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  • Pete Davison 2:47 pm on March 17, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , 2K, , squadcast,   

    SquadCast Mission: Spec Ops: The Line 

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    If ever there were a game tailor-made for the Squad, it’s Yager’s Spec Ops: The Line. Pete, Mark, Calin, Alex and special guest MJPilon stroke their chins thoughtfully over the nature of war.


    Be sure to leave a comment in our G+ Community. Next mission is Alpha Protocol — join the discussion here.

    Music in this episode:

    The Black Angels — Bad Vibrations
    Deep Purple — Hush (Remastered)
    Martha Reeves & The Vandellas — Nowhere to Run
    Alice in Chains — Rooster

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  • Pete Davison 8:02 pm on February 3, 2013 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , Home, HorrorCast, , , squadcast   

    The Squadron of Shame HorrorCast 

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    Pete, Mark, Calin and Alex get together for a discussion of all things horrific and horrible, taking in Corpse Party, Home, Lone Survivor, Amnesia, Penumbra and other spooky treats.

    SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS for all of the above from the outset.

    Be sure to leave a comment below or in our G+ Community.

    All music in this episode is from Corpse Party: Blood Covered.

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    [Pete’s note: Apologies for the huge delay between our recording of this in November and it finally getting uploaded — real life happened a bit. Due to the long delay between recording and publishing, some things we mentioned as “coming soon” (like the sequel to Corpse Party) are now actually available. Curiosity still sucks, though.]

  • Pete Davison 10:28 pm on October 6, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , Sierra, squadcast   

    SquadCast Mission: Quest for Glory 

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    The Squad tackles Sierra’s classic RPG/adventure hybrid series Quest for Glory. For nearly four hours. Featuring Pete Davison, Mark Whiting, Calin Grajko and Alex Fisher.

    Be sure to leave a comment below!

    Music credits:
    Late Snows of Winter (by OCRemix user jmr)
    Quest for Glory 4 Remix (by YouTube user mofojungle)
    Quest for Glory 4 Castle Theme (OST)
    Quest for Glory 1 Medley (OST)
    Erana’s Piece (arranged by YouTube user NRGFORCE)

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    • Pete Davison 10:32 pm on October 6, 2012 Permalink

      Apologies for the shaky sound quality in portions of this — technical issues! It’s (hopefully) listenable, though. 🙂

    • unmanneddrone 9:31 am on October 7, 2012 Permalink

      Holy moley, what a mission! SoS dominated my Sunday afternoon. A great effort, even if some of the incredibly brief aforementioned technical issues gave us insight into the last hours aboard the Kursk submarine.

      Loved it. Well done, lads.

    • Pete Davison 10:22 pm on October 7, 2012 Permalink

      Thank you, sir! It was an epic discussion and no mistake. Hopefully we did the noble series justice.

      Now we need to get on to thinking about the next mission.

  • Pete Davison 3:30 pm on June 2, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , Cavia, , , squadcast, Square Enix   

    SquadCast Mission: Nier 

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    The Squad take on Cavia’s peculiar, tragic, bleak and darkly humorous action RPG Nier, coming face to face with intersex characters, talking books and questions regarding the morality of video game violence along the way.

    Featuring Pete Davison, Mark Whiting, Calin Grajko and Alex Fisher.

    Further reading: Grimoire Nier fan translation

    • Pete Davison 4:00 pm on June 11, 2012 Permalink

      Interesting comments from “Mealtime Strategy” on Twitter:

      Big thanks for the Nier episode. It’s my game of the generation, possibly all time! You guys “got” it 😀

      I still have an hour of the ep left, so not sure if this is covered but here’s my chin strokey contribution: If androids had to create a creepy mansion in a post-apocalypse world, with no real-life version to copy, I guess they would copy a digitally coded version instead, hence the near-carbon-copy Resi mansion! #wankery

    • Lou Page 11:55 pm on June 11, 2012 Permalink

      I listened to this one on Friday and spent my weekend keeping my eye out for a copy of Nier. Nier was never a title I was interest, mostly because the cover reminded me of PN-03. Everything about it’s marketing drove me away. If you guys had done the marketing I’d have bought it. Also Like you guys said it’s hard to take $60 risks on games like this.

    • Pete Davison 1:09 am on June 12, 2012 Permalink

      Right. That cover’s awful, isn’t it? Like I said on the ‘cast, it looks like Generic Action Game #347 and gives you next to no idea about the strange wonders that lie within. I wonder what they could have done differently, though.

  • feenwager 2:52 am on May 13, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , squadcast   

    @angryjedi on a related note, can you believe the first Squadcast was FOUR YEARS AGO? How insane is that?

  • Pete Davison 9:29 pm on May 11, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: Mission, , squadcast   

    Quest for Glory 

    Mission Start!!

    All right, people. It’s been a while since we did a group mission, and recent talk of Quest for Glory suggests that this might be a good one for future podcasting. While the upcoming podcast’s topic is already set, let’s get some discussion rolling on this now so people have some thoughts to share in time for the next one.

    Grab the Quest for Glory series from GOG.com here for $9.99.

    The VGA remake of Quest for Glory II can be found here.

    • impynickers 12:50 am on May 12, 2012 Permalink

      Looking forward to starting my so called “adventures” in the town of Spielburg. The question is whether I go EGA or VGA. I know the VGA version slightly better, so I may go EGA for both 1 and 2. Kick it old school. Of the series 2 and 4 are my standout favorites. They have a slightly connected story arch, though both can be enjoyed independently.

      QFG is an anomaly. The adventure elements allows it to tell a story in the manner of an adventure game with some traditional puzzles, but at the end of the day you leave the adventure game trappings to actually explore and …. well… adventure. Its an RPG at its heart. Its got the stats. You can improve skills by using/practicing them. Different classes have different approaches to puzzles and combat. It is the only adventure/RPG hybrid I can think of, and it has a flavor all its own that has never been emulated since.

      Did you know that when I was 10 I drafted a Quest for Glory Pen and Paper roleplaying game? Isn’t that adorably nerdy? I think it would be hilarious to find that and share with you the loveable antics.

    • Shingro 3:09 am on May 12, 2012 Permalink

      The first time I saw Quest for Glory, it was the old command line version. We bought a new computer from the family’s resident Tech-Guru and he installed it as a bonus item. It was the first time I ever saw the computer as being able to handle serious gaming, and the reason I started messing with the machine in the first place. In a way, Quest for Glory is responsible (along with Betrayal at Krondor) for convincing me to put points into ‘Computer Tinkerer.’ directly influencing my career choice.

      It’s also probably the reason I find gated ‘is your skill high enough to achieve this and unlock another path’ mechanics cool. The series of different ways you could complete even the bird’s nest outside the town is really the first time I ever saw or imagined the possibility of branching gameplay mechanics.

      Along that line it’s worth noting that QfG is probably one of the best if not the best ‘how do you want to approach this challenge’ game series ever made. With the entire game capable of handing solutions from every class combination, and having some better then others.

    • asatiir 5:22 am on May 12, 2012 Permalink

      Will check out the game once I’m done with Xenoblade, listened to the JRPG episode just a few weeks back and that drove me to start.

    • beige 2:31 pm on May 12, 2012 Permalink

      OK, the life of Ricky the thief begins! SO YOU WANT TO BE A HERO?

      Character creation: Oh man, yeah this takes me back. Took the 20 point hit per attribute to take both parry and magic as initial talents to my already thiefy skill set rather than a big fat 0. Now I have at least 5 points in everything and can at least start learning spells and parrying things. I won’t get some of the wizard specific quests and items but at least FETCH is as useful as I remember it. Still a long way to go towards a perfect set of 100 in every skill.

      Goons. Forgot about these guys.

      That tree outside town. Still a fantastic place to level up strength and climbing. Poor Ricky, scrabbling and clawing all day until his stamina hits zero. It’s a hard knock life. Cleaning out the stables is mildly profitable and good for statbuilding as well, and at least you can sleep there safely for free, unlike most other places in the world.

      Forgot about your “character sheet” being stuck in that weird little menu alongside RUN and SNEAK in the VGA version. Took me a while to find where to check my skills and stats.

      Can’t remember if Thieves can use chainmail or not. 500 silvers is a hell of a lot of money. Perhaps I can get a five finger discount after the sun goes down. Also, robbing the old lady is hilarious as ever.

    • Pete Davison 3:08 pm on May 12, 2012 Permalink

      Pierre the Wizard’s adventures have begun. I am a badass spellcaster and quite handy with a dagger, but ask me to climb up something and I’ll just fall over or, hilariously, occasionally die of exhaustion.

      If a stat starts at 0 does it just not level up? I’ve tried scrabbling up that tree lots of times but it doesn’t seem to make any difference to my Climb stat.

      I have spent the morning mapping the whole game on graph paper. Can’t remember the last time I did that.

    • Pete Davison 9:51 pm on May 12, 2012 Permalink

      QfG1 is down for the count. I will personally reserve my thoughts for the SquadCast on the subject, but once the rest of you beat it, feel free to share what you think here.

      Tip: when the game asks you to save your character file at the end, change the “a:glory1.sav” to “c:glory1.sav”. This will save the export file into the folder in which you installed the game — by default C:\Program Files (x86)\GOG.com\Quest for Glory Pack\Quest for Glory 1\VGA (or EGA if you played the EGA version). Make sure you copy this glory1.sav file to the QfG2 folder manually to make sure you’ll be able to import it correctly.

    • cptcarnage 1:26 am on May 13, 2012 Permalink

      Wicked!! I LOVE the Quest for Glory games, I posted a tweeted a picture of the old school map bundled along with quest for glory 2 a while back.

      Gooood games 🙂 humor was decent too.

    • cptcarnage 2:03 am on May 13, 2012 Permalink

      Found it!

    • jar155 4:15 am on May 13, 2012 Permalink

      Man, I’ve played these games multiple times, but it’s been far too long since I’ve played either of them. I grabbed the GOG.com collection and am starting them up right now. You’re already a game ahead of me, so I probably have no chance at catching up, but dang it, I’m going to try.

    • theshums 8:56 am on May 13, 2012 Permalink

      Just started QFG1 VGA tonight. Been live-tweeting my playthrough @theshums. Using the hashtag #QFGLive if that’s easier.

      Man, I love so much about this game. I love the sense of humor, I love the multiple ways to achieve an objective, I love the dialogue trees, the inventory puzzles…even the clunky combat. Yes, it’s super-easy to game the skill systems — I’ve been sneaking everywhere and my Stealth score is already in the 80s after an hour of play — but that’s part of the fun. And I’m surprised at how well the writing holds up.

      Looking forward to playing more.

      (Oh, and lest I forget: Earl Sinclair cameo. CHECK AND MATE.)

    • Pete Davison 10:17 am on May 13, 2012 Permalink

      Welcome, chaps, good to see you.

      Yes, I’ve often been pleasantly surprised how well the humour holds up in old Sierra titles. The puns when you try and talk to something you shouldn’t come thick and fast, for example, and are frequently LOLworthy (or cringeworthy, depending on your outlook). This is, I can’t help but feeling, something that has been lost in a number of recent titles. How often do games have a narrator these days?

    • beige 2:13 pm on May 14, 2012 Permalink

      Pete, did you eventually figure out that you have to manually “give yourself at least 5 points” at character creation for one of those “starting at 0 level” stats to level up? You should do it. Never hurts to have a little athletics even if you’re basically a wizard. My thief has all the stats on the board, so he can theoretically level anything up.

      Protip: All you need is 5 points in pick lock to do a lot of the “thief specific” quests. You don’t have to be a thief, but if you start breaking into old womens’ houses you can kiss your chance at Paladinhood goodbye.

    • bowlisimo 7:55 pm on May 14, 2012 Permalink

      I want to jump into this, but Diablo (and like a million other games here and there). How long do they take? Or are they as long as you are stupid? or as long as it takes you to read gamefaqs?

