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Twenty Sided @ Pax, Part 2 – TRANSCRIPT

By Shamus
on Friday Sep 10, 2010
Filed under:
Video Games


Here is part 2 of my interview with Josh and Mumbles about their last day at PAX. Once again, huge thanks goes to reader Gale for putting this together. Transcribing nearly 55 minutes of conversation is a lot of work.

S: Hi everybody, I’m Shamus.

J: I’m Josh.

M: And I’m Mumbles.

S: And we’re talking about Josh and Mumbles’ day 3 at PAX, their last day there. We’re going to talk about some of the games that they saw. I did not go, so I’m going to be hearing about this stuff for the first time as well. Great! So, how did the third day go for you guys? Did you see a lot of cool stuff? Before we get into this list of games, I’m just curious as to how the day 3 went.

J: Day 3 was, uh… Line day. Day 3 was the day that we buckled down, and decided “OK, we’ll actually stand in lines for stuff, now”. Because the other two days we’ve been kind of avoiding that as much as we could. “Well, this line is more than twenty minutes long, we’ll just go do something else.”

S: So you were done cherry-picking, and it was time to really get to the popular stuff?

M: Right.

S: Let’s talk about New Vegas. You guys saw that?

J: Actually, yeah, we saw that on Saturday, and I didn’t mention it in my day one post- er, not Saturday, we saw that on Friday.

M: Friday, right.

J: Wow, this is all very confusing several days after the fact. Yeah, we’re recording this after PAX is over, so we’ve had time to rest up, and have all the days mash together in our heads. So I saw that on Friday, and I didn’t talk about it in the Friday post because I had a picture of that giant dinosaur with the New Vegas sign, but it came out all blurry, and I was stupid and didn’t take an extra one. So we went back on Saturday, got a new picture, and then put that in Mumbles’ post.

M: Josh got to play it, but they didn’t have it for the PC, they only had it for the 360.

J: Yeah, so that was like… I couldn’t figure out how to crouch, so I couldn’t sneak around and be ridiculous like that. And I couldn’t figure out how to enter VATS, so I couldn’t abuse the damage reduction. So it was pretty much like Reginald Cuftbert without all of the funny ridiculous shit I could do.

M: I took a seat next to this girl, and I was talking to her, and then I look up, and Josh is running into a pen of rams, that were being used for farming, or whatever.

J: Bison, yeah.

M: And he’s just shooting them, and killing them, and blowing stuff up…

J: I couldn’t find anything to kill, and I didn’t want to take the next thirty minutes trying to do a quest. So I took out the biggest gun that I had – which was the machine gun-grenade launcher that you might’ve seen in promotional footage – and I was like, “Alright, time to kill shit.” So I just walked off in a direction, and there were bison, so I was like “OK.” And then I missed, because the 360 controller is so bad at aiming…

M: He got into a conversation with someone, and didn’t know how to end the conversation, so he just started shooting him!

S: You can shoot in dialogue?

J: No, I did manage to end the conversation, but I told him I was going to kill him. What happened was, I decided initially that I would try to play through some kind of quest, and I talked to this dude who apparently the character I was playing had talked to before, and I guess they’d persuaded him that he should be mayor. So he sent me to kill this other guy, who I guess was sheriff, or mayor, or something… I went to the other guy’s… He was in some kind of gas station on a hill, which, spoilers, Las Vegas doesn’t have any hills. I live here, there are no hills like that.

S: Meticulously researched.

J: Yeah. Unless you’re talking about the mountains, but… So I went to his gas station, and he freaked out, and I was like “You better not miss when you shoot me.” I figured that would be the initial hostile action, “you’re gonna try and kill me”, but then he went “Oh, I’m sorry,” so I was like “What the fuck?” So… I went talking to him, and I decided to tell him that the guy had hired me to kill him, and he should watch out, and then I got bored and couldn’t leave the conversation, so I just said I was going to kill him. And then I missed with my plasma rifle three times.

M: Typical Josh gameplay.

S: Yeah, that really sounds a lot like Fallout 3, then.

J: It is exactly like Fallout 3. I mean, the graphics, the gameplay, it’s just Fallout 3.

M: That’s what Josh said! He turned to me, and went, “It’s Fallout 3!” And I’m like, “OK…”

J: It’s like a big mod, with voice acting, for Fallout 3.

S: But even during our series, we said that would be cool, if they had all this stuff, just tighten up all the broken parts of the combat, and just get some better writing. Those were our priorities, for Fallout. And I know it’s probably hard for you to judge the writing, based on playing for fifteen minutes on a noise show floor, but does that really give you a picture of the plot?

J: Yeah, there was no frame of reference for the plot at all. I was dropped in the middle of a town, and I had no idea what was going on. It wasn’t even the beginning of the game, I just picked up the controller and the character was standing in a town. You don’t have to worry, it looks absolutely nothing like a desert or Las Vegas, so if you guys were worried about some kind of super-historical, geographical representation of the Clark County area, you don’t have to be worried about that.

