Weekend Confirmed 168 - The Last of Us, Shadow of the Eternals

By Ozzie Mejia, Jun 07, 2013 11:00am PDT

It's the pre-E3 edition of Weekend Confirmed and hosts Garnett Lee and Jeff Cannata send you into your weekend in a special way by welcoming in Shacknews' Andrew Yoon, as well as Precursor's Paul Caporicci and Denis Dyack. They waste no time diving into the dystopian world of The Last of Us and what makes it one of the best games you'll play this year. Also, there's a brief history of Silicon Knights and Eternal Darkness before candidly discussing the upcoming Shadow of the Eternals, its goals, and its setbacks. The crew also addresses your listener feedback before speculating on the future of consoles and discussing the manifesto from Gunpoint's Tom Francis. Finally, the team sends you into your pre-E3 weekend with a new round of Finishing Moves.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 168: 6/07/2013

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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 - 00:00:40 - 00:14:22

    Whatcha Been Playin Part 1 - 00:15:22 - 01:04:22

    Whatcha Been Playin Part 2 - 01:05:51 - 01:37:45

    Segment 4/Finishing Moves - 01:34:31 - 02:09:26

Follow the Weekend Confirmed crew on Twitter, too!

Weekend Confirmed @WeekendConfirmd

Garnett Lee @GarnettLee

Jeff Cannata @JeffCannata

Andrew Yoon @scxzor

Follow Paul Caporicci and Denis Dyack's progress on Shadow of the Eternals:

Website: www.shadowoftheeternals.com

Forums: www.precursorgames.com/forums

Twitter: @ShadowEternals

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ShadowOfTheEternals

Remember to join the Official Facebook Weekend Confirmed Page and add us to your Facebook routine. We'll be keeping you up with the latest on the show there as well.

Original music in the show by Del Rio. Check out his latest music video, I Brought It Here, featuring cameos from Jeff Cannata and Christian Spicer on YouTube. 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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  • So I need to call bullshit on this Edge article claiming Sony's "no DRM" statements are just a pr stunt, and that "game publishers will implement similar policies across Xbox One and PS4"

    So what makes this article problematic is that it muddies the definition of what DRM is, by conflating the issues of revenue in the used game market with digital license management. What Sony has stated is that it will require a system level fee for the access of online multiplayer through subscription to Playstation Plus.

    What Microsoft has said is they will leave regulation of the used game market to publishers, however they will impose a unilateral system of digital game licenses across media. Meaning however you buy a game, Xbox Live will surveil your right to play that game through the internet.

    Creating a revenue stream to support online gameplay, is not the same thing as using the internet to regulate all gameplay. That said, what Microsoft has said they will leave to publishers, is the right to resell your games. What Sony has said they will leave to publishers is the implementation of a DRM system for checking game licenses.

    So, you know a pay wall for online play is arbitrary, it isn't really the same thing as DRM. I see people comparing these two things like a trade off, but they are not mutually exclusive. You will pay for the right to play online on Xbox One, in addition of having DRM license checks. There's no "insider information" that can resolve that distinction, and there's no insider who can clarify how third party publishers will approach DRM on the PS4.

    All this story amounts to is just vague speculation designed to distract from Microsoft's policies as a platform holder. It is a canard with no factual basis in reality. What we found out from Geoffe Keighly's interviews with executives at Activision, Ubisoft, and EA is that they didn't even know about Microsoft's plans to implement a 24 hour license check before it was announced a few weeks ago.

    Ubisoft's CEO Yves Guillemot similarly told Keighly 3:40 "I'm not sure [the value exchange of used games revenue] has to be changed. I think the way it works today is quite fine." This is the CEO of Ubisoft people. He continued to make the point that as we move into digital publishers will explore new business models, citing Steam weekend sales, as opposed to new ways of DRMing your shit.

    This article from Kotaku says that EA played no role in Microsoft's plan to impose DRM on the Xbox One. Peter Moore: "EA has never had a conversation", he later adds, "and I have been present at all of them, with all of the manufacturers, saying you must put a system in place that allows us to take a piece of the action or even stop it. Absolutely incorrect."

