Diecast #10: SimToothpaste, MMO Permadeath, and More Graphics

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Apr 23, 2013

Filed under: Diecast 109 comments


Josh couldn’t make it this week. My USB headset broke and my backup evidently has a white noise generator built into it. I did the editing. We forgot to do the mailbag segment. So basically, this episode features the usual level of polish and professionalism you’ve come to expect from us. Enjoy!

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

Also! We we be doing a hangout on Thursday, April 25 at 7pm Eastern Time. (Which works out to midnight on Friday morning, GMT.) I’ll post links and give a heads-up when the show is ready to go live.

Show notes:

00:30 What’s Everyone Playing?

Shamus is playing Thief 2 and Thief 3.

Chris is playing Surgeon Simulator 2013. Which he says is QWOP meets Trauma Center. Also he’s playing Starseed Pilgrim.

Rutskarn has played 30 Flights of Loving

And then we spend several minutes talking about Minecraft mods because I wasn’t sure if people wanted to talk about Minecraft mods.

23:00 It’s the triumphant return of “Bad SimCity News of the week”! You can get free SimCity DLC by buying specially-marked boxes of toothpaste or whatever. At least it’s not Doritos and Mountain Dew this time.

33:20 The developer of the MMO Salem creates a definition of the word “game”. Shocking turn: He crafts a definition specifically to favor things he likes and exclude things he doesn’t.

During the discussion, I brought up Realm of the Mad God, which was the basis for the recent Spoiler Warning joke title Realm of the Bad Dog, which nobody noticed. Alas. Also we discussed (and made fun of) Peter Molyneux’s Curiosity – What’s Inside the Cube?

45:30 Cevat Yerli, the CEO of Crytek, says that graphics are “60% of the game”.


From The Archives:

109 thoughts on “Diecast #10: SimToothpaste, MMO Permadeath, and More Graphics

  1. Stephen says:

    Yay! Your livestreams are perfect for Australian mornings.

    1. Humanoid says:

      Not for the 9-to-5ers though, of which I unfortunately am one of – the stream starts 9am AEDT, Friday.

      Should be an interesting day at the office though, with about half of the staff taking an extra day off on that day. (Context for the non-Aussies, the Thursday is a public holiday)

      1. krellen says:

        If it’s any consolation, it’s only slightly better for the western-half-of-the-US 9-to-5ers.

        1. Humanoid says:

          Mm, good point. I used to play an MMO with some west coasters and got used to handily approximating their primetime with my early afternoons. Never really developed such a point of comparison for the east coast.

          Dammit Josh (and Ruts, should he turn up), you’re supposed to help defend the west coast interests!

  2. Ayden Kinchla says:

    I noticed the Mad God thing, but hark, it appears that when you never post on anything, you are left out of so much more.

    Anyways (and I’m typing this before listening to the whole stream) I quite liked Realm of the Mad God. It was incredibly addictive for like a week and it has a sort of progression system that reminded me very much of this other fantasy dungeon game (anyone have a clue?). The low level cap made death not soul crushing but the items were rare enough that death wasn’t trivial either. Fun bullet hell gameplay with RPG elements, I definitely suggest giving it a go. It’s free too.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah, I noticed the title pun. I smiled. But the first rule of comedy is “don’t explain the joke” so… of course anyone who noticed it didn’t point it out! It’s an inside joke! It’s better if I just assume everyone else gets it and can imagine myself part of an insular community who all share my worldview.

      On the topic of Realm of the Mad God:
      *Death is always permanent
      *Death is swift and common
      *You can experience most of the game in a few hours, if you know what you’re doing.
      *You can keep one “chest” full of your stuff, but only if you’re not carrying it with you
      *You can pay (real money) for more storage

      1. Thomas says:

        But to even it out, you have instantaneous in-combat teleportation to a safe zone at a button press. So it always feels like you had options not to die which is important

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Yes, every time I died I felt like “Man, I was being too reckless.” and never “Aww, that’s not fair!”

          The entire game is a test of recklesness. It’s the razor’s edge of balancing current character power against the highest challenge you can handle without stepping over that very fine line into the infinite abyss. Really neat game. Go try it out everyone!

      2. impassiveimperfect says:


        But I noticed it, and even said of the title “Punny”.


