PC Gaming Podcast

Woodsie and Sheppard from the YouTube Channel, ThePCElitist, speak their mind with Adam and Phil by disagreeing with critically acclaimed PC games.   The guys also chime in on their favorite broken PC games.  Also, Sheppard introduces Adam and Phil to the, “Goonie Rule”.  Meanwhile, Adam finally finds a friend in the PC gaming sports world.   Towards the end, things get a little cheesy as Phil defends the integrity of  Kraft Singles while Adam goes on about a world where TPG is sponsored by Tillamook.

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  • Steven S

    I discovered these guys from this site and I’m, slowly but surely, going back and watching all the back episodes. Great stuff all around.

    Now on to the flaming!

    I have only played The Elder Scrolls 1-4 but I have to agree they have peaked. Arena and Daggerfall had those great randomly generated dungeons and world which appeals to the Rogue lover in me. I feel that Morrowind was the beginning of the end, it did so much right but it is also where the series started to strip away good and interesting elements. It was better in a lot of ways than the prior games but had just a few places where it wasn’t quite as good. Then came Oblivion and it vastly improved a lot of stuff that didn’t matter while getting rid of stuff that did. As very poor empirical evidence I’ll point out that I only have about a dozen mods for Morrowind to make it just the way I want it, but I have about 80 for Oblivion and keep looking for more.

    For my most over rated game I’d have to say Diablo. Everyone I knew was playing it, everyone I knew was raving about it and I was so looking forward to playing a game that was described as a Graphically 3D Rogue-Like. For me it was utterly painful to play, I had to force myself to finish it and then deleted it off my computer for all time. The combat was boring, the level exploration was menial and the character progression/leveling system was a half hearted attempt at mediocrity.

    On the other side of the spectrum I loved the game Project IGI. It was a military themed shooter that had the option of using stealth elements. If you killed an enemy soldier and there was another soldier who saw him go down then the second soldier would either engage you or run to hit the alarm button on the wall. If the alarm went off then you would become ground zero for a Spetznaz Smackdown, but if you could drop him before he got to the alarm then you would be safe, for a while. There were also security cameras that if they see someone get shot, see a dead body or see another camera destroyed then an alarm would sound, although you could hack into a computer and take the cameras off line for short periods of time. You also had the ability for your character to view a live satellite feed of the area, kind of like looking at the map in other games but in IGI you could monitor troop positions and movements in real time or zoom in on your character kneeling down and looking at the sattelite feed. There was one time I was hiding inside a building and I was sure there was one more enemy soldier around so I pulled up the sattelite image and saw that he was standing just out side and to the left of the door with weapon raised waiting for me to come out. Since I knew where he was I went to the door, lined up where he would be on the other side and fired a full clip into the door. I heard a satisfying “clump” from outside then checked the sattelite feed and saw the enemy sprawled out and motionless, I opened the door and there he was in the exact same position. It was awesome! Unfortunately I can’t play anymore, about four years ago I pulled the box out of the closet, took out the cd case and found it empty. I have the box, the manual and the cd case but not the disc.

    I just bought The Chronicles of Riddick when it was released on GOG. I had played the demo when it first came out but could never find a copy to buy. I love it for all the reasons you gave plus one that appeals to me. Whenever I play a game that lets you customize your look I try to create a character that looks like me as it really helps me immerse myself in the game. Well in real life I look like Riddick, well more like his younger brother, but still; in fact everytime that guy comes out with a new movie I get strangers asking me “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Vin Diesel?” So I get really into playing the Riddick character.

    Now did Adam edit anything out of this cast? Because I thought his surprise adlib question was going to be about digital distribution. Instead we got Cheese (Tillamook is great, but I’m developing a taste for Caste Wood Reserve which is the deli meat and cheese brand owned by Sam’s Club of all companies) and the Goonies Rule games, which for me is Bad Blood by Origin Systems.

    • http://truepcgaming.com Adam Ames

      I never played Arena or Daggerfall and only a touch of Morrowind. In your mind, what were some of the downturns in how Bethesda began to “dumb down” the RPG experience?

      Which particular Diablo game? All of them?

      I never heard of Project IGI. I need to look that up. It sounds a bit like the upcoming, Gunpoint. Am I wrong on this?

      We are going to need hard evidence to back up your claims. :)

      The end was suppose to be about digital distribution, but we were running too late so I thought a good idea was to talk about broken PC games we loved. This dove tailed nicely into the Gooine Rule. The only thing I edited was a few long pauses and little bits of fluff. I had to keep the cheese stuff in there as it was so absurd, and frankly, stuff like this shows more of our personality.

      • Phil

        Dude,

        You look like Vin Diesel?! I’m joining the Stephen S fan club right now!

