[MUSIC PLAYING] LARRY HRYB: Hi, it's Larry Hryb, Xbox's Major Nelson. Welcome to the official Xbox podcast. Your friends here at Xbox direct from inside Xbox every week, or most weeks, to talk to you. This week we've got Rebecca over there on the right, Malik over on the left. Malik of the week, welcome to the show. Good to see you, guys.
REBECCA: Excellent pointing, Larry.
LARRY HRYB: Well, it's so funny because it's this way. It's that way. I don't even know anymore.
MALIK: It's too difficult.
LARRY HRYB: It's reverse. But anyway, good to have you back, Rebecca and Malik. You're sitting in because Jeff is out doing whatever. I don't know. He's doing whatever Jeff does. I have no idea.
REBECCA: He blew us off this week. It's OK.
LARRY HRYB: Yeah, he did. Thank you.
REBECCA: Starting the new year off right.
MALIK: That's right.
LARRY HRYB: But it's good to see you guys. What a week. We got some news to talk about. We have some cool stuff. But I want to get right in. And I want to start with Malik. But every time I ask you what you're playing, you always tell me Apex. So are you going to surprise me this week, pal?
REBECCA: That's true.
MALIK: Well, Larry, I realize I got to switch it up here. What am I playing? Well, funny you should ask. There we go. Say no to humans.
LARRY HRYB: OK.
REBECCA: I love it.
MALIK: Although, you can't see it, say yes to Game Pass, or High on Life on Game Pass.
LARRY HRYB: Oh. [LAUGHS] Oh, you're on.
LARRY HRYB: Look at you. You are all branded.
MALIK: Of course. Here's why I'm all in, Larry and Rebecca. The aliens are our overlords. I don't know if y'all know that. And so when they come to abduct us, like they do in the game High on Life in Game Pass right now, they're going to look for who was on their side before it all happened. And I'm sorry, I'm looking at you two. And you all look like humans. I'm supporting the aliens are overlords.
LARRY HRYB: I see. So you're team alien.
MALIK: That's right.
LARRY HRYB: You already turned your back on the human race.
REBECCA: So bad.
LARRY HRYB: He's out.
REBECCA: It's a low-stakes decision.
MALIK: It's terrible. But I know you all talked about it a little bit last week, so I won't go into it too much. I was listening to the show. But I just love the game, inching my way through it, like I do all the time. I know you mentioned Apex. I have to stop playing Apex because I only play it at night after 10 PM. And it ruins my sleep schedule. So--
LARRY HRYB: Is it because you're just so amped up from playing a multiplayer game and getting your wins?
MALIK: Yes. I wear my watch to make sure I don't need to stop playing for my heart's sake.
REBECCA: It's to tell you your heart rate.
MALIK: Yeah, it's like, hey, take it down a few notches. So I can't sleep after I play it.
LARRY HRYB: Hey, Malik, did you fall? Yes? No?
MALIK: Exactly. Should we call the ambulance? And so I've been playing High on Life, inching my way through. But also, I'm inching my way through Somerville, which I know came out a few months ago.
LARRY HRYB: You know, it's funny.
MALIK: I just love it.
LARRY HRYB: I've been playing that as well, Malik. And I don't know, Rebecca, have you had a chance to play some of it? I know you were busy.
REBECCA: Tell me about it.
LARRY HRYB: Well, Malik, I'll let you do it because I started playing it and it's-- I keep going back to it. Talk about it if you would please, Malik.
MALIK: Sure. So one of my favorite games of all time is Inside. It is made by Play Dead. And the co-founder from Play Dead moved over to brand new studio called Jump Ship. And they just shipped the game Somerville a few months ago back in November. And the game, it's really very much like Inside in that there's no dialogue. There's no cut scenes. It's like a 2D scroller. I think there's a little bit more 3D depth in this game than before.
But yeah, I would liken it to a Jordan Peele film if you all have seen Us or Nope, where you're not sure of the exact plot that it's happening. But after a series of events that are taking place as you traverse through the game, you're starting to pick up on tiny little pieces. Super short game, which is a testament to the fact that I only play in small bite size, that I haven't finished yet. But I should be finishing it tonight. But it's just a really awesome game.
LARRY HRYB: What is it?
MALIK: It's a platform puzzler kind of game.
LARRY HRYB: And what's interesting to your point is, as far as I played, about an hour, a little bit over an hour, there isn't any dialogue, Rebecca. And there's not really any tooltips, per se, you just kind of need to figure out what's going on. And it's a very clean design. I mean, it's got it's got a very Scandinavian-esque style to it, in terms of very clean design and geometric shapes and things like that. I haven't finished it yet. So check it out. Game Pass.
MALIK: Highly recommend it.
REBECCA: I'm looking at it now. And one, no dialogue, no cutscenes, definitely appeals to me. I feel bad. But I'm the girl who always skips over sentimental stuff.
LARRY HRYB: I do too. I get yelled at by some of the hard-core people on the team, like Jeff and some of the other people. They're like, yeah, if I'm just like, I want to play. I want to play. I want to play.
REBECCA: But this looks really cool. Is it on Game Pass?
LARRY HRYB: Yep.
MALIK: It's on Game Pass.
REBECCA: So easy to try it then.
MALIK: So you just download it. Highly recommend it. Again, I love story-based games. And I love the fact that you have to interpret what the story is about in this game. If you haven't played it, check it out. Love it.
LARRY HRYB: Lovely. Lovely.
REBECCA: Very cool.
LARRY HRYB: Let's see what else. So that's what you're playing. I'm playing-- I've finished up a bunch of challenges in Halo. I use Halo. People seem to be playing Halo a lot. That's kind of the social lubricant for me because I have a lot of friends that don't work in the industry that are scattered around the world. And they know playing Halo.
So we get together, we come together a couple of times a week. And that's kind of our watering hole because they all know how to play. And they don't have a lot of time to play newer games. So they're like, we know how to play this. Let's just get together and talk about the game's industry, what's going on in the world.
