The TBoD Podcast – 72 – Barry Gibb Looks Like a Lion

Hello again friends,

We’re back again for your weekly dose of gaming news and banter. This week:

Destiny ships $500 milion on day one

Microsoft to buy Mojang?

Embarrassing sales figures for XBOne Japan release

What’s the future of mobile gaming?

PS4 and XBOne GTA V release

And finally……this guy completed Dark Souls, using a Rock Band controller…

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As usual, leave a comment below, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

TBoD Podcast – 36 – Xbox One Launch Fapptacular

Holla amigos.

The TBoD boys are once again babbling about the latest gaming news in a week that has seen the most press covered launch since Atlantis’ final trip to ISS other topics include; GTA online and it’s first batch of DLC content, exciting news about a PS4/vita bundle heading to the UK, trouble across the board in server-town with Dice’s ultimate FPS BF4, TLoU, Bioshock Inf and the other usual suspects line up for another award ceremony, the Dice summit set to put the gaming world to rights, Telltales new Game …. of Thrones?

As always if you think we rock or suck let us know in the comments, the facebook and the twitter.

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Stay tuned for more content this week as Quim and ‘menko are all set to join the next gen by Friday.

The TBoD Podcast – 31 – Watch Dogs Loses Ball

Hello wannabe futuristic city hackers,

Another week and another raft of stories in the gaming industry, some good and some bad.

On this podcast we discuss a few next-gen stories: –

The delay of both Watch Dogs and Drive Club and how that affects next-gen launch in general as well how one outlet is cancelling bundles that included these games.

The PS4’s Red Line of Death.

Microsoft’s further push into TV Programming with show on street soccer.

The Wii U’s recent sales jump.

We also get retro with the return of Road Rash and a 3D remake of the original GTA, as well the 8 bit inspired awesome game “Fist of Awesome”

Also we comb through the latest Q&A with Dave Dunn of Bungie.

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Like most people, I was anticipating September 17th with moderate (read uncontrolled) levels of salivation. The glimpses of gameplay released showed a beautiful landscape, painted with complex, diverse, and interesting characters. Add into the mix the cutting satire we are now accustomed to, all new mission types, a plethora of drivable/flyable/pilotable vehicles, and we have the makings of something very, very special.

Initially, I wasn’t disappointed. The introduction and prologue provided an excellent starting point, setting the tone of the game, whilst intelligently and rationally explaining the new control features. Granted, following the prologue, there was the obligatory forced driving mission to start off the game proper; this time though, it was a dash through some of the more affluent areas of Los Santos in a choice of one of the two of the nicest cars in the game. Once that was finished with, we met the first two characters, Lemar, and one of three main protagonists, Franklyn. Two small-time hustlers, both ambitious, albeit it in different ways. At first it felt a little formulaic; ok, so here are two young, black guys from the ‘hood, a ‘dogg’ here, a ‘homie’ there (just think of a stereotype and it was most likely there). Throughout the opening stories however, we were shown a different side to Franklyn, a side of youth which is not often publicised in general media, that of a conscientious, honest, and good man. Subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) we are shown Franklyn’s more complex character, something I have been yearning for in games. Too often, characters are shown to be one-dimensional products of their environment with no depth, hidden or otherwise. It becomes apparent that Franklyn isn’t just some small-time hustler content with selling a few wraps, no, Franklyn is so much more. This can be demonstrated by the way he car-jacks. I know, it sounds ridiculous but he carefully pulls the driver out of the car; no violence, no screaming. Compare this to Trevor’s method and I’m sure you’ll agree that this was intentional from Rockstar.

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This theme is continued as we meet the other characters in the game, and is not merely confined to the main 3. Yes, they have the most depth, but Rockstar didn’t stop there, they added this philosophy to all characters you meet in the game. Be it Devin Weston, the ruthless, smarmy billionaire, who somehow manages to be both despicable and admirable at the same time; Simeon Yetarian, the eccentric crook who prays on the manners and insecurities of prospective customers (just look at how he plays Jimmy in his first scene); or even Dave Norton, the average FBI agent who made a bargain with Michael, and now must deal with the consequential shit-storm. The characters are deep, well thoughtfully realised, and very believable.

