Diecast #8: Nissan Leaf DLC, Thief, Mailbag

 By Shamus Apr 10, 2013 167 comments

splash_diecast.jpg

In this episode we’re still talking about SimCity. We also discuss Thief, the Oculus Rift, and Lucasarts before we finally get around to answering some of your emails.


Direct download (MP3)
Direct download (ogg Vorbis)
Podcast RSS feed.

00:30 What’s everyone playing?

Josh is playing Crusader Kings II.

Chris is playing DLC Quest. But mostly he’s been working on the latest Errant Signal.

Rutskarn has just finished up BioShock Infinite.

Shamus is playing DLC Quest. Thomas was Alone, Kerbal Space Program, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and Euro Truck Simulator 2.

We brought up the Oculus Rift, which is worth reading about. This is the next big technology I’m eager to try. I know VR headsets have failed in the past, but this one seems to be solving those long-standing usability problems.

14:25 The horrible SimCity news of the week: The Nissan Leaf Charging station DLC. An advertisement, a broken cheat item, and another failure to simulate things.

23:30 Thi4f, or Thief 4, or Thief 2014, or whatever marketing is calling it this week.

41:40 Lucasarts is closed.

51:30 MAIL TIME!

We had many emails over the past few weeks, and now we’re finally answering a few.

EDIT: And here is the link to Rutskarn’s Let’s Play Morrowind Part 1

A Hundred!2020207Many comments. 167, if you're a stickler


  1. David says:

    I don’t suppose we could get an RSS feed for this podcast? I’d love to get it in my podcast catcher!

    EDIT: Shamus, buy Kerbal Space Program. It’s worth your time now, and can only get better.

    • ydant says:

      I’ll piggy-back off of your top comment so this doesn’t get burried again – from my comment on the last diecast post:

      I’ve set up a program to convert the Diecast RSS feed into something my podcast manager will handle for my own personal use – I have no idea what other podcast software needs, but mine just wanted the “enclosure” tag to be added (e.g.).

      Others can feel free to use – it’ll be updated semi-regularly, but isn’t meant to be an official thing. Hopefully Shamus can update the RSS feed to add the enclosure element – that’s all my podcast software seems to want to be happy.

      Podcast feed URL: http://mbafford-static.s3.amazonaws.com/diecast.xml

      ( source: https://gist.github.com/mbafford/5333101 )

      I’ve only tested it with a single app (Pocket Casts, Android), so I don’t know if this will work for other software.

      • Mike S. says:

        From a fellow Pocket Casts user, many thanks!

        (This seems to be the year I start listening to podcasts. Only a decade behind the curve, right?)

      • Thanks for the effort. Unfortunately my podcatcher of choice (ACast) uses one of the other tags (presumably media:content) for detecting attached media so can see the new entries but can’t grab the associated file automatically.

        Might be time to finally drop that app (hasn’t seen an update in quite some time, even the adverts it uses to monetise the free edition don’t fit properly with new device screen sizes/on newer revisions of Android) and code up my own implementation.

      • David says:

        You are welcome to my top comment, sir! Now I have to type a long, fiddly URL into my phone.

        • Mike S. says:

          Possibly dumb question: can’t you just load this page on your phone, and copy/paste the link?

        • Nick Lester Bell says:

          I use Chrome on both my desktop and mobile. It syncs tabs between the two, allowing me to easily load up the tab here, then copy and past into my podcast app. Definitely recommend it (both for this specifically and for general use).

      • Nick Lester Bell says:

        Fantastic. Thanks for putting this together. Works great in Downcast on my iPhone/iPad.

      • McNutcase says:

        Sadly, iTunes doesn’t know what it’s doing with it. I know the solution is to use something less broken than iTunes, but there’s a sunk cost I’m unwilling to abandon right now…

        • Abandon it now! Before it’s too late!
          Because otherwise itunes will cling to you like a horrific parasite, draining away your happiness whil you ignore its prescence by claiming the sunk cost fallacy.

        • ydant says:

          I’m pretty sure if I get it working with iTunes it’ll work for all of these, since iTunes seems to be the standard. I’ll try to give it a bit more time this weekend – I don’t use iTunes but I can test with it and see if I can fix the issue. Any pointers to what exactly it’s missing would help, though. :)

          And of course if you have a patch to the code – that’s even better.

          • McNutcase says:

            Unfortunately, I don’t code at all.

            I’ve found that iTunes is saying “Zero episodes”, while when I look at the feed in Firefox, it clearly shows all the episodes. This suggests that iTunes isn’t picking up on the enclosure tag, but that’s pure speculation based on my non-coder’s reading of the source (Python is at least very readable and doesn’t seem to have too many gotchas for non-coders trying to read the source…)

      • False Prophet says:

        Works with Podkicker on Android! Much obliged!

        Doesn’t work with OneCast on Android because OC has no option to add via RSS feed, but I only use that app for the one or two podcasts I can’t seem to get on Podkicker. No great loss.

      • Henri says:

        Thanks Matt! I’ve whined about this a few times myself.

        Anyway, iTunes had some problems with the feed generated by your script. I fixed it up a bit, and now it should work with iTunes. You can find the changes in my fork.

        • ydant says:

          Ours is a small world, Henri. :) Thank you for the patch!

          I’ve merged your fork in and re-generated the Podcast feed. It seems to work fine on iTunes 11.0.2 now.

  2. Thomas says:

    I wasn’t overwhelmed by Thomas Was Alone (still hold a grudge against the title :P). I think I was probably overhyped a little. The side of me that believes I must be right in all aspects says that maybe people appreciated the narrative of ‘a bunch of rectangles better than all these high polygon characters’ and I thought it was pretty surface level, nothing compared to other games that came out the same year (including stuff like The Walking Dead, To The Moon, Spec Ops, KS) and I didn’t get the same experience as Loved or Company of Myself.

    But it wasn’t bad, it was pretty funny and Clara was awesome, I can see why people liked it. I just didn’t tear up or anything and they’ve been plenty of games in 2012 that did bring me closer to that

    • Zukhramm says:

      I had pretty much the same reaction. Along with puzzles I mentally solved long before I physically could because of movement speed and having to stop myself from finishing levels to not ruin the narration it had me quit in half an hour.

    • RedSun says:

      I agree in that I too was emotionally underwhelmed by the ending. I just don’t think it carried the weight that some implied it did. That said, I don’t think that the characters being somewhat onenote was a problem-strictly speaking, I think it was a feature rather than a bug.
      The entire point of each character’s design is that they aren’t complex, and that their lack of complexity isn’t a bad thing; they’re simple, easily defined and recognizable, and charming. This is reflected in the way they’re written: you can describe each character’s personality in a sentence or two(John is proud and enjoys the attention of others, Chris is insecure, shy and cynical, but enjoys the company of others more than he admits, etc.). They’re given just enough characterization that they’re distinguishable and charming. It’s minimalistic to the core, and I appreciate it, intentional or not.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        I liked Thomas was alone quite a bit more than the walking dead. I finished Thomas was alone practiacally in one go, but for me TWD was a bit of a slog. I liked the concept (not the premise: ZOMBIES!) but pretty soon it turned into a slog where I was guiding the characters from one disaster to the next. And I liked Clementine. But at the end more than anything I was glad to be finally over with the gloom and doom.

