Ep. 298 - X-Commies, with Lucy James

# Ep. 298 - X-Commies, with Lucy James

Giant Bomb, Gamespot and [Friends Per Second’s](https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/friends-per-second/id1629844110) Lucy James joins the panel to cover video game convention panels, Oppenheimer, and getting Americans to care about 4X games. Hosted by Alex Jaffe, with Frank Cifaldi, Brandon Sheffield, and Lucy James. Edited by Esper Quinn, original music by Kurt Feldman.

**Questions this week:**

  • 1. Is there a meaningful distinction between a minigame and a game within a game? (07:25)
  • 2. How do you make a really big game without overwhelming players? (12:48)
  • 3. What are the practical reasons to set a video game in the post-apocalypse? (18:38)
  • 4. What are the pitfalls to avoid when organizing or participating in a video game panel? (22:02)
  • 5. The Adaptation Game: Adapt [Oppenheimer (2023)](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppenheimer_(film)) into a video game. (28:23)
    Insert Credit Quick Break: [Moonstone Island on Steam](https://store.steampowered.com/app/1658150/Moonstone_Island/) (35:52)
  • 6. Tom Arrow asks: What are video games that best exemplify tragedy, comedy and romance? (37:15)
  • 7. What kind of video games do Americans not care about, and is there a way to change that? (43:32)
  • 8. What is the “You couldn’t make Blazing Saddles today” of video games? (48:10)
  • **LIGHTNING ROUND:** GameFAQ&As - Mortal Kombat (53:43)

    Recommendations and Outro (57:25)


