Escapist Podcast: 024: Dr Who, Serious Sam 3 & Questions

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024: Dr Who, Serious Sam 3 & Questions

This week, we discuss the Red Cross's move to look into video games abiding by the Geneva Conventions and our thoughts on the new Dr Who game and the series in general. We also run through our thoughts on Serious Sam 3 and other "dumb fun" games.

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If you think the dog is annoying, wait till you meet a certain daedra - get their object - and then meet one of their followers.

It's even more annoying when you've left that item at home, and they follow you around demanding to have this item used on them.

While the Geneva convention obviously can't police the world of video games, and hopefully won't try, I do think it is something to be concerned about more than most people are saying (and thank you Susan for arguing that). As a gamer, I know that if I have learned nothing else about how to wage war it is to use everything necessary to do so and win. That is what games have taught me, and applying that to war would not lead to a respectful treatment of the Geneva convention.
If nothing else, I think that military training needs to reflect this, and reinforce the Geneva convention rules.

Also, bowties are cool.

Could Lenny Henry be the next Doctor WHO?

image

12.7mm used against personnel isn't against the conventions. Anti-material weapons in general are, but 12.7mm isn't automatically considered anti-material.

Other games

Adventure games: errr...Grim Fandango? Monkey Island? The Longest Journey? Something like that? I am too much of a fan of those games to choose one. Maybe some King's Quest, although it may be very similar to the RPG vibe in the other games mentioned. As a genre, they don't have any of the mechanics of other genres and usual focus on other skills.
Horror: Silent Hill or Amnesia? They try to appeal to an entirely different emotion and pyschological impact than other geners.

And I would have gone for Starcraft. It has influenced so many lives (no just game developers) all over the world for so many years, and specially in Korea, for it not to be a historic milestone in gaming.

There are two fundamental truths in the Whoniverse:

1.) Humanity needs The Doctor. This is well evidenced and relly doesn't need any proof other than all of the times The Doctor has come through for us.

2.) The Doctor needs humanity (in more ways than one). There are of course the obvious vain benefits; The Doctor loves an audience. There are however more subtle needs as well. The Doctor is not just a hero, he's closer to a God. This God-like status grants him his ability to do great things. And horrible things. If The Doctor goes unchecked he poses a danger to himself and to every other thing in existence, see his needing Donna to save him in Turn Left and "The Time Lord Victorious" in The Waters of Mars. The Doctor needs human companions to keep closer to humanity, to keep him humble, and to keep him safe.

Unfortunately, The Doctor forgets these more subtle needs and so views himself vain and dangerous to his companions, which he is, but it's worth it. It's a bit like Omelas (which heavily inspired The Beast Below, by the way); the companions are, in some respects, sacrifices for the greater good.

Five games to represent gaming.

Jade Empire - RPG with a great story, great fantasy setting

Sins of a Solar Empire - Space RTS with mass space armadas shooting it out

Halo Anniversary - Halo, first shooter to do vehicles well (so many people forget that)

Infinity Blade - definitive proof mobile gaming can be complex and have deep of gameplay while appealing to "core" gamers.

Madden - Not because I like madden (I don't) but because it's one of the best selling and longest running series in gaming bar none.

Other games

Am I the only one who is really disappointed in all the "Steven Moffat as Executive producer" era material? probably not but still...just putting it out there that Russel T. Davies is a genius and Steven Moffat....not so much.

misterprickly:
Could Lenny Henry be the next Doctor WHO?

The Doctor not "Doctor Who". Doctor WHO is the name of the show, THe Doctor is the character Also the Doctor is always a white Male. THe companion (at least the main one) is always a female.

Just another note for the ridiculousness of the Simpsons, I picked up an edition of Trivial Pursuit and one of the questions was
" who were the coaches of Bart and Lisa's Ice-Hockey teams?" (This was a UK edition)
I don't know which is worse, that this was an actual question or that I knew the answer without any thought.

I may have to give Dr Who another shot. I've watched it on BBC a few times and just never really got into it. Any advice on where to start?

Maybe include a game that shows experimental controls like DDR or RockBand.

Camaranth:
Just another note for the ridiculousness of the Simpsons, I picked up an edition of Trivial Pursuit and one of the questions was
" who were the coaches of Bart and Lisa's Ice-Hockey teams?" (This was a UK edition)
I don't know which is worse, that this was an actual question or that I knew the answer without any thought.

I may have to give Dr Who another shot. I've watched it on BBC a few times and just never really got into it. Any advice on where to start?

Maybe include a game that shows experimental controls like DDR or RockBand.

Easiest place to start is the beginning of new Who, with Ecclestone. You can, however, jump to Tennant if you find the show is a bit slow starting.