    • Shingro 7:56 pm on May 14, 2012 Permalink

      Wasn’t Paladinhood a Fighter-Only style thing? I can’t remember for the life of me, once I knock my current game project out I think I’ll go in as a mage to carry between all games, but I’ll start a thief on each one to enjoy the crazy puzzle rooms that exist in everyone’s homes. With gold and loot and silver candlesticks as reward for my indiscretions.

      Bowli: Well, it depends on how much you’re into min/maxing yourself and whatnot, I’d note Pete went through QfG1 in a maximum time of 6 some hours (assuming he did stand up from his computer at some point or another =))

    • Pete Davison 8:06 pm on May 14, 2012 Permalink

      QfG1 is super-short. 2-3 hours tops if you know what you’re doing, more if you’re minmaxing. Certainly no more than 6 hours though, and probably less, even if you spend hours climbing that tree outside the healer’s hut and setting fire to goblins.

      The way I look at it, Diablo is going to be one to dip in and out of and treat like an MMO. Story has never been the series’ strong point. You can play QfG alongside it no problem.

    • bowlisimo 8:07 pm on May 14, 2012 Permalink

      That’s not too bad for time investment. As for the game itself, right now my perception without reading too much is that this an old style adventure game mashed up with a dungeon crawler like Might & Magic (which sounds like a pretty good idea).

    • Pete Davison 8:12 pm on May 14, 2012 Permalink

      That’s reasonably accurate. You remember how in old King’s Quest games there were loads of useless screens in which you occasionally got attacked by monsters that killed you instantly? QfG1 is like that, only you can fight and kill them. You can also grind stats by using them (such as through the aforementioned tree-climbing) and earn money in various ways. There’s no overall time limit, but you do have to eat, sleep and recover HP, MP and stamina. (You die if you run out of HP or stamina.)

      Protip: sleep in the location called Erana’s Peace. It’s free, safe and unlike most sleeping places restores all three of your HP, MP and Stamina bars to full.

    • beige 8:25 pm on May 14, 2012 Permalink

      @bowlisimo Think of it more as King’s Quest with real-time fighting. No “dungeons” as such, but plenty of hostile territory filled with monsters that you can kill to your heart’s content.

      You’re wandering along in idyllic countryside, moving your little mans map block to map block, trying to figure out your way to get to the spring that some guy told you was at the heart of the forest and solve the puzzle there. Then, randomly (because it is night time) some douche brigand or wandering monster ambles in from the left side of the screen. If his little sprite connects with your sprite it initiates a punch-out style battle where you have to push L/R on your arrow keys to dodge his attacks while pushing UP/DOWN to block and stab. You can cast spells and stuff in fights (or pre-emptively) and get better equipment, like magic swords and stuff. Thieves can do acrobatics and throw (poisoned) daggers.

      Finish battle, win gold and items. Your stats level up Skyrim style, depending on what you did during the fight. More mana, more endurance etc. results from more fighting Your spells level up too, so cast zap a lot.

      Note: Any class can become a Paladin (there is one opportunity at the end of QFG2 and one in the middle of QFG3 to become one) but taking the investiture means that you have to have sufficient “honor” which is a hidden stat that as a player you never get to see, but which is governed by doing honorable deeds. The more sneaky-ass dishonorable stuff you do (*cough THIEVES*) the less your chances of being tapped for Paladinhood.

      The Fighter is the most natural fit for promotion into Paladinhood as all those hard-won sword-and-shield skill points and buff athletic modifiers translate directly into proficiency with the flaming sword and the honor shield, but any class can theoretically become one if their honor is high enough at the right time. Wizard paladins are potent swordmage-style magic warriors, and in theory thieves can become paladins if they never behave like thieves for the course of the game, and basically solve all problems the Fighter way. Yeah.

    • Shingro 3:10 pm on May 15, 2012 Permalink

      ALERT!! Having now had the time to really jump into QfG I noticed the sound was really far off from what I remember. Poking around a bit revealed that this game is setup for Roland sound, and not in a good way. I’d CANNOT recommend people turn the sound to soundbaster enough, you get the good whistling, the inconic tunes, the notes don’t get botched post combat: etc.

      All you gotta do is run the Install.exe and switch it from Roland to Soundblaster. Depending on Os you might need to do that in Dosbox, but you don’t have to do all the Mount c c:\progra~2 or anything, just open the DOSBOX folder in the installation directory, open another window with the install file, drag the install file onto Dosbox.exe and you’re good to go =)

      Additionally: The adventures of Shingro the aspiring wizard have begun! (Though Thiefgro is going to be created afterwards in each game just to enjoy the wonderful puzzle houses =) )

    • beige 6:45 pm on May 15, 2012 Permalink

    • Shingro 1:28 am on May 16, 2012 Permalink

      Finished QfG 1: I gotta say, if there was ever an indicator that I spent FAR too many of my formitive years on this game… getting 487 of 500 without ever taking so much as a peek at the internet would be it. I didn’t take the time to minmax myself out the wazoo, but I’ve got quite a purse headed into shapier, looking forwards to the endless amounts of mana/stamina that is “3 pills a pop” at the apothecary. Good fun!

    • impynickers 8:01 pm on May 25, 2012 Permalink

      @shingro I noticed the oddity in the sound as well. Of course when I first played the QFG2 in I was using an internal speaker with bloops and bleeps. Nostalgia….. *sigh*
      I may just switch over to sound blaster though. There are some odd sound effects in its current state.

      Ive gotten mostly through QFG1 EGA edition. Its quite funny to see the minor differences in the art style between EGA and VGA. The main character wears what I could only describe as a super hero costume in the EGA edition, but is much more classic fantasy in the VGA edition with his iconic jerkin. The puzzles as far as I can tell are pretty much the same, just more long winded with the text interface.

    • beige 5:37 pm on June 2, 2012 Permalink

      Back on the QFG VGA train, now that Xenoblade is done. Thanks for the protip soundblaster advice. I’m much happier now that all my iconic old MIDI tunes are back where they’re supposed to be. Easist way I accomplished this was just opening two windows on my desktop – one with DOXBOX in it, and one with the QFG install file, which was up one directory. Dragging the quest for glory setup file from window 1 to the DOSBOX.exe file started configuration for me just fine. No text prompt required.

      Protip for those of you playing along at home: I’d forgotten until vestigial memory reminded me, that you can use the numeric keypad to do all your awesome moves and spellszorz. For the thief, this means pressing 3 a lot.

    • Lou Page 3:17 am on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      My first PC game was QFG2 and I loved it. Since GOG Release I played though the first and tried the Fan remake of QFG2. I can’t recommend the remake enough. Almost completely identical except for a new combat system and some small puzzle changes. I was so glad to have no text typing box.

    • cgrajko 6:28 am on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      I finally started QFG, and it’s a lot of fun. I rarely ever say this, but I feel as if I should have read the manual for it first, because I had a bit of a time getting back in to the groove of old adventure games. I haven’t played something like this in quite a long time, but I can definitely see why it’s so appreciated ’round these parts. I got up to 80ish out of 500 in my first hour or so of walking around and talking to folks, so I would say I got off to a good start. Playing as a fighter is not a bad time at all, since it’s made the few times I’ve gotten into a battle fairly survivable.

    • Pete Davison 7:46 pm on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      Started QfG2. Oh my. A 3D maze within about ten seconds of starting. What is this I don’t even… blargh. Time to get the graph paper out again?

    • Pete Davison 7:51 pm on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      For anyone currently suffering like I am, hopefully this will help a bit:

    • Pete Davison 7:58 pm on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      Also, you really don’t get puns like this in games any more. That makes me kind of sad. A side effect of our current “fully-voiced” age, I guess.

    • beige 8:18 pm on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      Pete, you can always run the fancy new QFG remake that is currently linked to off the homepage (it’s what I’ll be playing!) You can still import and export your character, but no text parser and you don’t have to navigate that crazy map. They only did that as a copy protection measure anyway. Failing that, enjoy playing Eye of the Beholder!

      Don’t forget, Questers: NUMPAD is for fighting! 9 and 7 swing sword, 1 and 3 dodges and shields. 5 casts awesome magickzorz.

    • Lou Page 8:43 pm on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      Also if you don’t feel like playing the remake remember that the map has an quick travel function once you have been buy one from that guy outside the inn. another tip too is that there is only 4 locations in the desert you need to go to for quests. Everything else out there is to battle for money and stuff to sell. The saurus is a huge joke so once you buy him don’t use him. He runs from battle and it can take hours to find him again.

    • Lou Page 8:55 pm on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      My brain goes faster than I type. What I meant is, “once you have been to the money changer, you can buy a map from the guy outside the inn.” Also if your a thief show the money changer the thief sign.

    • Pete Davison 3:09 pm on June 9, 2012 Permalink

      Restarted on the VGA version. Much easier to get going on. I like my retro as much as (or possibly considerably more than) the next person, but QfG2 EGA’s obtuseness was a little offputting.

    • Shingro 8:45 pm on June 9, 2012 Permalink

      Earth elemental is in the bag! (ha… HAHA! HAH… I…. I’m sorry :/ ) I will say that the combat in QfG2 suuuure is hard as a dagger user >_> by vast and unfortunate amounts it seems… but some solid training with Urhara is bringing me up to speed.

      Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly better combat, but man, some of those critters sure can work you over if you’re not prepared. (instant kill with a brief tell from the scorpion? really? D: )

    • beige 3:40 pm on June 10, 2012 Permalink

      Yo: In case anybody is having difficulty importing / exporting your character, GOG.com’s FAQ has a few paragraphs on how to do it. I was having real trouble finding c:/glory1.sav until I headed over here.


    • Pete Davison 4:16 pm on June 10, 2012 Permalink

      Good call, sir. I ran into this issue but forgot to mention it earlier, I think.

    • impynickers 5:08 am on June 12, 2012 Permalink

      I don’t suspect people need another QFG game to play, but for long time fans looking for something new and fan made look no further than Quest for Glory 4 1/2: So you thought you were a hero. http://www.curlysworldoffreeware.com/games/view/238
      The hole thing is light hearted and full of pop culture references. Fairly impressive overall actually.

      I have finished QFG1 EGA finally. I was playing from a rusty memory, but it worked.
      Thus the hero from the east freed the man from form of beast, saved beauty from brigands band and forced the ogress to leave the land.

      I love that in the credits someone is credited as being responsible for the ‘Next Generation Graphics’
      I have no doubt the game was impressive in its time, but its funny how we are still talking about graphics in the same way as they did then.

    • Pete Davison 11:39 pm on June 12, 2012 Permalink

      QfG2 has been a slow burn for me, but once I sat down and started to spend some protracted time with it I’m really enjoying it. Even more so than the original, it’s clear that a lot of more recent games have their roots in this game. I’m currently playing through the Yakuza series, for example, and that certainly shares the idea of an entire epic adventure being set in the confines of a relatively small area, as does The Last Story.

      Just beat the Fire elemental. Three to go?

    • Lou Page 12:11 am on June 13, 2012 Permalink

      Glad to hear someone besides me has played some Yakuza games. I have only played the PS3 ones and both are great.

      On the QFG2 front, yeah you got 3, more to go. After that your only about 2/3’s of the way through the game. Personally, I think QFG 2 and 4 have the best plots of the series. I think you will find 3 more interesting since it does stray from the epic adventure in a small area.

    • beige 8:30 pm on June 17, 2012 Permalink

      Oh man, just finished QFG 2 (remake version), importing to Wages of War now. God damn that ending of 2 is great stuff, still holds up so well after all this time. 16 days of screwing around in Shapier culminating in 3 days of awesomeness of testing your skills in Raseir. As a thief, I was very happy that I’d done a ton of rope walking while I was biding my time – phew. Super glad about the little additions they put at the very end there to give more closure to Khaveen’s portion of the story. I’ll talk about this on the podcast for sure.

      Found, but did not bother killing the Pizza Elemental. Screw that secret boss man. He just dropped pizzas on my head and then I died. SO DIFFICULT. Also, not worth it though I understand you can give pizza from his corpse to people for extra honor. Any hope I had of becoming a paladin was gone as soon as I put those x-ray specs on to watch harem girls and 386-era boobies.