        Sorry we didn’t get around to the digital distribution stuff, but as Adam said, we didn’t really have time to have a solid discussion about it so it’ll have to wait for a future episode. Sometimes we do veer from the planned topics a bit because it’s just where the conversation takes us, and I think it’s probably better to be organic and discuss something that piques our interest rather than stopping a potentially interesting conversation so that we could “stick to the script” so to speak. Hope this wasn’t too jarring for anyone – Usually we stick to the topics. Usually. ;)

        • http://truepcgaming.com Adam Ames

          In my opinion, scripting sucks. You have an overall outline of what the topics and shoot from the hip.

          I know some other personalities have a hard time ad libing so it might be better for them, but I do not work well in such a confined environment.

          Imagine back in 1998 – “Hey, Rock! Here is your script for tonight’s RAW. Make sure you hit all of the points word for word.”

      • Russell S

        It’s interesting to note that most of the unsung classics that were mentioned are stealth based FPS games rather that out and out shooters. System Shock 2, Thief (both with the same engine), Riddick and even Project IGI all require some stealth and planning. I have all of the first 3 and loved them myself. I also played Project IGI if I remember rightly but after looking at that youtube clip I’m not so sure – I seem to remember the first mission being in the snow, and the English accent was different. It was over 10 years ago though so I could be wrong. Deus Ex was also mentioned – another stealth based FPS.

        I have enjoyed all the Elder Scrolls games from Daggerfall onwards. I won’t say they haven’t got their flaws because they all do. Dagerfall was insanely buggy even after patches. I don’t know a single person who played it who never fell through the floor at some point. Morrowind had that on occasion too especially when jumping your way across Vivec, and the control system was horrible. Oblivion was when you could see Bethesda catering more to the console crowd. They tidied up the controls a bit but the inventory was pretty bad. Skyrim, well, that has probably the worst GUI and inventory of any game I’ve ever played. I’ve still clocked up hundreds and hundreds of hours in all the Bethesda games (including Fallout 3 + NV) so they must be doing something I like despite all my grumbles.

        Another game I would add to the list is Serious Sam. It came out of nowhere and was originally supposed to be a tech demo for Croteam’s new engine, then they decided to add a few levels and make a game and sold it for a bargain £10 when every other game was £25-£30. It’s a pretty famous game now, but it earned that through word of mouth to start with, and not some huge advertising budget.

        My most overrated game is a tie between Saints Row 2 and…. Skyrim ! I won’t go on (yet again) about the crime against PC gaming that SR2 is, but when I first played Skyrim I had to keep checking the box to make sure I was playing the same game as everyone else and it wasn’t a game that just had a similar name. I think the biggest disappointment was that both Morrowind & Oblivion bought even a decent PC to it’s knees because of the revolution in eye candy. Skyrim is just OK, and you can tell it is a blatant console port and the 360 & PS3 have hit the ceiling of their graphical limits. Skyrim’s default textures are almost 8bit in their awfulness, and everyone was ranting about beautiful it looked – I thought it looked terrible, yet it was getting 90% + in all reviews. I guess most big gaming site reviewers have just accepted that console ports are as good as it gets. Meh !

        • http://truepcgaming.com Adam Ames

          The problem with big sites reviewing PC games is they simply do not understand all of the things that make a PC game great. All you ever get are copy-paste console reviews which almost always have one sentence saying, “The PC version has way better graphics.” Even bigger PC-centered sites are drinking the Kool-Aid and refusing to call developers out on crappy ports. “Even though the UI is terrible, this game scores a 90!” NO. When you review a PC game, you better take into account what PC gamers want. They want a title which caters to the PC control scheme properly. A great example is Burnout: Paradise. I do not believe I have come across a worse UI/Menu system in my 13 years of PC gaming. Read any review on a big site and you will be hard-pressed to find any information about the menu system. This is exact problem. PC gamers are getting screwed because they have very few places to read this type of information.

  • Steven S

    In the Elder Scrolls games there has always been mention somewhere of the date, in the newer titles it is simply when you rest you are told that it’s 10:00 AM on Turdas the 7th day of Second Seed (if that much) but back in Arena and Daggerfall they had Holidays so it was important to pay attention to the exact date. Since Arena took place in all of Tamriel there were holidays that were in effect everywhere, but there were also local holidays only celebrated in certain regions, so it may be a matter of simply going into town on a certain day or planning your trip so that you get to the capital of a province on a certain day to enjoy the festivities. On a holiday celebrated by mages you will find that all the magic shops are having 50% off everything, another holiday celebrating a victory in battle would mean all weapons and armor would be on sale. In Daggerfall they limited the area to just the province of Daggerfall but expanded the scope of the holidays. There would be certain deadric holidays when a mage could summon very powerful deadra, other days it was worth waiting to enchant your sword until midnight when the moon was full to get a much more powerful enchantment. For someone just wanting to play “Generic RPG Hack n’ Slash Part 9: The Grind of Glory” then this mechanic would be a major distraction, but if there was a game that made the lore of the fictional world a major element in the game (like oh, I don’t know, maybe one that has hundreds of in game books that can be picked up and read that tell the history and culture of the land) then this is a very interesting and welcome game play mechanic.

