Weekend Confirmed 163 - Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Monaco, Marvel Heroes

by Ozzie Mejia, May 03, 2013 11:00am PDT
Related Topics – Weekend Confirmed

Hosts Garnett Lee and Jeff Cannata are here to confirm your weekend and welcome in "Indie" Jeff Mattas and Shacknews' Ozzie Mejia. The show starts with some talk about Nintendo's E3 news from the last week and where the company goes from here. That's followed up with the crew sharing stories from Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine, the Marvel Heroes beta, Poker Night 2, Game Dev Tycoon, and (of course) Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. The show wraps up with a breakdown of all the latest Grand Theft Auto V news and a new round of Finishing Moves.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 163: 5/03/2013

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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 - 00:00:37 - 00:13:50

    Whatcha Been Playin Part 1 - 00:14:32 - 01:01:11

    Whatcha Been Playin Part 2 - 01:02:22 - 01:32:40

    Segment 4/Finishing Moves - 01:33:30 - 02:08:42

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Ozzie Mejia @Ozz_Mejia

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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.


  • So I just finished Far Cry 3 last night. Took about 45 hours (I cleared the first island but kind of raced through the second) and by the end, had forgotten about the ambitions the story had to be "commentary." Then the last ten minutes...reminded me. To avoid spoiling the ending I'll just say I think it failed completely at what it was trying to 'say,' while still being a very fun game. But it made me wonder if a triple-a title is every really going to be able to function as subversive socially commentary.

    So for those who haven't played it (and again avoiding spoilers) the game embraces a bunch of video game and movie cliches: it's the story of a 25 year old white American rescuing an oppressed native tribe on a third world island. There's a beautiful native princess. A mystical benevolent african american character. Etc. The problem is of my playtime I spent 40+ hours PLAYING these cliches. They engaged with me in a fun way and a straight face in a game that was very fun and engaging. Until the last 1 or 2 missions of the main story when the game built to what felt like an unmotivated climax. [THERE IS A MILD SPOILER AFTER THIS TEXT] The end of the game features a choice, and the one that invokes the proper "commentary" ending asks you to do something that made me feel gross. If you choose the other the story just ends in total anticlimax. [HERE ENDETH THE MILD SPOILER]

    The other triple-a game with similar aspirations that jumps to mind is Spec Ops. Spec Ops had the opposite problem for me. It was a well-told story but I find the gameplay itself exhausting and a grind. That exhaustion actually SERVED the story but didn't make for an experience I wanted to keep coming back to in the evenings.

    I'm really excited that we've entered an era where technology is allowing designers to have greater aspirations with games than just popcorn, but is it possible for a triple-a game to actually provide interesting commentary, given the common structure of most big games? Or is it just, if a game tries to provide commentary about violence and it's main mechanic IS violence it's likely to fail?

    Just curious what other people thought.

  • I actually think the industry is a better place when Nintendo is doing terribly. Whenever Nintendo platforms gain power they tend to
    So to Jeff's point about Smart TVs, I'm just going to quote myself from 4/1:

    "I think ... the gaming industry's survival ... depends on the metamorphosis of Android from phone OS to a desktop platform. ...the only people who need a Core i7's processing power for instance, are professionals ... in fields like graphic design, video editing, etc. You can buy mini Android PCs right now that will do 90% of what anyone does with a desktop---word processing, email, video, and web surfing (what Jeff was talking about)---and they cost less than $100."

    So in context of Jeff's input frustrations, Sony can just extrapolate the Playstation App onto an Android PC, by creating a virtual OS for the PS4 on an Android Monitor that the PS4 hardware plugs into. Friends lists, game data, the Playstation Store all could be handled by apps on the display's own processor.

    Basically, you could access your games as widgets on the Android desktop. Then it could boot into Sony's Playstation App interface---you can watch who's live streaming gameplay on the widget, then when you want to play yourself the monitor fires up the console hardware so you can run the graphics locally.

    The PS4 actually already has an ARM processor designated towards background downloading, so this would be just another step in that direction. Incidentally the latest Snapdragon processor can also decode 4k video. So could sell such monitors as dedicated 4k movie platforms, and also use Apple's same line of marketing---say its a "Retina Display," or as people said of the iPad when it debuted, a mega giant iPod touch.

    By putting 4k in say a 30-40 inch monitor, you make the display technology more affordable, and you make the technology more discernible---because the same way an iPad screen can be more impressive/entrancing than a big screen tv, you can actually appreciate the pixel density when the screen is at a minimum viewing distance.