      HINT: I had difficulty importing my hero until from the QFG2 remake to QFG3 NON remake I did the following:

      A) Went to the directory specified in the forums here:
      “Any time a non-elevated account tries to save to a UAC controlled folder (like Program Files), the file is instead stored in the VirtualStore folder of that user. The location of that folder is at “C:\Users\\Appdata\local\VirtualStore\Program Files (x86)\GOG.com\Quest for Glory Pack\”, with the AppData folder being a hidden folder, “Users” and “Program Files (x86)” may be localized in your language, and being your Windows User’s name. You can also use the %localappdata% alias in the location bar of Windows Explorer that will take you to the AppData\Local folder directly.
      So, after you find the VirtualStore directory that contains your file, copy it to the directory the game you want to import is installed at, meaning the “C:\Program Files (x86)\GOG.com\Quest for Glory Pack\Quest for Glory 2″ directory, not the one located in VirtualStore. ”

      b) Grabbed my save game, went back to the (NON virtual) C:/program files… /GOG/Quest for Glory Directory

      c) Now for some weird reason I could NOT import directly when the save was placed directly in that directory, but when I created a NEW DIRECTORY INSIDE THE GOG QFG3 DIRECTORY (I called it “/save”) and moved my saved game in there, I was able to “change directory” within the QFG 3 import screen to “C:/save/” My save game was there, and it imported fine.

      TLDR: QFG3 (and 4?) consider “C:/” to be “The Root Of Your Game Directory”. Make a new directory inside it, put your (QF2 remake) save file in there and import away!

    • beige 11:19 pm on June 17, 2012 Permalink

      Protip, since I was running into crashes in Wages of War due to clock cycle foolishness:

      ALT-ENTER switches between windowed mode and fullscreen mode in DOSBOX. In the title there in windowed mode you can see the number of cycles running.

      CTRL-F11 slows the clock cycles down, CTRL-F12 speeds them back up. I was able to prevent certain infamous crashes that were causing my game to die due to timing glitches by slowing down the clock cycles to 1% and then continuing the game as normal. After you’re past the glitchy spots, speed the cycles back up to 100%.

      Unless they’ve patched Quest for Glory 4, I anticipate having to do this to solve the dreaded Error 52 in the mordavian swamps.

      QFG3, still great though. More games need to be set in Africa with or without Sandford and Son jokes. Fighting still kind of sucks in this one, but who cares — it’s so not a focus of the third installment.

    • Pete Davison 11:46 pm on June 19, 2012 Permalink

      I beat QfG2 tonight. We’ll talk more about this on the podcast no doubt, but man, that game sure is back-end loaded. I woudln’t call it “dull” (though my girlfriend would as she watched me try and fail to struggle through the early stages without assistance) but it certainly is slowly paced until those last few days. The whole finale sequence is pretty great, though — and I had no problems importing my save from the VGA version into QfG3. Yay. I will start on that tomorrow.

    • Pete Davison 12:21 am on June 22, 2012 Permalink

      Played quite a bit of QfG3 today. NOW we’re talking. With this game, we’ve quite obviously entered a different era of Sierra adventures. While the first two games were quite “directionless” if you didn’t know what you were doing (you can completely fuck up QfG2 in particular if you’re not in the right place at the right time), QfG3 feels a lot more palatable from a modern perspective. We’ve got much stronger characterisation (though seemingly not quite as much sarcastic narration, which is sad) and a greater sense of direction and structure. But alongside that, we still have a pleasing feeling of RPG-style freedom that you don’t get in other, more traditional Sierra adventures that take a much more linear approach.

      Looking forward to seeing how it unfolds — and very much looking forward to some hot John Rhys-Davies action in QfG4.

  • Pete Davison 10:37 am on May 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , squadcast,   

    Since a few of us are going to be playing Diablo III when it launches, I’ve opened a sticky thread at the top of the page so we can exchange Battle.net and character details and thoughts on the game.

    I’ve also archived a couple of the previous stickies to keep things clean.

    Remember, you can always find past mission threads here, past podcast episodes (from Season 2 onwards) here and past Squad Music Mixes here. These links are also in the sidebar.

    The SquadCast will return very shortly! It’s looking increasingly likely we’re going to do a lot more “mission” podcasts in the near future, as we have a whole heap of awesomeness queued up and ready to talk about. We’re recording the first of these next weekend (not this coming one) so you can expect something new to fill your lugholes with for several hours within a couple of weeks. Joy!

    In the meantime, have you listened to Chris and Jeff’s new show “Too Old For This” yet? Find ’em on Facebook here and Twitter here. Or just subscribe in iTunes here.

  • unmanneddrone 3:11 am on May 2, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @feenwager Yes. Squad Leaders assemble.

  • Pete Davison 5:44 pm on April 24, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    *ponders out loud* Hmmmm. @cgrajko has just finished Nier… @bluesforbuddha and @rampantbicycle have played Nier… I have a copy of Nier on my shelf… could this be a contender for a mission podcast? Who would be interested in listening to that?

  • RedSwirl 8:15 pm on March 17, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , squadcast   

    Actually, I wanna go on about Dragon Quest IX a little bit. Yes I am loving the game, but not precisely because I don’t want a story. I was just impressed at subtle and efficient its “narrative” was compared to most other recent JRPGs. Sure there’s not much of a story in the game, but what’s there is told in a succinct manner that reminded me of pre-FFVII RPGs. Instead of taking 30 minutes of plot exposition just to explain what’s going on, they tell you just enough to get you interested in the world enough to explore it and discover it for yourself. It’s not really the story or the gameplay that get’s me interested in RPGs. It’s exploring the worlds, and DQIX let me do that a lot more than most JRPGs these days.

    Now, DQIX is my very first DQ game, so I have no idea if the other ones have a similar ability to not inundate you with hours of needlessly melodramatic dialogue.

    It’s also worth noting that you guys already mentioned all of my favorite JRPGs in the podcast: FFXII, Skies of Arcadia, and Grandia II.

  • feenwager 1:52 pm on March 17, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , squadcast   

    @redswir1 glad you dug it. It’s funny, but until we started talking about it, I had never really given any thought to the cost of producing HD assets as a big issue for the genre.

    I wish I had the time and inclination to play more of the quality stuff that showed up on the DS and PSP, but there just isn’t enough of either to go around.

  • RedSwirl 1:43 pm on March 17, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , squadcast   

    Finishing up the JRPG squadcast now, and I think you guys pretty much said what needed to be said. I like how you guys didn’t crap all over the mechanical “antiquities” commonly called out in JRPG discussions.

    I feel like the main problem is just production. Most of those companies just can’t afford to make those games on the Xbox 360 and PS3. It’s like 480p assets are their limit from a money standpoint. It saddens me though that you guys haven’t tried more RPGs on the DS. Some of them are great games that feel like the games from the late SNES and PS1 days.

    I think production was the main problem with FFXIII too. If you read that game’s postmortem, they just couldn’t get a good design concept together until very late in the process. My problem wasn’t the linearity (FFX was equally linear), but the fact that you did nothing but battle. There was no world to interact with. It felt like Square couldn’t really produce a full game in any reasonable amount of time with assets of that level (FFXIII was their very first internally-developed PS3 game). Just look at how long Versus XIII is taking them.

    Other than that I guess it’s poor writing that we can now notice because we’ve been exposed to better. Just look at P4. Very Japanese, but excellent characters nonetheless.

  • Pete Davison 10:36 pm on March 16, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , JRPGs, squadcast   

    Squad Primer: The JRPG

    Listen now!

    Direct link

    (More …)

    • unmanneddrone 2:01 pm on March 17, 2012 Permalink

      A nice first crack at another arm of podcasting domination by the Squad. I’ll just throw down my meaningless dribble before the genre fans offer their dreadnought broadsides.

      I think perhaps an unsung current of inspiration for most JRPGs stems not from the Wizardry/D&D era P&P RPGs, but from the slew of Japanese P&P RPGs thereafter. Much like in the West, you simply wouldn’t see folks sitting in a park rolling the die, so who knows what the state of things are these days and what slice of mindshare video gaming has taken from these grand old games.

      In any case, all I ask for is more Front Mission-esque adult characters and less feathered hair. More Way of the Samurai and less of this.

      Like everyone who fell off the wagon, I’d love to climb back on. That said, if even games purported to be narrative and character powerhouses in the West aren’t doing it for me, I can’t say anything bar the most po-faced Ye Olde Japon tales have a chance in cutting the mustard.

    • RedSwirl 3:21 pm on March 18, 2012 Permalink

      @unmanneddrone Well the problem with aged characters is again the target audience.

    • unmanneddrone 10:52 pm on March 18, 2012 Permalink

      @redswir1 Which I totally get, and I think we all agreed in the aftermath of the Japanicide episode that that is often the reason why there’s rarely an effort or visible section of the subset that caters to folks wanting a more…hell…mature isn’t the word. Perhaps “less flamboyantly twee” experience?

      What gets me is that you have something – and I know it’s not part of the JRPG set – like Front Mission 5: Scars of War which has terrific story-telling and never once dissolves into lah-dee-dahisms (scientific terminology right there). Granted, it’s a fairly grounded series, but even things like the Suikoden series were just fine stories that didn’t feel the need to tap into a paroxysm of eye-rolling loli cheese or the cliched sullen androgyne.

      Of course, the roots of characterisation and conveyance are the driving force; lots of cultural portrayal conventions and the ‘act of acting’ leading to less than subtle narrative developments or accelerants, but hey. It’s just a personal want. My replies and thoughts on the Japanicide episode warrant no more reiteration here.

      I will say if the tech hurdle is such an issue, with development cycles not moving with the times (Hello there, Japanese civil and business sectors), roll on with the Vita. I wouldn’t mind a lot of experimentation with the interim PS2-PS3 level tech on the portable. Lord knows it can damn well do it.

    • RedSwirl 7:09 am on March 19, 2012 Permalink

      @unmanneddrone But where are Front Mission and Suikoden now? Definitely not as big as Final Fantasy or what have you. Even when Square lets Matsuno make a game with a protagonist over the age of 17 like Vagrant Story, it ends up nearly forgotten in a niche.

      In terms of the Japanese market, even big, successful franchises aren’t free of this problem. I heard that for some time, Metal Gear has been more popular and more profitable outside of Japan than in Japan. The same is true of similar anime franchises like Berserk and Ghost in the Shell. I’d be interested in seeing the territorial sales split for Resident Evil. The only exception to this that I can think of are the Yakuza games which are blockbusters over there but niche over here.

      As for the technical issues, I’ve heard at least one person in Japan call the Vita the last hope for the Japanese market, or more precisely, whether or not the Vita becomes a success in Western territories. There’s a very good chance that the Vita will be the only place you’ll see most HD-level asset development from Japan over the next few years. That’s just where their market is, and even then a lot of those developers might just turn to the DS where they can keep developing games with the same level of art assets they’ve been working with since 2001.

    • unmanneddrone 12:09 pm on March 19, 2012 Permalink

      @redswir1 Good points all round, man. It’s true about those niches, and an even greater travesty that Front Mission Evolved was the result of a Front Mission farm-out, even in the wake of a stellar but ludicrously non-localised 5. But as it stands, everything outside of enthusiastic circles seems to peg the entire JRPG set as a growing (or would that be shrinking) niche, one receding from the limelight – for both reasons stated on the Squadcast and due to that typical Japanese target audience measured in slivers for the most part. Funny how focus testing is always mentioned as something of a deficit notion in the studio cycle in Japan, yet they cater to such specific audiences it’s almost moot to consider it anything BUT.

      I’d also just like to blame the rising tangibility of moe as a pop-cultural phenomenon for a few things here and there, but maybe – in regards to gaming especially – more a case of the technology allowing for more intricate rendering of characters and implementation of design…but that’s a personal preference. I guess it stems from having my cultural life changed by the mature designs and stories of 80s and 90s anime back in the day – the Oshiis, the Kawajiris, Otomos yadda yadda – that I just can’t ‘grok’ (thanks Beige) the post-90s stuff. Personal preference. We just need a nice, hefty Patlabor JRPG for this generation.

