A few weeks back we asked you to help us interview the lads from ABC’s Good Game TV – returning to air tonight on ABC2 – and we were absolutely swamped by the response. But, dedicated professionals that they are, Bajo and Jung have delivered. In this, part one, they talk about the process of reviewing, how they put the show together, and of course that infamous Gears of War 2 review. So read on and enjoy part one of the first ever Kotaku AU Question Time.
Bob: I want know the power behind Bajo & Junglist’s personal PCs.
Jung: Quad Core 2.2, 500GB HD, 8800GT, 2GB RAM. Bought it just for CoD4 last November [laughs] , and the little plugger has helped win my team a few tourneys since. Also the proud owner of a Linux eee PC.
Bajo: We have a beast in the office we like to call BOHEMUTH. When it runs properly, it goes hard. It does some video capturing for us which I think has drained its lifeforce. Despite its power, it actually has difficulty doing anything lately.
My personal PC is kinda on the way out. It’s about 18 months old, and about 17 months overdue on an upgrade. It’s Dual Core, with an 8800GTS, and I call her PANTS. The video card isn’t so bad, but it’s very noisy and that bugs me. My next upgrade will be another one of those cards though – I’ve never run two in SLI, and by golly I will one day. My PC has its problems – it’s being held together by masking tape, and my smaller hard drive died this week, and only half of the USB ports work and unless I use the beta program “AMD FUSION” to turn off system resources, it randomly shuts down due to overheating. So yes, time to upgrade! Or maybe I’ll just get more tape and a mouse on a wheel.
Micster: How long and enjoyable was it to setup the Gears of War 2 review?
Bajo: When the sparklers came out, I must say, girly giggles were everywhere. It’s fun playing with action figures, in general.
Jung: Well as you can imagine, being told you can’t show any footage of the game you just spent a whole day reviewing is pretty frustrating. I couldn’t understand it, especially since I liked the game. So we had no choice – we had to re-enact the important moments with action figures. Some of the toys got melted from the sparklers, I think even a Barbie and a Rabbid made it in there somehow, and turning off our studio’s fire alarm is a pain, but it was worth it! Microsoft PR assumed we were going to talk about the game for 10 minutes of our 27 minute show, showing no footage of the game, because “it’s Gears”. Yeah, wow. We didn’t get invited to their Christmas party.
Michael Thomas: Are game developers shying away from platform exclusive games?
Bajo: I think we’re always going to have exclusives. It’s such a competitive scene out there and companies need ‘console pushers’ and poster boys. There’s a very good thing about exclusives though, it usually means developers play to the strengths of console… and that’s how we get some of our greatest games.
Linchowlewy: How long does it take you to film a single episode, and is it enjoyable or frustrating?
Jung: We get most of the studio filming done on Monday, extra stuff like news and Backwards Compatible we’ll do on Tuesday, Wednesday we usually go out and interview people, which leaves Thursday for us to play our games, record our game footage & write reviews, and on Friday we’ll make sure everything is ready for Monday. It’s really enjoyable, but a lot of work. Our levels of frustration are pretty much determined by the game we’re working on… JRPGs and MMOs will make me a very unpleasant person [laughs] . You can pretty much see on camera when those buggers have kept me up all night.
Bajo: The only time it becomes frustrating is when you get an awful game to review. There’s only been three times I’ve rage quit and had to take a breather in the last few years, but I remember them well. I’m looking at you Beijing Olympics 2008 [pictured above] ! When I sit back and look at what I do for a living, It’s pretty hard to complain. I’m in a very demanding, exciting, dream job and I’m fully aware of how fortunate I am to have found it.
Jacob Martin: Is the MA15+ rating of GTA: Chinatown Wars going to be a landmark in battling video game censorship?
Bajo: It’s hard to say whether it’s a good thing or not that this game got in. On the one side, yes we definitely want this game and we want to play it! On the other side, we don’t want games pushed into a rating where they don’t belong. Having said that, I haven’t played the game and I’ve not memorised the list of rules for our current rating system, so it very well may fit into MA15+. It’s hard to know which way to feel about the issue when other countries have classified it R18+.
David Rayfield: When you sit down to play a brand new game, exactly what moment is it that makes you think “Wow, this game is amazing”? Can you describe that feeling? Is it as simple as ‘having fun’ or is it something deeper?
Jung: I think reviewers can definitely get bogged down in their own technicalities, so it’s worthwhile taking a step back and thinking “Am I having fun?” Sometimes I do just find myself having a good time and I like to put my finger on how the game is creating that, and vice versa for bad games. It’s probably respective to the genre – in a puzzle game like Braid, I’ll admire the cleverness of the level design, how some levels are the exact same yet the new rules of time makes it different. In survival horror, it’s all about atmosphere. In action games like Devil May Cry or God of War it’s all about the style. I think it’s most complicated for shooters and strategy titles that need to go the extra mile to differentiate, and especially RTS, as it can sometimes take you a while to fully understand the grand counter scheme.
Bajo: For me, it’s the moment I put the game down. If it’s amazing, I’ll still be thinking about it, and feel it pulling me in. Calling to me… “pick up the controller… you know you want too… I have tasty treats… keep playing…”
Stay tuned for part two of your interview later this afternoon!