    Also I'll quote myself again from 4/6, Sony has already made an "external game console" of sorts for one of their Windows laptops:
    Also look at this Sony laptop, the VAIO Z, which works with an external GPU that you plug into your laptop:

    So Microsoft's strategy of trojan horsing the shit out of the Xbox hurts them because it makes it more difficult to do what the box was designed for: running games. Beyond Smart TVs making game console apps redundant, Samsung's latest flagship plasma lets you plug a harddrive into the back of the tv, and run a DVR off the display itself. So on cable cutting, vertically integrating with Comcast isn't going to solve any of these problems. Its just going to make Microsoft more money.

    Now that said, its a tough proposition to say in order to use this console, you need this special display. But Sony could very easily release the smart monitor version of the PS4 as a secondary SKU. They could put the hard drive, and perhaps even stuff like bluetooth, wifi and ethernet in the monitor, and have a slim version of the PS4 that literally just directs the graphics to the display.

    If you look at the trend for computing across the board every device you buy is more and more specialized. You're often paying more for less horsepower, but for a better crafted/organized user experience. That's why Apple succeeded in the first place with the iPod. Microsoft conceivably putting Windows on a game console is like the opposite of that.

  • I think hindsight has given most naysayers an appreciation for Sony's little get together. While it was lacking in some departments it did diverge a lot of information about how the system will play games. An underrated and not much talked about was Sony's eyeroll, "yes all those streaming services will be their obviously with more to come." I just have a feeling that Microsoft will do the exact opposite and talk about the other non-game stuff. The type of features that matter 1 year after a systems launch when the price goes down. Sony and Microsoft still have E3, Pax maybe, the conference in Germany, and TGS to talk more about the system.

  • Garnett's idea that Nintendo can get away with just talking to the hardcore does not seem to have proven out so far. There has been no noticeable jump in sales for either the 3DS Or the Wii U after Nintendo starting doing these Direct communications.

    The idea that Microsoft (and Sony) should stop talking about those other services is kind of silly. If more than half of the activity on the Xbox is people doing other things than you need to talk to that audience. It like telling Microsoft to ignore half their audience to appease a vocal minority. I have not seen a smart television that is easy to use as my Xbox. Not to mention I already have a dumb television and I have no motivation to buy a television.

  • So I think Jeff's issues with GTA really bring to mind issues with sandbox design vs linearity. My biggest qualm with the GTA franchise, and all Rockstar games has been the mission design. The advantage of linear level design, is that all the elements that make the experience fun are assembled right in front of you.

    What GTA always lost me on was the experience of failing a mission, then waking up in a hospital or police station, and having to find the trigger point for the mission to restart. What happens is that it makes the playing experience very inaccessible. This is a problem with sandbox games across the board. Garnet often speaks about how too many choices in a game can be overwhelming, but for me, its more a matter of becoming bored and frustrated.

    To me the lost art in game design today, is the simple joy of game mechanics themselves. Designing a mechanic that works in a specific way, and testing that against a wide variety of obstacles is the whole point and essence of what gameplay is. When people talk about wanting choice in games, I can't help but shake my head because of this. To me, running to a mission prompt through a lifeless world is not anymore gameplay than watching a cut scene. Putting the sandbox between me and the mission, doesn't give me choices, it limits the degree to which I can use the mechanics in a way that makes playing relevant.

    There's really nothing remarkable about the worlds of a sandbox games either, and being there in and of itself is not "fun." Elders Scrolls games have pretty much always been ugly. Skyrim was probably the closest to not being outright hideous to where I want to vomit, but I mean at the end of the day even that is just a bunch of snowy mountains and generic stone buildings. And the same goes for Rockstar games for the most part.

    This is also why I don't really acknowledge the notion of "ludo narrative dissonance." I disagree with Adrian Chmielarz' premise that you can bifurcate video games between simulations and toys. Neither a simulation or a toy stem from concepts that "video" and "games" do. A lego block is not the same thing as Monopoly. In this analogy, a more accurate comparison to "toys" would be the game controller itself, or the game console. In this sense, the concept of "ludo narrative dissonance" doesn't have to do with what appears on a tv screen, its what happens when you take your playstation controller outside and pretend its an air plane by making motor noises with your mouth and moving it through the air in arcs.

    So if you were to look at Lego video games honestly, you would probably call them mediocre platformers with a cute art style. And that makes sense because they're licensed products. They're designed to appeal to our knowledge of the brands they're associated with---not the products those brands produce. But through Adrian's prism, its like the standard of what "the platformer" doesn't even exist---even though that is genre title totally unique to the medium. Its like "Lego Star Wars is just a toy. Isn't that cute?" So in this culture naval gazing culture, we have forfeited what truly makes up video games' identity. Its all pseudo intellectual non sense.