Weekend Confirmed 100 - PlayStation Vita, DICE, Reckoning

By Garnett Lee, Feb 17, 2012 11:00am PST

Weekend Confirmed serves up its epic 100th episode with Jeff and Garnett joined by Jeff Mattas, Ariel Angelotti, and Andrea Rene. The celebration includes your listener greetings, a look back at some of the origins and good times from the first century of Weekend Confirmed, and, of course cake and beer. There's a whole lot more to get to as well. The PlayStation Vita started arriving outside Japan and we take a good look at the retail hardware, the user experience, and a couple of the launch games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Lumines Electronic Symphony. Jeff and Garnett both talk about the fun they're having in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, but square off when it comes down to how good the game is. There's even a philosophical discussion on the convergence of physical and virtual economies as relates to intellectual property. All that and more before it all wraps up in Finishing Moves.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 100: 02/17/2012

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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 – 00:31:56

    Whatcha Been Playing Part 1 00:33:12 – 01:02:18

    Whatcha Been Playing Part 2 01:04:29 – 01:32:59

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News 01:35:32 – 02:12:02

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 crew on Twitter, too!

Weekend Confirmed @WeekendConfirmd

Garnett Lee @GarnettLee

Jeff Cannata @jeffcannata

Jeff Mattas @JeffMattas

Big thanks to this week's guests:

Andrea Rene of Machinima - Tweet @andrearene

Ariel Angelotti @arielotti

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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  • So there's this big story that is picking up steam over at Giantbomb (much credit to Patrick Klepek) regarding a rather aggressive and aggressively sexist behavior from a competitor at the Capcom's SF x Tekken event/reality competition. What was said, and how it was defended to me shed light on what is commented on to smaller degrees over X-box live or any other online platform, but never fully explored. Because this basically became public, even Capcom had to come out and distance themselves from the culprit, as well as apologize.

    Now I know talk about sexism has been floated around here and there, discussed with mixed results; sometimes ending up pretty thought provoking, sometimes ending up re-saying things that come off as regurgitation.

    I think it'll be interesting to bring this up again, albeit briefly in light of this story. My main interest being whether there is a way to actually build a community that is actually constructive, friendly, and safe, but without risk of censorship, or whether this is just a pipedream and/or an impossibility.

    To me there is no debating the sexist remarks that came out of the said person, but having said that, I would like to think that there is a place where we can just drop in and play a game together without having once needing to consider what the gender of the other people are. Basically where we can all drop in as neutral people, and judge by personality, not gender, race, orientation, etc. Again, community; are we as a people/gamers able to foster this, or are we doomed to see the mistakes of history, but continue to repeat?

    As for the things that were said, essentially it consisted of a lot of stuff like "yeah I raped you bitch" after beating someone; something I guess is no different to what you would hear at a frat (I assume) playing games. I know a past episode discussed this briefly. Saying stuff like that is really not going to endear you to females.

    This is going to come off as weird, and ideally if you could just read carefully what I'm about to say. Like George Carlin once said (and to paraphrase), it's okay to make rape jokes, as long as it's put in context. But to me, if you aren't joking within context, you are either describing an assault, or are making threats about it. A fine line to tread that I would rather never get close to treading, which is why even in victory I treat things like I would when I'm playing sports whatever outcome; show jubilation or disappointment, but always be respectful. Wish everyone well.

    PS. Capcom are really not having a great start to the year. First the mixed reception of RE6 trailer, followed by some typing errors on the handheld games released, and now this with an idiot that's brought shame.

  • Hey Confirmers,

    Congrats on your 100th episode. Thanks for making it relevant and meaty, and not simply three hours of nostalgia and reminiscing about old times (though no one could really blame you if you did).

