Weekend Confirmed 141 - Far Cry 3, Skulls of the Shogun, Darksiders 2

By Jeff Mattas, Nov 30, 2012 11:00am PST

For November's final Weekend Confirmed, Garnett Lee, Jeff Cannata, and "Indie" Jeff Mattas are joined by Jake Kazdal of 17-BIT Games, the indie studio behind the upcoming strategy game, Skulls of the Shogun. Far Cry 3 gets much love from Mattas, Cannata talks about his joyous return to Darksiders 2, and Garnett gives an update on his slog through the final hours of Lost Odyssey. The lively discussion includes a whole lot more, before the crew's Finishing Moves and post-show TailGate cap things off.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 141: 11/30/2012

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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 - 00:00:35 - 00:30:35

    Whatcha' Been Playin Part 1 - 00:31:05 - 00:57:57

    Whatcha Been Playin Part 2 00:58:25 - 01:30:07

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News - 01:30:40 - 02:02:22

    Tailgate - 02:03:05 - 02:10:41

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Weekend Confirmed @WeekendConfirmd

Garnett Lee @GarnettLee

Jeff Cannata @jeffcannata

Jeff Mattas @JeffMattas

Jake Kazdal @jkooza

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Original music in the show by Del Rio. Get his latest Album, Club Tipsy 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.

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  • Just wanted to poke my head in to comment on your DotA discussion, with Jeff saying that he wanted to get some experience in the genre. For some background here, I've been playing DotA since it was a collection of mods on battle.net for warcraft 3, and DotA 2 for a bit over a year. I played in the League of Legends beta and continued there until about a year after they released their 3v3 map, playing on a couple of low level competitive teams on the way.

    First, the pitch on ARTS games and why Jeff will get sucked in super hard (I hate the term MOBA. Multiplayer Online Battle Arena? The games are action RTS, it's a way better description): It's like taking the experience of leveling a character in Diablo/WoW to the level cap, compressing it into a 40 minute time period, and making the entire experience PvP. In WoW if you want to roll a tank/dps/healer you have to sink days into a new character, while in these games you just hit find match again and pick someone new. I've literally been playing these games for the past 10 years, and it hasn't gotten old yet.

    I've had thousands of RPG experiences encompassing the full spectrum of the genre. There were times when my character grew so powerful he could destroy anything in his path with ease, times when my shaman managed to throw out a key heal to turn the tide of a fight and a game, and times when my guy ended the game having taken a total beating, with a pitifully small inventory, no HP and weak spells.

    The basic mechanics aren't that complex. You have four abilities, you level up and earn gold by killing things, you use that gold to buy potions and new armor/weapons, and you go and kill the enemy. If you're not strong enough to kill the enemy, you need to farm better than they do so you can have more items and be higher leveled, so you can kill them.

    When it comes to which game to jump into right now, Dota 2 is really the place to be as a new player for one reason: Valve. The game is as polished as any Valve project. Each character has 30 minutes of dialog recorded, covering just about every action that occurs in the game. Characters have rivalries with each other in the game universe, and talk smack to each other after kills (Example - when a samurai strikes down a stealth hero with permanent invisibility: "An honorable foe stands to fight before he dies."). The animations and character design are amazing and ever improving, the devs put out custom holiday events/map reskins,

    If you want to see esports done right, you need to see what Valve is doing with Dota 2. Anyone can jump into any game being played at any time as a spectator, whether it's your friend playing his second game ever or two pro teams going at it. When tourneys are online, you can watch the games through the game client. You can jump into a first person point of view and get a players mouse and screen movements on your computer, you can control the camera yourself, or you can use their AI director to frame the action for you. Commentator audio is piped through the game client, and if multiple commentators are commenting on a match you can select the one you want at any time.

    Gameplay wise, the balance philosophy of DotA has always been "Make the less popular, weaker characters better, instead of making the popular, strong characters worse." Valve hired both the original creator of DotA, as well as the man who took it from a fun but unbalanced mod to a competitive game played for huge amounts of money. It's fascinating to look at the comments around DotA balance patches - nobody complains. In Starcraft blizzard can say "Hey guys we're going to make command centers cost 405 minerals instead of 400" and the forums will explode with reasons that this will kill the game, but everyone has so much faith in icefrog's ability to balance the game that nobody gripes.

