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Writing About Talking: Jumping the Shark Podcast #62

No High Scores

Just another ho-hum week of Jumping the Shark this week. Except not really, because EA2D’s Soren Johnson joins us to talk about his latest project, Dragon Age: Legends. Woo! If you’re not familiar, Soren’s past credits include Spore and a little gem we’re fans of around here, called Civilization IV. We skipped the what we’ve been playing portion of the show this week to keep the dialog focused on Legends. In the process we also talk about the past and future of social gaming, the development challenges and perks of trying to make an actual game in an arena largely known for Farmville knock-offs, and maybe, just maybe, a little Civ IV chatter too…

iTunes Link

This week was a normal multitrack edit, which usually means you’ll get the best quality we can deliver. I hit a couple snags this time that I couldn’t work my way around, so if you hear a bit of a hum or a high-pitched whine that go in and out, my apologies. I did my best to get rid of that and through 95% of the show it’s not noticeable. The hum was very likely a PC fan that, for some reason, was much more prominent in the opening minutes of Soren’s track than it was later on. Hopefully you don’t even hear the high-pitched whine that comes in and out with some of Dani’s audio. Binky doesn’t hear it. Bill hears it, but only just barely. I think it’s finger-nails on a chalkboard, but then, I was wearing some fairly decent headphones. Let us know if you notice it as I’m curious.

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As for the content this week, Soren’s an engaging guy to talk to and we’d very much like to have him back on in the future. Just an incredibly friendly and gracious person. As for his game, the thing that strikes me about Legends is that it really does work as a game. I don’t play other Facebook games, but it strikes me as a cut above the usual Farmville type stuff. No, it’s not like playing Origins or anything, but as a sit down and play for ten or fifteen minutes while waiting for spaghetti to cook kind of game, it’s pretty neat. You get your character, you march down a path to an encounter, recruit the characters of some of your buddies, and play out a turn-based battle. In between you build up a castle with rooms that help load you up with potions, equipment, etc. This stuff will, in turn, help you get through some of the tougher encounters. In some ways, I dig this dynamic better than the encounter system in DA2 because of how it integrates a lot of out of combat decisions with what you’re able to do and how effective you are in combat. I won’t be forking over real world dollars anytime soon, and I’d hardly skip playing DA2 to put 40 hours into Legends, but if you’re looking for a neatly-balanced game, that a couple times a day, you can throw a half hour at, Legends is well worth checking out.

Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and proceeded to spend over 16 years as a development editor for Pearson Education, publishing books, videos, and digital learning products under the Que and Sams Publishing imprints. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd has also been a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets. Follow him on Twitter @ubrakto or check it out his website at

17 thoughts to “Writing About Talking: Jumping the Shark Podcast #62”

  1. The noise is fine. Then again, I lived through Three Moves Ahead’s early years, so I’m willing (and able) to ignore some sound issues.

  2. … to clarify, I can totally hear the high pitched whine when Danielle is talking, but I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if you hadn’t mentioned it. It’s not all that loud, so …

  3. I just finished DA2 last night, was hoping you guys might discuss it. I got my fill of Soren discussing Legends on GWJ last week, and I will continue to pretend Facebook games do not exist.

    I think Danielle will love DA2, should she get around to it. Whatever it’s flaws, I think it’s some of the best character/interpersonal stuff Bioware’s ever done.

  4. Now that Brandon has it and I’ve finished it, I’d imagine we’ll talk it up one more time next week. I’ve certainly fleshed out most of my thoughts on the game, many of which I’ll be posting throughout the week.

  5. Funny you should mention that because if I could change just one of my bad podcasting habits, eliminating “you know” from my vocabulary would be at the top of the list. I hate that expression so much it makes me crazy when I hear myself doing it and yet I can’t seem to stop. I need a little shock buzzer to go off every time I say that on the show.

  6. That’s because I’m a *pro*

    Seriously, we all have our habits and it’s really tough to break them.

  7. Good show. I enjoy listening to Soren (he makes for a good 3MA episode!), which is good since he’s popping up on all my iTunes subsciptions

    RPS initially sold me off DA:L, but it does sound like it fills a real niche for periodic play. For me though that niche is filled by handheld games – I might be more tempted if I could play on the iPhone. Or if I was cheeky enough to blow the dust off my unused Facebook account and accept all those old, ignored friend requests just to get some minions

    Where does “Shut up about your stupid kids and level your damn mage!” fit on the faux pas scale anyway?

  8. … the first handful of episodes? You all sound great now, but those first few were rough and charming.

  9. …and decided to jump into Dragon Age 2. Talk about a poor first impression! I’m not even referring to the game play — I’ve been so careful about avoiding potential spoilers about the game, I had no idea the PC version suffers from crippling visual problems at higher detail settings. Now I’m torn between trying the beta drivers, waiting for a patch, or just notching the fidelity down to a point that gives me a playable frame rate.

    Oh, PC gaming: don’t ever change.

    On a spoiler-free sidenote: I’d heard that your characters get pretty powerful by the end of Awakening, but holy cats! About a third of the way through, I was able to craft some armor for my rogue that augmented her natural evasion and made it effectively impossible for her to be hit. Add in a couple speed-boosting weapon runes, and the rest of the game played like an RPG version of Ninja Gaiden.

  10. The worst thing about Awakening is how balance-breakingly overpowered you becomes. Leveling up is flat out boring in that thing, which is unfortunate, because there’s some really neat gameplay and ideas in there too.

    Weird about the graphical issues. I’m running in DX11, but not at max detail, and I had no graphics issues at all.

  11. You should definitely try saying that. Let us know what happens next.

    And, yeah, it’s a real shame you can’t play the game on an iOS device. An iPad while waiting in an office or traveling or just sitting on the couch would be a perfect way to play that game for a spell.

  12. I did hear the noise, but after the first two or three times it didn’t bug me any more. Thought it was on Danielle’s side, because it always came when she started talking…

    The show definitely picked up pace in the second half, when the conversation moved away from strictly being about Legends. The first half was reasonably interesting, but more like an interview rather than a conversation

    Anyhow, please keep it up crew. I always start off my Monday with the latest JTS, and it’s up just in time for when I go to work

  13. … to clarify, I can totally hear the high pitched whine when Danielle is talking, but I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if you hadn’t mentioned it. It’s not all that loud, so …
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