Weekend Confirmed 149 - Nintendo Direct, Strike Suit Zero, The Cave, THQ death-rattles

By Jeff Mattas, Jan 25, 2013 11:00am PST

On this week's episode of Weekend Confirmed, Garnett and the two Jeffs are joined by indie developer Brendon Chung of Blendo Games (Flotilla, Gravity Bone, Thirty Flights of Loving, Atom Zombie Smasher). With Nintendo Direct in the rearview, the crew breaks down the resulting news and announcements, followed by some gaming talk about a host of games ranging from the Far Cry series to the more recently-released indies Strike Suit Zero and The Cave. Some talk about the end of publisher THQ and the sale of its studios and IPs is unavoidable, before things get wrapped up with another batch of Finishing Moves.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 149: 1/25/2013

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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 - 00:00:34 - 00:28:56

    Whatcha' Been Playin Part 1 - 00:30:17 - 01:02:43

    Whatcha Been Playin Part 2 01:03:21 - 01:31:41

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News - 01:32:30 - 02:15:30

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Weekend Confirmed @WeekendConfirmd

Garnett Lee @GarnettLee

Jeff Cannata @jeffcannata

Jeff Mattas @JeffMattas

Brendon Chung @BlendoGames

Catch up with Brendon and Blendo Games on the official website. Info about the XBLIG version of Flotilla that was discussed on the show can be found here.

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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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  • I actually really really liked Jeff's comment about the Elders Scrolls online trailer this week. I think that's one of the great underdeveloped conversations in video game culture, and its one of the reason's I find GameTrailers.com as a site to be so wrong headed. Like GT.com often regards game "trailers" based on the arbitrary self interest of "a video that generates hits." Its also one of the many reasons I think the Spike Video Game Awards or w/e are completely disastrous. Because even though the notion of using an awards ceremony as an E3 esque press event is kind of ok, the trailers at that event are typically canned animations that have as little to do with the games as possible. It becomes almost like this really weird film festival where all the films are actually like 30 second commercials for products that may or may not even exist.

    Like I think all the examples raised in the conversation are good and bad for different reasons. On one hand you have the PS3 hype trailers, like the one for MotorStorm. There the big lie was really the fidelity, however if you compare the trailers to the final games, the original trailer is actually fairly representative of the game substantively. Its basically the equivalent of the early PS1 days where every game regardless of genre had a mini CGI film before the title screen, just because CGI was so cool and new at that point.

    But, that said you then have way back in the day a game like Final Fantasy VII, which had a commercial built entirely on the CGI that's actually used in the game to help tell the story. So in effect it kind of betrayed audiences because the in game graphics were so incredibly primitive compared to the CGI, but the CGI was legitimate in game content. That kind of goes to one of the great virtues of Hideo Kojima as a designer, which is that he does all these incredibly directed cinematics based strictly on the game engine.

    I actually remember MGS2 being criticized because the character models didn't have the animation capacity to convey crying well for instance---but that's sort of missing the point, because the great thing about Kojima's team is that they put so much effort into realizing a virtual world where everything is created not just for technical competence, but for sort of believability. It kind of goes to that idea of DMC being a "venue" for gameplay, vs. having a real story to it.

    On a base level, I think the reason Devil May Cry 4 seemed like a death knell for the franchise is that in the HD generation Dante had been reduced to such a cartoon character. It wasn't just that he didn't have character, it was literally his aesthetic design. He was almost like Capcom's "red" character to Mega Man's "blue character." Really the whole idea of DMC1-3 was meeting the challenges great 3D action gameplay. When the original came out I remember people commenting about it filling the void of a 3D Castlevania in a way---which was much derided on the N64.

    So the other example brought up about game trailers was of course Blizzard's CGI, which is of a similar style to the one shown in Bethesda's trailers. But the really important distinction WoW CGI and ES CGI in this respect is that Blizzard has actually done the legitimate work of building a world to hock. If you look at Warcraft 3 there were like 6 different CGIs introducing and cap stoning each race's campaign. They actually conveyed story translated from what you did in the levels, and they added to the experience, because like Starcraft, WC is an isometric rts with tiny character models.

    Blizzard can't do with Warcraft what I was talking about with Hideo Kojima (and I think this is was Uncharted has taken the mantle up on in the modern era) by nature of the kind of game they're making. If the task is to create a virtual game world where character models aren't just gameplay devices, but attempt to convey humanity as well, it becomes very difficult in an isometric title where the characters are like 3 inches tall.

    Thread Truncated. Click to see all 3 replies.

    • So all that said, it is a lot more excusable that Blizzard uses CGI in WoW because they have at least expended all this effort onto building up a legitimate universe. Bethesda doesn't have that. What they're doing is using CGI to make up for a world that is too grey, drab, and lacking in character to stick out in a crowd. When that one archer dude appeared in like a dark blue cape with gold trim, I almost laughed out loud. That one blue dude is the most visually imaginative thing to ever come out of Bethesda Game Studios and he's barely worth more than a yawn.

      Its not just that the trailer doesn't represent ES Online's gameplay, graphics, or content in any way shape for form---its that Bethesda is cheating because trying to compete on WoW's playing field reveals their greatest vulnerabilities as a company. Tera may be a little vapid and arbitrary in its psychedelic Barbie and Ken/my little pony aesthetic, but Elders Scrolls has never been shit to look at on any level.

      Going back to Cyberpunk 7070 which Jeff suggested was equivalent, first of all the in game footage might actually look somewhat similar to that trailer. This is going to be a next gen/high end PC game, out in 2015 at the earliest. The trailer's fidelity was good but no nearly on par with top of the line CGI. Second, the trailer did convey something about the game you are going to buy, and perhaps is even an actual event you will witness in the game.

      That said, I think the other disturbing trend that ALL this goes to, is this idea of "transmedia" intellectual property. If you think about it what is Game Trailers dream if you take their current m.o. to its logical extreme? Probably that something like Halo 5: The Movie gets published exclusively on their site before the game comes out. And this begs the question: is this really the path that we want to go down? Do we really want to extricate cut scenes from a video games, and perhaps eschew traditional cinema, so that we can effectively view 90 minute advertisements?

      On some level I go back to Kojima, and think of how excited I felt when he put out a 15 minute cinematic trailer for MGS4. But then I thought about how fucking disappointing MGS4 was as a game. I think about how MGS1 was a revolution, and a statement on incorporating story and gameplay into a seamless package of suspended disbelief. Then I think about how MGS4 had incredible vertical slices of story telling---mostly shown in the E3 trailers---but as a whole is littered with tacky fan service and the character development of the most base level action titles (again, recalling the "venue" philosophy of Devil May Cry). An that said, MGS4 had the clunkiest stealth of any game in the series as well, and despite a very cool gun upgrade system, some really crappy shooting controls.

      So this is one of the longest posts I've ever written here.... and what is the lesson in all of it? I guess what I want is that our contrived conversations with all the same talking points of: "player agency," "the nature of the medium," "games are not movies," or "linearity vs nonlinearity," be aware of these nuances and choices in design. Don't reduce game criticism to your personal preferences, and your insignificant ego. Don't just reduce a disingenuous game trailer to the number of polygons pushed when the actual title comes out---because that is the group quota's richter scale for what game journalism "objectivity" is. Think about it in context of an individual title, and impact of it on the player.