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PixlTalk Episode 67: A Casual Look at What's Ahead

Sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Why so serious? That’s what the Joker would ask us if he’s listened to our last few podcasts. So this week we decided to take a step back, get off our pedestals and just talk about games. We take a look at some recent titles such as Diablo III, and some older ones as well. Esteban also talks about how he finally gave in and played League of Legends (and you should too!). In addition we take a quick look at what’s in store for gamers in the future discussing; the Elder Scrolls MMO announcement, God of War’s heresy with adding multiplayer, and the strange amalgamation of PlayStation characters known only as PS All Stars.

You've heard what we have to say about these upcoming games, but let us know what you think in the comments below.


 

Comments

Julian Titus Senior Editor

05/17/2012 at 06:57 PM

The problem with the Diablo III server situation is that it sets a bad precedent for the future. When I can't play the game because of high capacity on the servers I'm not angry because "OMG I CAN'T PLAY MY GAME AND I'M PISSED BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO!". I have a life, I have other hobbies, and hell, I have a stack of about 30 games I need to play. No, I'm angry because there's really no reason to not be able to access the single player mode when the servers are jammed.

Now, they'll say that the always on thing is because of the real money auction house and ease of use for the player and most PCs are always online anyway. All of that may be true, but the fact is that there's one real reason for this--piracy. Now, I'm extremely anti-piracy and I'm all for ways to curtail that. But this is a prime example of punishing everyone for the actions of a few douchebags. I think having online authentication is fine, but when you're offline (say your network goes down) or just want to play solo you should be able to do just that, and not be at the mercy of Blizzard's servers being filled to capacity.

Mike kept bringing up MMOs as an example, but the comparison is flawed. With an MMO, the consumer has purchased the game with the knowledge that the game is always running and they will need to be connected to play. Diablo III has a single player mode. I disagree with the statement that this game is a co-op game first--I'm playing single player to enjoy the story and explore, and I'll dive into multiplayer later. I'm not the only one who does this.

But again, me not being able to play Diablo III right at launch easily isn't a problem besides me being on the review for PixlBit. The problem happens later. Imagine if you will, that Diablo III doesn't have the same long tail that the previous game had. Maybe in 2 years only a few thousand people are playing, and the game isn't selling anymore. It's not cost effective to keep those servers going, so the logical answer is to pull the plug. So those thousands of players can no longer play, even solo. If I tell a younger gamer how awesome Diablo III was, he or she can't hunt down a copy of the game and try it, because it's essentially vanished.

That's an extreme example, but let's move forward to the next generation. With the industry pushing for an end to the used games market, it's easy to see a world where every game, even the ones that only have a single player mode, need to be online to work. Well, game companies go out of business all the time. What happens to their games when they aren't there to maintain them? They become lost to time, and the people who enjoy playing them simply can't anymore. This is how the video game industry loses its history, bit by bit. Imagine if you couldn't watch Gone With the Wind all of a sudden. Or Star Wars. Or Rocky. Video games have touched people in the same way that those classic films did, and if you suddenly can't experience them, that's a profound loss.

Michael117esque rant complete.

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

05/17/2012 at 07:05 PM

That's what I'm saying!

Short answer to long post.

Mike Wall Staff Alumnus

05/18/2012 at 11:59 AM

I see your point Julian that this has the potential to cause some serious damage, but I think your being a bit hyperbolic. While it’s certainly true that people enjoy playing Diablo as a single player title, the game serves primarily as a multiplayer co-op title. That said, until we start to see single player titles take up this strategy solely to mitigate piracy, I’m going to refrain from getting upset about this. I’m sure your right that the fact that this helps dampen piracy is a nice bonus, but I don’t believe it’s the only reason they decided to do it.

Part of what bugs me about this, is it fits right into the current way that everyone reacts to things in the video game industry. I’m not saying that you or anyone on this site is doing this, but often times when anything gets announced in the gaming community everyone attacks the game companies ruthlessly.

