Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Out-Cast: Episode 16 - AOU2011 and the NGP


Hey everyone, we're back for the Out-Cast Episode 16. We have a lot to talk about in this one. We give our thoughts on the AOU2011 Arcade Show along with Dan Feit once again in the 4th chair. Then each of us picks one game to talk about in depth before we move into our "heated" discussion of Sony's PSP2, the NGP.

Download: Mediafire, iTunes
Streaming: Blip.tv



04:38 AOU2011 Arcade Game Show
  • Sega
  • Konami
  • Bandai Namco
  • Taito

52:45 Ni no Kuni
1:04:57 The Last Story
1:23:45 Catherine
1:41:20 NGP/PSP2
Show Notes
Other Studio 4C Productions:
Memories
Spriggan
Mind Game
Tekkon Kinreet
Detroit Metal City
Genius Party Genius Party Beyond

Music:
Shinjitemiru - May'n
Catherine OST (Holst - Mars & Jupiter)
Catherine OST - OP
Simulacra - Yousei Teikoku
Kimi no sei - Maaya Sakamoto

18 comments:

Justin said...

YAY Another POD cast Currently DL it now. ^^

Glad to know you guys are all ok and all.

BTW which handheld do you guys think JRPG Developers will favor NGP or 3DS?

Peter said...

Another excellent podcast.

I had a few thoughts I had the urge to share.

I was quite excited when I heard about Catherine thinking it would be a crazy awesome Persona like RPG or something. I was kind of disappointed to find out that it was a puzzle game.

It seems to me like there isn't that much to the game, just the bar area and the puzzle levels (possibly more but not too much).

I see Catherine sort of like a test where they're trying to make something in HD for the first time. They're figuring out everything with Catherine and then they plan to use the tools they've made and the experience they have working with HD to make the next Shin Megami Tensei or maybe even Persona 5 (I can hope but a new SMT game is probably more likely).

I had never thought about how developers can massively increase their audiences by making a game for the PS3 and then porting it to the NGP. If Sony can pull that off properly that is genius.

I was also kind of disappointed with this generation of consoles and games. I'm a decently hardcore gamer and with the Wii I saw a decrease in what I considered quality games while there were a ton of stupid motion control party type games because they're easy to make and the casual gaming market was huge. It seemed to me that developers weren't creating as many blockbusters because it was easier to make a minimal effort party game and more people would buy it.

Now however with the iPhone and Facebook we're seeing gamers separate into two completely different markets.

You've got the hardcore market who is going to buy $60 console games and you've got the casual market who is going to play Farmville and buy $2 iPhone games.

The casual gamers won't be buying consoles that cost hundreds of dollars leaving only hardcore market. I'm hoping, and 2011 is looking pretty good, that we're going to start seeing an increase in quality blockbuster type titles on consoles while the casual gamers turn to Facebook and iPhones or whatever.

And another thing about the PSP, the library of PS1 classics now is fantastic. These PS1 games look terrible on an HDTV but they look amazing on my PSP-3000. I just bought Legend of Mana today and it looks fantastic on the smaller screen. I have no problem staying at home playing my PSP especially for something like old PS1 games.

Keep up the good work with the podcasts. They're fantastic to listen to while at work.

Kyle said...

Just gotta say...I am so not yet sold on this whole "oh...you can port between NGP and PS3 in a jiffy." Yeah it sounds nice...but EVERY console when it is unveiled brings up the talking point of "its super easy to do _ on it!" Remember back in 2005 when PS3 was unveiled, and they brought up the president of Square to show off that FF7 tech demo, and then he said "PS3 is so easy to program for, that our guys were able to cobble all this together in only a month!" Yeah...ask Square now how easy PS3 development is.

And

Justin said...

@Kyle

Thanks for the advice.

About the topic of the rise of the casual gamer.

Yes i agree, there are far more casual gamers then hardcore ones.

When i am on the trains here in Singapore,
I see more people playing games on their I-Phones then PSP or DS gamers.

And i am sure Gaming companies have noticed this.

After all it cost less to develop a APP/Game for the phone then a console or handheld game.

And there is money to be made there too.
After all not everyone is willing to pay for a 3DS/NGP when they can just use their current
I=Phones.

After hearing this podcast, i have decided that my next handheld will be the 3DS and not the NGP.

This will be my first Nintendo Handheld/Gaming device, and the choice was also mostly made due to price. That and street fighter.