    So the big revelation here is that Microsoft controlling how you consume media, and your rights to consume the media you purchase, are not the same thing as publishers going after the used game market, or simply trying to get more revenue. This has to do with Microsoft's overall vision of turning the Xbox One into a Trojan Horse for all the media you consume. If they control the distribution channels for tv shows, movies, online gameplay, and video games of all sorts, they can charge you whatever the fuck they want.

  • So the mansion environment they showed in the FFXV trailer gave me some really good old school vibes. Everything in it was just so lusciously detailed from patterned marble floors to the delicately curved and upholstered furniture, the dining room chairs all lined up, the intricate motifs and gold framed paintings on the walls, the vases flanking every walkway, the arcing wood spindles along the staircase. Everything looked individually crafted, and beautifully textured.

    It might sound weird, but it actually goes to the point Andrew and Garnett made about The Last of Us. Square has been trying to cheat their way around prerendered backgrounds since FFX, and it has made their game worlds less and less believable. And for a fantasy game especially that's a complete disaster. You need that detail to suspend your disbelief and accept all the aesthetic flourishes and what not.

  • BTW just thought I would point out that I think Dennis is confusing two of Amazon's cloud frameworks.

    The one you use to run servers is called EC2. And while you can 'spin up' a server at various locations around the world, these servers to not do automatic load balancing based on where the user is connecting from. You would have to have some running in various locations, and route people to those servers to get them to connect directly.

    I believe he was confusing it with their CDN (Content Delivery Network) "CloudFront". This takes your static web files and spreads them out around their network. When a user visits a site, the files are then loaded from the nearest server.

    Shacknews uses a CloudFront actually- any time you load an image or a podcast (or other static files like CSS, etc), it connects to "cf.shacknews.com" which will load from the nearest CloudFront server to you.

    At the same time, their main server is an EC2 instance in Northern California. This is why, while you may not be near their actual server running the page, images and other files still load fast.

    But the web server (or any other cloud service using EC2) will not necessarily be the closest. Wherever they decide to start a server, that's where it is going to be until it shuts down.

    That was a stupidly long explanation for such a small point to make, and I feel like deleting it but oh well might as well leave it up.

  • I can definitely see what Dyack is talking about when he says the services are becoming more important than the hardware. I think that became true during the current console generation. The biggest difference between the PS3, 360, Wii, and their predecessors is the fact that consoles now have full-blown operating systems. I always considered that to be the main defining aspect of this console generation, and what had the most effect on how you experience games, not the hardware.

    People primarily bought games on Xbox 360 this gen because they wanted to remain plugged into Xbox Live. People are wary of the Xbox One right now not because of its hardware, but because of what it's doing with DRM and to a certain extent its focus on non-gaming services. One of the main reasons I primarily switched over to PC this gen was because I really like Steam as a service compared to XBL and PSN.

    When it comes to the "one console" thing, what he's really talking about is a single dominant format, or a single dominant operating system for games. This would probably have to be open source or at least controlled by a consortium and not one company, and it would be utterly different from the current game platform business model. The closest things we have right now are Android, Windows, and Linux. The problem is that none of those directly affects console gaming (despite all the Android consoles people are trying to release). None of them directly affects the console gaming audience or development community as of yet.

  • So this is what I have to say about David Hayer and Metal Gear Solid V. The first Metal Gear game to ever feature voice acting was Metal Gear Solid. It was a revelation at its time. Speaking of Silicon Knights, many people hated Twin Snakes because they bastardized the original's voice acting.

    So what was an aspect of the original's voice acting that made it so distinctive? Well for instance, there were two characters named "Snake" who somehow had completely different voices.

    So people who argue that Sutherland is "replacing" David Hayer are kind of missing the core ethos that made the franchise so great to begin with. There is not one character named Snake. There is Solid Snake---who David Hayer made famous---and who's fictional real name is in fact David, there is Liquid Snake who had long blonde hair and speaks with a British accent, and then there is Naked Snake, aka Big Boss who those two characters were cloned from.

    So in Metal Gear Solid 3 was where Kojima decided to make Solid Snake the trans-time space continuum, meta vessel for the franchise. Kojima called him "Naked Snake," and put used the trappings of Big Boss' timeline, but he broke the internal logic of the franchise by retaining Hayter and essentially conflating the appearance and personality of Solid and Big Boss characters.

