The RPS Electronic Wireless Show Episode 21

By RPS on June 10th, 2009 at 3:34 pm.

It’s time again. Alec and Kieron, bringing unsexy back. Convening in a North London flat, supported by packets of tea and the speeches of General Patton, they strive to talk about topics of import to the PC nation. From Sims 3, to Left 4 Dead 2, to adventure games, to remixing classics to a worrying amount of time trying to psychoanalyze John Walker and an even more disturbing length of time chewing over matters sexual like four year olds. You can get it from here, see its internet page here or join iTunes here or follow on RSS here. You’ll find a full Episode breakdown below…

00:00: We get the General Patton talk out of the way.
00:15: There is a mysterious gap here. We don’t know what went wrong. Maybe we’ll work out and fix it. Maybe we won’t. Who can tell? (We won’t – Ed)
00:50: The first “In the game” joke as we start trying to talk about The Sims 3. Kieron quickly starts talking about his real first kiss and soup instead. Kieron tries and drags Alec’s recipe for Onion soup.
2:07: No, we actually start talking about the Sims 3. For ages. Yes.
3:20: The first occurrence of John Walker bullying. This is something of a theme.
5:46: Kieron apologises. This doesn’t happen often.
8:03: Stories about French maids.
16:41: Moving off the Sims while touching on the over-use of And In The Game.
17:00: Looking at twitter! And pretty much ignore it.
17:40: Re-make culture and LucasArts adventures kick off. Alec finds them distracting. Kieron doesn’t even bother describing them. Then we’re mean to Roberta Williams.
19:14: Alec pretends to be Jim.
20:18: We move onto Telltale’s episodic games and new adventure games.
21:45: Are the old games actually any good? Also, feeling sorry for John and the regression of the adventure genre.
24:00: How old LucasArts adventures shaped or mirrored our personalities. Or, at least, John’s.
27:04: Spinning into game design as expression generally.
27:33: How would you have re-made Deus Ex, Alec? We talk about re-making Deus Ex and how we’d throw the world in the bin.
29:09: The problem with fandom building mythology out of nothing. Building IPs rather than games.
31:05: What game would you re-make, Alec? Kieron just won’t leave Alec alone. But Alec actually has some awesome ideas. So sez Kieron, writing this. Seguing into games based around aging and also comicky books. Buy Beta Ray Bill.
35:55: Dragon Age. Will Kieron like it because he’s a sociopathic slutmonster?
38:00: We say nice things about the Witcher. Briefly.
38:40: We head into sex in games – and how it works and how it doesn’t. Why does the Witcher annoy and we love the Sims? Lots of sex jokes too.
40:07: “Videogame sex is going always be worse than real sex”. “Sex itself is like PE”. Anecdotes about dragonflies sex drive. Bopping! Man, we’re totally off topic.
42:20: We suddenly realise this isn’t really PC gaming.
42:49: Left 4 Dead 2. Kieron and Alec say ill-advised things, almost certainly, but try to break down what’s reasonable, what isn’t and what’s inevitable.
44:50: Kieron should read the site more thoroughly.
46:00: Er… the BNP and protest votes.
49:40: Games as service.
53:00: “Anything else we can insult on twitter?” A quick-fire answer round. Sarcasm mixed with useful answers, including an anecdote about the danger of saying “pylon” at school.
58:49: In memory of Ross Atherton’s leaving from PC Gamer. A mixture of sappiness and totally scurrilous anecdotes from the office.

, .

75 Comments »

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  1. Tomo says:

    Onion soup recipe!

    Demand.

  2. The_B says:

    Anyone interested in some further reading on the whole sex in games thing I would recommend this piece on Narrative Flood from one Mr Cobbett.

  3. Bobsy says:

    Can I suggest on the use of Twitter that you give us a little more notice? These things happen when all civilised folk are at work, and it’s not always easy to come up with exciting observations on the state of gamerising when you’re up to your eyeballs in pigeon-sick.*

    Plus of course there’s plenty of people who don’t have access to a computer during the day. Work, and all that. You slackers.

    *only applicable for pigeon-sick cleaners.

  4. Ian says:

    So how is the pigeon-sick-cleaning business, Bobsy?

  5. Bobsy says:

    My eyes. The goggles do nothing.

  6. LewieP says:

    I’ve never played Monkey Island, and I am really looking forward to playing it for the first time now.

  7. Colthor says:

    “…and an even more disturbing length of time chewing over matters sexual like four year olds.”

