The RPS Electronic Wireless Show 37

By John Walker on January 19th, 2010 at 2:17 pm.

Anyone who reads alt-text fancy creating us a new logo?

Jim and John had stretched the elastic that joins them as far as it would reach, causing them to be flung back together, landing in front of a microphone. So a podcast was recorded. It’s another Twitter-driven special, after last time’s monster-stomach-set Twitter isolation. Discussed are matters of Neptune’s Pride, procedural worlds, game pricing and gamepads.

Also raised are monk haircuts, how to trip up people who are running and listening, architectural design’s influence on gaming, John’s complete inability to listen to anything Jim’s saying, X-COM’s potential appeal to modern man, the confusing world of budget gaming, thoughts on Alpha Protocol and Global Agenda (which definitely aren’t the same game no matter how hard John’s brain claims otherwise), how Jim’s scoring on Eurogamer has all been about crazed graffiti, and the role of the humble hit point.

If you’re wondering what the creaking sounds are, it’s Jim’s robot legs.

Get the mp3 directly from here, subscribe to it by RSS with this, or get it on iTunes from here.

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24 Comments »

  1. Optimaximal says:

    re: Jims Robot legs – can he shrink and grow like the robot in Machniarium?

    If not, why not?!

  2. Jacques says:

    I see my mention of procedural worlds was used, I’ll give this a listen when I get home from college.

  3. Glove says:

    That rant on “fun” was just beautiful; couldn’t agree more.

    I think Red Faction: Guerilla suffers a similar generalisation as “but is it fun?”, in that the spatially marvelous destruction system isn’t really celebrated for the more interesting reasons that exist. Instead, it’s canvassed over as “having fun blowing sh*t up”, which doesn’t do justice to, say, the tragic intimacy of climbing your way up a building you’re hacking apart, or the visual impact of seeing vast holes torn through gigantic towers. The “militarized Parkour” (BLDGBlog always produces great phrases like that, I’ve noticed) of architectural tunneling that Jim mentioned is the kind of thing that really needs to be noticed and developed as a key principle in games to come. I think the level the current GeoMod engine has reached is something quite significant, and I hope fervently we’ll get to see more of it.

  4. jalf says:

    The “fun” thing is one of my pet peeves too. A game doesn’t have to be “fun”, but it has to be worth playing. The player has to get something out of it. Whether that’s rolling around on the floor laughing (and having *fun*, or being engrossed in a goo story, or getting an adrenaline rush from competing against your friends or narrowly winning out against overwhelming odds… Or just giving you something to think about. I never played The Path, but it’s my impression that while it wasn’t “fun”, it succeeded at the last point. It gave the player an experience to be affected by and to reflect on.

    And is that “wrong”? As long as players are willing to experience the game, it’s a success. It sounds like The Path was a good game in this sense. Dreamfall was too. It was sad as hell, and the ending was just depressing, but the story was worth experiencing, and it was an interesting experience to play through it. But it certainly wasn’t “fun”. And it shouldn’t have to be.

    In a sense, I think it’s related to the whole “are games art” debate. Of course they *can* be. But they don’t have to be. Just like games *can* be fun, but they don’t have to be. Or they *can* be beautiful or gripping or even educational. As long as the person playing it feels he or she gets something out of the experience, the game is doing something right.

  5. John_Arr says:

    Great talkythinks, but I missed the traditional Dexter intermission.

  6. TheSombreroKid says:

    i wish you’s could do this live so the tweeting could be on topic! i always want to tweet at you’s while i’m lstening to it, but it’s too late :(

    • Vinraith says:

      @TheSombreroKid

      “You” is already plural (as well as singular) in English.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I’m guessing he’s from New York. Besides, anyone from the south knows that y’all is the proper way to say it.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Psychopomp

      While I’m obviously familiar with it in speech, I’ve never seen a New Yorker actually write “yous” out before.

      And y’all always makes me cringe, speaking as someone from a border state.

