EpicBattleCry - Skirmish 206: A Grinding Badge of Honor

We get ticked on this timely edition of EBC as the team debates game quality versus quantity. Plus, double paying for the Elder Scrolls Online, Msoft’s Xbox One launch plans, inFAMOUS: Second Son finds a release window, and Ryse descends into digital nickle and diming. All of that and more on this time-honored tradition that we call EBC!

 

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GAUNTLET


TOPIC: IT’S ABOUT TIME - With the medium of interactive entertainment providing so many varied content options, team EBC discusses recent trends and possibly paths pertaining to the element of game length. A recent online article brings up some pretty valid points about episodic content and long-winded play sessions, so we discuss the merits of making games BETTER instead of just LONGER.

SOURCE: http://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein/the-after-dinner-video-game

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 Christoph Zeis

Gamescom, Shmamescom!

I was seriously underwhelmed by each party's presentation. Maybe I expected too much after the thundering battle of this year's E3, but I felt like either side could have done much more to promote their respective new consoles.

Although I liked to see Sony's varied indie line-up, they showed far too little on their full price first party titles. If they wanted to drive home the point, that their console is going have a diverse library of innovative products, they should have actually shown extended gameplay, instead of just randomly announcing new titles every 10 seconds. Also, their little jab about "being consistent" with their business strategy, despite being reasonably justified, felt a little immature here.

Microsoft certainly got some attention by announcing their deal with FIFA 14. I think that is going be a huge selling point for a lot of potential buyers, since the franchise is quite big over here in Europe. Apart from that, however, they did nothing for me as a customer, to convince me that their console stands above what Sony has got to offer. So, overall, Gamescom left me exactly where I was before the event.

By the way, whichever drunk monkey was directing the camera during Sony's GC

conference should be fired immediately.

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Comment by StarBound on August 29, 2013 at 12:39pm

I agree with Tony that the beauty of video games is that we have so much to choose from. A game can be as long or as short as we want depending on what the game will allow us to do. Pricing is an entirely different matter as it is possible for a game that cost you $5 to feel like a much more worth while experience than say a $60 game. The greatest thing we have is control over what we play and how we choose to play it.

Comment by Ian - Alexander Arts on August 29, 2013 at 2:22pm

I just want to say that I really like the main character of inFAMOUS Second Son, just for the fact that he looks unique. He isn't a bald space marine, a spiky haired anime pretty boy, or a clean cut superman clone. I really liked inFAMOUS 1 but in getting the platinum trophy I burned myself out on it. I skipped the second game, but now I am ready to try this 3rd attempt. Looks cool!

Comment by Starwind on August 29, 2013 at 6:29pm
Come visit me on the west coast Brent! I would die to have a beer with your crazy ass xD
Comment by Lance Latham on August 29, 2013 at 11:13pm

Alexander! I did the SAME thing: 100%`d the first inFamous and am super lacklustre on the 2nd. I've started it but cannot seem to keep momentum to finish. That said, I too am looking forward to Second Son.

As for the Gauntlet discussion regarding Microsoft's supposed stealth marketing ploy, I think that idea is spot on. They are in the news every week (it seems). That is surely one way to keep buzz about an upcoming product. They want people to be talking about the XB1 whether in a good light or negative one. No press is bad press. I strongly believe MS intentionally showcased a very desirable product surrounded by equally undesirable services and policies. Think about all the talk about the rumors of DRM and always-on and Kinect prior to their presser in May. How could have MS NOT known how the public felt about those policies? The plan all along was to reverse everything (and possibly un-reverse later) so they could keep the conversation going about their product, week in and week out.

It's brilliant, actually. These last few months/weeks of reversals does remind me of a string of "Reno 911" episodes, but what does that matter if we as a community are feeding the XB1 conversation?

Main Topic:
On one hand, I appreciate games where I can stop and save at any point: Skyrim, Fallout 3, XCOM. As a husband and father, I want to be able to put down a game at a moment's notice and be there when my family needs me. At times, I wish all games would be like that - just to be able to suspend play until the next session. 

Here's the other hand: when I return to those games, if it has been a while, I often forget what I was doing when I signed off last. It takes me some time to get back into the groove of the quest or mission at hand. In a way it feels like missing an episode of Twin Peaks: I'm kind of lost for a while. Whereas with a checkpoint system or save points at certain logical intervals with in an episode (Uncharted, Walking Dead) I feel it's easier, smoother, to get back into the world of the game.

Regarding game length, I agree that games should be better, not necessarily longer. Some of the Assassin's Creed installations left me with the feeling that some (if not much) of the content was added for the sake of length. I fell asleep a few times, to be honest. That, I don't appreciate. I like side quests that contribute to the overall story, much like the artifacts and notes did in "The Last of Us" (oh, Ish...). Like Daniel, I also recently played "Brothers" with my son. It was indeed short but well worth the price I paid. Not much in terms of side quests, but when I finished it, the game felt complete. For a higher priced game, I think we gamers do expect a certain length and level of quality. A shorter, more digestible game, would be fine if the quality were super high. "Portal 2" was a short game but I loved every minute by warping minute. When I finished it, I felt like I had gotten my money's worth. By comparison, "Rage" was equally short but did not get me in the same way "Portal 2" did.

Compelling narrative. Engaging game play. A reasonable price. A certain level of replay-ability. These are the qualities I look for in games gunning for my slot (my slot being the single player campaign slot).