This attention to detail in characters has been applied to the story too. The introduction of each character and the story around how they came to know each other is well thought-out and convincing. At no point did it feel contrived or forced, which truly is a great achievement considering the aforementioned complexity of them all individually. I actually started to invest myself in the characters, which is usually a symptom of good literature, not video games. Moreover, the difference in opinion between me and my gamer friends was quite extraordinary and goes a long way to attest to character-realism within the game (listen here to our reaction special)

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In this circle-jerk of detail and depth, it would be unforgivable of me to overlook the graphics and feel of the game, and in this humble writer’s opinion, it has to be one of the most gorgeous games I’ve ever seen. Anyone who knows me can attest to my love of sunsets, and I was astounded by what I saw; the colours, the contrasts, the clouds, all of it. Another noticeable feature is the water; I can’t see how water can be made to look more real; it’s truly incredible. From the waves, to the foam they create and the way the water splashes against the rocks, Rockstar have surpassed themselves, along with many other developers.

So from the opening few hours of gameplay, I was thoroughly impressed. One thing struck me however; after 25 hours or so, I noticed the game completion percentage was quite high. I put this down to the fact that I hadn’t just blasted through the main story, and had taken time to look around, sample some of the leisure activities available, and get a feel for Los Santos in general. More on that later…

After the initial ‘wow-look-at-all-this-stuff-it-looks-amazing’ glow had subsided, the story developed and grew; the missions became more in-depth and exciting. Unlike one of the main failings in GTA IV, the missions are rich, diverse, and most importantly, congruous. The side missions, rather than distracting you, immerse you further in the lives of these characters. Be it the dysfunctional family life of Michael, or the maniacal maelstrom that is Trevor, we understand the characters better, without the missions becoming abstract or arbitrary.

Then it all came to a rather abrupt end.

In some ways, I can understand it; better finish on a high than to string it out for another 10 – 15 stilted hours and end with tame, laboured (anti)climax. I also reasoned that the additional content would be interesting enough to keep me going until online was released (little did I know about the problems we’d suffer from with that however). Ultimately though, it was disappointing that a game filled with such satisfying intricacy came to a thoroughly predictable and somewhat unremarkable conclusion; no twists, no turns, no ‘holy shit!’ moment; just ‘that’s all folks!’.

After the interminable credits (honestly, they must have been 20 minutes long), I settled back into my chair to embark on the quest for 100% completion with my pockets greased with cash (see, only a little spoiler!), and I must say, I was thoroughly unimpressed. I had all but exhausted the Strangers and Freaks missions, the random world events became boring and sparse, and worst of all, the collection missions were an absolute abomination; find 30 pieces of nuclear waste which are scattered along the sea bed; collect 30 submarine parts for a not-so-grieving widow…are you serious?! What is the attraction with collection missions other than to string out game time? Who honestly enjoys this bullshit? Not me, that’s for certain.

Before I get too negative, I need to say that I do genuinely love this game. The looks, the stories, the characters, the freedom, it’s all top-notch. My problem is that it’s too short, and that the additional content is artificial and boring.

My disappointment with the game was tempered by the promises made during the online gameplay trailers and thus far, I’ve not been let down. I’ve spent around 10 hours doing missions, races, parachute jumps, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself. I can now only hope that the ongoing content release keeps up pace with our collective appetites.  After all the launch problems GTA Online suffered, it looks like Rockstar need to pull multiple rabbits out of multiple hats for some time.

TBoD Podcast – Episode 29 – Rock *Super* Star


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We’re back from our stint in the capital at Eurogamer expo and feeling a little worse for wear. Hopefully this isn’t immediately obvious as we discuss some of the latest gaming news including;

Valves latest announcements,

Battlefield 4’s Beta launch,

Quims console conundrum,

GTA onlines teething problems and what little of it we have played,

If you enjoy the show leave a comment or rate the post, any reviews on iTunes would also be greatly appreciated.

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– eremenko

It’s the Sandbox Jim …. but not as we know it..

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Video games have always struggled to strike the right balance between the size of the game world and the detail poured into said world, this dilemma is something that has become easier and easier to dodge as our gaming machines have become more and more powerful. Creating a living breathing world is an incredible achievement and those few who manage it are revered like Gods in the gaming world and much like it’s immortal counterpart this idea seems to never die.

For me this idea of exploring a world at your own will began with early RPG titles. While not necessarily “Open world” games, titles like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Breath of Fire gave gamers an early opportunity to navigate an entire world in the however they wished and while some of these games may have changed tactics in recent iterations other developers have taken the idea and made it their own.

Grand Theft Auto (1997) though simple in it’s execution was huge in scope and allowed players to travel through three large cities however they felt necessary. Many others have challenged Rockstars crown as the Kings of the open world title but the Edinburgh based production house remain firmly planted upon their very own iron throne. This isn’t to say that one of to days most admired titles has had it all it’s own way, nor is true to say they haven’t taken a few hints along the way.

