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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 56: E3 2011

Tim Spaeth's picture

GameCritics' own Trent Fingland regales us with war stories from the E3 front. Along the way we reconcile our E3 predictions, debate the future of Japanese gaming, have a serious talk about religion, and get uncomfortably inquisitive about the whereabouts of Ken Levine. Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, and Tim "Death to Handhelds" Spaeth.

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Religion in Japanese culture

Religion in Japanese culture is much more woven in than it is in the west. Japan has one of the largest atheist/no religion populations in the world, and yet most of those people engage in common Buddhist customs all the time. It's just something they do. Japan is a largely homogenous country, so that can fly pretty easily. In a country as diverse as the United States, however, having a game treat one religion as being correct (Like El Shaddai is doing with the Bible) comes off as being a veiled push for that religion. So personally, I'm pretty happy with games staying about from religion.

Couple Things...

1) Apologies for the sound quality this week; something wonked out between Skype, Call Graph, and my hardware. I couldn't pinpoint the exact cause, nor could I fix it entirely in post.

2) Apologies as well for cutting the religion conversation short (especially to Richard and Trent who had much more to offer). Like I said on the show there's an entire podcast topic to be had there. Plus I needed to make room for Too Human and Borderlands jokes; you know me -- I love to raise the level of discourse.

Post E3 Prediction and In Defense of the DS

Upon further reflection after listening to show, I'm going to further predict that "transfarring" between the PS3 consoles and the PS Vita will require you pay for two copies of the game. Do you honestly think that Sony is going to allow an entire Blu Ray game to be downloaded onto the PSV? Aside from the security risks of allowing Sony to "rip" their own games, it will also be incredibly inconvenient to transfer 8+ gigs of data over wi-fi and/or USB. Sony has also traditionally been very closed and controlling when it comes to their media.

This also partly explains Nintendo's confusing direction with the Wii U. In order to do a semi-portable version of a home console game, you'd have to do some form of live-streaming/tethering in order to avoid inefficiencies of duplicating the game one-to-one on the portable.

I also wanted to elaborate further on Brad's comment that DS dual/touch screen were essentially under utilized gimmicks. First I'm not sure why we ding Nintendo so heavily for at least trying to innovate and reward Sony and Microsoft for essentially sticking with the status quo on their console releases.

Secondly, I don't draw a line between convenience and innovation so clearly as my fellow co-hosts. Can't convenience also be considered innovative? The bottom line for me is that the dual/touch screens contributed something positive to gaming beyond just having map screens. Artistically, graphic designers have utilized the two screens to create some of the most memorable introduction and cut-scenes in video games. Games like Cooking Mama, Nintendogs and Brain Age, which widened the audience and vocabulary of games would not have been possible on any other system. While the DS may not be considered mind-blowingly innovative, I'm not sure what is these days. Many games on the DS have largely lived up to the potential of the hardware and contributed to what is perhaps the most successful platform ever, portable or otherwise.

And people wonder why anyone would buy a 3DS when you consider its storied legacy.

re: Transfarring

So there would be a copy of the came you'd have to buy for PS3 and a copy for Vita? Or does it only work Vita game->PS3 and not PS3 game->Vita?

And correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Ruin demo show the guy hoking the Vita up to the PS3 directly and playing it that way?

Transfarring = Cloud Saves

Isn't Transfarring just an inelegant, branded term for cloud saving? Your save happens to be compatible with both versions of the game, and can bounce from one to the other, but you need to own physical copies of both versions to make it work. I thought that was pretty clear -- BUT -- No one really knows for sure. That's the wonderful thing about this E3...it's like the industry had some silent agreement that no one would explain how anything actually works. Yay for us.

Richard Naik wrote: So

Richard Naik wrote:

So there would be a copy of the came you'd have to buy for PS3 and a copy for Vita? Or does it only work Vita game->PS3 and not PS3 game->Vita?

And correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Ruin demo show the guy hoking the Vita up to the PS3 directly and playing it that way?