        Thomas was alone on the other hand has well defined and for me likeable characters. They might be onedimensional but than again what are you expecting from rectangles and even onedimensional as they are they are presented wonderfully so by the end they stick with you and you like all of them. That, excellent naration and quirky setting was the selling point of the game for me.

    • Thomas says:

      On the same subject, there was a sexual exploitation vibe with the bouncing right? I didn’t just imagine that? Being passed around, used for her bouncing, once they bounced her they stopped being interested…

      • RedSun says:

        With Laura? Yeah, I definitely got that vibe. Also, Chris’s “I’m just going to assume she’s my girlfriend, and I’ll tell her about that later” bit was a teensy bit…odd, but again, I think the charm of the characters and the fact that all the interaction/expression in TWA is implied really made that a lot easier to go with.
        Similarly, I got the sense that when James was talking about being inverted, we were meant to take it that he’s inverted?>

  3. S.E. Batt says:

    Kerbal Space Program’s demo, while pretty great in itself, isn’t quite as awesome as the current game. If you want to check out what kind of stuff is going on, poke your nose into YouTube. Quite a few people are showing off what can be done with the game, ranging from the serious (Scott Manley) to the silly (Danny2462).

    Also; Oh Josh, you’re thinking of this other thing! (Maybe.)

    • Josh says:

      Yeah, that’s the one. The silly “mouse replacement” force-feedback controller.

      • Zukhramm says:

        Novint Falcon sounds really similar to Oculus Rift. I can see how it’s very easy to get them mixed up.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        Hm. Now that looks… interesting. In a sense. That sense being, “something you’d probably see as a student project at some HCI lab” – does it really seem useful to you? I’m.. hard pressed to think of uses for it other than gun-aiming, tbh.

        • Corpital says:

          Are you kidding?

          “It can even be used to control Windows, and standard interactions like web browsing, word processing or spreadsheets.”

          Controlling Windows with a gun sounds like an awesome idea.
          With a gun you hold at a potentially awkward angle for hours on end, which may or may not boil down to shooting everything from your hip.
          Wonder what the force-feedback for Windows will be; violently shaking your hand every time you close something? I mean, sure, its great for immersion in all those games, where you basically are a mute hand with a gun, but I can’t shake the feeling my hand won’t be feeling anything until I shake it a while, after being rocked around by every shot, every explosion and every EVERYTHING in a game.

          So…uh…yeah, just forget that last paragraph, I agree.

    • Dave B. says:

      I highly recommend this one if you like watching someone fumble around with the game and build ridiculous rockets.

  4. McNutcase says:

    I see the demo sold Shamus on Kerbal Space Program. Yay! Possibly also the forum thread full of crazy contraptions for putting little green men and large explosions in space.

    I think the thing Josh was thinking of is that weird Razer thing that has special DLC for Portal 2. Some kind of insane contraption that gives you ninety-eleven axes of analogue input, none of which you can do anything useful with. Either that, or the proposed controller for that swordfighting game Kickstarter that Neal Stephenson was fronting for. Whatever happened to that?

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Yeah, I would also like to invite him to our experimentation shack on forums, and advise him not to be afraid of random explosions and cheers and explosions WITH cheers coming from it.

      Seriously, I would like to know what were his bugbears with the game. What did he think was lacking. My guess would be lack of campaign mode since what we currently have is a large sandbox with infinite money and resources. Which I like but some people need more objectives. Also we might be able to tell him what is or not available in “full” game.

      Also about “waiting for it to be finished”. It is unlikely it will be “finished” in foreseeable future, since their payment model is similar to Minecraft one. Wherein the price of the game rises as more features are added, but those that already own it don’t have to pay anything. Soo buying it now if it’s something up your alley is better than waiting. Also there is long road before it even though what is available now is AWESOME!!

      • McNutcase says:

        Indeed. I bought it when it was $7, the planet didn’t rotate, there was only one reference frame, there was no thrust-vectoring, you had an infinite supply of Jebediahs, you had to use lookup tables or a calculator to determine your orbit, there was a brick wall of atmosphere at 34.5km which would basically stop you dead when you hit it so aerobraking was out of the question, and you’d have to wait out your orbit in real time to determine how well you’d circularised it.

        Because even then, when the fun was in building a rocket that if you staged it right would result in six solid-rocket boosters converging on and hitting the command pod all at once, I could see it was going to be great.

      • Shamus says:

        I’d seen the game here and there, but it was the forum thread that made me curious.

        Current obsession:

        We choose to go to the sun. We choose to go to the sun in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, and because everyone else is already going to the moon.

        We will put a man on the sun. What he does when he gets there is his business.

  5. Thomas says:

    The David Hayter thing as far as voice actors go is a bit overblown. I think a lot of the journalists aren’t very familiar with the game, because they call him Solid Snake when the guy in MGSV is Big Boss

    David Hayter has played Big Boss as well as Snake, but he played the younger naiver version and a different person plays Big Boss when he gets old. At some point they had to make the switch

    • StashAugustine says:

      I’m still expecting him to cameo as a young Solid Snake at the end.

      • burningdragoon says:

        That would be so great, it make playing a not-Hayter Snake totally worth it.

        Really though, Hayter has voice Naked Snake/Big Boss about as much as he’s voiced Solid (MGS1,2,4,1 remake, minigame in 3 vs MGS3, Portable Ops, Peace Walker). Kojima kind of wrote himself into a convoluted corner by choosing to continue post-Snake Eater with a character that looks, sounds, and to a small extent acts like, but isn’t, Solid Snake. I don’t think that’s necessarily the reason for the switch though.

        • Thomas says:

          But he’s got an arc and the voice is actually an important part of that arc because Snakes voice for Big Boss sort of denotes his fresh beginning and then the other boss voice is the one he grows into.

          And at the end of Peacewalker Big Boss finally stopped calling himself Snake and took on his new name and by all appearances the majority of MGSV is set at a minimum of 7 years after Peacewalker, so if they were going to make the change, now is when to do it. (Of course this is Kojima who hates marketing, so there’s a decent chance that exactly everything we think we know so far is a lie)

          • burningdragoon says:

            Oh it makes sense to look at it that way. It’d even be a very easy out for Kojima to use for the change, but the information given so far isn’t pointing to that reason.

            Either way it just wouldn’t be the same playing GuyWhoLooksALotLikeSnake and not have Hayter involved.

            • Thomas says:

              The information given out so far is crud. Half the headlines said ‘Hayter won’t voice Solid Snake in MGSV’ which given the oldest Solid Snake can be is probably going to be 10ish is to be expected(do the clones have fafst ageing?).

              As far as I can tell, Konami never contacted David Hayter about working on the next game. He put out feelers to find out why he wasn’t being employed, they said they didn’t need him, the press heard this, asked if he’d be voicing Snake in the next game and the studios said ‘no’

              • StashAugustine says:

                “The information given out so far is crud”

                I’m still not entirely sure how many games they’re releasing for what platforms. So, VA confusion is par for the course.

                • Thomas says:

                  Yes! I really want to know the story behind that confusion too, so much contradictory information given out. Was it on purpose? Did they fold two projects together? Did someone just hear about some codenames they were using and misinterpret it?

