Can 12 million people be wrong? In the case of World of Warcraft, the answer may be…well, that would be telling. In this episode we break down Cataclysm and the state of WoW. Plus, the sensational indie roguelike Epic Dungeon, and gaming resolutions for 2011…ours and YOURS. Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Richard "A Closet Joke Would Be Way Too Easy Here" Naik, and Tim Spaeth.
Tim Spaeth: Submitted for your approval, GameCritics.com podcast episode 46, the penultimate show of 2010. I'm Tim Spaeth; this week, Azaroth torn asunder. Cataclysm and the state of World of Warcraft. Plus, the very best way to spend one dollar: the exceptional Xbox Roguelike, Epic Dungeon. And hey, it's almost the new year. That means it's time for resolutions. We'll share our gaming resolutions for 2011, and we've got some great listener resolutions, too. Y'all brought your A game this week. So excited to get to those. Joining me for all this frivolity, we've got the full crew, folks. Let's say hello to them now. Our founder and owner is none other than Chi Kong Lui. Hello, Chi.
Chi Kong Lui: Hey, Tim. How's it going, everybody?
Tim Spaeth: Also joining us, Mr. Brad Gallaway.
Brad Gallaway: Hey, everybody.
Tim Spaeth: Returning from a week off, the Horror Geek, Mike Bracken.
Mike Bracken: Good to be back.
Tim Spaeth: And trapped in a tiny closet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Richard Naik.
Richard Naik: Hello there, everypeoples.
Tim Spaeth: Sound quality a little wonky for Richard tonight, but you still sound great, Richard, and I think you look great, too.
Richard Naik: Well, I do. It's dark in here, so you obviously can't see. And the camera's not even on. But thank you for that.
Chi Kong Lui: Tim, you might want to preface that by saying that wasn't a joke.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, that's not one of my comedy bits. Richard is actually on hotel wifi in a tiny closet in Michigan. So we're glad that you were able to find a way to join us tonight, Richard, because we've got some good stuff. I think we've got a great show tonight.
We usually kick things off with a Quote of the Week. Not this week; my producer, Filipe, is slaving away—and I mean that quite literally—at our end of the year awards show spectacular. We're recording it in just six days, and in that show we'll be revealing not only our Game of the Year, but winners in a slew of crazy categories. We are going to give you, the listener, a chance to vote and win amazing prizes. I'll have details at the end of this show about all of that, and Chi and Brad, that gives you guys about an hour to think of what we're going to give away. I don't think we've decided yet, but [laughter] give it some thought and let me know before we talk about it at the end of the show.
Mike Bracken: Free copies of Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis for everyone who enters.
Richard Naik: I have this great travel iron that's in this closet that I'm pretty sure I could take without anyone noticing.
Mike Bracken: Mm. Yeah. Richard will get you a set of hotel towels from the Ann Arbor Holiday Inn.
Tim Spaeth: I love that.
Richard Naik: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: Cheap hotel swag, and Richard will sign every piece. Oh, I can't wait; I can't wait. So guys, I know we're under time constraints tonight. Let's get right to our first topic. It is World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Now, it seems a little self-serving for me to introduce myself and introduce my own topic, so could I impose upon one of you to introduce me? This is a complete change. We're going completely…turning the show on its head. No one has ever introduced me for anything before, but would one of you step up to the plate?
Chi Kong Lui: It's only appropriate that Mike do it.
Mike Bracken: Aw, I knew that was coming!
Oh, man, you guys are rough. I was off for a week, come on. Toss me right into the fire. Uh, yeah. So, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm came out this week, the latest expansion to the biggest MMO in the universe—a game that I gave huge amounts of my life and no longer do. So even though I don't, we can be selfish and not talk about it at all, so our friend Tim Spaeth still plays. So we were hoping maybe he would enlighten us as to what is happening in the newest expansion to World of Warcraft. Tim, take it away.
Tim Spaeth: Thanks, Mike. It's great to be here.
Chi Kong Lui: Good job, Mike. Good job.
Mike Bracken: Come on; I did that really well off the top of my head.
Brad Gallaway: That was really good, yeah.
Richard Naik: That was pretty good for the improv'ed introduction.
Brad Gallaway: Nice job.
Tim Spaeth: That was really good.
Mike Bracken: Thank you.
Tim Spaeth: I feel kind of useless now. That was spectacular. So the short story is, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, for those of you who don't care about Cataclysm and are going to fast-forward through this, let me just give you two lines: Every night when I log off of World of Warcraft, I feel empty, I feel awful, I feel guilty and I vow never to play the game again.
Mike Bracken: [Laughter] Oh, I know where you're coming from.
Tim Spaeth: But when I wake up the next morning, the first thing I want to do is log on to World of Warcraft and play for six hours straight. And I'm fairly certain that's not healthy.
But that's where I'm at. Now, let's take a step back from there. Coming off the last expansion, which was Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft, in my mind, had three major obstacles to overcome. The first and probably the least important is the storyline.
You have the Lich King, Arthus, who has been the main villain of Warcraft, dating all the way back to Warcraft III. So we're talking over seven, maybe eight years. And he dies in the Lich King expansion. I hope I'm not spoiling anything for you, but he is the final raid boss, and his death leaves a pretty big question mark in the narrative department. So I call that the least important issue, because there's a sizable percentage of WoW players—and, Mike, perhaps you're among them—who couldn't care less about the story. Who are just there for loot and leveling and experience and don't care who the Lich King is or who the Burning Crusade is and really have no idea why their character is even in the world doing what he or she does. But nevertheless, finding a villain is an issue. So that's one.
Now, the second issue is that Wrath of the Lich King, and I hate to say "dumbed down," but Mike, you would probably agree. It really dumbed down the game.
Mike Bracken: Oh, yes. Yeah. That was part of, in some ways, why I lost interest. It just became such a handholding experience. They wanted everybody to be able to get through all the content and get all the loot and that's fine and all, but man, they just made it so easy that if you had any kind of…I hate to say "skill" because that sounds so stupid and elitist, but if you had any idea about the mechanics of the game at all, it just became so easy that it was just not even fun. It was just like: "Push one button, win," basically.
Tim Spaeth: That's exactly what it was. And towards the end of Lich King—I play a healer, and in a 30 minute dungeon I might have fired off three heals, and that was just because my finger twitched. You didn't need me in the dungeon at all, but I could tag along and I would get cool loot just for being there. And it was great to be able to tag along on a Lich King kill, but it didn't really require me to expend any effort whatsoever. And loot is great, but if it comes with no effort, it's devalued.
So I really felt like Cataclysm needed to up the difficulty. You had to start thinking again. So really what happened was people were burning through content incredibly fast, and for the first time I think in the history of WoW, people ran out of things to do. [Chuckles]
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Tim Spaeth: There was just nothing left to do in the game. So unless you were pursuing top-tier rating and heroic modes and so forth, obscure achievements…In the past, players would just create new characters. They would create alts and level from scratch, and that brings us to the third problem with WoW, and that is that the oldest content in the game—that level one to 60 content that has been in the game since 2004—kinda sucks.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: I don't know the last time you tried to create a new character, Mike, but it's kinda unplayable.
Mike Bracken: It is; it's really redundant and the mechanics are archaic and the quests aren't very exciting, so yeah. I had a couple alts, so I went through it a few times. Not fun.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, yeah. Blizzard has really learned a lot about streamlining quest design in the last six years. People think of World of Warcraft, they think of "Okay, I'm going to walk five minutes to kill one dude."
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: "And then walk five minutes back to turn the quest in."
Mike Bracken: Or, remember Tanaris?
Tim Spaeth: Oh, God.
Mike Bracken: [Unknown] from, what was the goblin town there? Gadgetzan or whatever it is? And they would send you all the way to the opposite side of the zone to dig up these things, and then you'd have to walk all the way back across the zone? Oh, my God, it was terrible.
Tim Spaeth: And then they would give you another quest to go back to that exact—
Mike Bracken: To go back to that same spot, yeah. I hate that zone.
Tim Spaeth: That content was just a chore, so nobody was making new characters, and people like me stopped playing, and you as well, Mike. In my mind, Cataclysm needed to address all of those issues. And for the most part, now that I've been playing it for just a little under a week, Cataclysm does indeed address all of that, and in some cases very successfully. But it comes at a price, and we'll talk about that in just a moment.
If you haven't heard, the story of Cataclysm is that they have jumped ten years into the future of World of Warcraft. They've pulled a Battlestar: Galactica. They've jumped ten years into the future, and the terrible dragon Deathwing, who you may have seen in the cinematic or the big pre-rendered cut-scene, the trailer, he has been biding his time beneath the earth. He was the villain in Warcraft II, I don't know—15, 20 years ago.
Brad Gallaway: Tim, Tim, can I just jump in one second?
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, totally.
Brad Gallaway: I just want to say that I think "Deathwing" is the stupidest name I've ever heard.
Mike Bracken: It sort of fits for a dragon, but yeah. There wasn't a lot of imagination in that one.
Brad Gallaway: Kinda pedestrian. A little surprised.
Tim Spaeth: But keep in mind, this is Blizzard of 20 years ago who invented Deathwing.
Brad Gallaway: No excuse; no excuse.
Tim Spaeth: I'm sure it would be "Deathwingus" if it was modern Blizzard.
Richard Naik: Or "Darkwing." Darkwing Dragon.
Tim Spaeth: Darkwing Dragon. Sure.
Chi Kong Lui: Darkwing is already taken by Disney.
Tim Spaeth: So Deathwing has been reconstructed. He was defeated in Warcraft II. He has all this armor plating that's holding him together. He tears through the surface of Azaroth, and he lays waste to the entire world: wreaking havoc, burning cities, and actually what this does is give Blizzard an excuse to redesign the entire original World of Warcraft. Would not go so far as to call it a reboot, because it still has the same sort of questing structure. But the original game is in large part completely gone, which I don't think we've seen in an MMO before. Obviously, very few MMOs have the resources that Blizzard has.