    TES Arena had no skills, whether or not you succeeded at something or if you could even do it at all was determined entirely by your class, so it was Daggerfall that introduced the skill system with almost 50 different skills. They had separate skills for Running, Swimming, Climbing and Jumping rather than just a generic Athletics skill. Instead of a simple Speech skill they had Etiquette, Streetwise, Disguise and a whole slew of language skills for dealing with other races/creatures. This allowed for a character who was very skilled at talking in polite company but can’t talk themselves past the cut throat guards at a thieves den. The language skills meant that if you encountered a group of imps and didn’t know how to communicate because of your low Impish skill then they would assume you were hostile and attack but increasing you Impish skill would keep you safe from imps because you could greet them in a friendly way, although if you were breaking into their dungeon and stealing their artifacts it wouldn’t matter what you said they would still attack. Having a high Impish skill would do nothing to protect you from Orcs, Nymphs, Deadra or any of the other unfriendlies in the game so you had to either fight a lot or practice about a dozen different language skills. It would have been nice in Morrowind if they had allowed yo to learn to speak Cliff Racer.

    I only ever played Diablo 1, I never had the courage to play part 2. I played the demo of Torchlight and got a little more into it but it still suffered from the same issues I had with the combat and character progression. Ironically when I played the demo for The Witcher I mistook it for another Diablo clone based on the control scheme and skipped it until just a few months ago.

    Project IGI was published by Edios and even though it was an FPS it used a flight simulator engine to give it a larger game world. Here is some youtube footage of the first level, this guy is rushing through it but it shows some of the fun stuff you can do:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mesggjyLzHc

    It remained one of my favorite shooters until Arma. I don’t know where to find it today, they have part 2 on GOG but I’m afraid to try it.

    I like to tell people that I’m “bald and overweight” because they get the image of Homer Simpson and don’t expect what I really look like. The truth is I workout a lot and shave my head. So my body type, lack of hair, larger than normal nose and somewhat dark complexion thanks to my mixed race heritage gives me a very Vinnish look. Add sunglasses and a tank top and the illusion is complete. I don’t think I have any pictures of myself posted anywhere on the internet but if I find a good one maybe I’ll post it somewhere.

    • http://truepcgaming.com Adam Ames

      I always level up my Speech skill when playing an RPG. Daggerfall sounds amazing. When I think about this more, I now wonder why I am able to get past anyone, regardless of their character affiliation just because I have high speech. It makes all the sense in the world to fail a speech tree because I am not friends with a certain race.

      • Steven S

        I can kind of see why a developer would want to cut down on the number of skills in an RPG because it makes it harder to balance them. As was discussed in the podcast, Alpha Protocol (which I never played but really want to someday) had some skills that were much more useful than others. Then throw in the limitations of a console and you almost have to avoid skill systems that get too complex, after all if a player can’t handle more than 8 buttons how can they possibly more than a dozen skills?

        I’ll go back to the old school Rogue-Like as an example where modern game makers can learn a thing or two. When you are using ASCII for graphics you really need solid gameplay. In several variants of Angband they have this wonderful system of Skills and Subskills that you don’t see in games that focus on occlusion and anti aliasing. I’ll use The Elder Scroll Speech skill as an example. Having a dozen skills for how you communicate can be burdensome, especially when you have to train all of them at once just to get by. If they had used the Angband Subskill method there would be a Speech skill and a dozen Speech Subskills. Subskills train faster than the parent skill and add to the parent skill, but the parent skill could be raised on it’s own. Imagine this:
        You have a Speech skill of 10 and all subskills are 0. You go to the Elf community and start talking to everyone so your Elvish subskill goes up. Once you get 10 points in Elvish it carries 1 point to Speech and your skill check when talking to an elf is 21, 11 for Speech and 10 for Elvish. If you leave the elves and talk to some Orcs then your skill check is only 11. This way you can still gain a high speech skill and talk to any group, but you will still be at a disadvantage when exploring a new culture. If you spend a lot of time with your own kind and can raise your Speech to 50 all your subskills would remain at 0 until you go out in the world. There would even be some skill checks that focus solely on the subskills. You may be able to charm an Orcish innkeeper into a free room for the night, but you are still an outsider so the innkeeper won’t share all he knows about some local legend.

        Applying this to other areas of gameplay makes sense as well. Why should an expert swordsman become either completely inept as a fighter because he switches to a dagger, or else he uses nothing but swords and as a result automatically becomes an expert with every other weapon in the game? Wouldn’t an expert pickpocket or lockpick have learned a bit about sneaking, disguise and remaining hidden somewhere along the way without having to run around crouched everywhere they went? For that matter why is it that you can be seen sneaking down the street in broad daylight, climbing up buildings and jumping around like a maniac and nobody in the game seems to notice, but pick up a fork by mistake and every guard within 3 loading screens will be trying to kill you?

      • Russell S

        Or sneaking around in broad daylight and managing to pickpocket the clothes off every NPC, sometimes in the middle of combat… **cough** Skyrim **cough**

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