      “Special Vehicle Section 2 Mission 2A: Intercept SOV-9900S SeaView Labor / Pilot Alleged to be DUI –

      > Accept Assigment? [ YES ] [ NO ]
      > Ask Ota to go [ YES ] [ NO ]
      > Pick tomatoes with Yamazaki [ YES ] [ NO ]
      > Shoot the breeze with Goto on the roof [ YES ] [ NO ]

      I hope you’re right with the Vita. I’ve read we’re getting a new Lost Planet (I actually think, despite certain wrinkles, LP2 is one of the most unique and courageous games of this generation), but if it eventually spins off onto the Vita, I’ll be one happy camper. Kinda not the genre we’re discussing, but hey – bugs, mechs and utterly Japanese shooter design = one of my nirvanas.

      All in all, I keep getting the impression the Western punditry gives a hell of a lot more of a damn about games and the surrounding pop culture of Japan than the Japanese do themselves, holistically. The classical inflexibility and top-down approach is just a reflection of assumed safe bets, but that’s not to say the Japanese spirit of creative innovation is gone…but like most aspects of Japanese society, everything feels a little…dormant. Oh, to have those halcyon days kick off once more.

      We’ll see what @shingro has to say. I expect a veritable Blunderbuss response.

    • RedSwirl 4:20 pm on March 19, 2012 Permalink

      @unmanneddrone The anime thing I think is just a sign of how little anime DID get localized back in the 80’s and 90’s. Even back then I think most anime in Japan was made to be cute over everything else. It’s just that most of what made its way to English-speaking countries went through some kind of filter. The hard, mature anime were what got noticed back then so that’s what made it’s way over here.

      After around the earl 2000’s though anime in America kind of exploded, and we saw a bit more of the true face of the market when the floodgates were opened. That and in recent years, even the Japanese have complained about how anime is increasingly targeting itself almost entirely to otaku fetishists. They actually tried to start a whole network of anime to get away from that. I forget what it’s called but it features anime mainly targeted towards older men and the female audience like Michiko to Hatchin, Mononoke, and other stuff. You just really gotta dig in to find that stuff.

      But yeah, I wish I could tell them over there “if you wanna appeal to the west, just write the kind of story that would appeal to YOU and your peers.” Whatever kind of mindset gave birth to Patlabor and Vinland Saga.

    • bowlisimo 8:11 pm on March 19, 2012 Permalink

      @squadcasters Thank you. The grind. THE GRIND. This is one of my fundamental problems with (or at least my perception that stops me from playing) many RPGs from Japan. It took me months to get through Tartarus. Never again.

      Otherwise, Ni No Kuni seems like a lock, I have watched just enough Miyazaki to know I like Miyazaki. I was also thinking about trying Valkyria Chronicles. Maybe the strategy element will save me.

      But, I could get behind the D&D-like mostly narrative based game with few set piece battles, that @beige put forth.

      @anyone I get the feeling that Japanese games tend to focus more on giving their players a sense of closure at the end, is there any truth to this? (past the “a winner is you” days, anyway).

    • RedSwirl 11:37 pm on March 19, 2012 Permalink

      See this is what I’m talking about right here: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=466550

      It’s this new 3DS game called Crimson Shroud from the director of Final Fantasy XII, and he seems to be going WAY oldschool with it. Mostly text-based narrative, menu-based battles decided by visualized dice rolls, and a primary focus on dungeon crawling. I can’t find it anymore, but an old interview noted Matsuno’s influences coming directly from Ultima instead of all the JRPGs descended from it and Dragon Quest. The man apparently still logs onto Ultima Online annually.

      @bowlisimo For me, the reason THE GRIND is so goddamned annoying is because of the transition between free exploration and turn-based battle. That constant back-and-forth is what get’s me bored of most JRPGs I play. The simple act of removing this and having everything take place in real time like Final Fantasy XII, or having everything take place in menus like a Strategy RPG, alleviates the entire problem of grinding for me. For me, grinding in Final Fantasy XII was actually FUN.

      On a side note, is that ever a problem in WRPGs (non-MMOs)? The only ones I’ve played have been current-gen, and I think all of those level-up enemies with you. I don’t think I’ve played one where keeping up with enemy levels is an actual priority.

    • unmanneddrone 12:12 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink

      @redswir1 Absolutely agree in the mainstreaming or broadening of the anime spectrum for localisation or at least access, which is kind of the opposite of what appears to be happening with the JRPG/SRPG etc. Simply put, I just feel a little beleaguered that the equivalent of the Saturday Morning Cartoon fills the spotlight when we did have, in the past at least, utterly insane stuff jumping out from the home islands like Genocyber, Dominion Tank Police, Cyber City Odeo 808, A.D. Police etc. etc.

      And I know it’s getting off the topico f JRPGs, but it’s great to see those crazy old cyberpunk/sci-fi anime and manga series channelled in things like Vanquish and Binary Domain. Warms a bio-mechanical heart.

      Oh dear. We’ve gone all a bit anime! And just to support what you said on the rise of the otaku-centric cartoons, I’ve seen that in the pachinko parlours, most of the older men who would have been the ripe 70s/80s/90s anime audiences prefer to park themselves themselves in front of the Space Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers/Fist of the North Star etc. themed machines…small slice of anecdotal evidence that an age has passed. That also might speak a little how little gaming in the home console sense matters to the older generation, whereas I’d say the West in part has continued to game on well into adulthood.

      @shingro Don’t hate me for these withered and outdated anime/JRPG views!

      @bowlisimo You’d like Valkyria Chronicles. Looks great, snappy tactical fun.

    • wrdsmth 2:19 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink

      Great discussion. JRPGs are something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

    • unmanneddrone 2:41 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink

      I just read @angryjedi‘s fine blog post on all things J and it did impel me to make the distinction of where grievances lay…as Japanese RPG and SRPG systems are top-tier, and certainly cement their position at the top of the pile in character-centric strategy experiences (Wild Arms XF and MGA2 are my favourites of the SRPG genre). It’s primarily thematic and character depiction that I can’t roll with these days.

      That said, I loved the little I played of Resonance of Fate! I can’t include it in my most recently-played JRPG due to only spending a couple of hours with it when it released, but damn if that isn’t a direction – both character-wise and theme – that I’d love more of the genre to roll with.

    • Shingro 3:04 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink

      Okay, this is really, really hard, I got 3 pages of notes for the blunderbusses, 2 and 1/2 pages of stream of conciousness stuff penned while listening to the podcast, and then I want to join this discussion…. sooooo I think what I’m going to do is hold the stream of consciousness, work on the blunderbusses (it looks like it’ll need a few passes for clarity c_c) and participate here =P Imma work backwards and see what comes up trying to make it a tad more bite sized.

      @unmanneddrone I will say I miss some of ye olde Bubblegum Crises sort of things, I think a lot more of what exactly happened to the anime niche is going to make it into the blunderbusses but I think what happened is that the niche followed the money, and the love that people feel for certain characters makes us an easily exploitable market for merchandise, if you sell a figure of a cute girl who is cute that’s easy, you barely have to tug the heart strings, if you want to sell a figure of Patlabor, or something with a grand plot, that’s much harder to merchandise later on and there isn’t as much obsessive love to tap into to get people to ignore prices. If there was a 120$ version of AT3 with a pair of these or all 3 heroine figurines I’d have bought it without a second thought and I’m such a cheapass 50% sales on steam often aren’t good enough for me.

      Song 1: Skies of Arcadia OP
      Song 2: Persona 4 – Specialist
      Song 3: Lunar: Silver Star Story OP (I like this one more, but great selection anywho, I think she remains the only person to ever really successfully dub A SONG and invoke love from casual and hardcore fans alike. The japanese lyrics are miles different but the rewrite was an excellent move, a brief flare of intelligent localization that sadly died out, look at the comments to see how it affected people (mostly the young)

    • Shingro 3:26 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink

      This song rather, I’M VERY GOOD AT REMEMBERING THINGS :\

      Additional short versions of thoughts/answers!
      @redswirl they’re all sorts of places, often on portables The World Ends With You is a fantastic JRPG that won Game of the Year in a smattering of outlets, the Persona series is so good it got a followup re-release and Persona 4 melted even Jeff Gerstman’s Japan-type cynicism, and that’s a guy who I’d never in a hundred years suggest a JRPG to. Main thing is they aren’t advertised so often never found.

      @bowlisimo Grind as a concept isn’t too surprising when you consider how much japan venerates that steady, eternal work ethic as a path to success. Besides, if you consider grind as an answer to ‘what do we do if someone isn’t very good at these games and can’t get past this fight?’ it’s not a bad solution. Since I’ve played JRPGs all my life I’ve had to grind in maybe 2-3 games. there’s often a type of language that lets you alter your power level significantly. For example. Say there’s a set of 3 persona 3 players on the same boss
      Player 1 solution: Attack with three characters, heal with 1
      Player 2 solution: uses Elemental attacks to strike weaknesses, uses knockdown stuff
      Player 3: Power Charge with main, Takukaja (attack up), Dekunda, heal

      Player 1 will have to grind more then player 2 and player 3 won’t have to grind at all. This sort of thing is also really in line with how much consecuative time you can spend with a game, I beat FFVIII with Squall at lvl 28 and Rinoa at lvl 14 (since she yoyos in and out of your party so much, still was a main person though due to Invincible Moon) Later when I came back to it I couldn’t remember how in the hell I beat a FF last boss (level scaling or no, she could still easily one shot everyone with anything) with levels like that. If players can grind though, then anyone can complete any game, which is something a Zelda game can’t really say.

      Anywho, I’m done skirmishing for the moment, I’ll say that I actually really enjoyed the podcast =) Good work by yon squadies, good to see it getting some good discussion too, I’ll make sure I get the blunderbusses up after Akido if possible. It’s gone into some odd areas c_c feels like the KS pitch a little bit

    • bowlisimo 4:17 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink

      @Shingro I don’t really buy your second point. I’m no developer, but isn’t a better solution just to pace the game and xp so that by the time you get to a boss you’re powerful enough to handle it? If you’re terrible at games, well then you have difficulty settings. For instance, I don’t remember grinding in Baldur’s gate, all of the xp was gained through playing the game naturally. You could probably make the argument that sections of that game were grindy, but it was always in service of the plot or towards completing a sidequest, thus it felt like progress (which is a big difference, mentally).

      Anyway, I just strongly disagree with the notion of getting to an end boss, not being strong enough, and having to go waste hours of time fighting things over and over again. The weird thing is, I didn’t mind it as much in Demon’s/Dark Souls. Maybe because I understood that getting your ass kicked and coming back stronger was the whole point? I dunno.

    • Shingro 5:24 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink

      @bowlisimo I can respect that, let me say that I’m not saying grinding is a good thing, I just think it’s an understandable thing culturally.

      I think the question becomes ‘what is powerful enough?’ Depending on the game, RPGs can have vastly different power levels where people are capable of fighting this or that boss. Further it is a rare RPG that has difficulty settings at all, much less dynamically shifting ones. You might have not needed to grind in baulder’s gate, but what if you were someone who did ‘main quest only’ stuff and you ignored all the items/monsters/etc from subplots you would have a very hard time of it . Some people would argue that by doing sidequests at all you were grinding secondary, optional content. If you’re the sort of person to clear every sidequest and zone possible then you were theoretically at maximum possible level for every new area. I know that’s what I did, and I don’t think there was really any way for me to be any higher level. Then again, I was a mage, which ment my game was ‘harder’ then a fighter’s game in different areas and easier in others because my combat was totally different. Requiring different levels of xp for a smooth or challenging road

      Similarly I find that by the time I’m done exploring all the weird features on the map and running sidequests I’m more then strong enough for the next item in most JRPGs

      Ideally I think it’s good to have a more streamlined experience, but what do you give up? Say you had to complete every sidequest in BG before you could move to the next area to ensure that you were at an optimal level for each fight. Say you had to do the quests in a certain sequence to ensure that the curve remained smooth. Besides, it makes the narrative smoother. Say the terrain that connected those quests in order was fairly linear, to be sure that they found everything and weren’t frustrated with pointless searching, or finding out of depth stuff and getting caught somewhere they didn’t belong.

