Ep. 147 - E pluribus unum

E pluribus unum, that means I got mine, go away. This special episode features Gita Jackson! Opening and closing theme created by Kurt Feldman.

**Questions this week:**

  • 1. The Sims Rule (04:10)
  • 2. What's up with Roblox? (10:15)
  • 3. The line between video games and online gambling (16:49)
  • 4. What real or fictional location would make a great setting for a Hitman level? (23:10)
  • 5. G4 Lineup (29:17)
  • 6. Mario's New Look Question by Patreon Supporter Known as "Shigeru M." (39:20)
  • 7. Apple v. Fortnite (45:57)
  • 8. The Fables of Fable (51:49)
  • 9. Have you ever saved a video game for a special occasion? (57:41)
  • 10. Who are the greatest "Himbos" of video games? (1:02:53)

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    “Is ther a line between video games and online gambling?”

    The "intends to cross it and cross back, remaining fully complete" line cracked me up. One of my all time favorite pieces of "games journalism" is this nearly decade old (where does the time go!) piece by tim about Zynga era social games


    Re: Brandon and TW3

    Gotta admit, I didn't like the game much either during the opening part in White orchard/Velen. And, normally, I hate the "wait till it gets good" defense, but in this case it was totally worth it. Once you get to Novigrad everything clicks, and it's the best game ever the end.

    HMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I could give it another shot. I think I might have to stop doing side missions or at least only do ones that are recommended by a guide, if there is such a thing.

    i remember you played through one of the Dragon Age games forever ago… just out of curiosity – did you like it more than Witcher 3? are there any other open world RPGs of similar ilk that you prefer? I never finished Witcher 3, but I played probably around half of the base game and was genuinely consistently impressed by the quality of the writing in a way i never really had been before by a video game.

    There‘s no way to ask this that doesn’t sound like it‘s being asked in bad faith, but what is the appeal of The Witcher 3? I watched my roommate play through a lot of it but I still don’t get it. Is it just the writing, or is the combat or general gameplay really good? Some combination?

    @exodus#5179 Yeah, first time I played it I basically only did the story missions, and I think that was the way to go for me. I‘ve played it all the way through 3 times, and even on those later play-throughs I basically rushed through Velen as quickly as possible… All of Geralt’s hilarious friends only show up after that chapter

    I'll try pushing forward then!

    @crumble dragon age was dumb as heck - I guess that's part of the problem, I've played several of these open world RPG things, and at the end I'm left thinking - what did I spend all this time doing? basically my tolerance has been getting lower and lower for the genre over time.

    People keep talking about the writing in the witcher 3, but so far it's been either shotgunning lore at me alongside names I don't know, or having all the NPCs in the entire game world hate me, while also asking me exclusively to solve their problems.

    and the combat isn't fun for me either. I was really only enjoying the bugs. so I'll give it another try... we'll see.

    @exodus I love Nightmare on Elm Street 2! That and Wes Craven‘s New Nightmare are my favorite Elm Street sequels. I’ve been wanting to watch that documentary for a while. I know the lead actor was gay, and from other interviews I‘ve seen of him I got the impression his feelings about the symbolism in Elm Street 2 were kind of complicated, so I’m curious what that documentary's overall take is.

    I treated my first 30 hours into The Witcher III as an absurdly expensive story mode for Gwent, the card mini-game (which proved popular enough to get not one but two spinoff titles).

    I am the kind to get easily sucked in trivial stuff like Triple Triad in FF8. Gwent and seducing the different female characters were pretty much my only motivations early on, as neither the plot (and subplots) nor the game mechanics really appealed to me. The game repaid me handily for this approach: it proved to be quite generous and open to let you traverse the world this way and, in my book, the completely optional Gwent tournament side story in Novigrad is the best quest in the entire game.

    Then, somehow as I was nonchalantly progressing through the game as the World’s greatest professional Gwent player with a penchant for killing monsters as a hobby, the main characters and their motivations sneakily grew on me. I remember being shocked at how emotionally invested I was when (I will remain vague to avoid spoilers) Geralt finally « reunites with Ciri » at some key point in the story. From that moment, I became truly invested and focused on the main game. I think it’s the amount of efforts and the care for a cohesive lore that gets you progressively and saps your resistance to its charms, rather than a sum of brillant parts. I ended up having a very fond memory of The Witcher III, even though I would be hard pressed to praise one single aspect of its game design.

    I enjoy oddly unique questions like “Have you ever saved a video game for a special occasion?” that helps bring up personal memories. Sharing and reading about video game memories is pleasant. I joined so I could share too.