    That said, the whole point of the original MGS, was that it took the convolutions typical to a video game story line (clones, android armies, mystical laser shooting kung foo fighters, whatever), and swept them under the rug. Kojima rebooted the idea of Metal Gear narratively and used that to craft a more credible, prescient story about nuclear war, American foreign policy, and whatever. He made a piece of fiction with the whimsey and fantasy unique to video games, that also had the credibility you expect from mainstream story telling.

    If you look at the original trailer for MGS2 it was one of the most galvanizing things this industry had ever seen. Kojima was the Wachowski brother of video games, bragging about how he used slow motion for Olga's scene on the tanker before seeing the Matrix. Just like The Matrix, the Metal Gear Solid's world was cool on a level that transcended its medium. It wasn't just a video game, it was a whole universe that resonated with people even if they didn't play video games.

    When you jumped to MGS3 though Kojima forgot about all those innovations. Instead of pursuing that new frontier of a game world with narrative continuity, he turned to the pre-MGS1 convoluted origins of video game story telling. Where as MGS went beyond gaming and subverted tropes of actual action films, Kojima turned to those films to imitate them on the most primitive level.

    He turned "Snake" into an Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Jean Claude Van Damme like vessel for his games. You plug that faux actor or "character" into any scenario, add violence or whatever elements define their personality (muscles, martial arts, in this case stealth) and that in and of itself carries the experience---rather than a richer narrative arc or logical continuity.

    So all that said, the decision to go with Kiefer Sutherland as Snake's voice, not Solid Snakes, nor Liquid Snake's, nor Naked Snake's---is pretty obvious to me. Kojima wants to rip off the band aid and turn MGS' into a franchise helmed by a banal action hero. Sutherland has a lot of experience portraying that "character" to American audiences. He isn't a great actor, but he is good at sounding like a "tough guy." Unlike a Schwarzenegger or Chan, he is paunchy, and old, but hey I guess that's the forgiving nature of voice acting.

  • So to the speculation over what Sony's policy will be for DRM, I think the reveals of Warframe and Planetside 2 on the PS4 really speak to their attitude on the matter. No platform holder can prevent EA or Activision from imposing some mega draconian DRM for its games, but what they can do is make the marketplace more competitive.

    Like the major problem with the games market on consoles right now is all of the consolidation going on. MHSilver just posted about that semi-scandal involving Bethesda and Prey 2 last week. Well my question is, how did Bethesda become such an important publisher seemingly overnight. If you only have a few companies controlling all software production on consoles, they will turn the business into an oligopoly and fuck people (and smaller developers) over.

    That said, if you do allow self publishing, and allow games with free 2 play come into the console space, you can see consumers choosing a different route. And you give developers the ability to make money off a great game like Prey 2 seemingly was or is, and let them focus on making content that their audience wants.

  • Lets take another look at the known/likely MS-published releases for the Xbox One:

    Quantum Break*
    Forza 5
    Halo 5
    Kinect Sports 3^
    Kinect Adventures 2^
    Kinectimals 2^
    Crackdown 3
    Fable 4
    Dead Rising 3^

    Now, MS claims to have 15 exclusive titles for launch year, with 8 being new franchises, so I put a star next to those. I put an arrow next to the ones I think MS might just reconceptualize into a "new" franchises.

    Now, I may fanboy out when they show Fable, but at the moment I'm leaning toward skipping both next gen consoles and using the credit I've saved to get a Vita. Why? Because I'm sitting on a full library of games for it thanks to Plus.

    Sony has done great with some of its properties, but mostly the ones that lean toward the artier end of the spectrum. Their AAA games (other than Uncharted) have felt oddly hollow to me. Killzone never got the feel of a fluid shooter, at least as far as mechanics in my opinion, and the story is boring. The Infamous games were fun for a few hours, but then got redundant.

    Microsoft is just a mess. There are some great games coming, but not enough to make up for all the missteps they are making.

    I think these new consoles are in for a rude awakening. Maybe the Wii-U's lack of success is more a statement on where consoles really are than anyone grasps right now?

    One thing I know for sure- it sure is hard to keep E3 surprises a surprise these days. Leaky ships all over the place!