    I for one would love to hear you all expand upon the topic of digital ownership that you touched on in this episode. I recently traded in my old PSP 3000 towards a Vita without hesitation, as I have owned only digital versions of my favorite PSP games since I bought the PSP Go two years ago. It should be said that while I truly consider the purchase of the PSP Go to be one of the stupidest things I've ever done, the Go still managed to make me more comfortable with the idea of buying games digitally. In addition to the digital version of Wipeout 2048, my PS Vita is now home to several games migrated from my PSP Go and PSP 3000, including Shin Megami Tensei Persona, Persona 3, Little Big Planet PSP, Lunar - Silver Star Story Complete, and Tekken 6. I'm thrilled that I don't have to swap any game cards to play any of my games, and I'm also optimistic that once Sony has some time to work the kinks out, they'll eventually add PSOne Classics to the large number of backward-compatible digital titles for PS Vita, allowing me to bring over my purchased PSOne titles (like FFVII) to the Vita as well.

    At the same time though, I'm concerned. The last thing I need are even more game cases taking up space on my shelf, but I often wonder, what's to stop Sony from taking these digital games away eventually? We've seen this happen on Xbox Live, where games that were once available have been taken off of the Xbox Live Marketplace. It's happened on PSN also. When I first bought a PS3 back in 2009, one of the first PSN titles I bought was Gauntlet 2. I still haven't played it...I just bought it because it was one of my favorite games from my childhood, and it wasn't available on Xbox Live. Just last week, I went over to my brothers's house to make his PS3 my second "authorized" console and download some of my favorite games to it, and I was shocked to discover that Gauntlet 2 was no longer available to download, or on the store. Thank goodness I still had it on my first PS3's hard drive!

    My point is, without a physical, hard copy of a game, we have no guarantee that we'll be able to play any game forever, which is why I still buy most new-release games at retail. But for DLC classics and handheld games in the sub-$40 range, I'm apparently willing to sacrifice some of that confidence of ownership for convenience....and honestly I don't know why that makes sense to me. Sure, if I just took a break from digitally hoarding all of these old favorites and say, maybe, COMPLETED some of them, then I could at least know I've finished them and thus no longer feel the need to own them anymore, so who cares if I can't hold on to them forever? And who wants to have to worry about losing SD card-sized games on a trip, or not getting a game back that you loaned to a slacker friend? Still though, whenever I choose to buy the digital copy of the game over the retail version, I can't help feeling that maybe I'm getting played. Confirmers, what do you think?

  • Congrats on 100 eps, guys! I've been following Garnett's shows since Listen Up, but haven't written in until now...

    You were talking about the design considerations of the Vita on the last show and there are a couple points I just want to weigh in on: Garnett sounded disappointed that the Vita wasn't such a revolution like the name suggested, but in fact just a PSP 2. Partially I think the rename was fitting since, just like the DS wasn't a GameBoy, the Vita is adding a whole handful of input methods and features the PSP didn't have that go beyond simple incremental additions.

    On the other hand, I'd love it if they just made a PSP 2. I had a PSP and DS last gen and the DS frequently disappointed me with its gimmicky inputs that overshadowed otherwise good titles and the weirdness of the system which, along with its low power, meant that "ports" of games like Guilty Gear or Burnout were messed up caricatures of the games I enjoyed on home consoles - where the PSP was usually like a pocket PS2. To me, the truly great DS games could only be made for a DS and attempts to put more traditional styles on it usually ranged from laughable to terrible. I loved the PSP because it just had a "controller" input scheme and the low budget of many games along with decent general-purpose capabilities made it sort of like a new Dreamcast - lots of quirky unusual innovative titles that a company might not want to throw millions of dollars into making for a PS3 or 360. For this reason, I'm actually a bit wary of the Vita since the games will probably cost a lot more to make on average and the multitude of funky inputs could become intrusive in a lot of games. I'm already disappointed to hear you can't always use the face buttons for the system menus - instead of seeming slick, being forced to switch input modes usually strikes me as clunky. Of course I'm getting one... but I really hope it has plenty of games that have physical releases but aren't big AAA titles, and that most games don't force you to go from buttons to touchscreen to buttons then twist it around while trying to look at the screen, etc. I feel so strongly about this that if Sega dropped a system that was like a souped-up PSP, I'd probably go with that instead even if I didn't expect much in the way of games for it.

    Anyway, this is getting to be a wall of text - keep up the good work, guys! Looking forward to seeing where the show goes in the future!