REBECCA: I like that about Halo.
LARRY HRYB: Yeah, exactly. I don't want to say mindless. That's not fair. But you can talk and play at the same time. You're doing your call-outs.
MALIK: Do you do more competetive?
LARRY HRYB: Pardon me?
MALIK: Are you more into the competitive? Or do you do a few custom games? Or how do you--
LARRY HRYB: I like Fiesta. And Fiesta--
REBECCA: I love Fiesta.
LARRY HRYB: --for me is because-- and they used to have it in social big team battle. --is because I'm an OK Halo player. But this gives me-- sometimes, I get the power weapons. And the person who handles weapons really well doesn't. So I need every benefit I can get. So when the R and G goes, and I get the power weapons, it works. When it doesn't, doesn't work.
REBECCA: Fiesta levels the playing fields a little bit more.
LARRY HRYB: Or levels me up maybe sometimes. I don't know. So definitely, I like that. So that's been fun. What else am I-- oh, Vampire Survivors. I know, Rebecca, we talked a lot about that on the game last week. I don't know if you've had a chance to play it. But I finished my first level, which is a big deal.
I was hoping to share that with Jeff. I texted him. And I should text you a picture that as well. But yeah, so Vampire Survivors. But that's really kind of what all I've been doing. What are you up to, Rebecca? Still playing your Marvel game?
REBECCA: Yes, I love Marvel Snap. I actually feel really bad because-- I don't know if you remember, but the last time we were in the studio, I was talking to the guys about Marvel Snap. And they were like, oh, if you like this, you should play Midnight Suns. I think that's what it's called which is out by, I think, it's 2K Firaxis.
And I went to hang out with my friend Matt Chang, who I think you guys maybe know. I know, Larry, you do. And we were talking about Marvel Snap. And I was like, oh, some people told me I should try Midnight Suns. Have you ever tried it? And he's like, are you kidding me? Because he works at 2K. And I forgot that was actually his game that he was the PR manager for.
And so he was like, thank you for remembering. Yes, that's my game. So I was like, oh.
LARRY HRYB: Say hi to Matt for me, by the way.
REBECCA: [CLEARS THROAT] Yes, I will. So then I played a little bit of Midnight Suns. And it's kind of funny because going off of what I just said earlier, I'm not really a cutscenes and dialogue kind of gal. And Midnight Suns is basically Marvel Snap with those two things added in.
And so as soon as I started, I was like, oh, OK. But then because it's his game, and I already kind of insulted him, I ended up playing. He walked me through it. And we were playing for 20 minutes. And it was OK. It's a little bit too much story for me. I think I'll stick to Snap with the different matches.
But then aside from that, I have still been playing High on Life, very much enjoying that one.
MALIK: How far are you? How many weapons do you have?
REBECCA: I'm at three weapons now, well, three guns and then the knife. But then aside from that, we have our three-day weekend coming up here in the US. And then there are some cool games that just came out on Game Pass and good games that are--
LARRY HRYB: By the way, I love your segue into the news here. That was smooth.
MALIK: Like peanut butter.
LARRY HRYB: Wow.
REBECCA: Oh, you know, I'm coming for Jeff's job of sharing the news. No, just kidding. But real talk, we do have some games--
LARRY HRYB: Oh, hey, Pumba. I see Pumba in the background. Sorry. Just calling your dog now, sitting on your bed.
REBECCA: That's OK. Thankfully, he can't hear you because otherwise he'd be like-- yeah, he likes to cuddle back there. It's been really rainy in California lately. So he's been chilling, not too many W-A-L-Ks going on. Can't say the word or else he thinks--
LARRY HRYB: Soon.
REBECCA: --it's time. But so Game Pass, we have Persona 3 Portable coming and Persona 4 Golden. You know, where is Jeff to--
LARRY HRYB: I know Jeff is really excited about those. He couldn't be here. So I'll speak on his behalf. We're lining up an interview with that team. So we can talk to somebody about that. So we'll hopefully get that on in the coming weeks.
MALIK: You're going to make his year.
REBECCA: Perfect. Great. He gets to nerd out. It's why we work in the games industry. We also have Monster Hunter Rise coming next week on the 20th, which I'm pretty excited about. I tried a little bit of Monster Hunter back in-- many years ago. But we have a couple of folks on the Xbox PR team who are pretty well versed in it. So I wanted to give it a shot and kind of get some pointers from Alicia, specifically. She sounds like she really knows what she's talking about.
LARRY HRYB: That's what's great about working on our team. We all work on the comms team. And frankly, everybody at Xbox, we have so many different styles of games that we like. And everybody gravitates towards one. We love all games. But we know what we like and we gravitate towards certain things. And I love the fact, we have this broad spectrum of interests and expertises on the team.
MALIK: That's right.
REBECCA: Let's see. And then we have some games that are going to be leaving Game Pass on Sunday, January 15.
LARRY HRYB: I need some walk-on music for Game Pass titles and some exit music. I was just thinking about that.
MALIK: Sad music.
REBECCA: That would be great, actually. I think that would be a good add. Should look into that. So Nobody Saves the World, which we actually met with the developers, I think, last year.
LARRY HRYB: We did.
REBECCA: --and chatted with them. It's a great game, recommend giving it a shot. We Happy Few is also going to be leaving Game Pass, Windjammers too. There's the full list of games that are coming and going on Xbox Wire.
LARRY HRYB: You can also check, usually, when you're in your console, when you go to the Game Pass section, you can scroll to the bottom and it'll tell you what's leaving. So if you can't remember, next time you're in your console, you can go check it out.
REBECCA: Yeah, good tip. Some other news this week, Xbox is now the first carbon-aware console. What that means, I'm still figuring that out. Yes, Malik?
MALIK: Oh, I was saying number one. I was doing the number one sign.