Jack said...

Hey guys, great podcast as usual. I'm praying for the Last Story to come to America. It looks fantastic.

Regarding the NGP vs Smartphones, I feel like they're completely different audiances, at least in the US. Kyle was arguing that more and more people are playing games on their phones, and while that's true, those people are not the hard core gamers.

My sister hasn't played a video game since Mario Kart 64, but she plays peggle on her iphone. I think the "smartphone market" is a completely new group of people that have suddenly started playing small games, and not the hardcore.

Personally, I think the NGP's success will depend entirely on it's software. It needs to have a Monster Hunter game at launch, it needs a good shooter (probably Uncharted or CoD), and I'm hoping it has a good RPG in the vein of Final Fantasy, MegaTen, or Kingdom Hearts. Let's hope for a Metal Gear! I'll be getting it day one for sure, unlike the 3DS, which doesn't really appeal to me at all.

Kyle said...

@Jack

I don't think anyone is going to argue that something like an iPhone is the preferred medium of the "casual" gamers. But research has shown that now "core" gamers are starting to play more and more mobile games on smartphones.

And you are absolutely right when saying its all about the software. People often forget that....that the library of a console always trumps the power of a console. When PSP and DS were first released, a ton of people had the DS as "never having a chance" when compared to the vastly technically superior PSP. I love handhelds so much because the old school Japanese gaming scene that we all know and love has largely migrated to the handhelds. It has allowed them to experiment and flourish in a relatively low cost development environment. But when you start introducing super powered handhelds, that can be talked about in as being in the same ballpark as home consoles...its going to have a lot of repercussions on the Japanese development scene.

KG Jung said...

Again, glad to see you guys are ok. First the earthquake, then the tsunami, and then Japan's impression of Chernobyl.

I read in the Wall Street Journal about the anger some Japanese feel towards their expat co-workers who fled Tokyo and other areas due to the radiation risk and are returning now that it's safer. They call them flyjins. Have you guys seen this attitude yourself or is the media over-exaggerating this?

Gwyn said...

@Peter & @Jack
You both raise some very interesting questions. While mobile phone game sales have been cutting in on the territory of traditional handhelds for many years now, the situation is a little different in Japan to the rest of the world (as is usually the case when it comes to these things). Firstly, this started happening here a DECADE ago – until ‘smartphones’ came along, Japanese phones were some of the most technologically sophisticated gadgets in the world and had a lot of great content (heck, I had one of the Y’s games on my phone back in 2002!) – this is why games like the 3rd Birthday were originally slated for Japanese mobile phones. Yet where do cancelled or ported mobile phone games go? To smartphones? No, they tend to go to either the DS or the PSP. I think that this is because Japanese developers are seeing a clear split between the casual phone market and the traditional/hardcore portable console one.
Casual games are definitely huge on both smartphones and Japan-only phones, but theres a very clear gap in the content made by Japanese developers for phones vs what they make for the DS/PSP. At the moment phones still cannot offer the deep experiences that DS/PSP games do – and remember, these systems don’t have to just offer a deep experience on the go, they have to offer it at home as well since the DS has been the most popular console played AT HOME for several years now. Moreover, Japanese commuters need longer, deeper sustained gaming experiences for long work commutes. I don’t see anyone playing Peggle or Angry Birds for a 2hr train trip. Monster Hunter and DQ 9, on the other hand provide depth in manageable chunks with proper input devices (d-pad, etc) for ease of use.
Where the markets are crossing in Japan is, I believe, DS users. Remember Nintendo’s Blue Ocean strategy? Well, by creating a huge market of new, casual users, they’ve also made themselves vulnerable to the fickleness of the mainstream casual user market. This is the market segment who went crazy for Furbies one year and then Tickle Me Elmo the next, and it is these players who are most likely to be drawn away from dedicated gaming devices to the newest Angry Birds type game or app. The more traditional gamer will, in my opinion, stick with the PSP/PSP2/DS/3DS, etc ‘←damn that’s a lot of abbreviations, lol) which still caters to their needs and can be comfortably played for long periods of time at home as well.

Gwyn said...

