Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Texture Pop: Episode 21: Legal Podcasting

The Texture Pop turns 21 episodes old this week. As everyone knows, 21 is the legal drinking age in America. As a result, we took the podcast on its first wild party.

That might explain what happens every episode. In other news, Garrett is back, but still kinda sick.

0:00:00 Introduction
Title drop already.
We'll get to the Far Cry 3 stuff later.

0:02:50 Viewer Questions
"What are some of your favorite overlooked games?"
Dark Cloud 2 is definitely my favorite overlooked game. It takes from so many genres: RPGs, Action-Adventures, Rogue-likes, and Simulation games. It blends them all together so well that it's amazing.
Wild Arms 3 is another. WA3 does a lot to fix many common problems with JRPGs. Spells have a minimum amount of MP needed to cast them, but they are otherwise free. Characters use Vitality to recover HP after a battle. And there are also the random encounter cancelling mechanics I talked about in the cast.
I'd also like to mention Shadow Hearts as another overlooked game. We've talked about it in previous podcasts. Sam's pick of Atelier Iris reminded me of Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, which I like for similar reasons.
I love questions like this, because they give me opportunities to gush about games I loved from back in the day. You should also pay attention to what the rest of the cast thought. Their picks were as interesting as mine, and it shows you what kind of games we all play.

"Do you guys have an old-school genre of video games that you wish to make a comeback?"
The only things that came to mind are non-Nintendo 3D Platformers. Even then, I'd only like them to make a comeback as smaller, $10-15 budget titles so that they maintain what made them great. This was a difficult question, as there were often many reasons why old genres died out. If they were $60, they'd have to be something like Mirror's Edge, with very high production values.

"Is there anything you'd like to see/not see in the new StarFox game?"
I had nothing to add here. StarFox isn't really my area of expertise.

0:34:50 We give Garrett space to better explain his Game of the Year choices from last week.
Since he wasn't present to do so himself, We tried to do it in his stead, but none of us believe we did his picks justice.
I'm going to let this part stand on its own.

0:42:25 Gaming News
PlayStation Network and Xbox Live got hacked on Christmas Day
The worst part of the whole thing is that the entire reason for the hack is that the hackers thought it was funny. There was no statement to be made. There's no good reason for hacking into a network anyway, but that just makes it hurt that much more.
It is also interesting to note that Sony was hit much worse than Microsoft. Sony really does not seem to have a solid grasp of cyber-security. They should probably get on that. After all, this is far from the first, or even the biggest, hack they've had in recent history.

Hatred reinstated on Steam Greenlight
Since we didn't talk about it last week with the Game of the Year stuff, we talked about it on this episode instead.
I think an interesting debate over the open-garden versus closed-walls approach to marketplace curation. There are merits to both approaches, but Steam doesn't really adhere to either philosophy. Were they to show more consistency, I would be okay with their decision. It's the inconsistency that is the problem.
The argument of censorship is another thing entirely. This isn't censorship, end of discussion.

1:06:50 Sam played Destiny (on Xbox One).
Such is our fate.
It's a good shooter, with solid mechanics. There's just nothing to do with those mechanics.
And nothing to the story at all, except the stuff that you have to look for online.

1:20:00 Garrett has been sick with the flu.
And it sucked. (This is mostly why he couldn't make the podcast for a while.)

1:25:20 Garrett saw Frozen on Ice
And we also talk about me watching the movie, since I did that this week. It's a Disney movie. I don't need to say anything else. I am a sucker for Disney movies, so I loved it. People who dislike Disney movies won't like it either.
I like how it subverts typical heroic and villainous roles by making the Ice Queen the hero and the stalwart knight the villain.
We also detour to discuss movie theaters and other things movie-related.
The Destiny video we talked about during this segment is here.

1:33:00 Garrett talks computers and Steam Sales.
Windows, computer parts, the works. Not much more to add here.

On the topic on Steam Sales, this current sale (as of the time of writing) hasn't really been that great. My wallet has been mostly safe. I bought a couple of things, but nothing worth talking about here.
But Chris did...