I'm not sure why the PSV needed to be hooked up (perhaps to transfer over the save game), but that's obviously not the pitch/concept. As a truly portable system, a version of the software will have to exist on the PSV in some way shape or form. So a copy of Ruin could have already been installed.

Tim Spaeth wrote: Isn't

Tim Spaeth wrote:

Isn't Transfarring just an inelegant, branded term for cloud saving?

Or cloudless cloud saving.

El Shaddai pushing Christianity

I think it's interesting, and kind of surprising, that so many people seem to get the vibe that El Shaddai is promoting Christianity over other religions.

As I mentioned in the podcast, it's based on an apocryphal book of the bible--meaning that the official line of Christianity regarding the book of Enoch is that it isn't true.

Even if it were instead based on say, Deuteronomy, I still don't see the game supporting Christianity as the one true religion any more than I see the upcoming Green Lantern game implying that the Green Lantern is a real guy who did real things. I mean, pre-fall Lucifer is your CO, and he talks coloquially to God on his cellphone like they're bros. That's not something I would expect to find in a game with evangelical aspirations.

While I do not have a stern

While I do not have a stern dressing down for you guys, I did find a link to the Romulan Language Institute.

http://rihannsu.theari.com/

transfarring

If you google Vita transfarring, all you get is Konami's announcement regarding the Metal Gear series using the cloud saving from now on. You guys were confusing me with all your talk about it. It would seem likely you buy a copy for the PS3, and another copy for the Vita, and now you can share the same save file because its saved somewhere on the Internet.

Did you hear Microsoft's announcement just before the show of their intent to use cloud saving. It's meant to allow you to save your profile on the net and retrieve it from any 360. Game saves can also be uploaded. It was thought that the announcement would take some of the wind out of Sony's, though I haven't really been hearing much of either one.

First off, great show guys,

First off, great show guys, as usual!

1. Oh man, you're all going to be SO disappointed with El Shaddai. I already finished the JP version, and it's...well...it's really obvious that the people behind it are not used to making games.

It looks gorgeous, sure, and that's all that kept me dragging through it. I mean, it's clear that they wanted to make something artsy, to the extent that it almost feels like a graduation project for art students, but the gameplay is stale and boring, not to mention that the controls are imprecise and platforming is an immense pain.

You'll be happy/disappointed to know, also, that the game does not make any particular statements about Christianity being (or not being) awesome. The Book of Eunuch serves as the backbone of the story, and there's biblical characters in it and whatnot, but in no way is the subject of religion itself ever discussed.

2. I hated FFXIII as much as most of you, but I tell ya, XIII-2 is looking quite good. It actually looks *gasp* like a proper game this time!

3. On Nintendo, I think a large part of the idea behind the Wii "waggle" and the DS's Touch Screen was to get people who never play games interested. Those who do not play games are often immediately turned off when they have to work with any number of buttons (the reason why touch-controlled iPhone games etc are also doing so well), so intuitive motion controls that forgo any kind of buttons whatsoever are really easy for beginners to get into, and I think Nintendo was very well aware of that when they designed the respective consoles. More for the non-gamers than for the established audience.
But yeah, the Wii U...I'm not too sure about it either. I've heard people call it the Dreamcast 2 (in terms of being "in between generations") and this may very well prove true.

4. The Wii may be obsolete, but it's still got Xenoblade coming up (in Europe at least) which is really one of the best RPGs ever made.

If I could be so bold, I was

If I could be so bold, I was somewhat disappointed by this podcast. There was so much that I wanted to hear you guys talk about, (Mr. Caffeine, Mass Effect 3) and I feel the loose, unstructured nature of last year's podcast lended itself much better, rather than all the time spent on religion, past predictions, etc. I don't know, it kind of felt like this podcast was attempting to be less cynical than the last one, and it just felt flat to me.

Chi Kong Lui wrote: First

Chi Kong Lui wrote:

First I'm not sure why we ding Nintendo so heavily for at least trying to innovate and reward Sony and Microsoft for essentially sticking with the status quo on their console releases.

