Last week we brought you a couple guests from High Voltage, this week we bring you PhantomEFX’s Nate Sherrets, one of the game designers on BattleSlots. This game is one to watch if you’re a fan of games like Puzzle Quest. It’s a surprisingly effective marriage of that game’s RPG tropes (story, character building, amassing of wealth and loot, etc.) with a casino-style slot machine mechanic. If you hate slots, well, that’s a tougher sell, but otherwise it’s well worth grabbing the demo. I just wish they had an iPad version. Someday. And if Battleslots doesn’t interest you? Well, you should tune in anyway because Nate’s a trip. Definitely someone we should bring back every so often just to talk games.
This week we also talk a bunch of Portal 2, Hunters: Episode One, more Call of Heroes (XBLA), and Danielle returns from vacation to confess her new addiction to playing Pro-guitar in Rock Band 3. (Note: Starting with this week, I’m putting the player embed after the break since it takes a couple of seconds to load.)
This week’s Jumping the Shark features the illustrious return of Tom Chick, who joins us to talk about team-building in games, with a particular emphasis on the Pokemon series. We also dig deep into Crysis 2 and Sims Medieval and talk up the 3DS, The Arrival (Mass Effect 2 DLC), and Dragon Age 2.
If you’ve listened to the show already you heard Tom tee off quite a bit on the show’s theme music this week. Generally I don’t listen to Tom about anything because the man is crazy. Literally. He hears voices and does impressionist painting using the sauce found in cans of Spaghettios. (Kidding, of course. Who doesn’t love Tom?) But it got me curious all the same, so I’d like to get your thoughts on the music we use for the show.
Our current theme music, which we paid for the right to use from the royalty-free music site Neosounds.com, has been with us since the beginning and while we like it (as do several listeners we’ve heard from), we have heard from a couple folks who don’t. Of course, that may just be Tom spoofing fake email addresses. He’d do it. I know he would. Nonetheless, if you’ve got thoughts to share leave a comment. If there’s a lot of hate that doesn’t mean we’re going to change -you can’t please everybody and changing would cost somebody some dough- but certainly we’d think about it. Personally, I think the music fits our show; it’s a little rough around the edges, but catchy, and it’s got whimsy.
Just like us, amiright?
Still, it’s not my dream music for JtS, which I envision as cross between the famous Jaws orchestration, only with the mood and silliness of a whacky sitcom. If you’re home composer and can come up with something in that vain, let’s talk. I can pay you the same way Bill pays us: With snark and peanuts.
Oh, and for the curious, here’s the baseline info on the track we currently use:
Title: Excited Dogs
Composer: Ilya Kaplan and Stan Fomin
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…
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.
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.
Danielle is back in the hizzy for this week’s episode of Jumping the Shark, and it’s a darn good thing given our topic segment is devoted to the goings on at PAX East and she’s the only one of us to go to the big show. This week also takes Brandon off the leash to talk about what he’s been playing (Bulletstorm and Homefront), I chime in with some further refined thoughts on Dragon Age 2 (I’ll be posting more on it this week), and Bill analyzes Shogun 2 and why the Oda clan can’t seem to stay alive.
I’ve written before in this space about the importance of redundancy in recording. This week turned out to be a perfect example of why since my audio, as recorded in Audacity, flaked completely out about 45 minutes in. It was very strange. I was editing the show as I always do, moving right along, when out of nowhere every time I spoke it sounded like a half second of noise and then nothing. The next 30 minutes were all dead silence, only returning to normal with about ten minutes left in the show.
My first thought was to panic that something had happened to my mic and all of my audio lost. Of course, since everybody else could hear me throughout that couldn’t have been it. I clicked to unmute the recorded Skype track, which I keep synched with the individual tracks while editing, and sure enough my audio there was intact, making it possible for me to switch to the Skype track for the second half of the show. Crisis averted. That said, if you notice a change in audio quality after the first break, that’s why.
I’ve no idea what happened to my Audacity recording, but as it has in the past, the backup recording was there to save the day and our year+ streak of not losing a show to technical difficulties continues for another week. Whew!
It’s a busy, busy week for Jumping the Shark 60. We were missing Danielle, who had a work function, so that sucked. But Tom Chick was back with us after an extended absence and it’s always great to have Tom on. This week we had an extended discussion about Tom’s GDC encounter with Starcraft II lead designer Dustin Browder as well as a pretty detailed look at the Rift MMO. With spring training finally here, that means baseball games, and Bill got deep into The Show. I wrapped up my red ringed 360 saga and spent a fair chunk of time talking Dragon Age 2. By this point Brandon gave up any hope of having time to talk about what he’s been playing, so we dove into our topic segment: DLC.
Since The Straw drove out from the far off land of Ohio this week for a quality weekend of boardgaming here in Indiana, I skirted my editing duties, leaving editing our group Skype recording on Brandon’s lap. Big props to Mister Binky for picking up my slack and for putting up with a week that is probably a bit less than stellar in terms of audio quality. I haven’t listened to the show yet, but Tom’s Skype connection was a little spotty in the early going and I had some background noise going on in parts as my dad was in town, visiting. Hopefully the content makes up for that. Enjoy!