1:37:30 Chris played The Walking Dead: Season 2.
And he highlights the two biggest problems of the new season.
First, the new cast doesn't really stand out all that well from every other group of survivors in a generic zombie apocalypse. They don't feel as interesting as the original group from the first season.
Second, we have already wisened up to the Telltale formula, where none of your choices made a difference. It is more of a movie where you affect the tone of the interactions, for better or worse.

1:43:50 Chris had Christmas Oreos.
So we talk Oreos briefly. It took him a whole three days to do it.

1:46:20 Chris discussed his Christmas haul.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
The Ratchet and Clank HD Collection
$10 Nintendo EShop Card (for Megaman X on Wii U)
Guilty Gear Xrd

Not a bad haul. A lot of quality games in this assortment.

1:48:10 Chris played the Ratchet and Clank Collection
It is interesting to see how those games evolved over the years. The first game is easily the worst of the three, and they got so much better over time. Even as the worst, it's still a great Ratchet and Clank game. As they series went on, the developers learned many lessons about both characterization and gameplay. You can see it in the design. The thing we talk about with Ratchet being a huge jerk was one of the biggest problems. Like we said, they performed this same routine better in Tools of Destruction.

The Going Commando/Up Your Arsenal Developer Commentary LP can be found here.

We also discuss HD re-releases in a general sense in this segment.

1:58:50 Chris also got Gears of War: Judgement
He didn't play it, so we didn't discuss it. However, we get into a really interesting conversation about the class of games that exist purely to milk a successful franchises. Games like Gears of War: Judgement, God of War: Ascension, and Halo 4. We all know why these games exist, but it doesn't make it any less annoying.

2:01:10 Chris played a bit of Assassin's Creed 3.
This is, by far, the worst main series Assassin's Creed game. He just finished the best part of the game, and it's all downhill from there.
I absolutely cannot wait until he gets through Sequence 8. Everything after Haytham's segment was bad, but that segment in particular was awful.
The mission design was bad. The story was bad. The protagonist was boring. It is so terrible. Hearing Chris complain about the game will be Catharsis.

2:05:20 I played more Persona Q.
The biggest issue by far with the game is its pacing. It is about the same length as Persona 3/4, but it is purely dungeon-crawling. You can take breaks to talk to the people in your team, which coincidentally happen to be the best parts of the game.
The combat isn't even a problem either. It's fun. The reason the pacing is so bad is because every single floor in the Labyrinth is a massive puzzle that takes about 10 minutes to solve, but about an hour to draw a complete enough map that you can solve it.

2:07:30 I beat both Wolfenstein: The New Order and Far Cry 3.
Which I wrote an article about here. I took a lot from the conversations Sam and I have had in the past when I wrote that.
I spent most of this segment complaining about Far Cry 3, because the story of the game is a bunch of horseshit. Both games play very well. I'd easily recommend them both, but Far Cry 3 grinds my gears. Vaas was easily the best part of the writing. Once he left, the wind was blown right out of the game's sales.
I find the discussion here, comparing Tomb Raider to Far Cry 3, to be very interesting. There are many parallel's between those games. And overall, I found Tomb Raider much more palatable. Having said that, there are merits to both games.

2:22:30 I started my Holiday Movie Binge.
It wasn't anywhere near as trippy as people said it was. Still, it's a great movie. Leonardo DeCaprio and Ellen Page pull off great performances.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
If you like video games, you'll get a huge fan of the film. I really liked it. Micheal Cera plays a great maladjusted mid-20s dude.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I like the difference in tone this movie had to other Marvel movies. It's a bit obvious in terms of social commentary, but overall I loved it. It's still a superhero movie, but a much more "grounded" one.

See above.

Thor: The Dark World
Tom Hiddleston is a great Loki. There really is no other person I would have in the role. Aside from his performance, the movie isn't bad, but it is not as good as the other Marvel movies.

The LEGO Movie
I really enjoyed this movie. Up until the plot twist, it is a very cute movie with great, if obvious, social commentary. Once the plot twist is revealed, it becomes a very emotional story. The movie does so many things right that I would easily recommend it. Everything is awesome!

2:44:30 Wrapping Up.
My Wolfenstein/Far Cry 3 article is here.
Sam's itch.io article is here.

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