      3. Trix2000 says:

        You forgot the obligatory TV Tropes link. Or maybe you didn’t and you decided to do the right thing.

        …And now I feel evil.

  3. X2-Eliah says:

    Shocking turn: He crafts a definition specifically to favor things he likes and exclude things he doesn't.

    Heh. Literally every single Internet argument that goes on for more than 5 minutes turns into that – redefining things to suit yourself and then arguing about definitions. And the mad part is that people apparently are really into that type of arguing – it’s a maaaaaaaaadhouse!

    Chris’s playing of Starseed Pilgrim made me think of recent space-related games. Not Kerbal, though, and not rpgs set in space, but actual “fly a spaceship and get more bits and bobs for it and maybe do some more exploring instead of shooting galleries”. I really really am starting to feel the need for such a game, again (after a massive multi-year investment in playing/modding of the X2/X3R/X3TC games, which resulted in a major burnout), but so far all the new stuff is in development (Star citizen, X:Rebirth, Elite:dangerous, Notch’s-supposedly-in-development-space-minecraft) or a tad too old (… freelancer etc). Is there something current that good folks at SpoilerWarningComments know of / have been playing aong these lines?

    Hey, if the podcast can have a “what have you been playing” section, then the comments on that podcast can have this as well :P

    1. GM says:

      I saw a space game called Star control on the channel bluexephos here the first video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w2SFV9Wwss i think theres only three videos from that channel of that game.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Well, to be fair, if I listed Freelancer as ‘a tad too old’, then a game from ’99 will be way out of the range ;)

        1. Humanoid says:

          2D games age like completely bald men, at a slower rate than the rest of the population. They reach a plateau that lasts for about half their lives where you have no good way of telling what specific age they are within that window.

          1. X2-Eliah says:

            Yes, but irrelevant of how good they look in terms of old men looks, you still wouldn’t want to go out on a date with one, no matter if it looks like your grandpa or your great-grandpa.

            1. You really don’t want to know how many women would go out with Patrick Stewart, then. Heck, I would, and I know he’s old enough to be my grandfather. Might not sleep with him, but I bet it’d be an awesome date. Of course, he also has a lot of talent and fame going for him, and he doesn’t look like that guy Anna Nicole Smith married.

      2. Steve C says:

        I never knew they redid StarControl 2. It’s my all time favorite game. <3 for telling me about this!

        1. Hitchmeister says:

          They only redid it in the sense of getting it to run on modern hardware. It’s still got the horrible UI and all the wonkiness typical of games from the previous century. Stuff you have to really work at being nostalgic for.

      3. Corpital says:

        I have played this Star Control2 a while ago and it was interesting for a certain time, but I absolutely hated the combat controls.

        Other games that come to mind would be Evochron Mercenary and Minerwars2081, the latter pretty new.
        Didn’t play Evochron for long, but IIRC it simulated space realisticly in that there wasn’t much of anything. Minerwars is actually two games, where one is singleplayer and the other one a MMO. I played for a while since alpha and its one of these games, where two thirds of the cast have hilarious foreign accents. Its map is structured in sectors and you can roam around between story missions, even tough I saw not much point in it, at least in the first half of the campain(not played much further than that yet, to be honest). Quite fun, but still prefer X3 R/TC.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          Hm, good call remembering those two games. I’ve looked into evochron, and for variosu reasons it just didn’t seem to ‘click’ (way too mechanics-obsessed and not enough.. er… ‘style’ to it).

          Is Minerwars finished? Last I hear about it, it was still in very early alpha with only portions of it in a working state.

          1. Corpital says:

            It went gold a few months ago and they released the source code for modding last month. You should look into the mods *before* you decide whether to get it, because they scrapped quite a lot of the promised sandbox for a linear campaign. Last time I played there was no building, no sidemissions and not much to do except the campaign, so exploration is mostly for its own sake.

    2. GM says:

      Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion or Trinity
      maybe ,got couple of friends playing the first one.

      1. X2Eliah says:

        Not much exploration in strategy games, I’m afraid.

      2. If you like loads of KABOOM! I recommend “Gratuitous Space Battles.” I could just watch the explosions all day… which is good because I stink at the strategy stuff. I think it’s because I have a hard time properly supporting one class of ships with another.