Here's my suggestion: watch "Blink." if you don't like that one, you probably won't enjoy the show much overall.

I'm not much of a fan of Dr. Who but the episodes I watched I did like. The first Doctor I saw was Christopher Eccleston who later became David Tennant. Both of these two I liked but David more than Christopher. I can't stand Matt Smith. Even backed by good writing I just can't seem to like watching this guy act.

I'd include Doom, not just for spawning the entire FPS genre (ah, Doom clones), but also for being one of the first to have a vibrant modding community. All the levels, megawads, total conversions, source ports....

Serious Sam 3 is not "dumb". It's not stupid. It's bombastic and frantic, but very rarely is it not running several very complex systems together as a systematic whole, and expecting the player to keep all these systems in check as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It also doesn't drag the player along a leash like a dog - "ooh look at that! We made that! The developers. We're great!" ...if Yahtzee doesn't shed legitimate light on why Serious Sam 3 is the best FPS of the year - and it is - I'll have lost faith in game journalism entirely.

Camaranth:
Just another note for the ridiculousness of the Simpsons, I picked up an edition of Trivial Pursuit and one of the questions was
" who were the coaches of Bart and Lisa's Ice-Hockey teams?" (This was a UK edition)
I don't know which is worse, that this was an actual question or that I knew the answer without any thought.

Guilty.

Kill, Bart! Kill, Bart!
Kill Bart! Kill Bart!

Andy of Comix Inc:
Serious Sam 3 is not "dumb". It's not stupid. It's bombastic and frantic, but very rarely is it not running several very complex systems together as a systematic whole, and expecting the player to keep all these systems in check as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It also doesn't drag the player along a leash like a dog - "ooh look at that! We made that! The developers. We're great!" ...if Yahtzee doesn't shed legitimate light on why Serious Sam 3 is the best FPS of the year - and it is - I'll have lost faith in game journalism entirely.

It's gleefully brainless, for which I love it. There are no great moral questions to ponder, no subtext to parse. It is balls out, run around and kill shit mayhem, something it does very, very well. Dumb does not mean "not challenging or well crafted." Dumb, in the sense we meant it here, is a conscious decision made by the developers. We do not mean it as an insult. We've got nothing but love for Serious Sam.

Susan Arendt:

Andy of Comix Inc:
Serious Sam 3 is not "dumb". It's not stupid. It's bombastic and frantic, but very rarely is it not running several very complex systems together as a systematic whole, and expecting the player to keep all these systems in check as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It also doesn't drag the player along a leash like a dog - "ooh look at that! We made that! The developers. We're great!" ...if Yahtzee doesn't shed legitimate light on why Serious Sam 3 is the best FPS of the year - and it is - I'll have lost faith in game journalism entirely.

It's gleefully brainless, for which I love it. There are no great moral questions to ponder, no subtext to parse. It is balls out, run around and kill shit mayhem, something it does very, very well. Dumb does not mean "not challenging or well crafted." Dumb, in the sense we meant it here, is a conscious decision made by the developers. We do not mean it as an insult. We've got nothing but love for Serious Sam.

Yes but the mechanics of play aren't "dumb". I honestly think that "smart" games like Call of Duty are stupider in the gameplay department. (Find target, pull trigger.) As apposed to Serious Sam were you have to manage thousands of enemies from every direction or get your ass handed to you on a blood-soaked platter.

The game has more of a brain than any other shooter in 2011, even if it is for everything but core concept/context. I dunno, just kind of wish people could acknowledge more the skill-driven mechanics of the shooting, instead of just the bare essentials of "there are monsters, kill them". It sells Serious Sam short.

I think historical significance is less important than actual play experience for the capsule. People can just read about games like Space War if they need to, or recreate them easily based on concept. Compare that to something like Skyrim, where you'd never feasibly be able to identically make it again. I'll also say that MMOs are created by the players. If you moved the game into the future, it would almost by definition become a different game than you tried to put in. That being said, here is my list ... I think (obviously, this is decently impossible :) )

Tetris - as Susan said: elegance, impact. Also, local mutliplayer, cross platform
StarCraft - rise of e-sporting, strategy not based on puzzle, but reaction time, network and LAN multiplayer
Grim Fandango - wonderful story, humor, and extremely accessible
Half-Life 2 - shows the idea of progression in sequels, the epitome of physics and FPS gameplay at the same time
Finally, I hate to add this because it's so recent, but Skyrim - extremely complex, shows open world, RPG, and finally, if the world ended today, its the best example of how far we actually came before blowing ourselves up.

