Massively OP Podcast Episode 185: PAX West crud

    
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On this week’s show, Larry joins Bree and Justin to give his first-hand report on PAX West 2018! As the trio goes over highlights from the show, they also discuss Star Citizen’s major misstep, the latest Steam MMO debuts, Final Fantasy XIV’s possible next expansion, and more!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

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Celestia
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Celestia

Fun and informative episode! Thanks!

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NeoWolf

Conan Exiles is a class act, I don’t know if you have watched any of the monthly twitch streams they have done during development Larry? But the Creative director Joel Bylos is super passionate about the project and conan in general and keeping the look and feel etc.. true to the source, while making a game with systems that work, are fun and make sense.

He is very much the kind of person you want to be handling an i.p based games creation as he does it with utmost respect and good sense as a fan of said i.p.

Also glad i’m not the only one who thought no romances in Anthem was wierd I mean Bioware pretty much invented the notion of Romance storyline in computer RPGs… not having any just seems off..

Xijit
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Xijit

Sorry, I have a bias because I love mech games and find lobby shooters fun … So I am excited by what the devs are saying about Anthem and hopeful that it won’t turn into another Disappointment like Destiny … But, dude, wtf:

“I am disappointed by what I heard about the game, that I skipped most of the panels for.”

And

“it is gonna have seasonal stories where stuff happens & half of the story sets up the next season, but I didn’t get it and they wouldn’t say what the story was about.”

(A) what, you want them dropping plot spoilers 6 months before the game shipps? They have already shown off the combat & given the game world setting … What more are you hoping for at this point? The deves themselves are probably frustrated that they didn’t have much more they could say, but the game is still half a year out!

(B) So, like … EXACTLY WHAT EPIC HAS BEEN DOING WITH THE BATTLE PASS SEASONS IN FORTNIGHT?!?!? How is this hard to understand: each season has a series of themed events & half way through the season they start dropping hints as to what the next theme is going to be … Add in Bioware plot writing instead of golfing ninjas & mission chains instead of weekly challenge lists, then shake and bake.

I don’t get it … You guys were so down on this idea, and it sounded like your main complaint was that you wouldn’t have dialogue trees that effect the plot, yet constantly praise GW2 for its living world content & exactly how much influence do players have over the plot in that (or any MMO now that we are on the topic).

So … It is a PvE centric online lobby shooter, with MMO-lite elements, 3rd person shooter combat with mecha power armor, open world zones combined with instanced mission, cosmetic only cash shop, no DLC, and an ongoing plot structure that continuously adds in seasonal content storylines.

What the hell else are you looking for from this game if awesome ass gameplay (I would be doubtful on this point since the game isnt out, EXCEPT THEY HAVE BEEN SHOWING OFF THE GAMEPLAY SINCE THEY ANNOUNCED IT) and monetization that doesn’t paywall content (Titanfall already did it & Fortnight is knocking it out of the park with the same concept, so I highly doubt this is a lie) is disappointing to you?

Larry Everett
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Larry Everett

I hate GW2 living story, and many of us were down on it when it started. Personally, I never played it again although some did like it and returned when more living story happened.

I like BioWare games because of the level of agency that the storylines give the players. I’ve never played a BioWare game because it had awesome gameplay. I like the gameplay in many BioWare games, but it’s never been the main draw for me.

As for the part about the spoilers? No, I don’t want spoilers, but I would like to have a trailer that features story, telling us what we are in for. Who’s fighting whom? What is the motivation? Where did the player character come from, but they said that the player character doesn’t really have a backstory in the panel. They said it was all about the characters that the player meets.

As for that gameplay, they didn’t have it on the show floor. We are 6 months from launch and the only people outside of BioWare who have touched the game are a select few people. By this time in SWTOR’s history, we had played through the starter worlds and one complete dungeon. We had also the stories surrounding nearly every class and seen gameplay footage of Tatooine and Black Talon. We had all that, and still no spoilers. And this was an IP that people were already invested into.

Anthem has given us one pre-scripted panel and about 15 minutes of gameplay. And it’s a world that does not have a pre-existing fanbase.

Look, if it’s the kind of gameplay you like, I don’t fault you for wanting it to be good, and I don’t fault you for being excited about it. I am just very disappointed.

And to be perfectly clear, I didn’t ‘skip’ the one-and-only press-panel. I couldn’t attend because other groups were faster at returning appointment times. I did ask for an opportunity to meet with them at another time, but BioWare said that it just wasn’t possible.

Xijit
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Xijit

Admittedly: no, it is not a real hands on demo with real players, playing the game … But it is real in game gameplay & not some CGI cinematic.

As for the setting: Humans VS Alien monsters, fighting over lost mystical ruins in the ruins of a Post Apocalyptic Earth … Pretty generic Sci-Fi setting, and yes very much so camping in Destiny’s back yard, but the visuals are cool & it leaves lots of room to add in new factions and lore.