                  What I think is going to happen is there’s a tanker/esque prologue that we know as Metal Gear Ground Zeroes set some time after the end of Peacewalker and then after the prologue it segues into The Phantom Pain set 7 years later and the total of that is Metal Gear Solid V (darn Kojima and not using ’5′ btw). I think that was confirmed at GDC.

                  No idea what platforms =D

  6. Tse says:

    Chris, I live in the poorest EU country and I disagree with your idea of the image of truckers in Eastern Europe. Trucking is viewed as a low education, high income profession, it’s not a lifestyle people dream of. Traveling to other countries is not that expensive, most people can afford going abroad once in a few years.

    • Chris says:

      Sorry! Legitimately didn’t mean any offense, and claim no special (or even any, really) knowledge on the state of Eastern European game culture.

      Really, I was just pulling from this half-remembered article from a few weeks ago. I hadn’t remembered most of the details properly, and didn’t read it in preparation for the week’s news articles since I didn’t know Shamus was playing Euro Truck Simulator.

      Still, this quote is what I seem to have taken away from the article:

      “Truck simulation games are definitely very niche, and indeed historically such games have always been the target of ridicule among hardcore gamers, much more so than flight simulators or train simulators for understandable but not so simple reasons,” Sebor says.

      “Perhaps the fact that our games may be ridiculed in the UK but loved in Eastern Europe is down to the fact that a trucker may be considered a low-prestige job in the UK (and a target of Jeremy Clarkson [Top Gear presenter] jokes),” he reasons.

      The further East you go, he notes, “the more this job smells of adventure and distant horizons – plus it’s perhaps paying better than average in those countries.”

      Anyways, sorry again if I caused offense – was just trying to remember bits of an article that the conversation happened to have made relevant, not trying to make any sort of judgment or social commentary!

      • “Trucking is viewed as a low education, high income profession, it’s not a lifestyle people dream of.”
        And really, aren’t the armed forces the same way? Why do we have so many “army dude” simulators? Perhaps the attraction of trucking and combat have something in common, a kind of “virtual slumming”?

        • postinternetsyndrome says:

          Also: pimps.

          I don’t know about our actual living eastern europe poster above, but it doesn’t seem far-fetched to me that people would dream/muse about jobs with high pay or just in general represent a lifestyle that for some reason is hard or impossible to attain.

          In the end though, I’m quite ignorant of the actual facts of the matter, and can also note that he mentions Scandinavia, which certainly isn’t eastern europe.

        • Mike S. says:

          I can’t speak to other countries, but members of the US armed forces aren’t especially highly paid, and their average level of education is higher than the population average.

          Though I’d guess neither has much to do with the popularity of soldiers in video games. I’d say that has more to do with combat being visceral, of broad interest, and comparatively easy to simulate, while war is the most obvious reason to have lots of combat in a game. The typical video game supersoldier, who’s a match for hundreds or thousands of ordinary troops, strikes me as more likely to be wish-fulfillment than slumming.

        • СТАЛКЕР of ЗОНА says:

          We don’t have any actual “army dude” simulators. Most pretend-realistic shooters don’t even simulate small-arms ballistics.
          Operation Flashpoint/Armed Assault is the closest thing, and it’s a combined arms “simulation” that glosses over the specifics. The joke is that it’s a “hiking simulator”, but all it really “simulates” in that regard is that you generally need to wait and move a lot before you get into any combat. There’s no fatigue or dehydration to worry about at all.

          But one thing to point out is that the most “hardcore” games tend to come from Eastern Europe/Europe, such as Flashpoint/ArmA, STALKER, Men of War, and Metro 2033. They all lack polish and aren’t necessarily very widely accessible.
          In comparison, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and most shooters tend to be very Hollywood all around, they have expensive graphics, and any difficulty in them tends come from arbitrary things rather than any attempts at simulation.

          • StashAugustine says:

            I would honestly play the shit out of a military RPG that’s at least half sitting around at base wasting time and the combat is basically just shooting at random muzzle flashes on the horizon. I really wish somebody could make a war game that isn’t just Michael Bay explosions everywhere.

            • 4th Dimension says:

              Well, Operation Flashpoint comes close, except it’s not an RPG. In OFP one round to the torso is all it takes for you to die. In OFP most combat happens at 100+ ranges except in RARE occasions in towns and forests. The enemy wears camouflage and since they are usually really far (150+), you are usually firing on siluetes or muzzle flashes.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Well AAA games may not simulate combat that well,but spec ops:the line sure did simulate the impact of war exquisitely.And Ill take emotional feeling over mechanical precision every time.

      • Tse says:

        No problem. It’s true that truckers are better paid than most people with a master’s degree. Same goes for barmen, servers and taxi drivers. Trucking is still a shitty job, though. Most jobs come with wages that are lower than in most 3rd world countries, but work hours are usually normal. Trucking, on the other hand, has horrible working hours. A work day can legally be as long as 15 hours, while a work week can be 56 hours. Time of day/night doesn’t matter. That’s if you obey the law, most firms don’t.
        Of course, other countries in Eastern Europe may be different. Most have a much higher living standard. There are also many cultural differences between the different peoples.

        • postinternetsyndrome says:

          The Resistance campaign has some – light – RPG elements. Weapon and equipment are persistent across the campaign (so don’t leave that bazooka lying around when the guy carrying it dies because next mission you won’t have it!) and there are one or two branches in the mission tree. It stays on the resource level though.

          • StashAugustine says:

            I more meant RPG elements as “lots of time sitting around talking to people.” This is assuming you’re trying to respond to my post and not making some obscure link between Eastern European truckers and Resistance: Fall of Man.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        If it helps clarify things, I’d say that the American concept of a big-rig trucker has far, far more romanticism and ‘adventure sense’ than what we have in Eastern Europe. It literally is considered to be a piss-poor, bottom-rank job (though probably the pay is not that bad at all).

        I suspect if that company did a US-style world map (highways, wide roads, small/low towns) and us-centric trucks (with all the chrome and bling and lady silhouettes on mudcaps), and (get) advertise(d) a bit, then their simulation would sell decent amounts in the states too.

      • Wulfgar says:

        i’m from eastern europe too and i must say that people here don’t view truckers in that way. actually in my experience we disrespect truckers. not only it’s view as one of worst and cheapest jobs you can have, you are considered as a reason why roads are so worn out and you are viewed as “death of wheels”. truckers in eastern europe are crazy drivers. (just google: crazy truck eastern europe. http://bit.ly/YnOa4b). they are actually taught in truckers schools to “brake” on passenger cars in case of emergency.
        we hate truckers and yet most of my friends play truck sims

        • 4th Dimension says:

          Trucker schools?!? Here on the Balkans they are basically those tha barely finished school, and than sort of by the way learned to drive trucks and eventually aquired permits. And that is that. So your average trucker is barely literate and doesn’t know much apart from operating trucks either at dengerously high or annoyingly low speed.

        • Deadfast says:

          I’m Czech (so Central, not Eastern Europe) and truckers are, if anything, rather hated. While they do get blamed for broken roads too (you get “rails” from their wheels in the right lane), it’s not as much so thanks to the roads being crap in general, with the most road repairs being done by a drip of asphalt or, even better, a sign. No, the source of hate is different – they are considered to be nothing but an obstacle by other drivers. Truckers here really like to overtake. Trouble is, the speed difference that usually prompts them to do so is about 5km/h, which is promptly reduced to 1km/h, as soon as the other driver realizes he’s being overtaken. So here you have two massive colossuses going 100 and 101km/h, blocking both lines for 5 kilometers straight.