      That game is only a crazy plot from being FFXIII. The more freedom you give the player to choose what content they do and what they don’t the more you risk them missing not only game experience, but real world experience in manipulating the game. The more flexibility you put in the combat system the more you risk people shooting ahead before they’re ready or having a real tough go of it through every small bit of combat. It’s gotta be a real hard thing for a developer to manage.

      There’s definitely room to innovate though, grinding wouldn’t be as painful if there were completely new areas to explore and new monsters to fight that were optional places you could go if you needed to boost your power somewhat. Often the complaint about grinding is that you have to rehash old content, both in areas and in monsters. This is intensified by the tradition of creating palette swap monsters further eroding the excitement of the player. There’s a few games that do excellent work in disguising or making the player excited about old content, Final Fantasy 3/6’s Veldt is a good example, I hung out there for AGES trying to get Gau extra skills and powers, and in the meantime I fought dozens more monsters without a thought. Which brings up another thing. If you make every combat a joy, you won’t mind if you have to fight a bit extra to finish something. The World Ends With you is a good example of combat that is very fluid and flexible and always introducing something new.

      Actually while on that topic battles in TWEWY were to a large extent optional, and your level gets high pretty fast, but you get better drop rates the lower you set your level, making you try to scrape by with the barest minimum level necessary to finish the fight. Further if stuck in a battle in addition to exit and retry you could drop the battle difficulty to easy, which weakened your loot but you were only ever as stuck in that game as your pride, but it was also always pushing you to challenge yourself to the maximum extent.

      I dunno, I don’t think making a game everyone can get through is as easy as it seems, BG certainly did it for the completion crowd, but that’s not everyone. grinding does it but the way it used to be done was indeed monotonous.. It seems to a great extent games are solving this problem by making things so easy no one could possible fail, and that causes problems for yet other demographics. Mana Khemia and Ar Tonelico solved it by becoming incredibly easy games that rewarded good play with more and better crafting items from monsters. Kamidori fixed it by making ‘free’ areas which are brand new maps that can be left at any time and have all new monsters and materials but no story significance.

      I dunno what the right answer is. What would you like to see?

    • unmanneddrone 5:31 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink

      Is it just a case of encounter design? It’s not solely a JRPG notion, but damn if that loading flourish leading to…my team being attacked by two dragon flies isn’t a fatigue-inducing experience. Give me a four-story boar. Or a Tonberry.

      I suppose we’re asking for a real paradigm shift in game design.

      EDIT: I did like the variety of beasts and whatnot that popped up in FFVII, as an aside. So many great area-specific enemies.

    • Pete Davison 10:51 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink

      I’ve never really had a problem with grinding, personally. It’s something you can “tune out” of while you’re doing it — a relaxing, relatively mindless activity that benefits your character in the long run. Sure, it’s repetitive, but if it bothers you, take the @feenwager approach and put the ball game on while you grind 🙂

      I know I’m an unusually patient person though. During my time as a teacher I was regularly complimented on it, and I attribute a lot of that patience to many grindy, repetitive video games I had played prior to that point. Especially Chocobo breeding in FFVII. Oh GOD the horror. Worth it, though. Knights of the Round was awesome.

      @redswir1 made a good point about FFXII — the grind in that didn’t feel like it was interrupting your play. Rather, the game often gave you a story mission on the complete opposite side of the world map to where you were, and you could either fast travel or walk there, kicking seven shades of snot out of every enemy on the way. The latter approach led to some very efficient levelling as you travel, and didn’t feel grindy at all. It helped that FFXII’s combat was pretty satisfying anyway.

      Regarding the point on grinding in WRPGs, no, it’s never really been an issue as such. Sure, you can find yourself in an area filled with enemies that will completely maim you if you’re not careful, but that’s just a sign you need to come back later rather than grind any. You typically get so little XP for combat in WRPGs compared to quests that grinding is barely possible anyway.

      The exception to this is the Elder Scrolls games, which are very grindy if you want a top-spec character. It’s grinding skills rather than combat, though — making a hundred daggers, jumping on the spot for three hours, repeatedly firing arrows at passing wildlife, obsessively buffing yourself while you’re waiting for a non-hostile quest NPC to walk over to you, eating mushrooms and hoping you don’t die. Sure, your quest-essential skills (mostly combat and magic) will level up naturally as you proceed through the game, but for other skills (particularly in earlier titles) you’d have to make a specific effort to spend some time training a skill. That or making enough money to pay a trainer.

    • pepperized 6:20 pm on May 3, 2012 Permalink

      I am guilty of hating grinding. I don’t know why, it may be because I’m simply impatient or because I need that “gamer’s rush” from games.

  • RocGaude 7:36 pm on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @angryjedi Oh, I’m getting a mic. Time to get all official and shit.

  • unmanneddrone 2:20 pm on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , Shadow Watch, , squadcast   

    @shingro A fair response. I wasn’t suggesting anything less than three hours of analysis is ‘light and fluffy’, though. It’s perhaps more a question of brevity, considering the squadcast itself goes out to more than just the folks here. And, let us not forget that thoughts written here are as legitimate as the discourse within a Squadcast. With the benefit of embedding links, pics yadda yadda, one fully-featured post goes a long way.

    I still reckon you’ve got the numbers of intrigued and knowledgeable parties on the topic of JRPGs and Japan in general in abundance around here, though. Try extolling the virtues of Unity of Command…talk about a tough crowd! Even if I ran in here in the same exuberant manner your fine self did with Katawa Shoujo, pronouncing the arrival of “The Stalingrad Campaign wargame FOR EVERYONE! Be ye not afraid of the Mass Grave of the Wermacht!”, I can safely and wryly assume there would be nary a bump on the cardiograph of interest.

    You’re in good company, my friend.

    Hmmm. For a game that’s been panned by a fair portion of the old Jagged Alliance guard, I am loving this Back in Action business like nobody’s…uh…like it’s going out of fashion. The tactical combat mechanics, the snappy pace of a “choose when you want to go turn-based” system is terrific. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a very underrated piece of work. Interestingly, I think @redswir1 might find it rather satisfying, given the man’s proclivities for OG Ghost Recon/Rainbow Six and things like SWAT. Back in Action does give you the full breadth of locales to have ballistic discussions in, but I could see it working really well in a polished urban environment, ala SWAT 2 modernised.

    Or Shadow Watch. Remember that one?! If there’s a GoG title I may request, it just might be that little Red Storm doozy.

  • feenwager 11:03 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    Ok, first things first: we started the Squadcast with the idea that it was another way to generate more discussion. Mission accomplished.

    Second: thanks to Pete for explaining how we want to move forward with the show. He did a good job of summing it up. That boy should probably be like, a writer or something. The overall goal was to create more episodes, more often, and it was basically my idea so if you hate it you know who to yell at.

    Third: The Primers are not going to get as chin-strokey or fall as far into the rabbit hole as either of the other two Squadcast variants. This is by design, and as a response to the listeners that have asked for shows that don’t run upwards of three hours. Hopefully the Primers can be a way for new listeners to check us out as well.

    D: You guys don’t know how happy the recent swell of discourse in these here parts has made me. I’m even ok when people are mad at me. Means I’m doing my job.

    Finally: @shingro I think I may surprise you on this episode. Well, a little.

  • Pete Davison 9:58 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @shingro Great points, and we’ll be interested in what you think of the ‘cast when it’s released. For the record, the reason it was a small cast was simply to keep the discussion simple, clean and snappy — as you may have noticed, since we started doing the “topic” shows we’ve been making an effort to try and keep a regular lineup of people on the show rather than the ever-rotating-and-expanding groups who participated on the mission podcasts. Your not being on the show was nothing to do with anything you did on the KS podcast, I might add — you did a fantastic job on there! Rather, the show was arranged as a relatively short-notice, small scale thing as an experiment in a new format. We hope you like it, and that it prompts some discussion here.

    While we’re on, I thought I’d share our/my thoughts for the SquadCast going forward.

    I’ve proposed and we’ve discussed having three different types of shows, and rotating among them according to demand, relevance and availability. These will be:

    • SquadCast Topics: The long, topic-based shows where we discuss a general issue relating to gaming and how games of the past and present have addressed this fact. These will likely stick with a small, set cast of me, Mark, Jeff and, if/when he gets a new mic, Chris.
    • SquadCast Primer:A shorter, genre-focused show such as the JRPG one we just recorded. We discuss the genre’s genesis, our earliest memories of it, the “golden age” of the genre, if there was one, where it is now and where it’s going. Will also stick with a small, set cast for brevity’s sake. Between the members of our regular team, we have a diverse array of interests ranging from indie-centric (me) to mainstream (Chris and Jeff) via somewhere in between (Mark).
    • Squad Missions: Yep, the Katawa Shoujo show reminded us how much fun this formula is, so it’d be nice to start doing them more often again. This will obviously take a bit more organisation than we have at the minute, so it may be a little while before this becomes a “regular”-ish thing, but plans are in motion to assist with that organisation. I propose that mission shows have more flexibility in their casts and the size of said cast, as not everyone in the Squad is going to want to participate in every mission.

    It’s good that you’re passionate about all this, @shingro — you’re a valuable, active and super-awesome member of the Squad and we’ll be very interested to hear what you think of our discussion.

    Re: the Silent Hill 2 thing — we all love Silent Hill 2, and you have to understand that the fact we seemingly tore it to shreds was a “cruel to be kind” sort of thing. The point we were making was that Silent Hill 2 transcends its own limitations to become an awesome game despite its irritating factors. A lot of games don’t manage this, putting people off with clunky mechanics or whatever, meaning that people never get to explore what might be an awesome story, characters, whatever. Silent Hill 2, however, managed to make people want to play it despite the fact that, say, the combat wasn’t very good, or some of the puzzles were a bit incongruous.

    As I wrote in my blog yesterday, though, it’s good to disagree and to speak up — that’s how dialogues and debates get started 🙂

  • Shingro 7:31 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    True enough, though the question I’d then ask to you is “Are the Squad the people who want the entry-level light and fluffy discourse?” “do people come to the squadcast when they don’t want anything too hard?’ I don’t think anyone here, even the people who dislike certain genres intensely, lack the basic vernacular. As far as I’m aware even the most casual member of the squad has a pretty broad knowledge of gaming and gaming history, even if they aren’t themselves interested in this or that topic.

    Of course this doesn’t PRECLUDE those people from wanting the basics, or something easy-like in the earholes for the commute. On the other hand, since podcasts are hard to get together, and no one is talking the higher level game outside very specific GDC sort of stuff, I get a weird sorta ‘precious resource wasted! D:’ twitch, which, apparently, explodes in a big mess of questions and concepts before the podcast even drops XD.

    I guess it depends on how you look at the Squad, usually I’ve thought of it as a general collection of people who’ve gamed For Some Time and thus have at least One Dude who can bring forth even the most esoteric knowledge out of the depths of history. everyone knows a little of everything and a couple dudes know One Thing Damn Well, and there’s enough people that most every facet of gaming is covered, so people can be drawn out for this or that podcast. The one specialist and 3 generalists sort of format.

    Of course, about half the active squad just swore off Classic Gaming for an indeterminate number of years. So… I guess that kinda shows how much I know. =P If you told me that would happen when the squad was doing missions like Homeworld I would have told you you were out of your goddamn mind.

    The perspective of “Yeah we got together to talk a little JRPG” definitely leads to a more calming element on the completionist, enthusiast side of me though. I’ve made my peace with it, and inevitably I will disappoint your expectations whenever the thread actually arrives XD. Though I think there is a wider ‘what do we want as the squad?’ question brewing in the brainbox. If not the Squad, then who besides big company research groups is asking “Why did this work, why did that work, why exactly, do people pick up the controller?”

    It’s entirely possible, maybe even likely I’m projecting what I want to see onto the squad mindset. Hard to say, the eye can observe all but itself and all that rot. No reason we can’t have both Gaming 101 and 501, after all two of my favorite missions are Pathologic (heavy analysis) and Barkley’s Shut Up and Jam (downright wacky laughter the whole way through) Just hard to tell them apart since everything’s under the same sort of title.

