The Diecast #4: Max Payne, SimCity, and Blip.tv

 By Shamus Mar 14, 2013 170 comments

splash_diecast.jpg

We should probably title these things or something. I mean, if we’re going to keep making episodes then at some point we’ll be like, “Wait. Which one did we discuss playing through Half-Life 2: Episode 3? Was that Diecast #230? No, 230 was when we discussed Sony’s inexplicable decision to design the Playstation 5 with a cotton-candy pink case.”

Then again, I have no idea how to title long multi-topic discussions in a memorable way. Screw it. We’ll just kick this problem on down the road and let future-us deal with it.


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Show notes:

00:15 Intro. What’s everyone doing? Shamus is playing Max Payne 3. (I suppose I might as well link to that one Max Payne video before someone beats me to it.) Rutskarn is playing KOTOR2. Chris is playing Perspective. Josh is playing…

17:00 Tomb Raider. The new one. Like, the reboot. This one.

40:00 SimCity. Man, does this story have legs or what? We recorded this on Sunday night, and here on Thursday the follies continue. Sadly, this means a lot of the stuff we discussed or speculated about has now been resolved or rendered moot, only to be replaced by new failures. The latest? Maxis Insider Tells RPS: SimCity Servers Not Necessary.

This reminds me so much of the ages-old BioShock controversy: A polite spokeswoman is way out of her technical depth and saying things that the tech-savvy users prove to be untrue, thus making inflaming the people they were trying to pacify. Those who do not learn from history, etc. (They are also repeating the mistakes of the Diablo III launch and the Assassin’s Creed 2 launch. So, nice going EA. You are the very last idiot to make this particular blunder.)

1:03:30 The Blip.tv story. Here is what Chris posted about it. And here is the original post where I hurled bricks at the company after too many trips through the same advertisement: Blip.tv Sucks. Stay classy, Shamus.

A Hundred!20202010Many comments. 170, if you're a stickler


  1. Spammy says:

    Err… Shamus, that Errant Signal link isn’t actually a link to Errant Signal, it’s a link to one of your old posts.

    Is this the new private video?

  2. slipshod says:

    Oh, that Max Payne video… makes my day every time.

  3. Rutskarn says:

    I volunteer to title all Diecast episodes as long as there’s no oversight and nobody who can stop me.

  4. Hydralysk says:

    Hey, don’t mock the future-decision to make cotton pink electronics Shamus!

    I bought my candy pink Dualshock 3 because it was clearly the manliest color on display, and it perfectly matches the normal black & chrome of my PS3.

    Also, much easier to spot lying around.

  5. StashAugustine says:

    “Obituaries: Everyone Max Payne ever loved.”
    Made my day right there. Since it’s just past midnight, that means I’m set!

  6. TheFriarDude says:

    Sham, if you’ve no ideas, just name them something arbitrary and unrelated to the podcast’s content. Easier to remember that way.

    Also, they won’t burn your soul if they’re not Rutskarn puns.

    edit :
    Sorry meant to call you Shamus.. for some reason my keyboard cut me off.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I dunno, I figure name them the same way you name Spoiler Warning. Someone, somewhere, will say something interesting in the podcast -it might even be a RutsPun -and BOOM! Title!

      I nomninate “Pissed off by Daylight Savings Time”

  7. Shamus, I found this posting at Slashdot about someone looking at how the Sims actually go about their day. If he’s correct this game sounds so flawed as to be unfixable.

    I mean… how could anyone, even EA, miss something like this? “Sim” is part of the name of the game for cryin’ out loud.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      They didn’t miss it. This is how it was supposed to work, maybe not at the very beginning, some concept stage, but for the gross part of the production cycle they were perfectly aware that the agents aren’t really simulating actual citizens but rather interchangeable drones in some sort of one track hivemind, similarly the “phtantom population” is not a bug, it IS a feature. What’s more, certain aspects of the game mechanics that people are surprised about, like the fact that the sims “loose their identity” upon entering the building, were apparently covered in some obscure development commentaries or blogs that you can get to if you hunt them down. The places they weren’t covered? Trailers, TV ads, website ads, front page marketing materials… I think the reason EA isn’t addressing the deficiencies of the “simulation” aspect is that they don’t want to further antagonize the users by shoving it in their face but if anybody tries to start legal action for false advertising with things like “every citizen is simulated” they have their assess covered by pulling out stuff like “the phantom populace was mentioned in dev blog X, we obviously meant that every non-phantom citizen is simulated. And by simulated we meant what was described in a footnote to a blog post that we linked in a newspost on the product page on day Y.” I am exaggerating for the comedic/deppressing effect, but only a little.

      • Wow. I’m no programmer, and I haven’t played the game, but I would’ve figured it would have been handled as it was in previous games: Handle it on the macro level (i.e. X number of sims work here, they live here, here, and here, and they commute between here and here at Y o’clock to Z o’clock) and calculate traffic jams and so on. If the player wants to follow a sim, just instance one, give it a name, and run the micro stuff then.

        I can’t see how they couldn’t have either seen how their existing system would break or have actually seen it happen when just testing out the engine.

        • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          In certain types of cities, this might be a pretty good approximation. These would be cities without cars.

          In many ways, this sounds like the Sierra/Impressions Ancient City-Builders. Caesar, Pharoah, Zues, and Emperor. Those games were fun, but you had to plan around the fact that the travelers were stupid. As a result, every neighborhood more or less looked the same -a loop centered on a market. (At least, that was my solution.) And in a sense, it worked because ultimately, everything had to be in easy walking distance so relatively compact districts made sense.

          But that isn’t what cities look like in the age of easy transportation. Main roads are frequently not the shortest route precisely to keep traffic out of certain parts of the city except for when you actually need to be there.

          I dunno, maybe the game is a secret brief for more mixed-use zoning.

  8. Muspel says:

    One simple solution would be to just put tags for various topics.

    But then you have to remember all of the topics you talked about for when you make the post. Maybe that’s not so simple after all…

  9. “BlipTV: The video service that makes you say, ‘Hey, remember Viddler?’”

    Has anyone had any experience with DailyMotion or Vimeo? Both on the fair use side and the ad revenue side?

    • Raygereio says:

      Beyond watching the occasional video there, I have no experience with dailymotion.
      But Vimeo decided to ban videogame content back in 2008 because some “artists” couldn’t deal with Let’s Play’s being more popular then their “art”. So screw Vimeo.

  10. Deadpool says:

    Slight nerd moment about Max Payne 3:

    So the dialogue in Portuguese seems to have been written in English, and then handed to Brazilian voice actors who spoke English to read (well the MAJOR lines. Most rank and file people seem not to be natural portuguese speakers reading it phonetically).

    This is most notable when the cop goes to get him and Max a drink. He orders Max a “guarana” (Brazilian soda) and himself Choppe (Draft Beer).

    But the scene must have been handed off to AMERICAN animators with the description as “soda and beer” so the barkeep hands him a BOTTLE of beer…

    No, this isn’t important. I just found it amusing.

  11. karthik says:

    Rutskarn, do you have the KOTOR 2 restored content pack installed? It’s over 1 GB of patches, fixes and replaced missing content. It basically brings KOTOR 2 to the state it needed to be in when it shipped. The game is a mess without it. You can get it here.

    • Nordicus says:

      Most importantly, it gets you a lot more HK-47 dialog.

      One *can’t* have enough HK-47, especially when written by top tier writers

      • Thomas says:

        Droid factory!

      • karthik says:

        Ya know, David Gaider wrote HK-47 in KOTOR. Gaider, lead writer on Dragon Age 2, a game that defeated its own central conflict by letting the protagonist run around as a mage setting things on fire. Just saying.*

        Actually, Gaider’s blog is very interesting, as is the story of how he came up with the idea of HK-47:

        “James Ohlen, the Lead Designer, asked me to write some actual dialogue for HK-47. I protested— you want me to write something for the stupid droid with the automatic rifle name? (Which is not where the name came from, incidentally, though I didn’t even know it at the time.) COME. ON. Yet there it was, new task assigned… my punishment for efficiency, I guess.

        OK, FINE. I had a little over a week to do it, and thus he’d have to be smaller than the other companions, but I guessed I could give him something. Inspiration came in the form of the “Littlest Hobo”, a Canadian TV series that used to replay constantly on CBC about a dog that goes from owner to owner helping them improve their lives before moving on.

        You might say, “Huh? HK-47 has absolutely nothing in common with the Littlest Hobo!” But you would be wrong. He’s the anti-Littlest Hobo. He moves from owner to owner, helping them engineer their own self-destruction before moving on. This thought amused me enough to form the kernel of an idea. The whole “meatbag” thing just came in the middle of writing, when I tried to imagine how an android that found humans disgusting would actually view their organic bodies (60% water seems like a lot of sloshing around, to me). I liked that enough that I used it to excess. Cue the one-note character. I chuckled, got it done on time and left it at that.

        “There! Are you happy James? I finished the stupid android.”

        * Now that I think about it, ME3 did something similar, but entirely in its script instead of the combination of its script and gameplay.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      And awesome with it -even to justify the every-five-minute-crashes on Nar Shadaa.

  12. Deadpool says:

    While I do enjoy Tomb Raider, I had some problems with it.

    For one, Lara falls more than Isaac Clarke… It’s kind of unbelievable how much of the game is her falling and her voice actress yelping and moaning.

    Second, the process of her going from scared girl to badass is a bit… erratic. I mean, 85% into the game there’s still a scene of her cowering in a fire fight (that she TOTALLY could have won if I were controlling her) as if she is as incapable as she was in the beginning.

    The level up mechanic helps this, but the story didn’t keep up with this at all.

    • Grampy_Bone says:

      Lara has Nathan Drake syndrome; she can’t go anywhere without having everything fall apart or explode.

      • Esteis says:

        Nathan has Lara Croft syndrome, surely? I speak as one who has played neither series, but I do believe the Tomb Raider games are a good decade older than Uncharted.

        Unless “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned” is something new to the latest Tomb Raider, of course, in which case carry on and don’t mind me.