  • Hey guys and gals, just wanted to congratulate ya'll on 100 episodes, i been listening somewhere around episode 20-something. While listening to the ONE HUNDREDTH episode I realized I have never really thanked you guys for bringing me such great entertainment on a weekly basis. You are the only video game podcast worth listening to due to your sense of humor and varying opinions and most of all your open minded attitudes towards games of any type.
    enough felatio, I just wanted to say thanks and keep it up, I tune into you guys because you cover the important trends in gaming from every side.



  • Do you think THQ deserves to be saved and what do you think it would take to save it?

    I personally think publishers like THQ are very important to the industry. They make a lot of stinkers, but specialize in original takes on established genres that often fall a bit short on quality, but high on creativity. Armageddon was a bit of an aberration in that they sought to simply copy without much interesting to add. It felt like a bad conversion of Guerrilla to Gears.

    I think they could save themselves by concentrating on the original titles they make that are good- Metro, Saints Row, Red Faction, Darksiders, etc- and aggressively seek out cheap new licenses and upcoming talent.

    Right now they seem dead other than Darksiders 2, which the rumor is that they will run out of funds the same month that title releases. I'd be sad to see my B level titles disappear. I do hope a company like Square would swoop in to gobble them up, but I think it's more likely they will get picked apart by the vultures. Sad!

  • I really enjoyed the conversation about the future of hardware.

    I would agree that we've got a long way to go and (as someone who grew up with the Atari 2600) that while games have come further than I ever thought they would in my lifetime there's still SO much more room for improvement.

    I really enjoyed Tim Sweeny's recent commentary on the matter. But I can't help wondering of there's any stock in Australian company Euchlidian's 'unlimited detail' engine. The basic theory is that they can render an unlimited amount of detail on even basic computers by building a game world out of atoms instead of the polygons that are the standard in modern games. They recently proved a lot of critics wrong when they allowed a journalist to control a camera in a 3D world that was rendering a staggering amount of detail. There was no draw-in or frame rate problems and the detail of every rock and twig was fully rendered and this was running on a fairly humble laptop.

    It makes me wonder. What if the polygon race is a dead end? What if there really IS another way of rendering game worlds that's not tied to how hard a processor can chuck out polygons. Their claim is that, if their technology is realized, even a Wii could one day display unlimited amounts of detail.

    It's worth a think. I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

  • Quick note on the Reckoning discussion from the podcast, someone mentioned that you have all available topics during a conversation with an NPC from the get go, that there's no "discovering" something that they can give you information on.

    That is incorrect, some NPCs in the game do have topics that do not show up until you've asked them about something else. It's not every NPC but I've noticed it enough during my first 20 or so hours of gameplay to be sure of it.

    I think that this just emphasizes some of the flaws in the conversation system in Reckoning, the way everything is framed as a "check-list" just inspires so little interest that some really great lore gets lost to a ton of people playing the game, myself included.

    Hope Reckoning 2 can find a way to deal with conversations more naturally (or at least a way that's more entertaining).

  • Aw, I can't believe anybody could hate sony's game boxes, I guess I just don't see how the smaller boxes would be a problem when organizing them and the vita boxes are freak'n adorable! :D

    As for going digital, I still love collecting, and I just don't see too many pros for doing it besides reducing product waste but the smaller boxes are still helping with that.

    Because what if in future something happens to SEN, say Sony launches a brand new service. You probably won't be able to continue re-downloading your games or it'll probably still cost you at a "discounted price".

    The same thing with licensing, any game you paid for could eventually be pulled from SEN/XBLA and if you don't have it downloaded then it's simple "hey, sorry about your luck".

    With all that, the 10% discount just isn't much of an incentive at this point, especially with the price of all the memory cards you'll need.

  • When I first played Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning I was really disappointed.

    I think the main reason was the hype turning the game into something it wasn't. The game had been described in the marketing as having a 'vast open world'. So naturally, in a post-Skyrim market, that statement comes with a lot of baggage. I was really disappointed with the boxed-in environments. The game isn't an open world. It's a series of defined spaces. You can't go off the beaten path, you are stopped by invisible walls, the paths that connect the environments are contained and linear.

