Podcast Episode 33

It finally happened – Jones’ Xbox bought the farm! So in light of this tragic event we came up with the following spoof intro:

(Acknowledgements to the work of James Cameron)
Click to download large version, suitable for printing.

Ironically my sister’s boyfriend’s Xbox just returned from Texas as well. Guess I’m next…

Anyway topics this week include retail customer service, why does it suck so / stories of the Fabled Chip Smashers, Assasin’s Creed: The Sci-Fi game and other musings and postulations. We also plead for Robert Zemeckis to pick up a film camera again, though according to Jones Beowulf turned out to be pretty cool. Perhaps I shall check it out this weekend…

Listen to Podcast Episode 33


20 thoughts on “ Podcast Episode 33”

  1. Happy to be first to coment, and i got the imfamous RROD just a couple of weeks back. It only took about two weeks to recieve my precious ( insert gollum music here). Pass on my best wishes to Jones and happy gaming!

  2. Oh man, that must suck. Sorry to hear about your loss, Jason.

    Speaking of Robert Zemeckis, am I the only one who thinks it’s about time to redo all the shadowing effects on Roger Rabbit? Leave the animation as it is, but change all the shadows so that it doesn’t have that primitive 80s blog shadowing that in no way matches the regular shadows in the scene.

  3. “It’s the movie everyone will love until it gets too popular and everyone will hate it!” ^_^

    I thought Titanic was rather mediocre, but that line’s been QFT. And YES! The beard returns!

    That sucks about Jones’ 360, though. My friend’s RRoDd 360 just came back from Microsoft and, out of the box, scratched up one of his discs (Madden 08, incidentally), prompting him declare “To hell with this!” and trade it in towards a PS3. But the 360: her scent lingers. On the form you fill at to send the 360 back, where it says “What’s wrong with your 360?” is there an option that says “The f*ck do you think’s wrong with it?” In other news, I can’t believe they charge more than forty dollars for Scene It!, even despite the inclusion of hardware.

    I always felt Mario 64 was overrated, but I do like it nonetheless, though its much-revered length is definitely artificially inflated via that freaking “go back and collect a star that’s a little higher up!” crap you mentioned, although I felt the levels had good replayability in the face of that. And yes, Mario RPG was freaking bad ass. Oh, and Ben, Sonic Xtreme was what you were thinking of. A YouTube search on it (“Sonic Xtreme”) will bring up a bevy of good displays of what you were talking about specifically. It’s a damn shame us Saturn owners never got our hands on it, though I thought 3D Blast was rather capable and unfairly maligned, and hey: we had NiGHTS (a remake of which was announced for the PS2 yesterday, to compliment the sequel on the Wii… Should be interesting)!

    I can’t say I’ve finished the Call of Duty 4 single player yet, but I do think the story is quality and that it’s exciting. If it does wind up being just five or six hours for me, I don’t think I’ll really mind, unless it has a seriously disappointing climax/ending. But that sequence where Al-Asad executes Al-Fulani? Brilliant. And I think the sequence’s length built the tension of it rather well.

    The reason I haven’t plowed through CoD4’s single player yet it that of the fifteen hours I’d estimate I’ve pumped into it, at least twelve of them have been online. To hell with Halo, to hell with CounterStrike; this is the real deal. This is Team Fortress-good. Now, as for what Ben was saying about the length of the single player experience being culled in favor of working on the multiplayer experience, while I do think this is definitely true throughout the industry, I think CoD4 is a situation in which they had a good storyline that wound up being shorter than anticipated when implemented and may have been weakened by inflating it to lengthen the single player experience, especially given the solid length of the other CoD games, which also had excellent multiplayer nevertheless (hell, even the “War Pig” level that was featured in the demo feels like it was put there to lengthen the campaign, although it is utterly and wholly bad ass); I don’t think Infinity Ward is unable to produce a game with both a memorable single player and multiplayer experience. Again, like I said, I haven’t finished the game’s single player campaign yet, but I think that’s a fair approximation of the situation. However, this is not something like Halo, where the single player is basically an afterthought and reviewers act like that excuses the game; the single player here IS good; it’s VERY good. And I’m sorry, but Halo 3 is NOT worth its salt (or sixty bucks) based on the single player experience alone; there’s no way I can see you guys raving about it based on the campaign alone if it were sans multiplayer, and I don’t see what bar there is that Halo 3 raised that makes CoD4 look shabby in ANY way (news: after that paragraph, I now officially hate the word “experience”).