    I have always had the idea of playing through a series like Final Fantasy from 1 to the most recent release. So I decided to do that 2 or so years ago. I have fond memories of watching my older brothers play FF7 but I had never finished it or seen the end. I remember when the game originally came out and kids in my class talked about how long the game was. "You could play for 3 days straight and still not even beat it, it is soo long!". The length was a bit mesmerizing at the time and often discussed. Anyway, I saved FF7 for a post-surgery recover back in 2019 where I was on bed rest for 4 days completely free of work and fatherly duties. It was an attempt to evoke this PS1 era of "My big brother beat Metal Gear Solid in a weekend" type bravado. I had the Surgery Thursday afternoon, started FF7 Thursday evening, and ended up with the platinum trophy Sunday night after playing sun up to sun down those over those 4 days.

    I remember a past discussion on this podcast, it might have been Brandon who talked about recreating the environment from childhood to bring you back to past feelings. That experience with FF7 and having nothing to do but play a game for an entire weekend while locked up in my bedroom gave me those old feelings from my youth. The only thing missing was fighting with my siblings over who got to play.

    Definitely a good environment in which to play FF7!!

    and PS @chazumaru I HATE gwent!!! I hate it. The rules aren't that well explained so the first (tutorial) battle you fight, I wound up using all my cards right away, and so did my opponent. the last rounds were us just hitting pass because we had no cards, but the opponent had a special ability that let them win ties. So they won while I was waiting for all the nothing that was happening to finish up.

    I tried it again a couple more times and found it laborious so uhhhhhhhhhhh I keep thinking maybe I should just not play this game entirely!

    I played The Witcher cross-promotion quest in Monster Hunter World, it was the worst except that you rescued animals by burning them.

    I‘ve always felt that Roblox and Minecraft kinda kills a kid’s motivation to actively gain an interest in video games in general since they seem to never search out other titles. Like Tim‘s example pointed out, it’s a little disheartening (but interesting) to hear so much enthusiasm in what‘s basically fan mods than a desire to explore other games. Could be due to kids having no money, being more familiar with only free games, or just because it’s what their friends are playing I guess… Still makes me sad when I get my 12 year old nephew Dragonball FighterZ and he don't give a crap.

    @exodus I finished the Witcher 3 after 120 hours on it's hardest difficult in 4 months. And that was 3 years after it came out and false starting it about 5 times. I am having similar hesitation to play the DLC. It's definitely one of the best games of this generation, but you have to be in the mood to play it. The game presents itself as dense but the plot is fairly simple (you're a genetically enhanced super mercenary looking for work and his family, caught between warring states with supernatural doomsday creatures running amok). It's not as newcomer friendly as Zelda BotW, however it's mechanics are not as complicated as they seem. Once you get the overall flow and realize it's not an endless pile of Hostess snacks like an MMO, it's a great game to get absorbed into for a few months.
    One last thing - White Orchard is basically a tutorial zone. The enemies in the game do not scale (I returned late and crushed everything) so you can do everything there and never need to return. Plus you get some helpful items.

    P.S. I also hated GWENT at first but really liked it after mastering/breaking it. Should really only start playing after you get some good cards ala FFVIII. Have not played the stand alone GWENT game yet.

    Hmm, I am going to give it another try, but the things you‘re describing are actually parts that bother me. The story is very simple, but is full of surrounding flowery lore that I can pay attention to or discard, but either way it feels more like “extra” than it does something to dive into, likely because the simple story is not engaging me at all. I don’t care about any of the characters, and neither does the game (so far).

    The combat is just complicated enough to be boring to me. There are a lot of things you can do, but they're fiddly - there's a regular block and a magic block, and neither feels exciting to use, so I pushed the game down to easy and just hit the button to get it over with. I think there's just not a lot in this game that works for me as an individual human - I reckon it's a lot more fun if you like the lore, and maybe played prior games to care about geralt and what he's doing, and maybe find a way to read nuance into the fact that everyone hates you but needs you. It's probably also more fun if you find the combat engaging enough to play it on hard.

    Unfortunately I don't think those things are going to be me! but since many folks have requested it, I'll get back in there. I know I'm in a bad spot when the thing I'm enjoying the most is the bugs, so... I'll try to ignore those too.

    @Good points and I agree. Honestly the best parts of the game are the weird little stories you come across, but the backdrop eventually fills in as to why the world is in such a state. Geralt does seem to hate his job and I think his anti-hero perspective can make it difficult to care about what‘s going on too. I played the second game before it but I still had a hard time getting into the mood for 3. The combat is pretty floaty and it does require some study as you have to use the bestiary on harder difficulties to use the right offense and defense per boss fight. I guess when I really got into combat, which makes you study the bestiary, which makes you study the world, is when I began to enjoy it which is why I gave hard a shot. But again this proves the point of the barrier being too great as I had to force myself into it in order to appreciate it’s design.

    But yeah, if it don't taste good don't eat it right? For all of it's altruist motivations recommending something to death will lead to just that. Sure, you want other people to have a great time like you did but don't morph it into a blunt object to club them with 😄

    I'm gonna give it a go again, but I know my limits!!!