    Then I had other hang-ups. You couldn't loot every body, you couldn't pick every ingredient from every plant, you couldn't interact with everything you saw. Only the stuff with a sparkling glowing aura is a thing of interest and everything is just generic nailed tot he ground scenery/filler.

    It seemed the longer I played the demo the more things I discovered that Kingdoms of Amalur didn't do, I kept finding things that Kingdoms of Amalur wasn't.

    I really wanted to like the game too.

    Then I figured out that the problem wasn't with the game, the problem was with me.

    Here's why. Having played 150+ hours of Skyrim up until the minute Amalur came out my perspective had been unrealistically skewered . I was spending all of my time measuring Amalur against Skyrim. It was so easy to see the multitude of things that Amalur WASN'T. So I changed my perspective.

    Instead of focusing on all of the things Amalur WASN'T, I started l appreciating all of the things Amalur WAS. And then I realized, you don't have to be able to climb a mountain side and watch the sun rise over a distant city for a game to be an RPG. You don't have to be able to pick up every object, read every book, look every potato from every sack for a game to be an RPG.

    Suddenly Amalur was fun because I wasn't trying to measure it against Skyrim.

    Amalur is focused, streamlined, efficient. It might not have the amount of detail and depth of Skyrim, but on the same hand there's no aimless wandering, no excessive looting of every piece of apparel from every body. It trims the fat. Amalur is less of a vast open world and more of an action packed adventure story. Skyrim is a place I go to get immersed in living breathing world filled with wild animals, dragons circling villages and taverns full of folk chattering about their world, it has so much depth and layers of detail. Amalur is a place I go to engage in some fast paced combat and slick action. When I finish combat in Skyrim I go and pick up every spent arrow that's lodged in the scenery and my fallen foes, I pick through each corpse and find the most valuable salvage. When I finish combat in Amalur I special meter fills up and I mash a button to fill up a special meter that has an over the top finishing move and my arrows auto refill in my quiver.

    They're two very different and two very fun experiences.

    If you spend too much time looking at all of the things that Amalur ISN'T you can easily miss out on what Amalur IS.

    Now, my only real problem with Amalur is it's lack of any originality. Although the game is confident and well executed, everything from the title screen music lifted from Danny Elfman's Spiderman score to the lock-picking, to the stealth 'eye' logo and even art style feels borrowed. For the sequel they really need to focus on some things that identify Amalur as a franchise, some aspects that make people say "oh, that's a KOA game". Even the dialogue can't make up it's mind what it wants to be. Sometimes times there's a vertical list of responses and, for no apparent reason, other times it's a Mass Effect dialogue wheel. The game really needs some identity.

  • Jeff I happen to love talk about the future and wrapping my mind around the possibilities. One thought that just sticks is humans have somewhere around 5,000 years of history. Give or take another 5,000 what with the sunken cities which would put us active before the last ice age. Now add 5,000 years from here/this point and what do have????

    But that's really far off, I would like to comment toward Garnett. Who knows if everything goes more cyber space in 50 years it might just be a foundation of knowledge that's used and we might move back toward physical objects:) because they'd become cheaper to mass produce. That's what's great about the future it's so wildly different then we plan. Just think 8 years ago texting to vote for American idol cost money per text!!!

  • Just gotta say that I agree with Garnett 100% that the differences in the combat between Skyrim and Amalur is not minutia, it's what you're spending the majority of your time doing, and if you've chosen to go the melee route, there's no contest, Amalur does melee combat better in every way.

    As to the effectiveness of the roll... my frame of reference for that sort of thing would be something like Monster Hunter or Phantasy Star Zero, games where once you've hit the attack button, you've just committed yourself to the entire attack animation come hell or high water, so the ability in Amalur to cancel out of an attack and then chain a quick roll directly into a fat roll immediately felt very generous.

    The difference is in the two games I mentioned (but especially in Monster Hunter) your stats are secondary to your technique. Amalur hits, I think, a better balance in that knowing when and how to attack and dodge are still important, but that your loot and how you spec out your character have a more substantial impact on your chances for success.