  • - [Super Mario Land](https://www.mobygames.com/game/4275/super-mario-land/)
  • - [Ace Attorney series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/5132/ace-attorney-gyakuten-saiban-series/)
  • - [Puyo Puyo~n](https://www.mobygames.com/game/12501/puyo-puyon/)
  • - [Captain Marvel (2019)](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Marvel_(film))
  • - [The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Super_Mario_Bros._Movie)
  • - [Kojima’s Twitter](https://twitter.com/HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN/status/1656454836840468482)
  • - [Resident Evil 4](https://www.mobygames.com/game/16373/resident-evil-4/)
  • - [Metal Gear Solid](https://www.mobygames.com/game/2511/metal-gear-solid/)
  • - [NieR series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/12322/nier-series/)
  • - [Yakuza / Ryū ga Gotoku series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/8208/yakuza-ryu-ga-gotoku-series/)
  • - [Virtua Fighter series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/351/virtua-fighter-series/)
  • - [BioShock](https://www.mobygames.com/game/29886/bioshock/)
  • - [Pipe Dream](https://www.mobygames.com/game/2112/pipe-dream/)
  • - [Save Room](https://www.mobygames.com/game/194665/save-room/)
  • - [Harmful Park](https://www.mobygames.com/game/29207/harmful-park/)
  • - [Stardew Valley](https://www.mobygames.com/game/80992/stardew-valley/)
  • - [Ōkami](https://www.mobygames.com/game/24246/okami/)
  • - [Sonic Frontiers](https://www.mobygames.com/game/194283/sonic-frontiers/)
  • - [Final Fantasy XV](https://www.mobygames.com/game/82135/final-fantasy-xv/)
  • - [Evony: The King's Return](https://www.mobygames.com/game/147164/evony-the-kings-return/)
  • - [The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom](https://www.mobygames.com/game/203119/the-legend-of-zelda-tears-of-the-kingdom/)
  • - [The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker](https://www.mobygames.com/game/8725/the-legend-of-zelda-the-wind-waker/)
  • - [Dreams](https://www.mobygames.com/game/141439/dreams/)
  • - [Roblox](https://www.mobygames.com/game/74075/roblox/)
  • - [Fallout games](https://www.mobygames.com/group/557/fallout-games/)
  • - [Warriors of the Wasteland (1983)](https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084424/)
  • - [Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983)](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exterminators_of_the_Year_3000)
  • - [Pitfall series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/964/pitfall-series/)
  • - [Nvidia Broadcast can now deepfake your eyes to make you look at the camera](https://www.theverge.com/2023/1/12/23552606/nvidia-broadcast-1-4-eye-contact-ai-generation-webcam)
  • - [Leisure Suit Larry series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/6/leisure-suit-larry-series/)
  • - [Monkey Island series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/1/monkey-island-series/)
  • - [Budweiser Frogs](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budweiser_Frogs)
  • - [Pepsiman](https://www.mobygames.com/game/32237/pepsiman/)
  • - [Oppenheimer (2023)](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppenheimer_(film))
  • - [Curran Walters](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curran_Walters)
  • - [Batman Begins (2005)](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_Begins)
  • - [Fallout Shelter](https://www.mobygames.com/game/73456/fallout-shelter/)
  • - [X-COM series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/76/x-com-series/)
  • - [Game of Thrones](https://www.mobygames.com/game/73908/game-of-thrones/)
  • - [The Godfather: The Game](https://www.mobygames.com/game/21586/the-godfather-the-game/)
  • - [Cyberpunk 2077](https://www.mobygames.com/game/128136/cyberpunk-2077/)
  • - [The Sims 4](https://www.mobygames.com/game/69077/the-sims-4/)
  • - [Peter Molyneux](https://www.theverge.com/22832188/peter-molyneux-22cans-gala-nft-blockchain-business-simulator-game-interview)
  • - [David Cage](https://kotaku.com/david-cages-quantic-dreams-accused-of-being-a-toxic-wor-1822068440)
  • - [Omikron: The Nomad Soul](https://www.mobygames.com/game/1431/omikron-the-nomad-soul/)
  • - [Detroit: Become Human](https://www.mobygames.com/game/105139/detroit-become-human/)
  • - [Elder Scrolls series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/125/elder-scrolls-series/)
  • - [Ribbit King](https://www.mobygames.com/game/14482/ribbit-king/)
  • - [There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension](https://www.mobygames.com/game/149044/there-is-no-game-wrong-dimension/)
  • - [The Stanley Parable](https://www.mobygames.com/game/62249/the-stanley-parable/)
  • - [Disco Elysium](https://www.mobygames.com/game/136046/disco-elysium/)
  • - [Football Manager series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/3617/football-manager-series/)
  • - [FIFA Manager series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/4476/total-club-manager-fifa-manager-series/)
  • - [Pro Evolution Soccer / Winning Eleven / eFootball series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/1110/pro-evolution-soccer-winning-eleven-efootball-series/)
  • - [Diner Dash](https://www.mobygames.com/game/22237/diner-dash/)
  • - [Tapper](https://www.mobygames.com/game/298/tapper/)
  • - [FarmVille](https://www.mobygames.com/game/47268/farmville/)
  • - [Train Simulator series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/12808/train-simulator-series/)
  • - [PowerWash Simulator](https://www.mobygames.com/game/188039/powerwash-simulator/)
  • - [Lawn Mowing Simulator](https://www.mobygames.com/game/169178/lawn-mowing-simulator/)
  • - [Animal Crossing series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/4468/animal-crossing-series/)
  • - [Wall Street Kid](https://www.mobygames.com/game/14528/wall-street-kid/)
  • - [Blazing Saddles (1974)](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blazing_Saddles)
  • - [Everything](https://www.mobygames.com/game/85799/everything/) (game)
  • - [Everything](https://www.voidtools.com/support/everything/) (windows software)
  • - [You Need a Budget](https://app.youneedabudget.com/)
  • - [Bubsy series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/794/bubsy-series/)
  • - [Gex series](https://www.mobygames.com/group/152/gex-series/)
  • - [Blasto](https://www.mobygames.com/game/4392/blasto/)
  • - [Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude!](https://www.mobygames.com/game/13346/greendog-the-beached-surfer-dude/)
  • - [Normy's Beach Babe-O-Rama](https://www.mobygames.com/game/39975/normys-beach-babe-o-rama/)
  • - [Pirates of the Caribbean](https://www.mobygames.com/game/9613/pirates-of-the-caribbean/)
  • - [Batman Begins](https://www.mobygames.com/game/18804/batman-begins/)
  • - [Batman Begins](https://www.mobygames.com/game/22685/batman-begins/)
  • - [Cool Spot](https://www.mobygames.com/game/682/cool-spot/)
  • - [Grimace's Birthday](https://www.grimacesbirthday.com/)
  • **Recommendations:**
    **Frank**: [Everything](https://www.voidtools.com/support/everything/), send your full video game interviews to the [Video Game History Foundation](https://gamehistory.org/)
    **Brandon:** [Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster](https://kimimithegameeatingshemonster.com/), try using your own website for once if you’re one of the people who make [Ko-fi](https://ko-fi.com/)
    **Lucy**: [The New York Times Mini Crossword](https://www.nytimes.com/crosswords/game/mini), [The Design Behind Immortality's Occult Secrets](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJwcxe3UgTc), [JeffJeff's Bizarre Adventure S03E01: Oh, those aren't bullets](https://www.giantbomb.com/shows/s03e01-oh-those-arent-bullets/2970-22391/free-podcast), [Baldur’s Gate 3 boss on Xbox Series S and “Redefining The RPG” I Friends Per Second Episode #26](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeLK8Wc-zPY&list=PLbcyJSeTLtlwyCd8BWh0iFvhJzmn9B6NN&index=1&pp=iAQB)

    This week’s Insert Credit Show is brought to you by [Moonstone Island on Steam](https://store.steampowered.com/app/1658150/Moonstone_Island/), and [patrons like you](https://www.patreon.com/insertcredit). Thank you.