          • Tse says:

            I’ve actually seen that on a mountain pass. It was rather scary, being behind those two dumbasses, knowing that they could see less than 10 meters ahead of their bumpers and that they could kill someone.

          • krellen says:

            Truckers actually do that sort of thing in the states, too. Didn’t used to, but I think our standards of training have decreased.

            • The reasons are many and varied and not uncommon to other jobs. It’s just that this one involves way more inertia:

              1. Truckers are often “independent contractors.” This lets the company using them not treat them exactly like employees, so it lets them limit benefits and other regulations/taxes.
              2. The “just in time” economy has put high pressure on truckers to hold to a tight schedule in spite of weather, construction, road accidents, etc. that could slow them down.
              3. The addition of GPS to trucks to make sure they don’t speed or what have you also means that technically the companies can’t quite overlook that they sort of figured in an amount of speeding that their trucks would do to keep schedules, and the trucker is the one to take the hit.
              4. The job is exhausting, requiring one to be in a seated position for hours on end where they can’t even stand up.

              And the trucks do wear out the roads far quicker than cars. The drivers can also be jerks, but I still encounter far more reckless and idiotic driving from those in SUVs, cars, and vans.

  7. AJax says:

    Correction: Thief isn’t being made by the core Deus Ex team, those guys are busy with the next Deus Ex. Nu-Thief is being separately made by another team since probably 2009.

    While it’s a damn shame that Stephen Russell won’t be reprising his role as Garrett, the new guy sounds pretty good judging from the trailer.

  8. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is great for podcast/audio-book listening. In fact, I’m playing it while I listen to this one.

  9. Friend of Dragons says:

    Is Josh thinking of the Razer Hydra? it doesn’t quite fit his description but it’s the only thing coming to mind for me.

    Edit: hm, I suck at getting links working. Also, that Novint Falcon thing above sounds closer to what he was describing.

  10. Hitchmeister says:

    Shamus, I recommend just stealing Chris’ posts. When he does one of those Reddit mega posts that you think deserves better exposure than that place just copy it and paste it as a entry in you blog as if Chris posted it here. Odds are people will be commenting, discussing it and probably complementing Chris before he even realizes it’s here. Then what’s he going to do?

    (I’m only semi-serious about this. But by the same token, I’m only semi-joking.)

  11. Wolverine says:

    So, where can we find Chris’s posts (until he starts a blog)? What’s his handle on Reddit?

      • Karthik says:

        Thank you for attempting to hold back the flood of gut-driven rage at the thread on the RPS article about its stance on misogyny/sexism the other day. I think it would have gone over much better if RPS had called it “Derailing for dummies”.

        • SyrusRayne says:

          I caught some of those Reddit posts that Karthik is talking about, though I didn’t put two and two until you Twittered that you’d been posting in there. I guess the ‘a’ threw me off.

          Like your videos the posts are well-reasoned and phrased in a rather reasonable way. I would personally like to see more of that sort of thing from you, without needing to trawl through the cesspit that is Reddit.

          Not that everything on Reddit is horrible, but… It’s like someone discovers the cure for cancer and drops the syringe in a landfill chock full of used needles. I don’t want to be the one to dig through that crap to find it, do you?

          • impassiveimperfect says:

            It would be cool if Chris would put thoughts like those in blog posts (or something) more than in reddit replies (HINT HINT (if you’re rereading this part)).

            The idea I got was to simply look at his user/post page, and…just read those. I think I can live without context/guess at it for much of what he’s replying to.

            (And now I have to look for what he wrote about Call of Duty.)

            (And google found it for me.)

            • Chris says:

              The (terribly boring) secret as to why I post on reddit and not on blog posts is as follows:

              1. Blog posts ask for a degree of professionalism. Screenshots, research, at least a modicum of effort. That really can only happen when I’m home from work and have free reign to photoshop up images or dig deep into Wikipedia. These reddit posts can happen off the cuff at work. If I’m waiting for a particularly nasty SQL query to finish or if I’ve got 15 minutes to burn after turning in a bug to clear my head, I can write a long winded reddit comment. A blog post really shouldn’t be so slapdash.

              2. Reddit posts provide context. “Hey guys what do you think of game X” or “I think that X is stupid, what do you think?” are topics I can respond to – either because I get really excited and have a happy opinion to share or because I make a frowny face and have to yell at people. Either way, a blog post is just a blank page without that context. It’s scary. I could write something and it could be meaningless drivel! At least with context I can answer someone’s question or address a core point!
              Plus, I mean, what does one write about when handed a blank slate? Anything I have a particularly strong opinion on I try to save for a “real” Errant Signal episode for fear of running out of topics, so what’s left is mostly silly drivel. “Hey dudes let’s not be super crappy to women” and “Call of Duty is hated for these reasons” aren’t really something I feel obligated to say; they’re things I ended up saying because of the context of reddit.

              Blogs are Serious Endeavors that require commitment. A reddit post is a pre-contextualized thingy I can write up while bored at work, and *that* is why I end up posting there instead of elsewhere. Which is still stupid and the site’s still a cesspool, but you know.

              • ACman says:

                Don’t use the blank slate approach then.

                Maybe provide the context of the reddit post before providing your reply. Surely that could take more than a few minutes of editing?

                You could almost get away with just chucking up the statement of question that you are replying to and providing your response.

                I have the same problem in that I’m not inspired to write anything unless somebody poses a question or statement that I feel like responding to. And when I see a post on reddit or escapist or here that I really want to respond to sometimes I write 500 words that only the person I’m responding to is likely to read.

                But you have the eloquence to make those 500 word responses contextually sensible and you have the audience to make it worthwhile. So… You should do it….

                • Steve C says:

                  I bet if you stole one of your reddit posts, then stole the context for that post, then added a couple of wikipedia links and pictures you’d have a blog post stolen from yourself.

              • Jokerman says:

                You just enjoy setting dumb people straight :D Lots of easy targets there.

              • impassiveimperfect says:

                Hrm. I can see where you’re coming from (Midwest-US, if I’m right).

                I mean, I have some thoughts like ‘having a #slapdhash tag in post titles/tag lists’, or ‘linking to thread/comment and/or quoting the comment being addressed’, or ‘would you give the TS forums another try?’, but…

                I can’t say I’m finding any easy solutions.

              • False Prophet says:

                There’s always the middle ground of Tumblr? I assume, anyway. I’ve only seen visual artists, photographers, musicians, and comedy writers ever make anything worthwhile on Tumblr.

                Maybe it’s unbroken ground for game commentary?

  12. I like Bad Company’s characters. Except for the bland, brown-haired player character. The other three squad members are incredibly colorful, but we don’t get to be them. We get to run around and shoot things while they exchange banter and be more interesting than us.

    Also, Seamus brings up a point that is really considerable with electric cars: Their value as “green” devices really hinges on what sort of methods your power company uses to produce your electricity. If I recall correctly, something like 80% of US power comes from coal plants. So, using an electric car(at least in this country) is about as green as having a coal-fired steam engine under your hood.

    • Wedge says:

      Not necessarily–I’ve heard research that suggests that using an electric car charged entirely by coal power still has half the carbon footprint of a typical gas-powered vehicle.