        • Thomas says:

          Nathan was influenced by Lara and was so successful he created a whole new disease that he infected her with

        • Taellose says:

          It sort of is, yeah. Indiana Jones inspired Tomb Raider, but more in the vein of “adventurer archaeologist that discovers actual supernatural stuff sometimes and must save the world from disaster therefore” than “semi-heroic everyman who stumbles his way to victory.” In the previous iterations of Tomb Raider, Lara Croft is more like James Bond than Indiana Jones, in terms of personality – super-competent, always unruffled, and often even supernaturally clean.

          Uncharted was inspired by both, but imported more of the character concept of Indy than Lara Croft had. And now, with this reboot, Lara is intended to be more of an everyperson than before (at least at first), though for her its less of a “stumbling into success” than simply inexperience combined with determination and raw talent (plus a healthy dose of plot-protection). The new Tomb Raider has more in common with Uncharted’s structural style (fighting and 3D-platforming gameplay broken up with frequent, highly cinematic setpieces with QTE interactions) than its characterization of the protagonist.

    • Eruanno says:

      On the screaming: I don’t know, it makes sort of sense to me. If I was falling off a cliff/falling out of the window of an airplane on a cliff/getting swept down a river/got my foot stuck in a beartrap/other horrible things that happens to Lara I would be screaming so hard I’d pass out.

      • Deadpool says:

        It also makes sense for her to die when facing her first five better armed, better trained, more experienced, better positioned enemies.

        It’s a game. We EXPECT things to not make sense. I’d prefer my game not to sound like a snuff porn audition half the time than for it to “make sense”…

        Don’t get me wrong, the game did some things right, and it is better than I expected, I just don’t think it did its theme enough justice.

        • As a side-note, it sounds like they only recorded one falling scream, because as far as I can tell from playing the game there is no variance to her fall screams.

          Since she does fall so often, I think recording slightly different versions would have been nice.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Lara is a terminator.The abuse she just shrugs off in this game is mind boggling.And people are saying how females are weaker and not fit for combat.

      • Deadpool says:

        I was REALLY hoping for a “You know what? I am tired of this shit!” moment that just never came. The crawling through the river of blood part would have been PERFECT for Lara to go from little girl to badass, but it never really came…

        • You could say that the moment she gets the grenade launcher and screams “GO ON! RUN, YOU BASTARDS!” is that moment.

          • Deadpool says:

            Problem is, that’s not Lara being badass, that’s Lara getting a cool new weapon. It’s also subverted shortly afterwards when the nerd of the group is holding off and shooting dudes while he’s DYING and Lara is ducking around and yelping like a scared little girl

  13. Bryan says:

    Ham!

    …Now I want a sandwich. :-/

  14. impassiveimperfect says:

    Wondering for the naming of podded casts, would a system like the following work?

    Diecast #4: Tomb Raider, SimCity, Blip

    (Diecast #1: Backwards Compatibility, Last of Us, FarCry 2/3, Star Wars

    Diecast #2: Star Trek game, EA, female protagonists, Devil May Cry, Aliens CM, Aliens pitch

    (The second one is awkward to work with.)

    Diecast #3: Playstation 4, Civilization World, Crytek F2P, Elder Scrolls bad?, AssCreed 4 (yarr))

    Or something.

    • Nytzschy says:

      I think a proper title works better than a list of topics covered, since the topic list is easy enough to get to anyways. A good title should give a salient hook both for expectations and for recall afterwards. If this episode were called “Sim City Blues,” or something like that, that would tell the listener more than enough about the episode’s context and content.

  15. Erik says:

    Is it me, or did Rutskarn really didn’t have much to say this week?

  16. Nick says:

    For anyone looking for the Ghost Link of Laughing At The Past:
    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=294

  17. Deadpool says:

    Easy explanation for Perspective:

    First person Fez.

  18. Tuck says:

    If this is going to be an ongoing series, perhaps it could have its own category/tag on the blog?

  19. RedSun says:

    I really don’t understand why anyone, anywhere, likes KOTOR. To me, it is easily the worst Bioware game I’ve ever played, and I’ve played them all sans Neverwinter Nights and TOR.
    The story is incredibly dull, especially by today’s standards. It’s not original, or compelling, or thematic, or even funny. Roleplaying is a joke, given how idiotically, cartoonishly stupid the sith and the main villain are; it boggles the mind how they raised any kind of army. I also wasn’t really feeling the Jedi; their “train people to use incredibly powerful space magic and laser swords and then do nothing to ensure their loyalty” struck me as not particularly helpful to the galaxy.
    I have absolutely no idea what it is they were trying to do with the combat; it seems, at a glance, to be going for a real-time strategy curve, but you don’t get any kind of signifigant tactical options until you’re at least 8 hours in, and even then, its incredibly awkward.
    Are we really comparing that unfavorably to ME3? Even when it was being dumb, it was still interesting and took place in a world I could care about, and it was still fun to play. Hell, ME3 still had a ton of great missions and character moments, which is more than I can say for KOTOR’s largely uninteresting cast and duty roster. I honestly can’t think of much KOTOR does that holds up today.

