Extra Consideration: The Rest of the Story

By Shamus Posted Monday Mar 28, 2011

Filed under: Column 40 comments

Last week we began a conversation between Yahtzee, Graham Stark, and myself. This week, the conversation is concluded.

I know we have another Extra Consideration coming up, although I don’t know when it will appear. (This conversation took place before PAX East.) I’m hoping they continue to mix up the hosts. They have Yahtzee, Graham, MovieBob, Portnow, and myself involved with this. They seem to pick three of us each week and toss us into the ring with a surprise subject. It’s a fun thing. My only lament is that I haven’t been matched up with Portnow yet. (He’s the writer behind Extra Credits, which is my favorite, never-miss feature on The Escapist.) Also, I think it would be cool if they could get Kathleen De Vere in on this at some point. (Maybe swap out Graham.) She’s smart and opinionated, which can only lead to good discussion.

Anyway. This is a fun thing they have going. Glad to be a part of it.


From The Archives:

40 thoughts on “Extra Consideration: The Rest of the Story

  1. Adalore says:

    My only complaint is that it seems a bit short and needs a little more back and forth…

    Also Gram not being a proper Canadian! Who would have thought!

    1. Max says:

      Agree with this 1000 times. These would be so much better if they were like 3 pages instead of 2. Even longer than 3 pages would be okay as well. And more disagreements would be good as well.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Graham mentioned that. Everyone knows video game stories have some work to do.

        3 pages would make a huge difference, though. You need at least 2 round for each person.

        1. Bobby Archer says:

          I think part of the problem is that the conversation gets broken in two and posted in subsequent weeks. I’m guessing they’re afraid of people not reading the whole conversation if it goes on for 4 or 5 pages, so they’re breaking it up. Personally, I have a harder time calling back the first part of the conversation when I’m reading the rest a week later.

          1. Garden Ninja says:

            Actually length seems to be a problem with the Escapist in general. I don’t know if they have hard limits, but they seem to prefer things short. Quite a few Experienced Points articles seem like the are set up to go somewhere interesting by about halfway into the second page, then they suddenly end.

            Extra Creditz has the same problem, often calling it out explicitly.

            1. Jonn says:

              And then there are the multi-page behemoths such as the recent PAX cosplay with 27 pages… link http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/108444-PAX-East-2011-Cosplay-Gallery

              Granted there’s not much per page and it makes sense to split it that way, but it isn’t a hard limit of pages in their system.

              1. Bobby Archer says:

                I don’t think it’s a limit of the system, I think Garden Ninja’s right and it is a limit that the escapist sets for its contributors. Featured articles get about 4 pages, regular scheduled articles get 2, news items are half a page, videos stick to 5 minutes (although some like Extra Credits stretch that my a few minutes every so often). The PAX cosplay article you linked to is an exception that is allowed (I believe) because it consists mostly of pictures and thus doesn’t take as long to read.

                If I had to guess at a reason for this, I’d say that they’re trying to set everything so that it can easily be read/viewed in one convenient session. For the most part, I think their lengths work out fine. Extra Consideration is one of the rare exceptions for me. Because so much of it is shuffling between various viewpoints and because it’s extemporaneous as opposed to a composed, edited article, you need to give it more space to feel like it is a complete thing.

  2. Tizzy says:

    I was surprised to see Shamus list (the first 10 minutes of) Doom 3 for storytelling. As someone who actually enjoyed Doom 3 (and I know we’re a minority), I thought there was some innovative storytelling (at least stuff that *I* hadn’t seen before, I don’t play that many games). I especially liked the various email exchanges, which often provided comic relief and poignancy at the same time, inciting the player to care about the fate of those poor bastards already beyond help.

    But I did not find the first 10 minutes of Doom 3 particularly engaging or memorable (except I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop). The first 10 minutes of Half-Life 2, on the other hand… Wow! That’s amazingly effective stealth-delivery of story and background right there…

    1. ccesarano says:

      The first ten minutes of Doom 3 sold me on it. I thought it was fantastic, and was disappointed that the rest of the game didn’t provide the tense atmosphere.