I mean listen to our discussions about the Skyrim MMO announcements and God of War Ascension. We immediately assume the worst; it’s a practice that is all too common online and frankly in games journalism. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be weary, because your absolutely right in that sense Julian. If everything was to move to servers we would lose a great deal of gaming history and it would destroy the medium. I just don’t think that we should always assume the worst of every company anytime they try to implement anything. We have to understand that at the end of the day these are businesses they need to protect their products, but their also gamers too. Most (of course there are exceptions) of them love games as much as us, they want to progress and cultivate the medium, and they enjoy the history of video games as much as us. I don’t think they’ll destroy it. Yea sometimes they have to make decisions that we don’t like, but for the most part they try to bring us the best games they can. These guys are putting 5-10 years of sleepless nights into these titles, I find it hard to believe it’s only for paycheck, cause frankly there are plenty of easier ways to make a buck.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

05/19/2012 at 12:59 AM

We're in agreement about people overreacting. Even I didn't use the right wording in my comment. I'm not angry about the Diablo 3 thing. I'm concerned, for the reasons I listed. But I also think it's a problem within the game itself, or more accurately, with the way it's set up. I'm playing this game single player, as I said. My internet connection isn't the best, and I'm experiencing lag. In a single player game. There's no fix for that; it's not Blizzard's fault, and I can only imagine what people with worse connections are dealing with.

I try to look at these things from a business perspective as opposed to a fan's perspective.  I understand the need to put some DRM into the game (and that's what this is, let's be real). I understand wanting to monetize something that gold farmers have done for years. That's smart business. And at some point, it will be smart business to pull the plug on Diablo 3's servers. And that's the part that bothers me the most.

On Elder Scrolls Online and God of War multiplayer, my objection doesn't stem from the normal arguments. I just wonder at the expectation of the people involved. MMOs are on the way down, and I really don't think Elder Scrolls has the pull to be a success in the long haul. If Star Wars of all things is already fading, I don't see Elder Scrolls doing much better. God of War will surely be a great game, but will the multiplayer really keep people from trading the game in after a month or two? Probably not. So that's time and money that could either be used to make a better game, or reserved for lean times. How many times do we hear about studios having financial woes after releasing a hit game? It's because of moves like this--staffing up and spending money on things that ultimately don't see real gains.

Great episode, guys. Probably your best so far!

Mike Wall Staff Alumnus

05/22/2012 at 09:41 AM

Thanks Julian,

appreciate that, and I'm glad you enjoyed the podcast.

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

05/17/2012 at 11:17 PM

How could Blizzard be having server problems when they've got so many free servers from people that don't play World of Warcraft anymore. /jab

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

05/22/2012 at 10:54 AM

You know, this 'cast ended up getting into heavy stuff after all, but that's no big deal.

I'm glad to see a lot of discussion over the Diablo 3 required internet fiasco.  This is the only reason I haven't picked up a copy of the game, and I don't even know if I will.  I have never played any of the Diablo games online, and I have no intention to use the auction house functions.  This isn't a hater attack, some boycott, or other foolishness, it's just that the idea of jumping through all the multiplayer hoops for a single player experience destroys my motivation to play this game.  If I ever need a loot fix, I'll play Borderlands, Torchlight, or some game in my backlog.  It's just not worth the hassle to me.  Maybe if it comes out on consoles and ends up being more stable I'll consider it, but as of right now, I'm not at all interested.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

05/22/2012 at 12:35 PM

But there aren't any hoops to jump through. Does this always on idea suck? Totally. Does it keep this from being one of the best games I've played all year? Not a whit. Again, my concern is more from the standpoint of lag, and archiving this game for future generations. But Diablo 3 is not to be missed.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

05/22/2012 at 01:01 PM

Well, I can understand why people would think it's worth it. I really don't. We may just end up disagreeing on this.  The fact remains that it's something we should not have to deal with, and in my opinion, it breaks the game.  No matter how good, i'm not shelling out 60 clams for a broken game. I'm not a big hater like I said, but I am annoyed enough to withold a purchase.  Maybe once they clean it up, I'll jump in.

Oh, also, hackers are gonna hack this anyway.  I think this was mentioned in the 'cast. Preservation isn't my concern.  Eventually people will figure out how to host their own servers regardless of what Activision / Blizzard does. Heck, I expect torrents of this game will appear as early as next month, and all this DRM will do is encourage them. That's not me wishing doom on the IP owners, it's a just how things are.  