REBECCA: OK, great. I thought you were like, oh, I have a question. I was like, oh oh. I was like, good, someone else doesn't know what that means. Just kidding. This is basically an update on what we're doing with sustainability and trying to be more conscious of our impact on the environment, how much energy our consoles are using, so a few different things.
Now the console can, depending on your settings, wake up and install updates, install games, at a time that's best for your local energy grid and also different shutdown, quick resume, features. Depending on how you adjust your settings, you can save a lot of energy.
LARRY HRYB: Have you all altered your settings on your consoles?
REBECCA: Yes, I have.
MALIK: Oh, I have not yet.
LARRY HRYB: All right. Malik, I need you to go do that.
MALIK: I haven't done it yet.
REBECCA: That's your homework now.
MALIK: Got it.
LARRY HRYB: Because to Rebecca's point, when you go through there-- and again, this will be rolling out to everybody through Xbox is, you can see that you're saving quite a bit of money. And so I used to have mine on what was, like, instant on. And I said, no. No. No. It's only cost 10 seconds or 15 seconds for a Series X to boot up. So I want to save. I want to save energy. Back to you.
MALIK: Save the planet.
REBECCA: All of us do what we can.
LARRY HRYB: Save the planet, so that Malik can go align with the aliens.
MALIK: I want a good planet for my new overlords to. Come on, y'all.
REBECCA: Anyway, if you're interested in helping us save the planet, before the alien overlords overtake it, then on Xbox Wire, there are a few different instructions on how you can adjust your settings, things like enabling automatic updates, shutting down sooner when you're inactive, et cetera. So check that out and take a look.
Next in news, so I actually am a little bit late to the game. But I started getting into one piece late last year. And then was doing it to try to get familiar before we saw the One Piece movie that came out in, I think, it was October.
LARRY HRYB: Are you One Piece fan?
REBECCA: I am now. It's just hard because it's a really hard thing to get into late in life because-- late in life-- late in game because it is so extensive. And it's kind of how anime and manga used to be. So it's not modern. But I am enjoying it. I'm still bouncing around through the series.
But so there's a new turn-based RPG that's going to be coming out, I believe, next week, or-- no, wait, today.
LARRY HRYB: Now.
REBECCA: Today when this airs. Sorry, on the 13th. Sorry, we film a couple of days early. But so the term-based RPG is going to be coming out today. And there is actually a demo that's available this week. And then I think the progress will carry over into the full release. So I'm going to give that a shot this weekend.
LARRY HRYB: Check it out. Check it out.
MALIK: I love demos that do that. They don't make you go back--
REBECCA: I know, right?
MALIK: --and play the whole section again. That's a huge quality of life feature, love that.
LARRY HRYB: That's innovation in the games industry right there.
REBECCA: Honestly, if a game is in beta or trial mode and the progress doesn't carry over, I'm really hesitant to do it. I might as well just wait.
LARRY HRYB: I am with you. I'm with you.
REBECCA: And last piece of news, and this is coming in right before lunch, so it's in bad timing. We have special edition Xbox Oreo cookies that are available.
LARRY HRYB: Have you seen these? Look at that. If you're watching us on the podcast, here they are. And let's be clear, these are available-- they're not available in the US or Canada. They're only available currently in Europe right now. So I'm trying to get some sent over. I don't want to talk too much about them because I'm going to work on getting them in here to show them off. It's cool.
REBECCA: That's pretty confident.
LARRY HRYB: We've got a great partnership team. They worked on the OPI one. They worked on the Doritos and Rockstar, when we were stuffing our faces with Doritos.
REBECCA: So making me hungry. I mean, honestly, if there were two folks on the team that I would have faith in being able to get some cookies sent to the US, it would be and Aaron Greenberg.
MALIK: Yes, we need this to happen.
LARRY HRYB: They're on the way.
MALIK: Just hopefully, they'll get past customs.
REBECCA: Yes. And then, actually, one last piece of news. And I can't believe I kind of spaced on it because this has been what I've been so busy with for the last couple of months. So later this month, Xbox and Bethesda are going to host the Developer Direct. It's going to be on January 25, 12:00 PM Pacific Time.
We'll have a lot of different tune-in reminders and social reminders and things like that leading up to the event. But we're really excited. There is a lot of good stuff coming out in the next few months from, both, Xbox, Bethesda, and all of our different partner studios.
And so, specifically, what our fans can look forward to is, we're going to be showing an extended looks at Forza Motorsport, Minecraft Legends. I've already seen the segment. It looks great. The Elder Scrolls online is going to be doing their next chapter reveal. And we're going to show a really long look at Redfall which is going to be really cool.
LARRY HRYB: No. No. Go ahead. I want to point something out after you talk about the titles.
REBECCA: I think for Redfall, I've been chatting with my friends about this one too. And I think a lot of people have seen is really multiplayer focused. And so I think that that team is wanting to show like, hey, this is going to be a really strong single-player game too. It's open world. It's set in really awesome-- what do we call that? Oh, yeah, New England. I was going to say little England. That's not right. Sorry. Mini England setting.
LARRY HRYB: New England. New England.
REBECCA: But the cool thing is, well, cool depending on how you feel about it, for me, there's no cutscenes, less dialogue. It's very much just the developers talking themselves and showing you specifically--
LARRY HRYB: Oh, I see. I see. So the show itself. You're not talking about Redfall. We don't know about Redfall.
REBECCA: Oh, sorry. Sorry, not Redfall. But the show itself, there isn't going-- usually, we have hosts. And we have different people coming on stage and giving updates.
LARRY HRYB: We're going to do that chatter here. We're going to pick up the pace. We're going to pick up the slack for that. We'll do it here.
REBECCA: But I think that's cool about the show because the fans really just want to hear from the people who are creating the games themselves. They want to see extended gameplay footage. And that's exactly what this is going to be. This isn't going to be a snappy new game here and new game here, or anything like that.
- Well, come here.
