Matt's Podcast #2: Absolutely Reticulous

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Matt Barton's picture

Shoot me now.If this is Syndicate, shoot me now.It's a smorgasbord of topics this week as I take on the question of "What the hell happened to modern CRPGs?" Why is everything becoming a first-person shooter game? The excrement begins to fly with the upcoming Syndicate and X-Com games. I explain why you should avoid any game "with a great story" and why I couldn't care less about Skyrim and Diablo III. I also talk about my experiences with Baldur's Gate and what I'd really like to see in future CRPGs. Hint: it ain't better narratives.

Download the mp3.

Comments

slenkar (not verified)
Games are a bit different

Games are a bit different because most movies take less than a year to make whereas games could take any time to make like Duke Nukem Forever.
So games are even more riskier than movies but they do have a greater financial reward.

Matt Barton
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slenkar wrote:

Games are a bit different because most movies take less than a year to make whereas games could take any time to make like Duke Nukem Forever.
So games are even more riskier than movies but they do have a greater financial reward.

Games could be made in less than a year. It's just a sort of historical accident that they take so long and command such huge budgets. We're used to thinking that games should keep us enthralled for 8-12 hours at the bare minimum, whereas we consider a 3-hour long movie to be quite long.

We really need to adjust our expectations IMO. Anybody with any sense would be happy with a game that took 3 hours to play start to finish, assuming those were 3 great, edge-of-your-seat hours. Bloating it out to 12 does not make for a better experience.

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Chris Kennedy
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Matt Barton wrote:

We really need to adjust our expectations IMO. Anybody with any sense would be happy with a game that took 3 hours to play start to finish, assuming those were 3 great, edge-of-your-seat hours. Bloating it out to 12 does not make for a better experience.

I have played Japanese RPGs for 100-120+ hours and oftentimes expect that of those games when I pick them up. Why should I adjust my expectations?

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Bill Loguidice
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Chris Kennedy wrote:
Matt Barton wrote:

We really need to adjust our expectations IMO. Anybody with any sense would be happy with a game that took 3 hours to play start to finish, assuming those were 3 great, edge-of-your-seat hours. Bloating it out to 12 does not make for a better experience.

I have played Japanese RPGs for 100-120+ hours and oftentimes expect that of those games when I pick them up. Why should I adjust my expectations?

I agree you shouldn't, but there should be room for smaller form, still epic games. What I'm saying is epic RPGs that take maybe 3 hours to complete, not mini-games, which by design are not epic...

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Matt Barton
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Chris Kennedy wrote:

I have played Japanese RPGs for 100-120+ hours and oftentimes expect that of those games when I pick them up. Why should I adjust my expectations?

I'm with you. Give me a 100+ hour CRPG (don't care for the Japanese ones myself) and I'd be thrilled.

But it's not sustainable. Either you end up spending HUGE gobs of money making the game, or you add in tons of filler. The only other route is algorithmically generated content, which is seldom as compelling as something created by a human.

I don't need a CRPG that stretches out to 100+ hours by hitting me with endless waves of random encounters. Oh, ten blue worms dead. Now here comes ten pink ones...Oh, the boss...he's a big white worm. Nor do I need the developer to make it into an MMO because that's the only way to justify the costs of building up a huge interactive world for me to explore.

The only sensible alternative I can see is shrinking the size of the game down so that you can still have the AAA graphics and such, but not sacrifice the gameplay or design to procedural generation.

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Chris Kennedy
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Heh
Matt Barton wrote:

The only sensible alternative I can see is shrinking the size of the game down so that you can still have the AAA graphics and such, but not sacrifice the gameplay or design to procedural generation.

I think we have actually seen a surge of this on certain platforms. The iOS and Android platforms as well as the Playstation Minis are good examples of a twitch market. You're talking about really small games - games that cost between $1 and $7. I also think these are doing quite well. It may take more time, but perhaps we are going to find a happier medium sooner rather than later.

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KrazIIvan (not verified)
Hit the nail!

Just want to say I'm glad you're back into podcast form. Missed you guys.

I couldn't agree more about the topics. Games have really lost the "game" aspect. I've began to completely ignore the stories as well. As I've become older, my time is better spent doing things in games, not watching a lame script and half ass written story. Xcom looks like a complete shit sandwich.

