Rank #1: Ep. 4: 'Overwatch,' E-sports, and the NES Classic
Nov 14 2016
Rank #2: 'Splatoon 2,' 'Destiny 2,' and Aliens and Love in 'Grand Theft Auto' (Ep. 43)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh, Jason Concepcion, and Justin Charity discuss their impressions of 'Splatoon 2' and the 'Destiny 2' beta (4:00). Then, Ben and Jason bring on Kai and Gramz, two members of 'Grand Theft Auto' data-mining group Team Guru, to talk about their years-long hunt for 'GTA' Easter eggs, what motivates them to keep up their quest, the tools of their trade, their successful hunt for in-game aliens, and their real-life, long-distance romance that was kindled in 'GTA' and recently led to marriage (26:40).
Jul 21 2017
Rank #3: Ep. 3: New-Console Anxiety and Mark Ingram on 'Call of Duty' and Clowns
Nov 04 2016
Rank #4: 'Tacoma' and 'PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' (Ep. 45)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion discuss whether makers of future consoles will feel pressure to support portability to keep pace with the Switch (2:37), then talk about Ben's impressions of 'Tacoma,' the new game from The Fullbright Company (makers of 'Gone Home'), and the temporarily game-breaking bug that prevented Jason from playing it (7:19). Then they bring on professional fantasy sports player Al Zeidenfeld to discuss how he started streaming 'PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds,' why the game has become such a phenomenon, the best and worst tactics that players employ, a community controversy, and what's in store for the game's future (28:42).
Aug 04 2017
Rank #5: Gamer Grooming and the Golden Age of Board Games (Ep. 46)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion discuss the addition of a free-for-all deathmatch mode to team-based shooter 'Overwatch' (1:05), then bring on makeup artist Ada Trinh to discuss her work with Blizzard, Riot, and esports athletes; why gamers need help in the complexion department; and why it matters that competitive gamers look good (7:00). Then they talk to ESPN senior baseball writer (and Paste Magazine board-game reviewer) Keith Law about his gaming past, the current golden age of tabletop gaming, why tabletop games are making up an ever-larger share of the "gaming" category on Kickstarter, the parallels and differences between board games and video games, how designers have developed tabletop adaptations of video games, and which board games he thinks gamers should try (26:04).
Aug 11 2017
Rank #6: The Ascent of 'Rocket League' and a Comeback for 'Crash Bandicoot' (Ep. 40)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion briefly discuss Nintendo's SNES Classic (1:12), and then are joined by their colleague (and fellow 'Rocket League' enthusiast) Rob Harvilla for a conversation with Psyonix Studios' Corey Davis, the design director for 'Rocket League,' about the game's origins (3:23), the secret to its satisfying gameplay and controls (9:28), its advantages and rapid rise to prominence as an esport (14:23), its pursuit of cross-platform play (25:15), and what's in store for its future as its second anniversary approaches (31:26). Then Ben and Jason bring on another colleague, Kate Knibbs, to mark the release of the remastered 'Crash Bandicoot' trilogy by recounting childhood memories of the series (40:40).
Jun 30 2017
Rank #7: 'Super Mario Odyssey,' 'Shadow of War,' 'Wolfenstein 2,' and 'Darkwood' (Ep. 58)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion mark the pod's first anniversary by discussing a quartet of recent releases. First, Ben and Jason examine what makes 'Super Mario Odyssey' amazing and why the Switch is owning 2017 (1:00). Then they talk to 'Achievement Oriented' producer Kyle Crichton about 'Middle Earth: Shadow of War' (21:42), before welcoming in colleague Justin Charity to recount his impressions of 'Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus' and explain why the game's story takes on added depth in the current political climate (35:25). Lastly, Ben talks to 'Darkwood' developer Gustaw Stachaszewski about why he made a horror game despite being scared of horror games, how he channeled his real-life fears into the game, and why he decided to give the game away on torrent sites (56:10).