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    On the topic of those mobile F2P games like Evony and whatever, Gerstmann covered this amazingly-titled game on his podcast last week:



    "Yeah! You Want “Those Games,” Right? So Here You Go! Now, Let’s See You Clear Them!"

    Crazy that you are all reaching episode #300 soon. Is there anything special planned for that episode?

    Purely for the syllabic mouth-feel: Oppenheimer Damacy.

    Gotta build a town? Roll up those materials. Gotta get enough uranium? Scour the land and roll it up into a ball. Gotta deliver the bomb? Roll it, but don't bump it!

    @“◉◉maru”#p126474 yes but only jaffe knows what it is.

    @“Shaneus”#p126472 yah, I think we had this in the simple series thread as well - it's D3 being properly D3 again which is nice!

    @“◉◉maru”#p126474 I‘ll tell you this: we’re going to spend the entire episode answering one question.

    Re: practical reasons to set a game in the post-apocalypse

    The first thing that came to mind for me was that from a storytelling perspective, that setting jettisons a lot of annoying plot considerations that you would have to make if you allowed your characters access to modern technology.

    In so many recent movies - horror movies especially - the plot will have to contort in a way to justify why the characters are unable to use their phones, either as a means of communication or as a means to look things up. Among the films that came out last year with contemporary settings, most seemed to opt to either get their characters away from their phones ASAP ( _Bodies Bodies Bodies_, _Fire Island_, _The Menu_, _Triangle of Sadness_, etc.) or to make their film comment on technology in some way (_Kimi_, _Tár_, _Do Revenge_, etc)

    The nice thing about a post-apocalyptic setting or a fantasy setting is that you have a lot more control over what means are available for the character to problem-solve with, as there is only as much technology/magic/etc as you want there to be


    @“esper”#p126461 What is the “You couldn’t make Blazing Saddles today” of video games? (48:10)

    Earthworm Jim, and I suspect nobody believes this more strongly than the developers who keep announcing new Earthworm Jim games that never come out


    What are the practical reasons to set a video game in the post-apocalypse? (18:38)

    In a few years, you can repackage it and sell it again as a contemporary game!


    The Adaptation Game: Adapt Oppenheimer (2023) into a video game. (28:23)

    "_Pour some garbage on me_"-style puzzle game in which you try to build up nuclear bombs and shelters before the Nazi camp on the other side. Some of the pieces are bomb-related, offensive-minded. The other pieces are shelter-related, defensive-minded. The bomb pieces need to be packed up ("assembled") neatly, Puzzle Fighter-style, while the shelter pieces need to connect into a large, uninterrupted structure to prevent enemy bombs from reaching your core.

    It’s some mix between Cleopatra Fortune, Puzzle Bomber and Puzzle Fighter. We’ll call it something cute like Pop!’N’Heimer.


    What kind of video games do Americans not care about, and is there a way to change that? (43:32)

    ~~Nope~~ Maybe make a riveting Netflix series about The Ashes during a pandemic, F1-style.


    What is the “You couldn’t make Blazing Saddles today” of video games? (48:10)

    I was reading on the topic to understand where this _cliché_ argument comes from in the first place, and if [this Google-recommended rant is to be trusted](https://www.reddit.com/r/CharacterRant/comments/n9f3cz/shut_the_fuck_up_about_how_you_couldnt_make/), you would need a game that does not serve a point anymore because the context in which it was beneficial to culture and society is moot, and only the racist stuff which was commented upon is left to be digested without context.

    I think the closest we have is the original Colonization (1994). It was originally an interesting, thoughtful and genuinely educational riff on Sid Meier’s Civilization – itself a game which is conceived very differently today than it was 30 years ago. The game was most likely profiting from a regain of interest in world explorers following the 1992 ~~bi~~quincentennial celebration of Columbus – himself a much more controversial figure in US pop culture nowadays.