Gabor Domjan (not verified)
Good job in the podcast

Holy Cow, I haven't anticipated that you read my email in the show. Thank you, that was a pleasant surprise. And you pronounced my name quite good. :) As for the topic of your podcast, I see how you get frustrated from all these FPS remakes. I didn't believe it when they announced that they turn X-com and Syndicate into an FPS. It is obvious that the devs and the publisher just want to cash in on the name of the franchise. They don't want make a proper sequel. The masses like FPS games, so they make a game for the masses. Unfortunately they don't care about the "old timers", who loved those games as they were.

As for the stories in games, if it is written and presented well, I actually welcome it in any game. I can even bear with the cutscenes. But I have to confess, I'm sort of a storywhore. Of course a fun, well designed gameplay doesn't hurt either. :) But you are right, most developers try to get away with the non-inspired, boring gameplay by trying to overemphasize story.

May I ask how can I set up an account on this page? I can't find the place where I can register.

clok1966
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I know i have heald this back

I know i have heald this back a bit.. I find it "wrong" to not like a game before you have even played it. Matt you are judging a book by its cover. While I will never argue X-Com was great.. and yes, even taking it to to FPS seems wrong to me.. I wont judge it till I play it. X-Com is an easy one to use. it was so much loved by the Stratgy crowd, it had turn based combat that was exceptional for the time, it had Base building and research, you chose your path to upgrades, you manged the crap out of that game.. And it was hard, so when you succeded you felt great. It was a great game. Problem is its been remade 5-6 times now? 3 by Microprose, the original the DEEP, and the Apocylypos one.. (we wont count the spin off games). Then there are 2-3 fan made updates, and some ACTUAL Buyable games.. NONE have lived up to X-COM.. now when i played UFO:Extraterstrial Gold, and UFO:Afterlife both which are updates of XCOM (which are so exact its silly) i didnt really see any differences.. both the newer games are buggier.. but the play is pretty much the same.. and both games get hammered in the press..

We cant make a new XCOM .. people have and all that happens is they get crapped on. WHile I wont say if the remakes are better or worse.. the latter two above (UFO) play pretty much like xcom right down to the globe/base buildings/etc. Littel things are changed ( and I would guess more so they dont get sued than anything).. I honeslty think if you took the code from the original X-Com and tarted it up with new graphics it would still get crap.. YOU CANT relive the past. XCom was a great game for its day.. and it hold up quite well today too, but the market for this type of game is slim.

I agree Xcom as a FPS seems wrong, but I wont dismiss it till I play it.. and then.. yes.. I will probely go, ho hum.. but more becuase there are millions of FPS then its XCOM made into one..

The same with Synidicate.. i'm not so suprised this getting a remake.. but I am suprised the RTS stratgy game is moving to a FPS.. while I loved C&C renagade.. not many others did.. Syndiacete could have at least been updated with a RTS type game..

Bu it still gets back to my point.. I think its kinda HARSH to be unhappy before you played the game...Agein I dont disagree, a New updated Stratgy game based on Xcom would be more in the spirit of it, but... I wont judge before I play. I did that on alot of Wii games ( and was correct on about 95% of them) but 5% are some pretty cool games if a bit kiddy looking.

Bill Loguidice
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I agree with your points,

I agree with your points, Clok. At the same time, I think we can easily point to the Civilization series of games as an example of how to update things while keeping the core genre/concepts the same. The two latest games, Civilization Revolution - which was designed for consoles and handhelds - and Civilization V, which was pure PC - both are clearly recognizable as descendants of the original Civilization, meaning if you played that back in 1991, you'd be just as comfortable today in 2011 playing them. That's obviously no easy feat, but it does point to a way that it can be done. X-Com, no matter how nice an FPS, is not really X-Com. If mentally one can think of it as a logical extension of the series, rather than a true sequel, then I think your point very much holds, Clok, about playing the thing first before being critical. At the same time, I think being critical of the concept of the game is more than fair in the context of what it could be. Clearly, though, unlike the Civilization series, the X-Com series, and many other classics, have been mishandled mightily. Civilization is the rare exception of consistency of quality and care.

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