      • Thomas says:

        The trick is that a huge electricity station is way more efficient than a coal steam engine.

        Also it’s a false set up because Coal Power plants don’t have variable outputs. You start them up (which takes multiple days) and if the country is currently consuming less energy than it’s producing and it looks to stay that way for a while, you shut them down (which also takes a very long time). The energy is being produced whether we use it or not. If electric cars cause a significant upspike in energy demands then the trick is to meet that with greener energy sources rather than building more coal power plants

    • ACman says:

      The Nissan charging station has a bunch of solar panels on the roof.

      Not that that really justifies anything, the idea that you could reasonably charge a few cars with a few photovoltaics is completely ridiculous.

      And it really depends on which state that you buy your electricity whether it’s actually better for the environment or not.

    • Dave B. says:

      The characters probably were the most interesting part of Bad Company 2, even though they were just as cliche as the cheesy action-movie plot. The game was reasonably fun to play but the washed-out, bloom-covered, dust-obscured visuals were a real pain. In the end, I have to agree with Shamus. The game was just too generic to stand out in any (good) way.

  13. postinternetsyndrome says:

    Shamus, it’s a bit silly to talk about how you’ve been playing BC2 and only in the final sentence of your rant mention how it’s the single player you’re talking about. It’s a multiplayer game with stupid tacked-on SP. (Just like BF3 after it.) They are basically two different games.

    Regarding the whole “death of the PC” debate, I remember that article and remember agreeing somewhat with it. Anecdote: I haven’t played a lot of The Witcher 2, but from what I’ve seen so far, they give you a pretty narrow scope to interpret the character. You are, unquestionably, Geralt, and as a player you can nudge him in certain directions, but he is still a pretty predefined character. I think this is a good thing.

    Roleplaying doesn’t have to mean you give the player agency to define everything about the characters and their choices. I sort of thought “oho” when Josh mentioned “roleplaying” in the context of the Jedi Knight games, which have few to none actual narrative choices, but you can still choose to roleplay the character of Kyle Katarn as he is presented.

    While I think both forms of character design are valid, I don’t think one – as a creator of games and their characters – shouldn’t be afraid of defining too much. I’d rather see a solid story with some good points and memorable character arcs than the same old fighter/mage/rogue be anything you want wishy-wash. That’s – to some extent, I think, maybe – what makes people just play as themselves instead of trying to actually dive into a character.

    • Shamus says:

      “Shamus, it’s a bit silly to talk about how you’ve been playing BC2 and only in the final sentence of your rant mention how it’s the single player you’re talking about.”

      Why is it silly? It’s there, I played it, and I commented on it. It’s part of the game. Millions were spent making those levels, voicing the dialog, scripting the cutscenes. If people only buy the game for the multiplayer, then why do they spend so much on the single player? And even if nobody cared about the single-player, does that somehow make it immune to analysis?

      • You might want to go talk to Yahtzee. A lot of people take him to task over his standard of “if a game has a single-player campaign it should be able to stand on that alone.”

        I fully agree, especially after playing Borderlands. If the single-player is going to stink on toast, just make it multiplayer-only and have done with it.

        • Galad says:

          Borderlands 2 is much better than one, not due to a better story, haha, but because it doesn’t drag on and on and on and make you leave it bored at lvl 25.

          Just in case you missed it

          • I didn’t just miss it, I decided not to purchase it, based on the previous installment.

            I’ll consider it whenever it goes on sale, but I’ll need a lot more free time to devote to it than I currently have. The Kerbals need me.

      • postinternetsyndrome says:

        Well no, I generally agree with your comments about the campaign, and I do in fact think that they shouldn’t bother. It’s a series that has been MP-centric since the start (1942 and some of the other early titles had botmatches but they removed those in later games) and most people who play them are there for the mp. I guess DICE are getting tired of doing the same thing over and over again but I think they should focus their creative energies into actually doing new things with the multiplayer instead. Likely won’t happen though, what with the shadow of EA and all that. The “CoD killer” rhethoric that was all over the marketing for bf3 – and seems to be returning for bf4 – is doing them no services I think.

        I’m sorry for overreacting. I guess I was just a bit disappointed that it was in fact the SP you talked about, since I expected your opinion on the MP. I’ve gotten the impression that you mostly play singleplayer stuff so I thought it would be interesting to hear what you thought of it. Especially since it is a well past mature game by now, considered by a lot of FPS enthusiasts as one of the best bf games.

        And I played over a hundred hours of Borderlands solo… Was facilitated by radio documentaries though.

        • Wedge says:

          Yeah, I think the problem is that the bean-counters at the top of the AAA food-chain can’t accept the idea of a multiplayer-only game (that isn’t an MMO). I suspect that DICE would be perfectly happy jettisoning the SP to focus on the multiplayer, but their corporate overlords won’t let it happen.

          • postinternetsyndrome says:

            The funny thing is that most CoD players are in it for the MP too, and completely dismiss the campaign. The corporate machines are missing the point again and again, but I guess it’s what they’re wired to do.

            • Shamus says:

              I suspect the problem is that the multiplayer is what brings existing customers back. But sales are also based on review scores, and there’s no multiplayer to review until the game is out. So thing single player is there to delight the 7.5-10 reviewer who wants a game that’s painless, short, and maybe offers the chance to blow shit up. It’s a strange, dysfunctional thing. It’s possible that the SP exists to pacify a few thousand people so they’ll give the game good scores and people will buy the game and play MP.

              Having said that: The single-player doesn’t NEED to be terrible. You could make a really stellar game with the same budget.

              • krellen says:

                One central problem might be that AAA development doesn’t allow the writers to work for a few months before programming starts, which is really what’s required to get a coherent story in place and have good mechanics/levels to go with it.

                (I don’t know that this is true, but it seems like it is from the outside.)

                • Adam says:

                  This x1000. I recall an interview from back with CoD4 was in development, in which one of the writers talked about his experience putting the game’s story together. It’s completely unlike writing for a story-driven game; he talked about how a guy in the animatics dept. came up with a cool animation for one guy flipping around a big handgun to give it to another guy, and that animation became the basis of an entire scene that the poor writer had to then find a place for (It became part of the iconic execution level, if you must know.) The writers have to write and rewrite the story as the game is being produced instead of getting lead time and having the dev team realize it. I couldn’t possibly produce quality material in those circumstances.

              • krellen says:

                So, that’s my gravatar if I leave a letter out of my regular email. Interesting.

  14. Karthik says:

    On the death of the player character: “80-90% of the people playing your game are playing your game’s systems, not your game’s story. They’re here to beat the game.”

    This is true. But what choice do most players have? If the game is following a strict script, like in Jedi Knight 2, then there is a very narrow band of thinking that can align the player’s state of mind with Kyle Katarn’s. If the player has some control over the dialog, it’s really still a choice of reactions or opinions authored by someone else that the player has to choose from. So we get false choices, railroading, and the usual RPG maladies.

    And finally, even when you find a game that provides unbridled expressiveness (through dialog or some other meaningful mechanic), chances are the ludic systems and the story are pulling you in different directions.