But having now experimented with some new characters, I can confirm that this newly redesigned starter experience is some of the best content in the game. It is streamlined; there is a dedicated, tight storyline for each race; much, much faster leveling. And even up and above that, it's been remarkable to see these original zones remastered, with new graphics and new cities. Some of the changes are very subtle; other zones, such as the Western Plaguelands, which was just this zombie-infested, brownish, dark death zone, is now a lush forest. And it's amazing just to go and look at how this imagery that I've seen for five years straight now looks completely different, and it's more than novel. It's just kind of exciting.
And you can also fly in the old world now, and that's just…To fly above the capitol city of Stormwind, Mike, I know you're not planning to go back and play the game, but gosh, I would recommend going in and just checking out Stormwind from 50 feet in the air. It's just cool.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Richard Naik: Can I ask a fairly off-topic question?
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, man. [Unknown] [Chuckling]
Richard Naik: For someone like me, who…I played the game once, right after it came out. It must've been five and a half years ago. For someone like me who played it to level 13 and got bored, is there anything new that would entice a player like me who wasn't really all that into its previous iteration into the game?
Mike Bracken: Well, when you only level to 13, that's just really not enough time. And that's a crazy thing to say, but it's really not enough time with an MMO in the first place. You're not really even doing any kind of dungeons or anything like that at that point. You're just running around through the forest, killing fucking rabbits and stuff. So you got to give it a little more time than that to even start to get what the experience is like, I would think. Wouldn't you agree, Tim?
Tim Spaeth: I would agree with that. Two things specifically for you, Richard: The first is that in the new world of World of Warcraft, the leveling is so fast that you're going to get to level 13 on your first night.
Richard Naik: Ooh.
Tim Spaeth: You're going to do that in about three hours. The second is, every zone has its own dedicated narrative. It's almost like a single-player, story-driven RPG, and it's really important for the starter areas, because, for example, the Gnome starter area's completely new and it involves you retaking your ancestral city of Gnomeregan. Previously, the gnomes would just go kill beavers for pelts.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. [Chuckles]
Tim Spaeth: And that was the starting experience. But now there's this epic assualt on your city, and you have boss encounters and you end up defeating this boss and taking back your home. If you're a story guy, none of that was in the World of Warcraft you experienced. So I would say for you, it's worth checking out to see if the accelerated leveling and if the quality of the writing and the quality of the story…you may actually enjoy it quite a bit.
Richard Naik: Mm. Okay.
Tim Spaeth: And the other thing I want to mention is you don't need Cataclysm to go through that level one to 60 content. If you just have your original World of Warcraft discs, this was applied in a free patch that's accessible to everyone.
Mike Bracken: Oh, so that stuff's really just gone, now then, the old stuff?
Tim Spaeth: It is gone forever.
Mike Bracken: Wow.
Tim Spaeth: Unless you go play on some rogue server, private server, yeah. It's sad in one respect that no one will ever get to experience some of that content, but on the other hand, it's kind of cool that an MMO is able to evolve this way. We've never seen that before.
Richard Naik: Nobody'll ever get to harvest the beaver pelts again.
Tim Spaeth: [Chuckles] I'm sure there are beaver pelts to be harvested; I'm sure.
Mike Bracken: Yes, I'm sure.
Tim Spaeth: So if you do have a max-level character, if you have a level 80, Cataclysm also gives you new zones to level up in to the new level cap of 85. Here's where I start having a problem. In the first day of release, I leveled from 80 to 82 and a half.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, that's crazy.
Tim Spaeth: That was in one night of play. I took a few nights off. This morning I hit 84, and it is very likely that I will hit the new level cap within a week of release.
Mike Bracken: Wow.
Tim Spaeth: Which is absurd.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: That's just crazy. I am leveling so quickly that I have out-leveled some of the dungeons in the game. I can't go to them because my level is too high. I never had a chance to go to them, because I didn't even know they existed until I was past the level. There is streamlining, and then there is ridiculous streamlining. [Chuckles]
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: And if you are into leveling, you are going to burn through this content in 15, 20 hours. It's just that fast. And here's what's changed. And this is the last thing I'll say before maybe we get some discussion going. In the old world, even as recently as Wrath of the Lich King, a zone, an area in the game might've had maybe six or seven different points of entry, six or seven different places that you could start. And you'd find quests mostly through exploring.
Mike Bracken: Umhm.
Tim Spaeth: And that can be good and bad. If you're trying to level quickly, exploration gets in the way. But in the Cataclysm design, every zone has exactly one point of entry. There's only one place that every player has to start, and there'll be five or six quests there and you'll complete them, and it will guide you to the next quest hub, and there'll be five or six quests there, and then five or six quests at the next one. And everyone goes through the same progression. Now, that's good…
Mike Bracken: Doesn't that make for some hellacious congestion this week, with everybody starting at exactly the same place in the same zone?
Tim Spaeth: It has. There are two starter zones, so they've split the population. You can either start in Mount Hyjal or you can start in this underwater zone called Vasj'ir or something.
Mike Bracken: [Laughter]
Tim Spaeth: I don't recall the name. But, yeah. They anticipated that. The respawn rates on mobs is really, really high, so you're never wanting for things to kill. But yeah, there's a lot of people around—definitely a lot of people around. It lets Blizzard give each zone a complete story, because everyone is going through the content in the same order: they can have a beginning, a middle and an end. And they've added a lot of in-game cut-scenes, like they did with Starcraft II, using the in-game engine. The problem is, there is no choice. There is no discovery. There is basically one track that you go down. It's a leveling theme park ride.
Mike Bracken: [Laughter]
Tim Spaeth: Your hand is constantly being held; your world map tells you exactly where your quest objectives are. You just walk towards a flashing light; you kill your mobs; you collect your beaver pelts or your cow tongues or whatever it is, and you move on to the next quest. And everyone has the exact same experience. This is why I say when I log off at night I feel down. Because while I love the leveling and I love the constant stream of XP, ultimately, I'm just a rat in a maze that has one path and one exit, and it's hollow. World of Warcraft didn't used to be like that.
Mike Bracken: No.
Tim Spaeth: It's like the world part of World of Warcraft has been sacrificed. And it's certainly a delicate balance between convenience and realism, but I feel like Blizzard has gone too far in the direction of convenience. I think for the player who just wants to burn through content and get stuff as fast as possible, Cataclysm is probably the best that WoW has ever been for that kind of player. But for someone like me, who was enchanted by the world of Warcraft, by exploring and discovering, Cataclysm is not the World of Warcraft that I want. So, Mike, I don't know if any of that resonates with you, if that's tied to why you quit, but I'd be interested in your thoughts.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, it is. And I'm interested in the idea that they've streamlined it so much, and made it pretty much the same for everybody, and yet the hardcore guys, even in the last expansions when it took longer to level, would have guys maxed out in a week. So there must've been guys who had things maxed out in under ten hours, if the experience is coming that fast. And I'm assuming that's without the rest experience bonus and everything?
Tim Spaeth: Right, right.
Mike Bracken: That's crazy.
Tim Spaeth: There are notifications that go up every time somebody gets a realm first achievement, so, like, the first Rogue to get to level 85. Within 24 hours of go-live for Cataclysm, we were seeing people hit the level cap.
Mike Bracken: Wow.
Tim Spaeth: Some guys played for 20 hours straight or whatever.
Mike Bracken: Right.
Tim Spaeth: But to me, it's too fast.
Mike Bracken: Well, yeah, because it raises the question: This is an expansion and they like to put out some stuff, and there'll be another big update some six months down the road. So everybody's going to burn through this stuff way faster than they're going to be ready to put out more, so what are their 14 million subscribers going to do? How many of them are just going to be: "Well, screw this. I've been through all these dungeons and got all my gear and now I'll just quit paying them until they do the next update"?
Chi Kong Lui: That ties into my question. From the changes that they made since Lich King to now, do you think that it's having a positive impact in the way that Blizzard expects? What's your gauge of the culture now? Is there too many noobs running around? Are all the long-timers just all jaded? What's the climate like now?
Tim Spaeth: I don't see a lot of noobs. I don't think that there are as many new people playing this game as Blizzard wants you to think there are.
Mike Bracken: Right.
Tim Spaeth: And this is why I say that. When Wrath of the Lich King came out, that first week, when you would go to log in, you waited in a server queue, because the server was packed.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: You were 1400th in line and you had to wait a good half an hour to even get into the game to play. There has not been a single server queue for Cataclysm.
Mike Bracken: Not one.
Tim Spaeth: Not one. I have not waited even a second to get onto the server. Now, maybe they've increased server capacity; that's a possibility. But in the olden days, you would get new players asking you questions all the time: people begging you for money. "How do you do this? Where do you go for that?" Nobody does that anymore. I don't see any new people asking those types of questions. It could be that they've made the game so easy that people don't need to ask those questions anymore, but everyone I see on my server is a veteran with five different characters. They all know the system; they all know what they're doing.
It feels like we're just playing with the same people. Blizzard cites this growth of: "We're now at 12 million people." What I don't think they tell you is—what they don't want you to know is—every time someone signs up for a trial account, that counts towards the 12 million accounts. Any time somebody cancels an account, that does not get subtracted off the 12 million.
Mike Bracken: Oh. That's interesting.
Tim Spaeth: People keep trying it, or maybe it's a veteran who buys a second account for his spouse or something. I don't think there's as many people playing this game as….
Mike Bracken: You know there are hardcore players who pay for two accounts so they can have extra mules and everything like that. I know a guy whose main account is full of 80s, so then he has to pay for a second account to have storage characters and stuff.
Brad Gallaway: It's funny you guys say this—if I could just jump in for a second—because I don't play World of Warcraft; I've never played it and I have zero interest in playing it. But obviously it's been all over Twitter; a lot of the people I've been talking to have been talking about it just non-stop. But I got to say, it's kind of jibing with what you guys said. Everybody I've talked to who's been interested has been somebody who's been into it for a long time. It's people who know the system; who have multiple characters; who know the thing inside out. I don't think I've talked to a single person who's been like: "Oh! I've been really waiting for a good point to jump on to WoW and I think this is it!"