On the subject of Japanese game development for these newer higher spec portables – as I think I expressed in the podcast, I don’t see the extra power as being as much of a disincentive to Japanese developers as Kyle does. That’s because these new portables bring with them new market possibilities. I’m using the term consoles, plural, because (and let’s not kid ourselves here) the 3DS requires a lot more resources to make a game than the DS did. It might not be as big of a jump as going from the PSP to the PSP2, but we are still talking about Gamecube + quality graphics from companies used to making content for something in between a SNES and an N64 – yet Japanese developers have come out to support the system in droves.
For the PSP2, what you need to keep in mind is that while its games may look close to PS3 quality, the size resolution of the screen means that these graphics don’t cost nearly as much to make as their PS3 big brother. Certainly, they cost more than PSP1 graphics, but the PSP2 means that Japanese devs can make games that look almost as good as a PS3 on a portable device which is what Japanese gamers want, for nowhere near the cost of making a PS3 game. It’s a stepping stone between SD and HD content development that I think will ease a lot of developers into eventual PS3 game development later on.
And for those that want to take the jump into HD graphics now – well their risk has just been halved since they can make both PS3 and PSP2 versions for (reportedly) a fraction more than the cost of making only one. This means they can cater to the strengths of the US market (home console experience) AND the Japanese market (portable console experience) without the risks that currently impede many smaller Japanese devs from making the jump to HD - increased dev costs, new gfx engines and systems, releasing on either a only home console (thereby failing in Japan) or only a portable console (thereby failing in the West). For established, larger developers this will, hopefully, result in them being willing to take more risks on those niche or wacky titles that Japan is famous for yet have been conspicuously absent in this generation of home console software, since developers are more likely to go with sure-fire game genres/content to help them recoup initial HD engine and gfx costs. I mean, where is this generations Katamari Damashii? (Yes, that’s the CORRECT way to spell it. To HELL with whatever idiot Romanized it as ‘Damacy’)? With the potential positive knock-on effects from these new handhelds we might finally see some of Japan’s much renowned but recently seldom seen originality come to the fore of game development once again.

Jack said...

@Gwyn

You make a good point about the way Japanese developers look at their games. I hadn't thought about that. Developers are going to make the games that they want to make, for whichever platform will fulfill their "vision" of that game. I can't imagine the team that made FF13 or even Sakaguchi's team all of a sudden developing a $5 game for iphone. That's not the type of game they want to make, so what do they turn to? What console or handheld do they turn to that will suffice for what they want to do? My guess is the NGP/PS3.

Tom said...

....And the cast is OUT! Hurr, hurr, hurr.... Whatever, great cast. Last Story sounds pretty amazing, I expect that Nintendo announce a release for westerly shores this year. Nay, I DEMAND they release it.

Chris said...

Welcome back, gents! Thanks first of all for the update on the arcade show. It's not a part of gaming that I know well--I remember liking STUN Runner as a little kid and doing extra chores for the coins to play it, but that's about it. Still, it's good to hear what other parts of the industry are trying out.

I like Kyle's healthy skepticism, but I'm really hoping Sony pulls off what appears to be an ambitious, long-term strategy for its new handheld. I've enjoyed my PSP enough to consider a Day 1 purchase when PSP2 releases in North America. I'll also plan on getting a backup PSP3000 for my UMDs. (Glad the PS1 games are all downloads.)

@Gwyn
Maybe the person who spelled it "Damacy" was the same one who decided it was "Aeris."

Kyle said...

@Gwyn + Chris

While yes, "Katamari Damacy" is not technically the correct spelling if you're going to use the romanization of the japanese word...it was the Japanese developers that decided on that spelling. And consciously misspelling Japanese words when you put them into romanization is a tried and true Japanese tradition of attempting to stylize a word.

riley said...

Nice podcast. The possibilities of the NGP are certainly staggering.

I'm glad you liked the Last Story, but I must say it was a little disheartening to hear you guys talk about Sakaguchi vs. Final Fantasy, mainly because I feel like a Final Fantasy fan, but I came to it from ten, so maybe I just can't identify with your viewpoint. I've played nine,but can never seem to get into it; I hated 12, but like 13 (haven't beaten it yet, but some day I'm sure I'll get back to it). It certainly wasn't perfect, but I'm just surprised to hear you guys sounding so negative when you said you loved FF13 in your first episode. I will admit that FF needs to evolve more or it's gonna die out (insert Darwin quote about change that Richard used awhile ago), but I still liked FF13.

riley said...