    Now there’s an unfortunately ambiguous sentence fragment.

  8. Lewis says:

    Funny you should get Zeno Clash’s name wrong. I wrote the whole bloody review before realising I’d put “Zeno Wars” every time.

  9. Meat Circus says:

    What about Animal Crossing? Is that not Sims-esque?

  10. kyrieee says:

    For me it’s not about what they “promised” with L4D, it’s just that L4D2 doesn’t look like a sequel and it goes against everything Valve have stood for.

    They’ve given the release date after 6 months of development time but their philosophy has always been “done when it’s done”. They give hands on after 6 months. How is that possible? Because they’re taking L4D and tacking stuff on. They even said as much because they said they started working on DLC but turned it into a new game.

    To me, this is an expansion pack priced as a full game, and it’s being hurried out the door. It’s the polar opposite of what Valve have stood for in the past. That’s why I’m upset. And 5 campaigns in 12 months? If that’s the case then how on earth did L4D only have 4 after 36 months of development time?

  11. Kieron Gillen says:

    Meat: Not in a direct competitor way. C&C=Dark Reign, Total Annihilation, etc.

    KG

  12. Meat Circus says:

    I am shocked and appalled at the enormous amount of smelly word-dumps you’re all speaking about classic LucasArts adventure games.

  13. Lewis says:

    @kyrieee

    “They even said as much because they said they started working on DLC but turned it into a new game.”

    I was under the impression they brought loads of ideas to the table then decided what to do in DLC and what to do in the sequel.

    “To me, this is an expansion pack priced as a full game”

    There’s no price announced yet. It might be a tenner for all we know.

  14. zombiehunter says:

    aaahw i nearly pissed myself ^^

    uhm and i got a really delicious well kept ancient familiy recipe for onion soup!
    Picked it up at the Legacy Festival while getting drunk (who would have guessed)

    all you need is:
    Onions…

    ..

    ….

    and SOUP!

    ok, sorry for that one, but that was actually the running gag there ^^

  15. jalf says:

    @Lewis: Nothing official, but they have said in interviews that they consider it a full game, and normal “full price” would be justified.

    Of course, we *have* just learned that what they say in interviews doesn’t really mean anything, but even so…

  16. kyrieee says:

    @Lewis I’m not going to go interview hunting but the price has been announced and it is 50/60$/€ depending on platform.

    Seriously though, don’t you think this is very un-Valvelike thing to do?

  17. John Walker says:

    To protect my fragile reputation, I read one Eddings book once when I was a teenager, and kind of liked it. But then found the next one too boring to read. A pattern I seem to find with fantasy books. I loved Feist’s Magician, but whichever book came after it was unreadably dreadful.

    Every other mean thing they say about me is probably true.

  18. unwize says:

    I’d buy a Mogwai feedback joystick.

  19. Meat Circus says:

    I signed up to the L4D2 boycott group, I do not think L4D2 should be free, but it do think Valve need to stop pretending PC gamers are idiots.

    If Gabe believes a game is a service, Valve really should demonstrate that with Left4Dead.

  20. Kieron Gillen says:

    Meat: Which is totally my point. The demands have toned down since the early days – which I hadn’t realised – but they were for 10K when they were still demanding the levels be free and not set in the south or whatever.

    KG

  21. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    The furor over L4D 2 is just astounding to me.. for god’s sakes, you don’t even know WHAT your complaining about.

    All kinds of assumptions are being drawn; price, content, DLC for L4D1 being discontinued, valve is somehow ‘rushing’ this out the door.

    How bout you wait until you see all the facts in front of you before getting all A.I.M. eh?

    Haven’t seen kneejerk reactions of this caliber since the NMA response to FO3. Pathetic.

  22. Meat Circus says:

    I honestly admit I TL;DRed their list of ‘demands’.

    That doesn’t mean that a lot of those people weren’t genuinely angry at Valve’s perceived conduct.

  23. Meat Circus says:

    @The Fanciest Pants:

    I know what I’m complaining about. Whether or not my complaints are legitimate is a different matter, but I KNOW. Oh yes.

  24. Alec Meer says:

    Oh god, not again.

  25. Nick says:

    “Haven’t seen kneejerk reactions of this caliber since the NMA response to FO3. Pathetic.”

    NMAs response wasn’t that bad.

    This is somewhat lunatic. They released all I expected them to for free for L4D (ie.. finished the game in VS and tagged an extra mode on). It’s tired and could do with some ground up work even using the same engine.