It seems to me it kind of agrees with what you guys said: Everybody who wants to play it has already been playing it for a long time, and I don't see, in my limited experience, anyway, anybody who has jumped on because of this. My perception was basically that this was for the hardcore people. This wasn't really a good point for new people to jump on. Is that not true? Because it sounds like the mechanics have been totally reworked for newcomers.
Mike Bracken: The funny thing about that is, I think as an MMO gets more and more expansions, it gets harder to get new people to jump in. You're looking at, you've got to go through the original WoW, then you've got to go through Burning Crusade, and then Wrath of the Lich King, and now [Cataclysm.] Before when you started at the beginning, you only had to level to 60 to be able to do endgame content; then it was 70; then it was 80; now it's 85.
So the curve gets more and more daunting to people jumping in. They're like: "I don't know if I can get to level 85. I don't want to have to start at one and have to go 85 levels to get to the really awesome stuff." Nobody does those old dungeons, that old raid content from 60 and 70 and soon 80. People won't do those anymore, so you'll just be basically skipping all that and doing five-man dungeons to get your gear. So I think it becomes almost daunting, the more expansions they do.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah. It is entirely anecdotal what I'm saying, but I think you're right, Brad. They have designed the game such that it is really the perfect time for new players to come in. But as I said, I started three new characters and I took each of them from level one to 20, and you're able to do that over the course of a couple nights. Every other player I encountered was an alt. It was a higher-level character who was just experimenting with the new content. I don't know.
Blizzard clearly has a lot of money; they clearly have enough money to keep this going, but for me personally, I'm going to let myself get to 85 and then I think I'm done. I've said that before, but I'm just not enthusiastic about it anymore.
Brad Gallaway: Tim, could you look at it like we look at console games? When Mass Effect 2 came out, I burned through it in three days and then I just put it on my shelf and I didn't come back to it until the DLC came out. And then I brought it out happily for each new expansion. Can you look at WoW like that? Is that possible? It doesn't have to be a daily lifestyle, does it? You can get to level 85, put it away for however long it takes for Blizzard to come up with something new, then bust it out.
Mike Bracken: Well, no.
Brad Gallaway: Not an option?
Mike Bracken: It misses the point, because the point is never about getting to 85 or 80. The point is the gear that you're able to start trying to get when you're that level, and that takes time. You're going to go into these big raid dungeons and you're going to have to fight a bunch of times to learn how these bosses work. And then they're going to drop three pieces of loot out of 25 people in your raid, and it might not even be one you can use. Even if it is, you might lose the roll to someone else. So then you're looking at another week before you can even try it again. And then the next week it might not even drop anything you can use again.
So that's how they keep you going. Getting to 85, inconsequential. It's really about the fact that you get to 85, but then you can go into these epic raid dungeons and try to get the best gear and everything like that. So it's really hard to do that with.
Brad Gallaway: Man. Can I just say that sounds profoundly unfun to me?
Mike Bracken: Yeah. There's definitely a soul-crushing aspect to that. Especially when you've been waiting for something to drop for months and it drops and you lose the roll. You roll a one or something like that and lose it. That is very soul-crushing. And it brings out the ugliest side of people, too. People get so pissy over things that don't even really exist.
Richard Naik: [Vent your outrage?]
Mike Bracken: Yeah, a lot of that. A lot of bitching; a lot of crying; a lot of tears. Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: I've often said, as we wrap this up, that the only thing that will kill World of Warcraft is Blizzard's next MMO.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: Whatever Blizzard releases next. I don't know if you guys saw, there was a leak of Blizzard's three-year timetable, their roadmap for future products. There was a product on that list called Titan, which everyone speculates is the next Blizzard MMO that they have been talking about. They've said that they're working on one, and I wonder if we are seeing the beginning of the end of WoW. I certainly get that sense.
Mike Bracken: Umhm.
Tim Spaeth: Time will tell, but that's my take on Cataclysm. Any other questions or comments before we move on?
Mike Bracken: Did you try the worgen or the goblin?
Tim Spaeth: I have not yet. These are the two new races that you get when you purchase Cataclysm. Have not tried either of those. Once I hit 85 with my healer I will probably start one of each, just to get a taste of them. But no real interest in leveling somebody up from one 85 again.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: One to ten, one to 15, I might be willing to do.
Mike Bracken: Cool.
Richard Naik: Tim, do you want to talk about our gentlemen's agreement, or our devil's agreement?
Tim Spaeth: [Laughter] Well, Richard, since you haven't spoken much, why don't you share that with the crowd?
Richard Naik: Well, Tim and I have basically hammered out a treaty after months of negotiations and several diplomatic incidents. We have agreed that I will reinstall World of Warcraft, let it take three or four days to update it with all the new stuff, and actually put some significant effort into it this time. In exchange, Tim has agreed to spend a significant amount of time playing Team Fortress with me.
And I'm sure that this is going to be an incredibly fun experience for both of us, I hope. And, yeah.
Mike Bracken: Can you play Team Fortress, like, computer-Xbox 360? Do they cross?
Richard Naik: No. No, you can't. The Xbox version is actually pretty much abandoned at this point, because Microsoft wouldn't let them drop the updates for free whenever they wanted.
Mike Bracken: Oh, jeez.
Richard Naik: So the Xbox version, at least as far as I know, hasn't gotten any of the updates or anything.
Mike Bracken: I see.
Richard Naik: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: So this will be the sequel to our gamer exchange program.
Richard Naik: Yeah.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Richard Naik: That's exactly what I was thinking about when I asked him about it.
Tim Spaeth: [Laughter] Team Fortress 2. We need to move on, but we'll keep you updated on our little exchange program there. And thanks, Mike, for talking WoW with me, and to our listeners, thanks for surviving the conversation. We're going to take a quick break; when we come back, folks, everybody listening, take a dollar out of your purse or wallet. We're going to tell you the best way to spend it. So stick around for GC dot CP.
Well, I guess you could say we're transitioning from the least independent game ever to one of the most. Technically, they're both RPGs, but that's where the similarities end. And I just love it when we rally behind these indie games. We're talking of course about Epic Dungeon, available for just one dollar—one dollar!—on the Xbox Indie Games Channel. Brad Gallaway, you Tweeted about this game weeks ago. Most of us have had a chance to play it now. Would you tell our audience about Epic Dungeon?
Brad Gallaway: Huh? Was it me? Oh, sorry. I was fast-forwarding through the World of Warcraft stuff. Sorry.
Well, is it my turn?
Mike Bracken: Oh, what a dick.
Tim Spaeth: Ugh.
Richard Naik: Very existential. Fast-forwarding through the podcast that you're recording.
Mike Bracken: Recording, yeah. It's meta.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, really meta.
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter]
Brad Gallaway: This new functionality's great, man. I love…
Mike Bracken: It's Web 3.0.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, 3.0. [Laughter]
Tim Spaeth: That was cold, Snoop. That was cold.
Mike Bracken: It was.
Brad Gallaway: Anyway, yes, yes, yes. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, Epic Dungeon. Good game; good game. Costs a dollar. What it's about is, it's a dungeon. It's pretty epic; 50 floors of brutality. It's a really small indie project put out by one guy; his name is Michael Muir. He did an interview, so if you want to read more about Mike and what he has to say, please come to our website and check it out. But basically he's a guy who loves dungeon-crawling and he decided to take it upon himself to create a game he describes as something that he himself would like to play, which explains why it came out so great. I think when people are really in love with the projects that they're doing, that really lends a certain energy to them.
This game is pretty special. I saw it originally on a trailer for the Indie Uprising that's going on right now. For those of you who don't know, a lot of the smaller indie developers who put games out on the Xbox Live Indie Channel are getting frustrated because their hard work and effort is being drowned out by all the cheap pieces of crapware that Microsoft allows. There's a ton of massage programs; a lot of virtual fireplaces; a lot of really weird, just crappy things that somebody put an hour into and they put up on the channel to try to make a buck.
The result is that you can't really tell the good stuff from the bad stuff. So people like Mike Muir and a lot of the other indie people that we know and love on the Indie Channel, they just get lost. They spend all this time; they put their families at risk. They're eating the government cheese and stuff, and they're not making a profit when they should, because they just can't be seen. So these Indie Uprising people are banding together; they've got a cool little trailer, cool little website, and they're hyping all of the games, and this is one of them. This was one of the first to be released.
Now, I will admit that when I first saw it on the trailer, I was like: "Wow. That doesn't look very special at all." But one of my good friends on Twitter gave it a shot, and she said: "You know, it's really fantastic. You've got to play this. Get it right now. Just pay the dollar and get it." So this person's got good taste and I trust what they had to say. So I went and paid my buck. It was really awesome. It's a really great game. Once you get past the visuals,or at least, once you acquire a taste for the visuals, I think the visuals are actually really well-done, even though they're a mish-mash between Atari and NES.
Mike Bracken: I was going to say, they're kind of like 8-bit.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, yeah, they're kinda 8-bit, but in some ways, not even as advanced as that.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: It's really limited, like one or two frames of animation.
Mike Bracken: It's not like Adventure, though.
Brad Gallaway: No, no no. It's not that bad.
Mike Bracken: It's better than that.
Chi Kong Lui: I think a better description is old-school PC, as opposed to [8-bit console].
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: There you go, yeah. It's really basic, and I will say, at the same time, they are really cute and they grow on you after a while. And once you really start to pay attention to what Mike has done with the graphics, you do get an appreciation for the amount of work that went into it. But it is one of those games where you look at it and your first impression is: "Nah." And that sounds kind of harsh, but it's true.
But once you start playing, it grabbed me immediately. I can't imagine anybody who's got good taste in games will play this game and not just immediately get sucked into it. I think the best way to describe it, for those of you who are old enough to understand the reference, is like a mix between Gauntlet and…what would you guys say? Gauntlet? Rogue-like influence?