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The Humble beginnings of a world beater

Shenmue (1999) is widely regarded to be the first title to be set in a completely open 3d city which featured a “living” populace offering players un-rivaled  freedom to interact with the world around them. This was a huge step in the video game world and Segas contribution cannot be ignored although it may have been somewhat overshadowed by what was to come.

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Is this the real life …. or is this just fantasy

Rockstar as ever unwilling to relinquish their grip on the open world genre would soon after release GTA III, the first game in the series to feature a fully 3d sandbox city in which the player was free to cause as much mayhem as they wished, it was an insane achievement. Sega did not want to give up the fight though and they struck back with their own crime based open world title Yakuza and all the while PC gamers were gifted with The Elder Scrolls series which is undoubtedly the most important game in the “open world first person” sub-genre.

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All of these titles featured impressively sized game worlds be it a city, county/state, island and in some cases even a country but in 2004 Blizzard came and stole all the accolades by creating a game that encompassed an entire world to be explored by you and millions of others in the most acclaimed MMORPG of them all. What WoW did affected and continues to effect everything that came and will come, despite recent drops in revenue this game will forever be regarded as a gift and a curse by gamers across the world. Then there’s the small matter of a little game you may of heard of called Minecraft the founder of the proceduraly generated unlimited world, MC once again changed our perspective of just how much of a sandbox a game can be and it’s popularity continues to soar, this kind of dynamic world and changing environment could be seen the epitome of the genre.

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This place is your life now!

Most games these days don’t shy away from creating an experience that can be shared with a friend, even games that are traditionally a solo experience are beginning to see the value in multiplayer, after all a game like any other form of entertainment is at it’s best when you are sharing it with a friend or two .. or more. Forthcoming titles such as Destiny, The Division and The Crew have shifted ideals from being about multi-player or open world and instead look to focus on creating a persistent shared world which can be occupied by thousands upon thousands of players. This idea is one still very much in it’s infancy but it’s something that we all as gamers are becoming more and more intrigued by with every passing day. Combining the elements of open world play with the full on living world experience is a salivating concept for everyone. Add in to that the ability to meet strangers along the way, those who may wish to join you or those who definitely wish to kill you (and steal your beans) and you have a frighteningly appealing genre that might just mean the end of the real world for good.

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Is the MMO the ultimate gaming Destiny?

All that said “Sandbox” games can be something of an enigma and it seems difficult to achieve balance between a compelling story and complete freedom, many games have tried and many have failed, sometimes you don’t need a story as proved by the hugely popular Arma II mod DayZ but other times it’s simply the most important part. Some of the most critically acclaimed games of recent years buck the trend for open world and are much stronger titles for being more linear. Bioshock, The Walking Dead, Half Life 2, Dishonored, Portal, Heavy Rain and The Last of Us have all been nominated for and taken home many awards globally. This shows that there is still life in games that are more focused on creating a story than simulating a world these smaller more narrative driven titles offer the player something deeper than a world to play in and will often invoke a stronger emotional attachment than their larger counterparts but it may just be that they are more difficult to develop.

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Get ready to be punched in the feels

Creating a living world is one thing but creating a believable story is something else entirely and something that can often be neglected in games which are more focused on adrenaline fueled action and competitive multi-player. The art of weaving a tale is as old as time and I for one don’t think it’s ready to rest it’s weary head just yet.

It’s true to say that video games are always evolving and always looking for that next big idea, how do you guys feel the gaming world will evolve next? Are open worlds or deep stories more important to you? Do you value a short game over a seemingly un-ending one or would you prefer that your favourite game could last forever? Let me know in the comments below and as always thanks for your time.

-eremenko

TBoD Podcast – Episode 7 – Bi-Planes to X-Wings

We are joined by guest host CartoonRobinson from ArtHeroes.co.uk for the first of two casts this week!

In it we talk;

– HD remakes

– The week in X720 rumours

– The prefect length for a game

– Day Z Dev blog and some interesting rumours

– The effect of the recession on Scrouge McDuck

– An interesting marriage proposal

– Girl scouts ……. erm.

– Star Wars

– Microsoft to reward MSP for playing …. in Japan

All while avoiding spoilers on Tomb Raider and saying “like” a lot.

So if your lugholes tire from the sounds of life have a little listen and as ever let us know what you think. You can rejoin the three of us later this week for our Bioshock Infinite SpoilerCast special NB it will have spoilers in it … the clue’s in the name.

As always you can listen right here on the page or hit the download link below. (also on iTunes, OneCast and so on)

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