Mike Wall Staff Alumnus

05/22/2012 at 12:54 PM

I agree with Julian, also the Auction House feels like a great addition to the game. It’s not invasive at all, honestly completely separate from the game, but it’s a nice tool to use when you need it. Actually I’m not sure if the higher difficulties are even possible without it (unless you spend months gathering loot till you get the specific pieces you need).

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

05/22/2012 at 01:18 PM

Man, I hate to talk like this because it's making me seem all negative and trollish, but I don't think all the people who took time off from work, stayed up until midnight, or even made a weeks worth of meals in advance so they could spend all that time playing Diablo would say "It's not invasive."  These are people who made monetary and social sacrifices to play the game, and they got screwed hard. What really chafes, (and it should,) Is that the game they own is completely playable without any of the online components and is just sitting on their hard drive.  They can't play it because Activision/Blizzard won't let them.  That's not right at all, and there is no justification for making me rely on their servers to play a game that I just want to sit down and play.

Mike Wall Staff Alumnus

05/22/2012 at 02:07 PM

That’s fair. I really do feel for the people who took time off, and I understand that the game does not need to be online at all times. Hopefully Blizzard will do something to make it up to those people. I’m not saying that it’s ok that the game did not run properly at launch. I would never make that claim, but I’m not so sure that bringing this game online is such a bad thing. I honestly really enjoy the ability to go straight from single player to multiplayer and have used this function a bunch of times with friends. I am in agreement with you guys though, I do not feel this is a suitable means of DRM and I hope they find a better method in the future, but I just wanted to point out that the online feature is not all bad.

As far as saying that the AH was not intrusive I think I misspoke a little. What I meant to say was, given that the serves are up and running the existence of the AH is not intrusive to your experience.  It’s there if you want it; you can completely ignore it if not. Of course, the whole online thing has made things difficult, but once they get the servers figured out it shouldn’t as problematic (not to say that it will be perfect, but what is).

I understand that just because other things have faults, it does not excuse blizzard’s (much like what Jimquestion said about eating excrement). I guess I just understand how launches specifically online ones will have bugs problems in the beginning. I know that’s where you and I differ though, where you think it’s not correct for them to bring the entire game online, and maybe it isn’t? I will say this however; the future of games is in social connectivity. Game companies want to foster strong online communities are going to push for ways bring their games online (DRM or No DRM). Obviously there are both good and bad things to games going online, but I don’t really think there is anything that is going to stop this from happening.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

05/22/2012 at 02:35 PM

Oh I've got no problem with online features, and I do believe there are heavy social elements on the horizon, but I'm against that feature being made a requirement.  I hope that in the future, designers will have the common sense to see that the ability to go online does not provide an excuse to have their games always connected. I think the future is social interaction and digital distribution, but it is not necessarily this "constant connection" DRM BS.  Were this any other game, I think it would suffer much more than it has.

That being said, there's more than just super-fan Diablo supporters out there, there's also people like me who have always been lukewarm to the franchise.  I own Diablo and Diablo 2, but I never really got obsessed with them. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone either. I know there's no concrete way to get numbers, but I wonder how many other lukewarm fans were turned off from a purchase because of all this? It had to have an impact on sales.  As it stands, I have plenty of games that I can play whenever I want that won't throw me an error and boot me whenever a server needs to fart, and I'm getting plenty of enjoyment from them, so I don't feel any loss.

Final thought; I saw that Jimquisition video too and thought it was perfectly handled by him. I just can't imagine playing a game as twitch as Diablo, especially with permadeath turned on, while dealing with lag. That's idiotic, and something that's always going to be an issue with any online game.  Internet connections get flaky whenever they want for whatever reason they want, and that shouldn't cause that significant of a loss to a gamer.  Getting fragged in Unreal Tournament because your dog kicked our router is one thing, permanently losing hours of work in an RPG is another.