Mike Bracken: Umhm.
Brad Gallaway: A few things like that.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. It's a Rogue-like with better graphics—not ASCII art instead. So yeah, that's pretty much it.
Brad Gallaway: And of course, for those of you who don't know what a Rogue-like is, because I don't want to be all too indie snooty, exclusionary: A Rogue-like…
Mike Bracken: Don't be an elitist.
Brad Gallaway: Trying not to be. Rogue-like games are games where you start at the beginning of a dungeon and you don't have any equipment and you start at level one, and you work your way through the dungeon. Everything in the dungeon is randomized, so you may find a really good sword, you may not find one. You may find a good piece of armor, you may not. You find a potion; it could be poison, it could give you a plus five to health. You never know. It's really random.
And so the appeal of playing Rogue-likes is that it's really up to the player to manage their equipment. It's almost like a giant dice roll. If you really like to gamble, you're thinking: "Am I going to get through the next level, if I'm smart enough? Can I manage what I find? Can I find some good stuff? Can I avoid the monsters? Can I survive to the end?" And another trait that Rogue-likes have in common is that usually when you die, you die. There's not usually a save to reload; there's not usually a safe zone to go back to. Most of the time, when you die, you lose all your stuff, you go back to level one and you start from the beginning, just end of story. And that's pretty harsh for a lot of people, so that's probably one of the main reasons why it's still as niche as it is.
But Mike takes on these elements and I think he really has done something just really brilliant with it. It's very simple presentation, but the formula he's got is really nailed tight. Oh, Diablo, that's what it is: Diablo, Gauntlet and Rogue-like, all mashed up.
Chi Kong Lui: Don't you think the ability system was kind of BioWareish, also? I thought it was kind of BioWareish.
Brad Gallaway: [Laughter] BioWare? I don't think BioWare was the first thing that leaped out at me, but we can discuss that.
Chi Kong Lui: No, I'm just saying the ability system. The way you're tapping the four buttons for different things, that felt like Dragon Age -ish to me.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, yeah, I can see what you're talking about, the way that it uses the D-pad. For those who haven't played it, what Chi's referring to is that each button on the Xbox controller controls one specific ability. So the red button is the Berserker Swordslash, and the yellow button is the Tinkerer's Droid function. So if you only have a Berserker that doesn't have any of the other abilities, you're only going to be using one button. But once you add the other abilities, then the rest of the buttons come into play. So, yeah, I can see what you're talking about, making a comparison to Mass Effect, for sure.
Chi Kong Lui: I was just going to throw in a slight Legend of Zelda, maybe.
Brad Gallaway: Hold on to that. We'll get back to that; we'll get back to that. So basically what happens is, you start the game; you've got four different types of characters to pick from. Each one has one special ability in addition to a standard melee attack, and then you just go. You just go in the dungeon; you kill whatever's there, and it's really super-simple combat. You just point the direction you want to go an if you bump into a creature, you attack them. So you can pick it up in 30 seconds. And the point is just to go from level one to level 50, and along the way you pick up armor. If you're lucky, you pick up good swords; you pick up different items; you've got to find oil for a lamp that lets you see further; you find different enchantments and so forth and so on.
That's really all there is to it, but it's just so well-done. The control is really tight; it's really easy to get into the game. There's lots of little touches, like if you die and then you come back to that spot where you died, there'll be a little gravestone to your old character and you can pick up an item from it. There are these little encounters that you find where a text box will pop up, and of course there's no animation or anything for this, but it'll say something like: "You encounter a witch who's stirring some brew. Do you bother her? Yes or no?" And then it's a little bit different for each character, so if you jump back and forth between them, you can have this randomized effect.
So it gives you a real strong old-school RPG flavor, and for me, Mike just really nailed all of the little elements that I like in games like that. It was just perfect, and it didn't matter a bit that the graphics were as basic as they were or that the controls were as basic as they were, because everything that he did, he did really well. And to me, this was the kind of game that is made by somebody who knows his subject material and he knows exactly what he wants to do with it. I think it just came out beautifully. I can't remember the last time I spent a dollar that was just as worthy as this one was. So I know that some of you guys have played it. Do you guys agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?
Mike Bracken: I would say it is the best dollar I have ever spent. Honestly, when you pay a dollar for a game, I went into it expecting: "Oh, this'll be fun for about ten minutes, probably, and that'll be ten cents a minute, basically, and I guess I'll be okay with that." And instead I've ended up playing it for hours. I haven't made it all the way to the 50th floor yet, because I've been busy playing Dead Rising 2, but all it is is a game for people who like to level up and collect loot. As we've talked about a million times on this show, I love to level up and collect loot.
And the best thing about it is, like all Rogue-likes, it has that permanent death thing. So you're running along and you're collecting loot and you're leveling up, but there's this constant tension as you keep going, because you know you're one mistake away from starting on floor one again. So the farther you go, you're constantly gauging: "Ooh, should I try to get another level on this floor before I go to the next floor?" The game has this way of…you get in a groove and it lulls you into it, and you go to the next floor and one mistake and you're dead. So I like that, because it makes the game seem more visceral, I guess. So definitely, if you like leveling up and collecting loot, this is a great game for the lowly price of a dollar. Absolutely fantastic experience.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, for sure. One thing that I forgot to mention when I was breaking the game down is that it happens in real-time. Most Rogue-likes are turn-based.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Brad Gallaway: They usually give the player plenty of time to plan their moves to give you lots of room to think up some strategies and how best to use your items. But in this game, everything is real-time. So you've got these enemies flying at you and, like Mike said, when you go to the next floor, very often, you get mobbed as soon as you hit the next floor. So you have to be really prepared to either bust out your attacks or just run away. Death comes quickly in that game, and if you blink, you can find yourself back to floor one before you even know what happened. So definitely the tension sets in because the fatalities are actually fatal. I'll tell you, when I hit floor 35 or 40 for the first time, I was sweating.
Mike Bracken: Umhm. [Chuckles]
Brad Gallaway: My armpits were wet and my hands were shaking, and my wife was asking me: "What's wrong?" and I'm like: "Nothing! Nothing! Don't talk to me!"
Mike Bracken: "Don't distract me!"
Brad Gallaway: It was tense; it was really tense.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Brad Gallaway: It's not very often that a game brings out that stress level in me. Tim, did you have a chance to play it?
Tim Spaeth: I did. I don't think I've played it as much as the two of you, but I had a great time with it. Had you not mentioned the real-time aspect, I was going to mention it myself. I think it works so well on console as a real-time experience. On a console you expect action; on a handheld, where at any moment you may have to put the handheld down, a turn-based experience works better there. Shiren the Wanderer, for example, you can set that down, close the lid. But I love that it's more action-oriented.
I have two comments. The first is, it's very important to me when I'm playing this type of game, whether it's a Rogue-like or something like Torchlight or Diablo to be able to see the whole map. And there's a subtle bit of genius in this game, where if you pull back on the right stick, it zooms the entire floor back so that you can see the entire level. And you don't have to go to a separate map screen and you can see exactly what you visited and what you hadn't. And when I saw that feature was there, I wanted to find Mike Muir and just give him a hug and say: "Thank you for that," because it's such a subtle bit of brilliance.
My only problem with this game—and maybe this is by design and maybe I'm just weak—but I found a…I can't think of it. Brad, you mentioned it in your review what happens to armor…? Cursed. My armor was cursed. And I didn't know how to remove the curse and it was maybe ten or 15 levels until I found a scroll that removed the curse. I felt like perhaps an uncurse scroll could've been introduced a little bit earlier, just to educate the player. On the other hand, discovery is part of the experience of a Rogue-like and not knowing what every object does right away. So you called it out in your review, Brad. Did you think that was a…not a big problem for you, but problem enough that you mentioned it.
Brad Gallaway: Well, I mentioned it just because it was weird. First things first: Getting cursed in a game like this is a complete (pardon my French) dipshit newbie mistake.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. [Chuckles]
Brad Gallaway: And I did it myself, so I'm not saying…I'm not pointing a finger at you, Tim, at all. It's a dumb, dumb mistake to make, and when I asked Mike about it in the interview that I did with him, he's like: "Well, don't put on stuff you don't know about," which totally made sense.
It's a rule to live by; I agree with what he said, although I will say that when I did curse myself, I think I went 30 floors before I found an uncurse scroll. I was starting to think that you weren't able to uncurse yourself, and I was thinking: "Oh, is that just really harsh punishment for being stupid?" which, granted, I was really stupid when I cursed myself. But, he said: "Yeah, they're rare by design and there's nothing in the game that actually forces them to be rare. They're just rare in general." But it wouldn't hurt [for] every fifth shop or something to have one super-expensive uncurse scroll or something like that. I would like to see a little bit more of them, but in general, he's really right, and there's no excuse for getting cursed at all. So I can't really hold that against him too much.
Mike Bracken: Well, see, I haven't been cursed. What is the effect of being cursed? What does it do?
Brad Gallaway: The only thing that I noticed that it did was that you couldn't remove it. What happened to me—and Tim, maybe it was different for you—but I put on a necklace. It was just a question mark necklace; I didn't know what it was and I was hoping it was going to be an armor boost or something like that.
Mike Bracken: Oh, you put on a question mark item without identifying it?
Brad Gallaway: Yeah.
Mike Bracken: Oh, that is a noob move.
Brad Gallaway: I know; it is. It is, right? It's stupid.
Mike Bracken: Total noob move.
Brad Gallaway: Totally stupid. So I cop to that; that was my bad, totally. But I put it on and I just couldn't take it off. I found several items that gave way better bonuses than what that item did, and I couldn't remove it and I couldn't use anything. So basically it froze that slot. So if I had picked a cursed sword, I wouldn't have been able to use any better swords or anything like that.
Chi Kong Lui: Well, that's a big deal. The fact that you can't remove one of the items, especially when you're talking about a game that's loot-oriented. That's the whole reason why you're playing. So that makes sense.