Oct 27 2017
Rank #8: 'Dream Daddy' and Giant Bomb's Successful Pivot to Video (Ep. 47)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion banter about 'No Man's Sky' updates, mundane objects that look great in games, and Ben's plans for a video game bachelor party (1:20), then bring on their colleague Alison Herman to discuss the summer hit 'Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator,' a Steam game that subverts the tropes of traditional dating sims (8:40). Finally, Ben and Jason talk to Giant Bomb founding member and video producer Vinny Caravella about the origins of the site and how it anticipated trends in podcasting, streaming, and video that media members are still wrestling with today (32:24).
Aug 18 2017
Rank #9: '2K18' Release Week (Ep. 52)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion discuss Jason's inaugural experience as a video game writer on 'NBA 2K18' (1:05). Then they talk to 'NBA 2K18' director Chris Papierniak about the difference between game direction and film direction, how to handle the development of a game that can't be delayed, how to channel NBA drama into an E-rated game, and the expanding scope of sports games (17:33).
Sep 22 2017
Rank #10: The SNES Classic, Revisiting 'Night Trap,' and Gaming Fear (Ep. 54)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion reminisce about 'Red Dead Redemption' and react to the trailer for 'Red Dead Redemption 2' (1:10). Then they bring on their colleague Victor Luckerson to recap his all-day marathon with the newly released SNES Classic, weigh in on which 16-bit classics have held up the best, and forecast the future of retro gaming (7:10). Lastly, Ben and Jason bring on Kotaku's Stacie Ponder to discuss how the notorious (and recently rereleased) 'Night Trap' holds up 25 years later, her love-fear relationship with horror games, and the endless porting and remaking of 'Resident Evil' (27:35).
Sep 29 2017
Rank #11: Streaming Sins, Space Games, and 'Metroid' (Ep. 51)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion discuss Jason's return to the new and (possibly) improved 'No Man's Sky' (0:55), then bring on colleague Justin Charity to talk about celebrity streamer PewDiePie's latest offense, indie developer Campo Santo's response, the uncertain symbiosis between streamers and publishers, and why gamers get toxic online (5:55). Then they bring on NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory systems engineer Molly Bittner to discuss her work on NASA's Cassini and Europa Clipper missions, what it's like to talk to a spacecraft, how she finds time to play games while working at NASA, and her thoughts on 'Hellblade' as well as 'Destiny 2,' 'Mass Effect,' 'Kerbal Space Program,' and other space-based games (22:40). Lastly, Ben and Jason welcome The Ringer's Rob Harvilla to reflect on the 30th anniversary of the release of the original 'Metroid,' share his impressions of the newly released 'Metroid: Samus Returns,' and explain why 'Metroid' might be gaming's greatest space series (53:13).
Sep 15 2017
Rank #12: Esports Roundup and a World-Size Sim (Ep. 38)
Jun 16 2017
Rank #13: Loot Boxes Are Bad, but 'Battlefront II' Is Good (Ep. 62)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion discuss the recent releases of several high-profile Switch ports, what their success means for the system's future, and what might have been for the PlayStation Vita (0:57). Then they review the highlights and lowlights of the multiplayer modes and single-player campaign of 'Star Wars: Battlefront II' and lament the game's heavy-handed use of microtransactions and loot boxes (6:15). Lastly, they bring on 'Battlefront' writer Walt Williams to talk about the special thrills and unique challenges of creating characters and stories inside the 'Star Wars' universe (26:45).
Nov 17 2017
Rank #14: 'NBA 2K' Player Ratings and the Rise and Fall of 'Backyard Baseball' (Ep. 56)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion talk about Ben's video game bachelor party, how 'GoldenEye 007' has aged, and ultra-precise esports competitors (1:45). Then they bring on Mike Stauffer of 'NBA 2K' developer Visual Concepts to ask how he manages rosters and develops player ratings for the game, how he incorporates (or ignores) feedback from NBA players and fans, and how advanced stats have made the ratings more sophisticated (8:50). Lastly, they welcome Ringer colleague Zach Kram to discuss his retrospective article on the 20th anniversary of the cult classic 'Backyard Baseball' series and the games' development and decline (31:58).