    • Thomas says:

      I was about to defend some of those points and then I realised I was using arguments from KotoR 2. 2 simultaneously improves the canon of 1 and makes 1 unbelievably dull to playthrough by comparison.

      Honestly there are some good things about KotoR. It’s the best use of the Bioware hub system, the hub worlds in general were fleshed out. The twist was nice and the divergance at the end was good. Being able to change each planets fate is satisfying and skillfully avoids the long term consequences and HK-47 was cool.

      Most of all it pretty successfully captured the Star Wars feel. (Unlike TOR coughcoughcough)

    • Lame Duck says:

      I remember enjoying KotOR a lot when I first played it way back in the dinosaur times, but when I played it again recently I had a lot of the same problems you did and really didn’t like it.

      Bioware’s constant re-using of almost the exact same characters from game to game meant that a lot of the characters immediately felt stale and came across as worse versions of characters in other games. I particularly did not like Bastilla. I still enjoyed HK and Jolee Bindo though. Also, while the twist itself is theoretically kind of interesting, I felt that it was pretty poorly handled. It recontextualises some earlier dialogue, but it doesn’t affect any of the relationships or subsequent interactions in any significant manner, despite how much it should. It might have felt more significant if the PC didn’t feel like such a personality-less non-entity. I think my biggest problem, however, is that there is a lot of dialogue in the game and the vast, vast majority of it is really, really, excruciatingly boring.

      I enjoyed KotOR 2 a lot more, despite it’s flaws. The characters felt new and interesting, the dialogue was way better and it felt like it was actually possible to role-play a little bit. I liked being able to play someone who thought the Jedi were dangerously incompetent but also didn’t feel the need to torture and murder people for no reason. The combat still wasn’t great, but I can tolerate that.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        While I would have appreciated a combat system more akin to that of, say, Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight (or Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast), for a game built on the foundations of D20 mechanics, I thought it worked fairly well. Far better than Dragon Age. I dislike monitoring cooldown timers.

        As for the story, it pales next to KOTOR II, but I also think it does a very good job of capturing the aesthetic and feel of the original Star Wars Trilgoy. Betrayal of the Jedi Oaths, over-the-top villainy brought about by Dark Side consumption, and a latent life vs. technology theme are all there in the first movie. Malak and Vader have more than a little in common.

        And the themes of identity and choice are quite well developed for a game on the kind of tight rails the early CRPGs required. The scene right after the reveal is some of the best writing in the game, and Jolee Bindo’s stories alone are worth the price of admission -especially once you realize that he has known who the PC is all along.

        Mission Vao never grew on me, but hey, a few wrong notes are how you know it’s a real performance.

        KOTOR II is much superior (when it works), and has many brilliant -but unplanned and organic -themes and thoughts to work from, but it is not much of a Star Wars story. It is very much a deconstruction -and a very good one. Alas, it makes such a deserved hash of the rest of the series that it becomes very hard to take it seriously afterwards.

        And TOR just sucked.

        • Thomas says:

          See, I’ve always disagreed that KotoR 2 is a deconstruction of Star Wars canon (i think it works quite well at feeling Star Warsy too) because the people who say things that disagree with Light/Darkside are never assumed by the game to be right, they’re saying what they believe.

          It can be a deconstruction, but it doesn’t have to be. Kreia lies in everything she says and the game never makes the assumption that she’s right. In fact you can argue that her justifications and philosophy lead her down the dark road.

          And the idea that combat is inherently corrupting is a big theme in the Star Wars films (keep in mind I was 8 when the Phantom Menace came out) and the conflict between peacekeeping and keeping your soul is a big deal.

          It challenges your conceptions of the SW universe and maybe it’s a little more intellectual than the films were, but it gives you the option to raise and strengthen canon notions, or disbelieve in it as you choose

  20. Adalore says:

    Shoot, now I have ANOTHER podcast sort of thing to listen to with people with valid and strong opinions.

    Youtube is such a frustrating place. I want to create unique content but I’d also like to make money off it.

    Companies like Riot games have purposefully set it up legally on their end that people can make content based on their game as long as it’s not racist etc, but do the youtube robots care? Is there anyone even employed with that job?

  21. Esteis says:

    Regarding the naming system: the title doesn’t have to be something that describes the entire show. All it needs to be is a mnemonic peg that we can remember, and then our brains will have a far easier time linking the show’s topics to that title.

    In other words: any title at all is better than a number, even something unrelated like “Episode 5: Red-faced smurfs.” If you think that’s too random to stick in the mind, just ask Rutskarn to introduce each topic by telling a story that links that topic to red-faced smurfs. I promise you he’ll come up with something memorable.

    (Besides, people who are looking for ‘the one with Left 4 Batman in it’ will just google your site for it, yes? So the titles are free to be as non-descriptive as you like.)

