The Experience Points Podcast
A weekly video game podcast from the co-writers of ExperiencePoints.net
EXP Podcast #58: The 2009 Year-end Extravaganza
As 2009 draws to a close, it's time to take a step back and reflect on the games we played over the year.  Being the rebels that we are, Jorge and I are even letting pre-2009 games get in on all the GOTY action played numerous games this past year that were not even released in 2009.  Instead of abandoning them to the sands of time, we decided to do a super-sized show that highlights both our favorite 2009 titles as well as our favorite gaming experiences from the past calendar year (release dates be damned!).

As always, feel free to offer your assessment on the year and share your top gaming moments from 2009.  Thanks to everyone who visited the site over the past year; without you we'd just be yelling at the screen.  Have a great New Year, and we'll see you in 2010!

Some discussion starters:

- First thing's first: What were your favorite 2009 titles?  Which games are we missing out on?

- Regardless of release date, which games hooked you over the past year?  Did you find a hidden gem in your back catalog, or are you still pouring hours into a game like Roller Coaster Tycoon?

- We didn't have enough time to touch on this in the podcast, but what were your favorite gaming trends or surprises from 2009?  What are you looking forward to in 2010? 

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 49 min 19 sec
- Music provided by Brad Sucks
Direct download: EXP_Podcast_58_GOTY_09.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:43am PDT

EXP Podcast #57: Celebrities and Exploitation The innards of the videogame industry are dark, mysterious, and just a little bit icky. According to a recent article by Leigh Alexander, not all is merry for our game developers this holiday season. Some people who have put in a lot of work are being ignored, by publishers and gamers alike. Maybe, as Joshua Lin describes, we need more videogame celebrities as advocates and developer representatives. Join Scott and I while we discuss labor disputes, the Joss Whedon appeal, developer secrecy, and the hidden ailments of the games industry..

Show notes:

- Run time: 29 min 4933 sec
- They worked on the game you played but didn't get credit, by Leigh Alexander via Kotaku
- We Need "Celebrities", by Joshua Lin via Gamasutra
- Sometimes, the Spy Games are Too Much, by Nels Anderson via Above49
- Music provided by Brad Sucks
Direct download: EXP_Podcast_57_-_Celebrities_and_Exploitation.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:37pm PDT

EXP Podcast #56: New Mario Mania
Every so often, the fall's harvest yields an extra-special crop, a crop in which fungus is the bounty rather than the blight.  New Super Mario Bros. Wii is out and provoking unusually disparate reactions.  In order to share our thoughts on the game, Jorge and I have called a truce on throwing each other into lava pits for just long enough to record a podcast.  We discuss our impressions, the madness that is multiplayer Mario, as well as the contemporary relevance of Mario's game design.  Feel free to triple-jump into the comments with your thoughts.  We promise we won't throw any koopa shells at you, just remember we never said anything about Bob-ombs...

On a related note, I found this video of a big band performing the Super Mario Bros. theme song.  It even has lyrics!

Some discussion starters:

- For those of you who have played the game, what do you think?  For those of you who haven't, does a side-scrolling Mario appeal to you?

- One of the most surprising things about NSMBW's multiplayer mode was its ability to foster both cooperative and competitive play.  Can you think of any other games that have tapped into this dynamic?

- Should Mario adopt modern gaming conventions such as character classes or more forgiving difficulty?  Can a newcomer find as much enjoyment in this game as an experienced player?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 30 min 33 sec
- Mitch Krpata's review, via The Phoenix
- To get a taste of the hilarity that is the multiplayer, check out Giant Bomb's review
- Music provided by Brad Sucks
Direct download: EXP_Podcast_56_-_New_Mario.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:00pm PDT

EXP Podcast #55: The Making of a Memorable Character What makes Mario such a memorable character? Is it that sweet mustache? Those flattering overalls? Could it be his trademark 'woohoo'? Or is his appeal coincidental? How would Faith from Mirror's Edge measure up? These topics are on our minds thanks to a fascinating article by Andrew Vanden Bossche discussing game design and its influence on memorable characters. This week on the EXP Podcast, join Scott and I while we discuss ass kicking, those gendered voices in your ear, first-person hugs, and the art of impressive character design.

Show notes:

- Run time: 28 min 34 sec
- "Memorable Game Characters, Mirror's Edge and Picture Books" by Andrew Vanden Bossche, via Gamasutra
- Music provided by Brad Sucks

Direct download: EXP_Podcast_55_-_The_Making_of_a_Memorable_Character.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:04pm PDT

EXP Podcast #54: Following Xbox, Friending PlayStation
It's amazing (and frightening, depending on your viewpoint) how quickly social networking websites have become part of our daily lives.  In 2004, who would have thought that [The] Facebook would be keeping track of their video game accomplishments?  In 2006, Twitter asked the world "What are you doing?" and now we can answer its nagging inquiry by replying: "I'm updating you on my Xbox."  As Web 2.0 snakes its tendrils into our game consoles, we discuss our initial impressions of the features and exchange some ideas about the ramifications of adding our game-playing selves to the Internet Hive Mind.  Seeing as how the explosion of social networking has been crucial to this site, I'll stop teasing the hand that feeds us and invite you all to jump in with your thoughts in the comments.

Some discussion starters:

- Have you activated the social networking functions on your consoles yet?  If so, are you enjoying the experience?  If not, what stops you from doing so?

- What effects will social network integration have on player habits?

- What does the future hold for the relationship between sites like Twitter, the game industry, and its culture?  Is this the beginning of a huge change or simply a passing fad?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 26 min 13 sec
- Music provided by Brad Sucks
Direct download: EXP_Podcast_54_social_networks.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:15pm PDT

EXP Podcast #53: Thanksgiving Leftovers Continuing our holiday theme, Scott and I reached into our 'epic' spreadsheet of podcast topics to share with your our seasonal leftovers. From dark Disney characters to videogame weapons, these six stories are a little old, but still have a lot of flavor. Join us while we discuss persistent world narcissism, games of the decade, in-game trust, and old-school medallions. As always, you can find all these stories in the show notes.