- It's really just a deep dive. Exactly. It's a deep dive on all of the cool things that are coming out in the next few months.
MALIK: I love it.
LARRY HRYB: I want to point out something. And this is, I think, it's the third paragraph down. To dedicate the right amount of time for these titles, you will not be seeing any Starfield. That's going to come, apparently, at a later date. So just want to manage expectations here.
MALIK: That's what it's all about, expectation setting. But I was going to say, congrats, Rebecca. I know you've been working super hard on this. And it's really awesome to see. And Larry and I were chatting a little bit before this. And as people who have been in the industry for so long, in many ways all of us have, it must be really hard to know something's coming down the line, working really hard on it, and knowing that a lot of fans are looking forward to it. Is that hard to know that you're working on something and the fans are asking for it, but you can't say anything? I feel that must be a really tough thing.
LARRY HRYB: I'll let you talk, Rebecca. Or do you want me to go?
REBECCA: You go first. Go ahead.
LARRY HRYB: It's funny you say that, Malik, because I've been working in this industry for so long. And there's this weird part of my brain, which is encrypted and locked up. I know a lot of things that are coming, most things that are coming. And, I don't know, I just have this ability to partition it. I'll just say this. And I remind people of this.
I've been in Xbox for a long time. And there's a reason that I've been here so long, as I love the people, like yourselves, that I work with. I love the fans. I love our product. And I love our roadmap. And our roadmap is where we're going. So the reason I'm here is because I'm really excited about what we have.
So it is a challenge because sometimes I'm like, I'm so excited to talk about this. And I know that Jeff and I and Rebecca, when we come on the show after a big reveal or big announcement, we've known about, or perhaps many of us work on it. And I also want to be very clear. And I know I've done it with you, Rebecca, not so much with you, Malik.
But I've actually said, I don't want to know. Don't tell me anything. I want to be able to say, I don't know. So there's certain times when you've got to when to say, stop. That's just how I feel.
REBECCA: Well, I mean, it definitely adds pressure to things because for things like, let's say, different Minecraft game updates, I have always known about those well in advance. But the community is usually really good at making guesses about what's going to come because--
LARRY HRYB: They're so in tune with the product.
REBECCA: Right. And for a game like Minecraft, we want to put things into the game that people are asking for and that people desire. And so, usually, the community is spot on with some of these predictions. It's funny because I think we all work in PR. And so we all deal with leaks and addressing leaks internally and just like talking about, where is this person getting this information?
Or the funny thing is when the leaks are super wrong. It's like, it's a leak. So that part is also-- I don't know. It's tricky to deal with, but ultimately-- I'm going to sound like such a sap. But ultimately, it's so great when you do make the announcement, and you see the excitement from the community. And you see things ending really well, it's a really good feeling to work on things that people care so much about.
MALIK: I love that. I love that. I feel like I've noticed it so much. And not to belabor the point, but I've noticed it's so much, just a passion across teams at Xbox. And it's just awesome to see the work that goes into stuff, like you're working on this, Rebecca. But all the other projects and then see the teams like super excited to announce it. It's like just one big joyful moment. I don't know.
LARRY HRYB: I do want to say one thing, though, that you just mentioned, Malik, is that Rebecca is working on it. But she's kind of-- and in whatever football soccer term, she's the center. She's the coach. She's the quarterback for this particular project. So we have different people. There's a lot of people that you're working with Rebecca around the world. But you're kind of, as we say in the business, you're herding cats, right?
REBECCA: Yes, a little bit. But they're very, very professional cats.
LARRY HRYB: So anyway, that's fun. Hey, we got a couple of interviews. Do you mind, Malik, if you would bring us into the news and get a set up because we got some cool stuff this week.
REBECCA: Yeah, let's do it. So we have two interviews. First, starting off with Sandro from our Xbox team in Germany to talk with Josh Sawyer about Pentiment, a game that I've been meaning to play. I know a lot of you have been playing it, great reviews so far. And then Larry is going to talk a little bit with some gaming-chair experts from Herman Miller, John Campbell specifically. So let's check out these interviews.
SANDRO: Well, thank you. And welcome to this segment. I'm from Germany as you have heard. And today's game is also from Germany. That's why I'm here today. I'm talking about Pentiment. And I'm discussing it today with Josh Sawyer, game director at Obsidian. Guten tag, Joshua. Guten Morgen, eher.
JOSH SAWYER: Guten Moregen oder Guten Abend fur dich.
SANDRO: Dankeschon. I was really impressed when I heard that you didn't just do a game that's actually playing in Germany, but you also speak German. But let's not do this anymore today.
JOSH SAWYER: Sure.
SANDRO: Because I know most of the rest of our audience won't be able to understand it. But Pentiment, it's been out for a while now. And we wanted to record this interview a while ago. We couldn't do it back then for a technical glitch. But I still wanted to discuss the game with you in detail because I've played through it. And I have so many questions.
JOSH SAWYER: Awesome.
SANDRO: But before we start into it, do you want to give us a quick introduction? What is Pentiment actually about?
JOSH SAWYER: Sure. Pentiment is a narrative adventure game. It's set in 16th-century Ober-Bayern, upper Bavaria, in the fictional town of Tassing and the nearby Kiersau Abbey, which is a benedictine-double abbey. And you play a character named Andreas Mahler, who is a journeyman artist from Nuremberg. And he is completing his Wanderjahre, the years during which he travels through Europe, learns from different masters, and then returns home to become a master in his own right.
But while he is staying and working at Kiersau Abbey, he becomes wrapped up in a murder. His friend at the Abbey, Brother Piero, was accused of the murder. And it's up to Andreas to prove that someone else did it. And there are multiple suspects. And it's never really quite clear exactly who did it. But that one murder then turns into multiple murders and a conspiracy that spans over 25 years. And you get to see Andreas and the people around him change over that time.
SANDRO: And it's been so very, very positively received. I loved it. I loved every single--
JOSH SAWYER: Thank you.
