CM8: NSMB Wii, Assassin’s Creed II, Dragon Age & L4D2

Sinan Kubba and Joe DeLia cut out Borderlands and Modern Warfare 2 chat (short version: go play them) to present just under 90 minutes of discussion on New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Assassin’s Creed II, Dragon Age, and Left 4 Dead 2.

12 Responses to “CM8: NSMB Wii, Assassin’s Creed II, Dragon Age & L4D2”
  1. Strident says:

    Great show guys.

    I have to disagree with you both about Mass Effect’s conversation wheel. I am *so* glad that they didn’t include it in Dragon Age: Origins. It simply wouldn’t have fit the game because of the way the conversations work.

    In many RPGs talking with NPCs simply involves selecting each question in turn and listening to each answer. Eventually you’ll exhaust the list of options and the conversation will be over. Mass Effect’s conversation wheel made that sort of very basic Q&A process a lot more interesting by allowing them to present the dialogue in a much more cinematic way while also giving the player the some ability to influence the stance of their character.

    However Mass Effect’s conversation wheel so clearly signposted the dark and light options in each exchange that it made it too easy to play a good or a bad role. It was never a particular surprise how discussions went.

    Dragon Age: Origins doesn’t have typical RPG conversations. It can sometimes be challenging to navigate through the dialogue in order to get the desired outcome or extract the most information. You say the wrong thing to someone and very often that conversation is over with no way of going back to it. Moral choices come thick and fast in the game and it’s very easy for an exchange to go off in completely the wrong direction to what you intended. Early on it becomes really clear that you need to think carefully about each choice you make. Many interactions have both short and long term consequences and affect events in the world and how your companions feel about you.

    I like the challenge of navigating my way through the dialogue, playing the role I’ve chosen. The conversation wheel in Mass Effect took much of that part of the game away from me. In that particular case, what the game gained in cinematic quality more than made up for it. However the conversation wheel simply wouldn’t have worked in Dragon Age: Origins where you need to so carefully consider the ramifications of what you say and the choice between good and bad is much less clear.

  2. Sinan Kubba says:

    Hi matey. Thanks for the kind words.

    I haven’t played DA:O, so I can’t comment fully or definitively yet, but I do take your point that Mass Effect’s simplistic conversation wheel may not have suited the complexity and ambiguity of Dragon Age’s dialogue options.

    Is there not a case for a hybrid, though? The conversation wheel was an innovation, I feel, for video game dialogue. So couldn’t it have been customized for DA, maybe even dropped or restricted at points where there was an important decision to be made? After all, in life we have situations where we know what we’re going to say, and other situations when we need to think about it.

    But like I said, I’m blindly hypothesizing here. I must say, the more I hear about Dragon Age, the more it sounds like my kind of game. Not that I ever thought it would not be, it’s just that my resolve to hold off on it is weakening by the second, by the word, by each goddamn mention of it!

  3. Strident says:

    Perhaps, but then they’d be moving away from the very traditional PC fantasy RPG that Dragon Age: Origins has obviously been designed as. There are no concessions made in Dragon Age for the console generation. It’s as old school a game as you could get away with producing these days; text heavy with a myriad of cumbersome inventory and character screens.

    Not to mention that something as “revolutionary” as Mass Effect’s conversation wheel would probably have been as welcome to the target audience as giving the main character a machine gun. I also think that it only works in Mass Effect because the dialogue was fully voiced. To do it properly in Dragon Age would’ve required extensive work with at least six different voice artists. I don’t think they would’ve been able to spare the money to do that.

    I’d be really interested to get some idea about the differences between the budget of Dragon Age and Mass Effect. It feels like, from the quality of the cut scenes and things like the animation, that they had less money to spend on Dragon Age, or perhaps it just got used in different areas.

  4. Screw him, damnit! Where was the convo wheel?!

    I love that game, and the fact you linked to my mentalist fanboy rant is proof enough. But, like Oblivion, I cannot stand selecting dialogue from a list. It works in LucasArts point-click-look-up-an-FAQ games, but not in a next-gen console (yeah, I said it) RPG.

    On PC, it works, but when you’ve got a convo wheel, built specifically for an analogue stick, why would you retrofit?

