Weekend Confirmed 143 - Far Cry 3, The Walking Dead, Tera

By Jeff Mattas, Dec 14, 2012 11:00am PST

On today's episode of Weekend Confirmed, Garnett, Jeff, and Jeff are joined by Shacknews' John Keefer to spread some pre-holiday cheer. The crew spends some time chatting about Far Cry 3's multiplayer modes, opines about the success of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead adventure series, and there's also some MMO talk focusing on Tera and Guild Wars 2. Naturally, Finishing Moves--complete with a new holiday-themed, fan-made intro--closes the show out properly, followed by a quick, post-show NFL TailGate.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 143: 12/14/2012

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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 - 00:00:40 - 00:29:25

    Whatcha' Been Playin Part 1 - 00:30:02 - 01:00:24

    Whatcha Been Playin Part 2 01:01:04 - 01:22:20

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News - 01:23:00 - 01:52:15

    Tailgate - 01:53:02 - 01:59:02

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Jeff Cannata @jeffcannata

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John Keefer @keefinator

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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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  • 343 Industries is learning the hard way, what happens when you abandon the identity of your game and the desires of your core fanbase to pursue the almighty 'Call of Duty audience'.

    Halo Charts tracks the online populations of the multiplayer playlists. Unlike Microsoft's Xbox Live charts, simply playing Spartan Ops or the single-player while your Xbox is online doesn't count towards these numbers. While Major Nelson claims Halo 4 was the second most-played game on Xbox Live behind CoD last month, the real numbers show a different story:

    http://halocharts.com/2012/chart/dailypeakpopulation/all

    Speaking as a long-time Halo fan, my interest in Halo 4 multiplayer is cratering. And it makes me sad. The core gameplay, buried somewhere beneath the stupid leveling system, the random ordinance drops, the lackluster map design, the [seeming] abandonment of skill-based matchmaking and the culling of multiplayer modes, is still beautifully elegant, competitive and satisfying.

    But it has been dumbed down, or in better words, CoDified. I don't hate CoD as much as some. I certainly don't like it as much as Halo, but I see it's appeal. It is a blindingly fast, visceral game that rewards hand-eye coordination above all else and lets players tinker with loadouts to maximize their preferred playstyle. I really do get the appeal. The problem for Halo 4, is that now it's stuck in limbo between the two games - it's not fast or visceral enough to beat CoD at it's own game, and it's no longer pure, tactical or competitive enough to appeal to longstanding Halo fans.

    343i could, in theory, stop the bleeding by putting in a host of 'classic' playlists that remove ordinance, spawn weapons on the map in traditional fashion, and limit what weapons you can put in a loadout. But I think the damage is done, and I question if they're too proud to admit the direction they took the multiplayer was the wrong one.

    In a genre composed 99% of CoD copy-cats Halo had it's own multiplayer flavor. And now they've tossed it aside to be another copy-cat.






  • Jeff M. I love you to death but your killing me on the FarCry 3 multiplayer talk in this episode. It smacks of the same thing that has bothered me in a lot of the chatter on the game. When you say the Co-op mode would be good if it was the same thing as the single player is baffling and infuriating to hear. I would think your complaint is more that you wish the single player had a co-op element rather then saying the current co-op mode is missing something for not having the free ranging maps of the single player. I feel like a lot of the complaints about the story are the same thing of people saying essentially that they could have written a better story or because it didn't go the way they were expecting at the end it ruins what's come before. An unfortunate way to view entertainment in my opinion. I don't understand how something can be graded on what it didn't do. As if it was supposed to live up to your expectations. It seems so arrogant.

    I've run through the co-op in it's entirely a total of one time and I don't think I'm going back through it but I had a good time doing it. The comparison to Left 4 Dead is pretty accurate. The things you are asked to do and the way the levels are constructed is very similar. You share the character progression and the weapon unlocks with the multiplayer but each co-op experience gives you soooo much XP that you can gain five or more levels in the first few "episodes" that on your first play through you get a nice progression of weapons and component upgrades. The story is just as redic as the single player and the opening scenematic sets a tone for the content that was very popcorn and fun. But overall its just a nice icing on the cake of the game and something that's fun but not necessary. I don't see that as a negative.







  • Cannata totally 2012'd me with his comments about how great the Walkind Dead is.

    It hink the "game" is alright, but I Think he is totally off base about how he contextualizes it within the games industry as a whole.

    First of all, most of his complaints with the way other games handle "choice" are due to the fact that players, apparently including himself, Min/Max Bioware games. This is NOT Bioware's fault. I have always played Bioware games making decisions as I would were I really in that situation and my character is alwasy about 75-80% good. Many times this means I miss out on perks for being evil or holy, but... that's the way my story played out. I think Mass Effect 3 having such binary decision trees is due largely because, as Bioware makes more and more games, it becomes more and more evident to them that players continue to "play the game twice, one as good and one as evil".