Brad Gallaway: But in fairness, though, you can identify all your items at a shop, It's really super-cheap. There's identify scrolls you can pick up. Like I said, you got to be a dipshit noob to curse yourself, which I did.
So, it happens sometimes. But I don't blame Mike for it. The penalty was severe, and rightly so.
Richard Naik: So are you able to identify items before you put them on in some way, or is it the only way you can figure out what they are?
Mike Bracken: No, there are scrolls that you can use to identify items, and if you find a shop, you can identify everything for one low price.
Richard Naik: Oh, okay.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, you just have to find a scroll or get to the next shop. But, yeah, you don't have to try it on. That would be mean.
Chi Kong Lui: Let me go back to an earlier point that you just made, Tim, that you liked that it wasn't on a portable system. But I actually think I'd be playing this game a lot more if it was on my phone, and here's part of the reason why. I don't see myself loading my Xbox too often to play it, because of the fact that when you die, you have to start all over again. You're not really building a character. Correct me if I'm wrong there.
Mike Bracken: Right.
Chi Kong Lui: You have to pretty much start from scratch each single time, so it has a really great pick up and play feel to it. It's interesting to hear you say later on, Brad, because I haven't got to that high of a level yet, but how intense it was in the upper levels. But I could totally see myself just loading it up on my phone and running around. Maybe I'd get more invested when I don't die as often, because I've been dying like crazy, obviously, right from the get-go.
But I don't know. I love the game; I think everything everyone's said has been pretty spot-on and it's a wonderful tribute to the genre, to RPGs in general. But at the same time, I just felt like on a console system, if he had just left more of a trail between….either some sort of a trail between the characters or some sort of a growth issue, where you die but you're still the same character, I would see myself definitely loading it up more on the console. But because it doesn't have that—you're basically just starting from scratch—I wouldn't call it a dealbreaker for me, but it just definitely, I would prefer a different vibe on that one.
Brad Gallaway: Ah, that's because you're soft. You're a soft gamer.
Mike Bracken: Soft, yep.
Brad Gallaway: Too soft; you're weak. You cannot play Rogue-likes, Chi.
Mike Bracken: Too casual; too casual.
Chi Kong Lui: I don't have a long history with Rogue-likes in general. Do you feel more invested with it after you've gone to the later levels, or it's more like an arcade-type gaming experience, where you're just trying to get a high score? Is it a different mindset?
Brad Gallaway: No, no. It's like a personal challenge.
Mike Bracken: It's a challenge.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, it's a challenge, man. You got to see if you are tough enough and smart enough and fast enough. Can you make it to level 50? It's a harsh challenge, and that's all it is. Are you gamer enough to get through it? Mike, is that kinda…?
Mike Bracken: Yeah. That's my take on it, exactly. The character is not something you develop or become attached to or anything like that, because they're all nondescript and there's not a lot of plot in the game or anything like that. It's totally about leveling up, collecting things, and proving you can survive til the 50th floor. That's what keeps me coming back to it, is just the challenge and trying to find cool things and trying to beat it.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, totally situational strategy. Making the most of what you have and what you have is random every time. So it's kind of up to you. Are you smart enough to make best use of what you have, and can you get through? Or can you not? That's what it's all about. And all the Rogue-likes are really, really harsh like that. I think there's maybe a couple that are a little bit softer, but in general, they're very well-known for being an extremely punishing and harsh genre, for sure.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Chi Kong Lui: I'm no stranger to punishing myself when it comes to my gaming, obviously.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, he loves Dynasty Warriors.
Brad Gallaway: Very true; very true.
Chi Kong Lui: Right. Like I said, I caught myself and I did think it was just a slightly different mentality. It's not quite the traditional type RPG character development type mentality.
Mike Bracken: No.
Chi Kong Lui: That's fine, yeah. My one other issue with it is I just wish the graphics were a little bit better—just a little bit better.
I totally get where he was coming from, and I feel bad, because it's one guy and I understand that that comes with its own challenges. I understand he was trying to go for that old PC look, but at the same time, there's still [a] good version of old PC and [a] bad version, and this kinda falls more on the badder side. If he'd just put a slightly different take on it, a slightly different style on it, I think I would've really been in love with the graphics. But unfortunately, I just can't say I love the graphics. I really did want to love the graphics, unfortunately. So I don't know. Like I said, it's one guy and it's probably his own style preference as well, so I can't hold it too much against him. But maybe if he had a different guy work on the graphics or something like that, that would've been cool.
Tim Spaeth: There's such a great kind of Ultima VI look to this.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: And when you said "old PC graphics" earlier in the segment, Chi, I cheered a little bit. That's exactly what was so appealing about it to me. I think it goes on the side of very appealing, and God, that right stick scrollback, so smooth, so sweet. Love it so much.
Last comment from you, Brad. I know you were going to say something. Then we need to wrap it up.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, I was just going to say that I grew to love the graphics, and just in fairness, I think that the style was very deliberate. I don't think it was, like, the best he could do. I think he made those graphics the way they are on purpose. I think they're like that for a reason.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah, I agree with that. I didn't say it was a limitation issue. But like I said, I think those Ultima games, I didn't think they looked too great, either. [Laughter] So it is what it is, yeah.
Tim Spaeth: All right. So, again, Epic Dungeon Xbox Live Indie Games, one dollar. Hopefully you downloaded it while you were listening to this. It's a great game to play while listening to podcasts. I noticed that as well. Hopefully we'll have Mike on the show. We're trying to get him hopefully for early 2011, so we'll get to talk a bit more about the game then. Let's take one more quick break. When we come back, gaming resolutions—both ours and yours. Stay with us.
Question for the cast: Do any of you know the origin of the New Year's resolution?
Mike Bracken: Why, no, I do not, Tim. Would you please enlighten us?
Tim Spaeth: I will; thank you for asking. They were invented in 1968 by original Hawaii Five-0 actor Jack Lord.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, I smell a comedy bit coming up.
Tim Spaeth: That was the comedy bit. It's over.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, it was? Aw, man!
Tim Spaeth: Yes, that was it.
Richard Naik: I'm surprised it wasn't Shatner.
Tim Spaeth: No, no. Too obvious.
Brad Gallaway: Now one of your resolutions has to be to actually develop a joke a little bit more than that, because that was a letdown. I was waiting for more.
Tim, number one resolution: Better ending to the bits.
Tim Spaeth: Better ending to the "comedy."
Brad Gallaway: Yes, yes.
Tim Spaeth: Well, we have each come up with a few gaming-related resolutions for 2011. We thought we'd share them with you, our audience, and many of you in our audience shared yours with us. We'll be reading those in just a bit. So we are going to start with Mike Bracken.
Mike Bracken: Yay!
Tim Spaeth: Yay! What are your resolutions?
Mike Bracken: That's the most excited I've ever been on this show. My resolutions for this year. I put a lot of thought into this because this year was a weird gaming year for me. My Xbox was broke from August to May, so the first half of this year I didn't get to play a lot of games. At the time, it didn't seem like that big a deal. But when I finally got my Xbox back, I was like: "Jesus Christ! I missed out on a lot of good stuff." It was a pain in the ass to come on this show and not ever have played anything. So one of my resolutions for the New Year is to continue to play a lot of games, now that I have a Gamefly account, which makes it easy to play a lot of games. So I'm going to do that, and as a corollary to that, I would also say that I'm trying to play games outside of my normal comfort zone.
I would normally play a lot of RPGs and then some hack-and-slash games and stuff like that. I don't play a lot of shooters. Occasionally I'll play Gears of War or Halo or something like that, but for 2011 I would like to play more shooters and get time to play more of the arcadey stuff and more of the indie stuff that's out there, like Brad is always bringing to our attention. So that was my number one goal: to play more games and to play a wider variety of games than I did this year.
Second is to spend more time playing games than talking about them. [Laughter] I spend a lot of time reading stuff about games on Twitter and on different websites. I don't listen to any other podcasts than ours, really, which is unfortunate. I would if I had time. I just don't, with all the writing for other places I do. But I notice that I spend a lot of time talking about games when I could actually be playing them. I love a good conversation about games. Don't get me wrong—I'm not saying that there's not a place for that. But once in a while, I think we should all just stop talking and pick up the controller and start playing instead.
Third and final resolution is something that I've been vascillating on and you guys know. The resolution was to get a PS3 this year, so I finally have one. But I'm really on the fence about it now. I have the money to get one and I as thinking about picking one up. And then I start looking at it, and everything I like to play is a multiconsole release. So it's on the 360 already and if it comes down to playing something on the 360 or the PS3, I'm going to play it on the 360 every time, because I like Achievements more than I like the idea of trophies. But I'm still on the fence; I think there are five games on the PS3 at least that I would really like to play that are kind of exclusive to it and probably aren't going to cross over any time soon. So maybe sometime before 2011 is over, I will finally take the plunge and buy a PlayStation 3. So those are my three resolutions, gaming-wise, for the upcoming year.
The other non-gaming one is to blow up the offices of Twitter if they keep recommending that I follow She Who Shall Not Be Named every day.
If I unfollow someone, that's a good sign I don't want to follow them.
Tim Spaeth: Oh, and you can't hide her, either.
Mike Bracken: No.
Tim Spaeth: She's just going to keep popping up.
Mike Bracken: She just keeps popping up. Popping up.
Tim Spaeth: Oh, insidious.
Mike Bracken: Makes me mad every day.
Tim Spaeth: We have some crossover in our resolutions. I only have two, and I'll just mention where we have the crossover. My second resolution is: Stop thinking about buying a PS3.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, that could be mine, too.
Tim Spaeth: Since it came out, I've…"Well, maybe this week I'll go buy a PS3." And the reality is, much like with you, there are exactly four exclusive games I'm interested in playing, and they're all games you guys hate.