  5. No offense meant of course, Strident, I’m just melodramatic by profession.

  6. Strident says:

    None taken. I bet you enjoyed reading through Edge’s review of Dragon Age!

  7. Stu says:

    Your Mario Wii discussion was woeful. There were so many howlers I cannot possibly catalogue them all but asserting that NSMBWii was ‘sent out to die’ and that it will not get close to MW2 sales because “Mario Galaxy never got close” are probably my favourites (3D mario sales vs. 2D: look up the difference sometime).

    I also enjoyed Joe’s complaint that there was no online (“a soulcrushing omission”): juxtaposing it with unwitting discussion of the reasons why online would not have worked in the game was comedic genius. In short: you need instant, 4 person communication, griefer ban and 0 lag. Unless it was bundled with Wii Speak, this wouldn’t work.

    • Sinan Kubba says:

      Hi Stu, thanks for your comment, even if you thought that Mario Wii discussion wasn’t up to scratch.

      To address your specific concerns: “Sent out to die” was probably a bad choice of words – especially when you look at the sales of 2m so far. But I do think there’s been this feeling that Nintendo haven’t pushed with this, a New Mario game in Q4, like one would expect them to. And to back Joe’s point re: MW sales, MW has sold 13m compared to SMG’s 8m (almost double), and Mario Wii sat 3rd in November sales behind the 360 and PS3 versions of MW2. Re: 2D vs 3D, it’s not a fair comparison. It’s been a while since a proper 2D mario game if you ignore NSMB on the DS, and that was heavily bundled with a console which is the most popular current console out there (aside from the PS2). Joe’s point re: SMG likely being a bigger seller than NSMB Wii, I think, was referring to there being greater excitement for SMG2 than NSMB Wii.

      Re: No online – maybe we didn’t explain it well, or it didn’t come through, but I think we were trying to note the difference between how well the game would work online and how important it was for such a multiplayer-focused game like it to have online multiplayer in the current age. I’ve just started playing it now, and I agree with you absolutely, and would actually go further to say that even if it was bundled with Wii Speak it wouldn’t really work. But I do think it’s a little worrying, looking at the bigger picture, that NSMB Wii doesn’t have online play. I thought, considering Mario Kart Wii did a surprisingly good job with its online play, that something like NSMB Wii would follow suit, and that if it did it could go some way to winning back some critics and show a bit more progressive thinking from Nintendo. But clearly Nintendo don’t see it as a concern at the moment – and let’s face it, it’s not going to hurt sales – so maybe it’s only a “soulcrushing omission” to those of us who’d like to play it with our friends across the web.

  8. Stu says:

    I think you view both of the questions through a ‘hardcore prism’ though. I think there was plenty of excitement over Mario Wii, even if it wasn’t evident in your circle of friends. I think Nintendo have pushed greatly on NSMBWii, just not hugely to the online audience reading videogame sites. It’s very misleading to look at early numbers of MW2 and NSMB Wii, as they have significantly different sales trends. The DS game shows significant public demand for 2D Mario, demand that is greater than that for 3D mario. In terms of accessibility, nostalgia and gameplay they are very different beasts.

    Re:online, do you really believe that online vs. offline multiplayer is some kind of settled issue? The huge sellers of this generation are mainly offline multiplayer on Nintendo systems, and online on HD systems. Again, its important to break out of what a subset of customers regard as necessary and right, and look to what videogame customers as a whole are buying. I understand that this has been the generation in which XBoxLive has really come of age, and brought the PSN with it through competition, but it is easy to overstate its value when you are one of the people who obviously use it the most. Would you, for instance, regard SD resolutions as not of the current age? A similar argument could be made.

    Rereading my initial snark, I think I was a little harsh, but I definitely think your particular filters were at work here. I enjoy your podcast, and thanks for taking the time to respond, even though I was rude!

  9. Rodgerson says:

    New Super Mario Bros Wii is now the fastest selling game to hit 10 million on a single console.

  10. Sinan Kubba says:

    Like I said on Twitter, hands held up – Joe and I got this a bit wrong. NSMBW sales have been incredible, very impressive and Nintendo must be thrilled. I’m not sure it deserves such good sales but I’m glad it’s doing so well.

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