Also, the video is blank for the podcast ... so, might be the perfect chance to just put up your favorite submitted animal picture as a placeholder while you guys are talking. Just sayin'.

Another great podcast guys, keep them coming!

Andy of Comix Inc:

Susan Arendt:

Andy of Comix Inc:
Serious Sam 3 is not "dumb". It's not stupid. It's bombastic and frantic, but very rarely is it not running several very complex systems together as a systematic whole, and expecting the player to keep all these systems in check as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It also doesn't drag the player along a leash like a dog - "ooh look at that! We made that! The developers. We're great!" ...if Yahtzee doesn't shed legitimate light on why Serious Sam 3 is the best FPS of the year - and it is - I'll have lost faith in game journalism entirely.

It's gleefully brainless, for which I love it. There are no great moral questions to ponder, no subtext to parse. It is balls out, run around and kill shit mayhem, something it does very, very well. Dumb does not mean "not challenging or well crafted." Dumb, in the sense we meant it here, is a conscious decision made by the developers. We do not mean it as an insult. We've got nothing but love for Serious Sam.

Yes but the mechanics of play aren't "dumb". I honestly think that "smart" games like Call of Duty are stupider in the gameplay department. (Find target, pull trigger.) As apposed to Serious Sam were you have to manage thousands of enemies from every direction or get your ass handed to you on a blood-soaked platter.

The game has more of a brain than any other shooter in 2011, even if it is for everything but core concept/context. I dunno, just kind of wish people could acknowledge more the skill-driven mechanics of the shooting, instead of just the bare essentials of "there are monsters, kill them". It sells Serious Sam short.

We didn't say they were. :)

No-one here has even mentioned Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors!

Desert Bus, baby!

Revolutionary:

misterprickly:
Could Lenny Henry be the next Doctor WHO?

The Doctor is always a white Male.

Excuse me but time lords can become ANYTHING when they regenerate!
They can have 2 heads or NO head or have purple slimy skin or tentacles... Even gender swap.

What is to say that The Doctor can be black?

***BTW***

Paterson Joseph and Colin Salmon (both black actors) were considered for the role of the 11Th Doctor.

Christopher here,

Great picks all around for the nostalgia test.

BG II has always been my favourite game, has some excellent mods.

I just love the freedom of the game, you escape from the dungeon and your main goal is to get 20,000. Go at it.

Well, Co-Op RPG... didn´t both "Dungeons and Dragons Heroes" and "Lord of the Rings War in the North" do that? They were talking about Skyrim as an example, but I feel we´re on our way to making those kinds of games, if only we knew how to make them well...

Justin, I get the itch to play Baldur's Gate and BGII once every few years. I'm so happy to learn that there is a way to play the whole series through in the BGII engine! Baldur's Gate is a fantastic game, and in certain ways, it's actually better than the second. But there's no denying that the engine for the second is darn pretty and adds a whole lot of excellent storytelling.

Susan succeeded in getting me into Doctor Who a few weeks back, and it's safe to say that I'm a convert. For me, I absolutely love the fact that the Doctor solves all of his problems without violence. Don't get me wrong: I absolutely love a good fight scene, and have no problem with violence in books, TV shows, movies, or games. But there are a hundred good shows where characters resolve their conflicts by fighting. It's great to see one where intelligence, cleverness, and diplomacy wins over brute force, zealotry, and violence every time. It'd be nice if real life worked like that.

The five games are a tough call. I'd definitely have to think this one over for a few hours (or days). Since you guys didn't discuss strategy games too much, I would suggest either Starcraft or Age of Mythology. While Starcraft is better from a mechanical standpoint, Age of Mythology is excellently designed, and has a TON of information about the cultures and beliefs of antiquity. If you're trying to reconstruct human civilization, that could be very useful.

Also, Paul, congrats on your first podcast! I expect great things from you.

I'd put passage as one of the 5 representative games. It had huge influence over gaming making the idea of "art games" (tho I do really dislike that term) a lot more popular, for example braid would probably never have gotten all that attention if not for passage. It's also a great illustration of games' potential. Sharing rather complex and interesting ideas in just 5 minutes mostly through the mechanics of the game (rather than cutscenes or art assets). Also while games like tetris could teach future historians a lot about our gaming history I think passage could teach them a lot about making games.

I'm not really trying to offend anyone, but from what I'm understanding of the Red Cross's problem with video games and the Escapists' staff's understanding of international law, both should leave the other alone. Its clear their expertise is in different areas.