    Finally, Valve is monetizing the game through cosmetic items and never selling anything that affects gameplay, while LoL is monetizing the game through selling heroes (as well as boosts that shorten the grind that it takes to get your summoner to the maximum power level). For me this is huge - I like being able to play as whoever I want to, at any time, without being charged. The implications of selling heroes are what drove me away from the game - Riot is incentivized to release new heroes as often as possible, to make more money.

    Anyhow, I hope this post might inspire some people to check out the greatest genre in competitive video gaming. Nothing beats jumping online with a couple of friends and creating some new stories, and the first time you get a character strong enough that you can come out of a three vs one fight unscathed I guarantee you'll be hooked!

    If anyone wants Dota 2 keys, I think I have a couple extra lying around - just reply here and I'll set you up.

    Thread Truncated. Click to see all 6 replies.

        • So Dota 2 is the first modern computer game that my girlfriend has played, ever. She's gone from being barely able to control the camera to playing quite effectively, and is totally hooked. When she went into matchmaking on her own at first it was super frustrating for me to watch, because everyone is making so many mistakes and bad decisions. However, it's balanced out by the fact that everyone is equally bad, so the games are actually even and fun. We've introduced a number of our friends into this game, with it being their first competitive computer game, and they're all having a blast.

          Also, my argument for new players isn't about the minutiae of the design decisions that each game brings to the table, but simply that Dota 2 is a higher quality game from a production standpoint. This is the studio that put out Half Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2. Every gamer knows that Valve makes amazing, super polished games, and this one is no different. I also think that it's important that you take into account the fact that there's no grind in Dota 2. A new player to the game has access to the exact same set of tools that someone with thousands of hours of experience does. League of Legends has you grinding summoner levels, runes, and hero unlocks, all of which affect the game experience.

          As they mentioned in the episode, improving the quality of the community has been a focus of Dota 2, and they've been implementing some subtle systems to make people's experiences better. For example, the game actually transparently segregates out flamers and trolls into their own matchmaking queue, so they get matched into games with each other while people who make games more enjoyable get queued together.

          While I'm currently on the Dota 2 train, I feel like I've had the experience with both games to make an informed decision in that regards. When League was announced I was incredibly excited to see someone try to do something new with the genre, and I jumped in as soon as the beta came out. I played thousands of hours of League of Legends, played against the people like reginald/dyrus/hotshotGG/etc. I stopped playing right before the ELO system was exposed, but my old teammates hit #1 on the elo ranking at one point.

          If you want to get into a game design discussion on the merits of LoL design vs Dota design, I'd be happy to go there with you. Point by point:

          1) For example the way that denying is done by attacking the enemy hero until they have to get out of lane

          You do this in Dota as well, it's no different in this regard. People bring up the deny mechanic all the time, but in low level games it almost never comes into play and when you get better at the game it adds more depth to the laning phase.

          2) focus on removing gameplay loops that aren't fun for either side really (mana burn, 5 second stuns, stunlock)

          There are counters to manaburn in the game with manaboots/magic stick, and the 4 second stuns in the game (there are no 5 second stuns) are either hard to pull off, random, or situational (windrunner shackleshot requires positioning, chaos knight is a random stun duration). That said, the LoL designers talk a lot about "anti-fun," and I don't buy it personally. Putting up a tombstone in the middle of a battle that causes a zombie swarm to come out of the ground and kill all the enemy heroes is fun. Having a mage character who can cast a bunch of different spells a la magika is fun. Blinking in as enigma and disabling their whole team with a perfect black hole is fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzzQN4KGhA4

          I'll bring up one point of my own, that calls out a fundamental difference in design philosophy - items. In Dota the majority of items you buy have an active ability that gives your hero an additional skill. Do you want to be able to restore health to yourself and your team? There's an item for that. Want to restore mana? There's an item. Want to be able to teleport short distances? For 2150 gold you can have that. You can buy an item that nukes people, an item that reflects damage when activated, an item that shoots out an aoe frost blast slowing everyone around you.

          In LoL almost all the items are passive bonuses, and the item effects are put onto a pair of skills called summoner skills. These are abilities that you select at the start of the game regardless of what hero you pick, and it removes a lot of depth from the game.

          There are initiation heroes in Dota that need a blink dagger to jump in on unsuspecting heroes to get kills. The speed at which they can acquire that item is pivotal for the direction of the game. When they finally buy the item, players will stay out of sight of the enemy so that they're unaware that they can be initiated on from long range, and the surprise factor will generally net a positive fight. On the flipside, a team can spend resources to track down and kill the hero attempting to farm up to their blink dagger, which will delay the item.