So you've more or less talked me out of buying the PS3. So I'm done thinking about it. I'm not going to buy one; it's not part of my world, and if there's a PS4, maybe I'll come back to Sony. But I'm officially done thinking about it.
Chi Kong Lui: So that means you're not going to buy it then. I thought that meant you were done thinking about it and just take the plunge.
Tim Spaeth: Nope; nope. I am not going to buy it.
Chi Kong Lui: Okay.
Tim Spaeth: No.
Brad Gallaway: Just out of curiosity, Tim, what were the four games that you ere thinking about.
Tim Spaeth: Metal Gear Solid 4.
Richard Naik: Ick.
Tim Spaeth: God of War III.
Tim Spaeth: and the Uncharteds.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Stay away.
Not worth buying a PS3.
Mike Bracken: Did Yakuza 3 ever come out here?
Brad Gallaway: It did, yes. I bought a copy.
Chi Kong Lui: It did, yeah.
Mike Bracken: Now, see, that was one that I would be willing to take the plunge for.
Chi Kong Lui: How about Valkyria Chronicles?
Mike Bracken: Yeah, that one, too. I didn't like the one on the PSP, though.
Brad Gallaway: The one on the PSP was abomination. It should be banished from humanity.
Mike Bracken: I thought it was really lame. I played a little bit of the PS3 one and really liked it at a friend's house, and then I said: "Oh, well I'll pick up this one for the PSP, the sequel. That'll be awesome." And then it sucked.
Brad Gallaway: No, it was terrible.
Mike Bracken: I didn't even finish it.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, no, no. There's no way anybody with a functioning brain stem could finish that game. No, it's terrible.
Valkyria Chronicles on the PS3, excellent. On the PSP, it's garbage. Really disappointing.
Tim Spaeth: So we are now going to be classified as Sony haters, in addition to Nintendo haters.
Mike Bracken: Microsoft shills.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: Or at least half of this podcast gets to be considered Sony haters.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, well.
Mike Bracken: I want to buy one. I just want to buy more than four games that I can play on it. I can't spend $300, justify spending that kind of money for four games.
Chi Kong Lui: It's like I told you over e-mail, Mike. I didn't buy the PS3 for the games.
Mike Bracken: Yeah; you got it for the Blu-Ray.
Chi Kong Lui: For the Blu-Ray, the PS2 compatibility, and I got it for the best deal possible. That was [unknown].
Mike Bracken: If they still had backwards-compatibility, I would have one. But them scrapping that was the worst thing they could do, as far as selling me one.
Tim Spaeth: All right. Before this turns into our E3 show, let's move on with resolutions. Richard, you've been so quiet, I'm going to force you to speak now. What are your resolutions for 2011?
Richard Naik: Well, there's a bit of crossover here, as well. Part of my first resolution is to actually sell my PS3.
I haven't turned it on in months. The last game I played on it was…I can't even remember the last game I played on it. It's just been sitting there, gathering dust. I don't think it's plugged in. Heavy Rain, that was the last game I played on PS3. That was sevderal months ago. I'm done. It's not doing me any good just sitting there; I'm just going to pack it up, put all the games together and just liquidate it.
It's part of a larger resolution—some of it's gaming, some of it's not gaming—is just to get rid of crap that I'm not using anymore. My Wii almost falls into this category, as well. But I'm kind of on the fence about that, since I still want to play the Metroid Prime games again at some point. I don't know; it's close.
But the first resolution is just to get rid of stuff that I'm never using, and then second resolution is to clear out my gaming backlog, finally. I have a ton of games, especially on Steam that I've barely even touched that I want to put some significant time in with. I'm not going to say I'm going to finish them, because maybe they're terrible. But I still want to be able to say: "I've played a significant amount of time with all of my games."
Tim Spaeth: Yeah. That's going to be a recurring theme with our listener resolutions. It's not officially one of mine. I've thought about it, looking at my Steam list. I have 83 games in Steam; I have played 26 of them.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. There's no way I'll ever play through my backlog. It is so huge and out of control, it will never happen. So I don't even pretend to make a resolution about it.
Chi Kong Lui: Exactly. I could retire and do nothing but play my backlog for the rest of my life, and I still would not finish my backlog. So there's no point in ever trying to declare that I'm going to try to work through my backlog.
Richard Naik: I'm just talking about games that I have, not necessarily games that I want.
Chi Kong Lui: No, I'm talking about games that I own.
Mike Bracken: Games that I own.
Brad Gallaway: Games I own now, dude.
Mike Bracken: I probably have 200 games in shrink-wrap.
Richard Naik: Mike, it sounds like you need to play TF 2 with me and Tim.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. Someday I'm just going to open my own GameStop.
Chi Kong Lui: MikeStop.
Tim Spaeth: But then you'll have to take everything out of the shrink-wrap and put them into little envelopes.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. That'll be annoying.
Tim Spaeth: Richard, any other resolutions?
Richard Naik: No, those were really the only two. They're fairly far-reaching and probably time-consuming, so I figure that's good.
Mike Bracken: Don't overachieve.
Richard Naik: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: Let's move on to Chi Kong Lui. Your resolutions, sir.
Chi Kong Lui: Sure. I just have more or less one resolution, and it ties into a comment that one of our guest writers or critic emeritus, actually, [made]. Peter Skerritt on Twitter noted that the game industry no longer cares about us as gamers. Anyone who follows his writing, you know what he's talking about. It's this anti-consumerist thing that's been going on lately, just with the DLCs and on and on. And my comment to him on that was: I think as the game industry goes bigger and has gotten as big as it is, it's sort of a natural thing. The corporate heads and suits are just going to take over. Really, that's almost unavoidable, and I think what we need to counter-balance that is a more vibrant independent scene.
So based on that, I definitely wanna focus more on the indie games out there. I haven't spent a lot of time in the Xbox indie section for a while, and I was happy to see that it's like a trend now, ever since Mommy's Best Games started, that the games are just one dollar. So that's going to definitely make it a lot easier to explore that catalogue of games.
And tying into that indie theme also is, as I've mentioned on the last show, I've got a new phone and I want to start exploring that Android market a bit as well. It's kind of nice to just have a new platform. It was actually really good timing on my part, because Android was just getting big throughout 2010 and it's really now ripe for seeing a much more mature level of games right now, so I'm really excited about that, too. It's just fun from a gaming standpoint, because most people know I'm pretty down on the triple-A titles these days and the big company games. It's just not quite doing it for me, and it's kind of exciting to just jump on a new platform, see what's out there and downloading a lot of games and playing that.
Tim Spaeth: We'll have to compare phone game inventories, Chi, because I'm sure there's some crossover and I feel the same way. There is so much interesting stuff in the mobile phone space, and in the podcast world, people who don't play mobile phone games hate hearing people talk about them. But I would love to chat with you about it at some point, because I have some recommendations for you. I don't know how much crossover there is between iPhone and Droid, but there's some good stuff out there, definitely.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah, and I'm definitely not too into the whole Angry Birds, those very casual-type games. Obviously, I'm still a hardcore gamer, so I'm still looking for those more deeper gameplay and maybe some more old-school tributes. Stuff like Epic Dungeon, really. I'm looking more for that.
Tim Spaeth: Sure. So those are your resolutions, Chi?
Chi Kong Lui: Yep.
Tim Spaeth: Actually, let's pause for two seconds. Mike, do you need to bail?
Mike Bracken: We only have Brad left to go. How many reader ones do we have?
Tim Spaeth: Like, 11.
Mike Bracken: Okay, yeah. I'd better go.
Tim Spaeth: So, all right. I'll gracefully announce your departure.
Mike Bracken: Yes, yes. Thank you. All right, thanks, guys.
Brad Gallaway: All right, Mike.
Mike Bracken: Good show, as always. I'll see you guys soon.
Tim Spaeth: All right. We'll miss you, Mike.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Tim Spaeth: Mike Bracken, under time constraints, needs to leave a bit early so our thanks to him. We resent whomever he's going to pick up.
Mike Bracken: I'll tell her that. All right, guys.
Tim Spaeth: All right. Let's move on to Brad Gallaway. Your resolutions for 2011.
Brad Gallaway: All right. I actually have three, and the first one ties into ones that were mentioned by Chi and Richard. I have no illusions that I'm going to be getting through my physical retail, big console backlog. I've got a ton of games backed up that I picked up for one reason or another. I go through them when I have the time, but releases have been so thick lately that there's just been no chipping away at it. So I'm not really resolving to get rid of my proper backlog.
But the backlog I am going to get rid of is my Xbox Indie Queue backlog. Every week, for people who check out the Indie Channel, there's at least five or ten if not more indie games that come out a week. And I really tried my best to keep up with them and to really stay in touch with the smaller developers, but I got to tell you: It's just spiraled out of control. I took a couple weeks off from playing the indies to go play some of the bigger stuff, and then I just got so backlogged that I was downloading the demos but not really having enough time to play them. What makes it even worse is the Xbox has to rescan the hard drive every time you go in and out of the Indie Queue, so you have to wait a minute.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah, I hate that, man.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, it's annoying. It's a total waste of time, and it's so annoying, because I want to just buzz through those indies real quick. But to spend a minute between each game—it doesn't sound like that much at first, but when you're sitting there and you can't do anything for a full minute between games, it gets on my nerves so bad. So I wish they would have some way to fix that.
But anyway, I've been downloading all the games. I have not stopped downloading the games, but I haven't played any of them. So I've got something ridiculous, like 225 indie demos to play, and I just can't get to them. I just don't have the time. So in 2011, my first resolution is to take a week where I'm not going to play any console games; I'm not going to play any portable games. Every free moment I have, I'm going to sit down at the 360 and maybe the PS3 and the Wii, if I get time, but I'm just going to go through those games. I'm just going to take the time and I'm just going to say: "I will wait the minute to get through it," and I'm just going to pick out the wheat from the chaff and I will write about those. I really enjoy playing those indie games; I love supporting the developers. But, man, they've just been coming so thick and so fast, it's like a full-time job to keep up with them. So I want to get rid of that 225 number in my queue, get it down to something more manageable and start playing those. So that's my first resolution.