  7. El Stevo says:

    Someone else who doesn’t think much of A Theory of Fun for Game Design? I thought I was alone.

  8. Miles of the Machination says:

    The level designer fabricated vs progressively modelled map debate is interesting, primarily because I’d like to see where it goes beyond the realm of cities. Consider what would happen when the algorithm for creating interesting natural environments is developed, the scope for what could be created within predermined parameteres/ filters could take an enormous amout of work out of the creation process, allowing artists and modellers to take more time to find tune their creation. Unless of course, the entire thing just goes horribly wrong.

    Also, on fun. I’ve asked myself the same question, and I’ve found a more appropriate term to be “entertaining” since it doesn’t necessarily reduce it to joy, fun, or something explicitly associated with happiness, however it was still “entertaining” or “enjoyable”.

  9. skalpadda says:

    “I experimented with it in the 90s”. In the 70s our parents had free love, peace, sex, drugs and rock’n'roll to experiment with. What did we get to experiment with in the 90s? Alternative operating systems.. what a terribly dull generation we are.

  10. Muzman says:

    Regarding the price thing (still listening currently, but blabbing while I think about it). The question was, will we pay more than 10 bucks now that these huge sales have shown us the light?

    I think the other angle on that is that most people probably only buy one or two full priced games a year anyway. Now they still might buy one but ten other cheap ones as well (John’s point about packs goes to that a bit). The net result is really more people who fit the definition of ‘gamers’ for the amount of the things they get hold of in a given period. Doesn’t tell us what it means for sales or profits as a whole, but could be an interesting effect.
    Sales and really fluid pricing are going to be necessary to compete with all the free games that are going to be around soon too, I reckon.

    Anyway, ‘The Crossing’ is cancelled? Man. I missed that bit of news. That did look nice, if nothing else.
    The trailers are still floating around for the curious.

    • Sam says:

      Aye. Especially since the most enjoyable (let’s avoid “fun”, shall we) games I’ve played in the last couple of years have been indie games costing on the order of £10 or so.
      I suspect that there’s going to be an increasing split between Console Games, which will still be priced high because you can push them to console owners (and cross-format price parity is an easy thing to argue for) and PC-only Games, which will be more Indie over time and will have a lower starting cost and more frequent sales. (The PC-only Games may transition to consoles, but only via the cheap-online-downloady interfaces, like XboxLiveArcade or whatever it’s called now.)

  11. Javier-de-Ass says:

    the structure video is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtC0lpKKE38

  12. Sam says:

    So.

    Re: Linux/Macs – people always say “oh, it was lovely but then my printer drivers broke and I couldn’t fix them”, but don’t consider that it can be equally difficult to fix problems with Windows when it gets messed up, too. It’s all about familiarity, rather then failings of the particular OS. Also, (also!), I was a little disappointed that this became more of a Linux discussion than a Mac one, purely from the pragmatic point that there are a lot more Mac users than Linux users. (Considering that Macs gave us the best early FPS in existence – Marathon – they deserve some more credit as games machines.)

    Re: procedurally destructible environments – I think one of the reasons why this hasn’t had more gameplay attention is that implementation either makes railroading in linear games even more obvious (going from “why can’t I open this door” to “why are these walls inexplicably invulnerable”) or makes the solution space to your game significantly larger, and therefore harder to balance and design for.
    I mean, Valve are never going to implement it in their games, because they’re all about artful railroading. Unless they manage to make their Director smart enough to adaptively railroad people even when they blow their own paths through the game…

  13. Nick Mailer says:

    Sam, you are correct. Fixing problems under Linux (or, indeed, MacOS) is not objectively more difficult than under Windows: it’s just that if you’re used to dealing with broken DLLs, weird graphics-driver problems and having to delve into the hell that is the registry under Windows, you internalise it and think it’s normal, whereas having to edit a text file in Linux (GASP!), well, that’s just SO DIFFICULT.