      It’s been a while since a game literally gave me the feeling of all Hell breaking loose quite like that.

      1. Tizzy says:

        OK, I think I got it. I figured out why the beginning was so underwhelming for me: I felt like they didn’t really tell your story very well. The parts I liked (emails, audio logs etc) were because they told the story of the base pretty well. But our marine just shows up and there isn’t much opportunity for character development and interactions. We get to overhear a lot of interesting conversations, but not to have any ourselves. And Sarge is a bit two-dimensional.

        1. Primgoenitor says:

          I think that is partly to fit in with the “Doom” theme. Imagine if Gordan Freeman suddenly got a voice in Episode 3.

          1. Tizzy says:

            Fair enough. But then again, it was a franchise reboot, they could have been a bit more adventurous.

  3. Johan says:

    “He's the writer behind Extra Credits, which is my favorite, never-miss feature on The Escapist”
    I don’t know why, but Extra Credits just isn’t something I like to watch. I enjoy what they say, but I think my problem is how they say it, I feel it would enjoy it much more if it were a written column (with pictures), rather than a video.

    1. 8th_Pacifist says:

      I have mixed feelings about them. They’re smart people, but too optimistic for my tastes. They seem very willing to jump to easy answers and generally act as if they had the perfect solution to every problem if only everyone saw it the way they did.

      I actually agree with them most of the time, and I watch every episode, but it feels… almost like pandering, as if they don’t think you’re smart enough to come to conclusions on your own.

      Not sure why I feel that way.

      1. ccesarano says:

        In terms of pandering, I imagine they’re trying to write the show for as broad of an audience as possible. My Dad’s actually watched some of their stuff with me, and has surprised me in his own positive reaction to them. As such, they are more accessible.

        Simultaneously, they have a time limit. I feel like they could keep the show going for so much longer than they typically do, but they try to keep close to the five minute mark (more like seven or eight minutes).

    2. Halfling says:

      I too would enjoy Extra Credits far more if it were a column. But even though they seem to have good insights it is just dull in video form. I guess I will never enjoy it unless they change their minds and become a written column.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        If it were a column it’d be just James, and I personally think Daniel does a really good job narrating.

        They are kind of optimistic, but sometimes I think they have reason to be. Apart from that, there have been a couple that have just discussed topics (instead of problems), and many of those have been really, really interesting.

  4. ccesarano says:

    Honestly, Graham seems out of place in these e-mails. I don’t know if he lacks the time or the verbiage, but he just doesn’t come across as being nearly as analytical as the rest of you. It could just be that his personality doesn’t lend itself to “I have these opinions and everyone must hear them!”, but for a column like this that sort of thing is sort of required.

    1. Josh R says:

      agreed – Graham just seems to majorly lack the credentials of everyone else, though, arguably, Yahtzee suffers from the same problem – backed up by a cult following alone.

      neither really show the deep understanding of games given by bob/shamus/james.

      Yahtzee just isn’t the draw he used to be.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Meh. I admit, I liked the first couple Extra Consideration’s better. Yahtzee is better on his own – I really enjoy Extra Punctuation sometimes.

      2. Nic says:

        Yahtzee backed up by a cult following… How does that make him different from the other 4?

        The way I see it, all of the participants have the same basic credentials: Lots of people listen their opinions. Yahtzee and Graham may not be as erudite as James, or as long-winded as Bob, or as generally awesome as Shamus. But they have popular shows on the Escapist, which gives them a reasonable claim to Knowing Something About Games.

        At any rate, I enjoy their presence :)

      3. ccesarano says:

        Yahztee has an understanding of game design, certainly. However, someone above mentioned Extra Credits being too optimistic whereas I feel Croshaw is too negative. I like the optimistic attitude better because, well, I’m a cynical enough bastard myself and that’s all you really hear from some of the better writers. Croshaw’s style of writing makes it sound as if there is no redeeming quality in nearly anything ever (except for Portal).