Michael117

05/22/2012 at 07:42 PM

@Esteban Sounds like your horror gaming/film quest is going pretty well, definitely give yourself some experience points for not having any problems with Dino Crisis. I think the recommendations the Triforce Crew had lin last weeks Pixltalk were pretty good. Alan Wake is probably a good thing to play in regards to easing you into the genre(s). I also have to say it's cool your going to watch the first Silent Hill movie. I love that movie. I went to see it in theatres with my friend and I loved it, bought the dvd, and I still watch it from time to time. The music is excellent, the acting is pretty great, and it has great atmosphere for the most part. The Silent Hill movie is one of the few times that a gaming inspired movie has gone "right" and been really cool to watch.

Getting back to games though, I have to ask, when you're in a horror setting do you find survival or intense action more fun? A game like Silent Hill will deprive you of ammo, and make you survive by improvising with melee weapons or simply running. A game like F.E.A.R. (my personal favorite) will terrify you and make you survive, but in an action packed way. FEAR is the only game I've ever had a nightmare about (Alma scares me to death), but it is also a very competent and satisfying shooter Esteban.

If you're one of the people that would like to experience horror and great atmosphere while also being empowered at times and having a great shooter experience, you should play FEAR. Those games do a great job of breaking up the pacing, varying the gameplay, and giving you both action and horror. Depriving players of ammo and immersing them in constant dread isn't the only way to make a great horror game. FEAR and Condemned proved that there are other ways.

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

05/22/2012 at 08:06 PM

I find that the titles that deprive you of resources are more terrifying to me. Not only are you basically helpless, the vulnerability intensify the overwhelming sense of loneliness in a world completely foreign to you that's filled with unknown and hostile creatures. With games like FEAR, even if you are all alone, at least you have something reliable to defend yourself with. Tangent: this is why co-op wouldn't work in horror games. Anyways, these type of action horror titles still manages to be scary if not as much as titles like Silent Hill so that's why they are towards the bottom of the list.

Michael117

05/23/2012 at 11:09 AM

That's cool, I understand what you mean. It's always good to explore why you play these types of games, what works for you, and what kind of games you should hunt down and play.

Horror and survival aren't the same thing and I don't like when people (out of habit) lump the two genres together and say survival horror. They're not the same thing at all, but people have been using those two descriptions to describe any game that's remotely suppose to be scary. You can have horror in any setting and with any set of controls. People assume that you can only have horror if your slow as ass, using tank controls, and only have 2 bullets. Being deprived of ammo is good, but bad controls and a slow monotonous pace isn't good.

A lot of people suckle at the nostalgia teets of old Resident Evil and Silent Hill games but I don't see why they're so great. They're not fun to play, I don't get as much out of them as other people do. As far as "horror" goes, I've had much better horror in FEAR and Condemned. As far as "survival" goes I've had much better survival experiences in Mirror's Edge and Morrowind. Resident Evil and Silent Hill can go to the corner and slap on the dunce cap for all I care. Yea...I went there lol.

I dream of making a stealth-evasion-survival game that has a horror atmosphere. You can't really fight your way through anything, and you need to use stealth and parkour to avoid danger. The balance of parkour and stealth would provide different paces of gameplay and options for players in encounter spaces.

I just don't get why people think slow paces and bad controls contribute to scares. It would be great to go the other route and make a horror game that's mechanically sound and fun to play. Resi-Evil and Silent-Hillz = pretty boring. To me. I can't relate to those characters, mechanics, and game worlds. Real people aren't tanks, and real life isn't that slow and simple. Real life horrors can be dynamic, fast, and make you use your brain, instincts, and environment to survive. Horror is subjective so whatever atmosphere and scare content you put in is just hit and miss, but when it comes to survival pretty much every human being has survival responses and instincts. Survival games should be more relateable, let you move and act like a human being would, give you an environment you can take advantage of like a human being would, and engage those survival instincts.

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

05/23/2012 at 12:34 PM

Well, the term "Survival Horror" is the acutally name of the genre so that's actually correct. However, to say all games that are scary are survival horror games isn't correct. Clock Tower, Silent Hill, early Resident Evil, these are survival horror games. FEAR, Doom 3, these are FPS with horror elements. Dead Space, Condemned, the newer Resident Evil games, these are what I call action horror games. There are other games that I wouldn't even be able to categorize and most people call them survival horror because that is the popular name for scary games. I may call them action horror games but that hasn't been standardized.