  26. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    @Meat Circus

    Admitting that your not sure what your complaining about removes you from my ire. Well played sir.

  27. Ian says:

    @ Meat Circus: I skimmed down the list of demands from the boycott L4D2 people. Aside from the basic ones (“too soon for a sequel”, “you’re stealing money right out of my pocket, y’basts”, etc.) the ones I remember were along the lines of, “Valve didn’t even consult me personally about my amazing thoughts on character design!” and “VALVE PROMISED TO MAKE A BACON SANDWICH AND THEY DIDN’T!

    Something to that effect anyway.

  28. Meat Circus says:

    You’ve made Alec cry now.

    SHAME ON YOU, ALL OF YOU.

  29. Meat Circus says:

    @Ian

    I’m perfectly happy to defer to Gabe’s judgment on the subject of bacon sandwiches.

  30. Kieron Gillen says:

    I wish I had a bacon sandwich :(

    KG

  31. Lewis says:

    “I honestly admit I TL;DRed their list of ‘demands’.”

    Which probably links neatly back to BNP “support”, I fear…

    Anger sides with anger. Rarely matters what each other is angry about.

  32. zombiehunter says:

    Meat Circus says:

    You’ve made Alec cry now.


    want some soup now?

  33. Meat Circus says:

    Bacon soup?

  34. Meat Circus says:

    Mr Gillen:

    Can you remember offhand the TEN GAMES THAT MUST NOT BE REMADE?

  35. kyrieee says:

    Who cares what some stupid person wrote on a steam group description. People who think starting those things actually make a difference aren’t people you should listen to. Just because they suck at articulating why they’re mad doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to be

  36. jalf says:

    Finally getting to the L4D2 bit of the podcast now, and the “what is and isn’t a promise” thing is an interesting discussion. I didn’t really pay attention to what they said in interviews when I bought the game. I bought it because all my friends had decided to buy it, which meant I’d be guaranteed people to play it with.
    Of course, said friends *did* pay attention to this promise. They bought it because they expected new campaigns to be added. (And they’re not just saying that now. I can remember them talking about it around the time L4D was released. I could probably dig up a few forum posts as documentation, even. It was their answer when I said that I didn’t think it’d have much replay value)
    It *was* a major selling point for a lot of people.

    Anyway, I’m not really boiling with rage myself, but I can see why others feel ripped off. And I am going to keep this in mind the next time I buy a Valve game. Their “post-release support” or “games as a service” is not universal. It is a service when it benefits Valve, but not if they’re bored and want to do something else. Whatever they call it, customers should probably treat their games as a product, not a service. Take the “service” part as an added bonus if and when it materializes, but don’t base your purchases on it. (I think that for games to really be a “service”, there’d have to be some kind of contract to ensure that the service gets provided, and that everyone agrees on what the service includes. In a way, it’s similar to the DRM phenomenon. That too was pitched as a service. Go ahead and buy our DRM’ed music! Don’t worry, you’ll always be able to listen to it… Unless, like Microsoft and a few others tried to do, we get bored, and take down our auth servers. It really seems like software companies in general are having difficulty with the concept that a “service” has to offer something both ways. That if you offer someone a service, you have to actually deliver too, and *keep* delivering. If you don’t want to do that, perhaps you should’ve sold it as a one-off product instead.

    So was it a reasonable to consider these interviews “promises” rather than “intents”?
    I think so, for two reasons:
    First, it’s Valve. They’ve put a lot of effort into building a reputation as people who are serious about supporting their games post-release. So when they say “oh, we’re going to support this game post-release”, people tend to believe them (until now). Of course, if, say, the Kings Bounty developers said the same thing, you’d probably read it more as an intention than a promise.

    And the second thing, of course, is that it was *very* specific. They didn’t just say “we plan to release updates for the game”. They said specifically what *types* of content would be added (infected types, weapons and campaigns), and even *when* (it would happen faster than TF2 updates – which also means that even if they do add content tomorrow, they still haven’t lived up to everything they promised).

    With this kind of specifics from a company that has repeatedly said how important it is to them to keep their games fresh after release, I think we’re well into “promise” territory.

    And true about the L4DBoycott thing. Sometimes less is more. They should have stuck to the basics, and I might have joined. :)

  37. The_B says:

    “I honestly admit I TL;DRed their list of ‘demands’.”