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I was actually looking forward to the episodes titles like

      “The n’th podcast where Josh is the host and he trolls us by always skipping Chris’s turn to speak and when we talk about what games we play turns out we had no time to play anything this week because I was at a convention and Josh got a new job and Rutskarn had finals, except for Chris, who played something but Josh skipped him and just moved on to the next topic, which was the DRM in that new game and then Rutskarn made this horrible pun about the title and we all groaned after which…”

  22. ironclad says:

    for modern rpg developers, I can think of inxile, obsidian, CD projekt. Anyone know others?

    • AJax says:

      Hmmm… Altus and From Soft perhaps? Although the latter puts a lot more emphasis on combat and exploration into their games instead of traditional dialogue systems.

      • Thomas says:

        Square Enix :P I’ve heard good things about The World Ends With You and the FF’s are RPGs even if no-one means that sort of thing =D

        • Deadpool says:

          Well, Atlus does the jRPGs too… Although Square Enix CURRENTLY isn’t really putting out any quality RPGs. They are the JRPG Bioware at this point… Or Bioware is the WRPG Square. It’s hard to tell.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Does Spiderweb count? The games are very retro so I’m not sure how they count for modern, and there isn’t really roleplaying going on but I would say they fall well within the boundaries of what we define as cRPG…

      Depending on the game they also have some very solid atmosphere building through writing compensating for limited graphics. When I first played Avernum I pretty quickly started to read more into the descriptions because I felt this could help me improve the way I describe locations when GMing.

  23. Nytzschy says:

    I find it interesting that Spore mainly gets brought up as an example of crummy DRM, whereas my disappointment is entirely due to the game itself. I suppose that’s just because I picked it up several years after its release, when those kinks had been ironed out already? That doesn’t seem to be happening at all with Sim City: the DRM is just a gateway failure to learning about the game’s peskier flaws.

    • Raygereio says:

      I find it interesting that Spore mainly gets brought up as an example of crummy DRM, whereas my disappointment is entirely due to the game itself.

      As you said: the game is disapointing. It isn’t realy good, nor amazingly bad, so the only thing it’s now remembered for is the whole DRM debacle surrounding it.
      BioShock and Mass Effect had the same DRM, but those games actually had some memorable qualities to them.

  24. Wulfgar says:

    FYI
    inXile entertainment is making new Torment rpg
    there is still hope for rpgs

    • Thomas says:

      Maybe. See how Wasteland 2 goes. I’m a bit nervous about Torment because inXile haven’t really proved themselves yet. I put money in, but I’m more excited for Project Eternity because Obsidian have proved that they can write (Plus when you breakdown the writing on Torment, Chris Avellone wrote 50-75% of it. That man is a machine)

      • StashAugustine says:

        That’s why I didn’t put anything into Tides of Numeria. The only really unique thing I liked about Planescape is the writing (which sounds like faint praise but it’s not) and if it doesn’t have the same writers, there’s no real gurantee it’ll be good.

        • Thomas says:

          I put some in because they promised that they’d make almost all combat skippable and have a dialogue focus which leaves the door open to be as kickass as I wanted (and the theme was a good theme) but it worries me a little how much money some people are putting it in (and the number of people who figure it’s bound to turn out exactly like Planescape did).

          inXile were pretty straight up about it though and their reasoning was good. I only found out that Avellone wrote literally almost everything good about the game from an interview they posted on their own kickstarter page. (Though my favourite gameplay segment was written/made by some dev whose gone off to work with Blizzard which made me sad :( )

          • Wulfgar says:

            i don’t experting something on PS:T level. i can live with average rpg but let this be in 90′s standards.

          • StashAugustine says:

            Yeah, they’ve been upfront about it all, but I’m still not getting that hyped for it. And I didn’t quite agree with the major themes of the game (although they were interesting and well-expressed). I really hope to be proven wrong, though. (Also, what was that gameplay segment?)

            • Thomas says:

              Brothel! I’m a little frightened to replay it because I guess the fun can only come around once but it was a lot of fun working out all the mysteries and in the space of an hour going from not understanding a space to knowing all these intricacies and interconnected relationships and the puzzles/people were a nice level.

              I even enjoyed the running, I physically ran from button to button at the end of DX:HR and there was something very satisfying about picking up a piece of information and dashing to the other side of the room to use it to gain another piece of information…

      • Zukhramm says:

        Yeah, I’d probably have picked a higher tier if the Kickstarter had been after Wasteland 2 was done. I want to see what they can do first.

  25. RTBones says:

    Regarding the small gaming area of Sim City…

    I’ve said it before, under the Sim Sickly post, but it bears repeating – I think the gaming area problem will be a focus of micro transactions for EA/Maxis (once, of course, stability issues are taken care of). I apologize for the double post, but linking to my original blog comment seems to be a bit beyond my brain at the moment. Shamus, if you prefer and its easy for you to do, you could just add a link to my original comment there and get rid of what is below the line. Otherwise, here is what I said:
    —————————————–
    Here’s some food for thought: with all the issues regarding servers and whatnot, one of the consistent complaints about the game is the small gaming area. I would not put it past EA/Maxis to up the micro-transaction ante by simply allowing you to purchase additional 4 square mile [Edit: I understand its not 4 sq miles, its 4 sq km in-game] areas at the low, low price of X-Y-Z dollars/pounds/euros/dinars/rials/ringits/rupees/yen/etc. Low enough so that if you keep building your city, you wont think about paying to expand the area to build it in, and high enough that they’ll still make bucket loads of money.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Except that now that people started getting past the whole server thing and learning how the game operates they have found a ton more reasons to be disappointed with it. Even if pre-orders and initial sales where good, which I have no idea if they were, I’m not sure enough people will stick around to make DLC of any kind profitable. I mean, increasing the area size would do nothing to increase the number of simulated agents, the nature of that simulation and would only let you place more roads for the lazy, broken pathfinding to get lost on…

    • krellen says:

      The link to a specific comment is its timestamp.