    Goddamn it, look at that, second wall of text in the same night, I gotta get some sleep >_>
    Still, what do you think?

  • Shingro 3:09 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @angryjedi It’s one of my only real sore points with the squad, I’ve had to sit on squad recommendations to two good friends of mine because they would chew horseshoes and spit nails at that ‘cast. Basically the first 45 minutes of Silent Hill 2 squadcast (actually talking about the game, post-whatchabeenplayin) is Chris (papapishu version) just full out dumping on Silent Hill 2, every mechanical element, thematic element, comparing it to Gilligan’s island and then comparing that to the bible like… it wasn’t good, it was one of those ‘shake the computer monitor and shout ‘AAAA THIS ISN’T WHY THIS GAME IS RELEVANT OR IMPORTAAAAANT WE’RE NOT GIVING REVIEW SCORES HERE WHY ARE WE EVEN TALKING ABOUT THIIIIIIiiiiiiisssss…. D: D: D:’

    To be fair, the second segment managed to come around when beige/pete got into some more chin strokey segments which is where Silent Hill shines, but jeeze that first segment was really hard to stomach if you were a fan of that game. Some of pishu’s criticisms were certainly relevant, but not ‘lets use the entire first segment for that’ relevant, and yeah the fog IS there to cover draw distance sure, but that’s not WHY the fog is important… that sort of thing. I dunno, that is the danger of being too close and too interested in the subject matter.

    It is true that that cast is a pretty good set for the squad, Pete’s a super solid contender in JRPG land and can talk some modern direction with some of the mainstream stuff. Beige also has some good history though I can’t think of too many modern JRPGs besides Dark Souls(which aesthetically went more WRPG honestly, but still carries the strong single vision element) recently. Feen, well… my impression is that the more ‘japanese’ a game gets the less Feen likes it, and feen has a tendency to steer conversations (like pishu did in the Silent Hill 2 podcast) into dark sad places.

    I still value his opinion ’cause even if we disagree on a lot of things it’s always good to see things from the other side, and he doesn’t… ‘cheat’ in discussing things, like he doesn’t want to ‘win’ a conversation which is top marks for a debate opponent, but I’m terrified that it’ll end up in the same ‘dying breed/lack of connection’ conversation that every video game podcast everywhere on the internet has already had. A relevant topic, but one talked to death. Especially when there’s so much more to say.

    I guess if we talk about JRPGs from a historical perspective that’s fine, I don’t really know who here played the Suikodens/Vagrant Story/Valkyrie Profile/Breath of Fire/xenogears/Azure Dreams/Star Oceans/Tales ofs. Maybe there’s a solid base here. I also worry over the missed opportunity of talking about some of the modern direction of JRPGs things like Mana Khemia, Hyperdimension Neptunia (not good imho for the record), Ar Tonelico, Radiant Historia, Artilie Iris/rorona/Totori/Meruru etc.

    Then there’s a bunch of hybrids and odd things that are along the side, does Disgaea count as a JRPG? Front Mission? SRPG sure, but the story/pacing/characters/etc are JRPG-style. What about Metal Gear Solid 4? Why don’t you see new development and translation of JRPGs ala Legend of the Dragoon, Shadow Hearts or Baten Kaitos? How did the same team who brought us Xenogears (amazing) bring us Xenosaga 1-3 (decent at best) and what happened in between those two events that changed the landscape?

    How does this tie in to the difference between the broad strokes of Japanese and western development? (Single vision niche vs focus tested, safe mass market) Is the american indie scene and it’s explosion partly because of it scratching the itch/ filling the niche of strong (occasionally bizarre) artistic visions that are out of synch with ‘what is normally done?’

    Most people haven’t followed JRPGs out into these years, you really gotta go off the beaten track to find the modern examples. Most people still talk about JRPGs as they last knew them from the Final Fantasy VII era and it drives me a bit up the wall, like being stuck behind a glass wall while someone reminisces “Hey remember jazz? Why doesn’t anyone make jazz anymore?” while you’ve been following small jazz artists for the last 5 years =P

    I dunno, I’m probably too close to this particular topic to listen with the sanguine heart of a still pool. As always I’m excited to hear everyone’s perspective, more podcast=better, I certainly don’t expect everyone who talks games to know absolutely everything about the topic, and there isn’t a set of guys in the industry that I’d RATHER hear from and trust to do it justice.

    Still, I’m not sure what sort of post is going to come out of me at the end of it because this is exactly the game type that I’ve followed for my entire adult life and when you spend that much time on something the need to correct/correlate/instruct in that element is overpowering, and you can’t do a ton of that before you sound like an asshole, and I’d rather not punch the ‘asshole’ card here particularly *because* of how much I like our crew here :/ XD

    For what it’s worth, I’m thrilled that a podcast came out on this topic but at the same time I’m the most afraid of people I like and respect discussing this topic. XD what a weird place to come to eh? =P

  • RocGaude 2:17 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @angryjedi Ha! That’s the same thing I was thinking.

  • RocGaude 2:11 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    The new SquadCast is just @feenwager, @angryjedi, and @bluesforbuddha for this go. I had to stay behind due to microphone inadequacies that I’ll remedy for the next one. Don’t worry @shingro, they’ve all got quite the JRPG background. I’m sure it’ll be a great listen.

  • Shingro 1:48 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    Idly curious, who was the cast for this one? Besides that what was the trigger for this? Other then Pete I can’t think of who has serious JRPG chops in the current Squad podcasting lineup. It’s certainly a topic near and dear to my heart so I’m looking forwards to hearing thoughts about it.

    I guess look forwards to my wall of text play-by-play for when this comes up, I won’t lie though, I’m a bit scared it’s going to be a long version of the first 45 minutes of the Silent Hill 2 episode. =P but maybe that’s just the ‘just got off a really hard day at work’ talking. c_c

  • RedSwirl 1:22 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @feenwager A Squadcast under three hours?! Hot damn.

  • unmanneddrone 12:40 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @feenwager Good heavens! And praise be!

  • feenwager 12:38 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    Guess what just happened? We recorded a new type of Squadcast: a shorter, more focused episode. We spoke about a single genre: JRPG’s.

    Really looking forward to you guys and gals hearing it and letting us know what you think.

  • RocGaude 2:46 am on February 22, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , squadcast   

    Good to see so much more chatter around here. Maybe someday when I’m not in the middle of a life-altering move, I’ll hop in and chat, too. Here are some quickies.

    HAWT Shit:

    • Billings, Montana – It’s cold, sparse, friendly, and beef lovers want for nothin’. Folks, I think I may have found a place I can call home.
    • The “loli cripple porn” SquadCast (I kid) – Amazing job, guys. Leave it to the Squad to make such a niche title appealing to even the most uninterested player. @shingro, you did a hell of a job on the show. Hope you can hop on future episodes, too.
    • Hero Academy – I love it because of one thing: limitations. Each side only gets 5 actions per turn and deciding how to best maximize your turns hits my happy chord. Plus, we’re getting dwarves on 2/22. Much love to my fuzzy kindreds.
    • Idle Thumbs returns – You mean people will financially support a kick ass podcast? I guess a few people seem up for it. Let’s hope this trend continues.

    Horse Shit:

    Navigating a ’17 foot UHaul truck towing a car through a snowstorm. That’s an adventure I shant be returning to unless at gunpoint.

  • Pete Davison 1:59 am on February 19, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , squadcast   

    If you haven’t checked the podcast thread above, take a look now for an awesome comment from a new listener, @wrdsmth. We’ve also had a very positive response over on the official KS forums, too — check it out.

  • Shingro 6:17 am on February 18, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , squadcast   

    @redswirl I dunno, dyson power? I think a full squadcast showing up from it coming together last minute had something to do with it

    As for tonight’s adventures, I can say that Soul Calibur V is absolutely a game made for competitive play. this ISN’T a recommendation necessarily. Single player is incredibly sparse, story is crazytime, it’s best features are
    1. Training mode is amazingly flexible in testing specific scenarios, randomizing certain programmable movesets which permits recognition training of mixups, setups and Ukemi traps
    2. Very balanced, we won’t know for a few month’s yet but I can’t think of anyone besides the mimics who ‘cannot compete’
    3. Simplified movesets and revamped engine makes things extremely percise, movelists are smaller, but a larger % of moves are ‘functional’ large changes to the Guard Impact systems encourage ‘exciting’ play (more offense, mixups and traps, no more Step-A battles and such)

    All these items are based around things like ‘improving your game’ and ‘an even match of strength’ and suchlike. If that sounds great, then by all means roll in and take a look, but if you like just going story-modes and suchlike, skip it, they really didn’t put much attention there.

    Also: Squadcast yaaaaaay~ poor Mike 😀 This is all part of my Devious Plan to liberate Rin you know c_c (but naw, I think I’ll stick with Emi, she’s probably better for me, consider this my peace offering c_c)

    Perhaps now that it’s actually out I will stop obsessing over all the things I forgot to say or said wrong (my favorite is I’m pretty sure I said Urotsukidoji when I ment Utawarerumono! Ha! Haha! It’s… it’s funny ’cause… uh…. y-you see… um… w-wh…. where is everyone going… ¬_¬

    I hope people will forgive me my nervous vocal ticks =P I gotta say, I have a far greater respect for people who are able to go on a recording and just sound like it ‘ain’t no thang~’ so to speak.

    Also: a Katawa Shoujo thread sounds like it might be handy now that there is a podcast for it. It doesn’t exactly have any problem with exposure, plus it’ll help blunt the chilling effect of the minor recent drama and the normal social pressures that normally encourage people to remain silent on the topic of ‘the feels’. My end game goal for everything ever is for people to bring as much of themselves as they can to whatever discussion is at hand. When that happens it is, in a word. Rad.

  • Pete Davison 9:36 pm on February 17, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , squadcast   

    SquadCast Special Mission: Katawa Shoujo

    Listen now!

    Direct link

    (More …)

    • wrdsmth 1:00 am on February 19, 2012 Permalink

      You know I came into this expecting to look down on you guys, just some random jack offs doing a podcast I’ve never heard of on the internet.

      What I got was some insightful, level headed discussion about elements of Katawa Shoujo and it’s fan base I hadn’t even fully formed an opinion on yet. I’m surprised at how intelligently you went about this. The bit about what visual novels have over regular books was particularly interesting to me, I think it was about 2 hours in.

      Anyways, thank you guys for all your wonderful thoughts on the subject. I haven’t listened to a podcast in years because I found most of them to be absolute shit, but you have a new fan in me.

      Also I’m sincerely sorry for the prejudice I walked in with, you guys are great.

    • Pete Davison 1:08 am on February 19, 2012 Permalink

      What a kind comment. Thanks so much! We’re glad you enjoyed the podcast and hope you’ll consider having a listen to some of our others. 🙂

      Do feel free to introduce yourself in the freeform discussion below, too — it’s always great to meet new people.

    • Shingro 9:56 pm on February 19, 2012 Permalink

      Great to have you =) I’m glad that what was possibly the most esoteric podcast of the bunch struck people so well. It means a lot to hear that =D

    • Shingro 10:13 pm on February 19, 2012 Permalink

      So, for Katawa Shoujo Supplemental: I’d love to hear from @rampantbycicle as to her opinions, outlook and experience.

      Barring that, one topic we didn’t really hit very hard and might bear some discussion is how the game seems to unerringly mimic conversations we’ve had with real people. Is that due to the effort the devs made? Is it because it was originally made in our natural culture and language? Why can’t other games seem to tag this very often?

    • unmanneddrone 2:32 pm on February 22, 2012 Permalink

      Just wanted to say cheers for the fine podcast. I admit to being in the middle tier, but was rather interested to hear the discussion regardless. The hard sell worked on a grognard, @shingro!

    • mrgodravan 1:13 pm on March 5, 2012 Permalink

      Hello. I’m an unwashed foreigner brought here by a link in reddit’s katawa shoujo subreddit. I guess I missed the normal commenting window–had some trouble setting aside three hours to listen to it.

