooked on for more than the few minutes. I remember when I found out about Game Dev Story, I ended up playing through it twice, and spent at least one night on the couch playing for hours instead of the PC or PS3 that I could have been playing. Given that, it only lasted 10 hours totally, and I haven't looked at it since (though you could say that about many console titles. Maybe it was the setting or reminding me of those tycoon type games, but like any other platform there will be games that grab your attention for more than mere minutes.





  • The money is found in the casual audience.
    keeping this in mind, if the Vita truly wanted to succeed then it has to be something that the casual consumer didn't know it needed, but want. Basically what I'm saying is Sony needs to drop the "game machine" aspect of it and focus on marketing it as some slick device that can give you anything from HD streaming to making you a ham sandwich. Sad conclusion? Yes, but if Sony wants to see sales then it cannot ignore the powerhouse that is the Iphone/Ipad (one of the best selling items of the holidays for children) and what its done to grab the audience.
    Make Vita a technical marvel that would wow audiences, then BLAM! Show that it also has some nice looking/high quality games.