And as for the PC’s backstory being unimportant / nonexistent: that fits with a setting that you are more of a grunt than some world saving hero that was chosen by the gods.

Xijit
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Xijit

LoL, I posted this too soon and then ran out of Edit time for the additional points I kept thinking of … I hate to say it but I don’t think the Bioware you like actually exiests anymore: the branching storylines & myth that your actions effect the ending (lets be honest: the nost that actually ever changes is what boss you fight) & gratuitous puppet sex are expensive, time consuming, and have a pretty consistent track record of not commercially paying off (they have not worked for EA & Bioware never would have even been sold to EA in the first place if they were actually a good ROI when they were independent)

Yeah, they are highly valued by both fans and critics, but at the end of the day: not a single Bioware title has sold right since EA bought them. Inquisition was about the only game they have put out that wasn’t meet with hyberbolic fan outrage, but even then it didn’t hit the sales numbers that EA was looking for to justify the development price tag.

So now out with the old and in with the new … But the new just happens to be kinda old and trusty: EA’s proven experience with online shooter gameplay, with EA’s top of the line visuals, and a less “ambitious” game world combined with a uncomplicated plot.

It is a much less cerebrally complex title, and most of the hallmark Bioware elements are seemingly absent … But I am also just fine with them not having much to talk about as far as game world details being the biggest issue with the gane right now VS Andromeda’s psycho eyed NPCs and the art director spouting misandry on twitter + refusing to include white character creation options into the game.

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McGuffn

TBH when I look at anthem, and based on what we know about it, I see them making the same mistakes they made with SWTOR, which some of the swtor devs have elaborated on just recently.

As for “the story not affecting the game” it’s too soon to say that it is a bad thing. It could be an indication that they’re having a large component of story that Bioware’s known for, which exists rather independently of the online bits. But I wouldn’t get my hopes up for that.

Cheer up though, Anthem will probably be big on social justice for androids or something.

Xijit
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Xijit

Pretty sure they purged all of Bioware’s “Warriors” after the insanity & bigotry they inflicted on ME:A, and then flat fired anyone else who wouldn’t consent to a social media ball gag after the Battlefront 2 holocaust … Interwebs have been full of crickets as far as leaks and developer dumbfuckery from EA.

Larry Everett
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Larry Everett

I stand corrected: It was 30-minutes, not 15.

And I wasn’t asking for the PC to be important; I asked for agency, which Wikipedia defines: “Agency is the capacity of an actor to act in a given environment.” It means the PC’s ability to affect his world, instead of the world affecting him. And if the decisions have no effect or don’t really matter, then there is little to no agency. This can make the story very passive and boring.

Xijit
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Xijit

I actually wasn’t sure if you had seen that because the initial gameplay “reveal” was that atrocious one with actors trying to adlib gamer speak, and that one was close to 15 minutes, but half of that was the CGI walk through the village + shitty NPC interactions. I was also trying to commiserate with you on the fact that this games plot is clearly going to be “see space monster; shoot space monster” and what little plot is just going to be contextual framing for mission objectives & seasonal thematics on new cash shop skins.

Which works for me, but I do now get where your disappointment is coming from: I was never a fan of Bioware because the mix of “custom PC + scripted story” ended up feeling like it failed as both an open world RPG (which the custom character is good at) and as a scripted narrative since the custom PC being devoid of an established character role undermined the plot. Then at the end of them, all your “personal decisions” add to an underwhelming coin flip ending with everything you did amounted to fuck all nothing but 1 of three options where you get either the super good guy ending where everyone is happy, the sorta bad guy ending where all of your villainy is explained as being an enforcer of justice, or the indifferent ending where everyone dies and the world is miserable.

In the end I felt like all their games turned into sidekick simulators where the real protagonist was your NPC companions, and the gameplay devolved into them asking their sidekick (you) for advice and then making a decision based on how you advise them … And from there you just tagged along on their story & made sure theu didn’t get themselves killed.

So to me, Bioware getting reformatted into a cinematic top heavy action game company is no big deal, but I do get where the fans of them would find the whole deal sacrilegious.

Larry Everett
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Larry Everett

Then at the end of them, all your “personal decisions” add to an underwhelming coin flip ending with everything you did amounted to fuck all nothing but 1 of three options where you get either the super good guy ending where everyone is happy, the sorta bad guy ending where all of your villainy is explained as being an enforcer of justice, or the indifferent ending where everyone dies and the world is miserable.

YouTube the Dragon Age Origins endings sometimes. There are a LOT of choices in that game. Also, Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 were originally built without EA oversight, they were commercial successes and actually made a name for BioWare as much as KOTOR (which also had a lot of different agency-granting choices, btw.)

I believe that EA wanted BioWare because of its success and promised BioWare a larger reach. And what creator wouldn’t want a larger reach or a bigger team to create? But BioWare under EA faltered like many other highly creative studios before them.