Chi Kong Lui: Part of my theme, going on what you're saying there also is that it's about finding more of a niche. There's just too many games out there. You have to define more of a niche and just focus more on that, and I think that's part of the theme of my resolution, was just trying to find more of a niche.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, yeah. It's getting to the point where you can't play everything. I can certainly remember earlier in the day when it was possible for one person to play every game that was worth playing, and that was across all systems. That was a while ago, but man, there are just so many games right now. Like you said, you have to specialize. Even not playing any sports games and not playing any driving games, there are still way too many games for me to play, so I have to whittle it down even further from that. So I only play two RPGs a year because they take up too much time. And then I only play certain platformers, and I only play one first-person shooter a year. Even with all those restrictions, there's still too many games to play. So, yeah. Hats off to anybody who can play more games during the year, because it's just getting to be more of a challenge. Yeah, it's crazy.
Richard Naik: I don't see myself as ever being really able to play everything. Brad, the amount of games you play? I don't know how you do it. I don't know how you blow through that much stuff. Hats off to you for being able to do what you do now. Me, I'm just too picky about my games for me to be able to do that.
Brad Gallaway: I will take that backhanded compliment, Richard. I will take that in a positive way.
Richard Naik: No, I totally meant it in a positive way.
Brad Gallaway: We all love each other here, folks. Really, we do. All right. So moving on to my second resolution. This one is actually inspired by you, Richard, so good timing there. Everybody who listens to this podcast knows that I don't play PC games, and that's another one of my criteria. It's a lot easier to manage the games coming out if you don't play PC games. But I don't play them for a couple of reasons, the first being I don't like playing the technology keep-up game, where you have to upgrade every so often. I absolutely hate messing with drivers and trying to get patches and trying to just get the game to play. It drives me up the fucking wall. It kills any desire I have to play any game on the PC. And honestly, I just don't like mouse and keyboard. I would just much rather play with a controller all the time, so games that make you use the mouse and keyboard just bum me out.
But there have been a lot of really notable PC games in 2010, and I think the first one that really caught my attention was Planescpe: Torment. I've never played it and I've heard it just praised by every single person who's ever mentioned it. It's on the same level of Deus Ex for me—how anybody who plays Deus Ex says it's the best game ever. Same thing for Planescape: Torment. Anybody who's played it says it's the best game ever. So I definitely am going to try to make the time and put up with whatever hoops I have to jump through to play that game. So that's one.
The second PC game that I'm going to force myself to play will be Amnesia, because Richard, as he just talked about in the podcast recently and also had an interview and a review of the game Amnesia: The Dark Descent, everybody playing that says it's phenomenal and I like horror games. I don't have a good tolerance for them, because I get really, really scared and I whimper and cry and I wet myself sometimes, but I still enjoy them. And this one seems to be the next big, serious: "If you're a horror fan, you have to play Amnesia. So I actually bought a copy of Amnesia through Steam, which, coming out of my mouth sounds like I'm speaking Latin. I don't even understand what I'm saying.
Chi Kong Lui: Wow.
Brad Gallaway: I bought it through Steam.
Richard Naik: I just stood up and almost bumped my head on the shelf in this closet when you said Amnesia.
So good for you.
Brad Gallaway: Well, it's all thanks to you, Richard. Your speak[ing] about the game; your love of it; your alcoholic use to get through the game. That was all great stuff. Really motivated me to get out there and try it, so I will play Amnesia and also due to Richard, Aquaria. It's been one I've been kinda looking at, and I don't know if it's worthwhile or not, but Richard, you really liked it and it seemed to me like something that would be right up my alley. I was hoping and hoping and hoping and hoping and hoping that it was going to come to Xbox Live Arcade or it was going to come to PSN or, hell, even the Wii. I would play it on the Wii. I just want to play with a controller. I don't want to mess around with anything, but I did buy a wired controller and hopefully I can figure out how to make it work. I'm going to just put my general distaste for PC gaming aside and play at least Amnesia and Planescape, and I'll get to Aquaria if I have time. But I'm going to try to make myself get these PC games off my queue and just to go through them. So that's my number two. And that one, folks, is a big one. For me, that's huge.
Richard Naik: Let me just come down from my emotional high here for a second and try to collect all the millions of different thoughts that I'm trying to say right now, but am failing. First off, I'd just just to comment on one of the first things you mentioned about the PC, the technology keepup. The technology game. In my opinion it's not nearly as bad as it was back in the '90s, and I think a lot of that has to do with cross-platform development. Hardware requirements relative to what they were in the '90s I don't think are nearly as demanding as they were back then. Eventually developers figured out that if you make a game that pushes technology to the limits, fewer people are going to be able to play your game, which isn't necessarily good for sales.
So there's that. And also, I've found that while there is still the patching game. You've talked about before how developers are using patches as a lifeline, and that's certainly true and it's certainly a problem, but it's a lot more streamlined now. Where before, if you wanted to get a patch you had to download it and then install it and do a whole bunch of different things to get it to work. Now it more often than not works within the game or even in the platform you're using. Steam will download patches for you automatically a lot of times. For someone like Brad who just really doesn't like the PC as a platform, I don't think there's still going to be anything there to appeal to him, but I will say that it's much more streamlined and user-friendly than it used to be.
Second, I actually played Aquaria with a controller the majority of the time. I think that's fairly normal, based on most of the things I've seen written about it. I will say about it, the controls are probably the only thing I don't like about the game, but we can talk more about that after you've finished it, which you will do.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah. And I hope I didn't imagine this, but when you mentioned Aquaria, Brad, I heard a sound from Richard that was like you took his breath away.
Richard Naik: Oh, no. That was real. I did that.
Brad Gallaway: Like a gasp coming from the [closet?]
Chi Kong Lui: It was like: [gasp] Yeah. [Laughter]
Richard Naik: It's like: "[Unkown] talk[ed?] about this game with someone now!"
Tim Spaeth: Brad playing PC games really is the big end of season shocker, I think, of this entire show.
Brad Gallaway: It's pretty crazy.
Tim Spaeth: That is crazy.
Richard Naik: It's like finding out he's a Cylon.
Tim Spaeth: It's that sort of equivalency, I think.
Chi Kong Lui: Right; right.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: We are running out of time, so Brad, third resolution, please.
Brad Gallaway: Okay, third resolution. Third resolution, okay. So, I don't listen to a lot of podcasts. I don't have a lot of time; I'm really busy with everything that I do, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. But I do like a couple of podcasts, and one of my favorites that I listen to is GamerDork! which is based over in Scotland. And I love that podcast because those guys are really funny, and I think that anything said in a Scottish accent is just smarter and better than what we say in American English. They can say anything and it sounds entertaining to me. So I think that's a big reason of why I listen to it, but also to give the guys credit, they run a great show. They have lots of really interesting insights and lots of cool things to say, so I enjoy GamerDork!
But they have this catchphrase that they use, and I've been really, really trying to use it on our podcast. I want to give them this shout-out, to give them a little tip of the hat and use their phrase, but I have been unable to find an appropriate place to use it. In the last four or five shows, I've been waiting and waiting and I just can't find a good place to use it. And their phrase is: "Fuck it in the bin."
And I've been waiting for a place for me to say: "I took that game and I fucked it in the bin," and I can't find a good place to say it. So maybe I'm not using it correctly, or maybe I just need to work harder to get it in there. But if the GamerDork! guys are listening, I want you to know that I have been trying to work that into the show, and I haven't found the right opportunity. But it's been foremost in my mind.
Chi Kong Lui: How does that sound with the accent?
Brad Gallaway: I can't do the accent. If I did the accent right now, I would embarrass Scotland and I would embarrass America and I don't want to do that. Our relations are tenuous at best as it is. So I'm not going to attempt the accent, but for you guys at GamerDork! I've been trying to fuck it in the bin for weeks and I've been failing, but for you, fuck it in the bin.
Chi Kong Lui: Awesome.
Richard Naik: Here's one: Amnesia is going to fuck you in the bin.
Brad Gallaway: Oh, there's…Richard beat me to it. He beat me to it. Aw!
Chi Kong Lui: I'm sorry. That sounded terrible, man. [Laughter] I think you need the accent, because those words do not flow right in American English.
Brad Gallaway: It sounds great when they say it, though. I really wish I could say it as cool as they could, but I can't. And I really don't want to embarrass myself with a bad accent. So at some point this year I'm going to try work it in. I'm going to try to naturally just blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, fuck it in the bin. And then we're just going to go on from there.
Tim Spaeth: We won't even acknowledge it; we'll just all silently appreciate it.
Brad Gallaway: You'll nod—yes.
Tim Spaeth: All right. Well, thank you for your resolutions, Brad. Those are great. I had the one, which is: Don't buy a PS3. I have one that I just thought of, and then one that really is my overriding theme for 2011. I have a resolution inspired by last week's show. I am going to write a review within the first three months of 2011. I've set a deadline of March 31; I know what game I'm going to write. In fact, I need to run it past Chi and Brad to make sure nobody else is on this review. But you can look forward to that sometime in the first three months of the year.
Chi Kong Lui: Tim, this show is already a great review of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm already, so just keep that in mind.
Tim Spaeth: There is that, yeah. I could use this as an outline for that, but this is a game that I recently finished that I'm quite desperate to write about. There's a lot of meat there and a lot of interesting things happening. So after the show I'll run the title past you guys and see what you think.
My real resolution for 2011, and this should come as no surprise to anybody who's been paying attention to anything I've said this year, particularly at the beginning of the year. My resolution is to game less. To reduce the number of hours I'm spending on games. One of the themes of next week's show, our game of the year show and sort of our year in review is going to be disappointment—profound disappointment at many of the releases that came out this year. As I look back to the two weeks I took off of gaming where I didn't touch games at all earlier this year, those really were the two best weeks I had this entire year. I slept better; I got so much accomplished, and I felt really good about myself.