      Here is your original comment.

  26. Weimer says:

    I sincerely believe they should have named the new Tomb Raider “Croft’s Crafty Chronicles”, but no.

    “Lara’s Lascivious LARP”, maybe?

    “Grave Bandit” eh.

    “Wildlife Massacre, and maybe some ruins too” OK I’m done.

  27. Thomas says:

    I still can’t believe how incompetent EA was about screwing over their customers. It’s almost insulting that they didn’t take the calculations serverside, were they just hoping they could stick a sign over it and hope the pirates didn’t notice?

  28. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Waaaaaaiiiiiit…..Chris is using vista?Whyy?

  29. Zak McKracken says:

    Since you were talking about video streaming and the size of your vids: The last Dishonored SW episode has 420 MB in highest quality.
    Since my connection isn’t always fast enough to watch youtube videos “life”, I tend to just download them (there’s this nice tool youtube-dl for Linux) and watch them in a proper video player.

    And more about streaming videos: This thing has just been formally introduced:
    http://live.bittorrent.com/
    (Although some say it has been existing for some time? Whatever).
    As I understand it, all you need is a webserver that will be able to stream the video to very few people, and the rest is done by sharing parts of the video between clients. If I get it right, that’s only useful for live streaming (i.e. everyone watches in realtime), but the stream actually becomes more stable the more people are viewing, and isn’t that great?

    • Matt K says:

      Then again, at that size perhaps regular bittorrenting could be a solution to the issue. I mean you’d have to dl the content before watching and there probably would be issues down the line with videos not being seeded but it’s at least an option. I imagine the option of the link above might be where its at in the future (ie torrent streaming off the blog or what have you).

  30. Daemian Lucifer says:

    About collectibles in tomb raider,I wrote something already,so Ill just paste that here:

    The new tomb raider has both the best,and the worst collectibles mechanics at the same time.I really cant fathom how they managed to get both into a single game.

    Aside from artifacts,documents and the rest you get pointed on your map,there are a few challenges,which are somewhat interesting in that they are a bit varied.The best one of those revolves around destroying effigies.You need to destroy 5 of those,and yet there are 7 or 8 littered around the level.Thats great.Plus,with your detective vision,you can spot them from very far away,seeing how they are usually in high places.

    And then,there is the mine hunt…Ignoring the fact that its bugged(or maybe intentionally infuriatingly coded?Im not quite sure*),there are exactly 10 of these buggers,and you need to destroy them all.Furthermore,some of them are completely submerged in the ocean,so you will never be able to see them.And even worse,this somehow makes them immune to the detective vision.So unless you know where exactly to point your trigger(or have a guide),youll have to painstakingly scan the vast body of water in order to find them.

    Luckily,these only count towards achievements.And while the effigy one was really fun to hunt down,the mines were infuriating.In a lesser game,that would make me quit.

    *One of the mines can wander off from the place it is supposed to be in.So even if you follow the guide,you can still miss it,because it can shift.And there a really big chunk of the level where it can shift to.That is,if it doesnt disappear completely,which is just as likely.

    EDIT:I think Ive figured out what ticks the spam filter:The amount of times you use paste.

    • That might be, but I think references to uggs-ay and eligion-ray set it off as well, along with a few other key words.

      The amount of and text contained in links is also a factor, I’m pretty certain.

      Edit: And ironically, this set off the moderation filter. Well played, Shamus.

  31. Piflik says:

    I know this is kinda small compared to Youtube, but I like Vimeo.com. It has a really clean UI on the player and I haven’t seen any notices for blocked videos (on Youtube you encounter these quite frequently here in Germany without a proxy).

  32. bloodsquirrel says:

    I wasn’t impressed by Kotor 2 when I first played it, and I’m not convinced that it’s just the unfinished state of the game holding it back.

    The story was never well-thought through in the first place. The game has lots of build up and no payoff. Kreia is a dumb, annoying character trying very hard to be sound deep by being the developer’s mouthpiece for the faux-deconstructionalist nonsense that the story ran on. There’s no satisfying arc tying everything together.

    It really was a huge mess.

  33. Futurehero says:

    This is totally unrelated but now I’m really curious:

    Why is Josh so protective of his anonymity?
    In other words, why doesn’t he link to his site, or show his face?

    I know it’s none of my business, but damn it if I’m not curious either way.

  34. MrGamer says:

    I like the Die Cast picture. Very well done.