    The only reason The Walking Dead gets away with being able to be grey is because they've removed almost all the gameplay from the "videogame".

    A REAL example of player choice actually affecting the game world and the gameplay experience is Deus Ex 2 (one of my favorite games, despite people hating it) where you come across a super powerful gun. The capitalists want you to give it to the free market so everyone has a shot at owning it. The zealots want you to give it to their side so you can influence the global confict. And the pacifists want you to destroy it so nobody can own it. What decision you make literally impacts the enemies you fight and the strategies you take to complete the game. It's entirely possible to give the weapon to one side you THOUGHT you agreed with only to find yourself fighting against those people at a later point in the game.

    The Walking Dead is a great diversion from standard videogames, but it's essentially a choose your own adventure book and it deserves the same standing in gaming as that book series has in literature.

  • I guess no one here played Zero Escape: VIrtue's Last Reward. For some reason I'm still debating in my head whether or not it's better than The Walking Dead.

    Both games have excellent writing with characters that work and stories filled with tension.

    The only differences between them are that VLR is much longer and more slowly-paced, and that it's much less mainstream in its subject matter than TWD. That's really the only thing that has given TWD its current status. It really doesn't do much new at all -- adventure games like it have been around almost since the beginning of video games. TWD is just the first one to really reach the mainstream consciousness.








  • I know a game that has a more compelling story (very subjective I know) but it's not that I don't rate TWD's, it may be my second favorite story in a game ever. It's certainly my GOTY but to answer Jeff other games with stories on that level do exist.

    Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

    Firstly no I'm not going to divulge in spoilery territory but that narrative is so well pulled off that it needs to be considered The Watchmen of gaming.

    The story is full of what makes all narratives great in any medium. Great characters. Characters which play no menial part in the entire duration of its story and make you love to love or love to hate each and everyone of them. Conspiracy, twists are all present like any Metal Gear but executed much more concisely. Also literally there scary plot points in the game and one's that are very shocking in the non-scary in the 'did they just do that' kinda way. Also added is light wash of comedy and romance to create some relief from the tension and you've got a recipe for success.

    There is plenty of awesome meta-narrative elements and yes chances to change some cut-scene outcomes so if you don't consider it the same category initially then I will counter to it that yes it can be mentioned in a similar apples to apples way with regards to TWD.


    Nonetheless a possible point could be made that a more linear story creates a more focused narrative. Which comes onto my next point about the shortcomings of TWD for me. This is going to spoil the ending of that particular game. The kidnapper who owned the car is still at the hotel and his motivations are the same regardless of your decisions. Despite the fact in my playthrough I explicitly told him that I did not (and I did not) get the items out of his car. Regardless the same subsequent things happen in that scene. It made the twist feel cheap because no matter what he appears and tries to kill you. This is the difficulty of doing the moral choice feature in games, the connection to my Lee's actions and the guy's motivation was not connected enough to have a justification in any sense, even a little. Plus other consequences of the moral choice games are well ... the Mass Effect 3 ending so there's that.

    Anyhow back to MGS3, it perfectly illustrates how a more linear story can not screw with an ending as is the case with ME3 and to a lesser extent TWD. I mean it has the best ending ever in a game that I've ever experienced. It left my spine shiver, it was electrifying, left me speechless, full of intense varying emotions and was just simply friggin spectacular in it's payoff.

    Everyone reading this, play this game if you want that comparison. The first hour and a half is perhaps achingly slow but the rest of the 17 hours is perfectly paced. It is self-contained as its an origin story and like I said before it is more concise in the conspiracy aspect that other MGS games are sometimes infamous for so don't worry about it.

    So in other words. MGS3... everyone you won't regret it. So Jeff go play it .... or the other Jeff or Garnett perhaps to just to make a point of contention =]

  • My Holiday Story.

    When I was about 13, I would have a split X-mas because by parents were divorced. I would usually go to my Dad's about a week before. One particular year, we head on over, have our X-mas like meal and open presents. The big gift that year for me and my bro was boots. It was hard to hide our disappointment and honestly didn't do a good job of it. My Dad picked up on it and drove us to Target and let us pick out any Atari 2600 game we wanted. We picked Star Wars Arcade. I still feel kind of bad for whining my way into a gift but damn, I loved having that game. Games were a present I never minded sharing with my brother.

    also, I remember knowing which gifts were games by the size of the box.