    Which probably links neatly back to BNP “support”, I fear…

    Not really – BNP actually received fewer votes than previous elections, but the amount of people who didn’t vote at all was significantly higher so they ended up with the win. And lets face it, there is never going to make a “You know what, L4D2 is going to be awesome” group that gets as much attention, to take away ‘votes’ for the Anti L4D2 cause, as it were.

  38. Nick says:

    So, piracy and DRM eh?

  39. ChaosSmurf says:

    One podcast with Kieron where there’s no talk of sex. I dare you.

  40. Tei says:

    @jalf: The one problem with your comment, is that seems Valve will still release something for L4D1.

    *** The Scorpion and the Frog ***

    One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river.
    The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to reconsider the situation. He couldn’t see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.

    Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.

    “Hellooo Mr. Frog!” called the scorpion across the water, “Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?”

    http://allaboutfrogs.org/stories/scorpion.html

  41. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    Ha ha ha STOP GETTING SEX IN MY PC GAMES EEEUUUUUUUU!!!!

  42. Jeremy says:

    I just hate that relationships are portrayed so artificially, it makes it impossible to really make a meaningful choice. What kind of women/men are these that respond to a couple of kind conversations by having sex with the other person? Or, how is getting a particular item going to make a person suddenly have no other thought but to have sex with them? It’s so juvenile in its presentation that to call it “adult” is quite ridiculous, or maybe not, adult movies are porn, so I guess it fits fairly reasonable (a bare plot with no real dialogue that somehow magically leads to sex). They should focus on making a serious game, not an adult game.

  43. Rei Onryou says:

    @ChaosSmurf: He’ll just talk about sexual acts rather than standard sex. What you’re asking for is perhaps far far worse.

  44. drewski says:

    The first time Keiron paused for thought I thought the sound on my computer had failed, the line went so silent.

    I love Feist, but overall Silverthorns’s probably one of his weakest efforts. I don’t think he’s written anything as good as Magician, though – the better he gets at writing, the worse he gets at storytelling.

    Pods are better with slander. I liked this one.

  45. Markoff Chaney says:

    I’m just glad Alec’s still here. I was actually worried there and started googling for a bit. I can handle Kieron being a hot ginger chick but some things can scare a person. I’ll give this a listen later this evening when I make it back homewards.

    Excellent words, as usual, jalf. Looking at it with a clinical detachment would lead any unbiased observer to admit that Valve has not lived up to what Gabe Newell promised they would deliver in the form of post release content for L4D. Period. Full Stop. Discussion can end, but it won’t.

    @ tei – But in this case, we didn’t know it was a scorpion at first. We saw a cuddly bear that was all nice and, if anything, too good and had acted like a bear with a different business model for 10 years and did everything that a bear did. Then, one day, it ripped off its bear suit, stung us in the back and said “PSYCHE! I’M A SCORPION! SUCK IT!”. The analogy doesn’t quite fit, I’m afraid.

  46. Jeremy says:

    It’s not a scorpion though, it’s a friendly bear that forgot to trim it’s claws one time. So the hug that it thought we wanted actually cut deep… so deep it broke our hearts. As well as some people’s fragile minds.

  47. ChaosSmurf says:

    @rei OH SHI-

  48. Tei says:

    I think we are safe, and Valve is not becoming another generic crap developer, like Ubisoft, and all the game studios that EA has buy and destroyed.

    Is much like a scary movie to think about a Valve, transforming in Where-valve. Maybe fighting EA to release a DLC for the PC…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8IxjzmgIlw
    But .. .good story, but is not the world where we live. We live in a world where theres a Valve, full of awesome people, that make awesome things. Much like Google make awesome webapps, Valve make awesome and creative games. If theres something to blame on the doomsayers… is the total pesimist… after all the good things Valve has created, a small “something that can be perceived negative” is not enough for that response. Probably here the most juicious comment is the one from @Jeremy.

  49. Serondal says:

    I’ve been playing the Witcher as of late and I must admit I hate myself for not trying it sooner. This is one of the most awesom games I’ve ever played. I play OTS and it feels like an action/rpg more so than a normal run of the mill RPG, I’m sure it feels a bit diffrent if you’re playing in another view.

    I don’t mind the sex so much, it does seem kind of hammered in at the last second and has no bearing on the story for the most part but hey, I enjoy a picture of a milk maid pouring milk over her nude chest as much as the next guy so I’m not going to complain. Although the Card for the witch is pretty insane O.o

  50. Psychopomp says:

    My god…

    I stopped listening to The Tea Party to listen to the RPS podcast.

    Anyone who knows of my musical taste, can attest to what that means about RPS.