        I know better, of course, that his reviews aren’t about highlighting what works but pointing out the obvious errors others will ignore. As such, I feel this actually makes him valuable to a discussion like this. He’ll always provide that cynical, biting critique that one of the other fellows can counter, and with that you end up with interesting discussion.

    2. Zukhramm says:

      I think its harder to take that atitude in group conversation rather than when you’re writing on your own, and giving them some time to get more used to it and each other will improve that.

  5. Irridium says:

    They seem to pick three of us each week and toss us into the ring with a surprise subject.

    When you said this, I imagined three of you in a WWE-style wrestling match. And yes, it was awesome.

    Also, I find it funny how everyone wants more negativity when everyone agrees. I remember quite a few complaints about how negative everyone(you, Yahtzee) are towards games. And when you agree and are more happy and optimistic they wonder where the bile is.

  6. Aldowyn says:

    Again, you didn’t say enough. Poor Shamus :(

    And who wasn’t expecting System Shock 2 in his list? :D

  7. Adam P says:

    Aww. The first part ended with Graham saying something about Fallout 3. I was expecting Shamus to have opened this second part by ripping the game apart. That would have been some nice conflict Graham was apparently looking for. Oh well.

    Maybe next week? =D

    1. Halfling says:

      Perhaps Shamus has erased the game from his memory. PTSD and all that.

      1. Shamus says:

        Fallout 3? Doesn’t ring a bell. I think I would remem-AHHH! THE GUY ON THE RADIO SAYS I’M RACIST BECAUSE I HATE MASS MURDERERS!

        What? Where was I? Oh right: I’m sure I’ve never played it.

        1. Vect says:

          So… If you hate Three Dog, then I’m guessing Mr. New Vegas or Tabitha are relative fresh breaths compared to the Fighter of the Good Fight himself.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            I love tabitha!There shouldve been so much more of her.

        2. ehlijen says:

          It’s ok. Just remember, Cuthbert put a grenade in his pocker :)

          1. Aldowyn says:

            Gods that was awesome. That was seriously epic.

    2. Chris B Chikin says:

      When Yahtzee mentioned Bioshock at the end of page one I was also disappointed Shamus didn’t point out how ridiculous and contrived the first plasmid injection actually was.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I have to agree with Yahtzee about second sight.It really is an excellent game,and its a shame how it went so much unnoticed(like the psychonauts and beyond good and evil).And if you enjoyed the twist in kotor,youll enjoy the twist here even more.Its a game that starts with “Bleh,amnesia again”,and ends with “Oh,so thats why it started with amnesia!Genius!”

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Yeah, I have to say that as far as twists go Second Sight had one of the nicer ones.

      A bit unrelated but just putting that Good and Evil thing there along with Psychonauts and Second Sight made me go (to GOG, cause I’m lazy and am not gonna run around the city looking for it in some second hand) and get it. Only had time to reach the first savepoint but so far it looks pretty enchanting, runs nicely and has a ton of wonderful little touches. Will see how it goes from here.

  9. toasty_mow says:

    I’m glad that you mentioned Metroid Prime for story. DAMN that game had atmosphere and story going for it. Probably one of the best frigging game ever invented, both in terms of gameplay and in terms of story. I really should figure out a way to play it again and maybe, this time, actually win. Those darned Stealth ninja pirates drove me near insane when I played that game. I was literarlly jumping around my living room with my wavebird controller in hand screaming at the TV screen in vain attempts to keep Samus Aran alive while defending my self, CQC style, against ninja-pirate-space assassins (yes, that is what they were). It did not end well.

  10. CTrees says:

    I am shocked, shocked that Shamus didn’t mention Jade Empire. He served up KotOR for plot twist, Yahtzee volleyed it back, and then… well actually the article ended. Still, I’m shocked!

    Yeah, two pages is far too short. Wasn’t the first one three pages? That was much more satisfying.

    1. ccesarano says:

      It could be because everyone is so busy, that’s all the responses they had for, like, a week’s supply of e-mails.

    2. K says:

      While JE has a great plot twist, I found everything else so dull that I could not even get that far. I stopped playing when I reached the capital. Anyone else feel like that?

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