Wednesday, February 1, 2012

EXP Podcast #158: Listener Mail!

This week's podcast is brought to you! We solicited questions from readers and listeners and received a great batch of topics. We touch upon a huge variety of issues, including region locking, games with historical settings, and the different approaches to games criticism. This was a fun show to record and we'd like to do it again, so keep those questions coming via email, twitter, or singing telegram. Thanks for your questions and thanks for listening!

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 39 min 50 sec
- Krystian Majewski on Mass Effect and Batman: Arkham Asylum
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. Loved the discussion on Visual novels, it's an interesting genre precisely because mostly, they are 'bad games', complicated niche isn't it. Also, hotel dusk is a little bad, it's just hard to suggest titles as many don't come to the west officially. Interesting question, can a 'genre' be bad itself. And if it is, is that simply because of too narrow a genre definition.

    I suppose the best visual novels are those who use their few choices to tell a good story but allow you to get invested in it. 999 is a good example of this actually... But 999 is amazing for the genre in general.

    Also, really enjoyed the show, look forward to harassing with more questions!

  2. Thank you for answering my question.

    Mentioning screenshots, videos etc probably detracts from what I was trying to say. I feel that few game writers evidence their opinions (in a worded explanation), never mind the diagrams or screenshots. In this light, I think there are mainstream outlets that provide real insight in their reviews like EDGE and, on occasion, Eurogamer. They don't go out to the extent of Krystian Majewski (thanks for that link), explaining everything in detail, but they have clear proof which validates what they say.

    To take what I said in the email. If writers were to actually try to evidence their claims, surely they'd have more skepticism for a game like Uncharted 3 which has has severe gameplay bugs, game elements aren't introduced and developed properly (hand-to-hand combat, gas canisters, riot shields...) and set-piece gimmicks that don't affect play (sand, a boat flipping over). It doesn't take video, screen shots and diagrams to notice these things.

    On the other things you mentioned, I can understand the concern of analysing something in a game and getting the analysis wrong...which then totally debunks everything you've written. I've done this a few times myself, but, I don't think that writers should fear it. Quite the opposite. It's in the process of looking for answers where writers find the insight that makes them critics/serious writers.

    A friend of mine wrote a great article on the diminishing the magic topic here

    On Shadow of the Colossus, I agree that it can be hard to link the subjective (feelings) and objective (the game system), because that link is our abstract interpretation. But we can still do it, we just don't need to go into too much detail that's when we start talking about how the brain interprets things, etc.

    On Uncharted 3, I agree that bad design doesn't necessarily mean that we can't enjoy or respect a game.

  3. If you like economics and NPR, I definitely recommend the Planet Money podcast.

  4. As always a very nice podcast. I too listen to This American Life, and Freakonomics. Both are perfect for my walks to class. Though since I focus more on tabletop RPGs than computer games (though more Play by Post than anything live) I just wanted to bump Postcards From the Dungeon and Happy Jacks RPG Podcast, since these cover lots of interesting topics (the former in particular) that relate to gaming in general, such as storyline, characters, mechanics, etc...