I always found the controls in the Resident Evil and Dino Crisis games to be terrible but I sort of get the appeal of solving puzzles and opening more places of where you're at. Those games are like Metroid in that way. Very slowly paced, very methodical.

Horror is subjective so some find RE scarier than FEAR. I once knew someone who was petrified by zombies so RE is their nightmares come true. I personally find slasher movies to be terrifying because it's possible. Serial killers exist. As for the survival part, limited supplies makes sense in a Man vs Wild type of way. I always wondered why there isn't a melee button though. I don't have a weapon. I still want to be able to like kick them down so I can run away.

Michael117

05/23/2012 at 01:04 PM

That's part of my point. People call it survival horror out of habit but did those SH and RE games earn it? I say no. What kind of survival are you actually doing? Solving puzzles, gathering stupid gems, continuing to explore a dangerous mansion, dogs jumping through windows, sharks? Survival? No.

Walking across uncharted territory in Fallout 3 or Morrowind, being attacked by creatures, having no health items, money, or Almsivi Intervention scrolls, having to sneak to avoid any more damage, sleeping in a bed you randomly came across in a broke down van in Fallout 3 just so you could hopefully wake up when there's light out so you have a better chance at living, only engaging in a firefight at your own peril, running into town so that guards will protect you from a monster chasing you in Morrowind, that seems more like survival. Not being able to compete with a dozen troops in Mirror's Edge and having to run for your life and squeeze through tight spaces and navigate vertically and horizontally, seems more like survival to me.

RE and SH aren't really survival horror. They're more like adventure horror, does anybody else see it? When people want to survive they don't mix herbs together, grab a weak pistol with 6 ammo, hunt down gems, have no melee ability, and tank around deeper and deeper into a mansion full of sharks, dogs, and junk lol. That's an adventure guys, and a choice. Those characters want to be there and they want to keep doing crap. People give those games so much credit and I'd rather just give them the bit of credit they earned instead of putting them up on a pedastal like others do. They don't define the genres for me and they didn't really set a high bar as far as I'm concerned. The Resident Evil movies have better stories and characters than any of the games seem to have had, and there's plenty of other games out there that mechanically and atmosphereically do "survival" and "horror" better, whether those two completely different elements are seperated or combined.

I see and play Resident Evil and it's okay I guess, but it makes me think, "This is what people put on a pedastal and think is a grand achievement? This is suppose to be something to emulate? We can do so much better than this!"

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

05/23/2012 at 01:57 PM

This is also one of the reasons I recommended the Looking Glass Thief games to you a while ago.  Being highly vulnerable with limited resources combined with trying to survive is pretty intense.  I honestly don't think a game needs zombies, ghosts, or dinosaurs to be scary, you just need to be in a situation that's got you hanging by a thread.  Again, they are closer to entry level games as far as the fear factor goes, but I still think they can make your palms sweat.

I bought Thief 3 recently.  I didn't play it when it was released because I hated the fact that it was third person instead of first person.  I think that may break some of the tension, but I'll let you know if it's any good.  You can pick that one up for around 10 bucks used, and it's compatible with the Xbox 360.

Michael117

05/23/2012 at 02:40 PM

@Angelo Thief 3 is compatible with 360, and is only $10 used? That great! You are still absolutely right, I need to get some of those games. I've heard good things about that series. Your recommendations are going to end up making me buy some of those games. They sound like something that I will really want to play.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

05/23/2012 at 04:11 PM

I'm getting my copy in the mail this week, but the list of compatable games on Wikipedia said it would work.  I'll know for sure soon.  I wouldn't pick it up just yet, but yeah, Amazon has it for 5-10 bucks.  Seriously.

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

05/23/2012 at 02:00 PM

Games like Fallout 3 and Morrowind do have elements of survival but the focus is on the RPG aspects. To be fair, you could say that in games like the older Resident Evils, the focus isn't on survival but puzzle solving. I would also agree that RE and SH are closer to being adventure titles (especially with the controls).