Because most of Nintendo's "innovations" are just gussied up gimmicks that don't really do much to improve upon gameplay? I should "reward" them for motion controls that are tacked on to games that didn't need them in the first place? I should cheer because they added a second screen on a handheld so I now no longer have to pause to look at my inventory or the map? When Nintendo truly innovates, I'll congratulate them. Right now, I'd rather play my PS3 or 360 - without Move or Kinect. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Decabo -- we were definitely trying to be less cynical this year, if only because we spew so much venom every other year. I think the real issue is that none of us wanted to record a gargantuan 4 hour show like we seem to do after every E3. Because of that, things got left out of the mix. In something like Mass Effect 3's case, I'm sure we'll be talking about it a lot in future shows.

Mike Bracken wrote: Decabo

Mike Bracken wrote:

Decabo -- we were definitely trying to be less cynical this year, if only because we spew so much venom every other year. I think the real issue is that none of us wanted to record a gargantuan 4 hour show like we seem to do after every E3. Because of that, things got left out of the mix. In something like Mass Effect 3's case, I'm sure we'll be talking about it a lot in future shows.

I totally understand not wanting to spend four hours on one podcast, since you're all busy dudes, I'm sure. On the other hand, I don't like the idea that guys were, in your words, "trying to be less cynical." One of the things that I love about GameCritics is that I never see any of you censor yourselves, while other outlets (*cough* G4) always put on a fake smile for stupid crap no one wants. None of you went that far, fortunately, but it sounds to me like you all were actively holding back your opinions. That, to me, goes completely against the spirit of Game Critics.

Thanks Decabo

Decabo wrote:

If I could be so bold, I was somewhat disappointed by this podcast. There was so much that I wanted to hear you guys talk about, (Mr. Caffeine, Mass Effect 3) and I feel the loose, unstructured nature of last year's podcast lended itself much better, rather than all the time spent on religion, past predictions, etc. I don't know, it kind of felt like this podcast was attempting to be less cynical than the last one, and it just felt flat to me.

I appreciate the constructive criticism, Decabo! Comments like these are very helpful to me. Last year we had some complaints that the show was TOO unstructured, TOO vulgar, TOO negative and TOO long. If I remember correctly we didn't even record that show in chronological order; we got on Skype and just starting talking. I ended up cobbling it together in post-production.

So this year I tried to course correct, and I probably course corrected too far. Still, I think our trademark cynicism was well-represented (Kinect!) and I feel like we got in some good game talk at the end. As Mike said, there will be plenty of Mass Effect 3 coverage as we get closer to its release -- BioWare has a big ol' GameCritics-branded target on its back after Dragon Age 2.

As for Mr. Caffeine, I thought he was a wonderful host and presenter in the finest tradition of George Burns, Steve Allen, and Johnny Carson. Magnificent.

Tim Spaeth wrote: I

Tim Spaeth wrote:

I appreciate the constructive criticism, Decabo! Comments like these are very helpful to me. Last year we had some complaints that the show was TOO unstructured, TOO vulgar, TOO negative and TOO long. If I remember correctly we didn't even record that show in chronological order; we got on Skype and just starting talking. I ended up cobbling it together in post-production.

So this year I tried to course correct, and I probably course corrected too far. Still, I think our trademark cynicism was well-represented (Kinect!) and I feel like we got in some good game talk at the end. As Mike said, there will be plenty of Mass Effect 3 coverage as we get closer to its release -- BioWare has a big ol' GameCritics-branded target on its back after Dragon Age 2.

As for Mr. Caffeine, I thought he was a wonderful host and presenter in the finest tradition of George Burns, Steve Allen, and Johnny Carson. Magnificent.

Thanks for the kind response, I was hoping no one took offense to me saying that, because that was not my intent at all. Truthfully, I have no clue why people would complain about the E3 2010 podcast. To me, that was the single most honest podcast I have ever listened to. All four of you were firing on all cylinders, and the genuine passion of it all was so great, I had to shared it with a bunch of my friends.