M: And instead of green text, now you have yellow text, so that’s nice.

J: Yeah, the default UI hue is now yellow.

S: Wow, see, a minute ago you were saying it was just a mod, and now you drop this bombshell on us about yellow text.

M: I know.

J: You could change the hue in Fallout 3…
S: Is there anything else to say about New Vegas? I mean, it sounds like we can’t really tell how it’s going to turn out, until it turns out.

J: Yeah, it’ll all be based on how competently Obsidian does not botch the ending. As they are apt to do.

M: Rocks fall, everyone dies.

S: Although, I’ll give them credit, Alpha Protocol did not have a horrible ending. I wouldn’t say it’s this incredible ending, where you’re going to dab your eyes, and it’s going to make you think or anything, it’s not going to talk about the human condition, but it was a decent ending to a bubblegum spy story.

J: Well, they were also working on Alpha Protocol for like, three years?

S: Yeah.

J: They had delayed it, so they’d have more time to finish stuff. And then it came out, and was still kinda buggy…

S: I do mourn for that title, it didn’t quite deserve the beating that it got, I think. It was a pretty good title. But I don’t want to talk about past titles, because we don’t have that much time, here! Alright, let’s talk about Portal 2, which is a title near and dear to my heart. This is probably one of the games I’ve been looking forward to.

M: I stood in line for it while Josh was in the line for Dragon Age 2, and actually, the line on Sunday was not long at all, which was really nice. Basically, they had the multiplayer, and there was one person from Valve playing the little blue robot, and an audience member playing the yellow robot. They showed a couple of funny movie clips, which they usually do for press stuff, and then they started playing the game. The thing that struck me about it was, it would be so easy to troll your friends, while playing this game, but I think that’s part of the point. “I’m going to make you fall infinitely, and then rocket you into a wall and have you fall into acid, and we can laugh about it, and then you’ll respawn, and it’ll be no big deal.”

S: Oh, because you can’t just restart the game, in multiplayer, so you get infinite respawns?

M: Yeah, you get infinite respawns.

S: That’s interesting, because that’ll impact how you design a puzzle. You can’t make a puzzle where you can just brute force your way through.

M: Well, think about it. If one person dies, and you have to start the whole level over again, it’s not fun anymore.

S: Yeah, that’d be horrible.

M: And if you’re playing with someone else, you want to kill them once in a while, just for laughs, y’know?

S: So how does it work with the portal guns? Does one of you get blue, and one of you get orange, or do you each get your own portal gun?

M: You each get your own portal gun.

S: But how can you tell who’s is who’s?

M: Well, they’re different colours. One is red and yellow, and the other is blue and violet, I think? Also, there’s a marker function, so you can tell your friend, “I need you to put a portal here”, by clicking with the marker function, and it’ll make a big eye, so the person can…

S: That’s clever. That’s exactly a feature you need for that kind of game. That is really smart.

M: And it’s super funny, like… There’s a “hug” taunt, so if you put the two robots together and press the button at the same time, they hug, which is really cute…

S: [Laughs]

M: And, at the end of each level, you reach the elevators, and GlaDOS say’s something to the effect of, “This isn’t a contest, but if it was a contest, Orange would be winning, but it’s not”, and she’ll keep saying stuff like that each time you get into the elevators. So you still have GlaDOS there, the robots are super cute and they love each other, and there’s lots of opportunities to troll your friends. And it looks really pretty, it’s a really pretty game. I don’t think people talk about that enough. Portal, especially Portal 2, it looks so freaking cool. It’s not…

S: Brown?

M: Exactly! It’s not in really drab colours, it’s really bright, it’s in a completely different colour palette… And as we all know, there are these really bright coloured gels that you can play around with. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

J: Yeah, we were actually talking about this, if you don’t mind me derailing this for a second. The footage we’ve seen of Portal 2 just looks way too good to be the Source engine. It has to be a new engine.

S: That’s true.

J: It explains what the hell is going on with Episode 3. They’re making a new engine, or seriously revamping Source engine, in a way they haven’t done before.

S: Right. Left 4 Dead used Source engine 2, sort of. There was a break in engine compatibility. You can’t import Left 4 Dead levels into Garry’s Mod. Even though Counterstrike: Source, Half Life: Source, Half Life 2, all it’s episodes, and Portal are all interchangeable in Garry’s Mod, there was this break in compatibility jumping to Left 4 Dead. So maybe they took that, and they built on that even more.

J: The Left 4 Dead engine changes weren’t significant. I think they added, like, real HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) and maybe some new lighting stuff like that. It didn’t seem like a huge change. But the stuff we’re seeing in Portal, like the gel, and especially the lighting looks a lot better than Left 4 Dead, or Left 4 Dead 2. It looks like they just tore the whole rendering engine out, and rebuilt it.