    The worst thing, in my mind, about customer service, is when there’s an incident of miscommunication or whatever, and you say, “Oh, that’s not what I wanted”, and whatever minimum wage schmuck you’re talking to insists that you’re wrong and they’re right and you said whatever they think you said to justify their doing their job WRONG. While I agree that sometimes the customer is wrong, you, as an employee, should almost never convey that to them, and when they’re actually RIGHT, you sure as fuck shouldn’t tell them they’re wrong. And yes, knowing more than the employees (especially in a specialty store) is always absolutely MADDENING (damn Ben, you need to figure out how to get some formatting happening on these comments, I keep capitalizing in lieu of italicizing, and I don’t know, man, it’s just not ME (note: that should’ve been italicized, too =( ), and an asterisk on either side of the word is absolutely out of the question; I’m a man of PRINCIPLES, damn it!).

    In the case of a department store-type joint like ACE, if, as an employee, you don’t know WHAT the shit is, you should most definitely know WHERE the shit is. “Well, I don’t know what the hell a motor brush is, but I DO know where the hell it is,” or, at the very very VERY least, they should ask you some sort of base details about what you’re looking for and then be able to infer, “Oh, you can find it over there, in motor tools” or “Oh, you can ask an employee over there, in electronics”. Some people, however, are just WAY too persistent with their overly intricate questions regarding things, and don’t understand that when you’re in a place like the one Jones worked in, where instead of having a hundred thousand items they have a hundred thousand CATEGORIES of items, you can’t be expecting an expert to be jockeying the registers in the area where the crap you’re looking for is. Good to see the guy wasn’t a dick about Jones losing it on him, though. But with a specialty store like Best Buy, they definitely need to have their shit together, or at least people who the customers can be referred to regarding all those various crazy hardware specifications people need to know. The guy who looked up the product on the internet for Ben is definitely a rare find, but it’s great nonetheless when you come across that guy, the one who’s willing to do just a little extra to get you that information you’re looking for. Though the actual salespeople in Best Buy don’t get commissions, I think their managers might, which would account for their getting their asses rode over sales. Circuit City’s not bad, although not long ago they didn’t have a part in-store that their website had told me they did, which is close to the reason I’ll never shop in Best Buy again: basically, I ordered something online from Best Buy for in-store pickup, and when I got to the store, which supposedly had three in stock, I was told that there weren’t any, and after dealing with numerous morons who worked there (one of whom told me that he couldn’t “just make the manager magically appear” when I asked for said manager), I was told that I could either come back three days later (this store of course being a major pain in the ass to get for me, but I needed the item immediately, so I was willing to schlep there) and pick it up, or I could, AT MY OWN EXPENSE, have it shipped to me. Not for nothing, but when the merchant fucks up that badly… Shipping should be on the house.

    That’s interesting what you were saying about film and the HDTVs with a one hundred and twenty hertz refresh rate. I’ll definitely look into that feature when I pick up an HDTV, oh, let’s say call it five years from now (though wouldn’t making you be able to manually set the refresh rate to a selection of choices around a hundred and twenty hertz be the best way to go about things, for the things that have odd frame rates?).

    Yet another mention of the Mario cartridge chair! Why a chair? Why not a THRONE? Like my throne of skulls… One day, it will be complete.

    … One day.

    P. S. – “What about Portal?” Agreed, stupid point. Oh, and I read (on Joystiq, I think) that one of the game’s designers has screen shots of a level he designed up, and that apparently it might be downloadable at some point down the road.

    P. P. S. – “Wally World”, haha.

  4. I had completely forgotten about Sonic Xtreme. I agree it is similar to Galaxy but I doubt they ripped it off. That game was in developement hell for years with multiple builds being worked on at once. Even if they had finished it, you know it wouldn’t have been any good anyway. Everything from Sonic 3D on has been terrible.

    Good podcast. I don’t normally agree with you on most stuff (I usually just listen to get a different perspective on things) but there were a couple of funny stories there. I’m tempted to check out Hell: A Cyberpunk Fantasy … but I think I’ll regret it.

    Also, check out the flash version of Portal:

  5. I don’t know, man, if it’s got Dennis Hopper in it, it may very well be worth sinking eighty to ninety painful hours into. Shit, remember how his appearance in season one of 24 suddenly made that whole amnesia angle less eye-gougingly hated?

  6. Alright, I take it back; having just now completed the game, its brevity undoubtedly screwed up the story and provided an incomplete gaming experience. The ending was fulfilling and the entire first act was off the hook, but the story seemed painfully rushed from the climax to the conclusion, and the fact that both acts two and three were half as long as the first act only made it feel shorter. So, okay, yeah, my final word on the length: what the hell? I’m with you now, Ben… It was WAY too short. If acts two and three were as long as the first, it would’ve been short, but not TRAGICALLY so, and I’m confident the story would’ve been fleshed out in a satisfying way. Damn, and it was so much fun while it lasted. I suppose we can only hope for an Act IV at this point.