      Anyway, the reason I registered a wordpress commenting account: something startled me when listening to the discussion about why more games don’t/whether they can have much of an emotional punch. Ico was brought up as the sole example of a professional game with more than rudimentary gameplay which works on this level. Mulling over that I returned to an old criticism of games as art: that gameplay seriously detracts from them because it can’t be made into a holistic experience with the narrative. While a player is experiencing the story of Mass Effect, they’re also playing at short-range tactical combat and stat-maximizing, and both of those by their irrelevance are alienating. Ico is to some extent a counterexample, as the gameplay is the workhorse of the narrative: the game is, up until the end, exploring a strange, desolate place, protecting the only other person there, and trying to figure out how to get her somewhere only you can reach. I think the first time I heard that criticism I just wrote it off as older generation who just couldn’t ever grok games, but now I’m sold. I don’t think it’s possible for an action RPG to be a great creative work. Maybe in the future as game theory develops there will be more games which truly are unified creative works, but I doubt they’ll be similar to much of anything we have now.

    • feenwager 5:50 pm on March 5, 2012 Permalink

      Welcome, mrgodravan! Thanks for the comment, and feel free to join in any of the discussions we’ve got going on around the Squawkbox. We’re a friendly lot. Except me. I’m a jerk, but they put up with me.

    • Shingro 6:50 pm on March 5, 2012 Permalink

      Welcome =) Interesting thoughts, I have to admit, Katawa Shoujo is definately moved towards the non-interactive bend compared to other types of games, so your point is certainly valid. I guess I’ve started to think of it more like a sliding scale, the more guided/less interactive a game is the more stable it is, the more people it can affect. Then at the other end, the more wide open and less guided the experience the stronger the effect is on the player.

      Also, arguably, the less guided the experience, the more it becomes the player’s story, not the developer. Perhaps in the future there will be game design capable of putting people in situations where they organicly and of their own free will create an amazing personal story on par with a guided creative vision.

      Noooot expecting it anytime soon, but I could certainly see it as possible.

    • beige 9:13 pm on March 5, 2012 Permalink

      In other words: Everybody should play Journey when it launches next week.

  • RedSwirl 9:13 pm on January 20, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    Wrapping up the Squadcast now. Just a couple more things to say, one of them possibly a wall of text.

    Ready Player One. I read the iBooks sample and am simultaneously sold and cautious in regards to it. You guys say it was written for you, and I think that book’s laser focus might be an issue for it as well.

    A lot of that books seems to be based on 80’s culture and actually having been there. I’ve never seen either Ghostbusters movie all the way through (we can get to my ridiculous movie pile of shame later) for one example. Generally speaking, 1980’s culture is as ancient to me as anything before 1975 might be to some of you guys. I am just outside of that bracket, and I am afraid that too much of the book will just fly over my head.

    So I ask, what are the reactions you’ve seen from younger people reading RPO?

    Second thing: Upcoming Game Consoles. I definitely do agree that Apple has changed the game here, but I also believe that the console manufacturers, Microsoft at least, are beginning to have an idea of how to react. The endgame of Microsoft’s big living room plan is starting to take shape.

    The latest Xbox 360 update is trying to turn the console into something that’s no longer just a game machine, but a set top box for TV, movies, just media in general. On top of that the rumors are getting stronger and stronger that MS isn’t even going to bill the next Xbox primarily as a game console. We can see where they’re going already with the other pieces of the puzzle: Windows 8, Windows Phone, their tablet interface, etc. They are gearing up to lock horns with Apple.

    The one place where MS probably has a chance to beat Apple to the punch is in the living room. The main reason MS went and blew $4 billion on the original Xbox was to build a beachhead there. One day Apple will release something involving a television screen and their app store, and when that thing starts to have popular games designed for it, traditional consoles are going to feel affected, and that’s probably where MS is trying to go first. I for one welcome a future where I can turn on one box for all of my TV shows, movies, and games. Technically though I could already do that by building a PC and hooking it up to a television, so we’ll see.

    The extent to which Sony and Nintendo get this is the real question. Sony’s promoting a shitload of apps for the Vita, trying to get Netflix ready for the US launch and all. The question is can they dredge up significant third party support in regards to apps. Will anyone actually want to carry around a Vita for general social networking and media consumption? How far would they be able to take this on their next console?

    I think there’s some potential there for Sony. My PS3 has been my primary movie-playing device whether it’s downloads, Netflix, or on a disc. When HBO GO and YouTube apps show up shit will most certainly get real.

    What I really wanna take a bit of issue with though is the prediction that the Wii-U will be Nintendo’s last console. If this were purely based on Nintendo’s popularity or relevance that might be true, but financially speaking I just don’t see that happening.

    Money is the one big difference between Nintendo today and Sega at the turn of the century. Sega was bleeding money from the Saturn and Dreamcast years. Even during the N64 and Gamecube years Nintendo was still making money. The Gamecube was more profitable for them than the PS2 was for Sony, despite the PS2 having sold probably six times as many units. That’s the difference with Nintendo’s revenue model. Add to that the shitload of money they made off of the Wii and you have a massive war chest that could likely get them through two more “failed” console generations. If one of the big three is in danger of calling it quit’s for gaming hardware after next gen, it’s Sony.

    As for the Wii-U itself, hard to say. The more we hear about next gen hardware, the more it looks like the Wii-U will probably be able to run the same games that come out on the next Xbox, just not as pretty. It probably mostly depends on them being able to strike lightning again with Wii-Sports and whatnot. When it comes to general relevance though I wanna go back to that whole multi-functionality thing that I think will be so crucial to the other guys.

    Numbers have shown that the Wii is actually the most popular Netflix streaming device (a lot of people didn’t even realize their Wiis could go online until they found it they could get Netflix on it). Hulu Plus is coming to both it and the 3DS (which already has Netflix). All Nintendo really needs to do is realize the value in that shit, especially for them since Nintendo tends to sell their hardware at-profit.

    That’s just what I think though.

  • RedSwirl 5:20 pm on January 20, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast, tutorials   

    Okay so I’m in the middle of the last Squadcast here. A couple things on tutorials:

    The Anno 2070 Manual

    I forget most of the time too, but Steam does host PDF manuals of a lot of its games. A while ago I was pretty blown away by the Indiana Jones manuals I download from Steam.

    Secondly, here’s another video about good and bad tutorials: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FpigqfcvlM&feature=plcp&context=C31fd226UDOEgsToPDskJUTQKnqbKFs62JqBXEfUdY

  • unmanneddrone 6:50 am on January 5, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , squadcast,   

    To @rocgaude, @feenwager, @beige and @angryjedi, thanks very much for another fine production. Had a jolly old time with the new squadcast. Not much I can comment on, outside of being a Vita owner and someone who has finished Golden Abyss.

    Let’s just say the Vita has a greater shot – despite the godawful fucking mooing from the peanut gallery – at tickling the fancies of a post-iOS gamer crowd. The touchscreen and interface coalesce slickly and IF Sony do the right thing by the developer crowd and encourage the growth of an (Gawd, I hate this tech-speak/Tested terminology) application ecosystem, the Vita has the capacity to be everything detractors have wanted from iOS gaming from the beginning. It is a light machine, the OLED screen is big and bright and there’s a responsiveness to the UI that has to this day been dominated solely by Apple.

    The benchmark set by the Smartphone coup should be a catalyst for Sony – no stranger to sleek UI and interfaces for the most part – to capitalise on what perhaps the original PSP tried to do in a multimedia and use capacity.

    The audience, however, is the killer. Will those clamouring for iOS controllers bother acting upon their alleged grievances and see what the Vita has to offer? I hope so, but probably not. I’ve never bought into the mindset that big production games should be anchored solely to consoles, and with the Vita’s screen, it certainly allows for visual real estate that doesn’t compromise or feel constricted or detract from the experience. There’s multitasking, there’s planned emphasis on PS3 interconnectivity and, like Motorstorm RC or WipEout 2048, cross-platform play AND receiving both platform versions for the price of one game…

    …some folks might say the system exists in some sort of limbo space, and perhaps I’m just a sucker for the outlier and oddball, but I prefer to think of it as a perfect niche. But we’ll see when it hits the US and Euroland.

    Now, Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Finished it the other night and had a jolly good time. Nothing mindblowing, outside of enjoying the relative graphical feast Bend have rendered for a launch game. It feels more like the original Uncharted, in so far as having a much greater emphasis on clambering and puzzle-solving than shooting. Snappy controls, great use of the touch screen for simple item interaction and puzzle solving, terrific characters and incredible sound. I cannot stress the sound design enough, not that it wasn’t evident in the console games. Really finely honed acoustic work, particularly in subterranean levels.

    Anyway, to cut this short, Golden Abyss is nowhere near a shark jump. It’s probably what many people would have liked the third instalment to have been, although it is very much a quiet little prequel. Small band of characters, smaller set pieces, localised action, but a ripping little yarn given the same care and attention that the big games have. It’s not perfect, but as someone who felt like they got their fill in Uncharted 2, it’s a delight to play.

    Also, the ‘boss battles’ in Golden Abyss – no, not against yetis or some supernatural misfires – are conducted as touch-based swiping QTEs, akin to Infinity Blade. Might sound shit, but it’s totally excellent and befits Uncharted far more than chasing some ghost-roiding Serbian war criminal around an explosive sap arena. Or spiking guardian apes not fit for Michael Crichton’s Congo.

    Yeah, that’s my little spiel. Looking forward to the Vita in 2012. Should be interesting. Same cannot be personally said for many console games, that much I say.

    Thanks again for a great squadcast. Keen for the next!

    EDIT: @beige Just a quick “great to hear Anno” getting its dues. Really enjoying the online interactivity implementation with global voting and such, too. Feels like a purposeful and considered use of online.

  • Pete Davison 5:10 pm on January 4, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , squadcast   

    The Squadron of Shame Review of 2011: A Big Bowl o’ Podcast

    Listen now!

    Direct link

    And we’re back! The Squad takes a look back at the year that was 2011 and determines what the highlights and lowlights were, taking in everything from Xenoblade Chronicles to Modern Warfare 3 along the way.

    Music in this episode:
    Duel of the Fates — John Williams
    YO — Shoji Meguro

    Subscribe via RSS
    Subscribe via iTunes

    Got any thoughts on 2011? Post ’em here and tag ’em “2011 in Review”.

    Enjoy the show!

  • RocGaude 3:49 pm on January 4, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast,   

    Not to be outdone by @feenwager in sneakin’ some preview for you all regarding the SquadCast, this announcement bodes well for gaming media at large. @angryjedi, you should totally apply for a writing gig there.

  • Pete Davison 2:21 pm on January 3, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast,   

    SquadCast is about 50% edited right now. Taking a break for lunch, then back to it later this afternoon. Should be up either today or tomorrow.

    The Old Republic is brilliant. So there. Even better, they don’t lock you out from playing on other regions’ servers, meaning I can play on American servers for once and, should you feel the need, you can play on European ones, too. This is a Good Thing.

    I have a Jedi Knight at level 22, a Jedi Consular on Jeff’s server at 12 (I think) and I briefly tried an Imperial Agent on another friend’s server last night. She (my Agent, not my friend) has LadyHawke’s voice. I think I’m in love.

  • feenwager 4:09 am on January 3, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast,   

    Any day now, you’ll have a brand new Squadcast to listen to, and you’ll hear Pete & I gush about how cool Star Wars: The Old Republic is. Let me say this: my dude was level 5 at the time of that recording, and is now level 20. Be happy we didn’t do the show today or you’d have never shut me up.

    In many ways, this is the game I’ve been waiting for for 20+ years. It’s that good.

  • RocGaude 6:57 pm on December 31, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: 2011 Top 10, squadcast   

    @bowlisimo Great idea. Will ponder on mine over the weekend. Currently trying to mix work with a mini-vacation. Blegh.

    @angryjedi You continue to be the man.

  • Pete Davison 12:12 pm on December 31, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    Morning all! Everyone has sent me their SquadCast files now, so I’ll be editing it tomorrow. I’d start today, but we have a cake to bake and a New Year party to go to. 🙂 Hopefully the new show will be with us in the first few days of the New Year.