  35. Factoid says:

    What I find to be very strange is that EA disabled Cheetah mode, supposedly so the servers could keep up. I have no idea why that would be beneficial if the servers don’t do any of the work. I guess maybe it speeds up the rate at which the DRM phones home? Or maybe how often the auto-save kicks in?

    If the servers aren’t doing any calculations then why the hell are they so overloaded?!

  36. somebodys_kid says:

    How about titling each Diecast with one of the more memorable quotes uttered during the show?

  37. Lame Duck says:

    I’m aware of some of the problems with Youtube’s policies regarding copyright and fair use, but the way you talk about it makes it sound like it’s impossible to host a video on there that makes use of copyrighted material, which is demonstrably not true. Are there specific types of show that you were thinking of that will never survive Youtube’s policies or something?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Most recently:the sega debacle.But its definitely not the only example of youtube sucking.

      The problem with youtube policy is that its too one sided.There is no penalty for false copyright claim.You can claim copyright on 1000 videos,and even if all of them get successfully disputed,you can still go and lay claim to 1000 more videos,with no problem.Basically you can (attempt to) commit fraud with no danger to yourself,but with real danger to the people you are trying to screw over.

      • And the re-instatement process seems to rarely ever allow you to have your case reviewed by a human being.

        I recall hearing about a system where clips would at least stay up if it came into dispute, with the “ownership” transferring to the copyright holder. So if I put up a Ghostbuster’s clip and Colombia Pictures (I think that’s who owns them) griped, it would go to their account.

        The problem is that if they DON’T own what I put up and it gets transferred, even if I get it transferred back, I don’t think they give me the lost/misdirected ad revenue.

    • Raygereio says:

      it’s impossible to host a video on there that makes use of copyrighted material, which is demonstrably not true. Are there specific types of show that you were thinking of that will never survive Youtube’s policies or something?

      Pretty much anything that uses someone else’s copyrighted material. People like SFDebris and various other people that do (mock) reviews for example have already been driven off. There are plenty of videos on youtube with the sound removed completely, or just blocked in certain countries, due to copyright claims. And even let’s plays and other videos with content from videogames have been targetted.

      It’s certainly not impossible, but if your video contains copyrighted material from someone who has bots and whatnot crawling over youtube, then sooner or later you will have to deal with copyright claims. And while you could make a strong case for fair use in a lot of cases, it’s just not worth the hassle because you’re starting from a very weak position.

  38. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ooooh,now I see why Shamus wants to make a forum.So that people can finally have a place to gather around and discuss this show,and pitch some interesting topics.Yes,that makes so much sense now.

    Actually,without joking,that does make some sense.Having a permanent thread for ideas for diecast would be sensible.

  39. Part of the “perspective” resurgence may be the Yogscast featuring it on their Youtube show. That’s where I heard about it anyhow.

    It’s a really neat game. If you’ve got good spatial perception you can figure it out. However, there’s a drawback. If you just “move forward” and “try stuff” you’re going to find the solution. It feels like there’s no way to fail, that there’s no reason to think instead of just throwing stuff at the game until something sticks. The whole thing feels very susceptible to brute-force solutions. That’s probably a result of poor level design (and, to be fair, made by students, tech demonstration, I’ll give them slack on design refinement) instead of a weakness of the core mechanics.

  40. Zukhramm says:

    You just sold a copy of Tomb Raider. I literally went into a store and bought it while still listening to the podcast.

  41. StashAugustine says:

    Max Payne may have been a slog at the end, but at least the soundtrack made up for it. Reminds me of the Brayko fight in Alpha Protocol.
    EDIT: On one hand, I did think that the fact that the central plot thrust of Max Payne 3 doesn’t have to do with him. It’s about him going from murdering hundreds of people because he has a death wish to murdering hundreds of people for a greater good. On the other hand, totally agree that the game was a little too gratuitous and lurid.

  42. Neil D says:

    The thing I just don’t get about the whole SimCity thing is why they would make a point of stating that the servers are used for game mechanics, when they know that it will be proven false as soon as the game is released.

    I mean, let’s put aside the reflexive “hurr-hurr, they’re just a bunch of idiots” responses for the moment and assume realistically that people creating a networked game have heard of network sniffers, and are aware that a significant percentage of computer gamers are tenacious, technically savvy, and have the ability to communicate to the world via the Internet. There’s no way they could have believed that fiction was going to hold up for any length of time, so what exactly is the thinking behind releasing a statement like that?

    • Lack of (or mis-) communication inside the team or between the programmers and marketing? Self-delusion? There aren’t a whole lot of justifications when people are not idiots, but are acting like it.

    • Kanodin says:

      I would suspect it’s more a matter of the people who make the networked parts of the game having nothing to do with the marketing of that networked part. Sure the programmer knows such a lie would be found out with ease, but would the marketing guy? There’s also the simple question of does EA care? As long as the lie helped sell the game in the short term that might be all that mattered to the people who make these decisions.

    • bloodsquirrel says:

      If the launch hadn’t been such a disaster, then the truth would have wound up being nothing more than a footnote anyway. Most people probably would never hear or care.