This is 100% my opinion, and I know this is going to sound overly-dramatic, but the idea of the Game Critics podcast intentionally trying to sound less cynical frightens me. It's not that I like a lot knee-jerk slams and cursing, it's the sense of freedom in the discussion that makes the podcast so great to me. I've tried to listen to Game Informer's podcast before, and it's usually the driest 50 minutes imaginable. I don't really care about how vulgar the podcast is; I'm not saying that you guys should've cursed more, or made raunchier jokes. I just felt like you guys were trying to hold back this year, and after the masterpiece that was last year's post-E3 podcast, that was a little disappointing.

That being said, I still adore the Game Critics podcast and all its members, and appreciate the respectful response.

Decabo, I appreciate all the

Decabo,

I appreciate all the feedback -- and I agree with you. I haven't listened to the show (I have a long standing tradition of never listening to the shows after we record them. I will occasionally go back if someone calls us on a specific comment or something to make sure we were quoted correctly, though), but I know it was less cynical/bitter than last year.

For me, it wasn't a case of Tim course-correcting so much as it was a personal decision to try and find games that I was actually excited about this year. I make no attempt to hide the fact that I'm cranky bastard most of the time, but I felt like last year was kind of me teeing off on everything that bugged me with little attention paid to things that were actually cool.

Don't worry, though -- this isn't a changing of the podcast tone or anything. We're still all bitter and cranky -- and the things we were positive about were things we genuinely felt positive about -- not the "smile like this turd is made of gold" stuff that happens on the major sites and networks.

More misanthropy please

I don't have any strong feelings about this particular podcast, but I'd just like to say that you shouldn't feel the need to be any more 'upbeat' than you already are. I've listened to a fair few of the old podcasts since I discovered this site six months ago, and you guys are note-perfect! I really didn't get the impression that you were a crowd of bitter, miserable bastards at all :)

Instead, I hear a podcast which is honest and extremely humourous; that's unique in my podcast-listening experience so far, so keep it up guys! It's a fun show to listen to.

This one's for Chi

I totally forgot to mention one of the most significant events of this year's E3.

On the final day, when Brandon and I were in the Sony lounge checking out Journey, we had a chance to talk to one of the people involved with the project--who's name I can't remember because I am a horrible person. Anyway, he was talking about how thatgamecompany tries to create games where the primary goal is to place the player into a specific emotional state.

So I asked "What's a game you think has been successful at doing this that hasn't been developed by thatgamecompany?"

His answer? Fight Night.

re: specific emotional state

Amnesia has got to be on that list. Gotta be.

maybe they forgot

maybe they forgot it.

[RIMSHOT]

Lessons Learned

Decabo wrote:

Thanks for the kind response, I was hoping no one took offense to me saying that, because that was not my intent at all. Truthfully, I have no clue why people would complain about the E3 2010 podcast. To me, that was the single most honest podcast I have ever listened to. All four of you were firing on all cylinders, and the genuine passion of it all was so great, I had to shared it with a bunch of my friends.

I went back and listened to that episode and you're right in that there's a very appreciable difference in tone (and not just the sheer volume of F-bombs from Mike who was auto-fire). The key difference for me was there was genuine anger and disdain towards the big three and their E3 agendas. This year, not so much. Nintendo's Wii U was confusing and divisive, but I was leaning more on the positive side. Most of the gang was on-board for the PS Vita. The only thing from the Big Three that felt our rage was as Tim pointed out, Kinectifying core games.

In the interest of time, there were a bunch of disappointments that I didn't get a chance to talk about like Dead Island and the new Tomb Raider. I think the lesson learned for next year is to make sure we talk about the things that people want to hear us talk about no matter how long it runs and express more on the things we felt most strongly about.

Some interesting comments

Some interesting comments made about Microsoft with Kinect. I mean, the almost-universal response from "core" gamers has been negative, much in the way Richard and Mike expressed, so it was interesting to see both Trent and Tim have a different take on it. It was a sorta can't win scenario for Microsoft -- they either ditch Kinect and get heat for cashing in on crappy novelty hardware, or they put more support into it and thereby gain anger from their "core" fans (which is where we're at now).