  • impynickers 8:29 pm on December 28, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , squadcast   

    Woo! Squadcast back on the saddle, that is mighty fine holiday news.
    Many belated thanks to @rampantbicycle for her incredibly generous squadsanta gifts. I am incredibly excited to get started on them! On top of that I will play them while dipping fruit in a chocolate fountain my crazy uncle got me for christmas. Not just a fondue set … no … thats not good enough. I got a fountain of chocolate.

  • bowlisimo 6:25 am on December 28, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , squadcast   

    Did Beige cover Dark Souls? Yeah? Then we’re good.

  • feenwager 4:11 am on December 28, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    Did you want a three hour show where we hand out exactly zero awards? Cuz that’s what yer gettin’.

  • mjpilon 2:21 am on December 28, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @rocgaude I have no doubts you’ve succeeded there 🙂

  • RocGaude 2:00 am on December 28, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @unmanneddrone @shingro @feenwager Topic decided: be awesome. We’ve succeeded.

  • feenwager 12:29 am on December 28, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    It’s happening right now. Topic: undecided.

  • unmanneddrone 12:26 am on December 28, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @rocgaude Keen as mustard! Did we ever finalise the end of year discussion? Either way, plenty to yarn about upon the deployment of the esteemed ‘cast.

  • RocGaude 7:59 pm on December 27, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    Remember the SquadCast? @angryjedi, @bluesforbuddha, @feenwager, and I are recording one tonight.

  • Pete Davison 1:08 pm on November 30, 2011 Permalink |
    Tags: squadcast   

    Nominations Needed!

    We’re planning an end of year SquadCast and we want your input for awards categories. They can be as esoteric or straight-laced as you like. Add your category suggestions (and proposed game nominations) as a comment to this thread (not a separate post) or, if you’d prefer to keep them as a surprise, email them to Pete via pjedavison at gmail dot com.

    • unmanneddrone 2:14 pm on November 30, 2011 Permalink

      Good to see a Squad GOTY Gala cast will be recorded! These were the categories we came up with last year, for reference:

      • The Mark Wahlberg Award for Strangest or most Illogical Choice by Developers in a Videogame.
      • The Costco Pipebomb Award for Best Bang For Buck.
      • The “Goddamn it! Jump Sack Boy!! Jump!!” Award for most frustrating game/gaming moment of 2010.
      • The “Have you tried Sucking less?” Award for game that the “hardcore” community loves but that you just can’t get into of 2010.
      • The “your mom” award for the best ride in a video game.
      • The “Holy Crap It’s 3am” Award for most addictive game/ gaming experience of 2010.
      • The “Peter Molyneaux selling us the Moon” Award for most disappointing game/ gaming moment of 2010.
      • The jumppack award for the greatest single leap in gaming in 2010.
      • The little mac award for the “longshot what became the champeen” of 2010.
      • The Octocamo award for the greatest “It came out of nowhere” surprise of 2010.
      • The 7 Temples of Cheap-Fu award for the strongest Cheap-Fu / Excellence in Small Gaming.
      • The map and compass award for the “Hopefully heralds the direction I’d like to see more things go” in 2011.
      • The Leon Trotsky Award for Pick of 2010, ala GOTY
      • The Hugo Chavez “I smell Brimstone” Award for the industry’s most deplorable act of 2010

      Must ponder long and hard now for my picks. At the end of the day, are we all doing a top five? Category choices?

    • bowlisimo 5:03 pm on November 30, 2011 Permalink

      Some quick dumb ideas while I eat lunch:

      The “Search For More Money” award for the most phoned-in sequel of 2011.
      The “Two Heads are Better Than One” award for the greatest co-op experience of 2011.
      The “Like A BAWS” award for the best designed big-bad encounters of 2011.
      The “Up The Ante” award for the most amazing spectacle provided by a 2011 video game.

    • beige 5:34 pm on November 30, 2011 Permalink

      I’d like to see some sort of debutante award for gamethings that were “New for 2011” (that is, something genuinely surprising or innovative that isn’t just a rehash of last year’s flavor) but off the top of my head I’m not sure what that would be…

    • bowlisimo 5:41 pm on November 30, 2011 Permalink

      “New” ideas? Haha, don’t be ridiculous.

      While thinking of this, I realized that the opposite of the worst sequel of the year, is basically GOTY…

    • A.J. 11:46 pm on November 30, 2011 Permalink

      Hey, remember when I used to post stuff here? Well I’m back! On to some categories:

      The “Shit yeah I’m gonna buy that DLC” award for best DLC.
      The “Shit. I’m gonna buy that DLC” award for DLC that you don’t want to buy, but will.
      The “Holy shit!” award for moment in a game that made you tell “Holy shit!”
      The “Shit” award for worst game you played this year.

      Notice a trend? I swear I didn’t plan that.

    • unmanneddrone 12:46 am on December 1, 2011 Permalink

      More AJ, please. We need more AJ.

    • bowlisimo 1:04 am on December 1, 2011 Permalink

      Or more Flynt Stone

    • A.J. 1:43 am on December 1, 2011 Permalink

      Got me.

    • feenwager 5:23 am on December 1, 2011 Permalink


    • CMWhittington 6:06 pm on December 1, 2011 Permalink

      You can’t go wrong with shit. Welcome back, mi amigo.

    • mjpilon 4:04 pm on December 3, 2011 Permalink

      Whoa! A Minotti sighting! Such a rare occurrence in this parts… I kid, I kid. Welcome back A.J!

    • mjpilon 4:06 pm on December 3, 2011 Permalink

      In that case, how about an award for best non-sequel game of the year? I need to come out with a good title for it still…

    • Shingro 2:31 am on December 4, 2011 Permalink

      I’d like to throw some into the ring, unfortunately I’m a bit dragged away by projects and looming due dates…

      あああああああああああああああ­ああああああ: Award for most unexpected frightening moment

      (Which reminds me, the squad, and especially our more esoteric members need to play Yume Nikki, it’s free, it’s in english, it’s on the net, do yourself the favor)

      …… Moe~: Most adorable character design
      …… Moe~(stash) : most adorable thing that shouldn’t be adorable

      “Wait, what!? I don’t… how does that even….?”: Most inexplicable plot moment
      “Awwwwwwwwwww yeaaaaaaaah~ giggity giggity”: kinkiest/sexiest moment
      “No really! It was like this all along!”: Best use of Deus Ex Machina
      “It’s not a bug it’s a feature”: Best bug
      “… So what exactly are you trying to do here?”: Best use of player godlike power/invulnerabiltiy
      AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!: Best teamup
      “You killed my father, prepare to die”: Best revenge

    • unmanneddrone 5:35 am on December 4, 2011 Permalink

      We’ve now got an incredible swathe of special awards. How do we cleave it down to main categories and a manageable number of these side awards? That is, if the Squad Leaders don’t already have something in mind…

      Is it a case of going by categories? Personal preference Top Threes? Decisions. It’d be nice to for squad members to have the same category/award lists as that used by the Squad Leaders on the ‘cast…that way, we know what to submit or write up here on the Squawk.

    • feenwager 7:52 pm on December 6, 2011 Permalink

      Let me mull that one over and get back to you.

    • unmanneddrone 2:25 pm on December 7, 2011 Permalink

      Cheers, Feen.

    • feenwager 1:26 am on December 12, 2011 Permalink

      I’m a terrible person, I know, but I’m not feeling these usual awards we do. Anyone mind if I go back to the drawing board before we record this show?

    • unmanneddrone 3:15 am on December 12, 2011 Permalink

      I’ll be honest, I’d be just happy with a new Squadcast! Even if it just comes down to Squaddies throwing in their top three and chatting about the year that was.

    • Shingro 6:37 am on December 12, 2011 Permalink

      Oh hey, one more while I’m thinking about it, I think it’d be fun considering our retro roots
      “Best game of 2011 that wasn’t made in 2011″ : The game from another year that you had the most fun with in 2011

    • mjpilon 2:39 pm on December 12, 2011 Permalink

      I concur with @unmanneddrone. A new Squadcast to close out the year, regardless of format, will be a nice treat

    • unmanneddrone 6:44 am on December 18, 2011 Permalink

      I love this idea. A very simple category.

    • unmanneddrone 6:45 am on December 18, 2011 Permalink

      Do we know what the order of proceedings will be, in regards to the Squadcast? So those at home can play along with some semblance of cohesion. Happy to do whatever @feenwager came up with.

  • meeco777 8:09 pm on October 21, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , squadcast   

    @feenwager & @unmanneddrone thank you guys for the welcome, I can tell this is a community that I will really enjoy being a part of.

    @beige *Raises Hand* I am 100% fine with hearing you talk for 2 hours about the souls games. A couple people playing off of each other would be nice, but I always enjoy your opinion and I just cannot get enough of hearing talk about these games right now so I say go for it =)

  • RedSwirl 2:47 pm on October 19, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast   

    @beige I can answer a few of those questions right now actually.

    I don’t think I’d seen a significant portion of any Alien movie before first playing a Metroid game, and still appreciated the themes present there. Still ain’t got around to reading Gibson yet but I still appreciated Deus Ex all the same, but probably because the influences I saw in there were from Mamoru Oshii and Masamune Shirow.

    That said, I think Aliens lies at the core of most dudebro things in gaming. I don’t know if I’ve linked it here before, but there’s an Escapist article noting how every goddamn sci-fi shooter rips off everything in Aliens except one important aspect: it’s protagonist, even going so far as to promote the themes of juvenile dudebroness that Aliens seems to look down upon.

    One place where I do see a lot of distinct film influence though is in the library of Rockstar games. Since GTA III I could actually probably pin specific influences on each game they’ve released, and I think you have too.

    GTAIII: Sopranos
    Vice City: Scarface, Miami Vice
    San Andreas: Boyz N the Hood
    Bully: Problem Child (and probably every kids movie made in the 80’s and 90’s)
    Read Dead: Unforgiven, etc.
    L.A. Noire: L.A. Confidential
    Yakuza: Battles Without Honor and Humanity

    You wanna know what I ended up drawing references to when I played System Shock 2 for the first time? The Riddle of Steel from the first Conan movie. Think about it. Think about the words of Conan’s father and Thulsa Doom, and then compare that to Shodan and The Many.

  • RedSwirl 10:52 pm on August 29, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: squadcast,   

    Okay, so being WAY late on the last squadcast:

    Despite you guys crapping on the worlds in Zelda, those are exactly the games I would point out if asked what my first encounter with a “real” game world was. Particularly Ocarina of Time. Looking back, part of the main thing that even sucked me into that game was how “alive” its presentation was. It was a lot of little things really, like how Link reacted to his world and how it reacted to him. At the very least you can’t deny all Nintendo put into crating the Clock town in Majora’s Mask.

    The best current example I can think of though is definitely the Yakuza games. Probably my favorite “urban environment” games. The vastness and openness of GTA is fun, but to me it’s the depth, detail, and character that makes a city immersive to me. The same goes for Rome in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Every store and venue in Kamurocho is unique and has its own story (save a couple chain stores), but every blacksmith in Rome was pretty much the same. I really do wish someone would take the “Yakuza” approach to more cities around the world.

    The absolute smallest example I can think of for a game world that actually felt interesting to me was Silent Hill 4. You spend most of the game trapped in your apartment, but from it you get to look out at the rest of the complex and learn more and more about the cast of characters who inhabit it. I thought that was a very good (and probably cheap) method for storytelling.

    Lastly I’ll just plug in and say that as a Washington DC resident, I felt exactly what you guys mentioned in regards to Fallout 3. You guys would probably be surprised at how accurately the game translates DC. The metros for instance are pretty much dead-on. A lot of the towns in the game are real too (including the suburb where I live). People have looked up the locations of buildings on Google maps in order to complete quests in Fallout 3.

    Oh, and the Wiki game @bluesforbudhha played with L.A. Noire, I did that for Assassin’s Creed as well, especially in II. Most of the people you assassinate in the first game are real people who either died or disappeared in or around 1192. At least one was confirmed to have been killed by a hashashin.

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