  • While I'm glad to hear Jeff acknowledge the importance of writing in games, almost every other single thing he said in this episode about The Walking Dead was wrong. You did not craft the circumstances around which anything happens in the game. You chose a few of the details regarding how the action occurs, but those details are ultimately arbitrary because the game's circumstances are so rigid.

    The choices were still interesting to make because the writing was so good, but the impact of the linearity despite your choices did result in pangs of disappointment. The most glaring example for me is the show down between Carley and Lilly. No matter what you choose, or how you manage your relationships in the game, both characters are ceremoniously cut out of the plot in Episode 3.

    It hurts the experience because the game telegraphs both characters as potential love interests early on---or at least characters you could choose to bond with---but neither relationship can materialize. This means that if I compare Carley to say Andrea in the comic books, Andrea will always be an infinitely better character because she's existed for over 100 issues now. She is written as well as any character in the game, but more importantly I've watched her personality, her survival instincts and so forth develop over the course of the story.

    [walking dead canon spoilage below]
    So for that reason, to say that the game is better than the comic books is fundamentally laughable. None of the deaths in the game meant as much as the way Lorie died in the comic. Or the way (Spoiler) Glenn recently met his end for that matter. There isn't a single villain in the game as convincing or brutal as either Negan or The Governor. The interpersonal conflicts and moral confrontations aren't anymore grueling or stark. It is way better than the show, and a noble achievement for being the contained vignette it is, but it sure as fuck aint up to par with the comics.***

    Really your only through line relationship in the game is with Clementine, and frankly that ending did not have me moved to tears. I was wondering if there was some way of making Lee survive the whole time, and then the whole thing just ended in a way that actually felt anti-climactic. Now the end of Final Fantasy IX---that is the closest I've come to being moved by a game ending. And that's because it builds such a big dramatic arc that it earns its outcome.

    ***On that comic/game comparison point there seems to be some real life acting/film bias peaking through Jeff's whole analysis. Like, apparently games can not be good stories unless they could be recreated with real actors right? But one of the things intrinsic about games, that I've always felt was a strength, is that they are animation.

    The acting may not be as nuanced, but the audience can relate to the characters based on how they are modeled. Its often more effective to say 'this character has this disposition' by giving their face a certain shape, more than say putting 500 points of animation on one of the dead mannequins faces found in many other games, and relying on the actor's realness.

    To Garnet's point, part of the reason the hyper violence and parlell world-ness of The Walking Dead works, is because its done in hand drawn animation. If you look at Kill Bill Volume 1 for instance, the most violent scene in that movie is probably the animation sequence retelling O-Ren Ishii's childhood. As a thesis on violence and fantasy in story telling, there was a point to Tarantino doing that.

  • Has anyone on the panel/podcast played any of the iphone (and old books) games based on the Gamebook Adventure series?

    the walking dead to me isn't an adventure game turned into a narritive game, but really they took what these gamebook adventures did for just reading words and making choices with some dice rolls into a visual gamebook adventure. i mean there are a lot of them, and they are mostly desciptive text with some minor dice mechanics for battle or checking if you can climb a cliff without falling. to me some of these "books" (i played them on ipad) are pretty well written, and i have played the same gamebook adventure over and over, and they often do branch out in different ways that only loop back in the fact you may end up at a hub place, but everything inbetween the hub place and the next is totaly different.

    this reminds me so much about what you said about how walking dead will always end up the same but the adventure to geth there will be different. this is how the gamebooks work, and i think a lot of them with actual character art and spoken script would be a good way for an indy company to make some compelling games in the new "narrative game" genre. in other words i would really like more of the walking dead type game, but i dont really want them all to be horror based, or fantasy for that matter. a good crime drama, or sci fi, it could be glorious.

    so thats my 2 cents on how i feel walking dead game isn;t so much a puzzle/adventure game as it is a living breathing gamebook type game.i think both games are very close to the same because there are often puzzles to solve in the gamebooks also, but they aren't exactly about finding item a that goes with item b like i feel most advanture games are like. i much prefer the narritive chunk to be acted out and the dice rolls you would normly make in the gamebook to be masked by game mechanics, with the ame branching story. i hope to see a lot more with good to great writing like walking dead game. the only problem i feel like that will make it not as popular is, the gamebooks really do branch off to different endings/failstates and are meant to be replayed, where the narrative aproach of walking dead wasn't about replay (though you can replay it) like a gamebook is in a way, i would still love to see a developer make a game with such branching tree's that you may not ever see 4-5 of them, but i think as a developer they can't justify making that many threads that may never get woven, on a cost/creative basis.

    sorry wrote a book, but i have always felt a lot of simple ideas like a choose our own adventure book could be done well in a visual way for video games.