S: One of the things that struck me before PAX, was that Valve said they had three big announcements for PAX, and I was like “Alright, this is going to be really big.” I saw zero big announcements. I’ve been following the news, and I haven’t seen any of them.
M: Well.. There’s a rumour going around that they were going to announce Episode 3, but they didn’t because of Duke Nukem. It’s just a rumour, but a lot of people are saying it.

S: But that still leaves them two announcements short.

M: Well, unless they were playing with it… Three, three big announcements, right? Episode “3”. But Valve always does stuff like that. Valve always says they’re going to do one thing, and it’s always a troll into something else.

S: Right, they troll us. They’re griefing their own fans.

J: Yes, that’s true…

M: And the fans always love it. I love it. I think it’s hilarious.

S: I’m not against it, I don’t get angry at them. I am anxious about Episode 3, and I do rib them about it constantly, but I’m not filled with rage that we don’t have Episode 3. And I’m not filled with rage, like, “They lied to us, they broke their promise to us”. I understand that they’re just doing what they do.

M: Valve fans are very loyal, but they’re not afraid to joke around about how things are developed. We always say “Valve Time”, because Valve always does stuff really slowly, but I think we all understand the playfulness that the company has, and that it’s OK.

J: Yeah. It’s going to come up at the next big game show, I don’t know which one. Might be GDC. They’ll come up, and they’ll be all “OK! World of Half-Life!”

M/S: [Laughs]

J: So, you heard it here first: Valve MMO.

S: Please don’t.

M: Stop it. Stop. Just- stop it…

J: Every Valve fan would just commit suicide.

S: Y’know what, about that, though? I did not think I wanted Portal multiplayer. I thought “That’s kinda dumb, why are they wasting time on it?” And now that I’ve seen a bit of the footage, and heard it described, I’m excited for it. I mean, I’m looking forward to playing some Portal multiplayer with you guys.

M: Right.

S: It worked! It’s not a way I would’ve taken the game, but they were right and I was wrong. It’s a really good idea.

M: The guy doing the presentation said that, they’ve noticed a lot of people would be playing Portal on their couch, and someone sitting next to them would be helping them with the puzzles, and that was the first motivation for them to do co-op, because they wanted that person to be engaged, not just helping with the puzzles, but being a part of the puzzles.

S: Not just, “Look over there! No, over there! Put it up! No, a little higher!”

J: Didn’t they, like, shortly after Portal came out, and there was that initial “Why is this game not multiplayer?” They said that they’d experimented with multiplayer during development, and said that it was way worse than anyone thought it would be?

M: Yeah…

S: Right, I do kinda remember something like that. Maybe they needed to think on it for a while.

M: I heard it was, like, deathmatch Portal, where you have guns, and a portal gun, and that’d be kind of silly.

J: That’s one of the things I’m wondering about with Episode 3, because they keep hinting there might be Portal stuff in Half Life 2: Episode 3. And it’s like, portal gun with other guns? I don’t know if that’d work out…

M: They’re not hinting that there’s going to be Portal stuff in Episode 3, the fans are hinting that, and it’s translating into everyone thinking that Valve is hinting it. That is how Valve operates.

J: Well, you’ve got the Aperture Science ship at the…

M: The only hint is the… I guess there’s a couple, but the presentation where Aperture Science is like, “Look at our production, look at Black Mesa’s production.”

J: Nonono, you remember at the end of Episode 3, you get the data to Kleiner, and he decodes it, and…

M: Oh my god, you’re right. OK, fine. Maybe I’m so against it that I just shut that out of my mind.

J: [Laughs]

S: OK then.

M: Oh, and another thing I want to mention. They said that Portal 2, the multiplayer’s going to be two times as long as the original game, and the single player’s going to be two times-and-a-half as long. So it’s going to be a really long game.

S: Alright, so, Duke Nukem. I know you guys didn’t get to play it – do you have anything to say about it, or should we just move on?

J: Um… What the fuck.

S: Yeah, it exists.

J: I think that adequately describes my feelings.

M: The only thing I have to say is, I met this guy, and his friends stood in line for like five hours to play Duke Nukem. He said that it was awesome, but he also acknowledged that it was probably awesome because he stood in line for five hours.

S: Right… I’ll admit, and this is a little perverse, I felt a little bit of disappointment when I heard that it was un-cancelled. I kind of… I don’t know why.

J: You just wanted that stable joke that you could always go back to.

S: It wasn’t even for the joke, it was just that endless frustration, and then OK, we’re done being jerked around by this title, and it can just go off and retire into the dustbin of history. And now it’s all going to start up again. So that’s kind of frustrating. But, I hope it comes out, and I hope it’s good.

J: Right, ’cause you were in the era where, you were playing videogames when that game came out, so.. Well, not that game, but Duke Nukem 3D.