I think people put RE on a pedistal because it was a technilogical feat at the time. To put it in perspective, RE came out the same year as Sonic 3D Blast. You look at those two from a technical stand point and you would be blown away. I'm not saying that RE is a good game (again, controls) but I understand why it's respected, even if it might be hard to actually play nowadays.

Oh and I have to disagree about the movies. The first Resident Evil movie was one of the movies I saw as part of my horror movie plan and not only was it not scary, it was ridiculously stupid. The game's make more sense in that you have something coming after you so you run away or shoot it. That movie never was able to accomplish that level of logic and that's sad.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

05/23/2012 at 02:26 PM

I thought Michelle Rodrigues was scary, but that might just be her...

Michael117

05/23/2012 at 02:31 PM

@Esteban Morrowind and FO3 definitely focus heavily on the RPG aspects of their design, and I agree RE focuses more on the puzzle side. When people talk about what they like about the first RE they often cite the open nature of the mansion and the experience they had exploring it. It's exploration, it's adventure, in a great gameworld. And it's one that a lot of people really liked. I know Rob and Julian from the Triforce Crew really love that game and would absolutely recommend it without thinking twice, and they're not wrong. I myself won't recommend it though lol, just like I wouldn't recommend shooter fans go back and play Goldeneye (shooters have come a long way since then, and for the better. Mucho Better!).

As I was saying, a lot of people cite the exploration and adventure of exploring the mansion. When it comes to exploring really interesting and dangerous environments I prefer to play the other games I mentioned (they were mostly RPGs, except for Mirror's Edge) because they have great world building, level design, and varying gameplay where I can use stealth or action to help me survive.

You're right about thinking of the game in its context. It doesn't hold up to me now and I don't enjoy playing it, but back then it was a technical achievement. Just like Morrowind was a technical acheievment in 2002 but nowadays it's very difficult to get into. Oblivion made so many giant improvements over Morrowind that gave Oblivion a faster pace, fast travel, better combat system, an engine that ran the huge amount of content much better than Morrowind's engine ran its content, and it's was simply better in every technical way. Then Skyrim came out, and even though I haven't played it, I heard on the Giant Bombcast that Bethesda pretty much made the game they were going for this whole time. They took lessons from Morrowind, lessons from Oblivion, and made their best game to date with the knowledge and experience they have from previous titles.

If you try to go back and play Morrowind it's pretty painful. It's dreadfully slow, the performance is a mess, especially if you know how much more fun and polished it is to play either Oblivion or Skyrim, but back when Morrowind came out I was completely blown away by it technically and creatively. Oblivion has the best gameplay and is technically superior, but when it comes to creativity I still have a place for Morrowind in my heart because it has the best music, best atmosphere, and the culture and landscapes of the Morrowind province are really cool in the Elder Scrolls lore.  It's probably the same with Resident Evil. Back then RE was a big deal and achieved quite a lot for a video game of the time, but that was back then.

The first RE movie was terrible, but the other ones are pretty cool. The 2nd movie with Jill Valentine is "better" but it's still pretty weak. I really started getting into the RE movies with the 3rd and 4th ones. Let's face it, the RE games didn't set a high bar, they don't have good stories whatsoever. People didn't fall in love with RE because of the characters and story. The game was a campy, stupid, mess that was laughable, not to be taken seriously. With the 3rd and 4th Resident Evil movies, the people making the movies just started making up their own story and developing the characters they wanted. The stories that unfold in the 3rd and 4th movies are good enough to watch. They might not be "good Resident Evil movies" but you know what? Resident Evil games aren't really great games to start with and they don't have good stories, so the RE movies can only go up! Lol, that's why I say that the movies have done a better job telling stories than the games.

@Angelo Lol, Rodrigues was pretty scary when she started trying to eat people.

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

05/23/2012 at 03:52 PM

I should point out that I tried to play the GameCube remake of the original Resident Evil via the Dolphin emulator but there were various audio issues and it just ruined the experience. I'll need to get the actual disc. I've tried playing Morrowind about six years ago and I couldn't get into it then even at that time. I hadn't played Oblivion yet so I guess it just wasn't for me.

"Rodriguez was pretty scary when she started trying to eat people." Avoiding the obvious joke here.

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