SANDRO: --second of the game. I'm pretty sure we don't want to spoil the game, the story, especially the ending to anyone. So we will probably have to keep this a bit too after the recording because I want to know what I did wrong and what I did right.
The first thing that really popped out when I started it up was the very unique art style and the intriguing storytelling. Just with text, it's actually like a book, is it? How did you come up with that? Because it's so different from what I expected, at least.
JOSH SAWYER: I had some ideas for the art style. I really knew that I wanted to rely on something that felt inspired from the Late Medieval and Early Modern period. And the 16th century early in this time was seeing the end of manuscript production, or most manuscript production that is, hand-written and illuminated books. And it was moving into the realm of print.
So I wanted to borrow elements from both of those things. And I approached our art director Hannah Kennedy, who's extremely talented. And I said this is kind of what I'm thinking of. This is the perspective I'm thinking of. These are the sources I'm thinking of being inspired by.
Then she went and she did a bunch of research on her own, gathered that reference together, and then created the art style you see, which looks very period appropriate. But it is not it is not a copy. It is a synthesis that Hannah created. And I'm very, very happy with it.
SANDRO: And it was said a lot of times that it looks different, but at the heart it's still an Obsidian game. It still has that Obsidian DNA. I felt that, but what is it exactly. How can I point a finger to what is an Obsidian game? Even if it looks completely different than any other Obsidian game now.
JOSH SAWYER: I think the things that people respond to, that feel very Obsidian in this game, are the character development. We have a large cast of characters that are really diverse in personality and background. And the way they talk, I think, feels very human. Their relationships are very human.
And you have a lot of choice within the story, in terms of how you interact with people. The choices that you make can have big consequences over time. And I think all of those are things that feel very integral to the type of games that Obsidian makes.
SANDRO: Well, I can just echo that. When I played it, I felt so much love and sometimes anger with the characters. It was really well written.
JOSH SAWYER: Thank you.
SANDRO: And the ending, we can't discuss it now. But I have so many questions. While I played it, I often asked myself, did I do the right thing? Is there a right way through Pentiment?
JOSH SAWYER: No, there really isn't. One of the things that I had found when-- I a lot of detective stories, or detective films, or detective games. But in detective games, the thing that I never really liked so much is that they feel very puzzle like, in the sense that there's a certain logical combination of things that you need to arrive at. And when you do, you find the true answer that is definitively true. There are some games that subvert this a little bit.
But I was thinking about the genre. And I was also thinking about the difficulty of determining guilt, for example, in an era when there's very little science to use. There's no forensic science, really. There aren't really even police. And the way investigations are done is really foreign to what we would understand. And the ambiguity of that was really scary.
And I thought that it would be interesting to put the player in a position where there were people that were quite plausible. But their time and their ability to really figure out the answer is extremely limited. And the best they can do is figure out the people who are likely to have done it and then make a choice and hope for the best. And that's never going to really feel great. And you're never going to--
SANDRO: I feel so bad.
JOSH SAWYER: I know. And even a lot of people, like there's one person that a lot of people gravitate towards, especially in the first act. And it doesn't feel satisfying when you see them punished for it because it's messy. And it's not the thing that you expect it to be. And you have to live with that. And the community reminds you of the things that you did. And it feels bad.
SANDRO: Yes, they do.
JOSH SAWYER: So that was the focus, was to try to make the player live with that ambiguity and accept that they're forced to do something that's just inherently unpleasant. And they just have to make the best of it.
SANDRO: Well, you did an amazing job of making me feel bad about my choices because I, actually, felt bad. Now, looking at the era and the location of the game. Being from Germany, if I was a game director, obviously every game would be playing in upper Bavaria. It's actually quite near where I live. I'm from Munich. So Tassing, even if it's not real, I say it's right around the corner here.
But you're not from Munich. You're not from Germany, Josh. You're from California. So why are you so interested in this time period in the location and, also, why do you speak German in the ad?
JOSH SAWYER: Well, I'm actually originally from Wisconsin, you can see the flag behind me, which had a lot of German immigrants. And my grandmother was born in Bavaria. And her father was in the Bavarian infantry in World War I. And so we have a lot of family roots in that region. My mom's side of the family also was from other parts of Germany.
So I was interested in our family history. And I did a lot of research into that. And then as I got into college, I initially went to a conservatory of music. And I studied-- and was really interested in singing Liebeslieder, romantic music from the 19th century, a lot of it by Schobert or Brahms with Goethe lyrics and things like that. And so I got really interested in romantic poetry.
And then I switched over to getting a history degree. And I studied German history. And German language was kind of necessary to engage in that. And then I just continued speaking German after I graduated from college. I traveled to Germany many times. Role-playing games are a genre that is quite beloved in Germany.
And so I just continued that interest. And when I had the chance to make a game that was historical-- I know a fair amount about other parts of Europe, but the Holy Roman Empire and Germany and Bavaria are pretty central to what I do know about.
SANDRO: Well, I can just say, continue the work. We need more that are situated here in Germany. I was really fascinated by the details and how rich the history actually was and, well, I assume how detailed the everyday life of a 16th-century villager was depicted, not only the village, but also the Kloster. I forgot the English term for it.
JOSH SAWYER: Abbey.
SANDRO: The Abbey. Right. So how did you research that? And what went into all of the research?
JOSH SAWYER: So some of it came from my pre-existing university education and in getting a history degree. And I had a fair amount of knowledge there. But then I went back to a lot of the old texts that I still had. I still read history books. I tried to expand my knowledge there.
And then, we had three historical consultants in different areas of expertise, Dr. Christopher de Hamel, who's a world-renowned expert in manuscript production. And I talked to him about the end of manuscript production and how an artist might work and what was plausible and what wasn't. And then, Dr. Edmund Kern, who was actually my advisor in college, who knows a lot about the Holy Roman Empire and Austria, more specifically. And he was able to inform on a lot of legal issues and cultural things.
