I've never commented, but I feel particularly moved to write in about a fantastic gaming experience that I just had: I just played through Minerva's Den, the DLC for Bioshock 2. I know I'm super late to the party on this one, but I think it's relevant to your recent discussion about story-telling in games and the way narrative is handled in both open-world games and in more linear experiences. I think that Minerva's Den exhibits some of the most well-done story-telling of this generation. The combination of the incredible atmosphere, great voice work, and excellent writing contributes to a palpable sense of place that had me caring about the characters and the world. A lot of people say that the original Bioshock was great until 3/4 of the way in. Whether you agree with those people or not, Minerva's Den reproduces the greatness of that first 3/4 of Bioshock, with great pacing, a satisfying buildup, and a great ending (a rarity in all media).
Minerva's Den immersed me completely into its world and made me feel like I was a part of it, I think much like Jeff seems to feel like a part of Skyrim's living, breathing world. Yet each game takes a very different approach to immersing the player; Skyrim has its incredibly thorough internal logic, while Minerva's Den has a completely unique feel, a haunting score and a detailed, coherent, yet completely scripted world. If nothing else, I think this game deserves a shout out for being awesome, but I'd really love to hear your guys' thoughts. In particular, I'd love to hear if Jeff played it, and what he thinks of this linear narrative that would emphatically not happen in Skyrim.
Another reason that this email is timely is that Minerva's Den is on sale this week for 400 MS points. If you're like me and skipped Bioshock 2 because you thought Bioshock didn't need a sequel, you're right, but you'd also be cheating yourself out of an amazing experience if you don't check out Minerva's Den. It's my personal game of the year so far, not only besting fellow DLC like Mass Effect 2's Lair of the Shadow Broker, and Alan Wake's The Writer, but also "real" games like Shadow Complex and Gears of War 3... Although Arkham City is about to steal that crown right back :)
Anyway, keep up the good work, and keep drinking - you guys are hilarious!