    On the upside, the multiplayer? Level fifteen, bitches! =D

  7. Ecksem, how can you type all that? I cringe at a five paragraph essay…

    Anyway, Back to the Future is my all time favorite movie, so I really like Bob Zemeckis. When I was little, I watched that movie every day. It was ingrained in my head. I find no movie to be quite as good as the wonderous splendor that is Marty McFly’s three-part adventure through time. And about Zemeckis’ use of technology, did you know that they invented a new kind of camera technology called the VistaGlide just for parts II and III? It was a camera that would move automatically in the same movement pattern so that actors could be filmed in multiple positions. It’s all explained in the DVD commentary.

    Now on to Super Mario Galaxy. Jones, you have to play it in order to judge it. You can’t get a good idea of its awesomeness without actually shaking the Wiimote for spin attacks and using the cursor for star bit collection and shooting. I know you don’t like the Wii, but Galaxy is just so good that it requires fair, proper judgement.

    Also, I get the idea that COD4 isn’t worth it. While the beta was fun on 360, and it probably plays great on my PC, I can’t see myself playing it a lot. And the campaign is pretty important to me. Well, I guess I’m still a steam fanboy.

  8. One more thing.
    I was at Best Buy and we were looking at HDTVs (we ended up with the greatest Panasonic plasma ever), and this employee basically said that 720p and 1080i are the same thing. Dumbass…

  9. I suppose you could say that 720p and 1080i are the same thing in the sense that given the choice between the two, people would probably be split on which one they’d prefer? Maybe? Kind of? Otherwise, there isn’t a lick of commonality between them (beyond being HD, of course).

    The reason for the five paragraph essay was, well, I was playing a little WoW while I was listening to the podcast, but I was in a pretty open area in the game, so I was just finding a safe spot and alt-tabbing away to write down a response to anything I heard that sounded comment-worthy.

    I would’ve been absolutely PISSED at the length of the campaign if I didn’t love CoD4’s multiplayer. Normally, I completely HATE multiplayer (the BF games are a good example: I love them all right and proper, and have a quality time playing with the bots. People, though? They ruin everything), but something about this is just completely AWESOME. Just off the freaking wall. However, I was complaining to a friend about a lack of tactical options in the game at point when I was informed that I should pick up Rainbow Six: Vegas… Anyone want a new PC buddy in that game? =P

  10. I recently got back into PC gaming, so I might get more PC games. Do you have the Orange Box/anything on Source?

  11. Knowing more than associates:
    Can you say GameStop? Oh my God. I walk in there and know quite a bit more than most of the people that work at my local store. Wal-Mart doesn’t even deserve my comment, I can’t say about Circuit City, because we don’t have one here, but I agree that Best Buy is heading downhill more recently; it’s really sad. There is, however, a single chain store where the sales associates are actually knowledgeable, Gamers ( I’d never even heard of it before it came to town, but they’re pretty good here.

    Super Mario World:
    When Jones said that SMW came out thirteen years ago, I literally turned away from my Halo 3 Slayer match, and said to my computer “Sixteen,” moments before Ben did.

    Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller (A Game for Kids):
    I looked it up, and evidentally Dennis Hopper played a drug-dealing demon in the game. ( Thank you, Google.

    I’d like to say, “Red Faction for the win.” Why not mention TimeSplitters while pointing out the stereotypical time travel/FPS that is TimeShift?

  12. I can’t say I’ve played enough of it to know, but wasn’t time travel just a plot device in TimeSplitters? I got the distinct impression that TimeShift’s whole mechanic was manipulating time AS you played, sort of like a horrific, first person shooter version of Blinx.

  13. Hey,

    This is my first time listening to your podcast and I love it, I will definably be listening again. Anyway, I loved your Funcoland (Gamestop) part with every wall being covered. I currently work at Gamestop and I agree completely, it is getting out of control!
    Very funny stuff guys!

  14. I think the 1080i and 720p thing comes from the fact that someone counted up the number of “pixels pushed” and since 720p can do 60 FPS it can squirt out a comparable amount of pixels to 1080i running at 30 FPS. I’d still take as much resolution as possible over frame rate any day.

    What people should talk about is how fricking BAD live streaming non-optimized stuff looks in HD, such as sporting events. There’s compression garage up the ying-yang, high technology MY ASS. Again, like MP3’s, compression and technology is actually taking us backwards in some ways.

    Briefly back to HD, I noticed over at Jones’ that you can indeed see the effects of Xbox 360 upscaling on games like Portal, compared to playing it on a PC, especially with no anti-aliasing (whatever happened to anti-aliasing, anyway?)

  15. what difficulty level did ben play cod 4? i am assuming not the veteran level. its almost impossible on veteran level.

  16. HAHAHA!!
    That was a awesome intro. Monkey Island was one of the greatest line of games ever. still some of my favorite games of all time.

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