We're back and less offensive than ever! Our conversation about detail and immersion becomes an impromptu "State of Rockstar Games" debate. Plus: Our personal gaming tragedies; tales of data loss and other disasters. Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, and Tim "The Traitor" Spaeth.

Download: Right click here and select "Save Target As…"
Subscribe: iTunes | Zune | RSS
Read: Transcript

Games discussed:

Please send feedback and mailbag questions to podcast (at) gamecritics (dot) com.

Tim Spaeth

Tim Spaeth

Cleveland native Tim Spaeth grew up in a happy household – a household with a father whose major client happened to be an Atari games distributor. This led directly to Tim's first nickname: "The kid who got Atari games before anyone else." Indeed, he knew Pac-Man and E.T. were colossal bombs weeks before the rest of the world, and the resulting celebrity brought him great pleasure.

Through the years every aspect of Tim's life has been touched by gaming. He mastered typing thanks to Space Quest, honed his poker skills on The Sierra Network, and learned to hate after a particularly traumatic game of Tecmo Super Bowl.

Today, Tim lives in Chicago with his three kids and strives to find that perfect balance between family, career, and Warcraft. He enjoys broadcasting, martial arts, rock and roll, growing and shaving his beard, singing show tunes to the homeless, and losing at Mario Kart to his lovely, talented, and amazing girlfriend.

In late 2008, Tim became the producer and host of the GameCritics.com Podcast, and he's thrilled to be bringing GameCritics' unique editorial voice to a brand new medium.
Tim Spaeth

Leave a Reply

25 Comments on "GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 41: Gaming Tragedies, Detail & Immersion, Rockstar Games"

Notify of
avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
crackajack
Guest
crackajack
5 years 11 months ago
[quote=Chi Kong Lui]I don’t consider myself a bystander in open-world games.[/quote] You were talking about the quality of drama and emotion in linear narrated games compared to movies and books. Bystander, an inactive role, was of course meant for movies and books. And you said linear narratives can’t quality wise be put on the same level with movies and books. Games can offer different experiences: either just main actor or also director (or just a game). I understand when someone loves to be in charge of everything more than just the puppet on a string actor but this is imo… Read more »
Googoo24
Guest
Googoo24
5 years 11 months ago
[quote]You really prefer to be the neutral observer, just a bystander, to being the main actor of the story who has to solve some puzzles, jump into safety, shoot the bad guy and rescue the princess, be the glorious hero?[/quote] Just a bystander? In both Fallout 3 and Oblivion you are the central character in both games plots. Your decisions affect the lives of others and the world itself (more so in Fallout 3). How can such a role be diminished to being a neutral observer? I think you have it backwards. For instance, in a game like Max Payne,… Read more »
Chi Kong Lui
Guest
Chi Kong Lui
5 years 11 months ago

[quote=crackajack]You really prefer to be the neutral observer, just a bystander, to being the main actor of the story who has to solve some puzzles, jump into safety, shoot the bad guy and rescue the princess, be the glorious hero?[/quote] I don’t consider myself a bystander in open-world games. Its more like the “man with noname” senario where I can interject myself in the world as I see fit. I could choose to be a relatively passive bystander or I can be in the thick of the drama. I feel most empowered by the option.

crackajack
Guest
crackajack
5 years 11 months ago
[quote=Chi Kong Lui]When it comes to linear narratives, games will always be many steps behind movies and books in terms of drama and emotion.[/quote] You really prefer to be the neutral observer, just a bystander, to being the main actor of the story who has to solve some puzzles, jump into safety, shoot the bad guy and rescue the princess, be the glorious hero? The right in the middle viewpoint of games is an advantage to the most of the time distanced view in movies (occasionally shaky cam is used to get more immersion) and to books, were i-perspective is… Read more »
Chi Kong Lui
Guest
Chi Kong Lui
5 years 11 months ago
[quote=Alv]I’m not a believer in relying on random occurences in an so-called open worlds to provide ’emergent’ entertainment. I’d much rather have developers design and direct entertainment situations. Directors make entertainment. It’s what directors get paid to do and it’s high time the gaming industry starting giving this more attention. Give me Gears of War/Mass Effect any day over GTA/Fallout/Oblivion.[/quote] I’m the exact opposite. I’ll take Fallout/Oblivion over Gears (I don’t know if I’d lump Mass Effect series with the Gears lot). What makes games unique and exciting to me is that the gamer can be or take part in… Read more »
Googoo24
Guest
Googoo24
5 years 11 months ago
[quote]I’m not a believer in relying on random occurences in an so-called open worlds to provide ’emergent’ entertainment. I’d much rather have developers design and direct entertainment situations. Directors make entertainment. It’s what directors get paid to do and it’s high time the gaming industry starting giving this more attention. Give me Gears of War/Mass Effect any day over GTA/Fallout/Oblivion.[/quote] Most of the quests in Oblivion and Fallout 3 follow scripted events, the same as Mass Effect 2. Enemies appear in the same numbers, and events transpire depending on your decisions. It’s all script based. The only time you encounter… Read more »
Alv
Guest
Alv
5 years 11 months ago
[quote=Chi Kong Lui]The open world concept isn’t stale. Its the Rockstar/GTA brand of open-world that is stale. [/quote] As are the Bethesda open worlds eg Fallout 3 and Oblivion. The problem is ‘Open Worlds’ are never open, and once you work out the obvious limitations, the whole illusion is shattered. I’m not a believer in relying on random occurences in an so-called open worlds to provide ’emergent’ entertainment. I’d much rather have developers design and direct entertainment situations. Directors make entertainment. It’s what directors get paid to do and it’s high time the gaming industry starting giving this more attention.… Read more »
Googoo24
Guest
Googoo24
5 years 11 months ago
Well, the main story has never been the real focus in Fallout games. Exploration and side quests take up the most meat. Furthermore, the main quest in F3 is ridiculously short and it’s game over after you complete it. Also, I don’t think they wanted to force the player to play a certain way, or similar to games like ME 2. In ME 2, depending on your actions, you’d essentially be forced to become good or evil. If you became too nice, eventually you’d lose the option to commit more “evil” acts. The same is true of some quests in… Read more »
randomrob
Guest
randomrob
5 years 11 months ago