    3. Brandon says:

      I would throw buckets of money at a Freelancer-like game right about now.. I miss the “open world” space dogfights so much.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Aye, likewise. All the upcoming games I am aware of (which is to say, all those kickstarter games) are at least a year away :(

  4. Indy says:

    Aesthetic over fidelity. A pleasing art style is far more immersive than high-resolution dirt. I might agree with the 60% figure more if it was only for the first few minutes of a game because after that, you’re not seeing textures anymore, you’re seeing a real world.

    Graphics might be 90% of the game’s marketing, though.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Let me tell you that there are people who would pay for such a game.While playing diablo 3,I stumbled upon someone who said “Yeah lag sucks,I lost my lvl59 hardcore because of it”.And getting to level 59 in diablo 3 is a bitch.It took me about 4 days to get through just hell difficulty(not hardcore),and that was when I knew what I was doing,so I guess if someone bought everything in auction house and simply went through the game with a full group of friends,they would still need about a whole day in order to level that far.And thats not counting all the time to learn all the kinks.Plus going hardcore means you have to do a lot of hit and run,since you cannot afford to die.

    So yes,there are some who would enjoy playing a game like that.Not many,but there are some.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Let me give you my feedback about minecraft:

    I dont care about the game.At all.I tried it,and it didnt appeal to me.However,I do enjoy watching videos and pictures from the game about all the impressive stuff others did in it,and about the mods there are.So I think I would enjoy you writing about some of the cool mods youve tried.

    1. X2Eliah says:

      Similar case here. I don’t play minecarft, nor will I, but I find reading about it interesting enough – esp from Shamus at al.

    2. Siythe says:

      Not sure what it is about Minecraft but I just can’t seem to care. Tried playing it for a while but it just wasn’t for me. Thing is I can’t get interested in the vids/writing about it either. Unlike EVE where the stories of people being terrible to each other are endlessly amusing MC commentary feels like a slideshow of someones holiday.

      1. Bropocalypse says:

        I think the appeal for Minecraft is that it’s like having a bottomless LEGO set, but you have to fight monsters as you try to scrape the bottom of the bin for those fiddly little studs and detail pieces.

        Not to make mods an argument for a core game, but it became especially engrossing for me after installing the appropriately-named Feed The Beast mod, which is not so much a mod in of itself but a delivery system for a variety of mod packs that turn the game into one of resource and system management. So it became not just LEGOs with monsters, but also became Dwarf Fortress with one dwarf. And also nuclear reactors.

        1. Humanoid says:

          Lego is exactly what I perceive Minecraft to be, knowing only the most superficial facts about the game. I mean I know it’s got blocky graphics, you build stuff, and it’s multiplayer, and that’s about it. Therefore there is no other conclusion but to imagine it a virtual communal Lego set.

          I didn’t even know it had monsters until I read the above post….

    3. Piflik says:

      I find Minecraft just so unbelievably ugly. I don’t mind lowpoly graphics, I am doing my own share of that, but this game is simply lacking any artistic value. The first time I saw a Minecraft video, I couldn’t see what is so great about it…I just saw a video of a decades old, ugly videogame…it took months until I realized what Minecraft is even about…but still I could not care less about a game.

      1. Thomas says:

        There are lots of texture packs you can use to get it looking how you want it, if you look for them

  7. Weimer says:

    This Mr. Crytek fellow is infuriating.

    “It’s always been about graphics driving gameplay.”

    Deciding the visual effects of a game first, before even thinking about the reason the effects are there in the first place is kind of backwards.

    A competent craftsman/woman would create a product using the graphics, the gameplay, the audio and (gasp) the written word in harmony to communicate that the aliens over there are assholes and you should shoot them.

    Think of a painting, if you will. The graphics, or a collection of colors on the painting are meaningless without a decent scetch of a woman. The context, or the scetch is featureless and boring without the proper colors. However, together they happen to form Mona Lisa.

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      This is a great response, btw. I dislike the thinking of “graphics don’t matter, only art design [or gameplay] does” just as much as “only graphics matter”. It’s a compound thing, and as harmful as the gfx race has become to devs, I’d say that graphics do matter in reasonable proportion to all other elements and shouldn’t be ignored (just like all other elements).

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I’d go even further to say that the graphics serve the other elements. If all you care about is fantastic visuals… then you already have that in real life. Just, look around… there you go… totally realistic graphics. Mission complete.