    My mum has used Windows, Linux and MacOS. She finds MacOS the most confusing and Windows a close second.

    So John was just being a silly fool, as ever.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      Bullroar. I’ve never had to open up a command line to fix a wireless driver in Windows 7 or Mac OS. I use linux, I LIKE Linux, but if I was being honest part of the reason I do is that I like being the sort of person who can do stuff like compile a new version of a program or blacklist a driver. It’s not something normal people want to do, and let’s be serious, it isn’t something that has to be done on the other two major OSes.

    • Dan Milburn says:

      @Nick:

      A large part of the problem is that ‘Linux’ is really too vague a term to be very useful here. It’s a kernel!

      For example, my girlfriend bought an Asus Eee a while ago. It had Firefox 2.something installed, and she wanted to upgrade to version 3. So she tried to use Firefox’s auto-update feature. It didn’t work. I pointed her to the package manager, there were no packages available from the distribution. Some Googling revealed that she needed new versions of glib, gtk and a bunch of other stuff. Fortunately some kind person had created packages for all this specifically for that distribution. Having downloaded them, she then needed to use the command line to extract the packages and then every time she wanted to run Firefox because there was no obvious way of modifying the shortcuts on her desktop. All this on one of the few consumer devices that actually comes with Linux pre-installed at all.

      Now maybe if she’d been running Ubuntu or something this wouldn’t have been a problem, but the reliance on the support of your distribution for access to new versions of a basic application is ridiculous, and there’s not really any way around it while not even the kernel attempts to maintain compatibility between versions, never mind the rest of the software stack that makes up the modern GUI.

  14. Arthur Barnhouse says:

    You guy’s used my question, but didn’t really get to the heart of what I was asking (it was really funny though). I have always appreciated that you guys like gamepads, I like them too. But in the PC community there is an extreme and serious bias against the gamepad as compared to the mouse and keyboard. I can recall the one time I said I was using a gamepad while playing Team Fortress 2. You’d think I had admitted I was a pedophile. Also, if you ask about gamepad support on forums for a game, I can tell you that the first three replies will be some variation of “Who uses a gampad? what are you an idiot?” I just can’t figure why it is so disliked.

    • Vitamin Powered says:

      It’s politics. The PC is the land of mice and keyboards, and the consoles are the city-states of gamepads, never the two shall meet etc. I think the situation is further antagonised when you start talking about a FPS; this is where the real hatred of controllers in PCs stems from.

      I actually agree with you; I use a 360 controller on my PC whenever it makes for a better experience. There are situations where a mouse’s variety of analogue movement doesn’t work (flight sim, racing game etc.), and you need a better controller.

  15. Sam says:

    @Arthur Barnhouse.
    Speaking honestly, the last time I had to resort to non-gui tools to fix a problem on my Linux box was around a year ago – and that was a sabayon package management issue of an advanced nature.
    On the other hand, even getting Windows 7 to install on my girlfriend’s computer was tricky – Win 7 dislikes existing partitions at the start of the disk.
    So, like I said, it’s down to individual experience.
    Plus, editing a text file isn’t intrinsically harder than using a GUI – and neither is any particular GUI. It took me a fortnight of pain and frustration to be functional on my work MacBook, all due to unfamiliarity.

  16. The Dark One says:

    The stuff about architectural tunneling reminded me a lot of a vacation my family had years ago. We had rented this house for a couple of weeks in the south of France, in one of those old hill towns. All the structures were built right up onto each other, with twisty narrow roads.

    When we got to the house itself, it turned out that the current dwelling extended through several formerly separate houses. You’d walk through up a step and through a doorway and the ceiling would be a different height and the windows wouldn’t have the same shape. I don’t even know if the owner had other parts that were rented off, either- it was hard to get a feel on how your position in the house translated to an overall position in the row of buildings, since they were all uniform stone blocks on the outside. I loved it.

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