Weekend Confirmed 119 - Spec Ops: The Line, Halo 4

by Garnett Lee, Jun 29, 2012 11:00am PDT

After visiting with its designer last week, Spec Ops: The Line stands for inspection. Adam Sessler and Paul Semel join Jeff and Garnett in the discussion that looks at the game both on its surface as a shooter and its underlying ambitions to seriously address the carnage of a "heroic," one-man rampage. Along with the discussion of violence, the conversation also turns to the sustainability of the big-budget console game. Halo 4's commitment to episodic content and the demise of Radical Entertainment lead the news discussions. And of course, it all wraps up on Finishing Moves.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 119: 06/29/2012

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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 00:00:38 – 00:30:19

    Whatcha Been Playing Part 1 00:30:58 – 01:01:38

    Whatcha Been Playing Part 2 01:02:26 – 01:31:24

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News 01:32:33 – 02:00:30

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Paul Semel @PaulSemel

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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.


  • Firstly, and most importantly, that was a great episode. It was clear that you were enjoying it, and realised how good it was as you were doing it (not just because Supermegaworm made an appearance). That was everything a good round table podcast should be - a group of intelligent, articulate people talking about a subject they love with passion. I'd have Sessler on more often, but I imagine he's a bit divisive!

    One comment though, the section on Episodic Gaming was decent, but had me shouting at the radio (well, at the mp3 player in my running shorts). I'd argue that Walking Dead is pretty much everything you're asking for isn't it? OK, Episode 2 was a bit delayed, but we have cheap, frequently released content with an overarching story, based on a known IP but not reusing the same characters/settings as other mediums and a mature story that's thoughtful and creative.

    Most importantly it DOES answer the big question about episodic content - how do you incentivise people to come back? Well, Walking Dead does absolutely the right thing - it's not a long game chopped into bits, it's a series of mini stories with a plot arc overlaid across the top. This allows the game to bookend each episode and make them partially self contained - it lets you know what's coming and what's been before - and this builds engagement and excitement.

    Each episode is also a reasonable length, just 2 or 3 hours long. But most importantly there is a point to me playing through it because the story is dynamic. I want to play through it because I've made moral choices that I know will affect the story not one episode down the line but three or four. Episodic gaming so often doesn't work because I'm being asked to buy 2 or 3 hours more of a 10-15 hour game I enjoyed. I'm being asked to buy game mechanics. This is fine, but as you pointed out, so few people actually finish retail games that most people (80%) are probably satisfied with the content they already have and don't want more of it. Walking Dead solves this. Make the episodes short, make the player engaged in the arc because they're affecting it and make the game something different to the 150,000 identikit shooters that are out there. Big props to Telltale - I don't think this should be lumped in with their other output, which has felt, at times, rather lumpy and uninspiring.

    I also think Walking Dead, like Journey and Heavy Rain are the first wave of something new, something different for videogaming. I think they're edging closer to what Spec Ops wanted to be, which is using videogames to be an interactive storytelling medium, or a thought provoking one, not just finger and eye exercise.