Some discussion starters:

- How can lies and mistrust be implemented in a videogame?
- How do you feel about collector's editions? How do you flaunt your 'geek' pride?
- Epic Mickey: How much do you trust Warren Spector really?
- What are the most influential games of the decade?
- How do we implement persistent worlds in the most painless way possible?

Show notes:

- Run time: 30 min 36 sec
- "Games of the Decade: An Introduction" by Mitch Krpata, via Insult Swordfighting
- "Design of a Decade" by Steve Gaynor, via Fullbright
- Epic Mickey details via Game Informer
- Modern Warfare 2 Prestige Edition via Joystiq
- "Dear persistent worlds: you make me feel bad" by Andrew, via Charge Shot!!!
- "Inside the Video Game Weapon Replica Business" by Mike Fahey, via Kotaku
- "Fear and Mistrust in Videogames" by Scott Sharkey, via 1Up
- Music provided by Brad Sucks
Direct download: EXP_Podcast_53_-_Thanksgiving_Leftovers.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:02pm PDT

EXP Podcast #52: The Difficulty with DLC "Thank you Mario. But our princess is in another castle!  I'll show you the way...for only $5!"  This scenario might be an exaggerated nightmare, but the world of DLC is becoming an increasingly complicated one.  The recently released Dragon Age: Origins launched with day-one premium content, some of which is actually offered by in-game NPCs.  Unsurprisingly, many gamers vehemently disapproved of this and set out to form angry Internet mobs.  This week, we discuss Sean "Elysium" Sands' plea for gamers to re-evaluate the merits of premium downloadable content.  He makes a thought-provoking argument, suggesting that DLC may be the price we pay in order to perpetuate the existence of gaming as we know it.  Do his ominous predictions have you reaching for your wallet?  We invite you to jump in with your thoughts, free of charge.

Some discussion starters:

- What kind of DLC have you purchased?  Do you have specific personal rules about what you buy?

- Do you believe that one game's DLC can subsidize other games, or will it just yield more DLC for that game?

- Is there an ethical component to DLC from an artistic or democratic standpoint?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 30 min 52 sec
- "A Dirge for the Sinking Ship," by Sean "Elysium" Sands
- Music provided by Brad Sucks
Direct download: EXP_Podcast_52_DLC.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:43pm PDT

EXP Podcast #51: Sizing Up Handhelds Big chubby news recently came out of Nintendo: Their next DS version is imminent, and it is a much larger beast than we are used to. The DSi LL (DSi XL for the western market), is a whopper compared to its older sibling. Its screen is fully 93% larger than the original DSi. Take that poor eye sight. This week, Scott and I tackle this behemoth and discuss the current state of handhelds, what we've been playing on our itty-bitty screens, fat fingers, developing for limitations, and the elderly market. You can find more information, including nice photographs, in our show notes, and we encourage you to leave thoughts of any size in the comments section.

Some discussion starters:

- Aside from portability, what has attracted you most to handheld games?
- What limitations of the current handheld market are potentially empowering?
- What games have you been playing on a small scale, and what best use the smaller hardware?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show Notes:

- Run Time: 27 mins 21 secs
- Nintendo Officially reveals the DSi LL, via Destructoid
- Music by Brad Sucks

Direct download: EXP_Podcast_51_-_Sizing_Up_Handhelds.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30pm PDT

EXP Podcast #50: In Search of Secrets
Invisible coin blocks, hidden passages within a level, and obscure collectible trinkets are just a few of the conventions often turn games into digital Easter egg hunts.  However, in a time when large numbers of gamers never even bother to finish a game's main story mode, the reason behind the near-ubiquitous inclusion of in-game secrets is a mystery unto itself.  This week, we use Andrew Vanden Bossche's recent GameSetWatch column as a starting point to discuss secrecy in games.  How do deceitful children, James Bond, and avian harassment factor into the conversation?  You're one click away from finding out.  As always, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments: do you crave concealed cash, or are you simply sick of sleuthing?

Some discussion starters:

- What sets your favorite examples of secrets apart from your least favorite examples?

- Are secrets that affect gameplay any more or less ethical than those that do not?

- In light of the Internet, what is the future of secrecy in games?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 31 min 37 sec
- "Design Diversions: 'It’s A Secret To Everyone'," by Andrew Vanden Bossche, via GamaSetWatch
- Music provided by Brad Sucks
Direct download: EXP_Podcast_50_Secrets.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:52pm PDT

EXP Podcast #49: Next Gen Genetics Our console generation is getting old, and there doesn't seem to be a new model in our immediate future. So what is going to happen to those "Next Gen" games we are perpetually looking forward to? According to LukePlunkett of Kotaku , we might be short on innovative wonders for awhile. This week, Scott and I delve into Plunkett's somewhat controversial piece. Join us while we discuss generational shifts, ideal zombie numbers, creative spaces, sea mammals, and evolution of game design. As always, we love to hear your thoughts in our email or the comments section below. Check out the show notes for Luke's original article; it is well worth reading.

Discussion Starters:

- What makes a truly "next gen" game? Or is this a frivolous distinction?
- What advancements most open up a creative space for developers to implement bold innovations?
- Is the evolution of games better characterized by fundamentally different eras or gradual iterations on common ideas?

Show notes:

- Run time: 28 min 11 sec
- Music provided by Brad Sucks
Direct download: EXP_Podcast_48_-_Next_Gen_Genetics.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:19pm PDT