If I were a "casual" gamer, or a parent who bought Kinect for my kids, I'd be happy that Microsoft is still keen on the tech. The main problem is, as Chi pointed out, that they're, instead of keeping their casual market happy, crowbarring Kinect into "core" games for some idiotic reason. Keeping both categories of gamers separate makes the most logical sense, so I just can't fathom why they're doing it.

A good listen again anyway, chaps.

Oh also, Richard, I really wouldn't get my hopes up for Skyrim. Like you I fell in love with TES when I encountered Morrowind (which was, bizarrely, not on the PC but on the original Xbox) but was left massively disappointed and feeling somewhat betrayed by what Oblivion was. That game, to my mind, was deliberately made in a such a way that the developers had to basically water-down their talents as not to scare away potential mass-market success. I won't go into it too much, since I have in the past and usually end up writing 50 pages worth of frustration, but it's clear depth, originality, art, story, tone, and setting (to name a handful) were massively compromised with Oblivion, and especially more so for PC gamers who got one of the biggest insults ever as far as I'm concerned (the game literally needs dozens of mods to make it meet standards). The same gamers who kept Todd Howard's team in work for the past several TES games, in fact, which even further annoyed me.

Needless to say, Skyrim is, as far as I'm concerned, going further down the path set by Oblivion that anyone who appreciated their best work -- which is undoubtedly Morrowind -- should definitely not expect a return to form.

Chi Kong Lui wrote: Decabo

Chi Kong Lui wrote:
Decabo wrote:

Thanks for the kind response, I was hoping no one took offense to me saying that, because that was not my intent at all. Truthfully, I have no clue why people would complain about the E3 2010 podcast. To me, that was the single most honest podcast I have ever listened to. All four of you were firing on all cylinders, and the genuine passion of it all was so great, I had to shared it with a bunch of my friends.

I went back and listened to that episode and you're right in that there's a very appreciable difference in tone (and not just the sheer volume of F-bombs from Mike who was auto-fire). The key difference for me was there was genuine anger and disdain towards the big three and their E3 agendas. This year, not so much. Nintendo's Wii U was confusing and divisive, but I was leaning more on the positive side. Most of the gang was on-board for the PS Vita. The only thing from the Big Three that felt our rage was as Tim pointed out, Kinectifying core games.

In the interest of time, there were a bunch of disappointments that I didn't get a chance to talk about like Dead Island and the new Tomb Raider. I think the lesson learned for next year is to make sure we talk about the things that people want to hear us talk about no matter how long it runs and express more on the things we felt most strongly about.

I think my biggest issue is what you just addressed, and that's that you guys didn't really talk about much stuff. E3 is only once a year, I don't see much reason for you guys to not go all out.

The problem with going all

The problem with going all out is that it winds up being a four hour show -- and I don't think any of us are all that thrilled at the prospect of spending that kind of time talking, nor are most people wanting to listen to a podcast that goes on for eternity.

The only real solution was to do two E3 shows, but by the time we'd record the second one, no one wants to talk about E3 anymore.

I don't know what the solution is, really -- but I do know that it usually takes at least two hours to actually create an hour of podcast -- which is our own fault, because I have ADD. :p Okay, not really -- but I'm good at derailing things before we ever start.

But really, I assure you that vitriol and F bombs will never leave this podcast as long as I'm on it.

As for last year's F bombs, well, E3 pissed me off last year.

no bf3 discussed? outrage!

potentialy the biggest fps of this years e3, bf3 and it wasnt even talked about on the show, im quite disapointed, not just cos im a fanboy but the mw3 vs bf3 is kinda a hot topic at the moment and is ripe with opinion bias and bitchyness (lets be honest) id be grateful to hear your opinions on the subject on the next podcast, personaly i think that bf3 will not sell as much as mw3 but i think they will offer a better service and deliver an all round better game with a better engine, gameplay and community on all platforms and will be a critical sucess if not as much of a comercial one as ea is hoping.

thanks guys and keep up the good work.

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