    There is only one game I have played where I fully inhabited the skin of the player character. Have you guys seen MrBTongue’s newest video on Planescape: Torment? (He even named it “Creepy, Obsessive, Nerdlove”)

    The obvious reason I felt such a connection was obviously the depth of the roleplaying options it provided and the universality of its theme(s). But I think most of the game systems being utter trash (or at least terribly underwhelming) had something to do with it as well.

  15. Regarding Shamus’ comment about the Nissan Leaf Charging station, “not using one jolt of electricity.”

    For shame! The “jolt” is not a valid measurement of electricity! It’s a unit of caffeination in beverages.

  16. Chris: About the whole “everybody will be driving a $21,000 car,” I think that’s also from laziness, not propaganda.

    Do they even stratify the Sims by income in the game? That sounds like far more effort than they put into the simulation thus far.

    I’m also originally from a small town, so to go along with offending most of Europe, I can act offended that places which aren’t cities are indicative that everyone living there is poor. :)

    • Mintskittle says:

      Seeing as the “game” doesn’t really simulate anything, what with sims going to work at the first available job they can reach, then staying in the first available house that wasn’t the one they started the day at, it’s probable that all the people driving the Leaf did not, in fact, purchase them, and just picked it as the first available car in the parking structure.

  17. Nordicus says:

    The whole “do not just comment on the physical characteristics of the game when you review it” is really why I keep coming back to this website. It really showed when I tried to listen to Escapist’s Bioshock podcast after having completely listened to yours. I listened to your really in-depth conversation twice in a row while I couldn’t listen to that other “did you like that moment, because I did!” talk for 90 minutes

    Now, I ultimately mean no disrespect for the crew at Escapist, it’s just that Spoiler Warning… has Spoiled me.

  18. Let me preface this by saying if this is too negative a comment, feel free to delete it. I only offer it up as an example/warning of how offering opinions can go horribly, horribly wrong.

    I can’t remember where I originally saw this, but this fellow (I think) was trying to make a go at being a vlogger and had some kind of talent agency/promo work on the side. Anyway, he uses a Mac, and when Steam came out for MacOS, he… had difficulty with it and…

    Just see for yourself.

    His mannerisms didn’t help matters, but certain parts of the internet found this video and the abuse began and still continues to this day. His comment feed is pretty much only about this one video and what he said about it.

    So when undertaking something like this, beware, for here be dragons.

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,Rutskarn is related to everyone here?Even though they arent related to each other.Interesting.

  20. Taellosse says:

    Shamus, a housekeeping note: you said nearish the end you’d put a link up to Rutskarn’s Morrowind Let’s Play.

  21. Gilfareth says:

    Two things:
    1. I disagree with Campster just for the sake of disagreeing. Kill the pope. You should totally kill the pope.
    2. You guys didn’t get to my question. :(

  22. rrgg says:

    The big issue with the full version of KSP is that there isn’t actually a career mode yet, just sandbox (although to be fair that’s almost hard enough on it’s own). Also the aerodynamics modeling really isn’t there yet, basically every part has a constant drag value at all times even if they are behind a nosecone, and there isn’t any real re-entry heat (although in the full version they’ve added this really cool flame effect when you enter the atmosphere at high speeds). There are exploits people have found where you can put a ton of wings on a probe and it shoots up into the sky without providing any thrust.

    However it’s also suffering from the Minecraft problem where the Devs can’t work fast enough so “there’s already a mod for that.” Which I guess they at least make the game really mod-friendly when installing and are willing to host them on the official site. They’ve even reached out and hired a few modders to be official devs.
    There’s FAR which adds a bunch of raycasting to improve the aerodynamics.
    Mechjeb is a really popular one that adds an autopilot which can preform really basic maneuvers and provides a whole bunch of additional orbital information.
    There’s the Kethane mod which lets you mine moons and planets to produce more fuel.
    There are mods that add a much wider range of fuel tank sizes and engine varieties. Some add lasers, inflatable habitat modules, working satellite dishes, mass effect relays, etc. etc.
    There’s a lot is what I’m saying.

    • Shamus says:

      I bought the game Monday, and it’s eaten my life since then. This is probably the most engrossing game since Minecraft.

      I can see what you mean about the devs not being able to work fast enough. After just one day I was tempted to join the mob. Is X a planned feature? What version? When will that be out? Can I make a few dozen suggestions?

      Right now I’d be happy if I could just see how the dang ship weighs in the builder. It’s crazy obsessing over all these components when I can’t even tell basic facts about the final product.

      I really wish I’d waited. I’m sure the game will be much better later, but it’s too late for me. I’m obsessed.

      • McNutcase says:

        Shamus, you need the right mod. Mechanical Jeb recently released its version 2.0, and it gives you all the ship mass information you need and then some.

        • rrgg says:

          And if you aren’t interested in the autopilot but are interested in a stage-by-stage breakdown of even more information you probably don’t need there’s also Kerbal Engineer Redux which is very very handy.

          As for upcoming features in the full game A. just don’t ask about release dates, they are very strict about that and B. this monstrosity.

      • Steve C says:

        Soon as I saw that game I knew it wasn’t for me. But I also knew Shamus was going to disappear into it’s rabbit hole. Bye Shamus. Nice knowing you.

  23. What I don’t get is why Disney would pay billions of dollars in part for Lucasarts, just to dissolve it.

    Money well spent, eh guys?

    • Worth it for the Star Wars licensing alone, I would imagine.

      All that merchandising…

    • Thomas says:

      I imagine the films will probably make up for it

    • Disney spent loads of money for Lucasfilms and the rights to everything it owned, especially Star Wars. Lucasarts was just the tacked on dead weight that they are shedding.

      I love some of the games Lucasarts created, and I dearly hope someone gets a chance to continue working with the Monkey Island series. I also think it’s unfortunate that employees had to lose their jobs. However, I saw a comment somewhere that I think puts it best, “Disney didn’t kill Lucasarts, they just buried its corpse.”

    • BeardedDork says:

      Disney didn’t buy LucasArts. They bought Lucas Films with the accompanying IPs and Lucas arts just happened to come with it. Saying They bought Lucas Arts is like saying you bought the random cheap plastic toy in the cereal box, when all you wanted was the cereal.

  24. Smejki says:

    Shamus, hearing you yaying over freelook, try ArmA 2 (or 3 Alpha), or DayZ (= ArmA2+extension+DayZ mod). It is a military simulator which also has freelook. Funny fact: ETS and Arma are both created in Czech republic. Seems like Czechs are obsessed with freelook :D

    BTW has there ever been some article about DayZ? It is worth it. Completely new experience like no other. Not yet another !zombee gaem!. It’s not about zombies at all in the end.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      http://www.naturalpoint.com/trackir/

      A friend has a set and I’ve played around with in Arma 2 and IL-2 Sturmovik and it is friggin’ amazing. Especially when playing IL-2 because your situational awareness becomes something completely different, you can just glance around at will — without effort — like you would in real life, and in a tight dogfight it can mean the difference between keeping a bead on your BF109 in front of you or losing him in a corkscrew.

      The same goes for Arma 2 where I could be keeping an eye on two things at once, like running past a building but glancing in the doorway just like that, and then snapping around to shoot a guy. Or just keeping an eye on the situation around me while sniping.

      Pity this probably won’t come a common peripheral and games won’t offer that much support for free-look, but one can hope.

    • Deadfast says:

      It’s not about zombies at all in the end.

