Weekend Confirmed 155 - SimCity, Dark Souls

By Andrew Yoon, Mar 08, 2013 11:00am PST

Garnett Lee is joined by Andrew Yoon and TRS' Dan Trachtenberg. Jeff Cannata is AWOL, presumably because he's still waiting to join a SimCity server. Dan kicks things off with yet another loving tribute to perennial show-favorite, Dark Souls. Listen as he tries to convince Garnett that From Software's hack 'n slasher is, somehow, just like a racing game. But, Garnett counters with Real Racing 3--a racing game so real, it says so in the title. What does EA's freemium game mean for the future of the industry? Finally, we talk about SimCity eventually, but you'll have to wait at least an hour or so before that talk begins. But, you're used to that, right?

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 155: 3/8/2013

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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 - 00:00:35 - 00:29:18

    Whatcha' Been Playin Part 1 - 00:30:46 - 01:01:47

    Whatcha Been Playin Part 2 01:02:25 - 01:32:20

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News - 01:33:29 - 02:12:08

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Garnett Lee @GarnettLee

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Dan Trachtenberg @DannyTRS

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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.

Click here to comment...


  • Why did Torment get funding and Project Awakened did not? That Project Awakened video looked like crap, reminded me of Oblivion or even Morrowind. Moreover, no one is interested in yet another 3rd person action game.

    Torment, Project Eternity, and Doublefine adventure got funding because they are promising a return to old school classic games, games people love, that is what people are just dying for.

    Kickstarter doesn't work for original ideas, because no one is going to invest unless they know they love the formula on offer.

  • Great show as always, but I had to completely disagree with the whole Free 2 play theory. I would much rather pay my 60 bucks up front and get the entire game then piece meal it together with micro-transactions. I have started numerous free to play games only to easily quit them once the micro-transactions appear because I am not that invested in the game and I hate the idea of paying a couple of bucks just to speed things along so I can continue to play. I'd much rather pay them my money up front and not have to wonder how long I will be ALLOWED to play. That decision should always be on the gamer because of a time frame not because the game says wait you can't play anymore unless you give us more money. If I am playing at home on my couch it ain't an arcade, so let's not start acting like it is. And if Assassins Creed IV or some other high profile game were to do that I would personally not play it. I am not going to support that type of gaming.

    As for Sim City, this always online shit is so dumb for a game that is Sim City, granted I knew about the always online and still purchased the game because I wanted to play the new Sim City, but when I tried to get into it for the first time on Saturday it still took me over an hour for it to create the city. That's just messed up when the game has been released for over 5 days. Totally unacceptable. And I am under no illusion that Sim City will be still be playable in 5 years until some Hacker cracks it and allows you to play the game offline, which I will be honest I will likely download the minute a realiable one becomes available. I don't always have a steady internet connection when I want to play this game and I'll do what I have to in order to play it. So their thought that always online will stop pirates clearly doesn't work. The only difference is that I actually paid for the game that I will then pirate.