    There is absolutely no way a contemporary game company, as mainstream as Microprose was in 1994, would design and release a game like Colonization nowadays. The game design would change significantly to reflect on the horrors and impact of colonization on other cultures. The goal of the game would likely be completely different. The morals and winning conditions as well. Etc. You couldn’t make Microprose’s Colonization today.

    damn, I should have put “Come listen, m’lord” in the episode description

    @“◉◉maru”#p126500 that's a good pull and you can even see them abandon concepts present in older civ games like slavery because of how dicey it is. I vaguely remember hearing an interview Soren Johnson or another past Civ person that they were considering having terrorism as a mechanic in a game until 9/11.

    Also, it's Quincentennial for 500 instead of Bicentennial for 200. But I'm not particularly fond of that word since quince means 15 in Spanish so it makes me think 1500.

    Lucy was great she should come back again.

    @“Jonks”#p126523 My bad! I mistook it with the bicentenary of the French Revolution which was a huge deal in my childhood three years before the 1492→1992 thing.

    So I joined in part to respond to the answer about comedy, tragedy, and romance. Short answer: the “romance” genre in plays has a big messaging problem.

    The best alternate term for a "romance" play is _adventure_, not _love story_. I don't fault Brandon or Lucy going to "love story," given what romance means in present-day terms. However, Shakespeare's late plays (_Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, The Two Noble Kinsmen_) were called romances because they resembled medieval romances, or adventure stories with a lot of travel (including rudderless ships and shipwrecks), individual struggles (getting back a throne, growing up, trying to find your family), occasions for humor, magic, knights, and other elements. The medieval romances were a huge influence on what became the "hero's journey" and the modern fantasy/sci-fi template.

    The closest comparison between a romance play and games is arguably the JRPG, which features a lot of travel (including rudderless ships and airshipwrecks), individual struggles (getting back a throne, growing up, trying to find your family), occasions for humor, magic, knights, and other elements. A Roberta Williams game would also be a good fit, as would, well, many big blockbuster games. I'd almost argue that whereas you'd have to stretch comedy or tragedy to fit video games, many video games fit the old romance model.

    I liked the rest of the answer, especially Stanley Parable as an example of comedy and Yoko Taro games as tragedies.

    @“TaliesinMerlin”#p126537 I feel like the ultimate comedy game, and the one everybody was dancing around by saying “procedurally generated humor, but situational, and set up properly, and not dialogue based, but intentional” is just QWOP. QWOP is the ultimate comedy game.

    @“◉◉maru”#p126500 This is a great pull, and makes me think a lot about Victoria series, which I love and has really rethought how it's portrayed the non-europeans in the Victorian era to much success. A huge part of the game is the Scramble for Africa and Westernization, which in the past, much of the map was depicted as basically “open land” and would use words like “primitive” or “uncivilized” to depict the peoples who lived there. In practice, in-game colonizers could just take whatever they wanted at no consequence and if any territorial battles happened, they were with other european nations over stolen land.


    But Victoria 3 which came out last year improved this with a new mechanic of "[decentralized nations](https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/developer-diary/victoria-3-dev-diary-33-decentralized-nations.1509966/)" and is universally seen as improving this mechanic tremendously. No matter where an empire tries to colonize, someone already lives there, and the further you encroach and start colonizing, the more likely the decentralized nation will start a war of resistance or independence.


    It's always going to be a little dicey to model real historical tribal organizations into a game environment, and especially one where the core of the game deals with western european expansionism. That said, I'm glad games don't shy away from it, because I do think these games have the ability to inspire people to become more educated about history. Blank spots on the map are a wasted opportunity. I know I'm not the only one who goes on wikipedia or listens to university lectures or podcasts about history while I play ([Paradox even started selling that stuff as dlc](https://store.steampowered.com/app/2412251/Europa_Universalis_IV_Japan_History_Lessons/)). Plus I have fun doing things like [creating a utopian pan african socialist democracy](https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/506-archived-2022-the-thread-in-which-we-talk-about-games-we-are-currently-playing/3328) that staves off colonizers.

    Something about the Barbie/Oppenheimer thing really bums me out. I can‘t even explain why. It makes me want to crawl into a hole where new movies don’t happen

    Jaffe saying no world map bigger than Wind Waker‘s makes me wonder if there’s an ideal ratio between over world size and dungeon size.

    @“Mnemogenic”#p126555 It might have something to do with glorifying a billion dollar corporate product and a real-life senselessly devastating historical tragedy at the same time. That's what bothers me, at least.