        Presentation doesn’t matter one whit without something unique, interesting, engaging, and/or noteworthy to present. This goes for sound, interface, cutscenes, etc as well.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          Then by my books you’d go too far.

          Want superb gameplay? Go do real life stuff!
          Want true emotional characters? Go do real life stuff!
          Want perfectly deep and involved romance arcs? Go do real life stuff!
          Want the ultimate choice-consequence systems? Go do real life stuff!
          Want the 100%-accurate simulation with no AI cheats? Go do real life stuff!
          Want the experience to be completely immersive? Go do real life stuff!
          “Mission complete”? Oh, what’s that? It’s okay to deride graphics but nothing else by offering the meaningless platitude of “use real life”? …

          And I’m sorry, but if you read

          graphics do matter in reasonable proportion to all other elements and shouldn't be ignored (just like all other elements).

          and think that it means

          all you care about is fantastic visuals

          , then I… I don’t know. Oh, no, wait, I already said

          I dislike the thinking of “graphics don't matter, only art design [or gameplay] does” just as much as “only graphics matter”.

          , and that’s exactly what your response boils down to – “graphics in games? LOL go outside! Games don’t need no graphics!”. So, yeah, I don’t agree with you one freaking bit.

          1. Even says:

            I’d still chalk most of those on the YMMV-list.

    2. Wedge says:

      Well, and it fucking shows, too. The Crysis games are BORING. Or, at least, the first one was. I gave up after an hour or two and never looked back.

  8. Nytzschy says:

    I’m surprised I missed the ROTMG reference, seeing as how it had me hooked for a fair amount of time. It might have hooked me for longer and gotten more of my money if I hadn’t lost so many characters””and, more importantly, so much good equipment””to lag. After I lost a speed-maxed sorcerer with lots of defense potions invested, I just couldn’t play through the pain of feeling so slow and weak. The worst part, however, is that that wasn’t even a very good character or gear. Getting angry at the sheer time I would have to spend to get the really good stuff freed me up to play other games that are less like casino games, like Civ and minecraft.

  9. Thomas says:

    I can’t believe Curiosity. It gives me some respect for Molyneux, because it’s the first sign that he’s self-aware of what he does, like some cackling Mephistopheles whose realised he can be as blatantly evil as he likes and only good things will happen to him

    The guy who could hype someone indefinitely before the hard crash when they play the game, decided to make the game paying him to be hyped up. And inside the box is actually disappointment

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      I do admire the cleverness of the premise. Curiosity literally and openly is “okay, we are right now testing how far we can milk gamers for nothing at all. This is a downright rip-off, we know it, you know it, we are curious how this will work. Hence, ‘Curiosity'”, and that’s very clever that P.M. managed to pull this off.
      It’s not even that we can say anything bad about the model being horribly unfair – because *that’s the point of the whole meta-experiment of a game!*.

      1. Thomas says:

        I’m a little annoyed that he managed to get his kickstarter funded. There’s something about the PM magic that he can act like you described and we still trust him with our money. (well I didn’t, but then I didn’t find populus hugely fun to begin with and there are plenty of knock offs if I get an itch)

        1. Humanoid says:

          Never heard of Curiosity until this Diecast, so it’s just pass-the-parcel with thousands of participants?

          I didn’t mind seeing what he does with Godus – it’ll be interesting to see what happens when he’s presented with total creative freedom but an absolutely limited budget.

          At worst, you could say we’re all just paying him to please stop making any more Fable games.

        2. Paul Spooner says:

          I was one of the guys that donated to the Godus kickstarter. Having not really played (nor been injured) by PM shenanigans, I felt like I should give him a chance. Yes, he’s an insufferable know-it-all. Yes, he is terribly patronizing toward his customers. Yes he wears that silly turtle-neck. But, I really want to believe in the vision that he presents. That, more than anything else, is the “Peter Molyneux magic”. He knows how to describe something wonderful. He never delivers on it, of course, but it’s the vision, the longing for that goal that keeps people coming back.

  10. wulfgar says:

    i wish that there was a mod for Thief 2 that removes those noisy marble floor tiles. it’s not fun it’s not challenge, it’s just pain in the ass

    1. modus0 says:

      It’s not the tiles that are the problem, it’s Garrett’s iron-shod shoes.

