Todd's Foolery

Fallout: New Vegas Gets a New Patch

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I’m among the lucky few who had relatively few problems getting through Fallout: New Vegas, but for those that did, there’s a new patch on offer. In addition to the usual “optimizations and stability improvements,” there’s a host of balance changes made to the game’s weapons that, on the surface at least, look like they should improve the experience of shooting desert critters and gangsters…

Jumping the Shark Podcast #66

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last week we brought you a couple guests from High Voltage, this week we bring you PhantomEFX’s Nate Sherrets, one of the game designers on BattleSlots. This game is one to watch if you’re a fan of games like Puzzle Quest. It’s a surprisingly effective marriage of that game’s RPG tropes (story, character building, amassing of wealth and loot, etc.) with a casino-style slot machine mechanic. If you hate slots, well, that’s a tougher sell, but otherwise it’s well worth grabbing the demo. I just wish they had an iPad version. Someday. And if Battleslots doesn’t interest you? Well, you should tune in anyway because Nate’s a trip. Definitely someone we should bring back every so often just to talk games.

This week we also talk a bunch of Portal 2, Hunters: Episode One, more Call of Heroes (XBLA), and Danielle returns from vacation to confess her new addiction to playing Pro-guitar in Rock Band 3. (Note: Starting with this week, I’m putting the player embed after the break since it takes a couple of seconds to load.)

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Past Episodes

Writing About Talking: Jumping the Shark Podcast #65

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Guest month continues for Jumping the Shark this week as we’re joined by High Voltage Software’s Keith Hladik (producer) and Eric Stoll (lead designer) to talk about tomorrow’s release of The Conduit 2. My only experience with this franchise is marveling at how good it looked on the Wii at E3 two years ago, but Brandon? Brandon loves him some Conduit and he’s in top form this week. Unfortunately, the High Voltage gang was unable to join us for the games we’ve been playing segment, but that didn’t stop us from talking a little Clash of Heroes (XBLA), Hunters HD (iPad), more Demon’s Souls, a Tiger Woods wrap-up, and just a teensy bit of Dragon Age 2.


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Dissecting Dragon Age 2: The RPG

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Today, for what will be my final Dissecting DA2 installment, I want to discuss Dragon Age 2 as an RPG. Hypocritically enough, here’s what I don’t want to debate: What’s an RPG? Everyone has their own criteria and nobody’s distinctly right or wrong… unless you think Half-Life is an RPG just because you play a role and it’s a game. No. A definition that makes an RPG out of Pac Man is not valid. So let’s just all agree that they generally involve some combination of characterization and dialog, stories and adventures, numbers, loot, character advancement, and occasionally a miniature giant space hamster. Let’s agree that a game can place more emphasis on some of these elements than others, even stripping a bunch of them completely out of the mix. DA2 is an RPG. It’s just not the same kind of RPG Bioware established with Origins. To you, that either makes it way more awesome and playable or a crushing disappointment.

Let’s establish another ground rule while we’re at it. For the purposes of this post, I am not making value judgments about players here. If you like DA2 more than I did, I’m not assuming it’s because you’re dumb or because you have no appreciation for old school gameplay. Likewise, let’s be clear that although I’m disappointed in the game, it’s not because I can’t understand what Bioware was trying to do with it and it’s not (necessarily) because I’m stuck in a bygone era that deserves to be put out of its misery (although I might be).

Agreed? Cool. Let’s continue…

Writing About Talking: Jumping the Shark Podcast #64

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s a big week for Jumping the Shark as Stardock founder and CEO, Brad Wardell, joins us to talk about the sale of Impulse to Gamestop, the future for PC gaming, and what’s next for Stardock now that Impulse is no longer a part of their picture. If you spend much time on the Internet you’ve surely seen something Brad’s written, or at least heard about it from some other source. He’s a guy who puts himself out there and doesn’t pull punches when he talks about what he thinks, and it’s no different here. To a lot of people this makes him a rather polarizing figure, but what you learn about Brad in talking to him live -what’s not always clear in print- is just how reasonable (and funny) a guy he is. He has an obvious passion for this business and he likes to talk about his ideas and theories about it. I think I speak for all of us when I say we’d love to have him back in the future just to talk games.

After the topic segment with Brad, we also do a short segment on what we’ve been playing. Danielle talks The Lost Hobo King (Stacking expansion), Brandon’s all over Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’12: The Masters Edition, and Bill reaches into the wayback machine and comes out with a copy of Demon’s Souls. Be sure to check it out!


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Dissecting Dragon Age 2: The Dialog and Relationships

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I’ve found it very difficult to assess the dialog system and character interaction in this game. Unlike say, the combat, it’s highly variable, which makes it all but impossible to pigeonhole. For every sequence I could point to as being trite and cliche, there’s another one I could hold up as insightful and compelling.

The same goes for how the idea of choice and consequence plays into the game. Dialog in a game like this has been and may always be of a circular nature, where no matter what you do or say you come back around to the same general ground. Here, though, it feels like that’s even moreso the case given that, as I noted in my story write-up for the game, Bioware has places it needs this story to go and by-gum it’s gonna make you go there.

First, though, let’s dig into the mechanics of it…

Dissecting Dragon Age 2: The Combat

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There’s been a lot of discussion about Dragon Age 2’s new combat model both here and elsewhere. There’s no question it’s significantly different than Origins and in a way I don’t like as much. Yes, it’s got the whole pausable real-time thing going on, but where Origins felt a turn-based model that happened to flow in real time, this feels more like a real time model that it just so happens you can pause. A thin distinction? Probably, but an important one I think…

Writing About Talking: Jumping the Shark Podcast #63

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week’s Jumping the Shark features the illustrious return of Tom Chick, who joins us to talk about team-building in games, with a particular emphasis on the Pokemon series. We also dig deep into Crysis 2 and Sims Medieval and talk up the 3DS, The Arrival (Mass Effect 2 DLC), and Dragon Age 2.


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