    Great show guys

  • My Ramblings - Every time someone talks about Dark Souls it makes me nostalgic for it. I just beat dark souls for the second time Sunday and thought I was finished with it, but I listened to the Dark Soul’s section of this show and somehow I found myself playing NG+ into the late hours of the night. (Thanks a lot!) Replaying the game made me realize that I still remember a lot of it, but it did make me have some interesting reactions (although I still needed the community for some of the finer points). When I would get to a corner where an enemy was hidden waiting to backstab or trap me, my reaction would be along the line of “Not this time!” or sometimes “I can’t believe I forgot he was there!”
    What I love about Dark Souls – Dan does a great job at describing some of the great feelings of Dark Souls. The game definitely makes you feel joy anger and accomplishment as you play. The start of the game is very similar to Demon Souls where they give you three paths/doors and you have to discover which one you are supposed to use. This brings the sense of adventure that Dan was talking about. Going back to that Black Knight you guys kept mentioning. He is a good example of how the game reminds you, “you probably can’t do this now, come back later” or for the stubborn “find another strategy to beat this guy.” I was writing this because I wanted to mention some things that don’t seem to get discussed much about the game.
    The Devil is in the Details - There are certain points that feel like IWBTG (I Wanna Be The Guy) where the game will kill you and it is telling you “Now you know the problem. Give me a solution.” An example might be when you first get to the bridge with the dragon and get torched or (to avoid spoilers) when you fall into the blackness and are sitting there like “WTF - pulling up Google now”, but those are few enough to not be too frustrating. Once you die by the fire you might realize that the bridge is burnt and that there are charred corpses all along the bridge. The thing that lets you survive the blackness has so many hints (where you get it, the owner of the thing, the title of the owner of the thing, the dialogue from other characters in the game) that if you sit and think about it you may not need to resort to Google (though I still did and only realized after). The detail and depth in this game are astonishing. After getting ambushed or finding secrets enough time you start to notice more nooks and take a moment to think, “Is someone there? Is there an item?” The game design reminds me a lot of Braid, but somewhat less meticulous. (In Braid, if there is a rabbit there, you better believe there is a reason that rabbit is there) The story of the game has so much depth, but most people might not even realize it. Item descriptions, dialogue with characters, locations of items. They all tell a story in this game. After playing the DLC I just had two revelations that I found quite interesting. “Why is there a female body leaning against this giant grave with that item on it?” and “Why was that ring hidden in a chest behind that giant character?” are questions that should lead someone who’s played the game in the right direction. Before the DLC, were these just items, or were these put in those specific spots as hints only to be proven by the DLC? Each character has their own story and if you take the time to talk to them you can flesh out each one and see each of their journeys. Some characters even have fates that you don’t realize you can change until after you’ve experienced it once. (There are so many that I want to reference but I don’t want to spoil it) I’ll also mention that just in case anyone has beat the game and doesn’t know. On a final note, there is an alternate main story line that changes your perspective on the story of the whole game. It’s not the easiest to uncover naturally, so if you are interested it may be worth reading how to accomplish it.
    I hope you guys still read the talkback/comments this far into the week, and if you do thanks for taking the time to read this. I just wanted to share a few things that fascinated me by the game besides just the amazing gameplay and PVP/Co Op. There are plenty more things I could talk about, but I’ll end it here.
    Side notes
    1. I know that saying I beat the game the night before listening to the podcast sounds a little too convenient, but it’s true and just a coincidence!
    2. One of the biggest enemies in Dark Souls is actually time. It requires a lot of time to beat Dark Souls. Of course if you have time for Ni No Kuni then you may have time for this game :D. (but if you don’t enjoy it then don’t play it. If you never try it again because you didn’t like it after two tries then I respect that it is not what you like.) I guess this little section is aimed at Garnett. Hi!)
    more side notes in comment below

  • On Sim City

    The most annoying thing so far is the fact you can't back out and select another sever without quitting and restarting the whole program, at least from what I can tell. I'd help if they'd have the ability to go to a web page and see on what servers your cities lie, stats, the development of the other cities in your region, etc.

    Quick side note, funny to hear you speak as an LA. I'm a civil engineer and work with a few doing land development and land planning projects. When my wife and kids play SC, I cringe when their streets don't intersect perpendicular or they don't align intersections properly. I'm not allowed to watch them play anymore.

    I still think they need to work on the balancing a bit. I've started 3 different cities (not regions) so far, 2 of which are side by side to share resources. There doesn't seem to be that much sharing of resources as I'd hoped for so far. Example, one city has a sewage pipe problem but the treatment plant capacity is below max, plus the other city is way under max. I purposely built one there early to handle overflow from 1, but it doesn't seem to be working quite like I hoped.

    Also, I think I learned to push education early, which I did in city 2. I only have a elementary school in 1, but I've got 2 elementary, 1 high, 1 community coll and 1 college in #2. Crime and pollution are less in 2 plus a lot of other positives. But I've got empty desks, so I'd think #1 would come over to fill them and therefore get higher educated, but it doesn't appear to be happening yet.

    Also, if things progress as you spoke, SC will be free to play with limited streets and bldgs, then pay for larger streets, specialized buildings, technology, etc.

    My origin name is the same as this one if anyone wants to do a little WC co-op.

    Thanks as always for the show.

  • It was great being in rare agreement with Garnett for a change. If a game is designed as a SaaS then it should be evaluated as such, not in a pristine reviewers pre-release environment. To quote Luke Smith, a BJ is nice - if you get one.

    It's high time buyers start giving a damn about how they're being treated by the publishers and developers.

    Something you don't hear a lot about either is game preservation. If you claim to give a damn about games, then you care about game preservation. Who will be the custodians of games from 2014 and onward? The pirates?

  • Great show this week, nice hearing Dans love of Dark Souls.

    Regarding Free to Plays, im all for them, as long as they also give us the option to buy a full unlocked copy of the game at a decent price.

    I downloaded and got my feet wet with Real Racing 3, but i dont have the time to sit around and let my game sit there while my upgrades become available. If i want to have all cars and tracks unlocked, its going to cost me close to $100? thats insane.

    Offer me the game for $20, with all unlocked, but also keep the free to play option there as well, with IAPs.

    SWTOR has executed this well, its ftp with many iaps, but for those that pay the monthly fee, they still have all of the features open to use.

  • First, I have not backed ANY kickstarters (yet) ...