And I know that you’re not selling me on the amazing depth of the story of Anthem, but BioWare is. If BioWare was upfront saying: “We have decided to put less story in this one; let’s see how it goes.” Then I can’t say that I would like it, but I wouldn’t be as disappointed in what they are trying to deliver. But they can’t do that because story is built into their DNA, just read the core values of the company some time.

Xijit
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Xijit

It is possible to have great stories without dialogue trees … It is actually easier to set up a quality narrative that way as you dont have to rewrite the plot mutiple times in order to present mutiple personality playthroughs. The illusion of character choice gets removed, but that really only matters when you have the option of failing an objective and PvE lobby shooters have little consideration for that: you just reload till you get it right.

I was never a fan of Bioware even before EA & the only thing I saw that had changed because of it is that they had even more money to piss away on a repetitive formula and that fans decided to rip off their rose colored lenses in outrage that “Evil Arts” was defiling their precious infatuation.

Larry Everett
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Larry Everett

You didn’t read BioWare’s core values. Otherwise, you see that just telling a good story breaks from those values.

And if you weren’t a fan of BioWare before EA, then I can see why your frame of reference is off.

Xijit
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Xijit

Bioware’s core values have always been “Sell shit and make money” … Everything else is flavor text.

I really do not intend to insult, but that usually is what happens when you preface a statement with that …

“Trying to tell a BioWare fan that you do not like BioWare games is like trying to tell a Pothead that you don’t like weed: no matter what you say they just don’t listen and keep insisting that you just haven’t been educated enough.”

Dude, I have followed Bioware since the day Interplay announced that a no-name medical simulation company run by two doctors was making the next great D&D RPG … I have tried every single one of their games & grueled through several all the way to the end in search of a shred of the “greatness” that every fanatic with rose colored shades preaches of, and I have never found it.

You are not going to enlighten me some new way to get high off BioWare, because I am already well educated on the subject matter and I have a lifetime of RPG experience starting with the D&D goldboxes.

Good writing does not equate to good storytelling & Bioware’s attempts to stuff formless character choice inside of a static plot progression has resulted in some of the worst, most fundamentally undermined, and ultimately boring story telling I have ever tried to suffer through for the sake of appeasing pop culture peer pressure that these ham fisted sidekick simulators are the RPG holy land.

You do you, and that is fine …but I am gonna do me, and me is sheding no tears that EA has gotten sick of letting Bioware piss away their money on smashing 16 personality types into 3 plot progression rails (with immaculate writing) & then having no one buy the game because the character animations look like demented marionettes.

I’ll extend an olive branch, because I know how it feels to have something you love shut down, and say that I am quite sure BioWare will return to their conventional game design format after Anthem … Unless Anthem goes to shit because of impotent fanboi rage, and then the studio is getting shut down for sure.

… And continuing to shit all over what is shaping up to be a technically solid online PVE co-op title (and lord knows we need as many of those as we can get) just because you are disgruntled that they are not making “your type of game” is a reall good way to ensure that the latter is what happens.

P.S. I really do not intend insult or ill will: I quite enjoy spirited bickering of perspectives on game design.

Larry Everett
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Larry Everett

You still didn’t read the core values. If you’re not even willing to entertain the perspective of the other party, there is no discussion. It’s just two people shouting into the wind. At that point, it’s probably best to end the discussion. So thanks for the banter, maybe we will come back to this another day.

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McGuffn

Bioware’s games were never open world rpgs. Their later ones were certainly closest since the games actually had “open” worlds but the story was tightly controlled and entirely scripted. Character creation was a cosmetic choice. You couldn’t choose to not be Revan or Shepard or a grey warden or an inquisitor.

Xijit
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Xijit

but then end effect of jamming that character creator into a scripted plot & compounding it with the illusion that you had unlimited control over your character’s personality resulted in a static plot where the main character is effectively devoid of any personality & incapable of anything excpet to agree or disagree with the prompts supplied by your NPC companion.

And that is just a shitty story to me.

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McGuffn

The only time I was ever under the illusion that you had unlimited control of your character’s personality let alone the character itself was in the overly long pre release hype for Origins. The shipped game bore little resemblance to the promotion years prior.

However, in many of the games your character certainly had personality, and had more to do than to disagree with the companions. I don’t even like the way Bioware constructs their games, and I can still see you’re selling them short.

As for Anthem, it will be interesting to see if and how they avoid the Trahaern problem GW2 had. Given how ham handed the company has dealt with the game so far, I doubt they will.

Xijit
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Xijit

Please, please, please, please do one of this as a vlog-show … Using face tracking software!

https://store.steampowered.com/app/274920/FaceRig/

Larry Everett
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Larry Everett

I’m down for it, but only if I get to be the hamburger :-P

Xijit
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Xijit

Id be more amused if all of you were busty anime girls.

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Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

The world cannot handle 60-minutes of my alternately face-palming and jibbering excitedly as an animated jawa.