S: Yeah.

M: It’s funny… I’ve spoken to two different generations of gamers, and the younger generation like, “Yeah, Duke Nukem, yeah, this is going to be awesome!” And then, I speak to the older gamers – well, not that much older, but the older generation – who played that when it came out, and they’re like, “Yeah, I guess. I guess Duke Nukem, yeah.”

S: Yeah. I do not feel this intense need to play it again. That would be kind of cool, but I could go without Duke Nukem, there are other things that are a lot more important to me. It was a good series in its day, but a lot of other games have evolved, and it’s an unknown element, a big question mark for twelve years.

J: But y’know… When that game comes out, everyone is gonna buy it. Just to see this game that took longer to develop than Team Fortress 2.

S: Took longer to develop than the Apollo Moon Program. How about Dragon Age 2?

J: Yeah, so Mumbles and I split up pretty early in the day, and I went to stand in Dragon Age 2, and she went to stand in line for Portal 2. And I thought, “Oh, man, there’s no way that Dragon Age 2 is more popular than Portal 2, I’ll be out of the line hours before she is.” And then two hours later, I’m like, thirty-five people from the door to go in to Dragon Age 2, and she comes up and says, “Hey, it was pretty cool, can I borrow your camera, I’m gonna take some more pictures.” Goddammit.

S: That’s interesting, to me. Dragon Age is probably my least favourite of the current Bioware crop. It’s not a bad game, but I played through it one and a half times, and I have no desire to go through it again. I feel like I’ve seen it, and I’m done with it.

J: I feel like I’m the only person on the Spoiler Warning crew that actually liked Dragon Age, which is strange.

S: I don’t dislike it, it just doesn’t thrill me. I’d much rather play Mass Effect, or heck, I’d play Jade Empire before I played Dragon Age. It’s not a terrible game, I’m just not excited for it.

J: I’d agree that it did drag. The biggest problem with Dragon Age was the ten-hour dungeon. I think I spent, like, fifteen hours in Orzammar. That would’ve been the length of a whole game, if it was a shooter.

S: And a lot of it looks the same, same enemies, looking at the same stuff, not a lot of variety. But how is Dragon Age 2?

J: That’s the thing… So what they did, before they took us in, they passed out iPads, that had all this serious, “You agree that you will not take any photography whatsoever inside the Dragon Age presentation”, and “Any photography we take of you we can use freely”, and all that kind of serious, NDA legal stuff.

S: Lame.

J: I guess it’s not an NDA, since I can talk about it, but…

S: That is lame, though, because if they can show it to you, why can’t you show it to us? I guess that’s if they put in a mistake…

J: I guess there’s no gameplay footage out, yet, so… I have played Dragon Age 2, and nobody who hasn’t played, or works at Bioware, knows what it looks like. Which is a weird, weird disconnect. So there was like two parts to the Dragon Age booth, one was this twenty-man theatre, the other was a thing with, like, twenty Playstations, or ten Playstations and ten Xbox 360s.
So they gave us a presentation… I don’t know his name, but one of the producers came up and talked about what they were doing with Dragon Age 2. They said that there were three main complaints that they had, with Dragon Age, their three focuses with Dragon Age 2. Firstly, the graphics, which… I never had a problem with the graphics in Dragon Age, but I played it on the PC, and… I hear that the graphics on the consoles were way worse.

S: Interesting.

J: Secondly, they said that the combat, which was probably the big thing that everyone hated about Dragon Age, the weird combat system. They said that they wanted to make the real-time combat seem more fulfilling.

S: Yeah, the game kind of… The game originally hedged its bets. It was like turn-based, where you had to manage your team, but it was actually in real time. It felt like the worst of both worlds. It was a fast-paced game that you had to keep pausing, because they tried to please both groups, and they ended up pleasing neither, I think. It should either be an action game, or a turn-based game.

J: Yeah, the major problem with Dragon Age’s combat, if you were playing it on any sort of, higher-than-easy difficulty, you couldn’t let it run in real time, ’cause you’d wipe. Your companions weren’t terribly smart, even if you used the AI system. We always had this joke, were we said they outsourced the AI programming to the player, because really your companions don’t do anything that you don’t specify in their tactics. And you could set them up to do that kinda stuff, but if you just let it run in real time, you’d probably wipe, because at some point one of your characters would just not heal fast enough, or do something stupid, like your mage would be casting some long cast-time spell while the rest of your group was getting nuked, or something. And you’d just wipe.

S: Right.

J: It ran way too fast in real-time mode, for anyone to micromanage that. So you just had to pause it every combat round.

S: And if they want to do that, they should just add an auto-pause, if they’re gonna do that. Give me an option.

J: Right, just make it straight-up turn-based.