Comment by Annoraxx on August 29, 2013 at 11:23pm

Great episode, guys. In regards to the Bethesda story, I don't see what the big deal is. Chances are that Elder Scrolls Online is not the only game you're gonna be playing so you still need a Gold membership if you want to play other online games. What they should do instead is offer a significant discount to Gold members, like Tony mentioned. And while I'm on the subject of ESO, it seems a bit strange that they're going with a subscription based model; if they're going after the Skyrim crowd, they should make the game as accessible as possible. Many of my friends that played Skyrim are not hardcore gamers and are not willing to pay $15 a month just to play one game.

Brent, enjoy your vacation because there won't be time to relax or sleep after the little viking is born XD

DK.... that inFAMOUS pun.... it was so bad.... lol

Comment by Ian - Alexander Arts on August 30, 2013 at 1:28am

Brent is going to California to research before playing GTA5. Have a fun vacation!

About the length of games discussed in the main topic, I think games should stop trying to emulate movies and TV all the time, and look at books instead. Like games, books come in all lengths from a few pages to huge tomes. The thing that works so well in a book is those chapter milestones. When I sit down to read I usually plan to read a chapter, but sometimes I can't get through, so I stop at the end of a page, sometimes I read two chapters. When I come back I can start where I left off, or I can go back and read a few sentences prior so I can remember where I was.

I think its realy good when a game gives you chapters, or larger segments, and also recaps when you come back. Lots of games have had chapters or missions that let you know clearly when you've gotten to a good stopping point. MGS would recap you with text on the mission at hand. Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green would actually show a quick replay of the past few things you did with a text description. I wish more games would do that.

Of course this doesn't work for every kind of game, but I think many more games can try to use the book method instead of copying movies and TV.

Comment by Lance Latham on August 30, 2013 at 1:36am

I like the book analogy. As an avid reader, maybe that's unconscious reason I am drawn to the Uncharted series.

Another beautiful thing about games is that since they are not TV, movies, or books, they don't have to adhere to the norms of each separate media. They can be something entirely different by incorporating facets from each. 

Comment by Johnny Blaze on August 30, 2013 at 7:44am

Just felt like i should clearify something

The PS4 has GDDR5, not DDR5

GDDR5 is just a modified DDR3, which, yes it is custom, but DDR3 is hardly rare anywhere

Comment by Miguel Ramos on August 30, 2013 at 10:16am

Good show. As far as gaming goes, it really doesn't make sense to make some sort of time limit to "games". There are several reasons for it. First off, the mere definition of what is "a game". If Tetris and Fallout 3 are both considered "games", then it's easy to see that it's an absurd to try and find something that fits both. Different lengths and playsessions fit different types of games better. Then there are different "gamers". If a thirty something man with a kid and a job can't find the time to do 3 hour raids on WoW, it's ok. But that doesn't mean that everybody must abide by the same time constraints that he does. A 20 year old college student does have the time, and why should he be left out? Then there is a matter of when. I might not have the time, or the inclination for spending 10 hours straight adjusting my team in Football Manager today, but I may have it next Saturday. Meaning that even a single gamer doesn't have always the same time constraints all the time. It depends on mood and schedule. And let's not forget the matter of taste, even with all the time in the world people don't like the same game experiences and don't want to have the same amount of time spent. So, to try and find one single standard is not only futile but just a bad idea. In the perfect world we have choice. Different things for different occasions. Game lenghts don't deviate from this ideal. Let's have choice on how to play.

Comment by Paulo Belo on August 30, 2013 at 11:26am

I just signed up (after many years of listening to the gospel, a.k.a. EBC) and I would immediately like to throw in my two cents regarding game length/value.

First off, I have to admit that unlike many others I really don't mind the fact that games seem to be getting shorter nowadays. I did mind at the beginning of the current gen, but over these last few years I've come to appreciate the fact that my free time is quite scarce and with games being shorter in length I have the opportunity to play more of them. An important factor is also the whole quality versus quantity ordeal. I mean, I prefer 8 hours of pure unrelenting awesomeness to 30 hours of highs and lows where the highs may be high indeed, but the lows almost make you want to strangle the developers.

A good example of this is the GTA series (don't kill me Brent). As fun as the GTA games always are, about 10 hours or so in I just literally cannot wait for the game to be over as by that point I have become quite tired of the bland side missions and less epic main ones. I know I am in the minority regarding this series, but I always find that I have to force myself to finish the game simply because I paid for it and feel like I have to get my money's worth so to speak (I finish 95% of the games I play). As mindless and stupid as the COD games may be, I do appreciate that I can have 6 hours of fun shooting stuff and then just be done with it. There are exceptions, such as Skyrim, I started playing it a few months ago and have put 50 hours into it and I really just love roaming around that world.

Like I said before, my time is scarce yet I really enjoy playing video games and so I almost dislike it when games are too long nowadays simply because I will most likely not be able to play as much of the game as I would like. A thing I don't quite understand is how, let's say, guys like TG, DK and BA (as well as others in the gaming media and whatnot) are able to play as many games as they do. I mean, they all work and unlike me many of them have families and kids (which suck even more of one's free time). I mean, honestly, where do you guy's find the time?? During EBC you guys are always mentioning the games you're playing and are planning to play and all I think is: ''What?!? I was able to sink five hours into game x this week... Where the hell are they getting the time to play so many games?''. This questions goes for other gamers who work and study as well: where do you guys find the time?

Anyway, I'm ranting. Sorry about that. Keep up the good work everyone.

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