      You nailed that one. It’s about getting the best weaponry for killing other players for no particular reason.

      • Smejki says:

        Yeah, that’s simplified but true. I made a massive analysis of DayZ half year ago (not in English). The biggest problem are (a) that you can’t create any meaningful persistent values aside from your character and his gear and (b) insufficient randomnes of the world and/or that “complete explorability” of world, content and rules is possible and is happening. Also the big problem still is that pure survival is quite easy and boring after some time. Thus we begin to take high risks to get fancy stuff just to make the experience tense and enjoyable. The alpha lacks any “wider” or meaningfully continuous end-game mechanics so after experiencing like 40-50 hours you end up repeating the most efficient patterns to achieve ideal builds (which is quite ironical, for builds don’t help you much to “survive”. it is pure greed and game-y strive for fun that push us to such behaviour). And eventually you stop playing (Still people who love to undergo the high risk of doing so, even when it is still more or less the same in the end, can enjoy Dayz any day). I am very curious about the states into which the design will evolve. The creators promised some major additions and changes which would prevent or postpone the classic behaviour “experienced everything, knows exactly where to look and what is the most efficiecent way to end-game experience, stops playing”. It’s still a big experiment in deep alpha stage, the future is uncertain but promising.

  25. “Write what you love.”

    Better: Write HOW you love.

  26. Tony Kebell says:

    I’ve not watched this, but in the past, whenever you and Chris team up, to double-team review a game, the sheer accuracy and precision of your evaluation is staggering. I beleive if you two ever seriously collaborated and started a site or blog, etc, dedicated to games reviews (with a narrower focus etc, to really hone in on the subject matter) you’d bite away large chunks of the whole IGN/RPS/Gamespot/etc. crowd as you two really know how to orate you opinions and pick apart the pros and cons of a game.

    (You know IF it caught on, which can be hit or miss with the internet and IF the publisher gave you early copies, most of your discussion is weeks behind because you get games as consumer, not a reviewer)

    ANYWAY, bookmarking all this Bioshock stuff for, when I’ve finished the game…

  27. Blake says:

    I demand words of Chris!
    I would read those words!

    Seriously, the dude is insightful.

  28. X2-Eliah says:

    Thi4f, or Thief 4, or Thief 2014, or whatever marketing is calling it this week.

    Just ‘Thief’.

  29. X2-Eliah says:

    Also: the image banner needs to have “and occasionally Jarneth”.

    Edit:
    Also also, this may very well be not the standard, but for me it’s easier to find time to watch the SW episode than it is to find time to listen through the podcast. It’s just that.. well, for the podcast, I have to have something un-taxing to do as a background process (commuting is not really a thing I have to do, so that’s out), which is not all that easy to find (sometimes NFS:MW works, but for games like that, I like lengthy gaming sessions, not just one-hour increments, which also aren’t easy to make time for); with a SW video I can just include it in the daily routine as a thing in and of itself without any combos.

    So, uh, I’m just trying to say, please don’t stop doing SW entirely to change to the podcasting scenario. (It kinda feels like you guys are planning to drop SW after this season – I do hope I’m wrong about that, ofc)

    • Dave B. says:

      Yeah, I can’t listen to the podcast when I’m in front of a computer, because then I’ll start reading something and zone out and then I have no idea what anyone is talking about. My commutes are fairly short, and I don’t usually like to stare at a wall for an hour while I listen to something. Oh well.

    • Bubble181 says:

      I have time for neither. I can read all I want at work and at home, but listening to things is hard in a phone center or when sharing a room with other people. No, earphones don’t help.
      As far as I’m concerned, they should all just write everything out entirely.
      I’m well aware people love/enjoy/have fun with both podcasts and SW, though, and I hope they’ll continue making all three. I also hope we ever find out what happened in Japan :p

  30. Chris, Thanks for answering my question thoughtfully! The rest of you stunk… unless you’re all just saving your ideas for an upcoming “what makes a game ‘good’” podcast episode. (oh please oh please!)

  31. Otters34 says:

    Thanks very much for being so patient with my…well, as you said, more a mini-essay than a question and ye Lord it sounds dull, clumsily-worded and overlong now. I’ll do much better next time.

    About Thief 4: Rutskarn nailed it. The series is NOT about parkour nonsense, it’s about quietly and carefully evading trouble and stealing everything you can pry out of a building.

    Of course there’s the issue of ‘who in this modern age of instant gratification and explosions has the time for that?’ but that’s part of the fun! A single level in Thief has nail-biting suspense, pride at a clever solution, and discovery of new things about the world! It doesn’t need to be flashy to be fun.

    • Otters34 says:

      Apologies again for the over-long email. Here’s more or less what I meant to write. Days after it would have been relevant. I’m on top of the game!

      Recurring topics on Spoiler Warning include the difference between old and new games, and player agency. It isn’t wholly true, but a lot of the time it seems like newer games give players more permission to act like they want, while older ones hewed pretty closely to the player playing a very specific role. With that in mind I started contrasting the current Spoiler Warning season of Dishonored to a video game near and dear to my heart, Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast.

      In Dishonored you play the very general and vague role of Corvo Attano, imperial Lord Protector who gets cast down from his high station to hated rebel against the Lord Regent. Pretty much the only thing we know for sure is that he loved the Emperess quite a bit(actively cradling her in his arms rather than something more removed) and adores Emily(he is not stingy with hugs), just about everything else is up to the player. This includes his ENTIRE character. How does he feel about the Pendletons? Up to the player. What are his views on the Overseers? Up to the player. His lengthy imprisonment, repeated torture and loss of everything? How that affects him is up to the player. On the one hand that is incredibly good! In gameplay that translates to the vast array of options for how to deal with your foes, including “boss” encounters like dealing with High Overseer Campbell, and in the choice of those options you could KIND of make out some sort of character for Corvo if you just go by the non-lethal options, where he becomes an unsettling driven man who loves him some ironic punishment, but otherwise it’s just…empty. Nothing you choose has any higher significance to him or the setting than anything else. He doesn’t have a character, he doesn’t have any kind of journey, no realization of himself or the Outsider or his friends or Emily or anybody, it’s all up to the player what he is and how he thinks.

      Contrast this with Jedi Outcast’s Kyle Katarn. As you no doubt suffered through in the last twenty minutes of the Diecast Kyle starts out as a gruff, level-headed, pragmatic and slightly jaded mercenary who has a great rapport with his friend Jan Ors. That is not how he ends. Also of note is that Kyle is MIDDLE-AGED. He’s graying! He speaks and acts like a guy who’s seen a lot! Contrasting him with modern 20-something impeccable protagonists is…frustrating. And I’m really young myself, which probably says something. Like Corvo you can use the tools given in the game to deal with the enemies(and it’s a 2004-era game made by shooter mavens Raven, so there are only occasional respites in the dude-killing), and you CAN defeat them in any way you want. The exceptions are the dark Jedi who are his nemeses throughout the game, and are integral to the storyline that gives the video game meaning and heft.