Forgot to mention; it also burns me that Sakaguchi is coming out with these supposedly great rpg's (The Last Story and Lost Odyssey for platforms I don't own. It just sucks that I simply don't have a Wii (don't want one-there may be some good games on it but not enough to warrant buying one, most likely) and I don't want a 360. So I guess I'm screwed?

I don't want you to think that I'm whining because I don't have these platforms and Sakaguchi doesn't make games for the PS3 or wahtever; I've chosen not to get them, money issues aside. I'm just saying it kinda stinks that I can't play his games, especially if they're so good.

Chris said...

@Kyle
So it's a deliberate visual flourish? Interesting. Why do it? Is there a cultural preference for certain kinds of stylization, or is it a kind of joke about the limitations of phonetic alphabets? When "The Neverending Story" was translated from German to English, someone made the very wise decision to change the Luck Dragon's name from "Fuchur" to "Falkor," but that was to avoid awkward misreadings.

@riley
I hear you. I'm more of a Final Fantasy fan, and like you, I came late to the series and had to work backwards. It's great that Sakaguchi is still making interesting games, and I'm happy to follow Mistwalker news and reviews, but his name can't sell me a console. Granted, the promise of Okamiden got me to buy a DS, but now that I've finished it, I'll say that I'm really glad I have Chrono Trigger and TWEWY as well or I'd be a bit disappointed.

Kyle said...

@Chris

Yeah...thats pretty much it, a visual flourish. i think you're right on both counts, that its both a stylization, and a joke on the limitations of the language. Ending the title with "-cy" rather than "-shi" is simply nothing more than a playful little flourish...something that seems at home in the world of Katamari.

I feel like there are dozens of such examples I could throw at you right now...but unfortunately I'm coming up blank on actual specifics. One that does come to mind is that every now and then you'll see the conscious use of a "C" rather then a "K". For example, there is a fashion magazine for teen girls called "Cawaii"

I could spend an entire podcast talking about the Japanese concept of "decorating" or "deko"....and how it is so much more engrained in Japan then it is in the west. And little flourishes/conscious misspellings like these are, from a Japanese perspective, kind of a way of "decorating a word".

Chris said...

Wow, I only just noticed last week's sales figures for gaming in Japan. FFIV tops the charts and pushes the PSP to rival 3DS sales numbers. I only picked up a PSP recently and am loving it, so I'm glad to see it still doing well in its home market.

@Kyle (and Gwyn and Richard)
I think a podcast, or part of a podcast, on "deko" and style in general in Japanese culture and gaming would be cool. I love the deliberate, self-aware sense of spectacle that games from Japan often use (never considered it in terms of spelling before, though--"cy" vs "shi"). Some of it baffles me, but it's great that there's room for it to exist. Maybe it's related to a different sense of immersion? It's like it's more acceptable for silly fun to be (or try to be) serious fun at the same time. "Beyond Good and Evil" (PS2, Ubisoft) is cool, but the title is a little in-joke about Nietzsche that never really goes anywhere. "Xenogears", on the other hand, actually kicked some of Nietzsche's ideas (and a bit of psychoanalysis) around in the game...using mechs and martial arts and magic, but whatever.

And since the previous podcast really got me thinking...

Thanks to PSN, I also noticed that "Parasite Eve" makes conscious reference to being theatrical both in calling itself a "cinematic rpg" and in beginning at an opera. The player is ushered into the game as Aya is ushered into the opera house, and the first confrontation with Eve is on the stage itself. Opera often combines high technical skill with violent, sexy, sentimental storytelling--rather like PE and much of gaming in general. "The 3rd Birthday" echoes this to an extent with the post-tutorial rock concert, and I actually think that this is a well-done homage, partly because it plays well and partly because of something discussed on the podcast for the game. I see Kyle's point about wanting useful unlockable costumes, but I think Gwyn and Richard are right in saying that this game gives players the good armor up front in order to say that a kinky fetish is just that and nothing more. The shower scene is also one huge and hilarious tease, and Maeda is a really creepy nerd. If PE played up gaming's parallels to opera, 3rd plays up its equally real parallels to the peepshow. There are holes in the script (Kyle's right, she never even questions her own amnesia) and some missed opportunities in the gameplay (he's right again, overdiving between trains would have been awesome), and I hope that gets fixed if there's ever a sequel. Still, someone clearly put a lot of thought into the metanarrative, and I enjoy that sort of thing. The ability to make tentacle monsters go splat at the same time never hurts either. Thanks, Japan.

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