I havent noticed anyplace in Fallout3 where your karma had any impact on the story, other than dad having a stern rebuff for you for destroying Megaton. “I can’t believe you killed all those innocent people! Oh well, let’s go turn on the generator and save the world”, etc.

Googoo24
Guest
Googoo24
5 years 11 months ago

You know how Fallout 3 did something right? It got old Fallout fans mad. It wasn’t as bug ridden or unintentionally silly as Oblivion, nor did it feature that game’s lack of consequences for your actions. I loved every minute of it. New Vegas needs to hurry up and get here.

gamevet
Guest
gamevet
5 years 11 months ago
[quote=Alv]Not played RDR, not planning to either. Totally sick of the GTA format. It was great when it first came out, but the open world concept is getting a bit stale tbh. I’m actually starting to prefer tighter, more controlled environments that allow for directed story-telling and entertainment, rather than rely on emergent behaviour to generate the wow factor. ME2 Firewalker is the perfect example of how a specifically designed environment delivers more entertainment and bang for the buck than the fractally generated landscape of ME1. [/quote] Fallout 3 is a great open world game. I wish there were more… Read more »
joe
Guest
joe
5 years 11 months ago

Seems like Rockstar/GTA/RDR touched a nerve with some people. The commenters response has been disproportionately large, compared to how much of the show you devoted to it.
Rockstar seems to do that to people.
They excite some people, while baffling and frustrating others.

Googoo24
Guest
Googoo24
5 years 11 months ago

IMHO, ME 2 does nothing remotely new either. It’s the same ole’ “your choices affects the outcome”, linear RPG. You follow a linear path (for the most part), are forced to make some crucial decisions, and, depending on your perspective, characters die and the outcome is altered. Games like that have been around for years. Only difference being that it’s in space, the decisions are straightforward, and the action intense. Regardless, I still enjoyed the game.

Chi Kong Lui
Guest
Chi Kong Lui
5 years 11 months ago
[quote=Alv]Not played RDR, not planning to either. Totally sick of the GTA format. It was great when it first came out, but the open world concept is getting a bit stale tbh. I’m actually starting to prefer tighter, more controlled environments that allow for directed story-telling and entertainment, rather than rely on emergent behaviour to generate the wow factor. ME2 Firewalker is the perfect example of how a specifically designed environment delivers more entertainment and bang for the buck than the fractally generated landscape of ME1.[/quote] The open world concept isn’t stale. Its the Rockstar/GTA brand of open-world that is… Read more »
Alv
Guest
Alv
5 years 11 months ago
Not played RDR, not planning to either. Totally sick of the GTA format. It was great when it first came out, but the open world concept is getting a bit stale tbh. I’m actually starting to prefer tighter, more controlled environments that allow for directed story-telling and entertainment, rather than rely on emergent behaviour to generate the wow factor. ME2 Firewalker is the perfect example of how a specifically designed environment delivers more entertainment and bang for the buck than the fractally generated landscape of ME1. ME2: LOTSB – fantastic. As mentioned above, I really believe that story driven, directed… Read more »
Googoo24
Guest
Googoo24
6 years 1 hour ago
“I guess I’m the kind of gamer who needs to know what he’s going to get out of his time spent;”” Yeah, I think that’s a problem for a lot of people. Rockstar has a variety of quests, but the reward may not necessarily be worth the effort. In an RPG, for instance, you can usually altar the outcome of a given quests, or know what you will receive outright. For instance, I could be sent to fetch an item, but I return to the quest giver and refuse to turn over the item. I then kill the quest giver… Read more »
Gene P.
Guest
Gene P.
6 years 6 hours ago
Hey Tim, the game actually does clarify what you get for the mastery challenges, at least somewhat. It tells you that you could get the Legend of the West outfit, in the menu. Now the game doesn’t specify what the outfit DOES, but it’s called Legend of the West. Just the name itself made me go, “DO WANT.” Oh, and I didn’t enjoy the Icarus sidequest either. For any subsequent playthroughs, I highly recommend just swallowing your pride and turning the cheats on. That way you don’t have to go do any silly flower picking escapades to get an awesome… Read more »
Vince
Guest
Vince
6 years 8 hours ago

