Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Texture Pop: Episode 8: This Is Not a Destiny Podcast

I don't know exactly how it happened... but it happened. We brought up Destiny as a one-off joke in the intro, and we somehow spent almost a significant chunk of the podcast talking about it. The best part is that none of us own the game, so we have no reason to really give out our opinion on it. Garrett and I played the beta, but that's it (though I hear not much has changed between then and the main release).

And that really hampered the rest of the cast, because it left us much less time to really talk about what we wanted to talk about. Although we continuous fail to do so, we really are trying to shorten up these podcasts. It's just that one conversation leads to another, which leads to another. By the time we realize it, we've spent 20 minutes discussing cupcakes and no one has any idea why that is.
It's both the shows greatest strength and weakness.

Having said that, here's the show.

The MP3 of this episode can be found here.

0:00:00 Introduction
Sam, I just want you to know that THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!

0:03:34 Viewer Question
"Have you guys ever played the original Unreal or Unreal 2? If so, what did you think of them?"
My youth betrays me when these types of questions come up. Not only are these games before my time more often than not, but even if they were from my time, I haven't been using my PC for gaming for very long. I've only had a computer capable of playing smaller games fairly well for a few years now, so I missed out/am missing out on many good PC games. In many ways, I'm still playing catch-up. Part of me hopes that when I graduate college, I'll be able to upgrade to a really good gaming PC and get much deeper into it. Until then, I have other things I need to use my money for.

0:08:50 Chris has a question about manga.
While I myself don't read a lot of manga, I have many friends who do. Sam is very right, MangaFox is the place to go for manga. Though I am less familiar with it, Sam also recommended All Mangas Reader to check out.
As a child, I used to read many of the popular Shonen Jump manga, but not many of the less known ones. Growing up, money became more tight, and when it came time to start cancelling subscriptions, Shonen Jump was one of the first to go. When my friends introduced me to MangaFox much later, I was already too far behind and didn't want to spend all that time playing catch up.
I only really gave up on manga because I used to be really into Naruto, but a particular moment in the series pretty much destroyed any interest I had in it. After Pain killed so many characters, and then almost immediately brought them back to life, I stopped caring. It showed me that death is completely meaningless. Once that happens, it becomes much harder to invest yourself in the events that go on, since you know they is a good chance they will be made meaningless.
Is it unfair to judge all mange/anime because on one? Yes. Will that stop me from doing precisely that? No.
Having said that, that isn't just a problem you see in manga/anime. ANY series that goes on for too long with suffer from that. That's probably why my favorite animes (Code Geass and Death Note, for the record) only had two seasons and ended before they had a chance to turn into crap. Sam has recommended a lot of anime to me, and I probably should watch a few of them sometime.

0:21:26 I joke about Destiny... and come to regret it.
I'm sorry listeners. I truly am.
I still can't fathom why they wouldn't put the database containing all the game's story in the actual game, even as just a text file. It boggles the mind. The database exists in RPGs for precisely that reason. Some people don't care about story, but the ones that do can look up any extra details they might be curious about.
This game was clearly over-hyped, even worse than Watch_Dogs was. It's not what I would call a bad game, but it is totally outclassed by many of its contemporaries. Honestly, if Destiny interests you, you are simply better off playing Borderlands 2.
In the premier episode of this podcast, I made a joke that Destiny was about "fighting the darkness with my keyblade," but it is worse than that. Shit all you want about Kingdom Hearts, but it has characters than make an impact, with their own personalities and motivations. Furthermore, light and darkness are very strongly defined concepts. Destiny lacks both of these.
I just cannot see the appeal of it. It doesn't even seem all that ambitious to me. In fact, the game looks very safe.

0:41:05 Chris talks a bit more about Serious Sam (and we stop talking about Destiny)
Hearing Chris talk about Serious Sam 3 on the 360 really, really sucks. That should NEVER happen on a console. There really isn't an excuse for that. If the devs didn't have time to port it to the console properly, they shouldn't release it on that console.
Even on the PC, some of the things Chris is talking about are simply inexcusable. I get the distinct impression that the developers were probably pressed in terms of either time or money, possibly both. Most developers don't release games in a state like that unless they have to, because they take pride in their work. What a shame.

0:48:45 Chris talks about Fist of the North Star and Dynesty Warriors-esque games.
Not much for me too add here, unfortunately. It's Dynesty Warriors, you either know about it or you don't.

0:51:30 The conversation transitions into Gundam, then Zoids.
It has been so long since I watched the Gundam anime that most of the finer details elude me. All I remember is some anime dude putting on a rubber suit, stepping into a cockpit, and then air boxing the shit out of other robots.
For some reason, I have significantly stronger memories of Zoids. Though many names elude me, the characters, faces, and overall storylines are still in my mind. This is probably because I kept up with the series with greater frequency as a child.

