How many games have fallen short of greatness because of a single, fatal flaw? This week we look at gaming’s most tragic failures. Plus, an actual argument breaks out before your very ears, and our thumbs get a workout in our new segment Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down. Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, and Tim “Heat not Heart” Spaeth.

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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

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17 Comments on "GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 49: Gaming Tragedies"

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crackajack
Guest
real life interference save definitely! save anywhere anytime ok with me, even in Super Meat Boy while jumping. Of course it changes the experience, but if someone doesn’t like to replay the first 17 jumps because he made those a bazillion times already just can’t get the final one right: what’s the point in forcing someone replaying something he has already done more than once? That’s not satisfying him in the way it does players that were able to do it on their thirtieth try. At the end it makes him stop to play at all. Depending on the game… Read more »
Mike Bracken
Guest

Jeffrey, I’m glad we can still be friends. I stand by my assessment that Crackdown is basically a tech demo masquerading as a game (albeit a really interesting tech demo), but I know a lot of folks who really dig it.

For some reason, it never clicked with me — even though I stuck it out til the end.

Jeffrey "I can't remember how to log in" Matulef
Guest
Jeffrey "I can't remember how to log in" Matulef
My thoughts in chronological order. -I generally agree with Brad, but I really liked EDF 2017. Some parts were shoddy: the jumping was terrible, spiders looked cool but their web attacks were cheap, and vehicles were a bust, etc… but any game where you start out with an infinite ammo rocket launcher and can crumble even the largest skyscrapers in a single shot (complete with vanishing rubble) is a good time in my book. It even worked well from a gameplay standpoint having to clear the way. It’s especially fun co-op, btw. -The way Brad talks about GunValkyrie is exactly… Read more »
Li-Ion
Guest
I’m currently playing Alpha Protocol and I want to put it on the list of great gaming tragedies. The premise of playing as spy sounds great. The game seems bursting with ideas and the story and writing are (so far) pretty good. There is only one big problem: the game is not finished. When playing AP it becomes clear that developer Obsidian ran out of time or money or both. Glitches and bugs are scattered all over the place. None of them really breaks the game, but they always pull you out of the experience somehow and are sometimes just… Read more »
aHei
Guest

Speaking of Abe, I’m ashamed to admit I have recently played and given up on the first episode (though I finish the second one) at some point just because I was tired of repeating the same level over 30 times. Funny thing is, even if a quick save was implemented, I don’t think I would even have had the time and speed to press on it.

All in all, an excellent game though, and I do intend to play it again and finish it, damn it. And yes, I remember distinctively the sound design was excellent.

Grumbel
Guest
[quote=Li-Ion]what’s the reason not having this option in every game?[/quote] I think one of the main reason is simply that it requires quite a bit of time and effort to implement correctly, which is why even games that allow you to save almost everywhere, still forbid it in certain situations (can’t save in cutscenes, can’t save when character is in the mid of a dialog, etc.). The NintendoDS doesn’t have that issue as it never has to store the save, it just keeps the content in the RAM, so that feature comes for free without extra effort on the software… Read more »
Li-Ion
Guest
Interesting fact that not many seem to realize about Demon’s Souls: if you quit the game somewhere in the middle of the level (not during a fight, since it’s a bit difficult to open the menu which doesn’t pause the game at that point) it actually saves your progress. I noticed that some weeks ago when I had to step away from the game because of real-life issues and quit it in the middle of a level. When I restarted the game I was at the same spot I left it. If even Demon’s Souls allows you to quit where… Read more »
Cybrmynd
Guest
Great podcast guys, it was fun to listen to the fiery debate and infotainment. With the save issue, personally I think it depends. If Demon Souls had a universal save system, the incentive to train and hone your controller skills will probably diminish. With such a save feature, you could easily fluke your progress through the levels, saving each time you find a rest point. Even if you were the most gifted player, I’d believe you’d still resort to saving on the go because of the inherent difficulty of Demon Souls. A save point at anytime, in a game with… Read more »
Richard Naik
Guest
Naturally, I totally disagree with Gumbel and Mike. Like Tim said, having the ability to save on a whim in something like Super Meat Boy would be missing the point entirely. It’s why I don’t like mid-boss saves-a boss should be a task that needs to be completed all at once. If the boss is long enough to need save points, it’s too long. Furthermore, I don’t think the movie-game comparison is valid, since as we’ve all heard before, movie watching is a passive activity whereas playing a game requires some sort of skill. Being able to stop anywhere in… Read more »
aHei
Guest

*running away from the Bracken*

Mike Bracken
Guest
Demon Souls would have been the same game — because no one was forcing you to save every other step. You still control your experience. And what about the people who never finished Demon Souls because they got frustrated with the difficulty of the experience and couldn’t make progress? Those are the people who missed out. I mean, really, this isn’t much different than letting players select their difficulty. The guy who plays on easy isn’t getting the exact same experience as someone who plays on nightmare, but a lot of guys beat a game on easy or normal or… Read more »
Coffee Monster
Guest

I COMPLETELY disagree. If every developer made games with a save anywhere option, then people like you would always miss out.Most people would miss out. Demon’s Souls wouldn’t have been half the game it was with a save anyhwere feature. No tension, no suspense, it would’ve been completely ruined. Its upto devs to resist our worst urges, and to sometimes force things on the player to enrich the experience. If a president only did what they thought would be popular, they’d be a horrible & irresponsible president.

Grumbel
Guest
I also have to agree with Mike, it is not even a point that I consider up for debate. Every game should allow you to save as often as you want and everywhere you want, no restrictions, no exceptions, complete freedom to the user. I’d even go a step further, add a God Mode into the option menu, no cryptic cheats, just click and be done with it. I’d say I consider this one of the main points why games are still not taken as serious as other media. Just look at DVD or books. How would you feel about… Read more »
aHei
Guest
I do think on second thought that everyone has a point. Often it is also about common sense: of course you don’t flank 2 save points on 1 hour tedious gaming interval… By the way I have a question about Halo and Goldeneye because I have never played them, and also because I do think checkpoints are beneficial to some games. Is Halo similar to Modern Warfare? Because I think the checkpoints in MW are justified in that they serve the pacing of the game. I also love that I can just forget about saving and focus on the action.… Read more »
Pat McAtee
Guest

For those wondering what happened to the Driver series, there is one in the works which should be releasing within a year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driver:_San_Francisco

Hargrada
Guest

I just finished listening to the first segment about save points, and through the whole thing all I could think about was an angry developer responding in the same way Mike does: “I’ll make my game with whatever save system I think is appropriate. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to play it”

I’m generally against the idea that all games should be this or include that. Shouldn’t developers be free to make the game they want to make, without trying to cater to a mass audience (unless they want to)?

aHei
Guest

About the save points, I tend to agree with Mike. I don’t think to be able to save anytime has ever taken away the challenge or the tension from the games I have played.

I also think that anyone who wants to get the most out of his game will naturally tend to save less in that it can ruin immersion.

Anyway, great and hilarious podcast (need I say it everytime?).

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