Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Texture Pop: Episode 3: My Favorite Apartment on the Citadel

Before we start, I would like to begin by noting a very interesting trend. One of the more fascinating things I have noticed is that while the annotations for the podcast get tons of views, the podcasts themselves do not. There are several possible reasons for this.

1.) The 2-hour+ length of the podcast is off-putting.
2.) The lack of an MP3 format is a hindrance to our audience.
3.) My particular viewership would rather read the annotations than listen to the podcast.

We'll be experimenting with way to address some of these potential issues over the next few episodes. Today, this starts by giving out an MP3 version of the podcast on top of the YouTube version. Out of the people I've talked with, this has been a major issue for several people. It's totally understandable, as most people probably just download these onto their iPods and listen to them in the car.

Though we did not do so in this episode, we will also try to reduce the length of these podcasts as well. Ideally, we'd like these to be less than 1 hour and 30 minutes. The actual content of the cast won't change, but we're trying to find ways to let us have our usual discussions in a more reasonable time.

Having said all of that, the podcast is available below:

And the MP3 version can be downloaded from this site. The link should also be on the YouTube page.

0:01:30 Viewer Questions!
"Did you ever play a game that was bad, but still seemed to have a good game deep down trying to get out?"
This is an interesting question, because it's there are a lot of games that are bad because of a few key decisions.
Alpha Protocol is a special game for me, and people who know me already know that. The actual playing of Alpha Protocol is mediocre on Easy and terrible on either Medium or Hard. At the same time, the fact that character decisions have measurable impacts on the story. Everything you do in Alpha Protocol has some effect on something.
Thief (2014) is also another interesting game. All the mechanics are there. However, the game is let down by both the level design and the nonsense story. It's a shame that Square-Enix probably learned the wrong lessons from it. Since nobody is talking about it anymore, there's no one to correct them on it either.

"Have you guys played Brutal Doom yet?"
This brings up the topic of old school shooters and their recent reemergence in things like Wolfenstein: The New Order. Everything I have heard about the new Wolfenstein has me intrigued. I'm honestly not sure why I haven't played it yet.
I will say that it's amazing how just adding modern FPS controls to an old game can really breath new life into it. I might not have played Brutal Doom yet, but there is always a chance I will in the future.

0:19:43 Sam and Chris played Firefall (and hate it)
Hearing all of there stories about how terrible the game is to play with friends, I'm almost in shock. These are all really, really basic things an MMO HAS to get right in order to do well.
There is no reason to have quest-important objectives not instanced to each individual player.
There is no reason to make it difficult for friends in the SAME PARTY to be on the same instance.
There is no reason for each player in the same party to have to instantiate the same quest individually.
There is no reason for a game on Steam to not work when selected through Steam.
There is no reason to only allow for one quest to be activated at the same time.
And this game doesn't even have the shield of Early Access to defend it. It is just a bad game. I mean, I've never played it, but I don't want to after hearing these guys talk about. This kind of crap is inexcusable.
Were it an Early Access game, and if they provided some indicator explaining that this was necessary, there MIGHT be a valid excuse here. But this is literally as bad as it could get beyond that game just not working properly.

The discussion here also led to us talking about other MMO flops of recent history like The Elder Scrolls Online and The Old Republic. It's actually sad how far that particular genre seems to have fallen. Even WoW isn't doing as good as it used to.

0:38:32 Chris beat Shovel Knight
And didn't say much about it.

0:39:45 Chris and I played each other in Injustice: Gods Among Us
As of the time of writing, my Impressions article on Injustice just went up yesterday, which is the day AFTER we recorded the podcast.
For those of you unaware, Chris has a tendency to lose to me in games we play together. This was basically his chance at revenge for my beating him in X-Com and Persona 4 Arena.
It seems to me that both Deathstroke and Batgirl are really top tier characters. Deathstroke's guns come out really fast and Batgirl has a really good attack throw that rarely ever misses.
Speaking of Batgirl, we talk about Batgirls for a bit.

0:43:06 Chris played Dead Space 3, and so did I.
And I hijack his turn to rant about all the things that suck about this game.
The more I played the game, the more boring it gets. It's even worse because playing co-op with a friend is terrible and feels completely tacked on.
On top of that, I am never scared because my weapon is completely overpowered and has been since I could start customizing my weapons. The enemies jump out and I just blow them away with my shotgun whose damage is maxed out. Going up against cannon fodder isn't scary. In fact, when I get into an encounter in DS3, I don't get scared, I get annoyed.
The set-pieces are also insufferable, because they feel stupid and are the result of many cheap deaths. Every single set-piece in this game, without fail, has something wrong with it.
As for the story, I have absolutely no idea what is going on or what exactly are the relationships between the cast of characters are.
It's not a bad game, but it's not a good game. It's exactly in the middle: Completely mediocre.

0:56:00 Chris and Sam watched the Rocket Raccoon movie.
And I still need to see it. Don't worry. I will in time. It took me quite a long time to watch the Avengers as well.

0:57:15 I use the fact that the N7 Armor is in Dead Space 3 to relentlessly mock Issac Clarke and make Mass Effect references.
Which is how this episode got its title.