One of my favorite details is the crotch shot in Goldeneye. Not because its a crotch shot, but because they acknowledge the shot. Yeah, you can get twitch reactions to shots, but to be that specific was really great. Can you imagine running through COD4 and making the terrorists grab their privates? The fanboys shudder…

Tim Spaeth
Guest
Tim Spaeth
6 years 11 hours ago
[quote=tacitus]Its shocking any developer would claim that save-game corruption cannot happen; thats very ignorant. There is a big difference between impossible and unlikely. I had a save game corruption issue on the first assassins creed. I am tired of company attitudes about how their special game should only have one save game slot. And they aren’t the only ones; I won’t play gas-powered games anymore because of a corrupted save game on Dungeon Seige 2. Yet another reason to avoid ubisoft games in the future.[/quote]I’ve spent far too many hours in my professional life trying to convince programmers “That’s not… Read more »
Tim Spaeth
Guest
Tim Spaeth
6 years 11 hours ago
[quote=Googoo24]I don’t know, I found RDR to be (overall) an awesome experience. The story is pretty good, but, to make it more interesting (or not, depending on your perspective), RS drags the narrative in various directions. The good thing about Rockstar games, however, is that the side quests aren’t usually mandatory; but merely something to do.[/quote]My chief complaint about the side quests is that the time spent-to-reward ratio is way off. There’s a lengthy fetch quest involving a plane that rewards a minuscule, practically irrelevant number of fame points. Perhaps the story is meant to be its own reward. (In… Read more »
tacitus
Guest
tacitus
6 years 1 day ago

Its shocking any developer would claim that save-game corruption cannot happen; thats very ignorant. There is a big difference between impossible and unlikely. I had a save game corruption issue on the first assassins creed. I am tired of company attitudes about how their special game should only have one save game slot. And they aren’t the only ones; I won’t play gas-powered games anymore because of a corrupted save game on Dungeon Seige 2. Yet another reason to avoid ubisoft games in the future.

Googoo24
Guest
Googoo24
6 years 1 day ago
I don’t know, I found RDR to be (overall) an awesome experience. The story is pretty good, but, to make it more interesting (or not, depending on your perspective), RS drags the narrative in various directions. The good thing about Rockstar games, however, is that the side quests aren’t usually mandatory; but merely something to do. I think the problem is that some gamers experience the world of RDR and start hoping for an experience like an RPG. For instance, I heard a lot of comparisons to Fallout 3 for some reason. However, RS’s reliance on characterization and cut scenes… Read more »
Mike Bracken
Guest
Mike Bracken
6 years 2 days ago

Tim,

Glad to hear you liked the end. I was really curious as to what you’d think of it once you made it there. Mexico is really a drag — which sucks because it starts out promising. I stand by my assessment that Rockstar sucks at the second act of games, but the ending of RDR makes slogging through Mexico’s cliched crap worth it in the long run.

Tim Spaeth
Guest
Tim Spaeth
6 years 2 days ago
[quote=randomrob]I think RDR would still be in my collection if John Marsten could’ve jackknifed a horse and flipped it, causing a horse pile up on a main road, then jumped onto horse’s head and stomped on it till it exploded, causing a chain reaction that would’ve exploded all the other horses.[/quote] Achievement Unlocked 10G – A Catastrophe of Colts One quick note — I wish I’d finished Red Dead before we’d recorded; once I got out of Mexico and decided to stop doing side quests I really enjoyed myself. The final “section” of the game, plus the epilogue, made for… Read more »
randomrob
Guest
randomrob
6 years 3 days ago

I think RDR would still be in my collection if John Marsten could’ve jackknifed a horse and flipped it, causing a horse pile up on a main road, then jumped onto horse’s head and stomped on it till it exploded, causing a chain reaction that would’ve exploded all the other horses.

wpDiscuz