And then, Dr. Winston Black who was a classmate of mine when I went to Lawrence University. And his area of expertise is medieval medicine. And even though we're entering the Renaissance in the 16th century, a lot of the medical practices were still fundamentally medieval for decades and decades until progress or knowledge started to be uncovered by people doing new research.
So that was extremely, extremely helpful. And if you want to see all the things that we referenced, you can go into the bibliography in the credits and see all the works that we referenced.
SANDRO: During your research, what was the funniest and craziest historical fact that you dug up during the research? Or is there anything in the game, now that people have probably played it already, that you would point out people to look at a specific piece?
JOSH SAWYER: Oh, certainly. And it's funny because I talked about it. And there were people who were surprised about it. And there's a very mild spoiler here. So if you're really worried about spoilers, don't listen to the next thing I say. But the character of Martin Bauer in the game is based on a historical figure named Martin Guerre who was a French, or really Basque, man in the 16th century.
And I don't want to get into the details about it. But it's a real story. It's real thing that actually happened. And it's incredible. But it there's a whole record from the jurist that presided at the trial of the man. And there's a French film of it.
The consultant for it, Natalie Zemon Davis, wrote a pretty brisk-reading history book called The Return of Martin Guerre that is, I think, a really, really excellent history book, even if you're not really that into history. And I would highly recommend it because it's hard to believe, but it happened. And it actually happened multiple times.
SANDRO: Well, that's fascinating because that's the one story that I wouldn't have thought that was real. It felt so crazy.
JOSH SAWYER: Absolutely.
SANDRO: But now thinking back about it, totally makes sense, at that time at least. Cool. I've heard that one of the things that really made Pentiment special for me was the sound and the soundtrack. I will be honest. I, sometimes, I love just going into the game and leaving it there as a background sound.
But now I've heard that you're also releasing soundtrack. What can you tell us about the soundtrack? And I can hear it already.
JOSH SAWYER: So the soundtrack was developed primarily by Alchemy which is an early-music ensemble. And I worked with them extensively to develop the tracks that were used for the game. We use them kind of sparingly. We don't have a constant running soundtrack. They're mostly used for dramatic events. But when they happen it's usually for very important things. And it fits the tone of the game very, very well. They did an incredible job.
And then we have an epilogue track by Kristen Hayter, the artist Lingua Ignota, which is really incredible on its own. It's a perfect endpoint to the soundtrack. And we released it on Steam. It's available on many streaming platforms as well. And then we're going to be releasing a double album, vinyl, this year. Exactly when we don't know, but it's coming.
SANDRO: So vinyl, you didn't go as far back as to doing a manuscript of it, like handwritten?
JOSH SAWYER: No, unfortunately.
SANDRO: It's beautiful artwork that we just saw. I can say I loved the soundtrack. And if you have not played Pentiment yet, I definitely recommend download it. You can play it on Xbox and on PC. It's on Steam. You can play it on Game Pass. And if you play it and you just need a background sound, a very nice and calming background sound, I can recommend standing anywhere in the village and letting it play in the background.
There it is. It helped me stay focused during a very hectic December. Thank you, Josh.
JOSH SAWYER: Thank you for having me.
SANDRO: And any last words? What would you recommend people to look forward to?
JOSH SAWYER: Oh, just the soundtrack is coming. We are going to be making another update with little additions soon for the game. But otherwise, check it out. It's on Game Pass. And I hope people enjoy it.
LARRY HRYB: All right. As promised, we're going to talk gaming chairs right now. And joining me is John Campbell from Herman Miller Gaming. John is, I guess, a chair expert. John, welcome to the show.
JOHN CAMPBELL: I've been called worse names. But thank you, Larry.
LARRY HRYB: It's great. It's really exciting to have you on here. People know Herman Miller which, if you've ever worked in an office, a lot of people have seen Herman Miller chairs. Herman Miller has an incredible lineup of chairs and furniture. I know a lot of people love Herman Miller stuff for its design.
But you've drifted into the gaming sector. And I had you on a couple of years ago, when you released the very first gaming chair that Herman Miller worked on. And I'm having you back again to talk about the next one. So tell us a little bit about it.
JOHN CAMPBELL: I couldn't be more excited to be back. So thank you. And it's been a wonderful journey we've been on for the last few years. When I was first on, we had launched the very first embodied gaming chair, which was the very first gaming chair from Herman Miller. And really within that, we spent quite a bit of time before that doing a lot of research around what makes a gamer unique.
So yes, we've been building product for the office for the last 100 years. Herman Miller is known for some of his most iconic designs from the Eames lounge chair to the Aeron chair to the Eames Aluminum Group. And you can name, there's even some right around me here in the office today.
LARRY HRYB: And let me go big screen on that. So you can take a look at that. That's a chair.
JOHN CAMPBELL: That is a chair. Yes, that is one of our iconic pieces that is quite amazing. And it's one of these things that, I think, when people think about Herman Miller, they're really pulled to these classics. And that is something that will always be around and is something that we celebrate.
But also as we look to the future, we're really looking at gaming as an opportunity to go in and solve some of the world's hardest problems and challenges. So as a human-centered design company really what we're doing within the gaming space is looking at gamers and saying, what are the major -- what are they faced with today? And how can we start to develop products uniquely for them?
And embody was that first step into the space, which we talked about a few years ago. And since then, we've been back in the lab with a mad scientist, thinking about what can we do next. And really what we came up with is, bringing in a chair that had all of those ergonomics in that specific feature that made it a gaming chair and really bringing it to even more people, which is the Vantum chair, which I can do a quick spin for you.
LARRY HRYB: I could do one too as you guys sent me one. I can do one too. You've got the red one. I've got the white one. But let me roll the full product for you here, which you guys provided. This is it right here, right?
JOHN CAMPBELL: Correct. So this is the Vantum chair. And it comes in three different colors, black, white, and red. And really what makes this chair a gaming chair is being able to support the player's unique posture, so that more forward-leaning posture. And it does it in a way that is actually-- you don't to adjust anything, which you're seeing adjustments here.