      Besides, does it matter in the long run? The game wasn’t made online-only for technical reasons anyway, and I’m not sure who really believed that it was in the first place.

  43. Zukhramm says:

    Congratulations. You sold a copy of Tomb Raider. I literally entered a store and bought it while listening to the podcast.

  44. Chris says:

    “I’ll probably beat it tonight after the podcast.” #outOfContextJoshQuotes #imFiveYearsOld

  45. Jarenth says:

    Hah, I remember stumbling on Shamus’ old post about YouTube a couple of months back. I saw it was from 2005-2006-abouts (I think), read the post, and assumed it was a joke of sorts.

    To my mind, apparently, YouTube has always been.

  46. Thomas says:

    This Sim City story is like plunging into the rabbit hole and coming out in a whole new universe where it becomes rapidly apparent the laws of common sense are other than our world.

    It doesn’t stop piracy, they didn’t actually choose to do calculations server side. It doesn’t offer features, the main function of the internet connection is to kick you if you’re not plugged in every 20 minutes. Their servers got overloaded by the stress of not-kicking people who have an internet connection. They knew they could simply decide to not have mandatory online but it didn’t fit in with their ‘artistic vision’

    There are options in the mandatory online mode to simulate the experience of being offline and not interacting with people. Realistically speaking the majority of players are going to spend most of their time by themselves doing things for themselves.

    Why does this exist? They’re not even being evil because they didn’t actual implement any anti-piracy features.

    It’s like the devs thought that having-to-be-online was a feature. Some people were sitting around a table brainstorming cool ideas for a new project and someone suggested ‘hey how about a game which you can’t play offline?’

  47. Muspel says:

    You know, I thought Diablo 3 had the whole “most shoehorned internet requirement” thing on lock, but Simcity is working overtime to prove me wrong.

    The latest news is that some modders were able to mod it to work offline and to (partially) remove the size limits on cities.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/03/14/modder-runs-simcity-offline-maxis-remains-silent/

  48. Brendan says:

    Is there a way of getting this podcast on a podcast catcher?
    Or has this already been discussed somewhere?

  49. ilikemilkshake says:

    Not sure if it’s just me but the sound quality seems to have been VASTLY improved for this episode. So if you guys did something differently then good job! If nothing has changed then I guess I’m just crazy.

    • Cuthalion says:

      ^ This. I didn’t hear nearly as many or as bad of cutoffs. In the older episodes, your client’s (the name of which I forget) export feature was making it sound like someone who didn’t know what they were doing threw on a noise gate and turned ALL THE KNOBS.

      • McNutcase says:

        One thing I was noticing, listening to it in my car, was uneven levels. Rutskarn was quiet, Chris and Josh were about average, and Shamus was speaker-destroyingly loud. Since my car stereo lacks a volume KNOB, and only has flakey and unresponsive buttons, that made it kind of difficult to listen to. So, I’m going to suggest that Josh snag a copy of The Levelator and have that handle “making everyone sound good”…

        Quick edit to strip occasional doubled letters

  50. somebodys_kid says:

    Josh! Why are you mumbling?! Before it was Chris and Rutskarn that I had trouble hearing over road noise, now it’s you! Wonderful podcast except for the mumbling…

  51. Muspel says:

    This just gets better and better. Now, hackers have figured out how to destroy other people’s cities, and there’s no way to stop them because you’re forced to be online.

    http://www.cinemablend.com/games/SimCity-Hack-Lets-Users-Destroy-Anyone-Online-City-Thanks-Always-DRM-53685.html

  52. postinternetsyndrome says:

    I gotta say, the diecast is great! Really enjoying it so far, keep it up!

  53. Simon Buchan says:

    Regarding hosting video yourself, your numbers of 40k hits for 1GB videos a month looks like it should cost you about $7600 USD/month using CloudFront (distributed, cached CDN) on AWS, or just $4400 USD serving straight from S3 (raw, regionalized storage) – play for yourself here: http://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/calc5.html (don’t forget that data to cloudfront has to come from S3) – so expensive, but not *insanely* expensive. I can see Google maybe making money given some assumptions: they’re not paying the margin, they get a big chunk of the ad money (since they play against both sides there), and most shows getting those kind of numbers should be getting decent advertising.

  54. Artur CalDazar says:

    Another great shamecast, really enjoy these.

  55. Taellose says:

    ~26 minutes: Lara Croft’s vs. Nathan Drake’s archaeological education:

    I think the difference between them, like it or not, is that Nathan Drake is not an archaeologist – he’s a treasure hunter. He’s there to get rich. At least, that’s his setup.

    By contrast, Lara is actually a grad student in the field, here because she cares about it on an academic level.

    Nathan’s personality somewhat more closely matches Indiana Jones than Lara (in any incarnation), but Lara is much more like Indy in terms of her motives and background.

  56. Otters34 says:

    Way late, but in the second paragraph of the SimCity weekly news bit there’s a slight error:

    “This reminds me so much of the ages-old BioShock controversy: A polite spokeswoman is way out of her technical depth and saying things that the tech-savvy users prove to be untrue, thus making inflaming the people they were trying to pacify.”

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