I should apologize for my belligerence during this segment. There were two main reasons for that. One of them is something you might have noticed from the recording. I was sick, and my voiced might have given that away.
The other reason is that I has to be up super early for work, so I didn't want the recording to go on for too long.

1:00:55 I am getting sick of Project X Zone.
It was a very interesting game at first. However, the game doesn't really add a lot in terms of variety as it goes on.
Oh sure, the initial objective might vary from mission to mission. However, once that is complete, the game will ALWAYS make you kill everything afterward. At the start, the game is content with making you simply kill a boss to end a mission. However, that stops really early on.
As a result, one single chapter (in other words, one battle) can take over an hour to win, sometimes more than 2 hours. And the game has 48 chapters. The game does have a quicksave, but since I only play for 20 minutes at a time (the length of my commute to either work or school), I don't feel like I'm making progress.
It's boring, it's slow, and it's annoying.

1:05:33 I play more Digital Devil Saga
On the other hand, this game has been getting more and more interesting as I play. It's like most SMT games in that it is much more important to get the right skills than to level up. With the right setup, a low level party can easily topple a high level boss by striking weaknesses to get extra turns and using their own skills to absorb enemy attacks.
As for the story, it's good, but even in this space here, I would not be able to explain it. I know it's weird to ask you to trust me on that, but I'm asking you to trust me on that.

1:12:05 I tell the cast that I've been sick.
Y'know. I just assumed everyone used Petroleum Jelly to heal dry skin on their nose when they got sick. I was surprised that Sam was surprised.
Tissues, Petroleum Jelly, and Cold Medicine... I try to make sure I have all three readily available when I am sick.

1:18:35 Garrett played Half-Life 2 and League of Legends: Ascension .
I wish I knew a bit more about League, because I'm always at a loss with regards to what to put down here whenever Garrett talks about that game. I'm not a huge MOBA guy, so I don't get into them. I'm the kind of gamer who needs a sense that I advancing towards some goal, typically the advancement of a story, in order to keep playing. In multiplayer games, I don't typically get that, so I don't play them too often except to hang out with friends.

1:28:18 Garrett purchased FaceRig and Among the Sleep.
FaceRig is technically more of a software than a game, but it still sounds really cool. Basically, it's a program that maps your facial movements onto a 3D character, though a low-res webcam. It's still in testing, but the developers are apparently comfortable enough to put it out to the general public.
This brings us to the general topic of Steam Early Access. Like Greenlight before it, Early Access has a lot of problems associated with it. I still don't know if I support or renounce the concept, as there are very strong cases for its inclusion and its removal from Steam.

1:31:55 I ask the cast if they prefer the close-garden or open approach to Steam.
I ask this mostly out of curiosity. Again, I haven't fully formed my opinion on the matter. I think there is some nuance to the issue.
In either case, some quality-control should be taking place. I think that much is clear.

1:37:40 Garrett talks about his Game Design class.
It is interesting how many parallels there are between the classes Garrett goes through and what I go through. I am going for a general Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science, with a concentration in Game Design. Garrett is going through a specialized Game Design class.
In terms of programming, you can teach a lot by just asking students to program video games. All sorts of skills are necessary for even the simplest games. As you advance to higher level courses, this becomes less true, but it is still interesting to take note of.
Having said that, the pitches Garrett talks about from his class all seem really bad, just on a fundamental level.

1:47:20 Sam has been playing Diablo 3.
And he is super-bored by it. Then again, his character sounds super OP. Not much more to say about it.

1:53:00 Sam finished the new Strider game.
Not much to say about that.

1:55:45 Sam got to play the Dark Souls 2 DLC
And it's somehow difficult even by Dark Souls standards, which I thought was impossible.

1:58:50 Sam watches non-David Cage movies.
And they sound interesting enough for me to want to check out at some point.
Though at this point, I actually had to drop out of the podcast because I really needed to wake up early the next day.

2:12:25 Sam finished Muramasa: Rebirth.
And I am a bit sad I missed out on that. I mean, it would be me gushing about the game, but I would have loved to talk about it.

2:13:30 The guys wrap up the cast without me.
At least the guys are aware of how ungodly long this particular session seemed to run too. I wonder how much more bearable it would have been if I wasn't literally sick and tired. They aren't wrong about us being able to talk forever. These types of discussions, even outside the cast, are fairly normal for us. That's just how we roll, I suppose.
As for shout-outs, I wrote an article on RPG Combat I forgot that I wanted to talk about during the cast. I'll make sure to bring it up next week.

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