S: Turn-based, then you hit play, and it gives you a few seconds of action, then it says “OK, what do you want to do?” That would be a compromise that at least might work for some people. I would turn that option on.

J: What they were talking about, they wanted the combat to feel more visceral in real time. He said that the lead programmer wanted to make a connection between pressing a button and having something awesome happen.

S: There’s an idea.

J: They said that they wanted to preserve that ability to pause the game and give orders, and as they called it, “think like a general”. But then they also wanted to make the fighting more interesting in real time, so that you could, and they used these words, “fight like a Spartan”. And they said that, you would be able to just be doing the real-time stuff, and be fighting with all your characters, or just be doing the sort of, pause every round and give orders and micromanage, or jump between the two. Which sounds pretty good, if they can pull that off.

S: It still sounds like they’re trying to hedge their bets, and please both the turn-based and the action crowd. It’ll be great if they can pull it off, if they can pull that off, that is a really awesome feature.

M: It sounds like they’re going towards Mass Effect combat, where you can shoot stuff, or you can pause it and say, “OK, I want to use this power, I want Garrus to use this…”

J: Yeah, they’ve always had that “pause and do stuff” thing. Kotor had it. I don’t think Jade Empire had it, but almost every Bioware game has allowed you to just pause the game, and think about it, and give orders.

S: That’s true.

J: So if they can integrate those two systems better, like they’ve done in the past with other games, I think it could be cool. And then they talked about their third thing for development, which was the story. Which seems odd, because I didn’t have any real problems with the Dragon Age story, aside from Morrigan being kind of weird with what she disapproved of at times.

S: Yeah, Morrigan just being… And that’s not even a problem with the story, that’s just that one character.

J: I liked Morrigan’s character, to a degree, and I really loved Claudia Black, her voice actor, but some of the stuff that Morrigan objected to was just, “Y’know, you do realise the practical applications of ‘I scratch your back, now you scratch mine’, getting these people to want to help us, right? Or should we just go and kill everyone we meet?”

S: Right, and for her to just throw little tantrums every time you did that, also seemed incongruous. All those petty little things that she would throw a fit about. But aside from that, the Dragon Age story, what they said they were doing with it, the only problem I had with the story was that it was a little bit “been there, done that”.

J: It was basically Lord of the Rings.

S: Yeah, we are not in a drought of medieval fantasy right now, and I don’t think this was the time to make more, if you’re going to make your own IP. But now that they’ve done it, where are they going with it?

J: What they said was that they were going to do a framed narrative. They’re basically going to pull a Princess Bride with it, and it’s gonna be you playing as Hawke, but you’re actually playing in a flashback, which is just some guy telling some other person about Hawke and his rise to power. Which I guess explains the whole, “this game is going to take place over a decade” thing. I don’t know, that could be interesting. They didn’t give a whole of details about that, or how that’s going to pan out, and I would be mad if they did, because then I’d be having the plot spoiled for me.

S: And you’ve got a name this time around, that’s interesting. That’s a lot more convenient, we don’t have to keep calling them “the player”, that’s good. I mean, just like Shepard has a name, Hawke can have a name, since they’re doing the all-voice-acted route anyway, we might as well go ahead and name the person, so we don’t have these weird introductions when you meet people, where somebody else has to introduce you as, “This is my friend, who I told you about before, so I don’t have to say their name now.”

J: And there totally is a female version of Hawke, and you can still choose your class and everything, so it’s not just gonna be like, “You are this dude named Hawke, and you have this past which we’re going to reveal to you later,” like the trailer that they revealed at Gamescom seemed to point to, with that whole flashback sequence at the end. But no, you can choose your gender, you can choose your class, you just can’t choose your race. So then they showed the Gamescom trailer, and they showed a director’s cut version of it. And that looked pretty cool, but that was a CG trailer so I don’t care. And that sums my thought up about that.

S: Yeah, it’s meaningless, it’s just…

J: But then, they took us out into the next room, and we actually got to play the beginning of Dragon Age 2. Sadly it was on a console, and I didn’t really have a whole lot of experience with the console version of Dragon Age 1, so I can’t really say how much it’s improved, if anything. I was playing it mostly in real time, mostly because it felt like a real hassle to pause stuff on the console version that they had there. And I wasn’t dying constantly, or anything like that, there were no crazy, like, “Oh no, my mage just got spiked down in two seconds, because two guys hit her.” That’s just the beginning of the game, so I can’t say if that’s going to hold true forever, but Dragon Age did kind of drop you into hard combat from the get-go, even in the origins. So, y’know. And the action combat looked pretty nice, and felt pretty nice. And the art style was pretty cool, even though it wasn’t that different from Dragon Age 1, the character models especially don’t look very different at all, the landscapes look a bit more stylised, but yeah, so… Dragon Age 2 looks pretty cool. Looks like they’re addressing some of the problems that the original one had. So… I’m happy.