But the forward-lean is automatic within this chair. But you can't just do a forward-lean because all chairs do that. You have to then think about what changes when you're in that posture. And one of the biggest additions of the product is actually this support up in the top part of the chair.
So this is supporting your thoracic region of your spine. And when you're in that forward-leaning position, that's actually the area that's lacking the most support when you're leaning forward. So the combination of the lean, plus additional support, is what makes this chair truly revolutionary.
LARRY HRYB: And we can see it right here. Let me back up a little bit in the video. You can see this area right here that you're making reference to. Is that accurate?
JOHN CAMPBELL: Correct. That is the thoracic support. So we can all learn about our spinal, back from our days in biology.
LARRY HRYB: Now, it's interesting because gamers, I talked a little bit about it in the rest of the show, we're so concerned about the display and our headphones and our mouse and our keyboard or our controller and all the other and, of course, the game. But some people don't think about their chair. And I know that this is the Vantum, which is what we've been talking about here, it's available. I think it's a $795 price point right now, correct?
JOHN CAMPBELL: Correct. So it's being sold today online at hermanmiller.com or store.hermanmiller.com at $795. And you get the three colors, like we mentioned already. And what's great about this product, it is actually designed in a way that if you are a mouse-and-keyboard and if you're a controller player, it will support your unique posture.
We see controller players as they play connect it to a PC. There's still that slightly--
LARRY HRYB: Or console.
JOHN CAMPBELL: Or console, yes. There's that lean forward. But we're seeing more of that console and PC playing happening at a desk. And the need to be able to have a chair to support that. What you could do, you could roll this into the living room and play very comfortably in your living room. But also support the player in that forward leaning, no matter what they play. It's been really exciting to watch players being able to now have.
LARRY HRYB: I mean, I've used it here at my desk. This is my gaming PC and my work PC. And then I can actually spin it around. And then I got my console back here. So I'm using it in both scenarios. Now one thing I noticed with this is that we've seen gaming chairs. And I know you've seen these over the years. Everyone's got a gaming chair. And they kind of all look the same. Somebody's just throwing a logo on it. And they're coming out of one base factory somewhere on the planet.
But these, I mean, Herman Miller, this is what you do. You design chairs. So you didn't just take something existing, you took your company's many years of knowledge and put it into a gaming chair. And that's what's really exciting about this, right?
JOHN CAMPBELL: Absolutely. I mean, we have some of the engineers still here at Herman Miller that design the Aeron chair and have the knowledge around how to properly support ergonomics across a really broad population. We've taken all of that expertise and skill, and we've immersed them deeply into the gaming space.
We do this through our partnerships. We do this through all of the internal teams that we have here at Miller as well, in addition to a brand-new performance lab that we're building now in LA. And these are the spaces in the areas that we sit and learn everything that's unique about the player. And then start to take all of that rich history and knowledge and understanding about the human form and applying that to gaming.
So that you can then take a chair that, today, is actually looked at as much more of a billboard. That's really what chairs are used for in the gaming space today.
LARRY HRYB: There's usually a logo back here or something like that, right?
JOHN CAMPBELL: There's a logo. There's something on it. It's really not meant for the player at that point. And what we're trying to do is actually turn these things, chairs, into performance gear. So this is as important as your controller, as important as your keyboard, as important as your mouse. And your chair, we say, someday, we hope, when competitive players walk out on stage, they will walk out on stage with their own chair, which is actually, if you think about it, isn't revolutionary, but it is revolutionary within esports and gaming.
LARRY HRYB: Now, you talked about all the work that your team has done. You're the head of gaming over there, which is a fantastic title. What does it mean when you walk into a meeting with some of these engineers who have worked on Office? Because I know Microsoft, because we make Office and Windows, and that's kind of the work side of the house, whereas we're the play side. Do you have the same? Like, what are you doing in here? You're gaming. Or do they do they really understand it?
JOHN CAMPBELL: They understand biomechanics better than anyone else for the seated posture. What we're now bringing them into a new world is athletics. So what we focus on is the seated athlete. And there's things we're actually finding. There's some old ways of thinking that we're moving away from because they don't actually support the player in the right way, one of them being thermodynamics.
Thermodynamics has always been the idea of pulling heat away from the body to keep you comfortable. But we're actually finding with gamers in some areas is, we actually have to regulate heat, not necessarily cool them off. So there's an idea around keeping the body at an optimal temperature to be able to improve things like decision-making and reaction time, just like if you were an athlete.
You wouldn't just show up at the track meet and run your race. You would warm up. You'd stretch. You do all that. Reach that optimal temperature, then go run.
LARRY HRYB: Do you find that, because you're the seated experts as you just said, that when you're talking to gamers, and certainly pro gamers are one aspect of it. But there's a lot of folks who spend a lot of time in front of their PC working or gaming that perhaps are not in peak physical shape, like yourself or some other folks. So how do you address that? What I'm getting at is, what are the varied body sizes and shapes and styles?
JOHN CAMPBELL: And I think there's another layer there too. Performance is a very broad spectrum. Performance isn't always about going faster, beating, winning, doing all that. Performance can be translated into comfort.
So the number one thing that gets in the way of either your work, your play, or just hanging out with your friends online, can actually be discomfort. So high performance chairs, no matter who you are, if you're competing or if you're playing Fall Guys, or whatever it may be, what you want to achieve is comfort, so you continue to do the thing that you want.
But across all different body shapes, this is the really great thing. This chair, specifically, will fit from the 95th percentile to the 5th percentile. So we spend, it seems like, almost too long some days as we go through development, looking at every single-- what is the length of your femur? What's the length of your torso? And being able to measure that across all data sets, both North America, European, and Asian, and South American data sets, and being able to ensure that our chairs can fit the broadest amount of people in the population.