And so I'm not quitting gaming, but I'm going to take more of those breaks throughout 2011—three or four of them, probably. And just see what happens. I'm going to scale back. Certainly not going to stop doing this show. In fact, I'll probably want to do the show even more. But in terms of the time I spend playing games, probably going to cut back on the World of Warcraft, if not eliminate it entirely, and just take more breaks, so that's my resolution for 2011.
Now, many of our listeners sent in their own resolutions and we're going to run through those right now. This first group was posted to our website on the GameCritics.com forums. Our friend RandomRob wrote his resolution is "to buy more games that seem actually seem interesting to me, and stop paying attention to review scores. To buy more strategy games, and fewer action games." Kind of a recurring theme with us, as well: Buy less, focus what you're playing. We're going to see that a few times through here. Odofakyodo, his resolution:
"One of my resolutions is to spend more time gaming. However, I'm a relatively new dad (kid is almost 1 year old), and I work the weekdays while my wife works the weekends. Needless to say, time is precious. I know at least a couple of you guys have kids. How do you manage to find the time to work and parent, much less play games AND write reviews?"
Well, we're going to do a whole show about gamer parents in the new year. That's something we've wanted to do for a while, but just some quick advice for Odo here: If your kid is one year old, you should have a good 90 minute to two hour nap time during the day. Naptine is great gaming time. But the other advice I have, as somebody who has three kids: Just sacrifice sleep. Stay up late. Learn how to live on four to six hours of sleep.
Chi Kong Lui: When my son was one year old, five AM was the best gaming time.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah; yep. Early in the morning, late at night. "Don't be responsible" is basically all we can tell you. [Laughter]
Brad Gallaway: Run yourself into the ground, is how that works.
Tim Spaeth: We'll have much more advice on that on our show in the new year. FidgetyAcolyte says his resolution is:
"To have kids, like all my favorite gamecritics. Yes. Kids. Plural."
Richard Naik: [Who are all these people at?] GameCritics?
Brad Gallaway: What?!
Tim Spaeth: He wants to procreate is what he's saying.
Brad Gallaway: Oh. Oh. I thought he meant he wanted children that were just like us.
Richard Naik: Yeah, that's what I thought, too.
Brad Gallaway: I was like: "Why would you want that? God! No!"
Richard Naik: I'm like: You don't want that.
Brad Gallaway: Not at all!
Chi Kong Lui: I never thought I'd say our show was pro-life, but I guess it is.
Brad Gallaway: Procreation, anyway.
Chi Kong Lui: Procreation.
Tim Spaeth: The vast majority of people who appear on this show have children in short order. That's proven. David Stone, right there, he and Erin were on the show. Bam! Baby-making.
Now, Fidgety's real resolutions, he says:
"Spend less time reading about games, and, instead, play the games I've been reading about (Deadly Premonition).
"Also, to start teaching myself some game programming/design."
aHei says: "To finish a game, which is enough for now."
Tim Spaeth: That's great. Finish one game. Fantastic.
Brad Gallaway: That is definitely an achievable goal, so good luck with that.
Tim Spaeth: coyls3 writes:
"I'm watching the spike VGA pre-show as I type this and I am noticing that a lot of people actually take it seriously. The problem is that the Spike VGA are more about providing fan service than actually honoring the best games.
So my resolution is to educate the people who take award shows seriously about the awards that actually carry industry weight.
1) [Interactive achievement Awards](http://www.interactive.org/ ) (the video game Oscars)
2) [Game Developer Choice Awards](http://www.gamechoiceawards.com/ )
3) [BAFTA Video Game Awards](http://www.bafta.org/awards/video-games/ )
Well, coyls3, we're going to do you a favor. We're going to post links to each of those in the Show Notes. We'll help you out there, and hopefully people will check those out. We also had some resolutions come in via Twitter. Our good friend ChrisGreen87 tweets: "My resolution for 2011 is to stop getting excited about games that I know I'll be pissed off with."
Brad Gallaway: Always a good one. Always a good one.
Tim Spaeth: I love that. Lower expectations, people. It's going to save you so much heartache down the road. RyanOlson75 writes: "Since I'm 35, it'd be great to finally stop having childlike angry outbursts while playing video games in 2011." Hard to quit, that one. Do you guys have angry outbursts when you play?
Richard Naik: Not really, no.
Brad Gallaway: [Unknown] during Trials HD.
Tim Spaeth: Trials HD is pretty close. I've been trying to beat some high scores, like Peter Skerritt's crazy high scores in Pinball FX and when I lose a ball down the drain, I go kinda nutty. So I sympathize with RyanOlson75.
Richard Naik: Unless you count the reactions I had to Amnesia, but it wasn't really outlandish. It was just me being super, super nervous.
Tim Spaeth: PandaBear19: "To not pay hobos in the park to dress up as zombies and bite people in hopes to start the apocalypse. Learned that one the hard way." That's good advice just in general, I think.
Brad Gallaway: Yeah, yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: So he's currently paying hobos to dress up like zombies? Is that what he's saying?
Tim Spaeth: That's the implication, is that that is an activity he's currently participating in that he's attempting to…
Brad Gallaway: It's got to be an expensive habit, don't you think? You could probably get away with giving them a buck or five bucks, but even still, it's got to add up.
Tim Spaeth: Well, for an apocalypse, you're talking at least 20 or 30 homeless people, rught? [Laughter] MegaPlushie writes: "I am going to attempt to actually beat one game in 2011—damned ADD." So there we go again: Jut beat one game.
Brad Gallaway: Woah. Two people want to beat just one game, huh? Wow. All right. Coo. Good for you, guys, good for you.
Chi Kong Lui: and I pray MegaPlushie is not a spammer. That would be so disappointing if that was a spammer.
Tim Spaeth: No, definitely not a spammer.
Brad Gallaway: Real person; real person.
Tim Spaeth: Totally legit. Twitter user MerryGoDown writes: "Ooh! I love gaming resolutions! Mine is just to get through more of my backlog before starting new games. I hope I can." And then our last one comes from RPotoussi.[sp?] He says: "Easy. I won't buy new games except for the GOG Christmas sale until I've played my backlog of games." So some recurring themes there. I want to thank all of our listeners for writing in. We really appreciate you taking the time to do that, and of course for listening.
We need to wrap things up, so I'm going to get right to our concluding thoughts. Next week's show, our final show of 2011. We are recording it in six days. By the time you hear this, you'll have about four days to get involved. Every year we do an awards show. It's got as much legitimacy as the Golden Globes or the SAG awards or the Cable Ace awards, and not only do we annoint a Game of the Year. We have a whole bunch of crazy categories. Last year we did "Franchise Most in Need of Retirement," "Developer We'll Miss the Most." We have one called: "The Internet Got it Wrong" award. It's a fun show, and we want you, the listener, to participate. If you do, you could ein something.
Now, here's what you need to do. Head to our forums at GameCritics.com. Find the podcast forum and there's a thread there called Episode 47: Contest. It's going to tell you everything you need to do, but basically, you just need to post your biggest gaming-related surprise of 2010. There's already a bunch of posts there. We want you to add to it. And we're going to pick at least one response at random, and that person will win something. We don't know yet. But you're going to win something, and it may be spectacular. You have until Saturday, December 18 at noon Central Standard Time to post your answer. Contest is open to citizens of all nations across this great planet Earth. So get to the forums right away, post your biggest gaming-related surprise of 2010.
Now, Chi, unfortunately, you're not going to be able to join us next week. so this is really your last opportunity to address the audience. I give you the floor. Is there anything you want to say to inspire our loyal listening public?
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah, I was just going to tell people that I wasn't gonan be around for that show, and I want to wish everybody an early happy holidays and happy New Year. And if anyone had any suggestions for my 20-hour flight to the Philippines, what kind of games I should be playing on the plane, let me know.
Tim Spaeth: Angry Birds, of course.
Tim Spaeth: We will miss you, Chi, and please submit to us your game of the year via e-mail and we'll make sure you get a vote in that category. Even though we all know it's going to be Dragon Quest IX.
Chi Kong Lui: There you go. You just spoiled it, man. [Laughter] You just spoiled it. Right on the money, pretty much. I was going to try to put together a list of what I thought were my picks for the top Android games thusfar, but I'm not sure I'll be able to get all that. If I do, I'll send that, but I'm not sure I'll be able to get that done in time.
Tim Spaeth: Whatever you're able to send us, we will read it on the air. So we'll miss you, buddy. Have a great time, and happy New Year, Merry Christmas to you and yours. We are officially out of time, so Richard and Brad, I'm simply going to thank you as well as Mike Bracken. Now, those guys, they will all be back next week, as will I, Tim Spaeth. On behalf of the entire GameCritics.com family, I bid you good night and bonne chance.
Richard Naik: Can you hear people arguing [unknown]?
Tim Spaeth: No.
Brad Gallaway: No.
Richard Naik: Okay. Because there's this guy and some girl just fucking going at it in the hallway. I have half a mind to go out there and just tell them to shut the hell up.
Mike Bracken: You're not supposed to argue at a hotel. You go to the hotel to fuck. So [unknown] fuck and be done with it.
Richard Naik: I think they're gone now, finally.
Tim Spaeth: You burst out into the hallway and you tell them: "I am acclaimed podcaster Richard Naik. I'm doing a show in my closet."
Mike Bracken: Yeah. "This will not stand, this noise."
Chi Kong Lui: That just sounds like such a bad headline the next morning, like: "Podcaster gets shot for trying to intervene on a lover's quarrel in a hotel room."
Brad Gallaway: Then we can just [unknown] out of the closet.
Mike Bracken: We can release the tape. It'll be lusted after on the Internet: Richard Naik's last moments of life.
Richard Naik: [Revealing?] the evidence.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Richard Naik: "Podcaster" would not be the headline. The headline would be "Some short guy with a moustache was murdered today."
Mike Bracken: "Statistics expert."
But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).
Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.