S: Let’s talk a little bit about Epic Mickey. One of you said you had a little bit to say about it?

M: Yeah, so, while he was waiting in line, I got to run around and look at stuff. So I went over to the Epic Mickey booth, and it’s… It was a really cool booth, sorta like “Look how great this booth is!” It had all of these white tent canvas things, that had really beautiful pictures of Epic Mickey, and all of these great poster kind of things. And then inside, there’s all of these Wiis that you could play, and stuff. My biggest problem with Epic Mickey is… I saw the concept art, and I never should have looked at it, because the concept art is all this cool, steampunk, scary, almost post-apocalyptic scenario where all of these old Disney characters were run down, and had wheels for legs, and it looked so cool. And now Epic Mickey looks and feels like a cartoon, and feels really kiddy, and there’s still sort of that scary, run-down aspect, but it’s been really watered down by how much they’re trying to play it to kids. And I found that really unfortunate. I’m not surprised, but…

J: Sounds like Kingdom Hearts, but with more of an emphasis on the Disney characters.

M: Right.

S: Is it actually a kids’ game? I mean, is it aimed at kids, is it real simple?

M: Yeah, um… I got to play it for a little bit, but basically, you have the paintbrush, you have the thinner, you can make bridges, you can erase stuff… It’s basically like a platformer, so you can get from one place to the next.

J: So it’s… Okami? Sounds kind of like Okami, from three or four years ago.

M: [Laughs] Right… Kind of, ’cause it’s kind of like how people have been describing Singularity to me. “You use this tool, and you can make things, so you can get through a puzzle,” except it’s “You have this paintbrush, and you can make things, so you can get through a puzzle…”

S: Right.

M: But it looks like it’s probably directed towards age eight and up. It’s not necessarily just for kids, but I think they really are pandering to the younger crowd. ‘Cause if they weren’t, then they’d have kept that original feel, of that kind of scary, other dark side of the Disney universe. Which I never really believed that they’d use, because, why would Disney ever let someone do that to the characters…

J: Right. I mean, Mickey Mouse isn’t exactly something you expect to show up in a Silent Hill game, or something like that.

M: I know…

S: Right, they’re not going to make him all gritty, like what happened to Batman over the past couple of decades.

M: People forget that Batman used to be kind of funny, and light, and not serious, when suddenly it became very serious and very dark.

S: But that’s not going to happen to Mickey.

M: No… But I just hope that they never release the concept art. I wish they’d never, ever released it, because it put this game in my mind, and Epic Mickey is not that game. And I know a lot of fans are people that are looking forward to the game, and are going to have the same problem.

J: Yeah, and about the booth… I heard about that booth, and I think it was that and the Tron booths were just the booths they had at E3, which explains how overbuilt and awesome they look.

M: Yeah, we had a picture of the Tron booth. Did we put that up on the blog?

J: I don’t think we have. Maybe I’ll throw that up if we do a day 3 post.

M: Yeah… Like, ten minutes into the con, I see this giant Tron sign, that was just bright, lights everywhere, and then they had this Tron-cycle, and I went straight there. “I don’t even care what this game is, I want to see the Tron sign, I want to see the cycle, this is awesome.”

J: Yeah, you saw that, and you just beelined over there, and hugged…

M: Yeah, I did hug the Tron sign.

S: That was… Of all the pictures you guys have sent me so far, the Tron sign is the one that made me stop most of all. It’s vibrant, it’s blue, it’s just “Oh, what’s that?” And of course it’s a lightcycle, so…

M: Yeah.

S: But they weren’t actually showing anything off, right?

M: No, there was a game, but I just didn’t care about it.

S: Oh.

M: I know that’s silly to say, but when the first Tron movie came out, my dad said that he played the Tron game, and that it was OK. So I have this stigma in my head, that any Tron game that’s ever released is going to be crappy. It’s not about the game, it’s about how silly the movie is. So I was like, “I wanna see the cycle, I wanna hug the sign, I’m done.”

J: I just have this stigma in my head that any movie game ever released is gonna suck.

M: Right!

S: I immediately thought, when you mentioned the Tron sign and the lightcycle, I immediately thought of the Telltale booth, where they’ve got a real Delorian, it looks like the real Delorian from the movie. It took up a lot of space!

J: Yeah, it looked like it had real high tires, from what I could see, so I think that’s a real Delorian that’s been modded.

S: And floor space is at an incredible premium at these places, and they spent all this floor space on a car…

J: That was not actually in the exhibit hall, that was actually on a space outside

M: It was just outside.

S: But still, somebody spent the time to plonk that thing down, and not show off the game associated with it. You could’ve promoted something you’ve got!