      Early on, the dark Jedi Desaan and his protege Tavion do something very like what Daud and his followers do, leaving Kyle beaten, without any chance of fighting back. In a rage at his loss, he goes off to regain his power to use the Force that has repercussions he doesn’t at first realize, takes back his lightsaber and starts off on a quest to get revenge on the people who did him wrong when he did no wrong to them. His anger takes a long time to cool until after beating Tavion, where after she gives him an earth-shattering revelation he decides to spare her, an imprtant step. For the rest of the story he comes to grips with himself, becomes more and more adjusted to his role as a Jedi Knight, turning his journey from a revenge fantasy into a classic STAR WARS tale where spirituality and wisdom beats the villains’ mechanized/militaristic attitude to the Force decisively.

      The biggest step in this is the last, and this BLEW MY MIND in 2004. At the end, you come to the big dumb boss fight arena with the big dumb boss fight shaker-upper mechanic, and the hero and the villain talk to each other. That in itself is not too unique. What they say is. Desaan gives the usual offer for Kyle to join him, only to be refused…and for Kyle to offer him a place among the Jedi. He outright forgives the man(lizard man, he looks like if that Payday dinosaur guy became a space wizard), casting aside TOTALLY the anger and hurt he nursed for hours in the player’s hands, appealing to Desaan’s likely undercurrent of fear and loneliness beneath his pride. It’s dismissed out of hand, of course, with the bad guy letting loose a flustered, angry cliche that is completely hollow and everyone knows it. But the simple fact that somebody took STAR WARS to mean more than just “space men shooting space guns in space, and also John Williams score and stuff from the movies” was utterly astounding to me at 13. Still is. It was pretty much the final line that resulted organically and seamlessly, believably and eloquently from the story that came before it.

      The problem is that happens with no player input. None of Kyle Katarn’s persona in the storyline is directed in any way by the player, he’s his own guy. You just happen to be guiding him through this part of his life. Corvo? You CHOOSE how you deal with your enemies including the boss fights important to the story. You have investment because YOU decide to do it, not necessarily the characters inside the story. And, as Josh mentioned in the Diecast, stuff like Ezio Auditore de Firenze letting the Pope go because killing him won’t make his father and brothers any less dead is utterly maddening because of how STUPID such a decision is. When you are kill people for hours and hours, and that is the only method of solving your problems and progressing the story, and no sign is given that it’s bad except for a tiny moment in Venice, you want to end the game by killing the bad man who started all the bad stuff that sent you on the Killing Path of Righteousness.

      Mr. Young wrote a post on this back in 2008, about Final Fantasy XII and Princess Ashe wavering over whether or not to kill the bad guy using the Nethecite. Not whether using it was bad, whether KILLING THE BAD GUY who wanted to start a massive war that would leave countless people dead or dispossessed was bad. It is instructive because of how bad that was and you can’t do anything about it.

      Now, which is better: letting the player do whatever they want to deal with the bad guy, or watching as the hero forgives the villain without any option to say something? I don’t know. I can’t know, because for everyone the line is different.

      A central point to all this is the fact that tight character stories like Jedi Outcast’s…I don’t think those are really DONE anymore. Without a lot of effort on the writer’s part in making it the anything like forgiving the villain can come off as a huge cop-out, and I can totally understand not wanting to deal with those knotted issues, I sure couldn’t do that!

      You know what other story had a really great ending like that? Mr. Young’s Free Radical. Go read it! It spins a really good yarn and is a really thoughtful look at human/AI interaction. The story builds on itself up to an ending that makes perfect sense given what came before and conveys a grand message.

      So that’s all I have on the subject. Hopefully this leads to everyone else spewing forth huge comments!

  32. X2-Eliah says:

    Also also also, Shamus, in this or the previous podcast, you mentioned graphical features like sub-surface scattering (iirc), and asked “who even wants/needs that?!” (And I agree, the graphics race is ludicrous) Well… Honestly? John Carmack. He, and people like him, are pretty much the paragons of meaningless pixel-pushing and unnoticeable-lighting-improvement-nonsense things.

    • Shamus says:

      It’s true, Carmack spends way too much of his talent pursuing trivial visual enhancements. He seems to enjoy pushing the limits of what a machine can do and finding cools tricks to get it to do new things. This served him (and us) really well back in those early days. It’s also great when he’s doing work on mobile devices.

      But on these machines with ridiculous GPU capabilities, his talents are largely wasted. The hardware is so powerful now that even a team of rotten, undisciplined coders can probably make something that looks passably like Crysis.

      I keep hoping he’ll turn his attention to speeding up the art pipeline instead of giving them new gizmos to polish. The engine behind RAGE is basically a brilliant idea that nobody needed.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        Aye. As for art pipeline, iirc one of the big-name engines was re-structured with improved development (scripting/arting) in mind… I think it was the next unreal engine? Maybe-ish?

        As for Rage engine – yup… id spent way too long on the engine without any real benefit/use, it turned out (how many games are being developed with the rage engine? Pretty much none). As much as I snark about megatextures, maybe they actually do improve the art pipeline? (then again, not sure how much – you’d still need to create the meshes, you’d still need to paint all the texturey bits, the only real difference would be that you save the textures as a patch in the mega-canvas instead of a separate file)

  33. Jumus says:

    I insist you guys should play ‘To The Moon’ its just as emotional as the Walking Dead yet it uses pixelated graphics, top down view, very small animations that manage to be very expressive and it totally goes against the idea of ‘Better graphics means more emotion’. Its story is original the writing and characters are very human and excuted almost perfectly, good use of humour yet depressing too and its never dissonate. Its getting sequel soon too so dont miss out! i know that Chris will love it after the frustration of bioshock infinite

  34. Heaven Smile says:

    Didn’t DMC: Devil May Cry use the “super motion capture” thing for the cutscenes too? how did that went on the budget?

  35. Heaven Smile says:

    So player Min Max their systems in games? why? and what would happen if the system is already maxed up, like starting a Metroid game with all the power ups and never them in a cutscene?

    What if the character they are roleplaying has superpowers that depends on how emotionally stable it is, and doing anything out of character will send it into a depression that lowers its stats or effectiveness? The players basically had all the powers, they just need to stay on course.

  36. Heaven Smile says:

    So player Min Max their systems in games? why? and what would happen if the system is already maxed up, like starting a Metroid game with all the power ups and never loosing in a cutscene?

    What if the character they are roleplaying has superpowers that depends on how emotionally stable it is, and doing anything out of character will send it into a depression that lowers its stats or effectiveness? The players basically had all the powers, they just need to stay on course.

  37. James says:

    I’d like to paraphrase a quote
    “Two possibilities exist, either Bioware had FULL creative control
    or
    EA is meddling in the business of once successful developers”

    Both these are horrifying, either Bioware is not what it was, and is run and staffed by hacks or creatively bankrupt.
    Or EA is dreadful at managing subsidiaries, and cannot fathom how to manage them without ruining everything.

    i may have used some emotive language and some hyperbole and i also hope i’m totally wrong, but it seams i might not be.

    After-all, ME2 was written jointly by Mac Walters, and Drew Karpyshun* who wrote the first, and it was a schizophrenic, ME3 was just Mac Walters and its story was even worse then ME2
    *(as lead writers)
    DA:O had a reportedly(supposedly is probaly a better word) 10 year dev time, and while it had some weaknesses in the combat it was a fantastic game.
    DA:II was 15 months, not even 2 years, less time then the average CoD (they get about 2 years per studio iteration) and it had alot of flaws.

    Maby with a new CEO things will change, or Maby we’ll have to wait for Obsidien and InExile to save us all

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!