The Geneva Conventions only cover what happens to non-combatants, which include POWs (who are determined to be no longer a belligerent). The podcast's commentary appears to conflate the Geneva Conventions with the Hague Conventions, which cover combat, as well as various other pieces of international law covering conflict. The Hague Convention of 1899 is the piece of international law the covers expanding bullets. The St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868 covers explosive bullets under 400 grams (which is the statue under which things like the use of the .50 caliber Mk 211 HEIAP round against personnel is questioned; the US was not even invited to the meeting where this was agreed upon and has never acceded to it). Another common confusion is the Geneva Convention's comments on incendiary weapons, which are only banned from use specifically against civilians. Many nations have largely renounced the use of incendiary weapons against enemy combatants, but there are no official restrictions on their use.

On the other side, the Geneva Conventions cover what happens in actual conflict zones, not in zones portraying conflict. If they covered any approximation of conflict, paintball fields would be the site of numerous violations of POW rights. Undeclared wars are already a huge gray area about how applicable these conventions are. Things that ARE NOT wars, simply do not count.

I agree, its an important discussion to have about how any media portrays actual violent conflict, but any attempt to manage media using rules applicable only to real wars, is pretty silly.

misterprickly:

Revolutionary:

misterprickly:
Could Lenny Henry be the next Doctor WHO?

The Doctor is always a white Male.

Excuse me but time lords can become ANYTHING when they regenerate!
They can have 2 heads or NO head or have purple slimy skin or tentacles... Even gender swap.

What is to say that The Doctor can be black?

***BTW***

Paterson Joseph and Colin Salmon (both black actors) were considered for the role of the 11Th Doctor.

Sir You Misunderstand me. I would love the doctor to be a badass black guy. However traditionally it just has always been a white male, and will probably continue to be so (Although llike you said that may change). That's all I was saying. I was basically just saying not to hold your breath. Also a female Doctor would be a welcome change....just saying.

I really don't get Dr Who. Everything about it irritates me, I suppose it's the whimsical British humour in the dodgy script that makes me want to throw things at it. And the effects are awful. It is interesting what is 'canon' since fans completely disregard the film, where he ended up as a woman.

The whole Geneva convention thing is an interesting thing to think about, though hardly something the red cross needs to bother itself with, considering all the other more pressing needs. It's also something that most of us will never think about, since war is a pretty awful sort of thing anyway, and before war is actually declared there are all sorts of atrocities that go on.

More importantly, the Guile track gives me a happy.

Galletea:
I really don't get Dr Who. Everything about it irritates me, I suppose it's the whimsical British humour in the dodgy script that makes me want to throw things at it. And the effects are awful. It is interesting what is 'canon' since fans completely disregard the film, where he ended up as a woman.

Wait, what? The only Doctor Who film where he ended up as a woman was The Curse of Fatal Death. Which was a spoof/parody, made for Comic Relief and intended to not be taken seriously

Pallindromemordnillap:

Wait, what? The only Doctor Who film where he ended up as a woman was The Curse of Fatal Death. Which was a spoof/parody, made for Comic Relief and intended to not be taken seriously

Then I bow to your greater knowledge, the whole thing is so silly it's hard to tell. The point is simply that people get way too excited about the whole thing and pick and choose what bits they see as true to the story and what isn't. What about the books? Are they true to the Whoniverse? Do they never contradict the tv show?

Galletea:

Pallindromemordnillap:

Wait, what? The only Doctor Who film where he ended up as a woman was The Curse of Fatal Death. Which was a spoof/parody, made for Comic Relief and intended to not be taken seriously

Then I bow to your greater knowledge, the whole thing is so silly it's hard to tell. The point is simply that people get way too excited about the whole thing and pick and choose what bits they see as true to the story and what isn't. What about the books? Are they true to the Whoniverse? Do they never contradict the tv show?

I don't think you can contradict anything in the WHOniverse, simply because it a time-travel show; As a result... Some things can change and some things can't.

The dog is the same as the statue used in Oblivion for a similar quest. I would get rid of him as soon as possible as he is invincible which really wrecks the game since he follows you around. I think Yahtzee actually mentioned him in his Skyrim review. Also has anyone else done the Cleanse focal points or Yngol Barrow quests? They are both glitched badly right now, avoid or save before.

Mike Kayatta:
I think historical significance is less important than actual play experience for the capsule.

Very much this. I would try to send in a wide range of different experiences.

Tetris
Half-Life
WoW
Age of Empires 2
Mass Effect

is my tentative list. There are some more I'd really like to get in there though, like Portal, Diablo, TES or FF, and some more adventure games.

I'm surprised no one mentioned Diablo or Phantasy Star when you were talking about multi-player RPGs. Granted neither of those titles are very deep, but the framework is there. Having the Minecraft/Terraria thing where someone sets up a server is probably the best idea.

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