M: I always joke about how the Telltale guys don’t like me, because every time I went to look at that booth, just to look around, or look at the games, they were kind of dismissive of me. I don’t know why. I went up there, and I asked, there’s a poker game that’s coming out, with Strong Bad, and Max, and the Heavy from TF2, and I asked if they had that to play, and he was like, “Well, if you’d went to the panel, you’d have seen it.” And I was like, “OK, well, do you have the Back to the Future game?” “Well, if you’d went to the panel, you’d have seen it.” Don’t keep all your new stuff off the floor! Let me try something I haven’t played before!

S: And if you do have to say no to somebody, don’t you have a nicer way of saying it? I mean, you spent all this money to go to this show, build this booth, and fly all your team out there, and then you act like dicks to the fans. That is just so stupid!

M: I know, and I really like Telltale. My brother actually got to tour their studios, and stuff, and my brother goes, “Well, you probably talked to one of their two programmers, because the rest are all artists!”

S: How about the Pitch a Game panel? You guys said you had something to say about that?

M: I thought Rutskarn was there, actually!

J: [Laughs]

S: What?

J: We mentioned the indie game panel we saw on Friday, right, how that was terribly boring?

S: Yeah?

J: This was the complete opposite of that. Oh, this was hilarous, uh… What it was, they had this giant theatre, basically the second largest theatre in the show, actually, it was adjacent to the convention hall, and it was this big huge theatre, and at the end there were these… I don’t even actually know who they were, but they seemed to know each other pretty well. And what you would do was, anyone from the audience who had a videogame idea, they could come up and pitch it. And it turned into… Kind of like American Idol for videogame pitches? And the first one started like, kind of mundane, but very quickly ramped up into the absurd.

S: Oh, I see, so they would pitch a game, and they would turn around and tell you, “Yeah, that would cost one hundred billion dollars to make.”

J: Yeah, or just “We hate your idea.”

S: Ouch.

M: Well, it was… One of the guys who was on the panel worked at… Was it Nintendo? He listens to people pitch games for a living. So he knew, like, that game won’t work because it’s too hard to produce, that game won’t work because nobody will buy it, whatever. The problem was, that some people went up and pitched games that they had obviously been thinking about for a long time, and really wanted to be made.

J: Yeah, those were the sad ones. They said several times, at the beginning of the panel, “If you have this great idea that you’ve been working on forever, then please, don’t pitch it, because we will tear it to pieces.”

M: Yeah.

S: That is tragic. And I know everyone has that little idea of theirs, that they cherish, just like everyone has an idea for a movie, or an idea for a novel they wanna write, gamers have an idea for a game they’d love to build. I’m the same way myself. And yeah, unless you can make it yourself, other people are not going to be so keen on your idea, because they can’t see your vision, and they don’t want to pay for it.

M: But the other ones were really funny. They had one that was like, “Oh, you’ll play as a cute little kitten, and you can nuzzle people, and they’ll pet you, and the objective is to light people on fire. The title is Arson Kitties.”

S: [Laughs] What?

J: And they had a whole bunch of… I think they started to tally up their trends, and their trends were basically sex and fire. One person proposed a space battle game, where you direct thousands of sperms to attack the giant Death Star.

M: There was another one, titled: Get Laid at Pax.

J: [Laughs] And one of the developers was like, “Oh no, my game would just be five minutes long.”

S: “Get Laid at Pax? No, that game would be way too hard. That game would be impossible, no-one would play it.”

J: And the best one, the one that won, which was also my favourite, was called Bee Cool. What it was, it was sort of like a social sim game, where you go and talk to people, and build your relationships with dudes, but the twist is, you are actually a swarm of bees, and you had previously managed to integrate yourself into society, and you had a wife and kids and everything, and then they all shunned you when they realised you were actually a swarm of bees. And now you have to ingratiate yourself, and get yourself back into the circle.

S: Wow. I don’t even know what to think of that, I’m having a hard time picturing it. But I will give it full points for originality. You are a swarm of bees…

J: Oh yeah, what about TERA? Because we went a saw that again.

S: Oh, you wanna say some more on TERA?

M: I got to do an advanced combat mission. Jason, the guy who left a comment, told us to stop by the booth, and he helped us get into the VIP demo. Basically, you had to get through a very high-level dungeon, with a boss at the end.

J: Yeah, it was like a raid scenario, almost. I dunno if it was a raid, because you guys were all level thirty-five, or something, but…

M: I don’t know anything about MMOs, so I don’t…

J: It was that style of mission, where you’re in a dungeon, and you have to get to the end, and kill the boss for phat loot.

M: Right, like… I really enjoyed the game when I played it before, and I’m definitely an action gamer, I’m not interested in MMOs at all, and I’ve never seriously played an MMO, so… I was walking across the floor, and Jason stopped me, and said , “Oh, and the last people who did the demo wiped, but I’m sure you’re going to be fine, you’ll be fine,” and he quickly walked away, and I was like, “Oh god. I’m going to destroy this for everybody, because I’m such a noob!” So we went in, and basically they said that nineteen people had beat it, and, what, ten people had failed?