    But I think InExile comments are totally out of line. They would not be able to get money from a publisher for an isometric RPG. They can't use their "Wasteland 2" money on other games (at least not supposed to) - so their is no money in the pipeline yet. According to them their design team is pretty well finished with Wasteland and needs something to do. You to have a point about "hunted" - but that is a totally different style of game and thats probably all they could get money from the publishers for.

    The Awakened kickstarter did nothing for me - I remember lots of sites talking about how great it was - and I remember looking it up. And I remember thinking sounds cool, but lacked focus and did not grab me.

    I am also deeply concerned about kickstarter in more of a general way - its because the consumers are taking the financial risks Also you have people with plenty of money (probably) not taking the financial risk themselves Garriot and Molyneaux spring to mind. On the other hand it has become a form a advertising as well so maybe its necessary.

  • Jumping on the Dark Souls bandwagon as well.

    I have to say how awesome it was to hear Dan talk about Dark Souls and really get to the heart of the game. After hearing about all the trouble Jeff and Garnett had playing it back when it came out, I was sure I would hate the game. I ended up putting into my gamefly queue anyway to see if I could take the punishment.

    It was brutal and unforgiving, but then something just clicked. This game is hard, its too hard, I need some help. I did something I haven't done since the SNES era. I grabbed a walkthrough, an extremely detailed walkthrough and I tried again.

    I knew to take 5 steps and then pause for the surprise attack and I knew where all the best secrets were. This help made the game so much more bearable, but more than that, it made it fun and exciting. I still needed the skill to pull it off, I just had a heads up. However, as I progressed through the game I found myself consulting the guide less and less until I barely needed to keep it open anymore. I had immersed myself in the world enough that I now had the skills to go about it on my own and by then I had fallen in love with the game.

    I never did the multiple playthroughs, but maybe one day. I'd love for Garnett and Jeff to give the game another go and hear their thoughts.

  • About the Kickstarter stuff:
    Torment seems really interesting. I've been reading stuff on the Numenera website and that world sounds really cool. The idea of a bunch of the same creative people who did Planescape (I always hear how great it was) making a story driven game in a new setting seems really interesting.

    I'm not sure why it upset Garnett that they were invoking Planescape but not making a sequel or something in the same world. To me it's seems basically analogous to Bioshock infinite. Bioshock Infinite is, as far as anyone knows, completely unrelated to Bioshock, but it's design sensibilities, overarching story ideas, and creative team are all the same so they're using the same name. In a way, Warhammer and Warhammer 40k fit that model too.

    I also feel like the sentiment that "These guys don't need to be on Kickstarter, why are they getting a bunch of money when other more deserving projects aren't?" is misplaced.

    In my opinion, if anybody can create something (and create it exactly the way they want to) because people are willing to put their money on the table and say, "I want you to make that thing", then that's great for them. Torment is doing great because they want to make something that people want to buy and because people have the confidence that they can do it.

    Finally, the comparison to Awakened. First of all, if Awakened's Kickstarter failed, it's not because "Kickstarter is broken". It's because they didn't show people something they wanted, or because the people who would have wanted what they were making didn't find out about it. I never heard Awakened discussed on Weekend Confirmed before it was over, but I did hear about Torment.

    Besides that, when I looked at the Awakened project page, I saw a bunch of interesting ideas but I didn't see a game. Just a really cool character builder and the idea that you would do some kind of something with that character. For me the heavily game design, story, and setting focused pitch for Torment actually gives me more confidence that I'll see an actual game come out of it than Awakening's "We have really cool toys and hopefully players or us or someone will give you something to do with them".

    Overall, let each Kickstarter project stand on it's own merits. Don't bash the system if one things succeeds and another fails. It's really cool that creators are able to connect directly to the people who want to play their game and enter development with the confidence that the game has already paid for itself right out of the gate (which has the side effect of hopefully deterring bad microtransactions). If a project you care about is dying, fight for it, convince me that I should pitch in. It's a shame when a cool project doesn't get funded, but don't bash another project for being successful.

    Disclaimer: I have never played Planescape: Torment. I have not backed the Torment Kickstarter (I'm still thinking about it). I did back the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter.

  • I think Andrew made an interesting suggestion about Dark Souls free to play that got me thinking.

    Free to play is (in many ways) the new arcade model. - How can devs get people to continually pay and play.

    My major concern with free to pay is that game that has no ceiling on what you pay or no option to pay a "full price" fee and get everything.

    p.s. I loved Garnett's rabbit hole of design. I'm a License Architect and some of the points resonated with me. I remember when I used to play the original sim city, I would sketch out my concept plans on trace paper. I would probably do the same with the new one.