0:58:37 I played the story mode of Injustice: Gods Among Us
The way NetherRealms has begun to present the story of its fighting games is something I want to diffuse to other fighting games. Too many fighters use walls of texts to explain their stories. It works, especially for a comic book-based plot.
Another fun fact, Chris is a very old school comic book reader. Where Sam and I are okay with a more grey-on-grey morality, Chris would much rather it be black-and-white, like they used to be. Personally, I dislike when complex moral conundrums are made too simple, but there is merit to the old school "truth and justice" approach to comic book writing as well.
Overall, Injustice is a really well done story, and was pretty faithful to the source material.

We use this as a springboard to discuss DC Comics in a more general sense several times as well.
Chris also does a great job of filling me in with details from the tie-in comics published by DC.

As for Injustice's combat. I talked about it briefly in my impressions piece, but it feels a lot more rigid than I'd like it to be. I'd rather more fluidity personally, but that's just me.

1:13:02 I played Batman: Arkham Origins.
Arkham Origins occupies an interesting position. I do not envy the developers in making Arkham Origins. Living up to Rocksteady's Arkham games is HARD.
Shamus Young did a fascinating five-part analysis on Arkham Origins that discussed this very issue. Considering the expectations that were on this new developer, and the fact that they were going into this without much experience in creating Batman: Arkham games, it's actually really impressive how well they did. They really should be proud of the product they released. This is more the fault of the publisher than the developer in this case.
This game is good. In fact, it's awesome. It's just that it feels like an off-brand Arkham game. At the same time, seeing Batman in his early days is really interesting. He's still an expert in his chosen fields, but he lacks the experience and refinement of his older counterpart. It gives this one a bit more of an edge.
I do feel like the new Arkham Knight game would feel a lot stronger in the absence of Arkham Origins coming out last year.

1:20:16 I bought the Transistor Soundtrack.
And I spend a few minutes gushing over it.

1:21:17 I don't play Marvel Puzzle Quest anymore.
I had some fun times with that game, but with recent updates making it harder to keep up without spending several hours per day playing it, and the recent drama that was dominating my "alliance", it was no longer worth it. Free-to-play games really attract the oddest sorts of people.
And no, I am no longer in the market for any F2P games. I'll just stick to Solitaire and Threes.

1:24:05 We talk about Twitch's new content ID system, and Google in a more general sense.
If our explanation isn't sufficient, here's Twitch's official blog update on the matter. After the failure of their new system, they released an update the next day.
I find it funny because when it was announced that YouTube/Google bought Twitch, something like this would happen. It's honestly extremely shameful.
I also do not like how Google basically dominates the internet space. Most internet-related things are controlled by Google to a certain degree. It's probably okay for now, but history says that monopolies aren't good for consumers, if not now then somewhere down the line. After all, I'm sure you remember the whole issue with Google+ on YouTube.

I also take this time to personally apologize for my thoughts and behavior when Anita Sarkeesian first locked down her YouTube comments. I admit, I don't know WHAT I was thinking back then. Nowadays, I'm of the attitude that if a channel owner locks down their YouTube comments, you should say "Thank You".
So please like, comment, and subscribe to our YouTube channel! XD

Speaking of Twitch, I should also give a shout-out to the Diecast. In the latest episode, Shamus Young and Chris "Campster/Errant Signal" Franklin made the point that any one of those videos in the Twitch archives isn't valuable. However, they BECOME valuable in aggregate. As an example, any one of my articles on this blog isn't that valuable by itself. Together, the form a very rich repository of video game editorials.

This became weirdly political, but I think it's a conversation that should be going on. Just be sure any discourse of such a nature is civil.

1:41:41 Sam plays Trials: Fusion (and hates it)
Sam brings up an interesting point in that it took 2-3 hours to beat, and its cost was $20. Now, I have repeatedly said that length in games should not be the "end all be all", but that might be a bit ridiculous, especially since a lot of that game is grinding the same tracks over and over. For that kind of game, the price likely is a bit too high.
I also am somewhat amused by Sam hating the difficult tracks, because he's a huge Dark Souls fan.

1:45:20 I ask Sam a question about replaying old games.
Honestly, I sympathize with people who feel like they NEED to tackle that backlog, if only to justify buying the games. However, gaming is supposed to be fun. Props to my friends Alan DeHaan (@Aulayan) for reminding me that games are supposed to be fun. Playing a game because you feel you have to is work. Don't turn your entertainment into work because you feel like you have to. This message isn't just for Sam, it's for everyone who is reading this right now and/or listening to the podcast.

1:49:25 Sam played the Nosgoth beta.
I wonder how people will react to the game when it comes out. It looks cool, and it's an interesting way to resurrect the Legacy of Kain franchise.

1:51:30 Sam rapid-fire lists of all the games that he played.

1:51:55 Chris and Sam played DOTA 2 together.
And this takes us back to our tutorial discussion from before. DOTA 2 seems to take advantage of the player made guides in its game. That is very smart on Valve's part and helps guide players without holding their hand. MOBAs in particular have a tough time of it because they have a lot of working parts, but every game has this problem to a degree. It's interesting to see how they try to solve it.

1:57:40 We close the podcast.
And you can see my Injustice article here.
I'll also promote the Vlog Brothers, PBS Idea Channel, and PBS Game/Show here, since we mentioned them.
The Wimbly Womblies joke is a reference to HankGames (without Hank) where John Green plays FIFA.


Alicia Goranson said...

Are you doing any more of these podcasts? I am enjoying listening to them.

newdarkcloud said...

There is one up on the YouTube channel. I will get the annotations for them up either tonight or tomorrow.