J: Yeah, nineteen groups had beaten it, and seven groups had failed.

M: There you go. So there were three other people and me, and we all got different classes, and… They all had pretty legitimate character names, and everything, so there was Rufus, and so on, and my character’s name was Bob.

J: Yeah, they did this whole introduction, sort of like a DnD campaign, where they went over stuff that your characters had done before, and…

M: We were part of this, like, elite team, and we were going to go hunt down some bad guys, the whole deal, they were really enthusiastic and it was really fun. And my character was sort of the joke, because his whole M.O. was that, he could do a lot of damage, but he didn’t have a whole lot of life points. And he was a melee character, so you would basically have to roll in, do as much damage as you could, and then get the hell out of dodge. So I was really worried, because I was given this sort of joke character, and it looked kinda difficult to play, I wasn’t just some meathead with a lot of hitpoints, who could just go and hit stuff with their axe and call it a day.

J: Yeah, and all the other characters were called, like, Brutus, or Malachi, or stuff like that, and Mumbles’ character was called Bob, who specialised in knitting, as a craft.

M: And the other guys looked like they were pretty serious WoW players, or at least MMO players, and then there’s me who walks in, all “Do-be-doo, what’s up guys?” So we started playing, and I think I died once, but we got through the whole campaign. There was a lot of, like, really visceral action game.

S: Like what The Old Republic has been promising us, and not quite giving us?

M: Right, it just felt like, a single-player action game that you can play with your friends, and that’s why I was so attracted to it.

S: I love this more and more.

M: I was rolling around, and hitting stuff, and doing combos, and then like, every time I got really low on health, I’d run over to the healer, and circle around him until he healed me, and then I ran back into the action… It was so much fun. And we actually got through the level, and beat the whole thing, and we got sweatshirts and T-shirts for winning it. It was so much fun.

J: I didn’t get anything.

M: Yeah, Josh got to watch.

J: Yeah, well… We tried to sign up on Saturday, and they couldn’t get us in. They said to come back first thing the next day, so I came back first thing the next day and they were already full. So then I talked to Jason, and we said “Well, we can just play around on the machines you got outside, for a little while,” and he’s all, “Nonono, I can get you in,” so he got us signed up. It was literally like, we only got in because of our connections with Jason, via Shamus’ blog, which is just really weird.

S: By weird you mean awesome?

J: Yeah, like, “What, I’m not notable, why…”

M: It was my favourite game at PAX. I really love, obviously, Portal 2, but that’s like… You can’t really compare Portal 2 to anything, because it’s been overhyped, and it’s something that you know you’re going to love, but…

S: We expect it to be great, but this came out of nowhere.

M: TERA I didn’t know anything about, except for bad press, and I don’t like MMOs, and I don’t even really like fantasy that much, I’m more of a sci-fi person, and a shooter game person. And I was so surprised, and so delighted by the game, and I really enjoyed the VIP demo… It was the best game as PAX for me, I was so surprised. I never thought I’d go into PAX, and be introduced to a game that I’d never heard of, and love it so much, I did not see that coming.

S: That is great news. And I know we had a little bit of bad news at the show, I’m glad we had some surprises.

M: Yeah.

J: PAX was like.. Overall, PAX was kind of weird like that. There were a lot of games that were awesome, that I did not expect to be awesome, like The Force Unleashed 2, and TERA…

S: I am really excited, and I really want to go to PAX East when it rolls around. In like six months from now. Hopefully I’ll make it. But I’m glad you guys made it this time, this has been exciting, thanks for sitting down and telling us about it.

J: Yup.

M: Thank you.

8,200 words. This might be the longest single post to ever appear on the site. Whew. Thanks Gale.

Comments (14)

  1. Nic says:

    Scrolling past a transcription of nearly 55 minutes of conversation is a lot of work too. Put it after the break! :P

  2. Robyrt says:

    Thanks for this transcription! You guys have such a distinct speaking style that I can hear Shamus’ voice in my head reading these lines. (Mumbles, not so much. Maybe after you finish Bioshock.)

  3. Psithief says:

    ctrl+f (depending on OS)
    ‘respond’ replace with ‘respawn’.
    ‘source engine 2’ replace with ‘source engine too’
    ‘, like,’ with ”

  4. toasty says:

    As a note, Valve hired Icefrog, of DotA fame, to lead a team to make a game that will likely be some sort of DotA II. DotA is, for all intents and purposes, a sorta MMO.

  5. Sir Vivor says:

    Dare I point out that this and the video were filed under video games, and part one under nerd culture? Unless you figured out the ratio of social commentary to review in each video. In which case, cool.

  6. rabs says:

    Thanks again for the transcript, Gale !

  7. Clint Olson says:

    You have the title of this post as “Twent Sided @ Pax, part 2”. Might you mean Twenty Sided?


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