Oct 13 2017
Rank #15: More 'Mario,' Visceral, Gambling on Loot Boxes, and 'South Park' (Ep. 59)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion briefly discuss the latest trailer for 'The Last of Us Part II' (1:00) then bring on Kotaku news editor and 'Blood, Sweat, and Pixels' author Jason Schreier for a wide-ranging discussion about 'Super Mario Odyssey' and Nintendo's stellar 2017 (9:00); the fall of Visceral Games and the cancellation of another high-profile 'Star Wars' game (27:00); the proliferation of loot boxes and microtransactions; whether loot boxes constitute gambling' and the cyclical nature of the video game industry (41:25); and the crowded release calendar and 'South Park: The Fractured But Whole' (54:00).
Nov 03 2017
Rank #16: The Frustration-Free Challenge of 'Cuphead' (Ep. 55)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion discuss Jason's ever-changing real-life look and how his hairstyles affect his character-creation strategy (1:40), then share their impressions of the new Windows and Xbox run-and-gun game 'Cuphead' (7:30). Next, they bring on brothers and 'Cuphead' co-creators Chad and Jared Moldenhauer to explain how they conceived and perfected the game's eye-catching art while delivering difficulty without frustration, and to discuss the benefits and burdens of hype, the game's speedrunning potential, and their newfound financial prospects and future plans (14:25). Lastly, Ben and Jason wrap up with a few words about Ben's upcoming wedding and video game-themed bachelor party (47:50).
Oct 06 2017
Rank #17: The Holiday Deluge, 'Stardew' on Switch, and the AI of 'Echo' (Ep. 57)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion discuss the beginning of the grueling/exciting torrent of fall releases and what they anticipate will be a successful gaming holiday season (0:55), then bring on comedian Nick Wiger to discuss his experience with 'Stardew Valley,' the secret to the game's addictiveness and longevity, and its recent Switch port (9:32). Lastly, Ben talks to Martin Emborg, the game director and art director of newly released PC/PS4 stealth game 'Echo,' about the game's innovative, adaptive AI; the influence of 'Hitman'; and the video game acting debut of Rose Leslie (38:20).
Oct 20 2017
Rank #18: 'Call of Duty: WW II,' 'The Frozen Wilds' DLC, and 'Super Lucky's Tale' (Ep. 60)
In an intimate bonus episode, The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion discuss Jason's concussion (0:15) and Ben's binge with three newly released games: back-to-basics big-budget shooter 'Call of Duty: WW II' (6:12), 'The Frozen Wilds' (the first downloadable content for game of the year candidate 'Horizon Zero Dawn') (24:23), and throwback Xbox/PC platformer 'Super Lucky's Tale' (33:24).
Nov 09 2017
Rank #19: Video Game Writer Walt Williams on 'Significant Zero' (Ep. 53)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion reflect on why video game makers are hesitant to talk about the development process publicly (0:15). Then they talk to one who isn't: Walt Williams, who's worked on 'BioShock,' 'Spec Ops: The Line,' and 'Star Wars Battlefront II,' among many other games, and joins the podcast to discuss how game-writing works (20:35), the perils of crunch (25:20), the pitfall of player choice (38:42), how to make morality interesting in interactive games (43:15), and his new book, 'Significant Zero: Heroes, Villains, and the Fight for Art and Soul in Video Games.'
Sep 25 2017
Rank #20: Developing 'Pyre' and Composing Supergiant's Soundtracks (Ep. 44)
The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and Jason Concepcion talk to Greg Kasavin, creative director and lead writer of indie developer Supergiant Games, about the company's new game, 'Pyre,' its surprising shoutout from Arby's, the apocalyptic settings of Supergiant's games, how 'Pyre' is different from their previous works, 'Bastion' and 'Transistor,' whether 'Pyre' has potential as an esport (and the pitfalls of online multiplayer), why the company wants to stay small, how he uses music to aid his work, and how his past experience serving as editor-in-chief of Gamespot is still helping him make games (2:14). Then they bring on Greg's colleague Darren Korb, Supergiant's audio director, to discuss his process for composing the soundtracks for all of the company's games, how he branched out into new genres and instruments for 'Pyre,' the secret to making a video game soundtrack that stands on its own, how to account for the player's actions when making music for games, how to write songs that repeat but never get annoying, and more (43:53).
Jul 28 2017