LARRY HRYB: For those folks, I mean, we talked about the Vantum and the chairs, as you said, available now at hermanmiller for $795. For those folks that can't afford a gaming chair, not yet-- perhaps, they will in a few years or later this year. But for those folks that are just sitting on their regular chair, maybe they bought at home at Office Depot or something like that, what are some tips you can give us to optimize what we should focus on, to at least help us the best we can with what we have?
JOHN CAMPBELL: First and foremost, movement. So don't stay sedentary for too long because yes, you are in a suboptimal product at that point, or a solution to isn't properly new. So the number one thing that you can do is, actually, set yourself a timer, which as a gamer, I get myself lost. And four hours can disappear because I'm so stuck into that game, to do whatever I was doing.
But set yourself a timer to be able to get up and move every 20 to 30 minutes is really important for you. And then the other thing that you can do as well is to think about your posture in these chairs that are non Herman Miller gaming chairs. Think about it in a 90-90-90 position. So making sure that your chair is at the right height, so that your feet are flat on the floor and your legs are at a 90 degree angle.
But I want to actually pause here on this very thing. The Vantum chair actually has a much shorter seat depth than all other chairs. And the reason why it does that is because this chair is actually intended to sit at a much higher height. So instead of your body in a 90-degree position, what we found is that a gamer, when they're in that forward position, actually needs to offload that weight onto their feet.
In order to do that, we're actually looking at opening up the leg angle beyond 90 degrees into about 100 degrees and a little bit beyond that. So you sit at a much higher height. And you don't need as much of a deeper seat depth. I know, who would have thought, we're revolutionizing the way that you sit. But it is really true.
LARRY HRYB: Well, now, the reason I'm smiling is because when you guys sent me the chair, and I set it up into my office, I was like, am I too big for this chair? Because I was leaning forward. I didn't understand what was going on. And then I had to read about it a little bit to go, oh, this is actually, as we say in the business, by design.
JOHN CAMPBELL: Correct. Correct, which it is. We've been training, Herman Miller has been training, people to sit in that 90-degree posture for quite some time. So now what we're doing is, we're going back and trying to retrain people. And actually, when your chair's designed properly, you can sit in a much higher position. And it is much healthier for you to be able to sit there, especially for gamers.
LARRY HRYB: Well, John, I appreciate all the work you guys have been doing. And it's fascinating. And people should go to hermanmiller.com. Check out the Vantum gaming chair. It's available right now. You can see it here. This is their website. $795, three different colors. And again, if you don't have the money to get something like that, just go back and listen to what John said about setting up how you should get your chair, whatever chair you have that you're gaming in, optimal
And most importantly, and I totally agree with you, John, we actually have a feature on the console that will do this, remind you take breaks. Take breaks and get up and walk around. I mean, it's the simplest thing you can do. Go get some water. Go get some fresh air. And then come on back in. And that will keep your body ready to go.
JOHN CAMPBELL: Yeah, your next posture is your best posture.
LARRY HRYB: There you go. All right, John, listen, John Campbell, Herman Miller Gaming, great to have you on again. Congratulations on another amazing product. We'll get you on again in the future because I know you guys are not done in this space. You're going to keep innovating, right?
JOHN CAMPBELL: Absolutely, we've got a lot more to come.
LARRY HRYB: All right. Thanks to Sandro and, of course, Josh Sawyer for talking about Pentiment and, of course, the Herman Miller chair experts, which I need a brand-new chair. You don't realize what--
REBECCA: Can you hook it up, Larry?
LARRY HRYB: I'll see what I can do for you guys. But you don't realize when you're sitting, it matters. It just matters.
MALIK: My watch is telling me "stand," that I need to stand more. You're not the boss of me, watch.
LARRY HRYB: Apparently, it is. Ah,
LARRY HRYB: Anyway, good stuff. Thanks for joining us this week, Malik. It's always good to see you. And maybe we'll have you back next week. I don't know, Rebecca, what's your schedule?
REBECCA: I'm going to miss next week's show, unfortunately. I've got a couple of things going on midweek.
LARRY HRYB: That's OK.
REBECCA: I will be back for the show on the 27th and very excited to talk about all of the news from the Developer Direct that'll be landing that week.
LARRY HRYB: Yeah, that's right. We're working on that as well. So we'll be back next week. Just remember, if you're over at YouTube, drop something in the comments, say hello to us in the comments, like and subscribe and all that stuff that everybody else asks you to do. We know you're going to do it for us because we love you. Xbox.
And it's just great to see everybody. If you're listening to this on Spotify or Apple or Google podcast in audio form, we do have a video form over on Spotify and YouTube, so you can see what our lovely faces look like. Or even as I click on this button right here--
REBECCA: I was going to say.
LARRY HRYB: --what Rebecca's puppy looks like--
LARRY HRYB: --who's sleeping now. Oh, there he is. Hey, pal. So that's fun.
MALIK: Don't forget my vacuum.
LARRY HRYB: Yeah, I was going to ask you? Hold on a second. Let me go to your vacuum.
MALIK: Come on now.
LARRY HRYB: There we go.
REBECCA: Just as cute.
LARRY HRYB: Do you still have the sales tags on that thing?
MALIK: Yeah. Oh, I like-- we don't have to get into it. But I'm a sticker-- keep the sticker kind of guy.
LARRY HRYB: Oh, you're that. OK. All right.
REBECCA: Very strong feelings on our team--
REBECCA: --on sticker versus no sticker.
LARRY HRYB: Right, exactly. I am team no sticker. Rebecca, what are you?
REBECCA: I'm team no sticker as well. But I understand people who are team sticker. It's OK.
LARRY HRYB: You know what?
REBECCA: We can all get along.
LARRY HRYB: Xbox is about choice. So there you go. Anyway, gang, all right. We'll see you, dear listeners and viewers, hopefully join us next time. And thanks again for joining us this week. We'll see you next time. Bye, bye, everybody.