  11. Thomas says:

    Crysis 2 sold 3 million, which was less than Crysis sold as a PC exclusive.

    I think the irony is, graphics probably did sink Crysis 2. Crysis 1 sold because it was basically game cred to say you could run it on your computer. You had to buy it so you could say your rig was good enough to run Crysis. Crysis 2 could run on something more normal and it lost any reason to buy it.

    It was a pretty stupid hook for a franchise to begin with

  12. Hal says:

    Speaking of in-game advertising:

    WoW is introducing a “Bad Robot” mini-pet. Here is someone’s take on that idea.


    1. It’s not the first time. A few years ago, you could get a free (but at the time only cosmetic) robot pet from Mountain Dew. However, that pet was devoid of any references to the product in game, unless you already knew where it came from. They’ve also done promotions with Coke in China I believe.

      1. Humanoid says:

        Until last year, I never understood the almost mythical relationship Americans had with Mountain Dew. To Australians, it was just another citrusy soft drink, and not particularly in-demand. Only realised what it was when Australia, for the first time in the history of the product, got the caffeinated Mountain Dew, which I never knew was a thing and had been a thing since inception.

        Fortunately I take my soft drinks neither sugary nor caffeinated, so no personal impact.

        1. Thomas says:

          They were doing a huge push a year ago to try and get British people to drink it. I don’t know how successful it was, I’m pretty sure it didn’t push Fanta or even Lucozade off their pedestal (it’s the cheapest most disgusting looking drink imaginable) but I did get given literal armfuls of the stuff for free which I was happy to accept. (But not drink. I think there was one guy who actually liked the stuff and he ended up being given 20+ bottles)

        2. Cybron says:

          Americans have a thing for high caffeine sodas. I don’t know how it is elsewhere, but this isn’t really something exclusive to Mountain Dew – before that, it was Surge. Heck, we practically have an industry founded on the practice of one-upping your competitor’s caffeine-packed, terrible tasting drink with an even MORE caffeine-packed and worse tasting drink (energy drinks).

          Is stuff like Monster and Redline popular outside of America? I have no idea if that stuff is marketed elsewhere.

          1. burningdragoon says:

            To the point where we now have energy shots so you can get all that caffeine without the hassle of having to drink a whole beverage. And energy additives so you can turn your regular drinks into caffeinated ones.

            1. I’m still waiting for nuotropics to be put in the water supply. Awake forever, woo!

          2. Thomas says:

            Monster is big in the UK. And before they started selling it there used to be people who’d talking about importing insanely caffeinated drinks from the US

        3. False Prophet says:

          A similar thing happened in Canada: we didn’t get caffeinated Mountain Dew until a couple of years ago.

          Conversely, I never understood why Americans were so dismissive of Smirnoff Ice, referring to it as “cheerleader beer”. Then I learned that instead of the fairly tasty (as far as alcoholic lemonade goes) mixed vodka drink with 7% alcohol that most of the world gets, the USA instead got the disgusting 4% malt liquor version.

  13. Dragomok says:

    During the discussion, I brought up Realm of the Mad God, which was the basis for the recent Spoiler Warning joke title Realm of the Bad Dog, which nobody noticed. Alas.

    I did, but I didn’t bother posting.

    1. Hitchmeister says:

      Add my name to the roster of readers who apathetically smirked at the pun in that title.

      1. Cybron says:

        And my axe!

    2. Fleaman says:

      It’s hard to make a post proving that you noticed a reference without sounding like you have a desperate, pathetic need to prove that you noticed the reference. “Nice Realm of the Mad God reference!” would be trite, adds nothing to the conversation, and makes everyone turn away and pretend they don’t know you.

      1. Dragomok says:

        “Nice Realm of the Mad God reference!” would be trite, adds nothing to the conversation, and makes everyone turn away and pretend they don't know you.

        Well, yes, that’s the reason I haven’t posted it in the first place.

  14. X2-Eliah says:

    Okay, I forgot to say this before, but @Shamus, in this podcast your mic has a really audible hissing background noise going pretty heavy in the left channel. Did you change some tech, or? It’s a wee bit.. distracting.

    1. Adam says:

      He mentions in the description that his usual microphone broke, and his backup is crap. Hopefully only a temporary problem.

    2. Peter H. Coffin says:

      The balance for the participants were all different, probably intentionally. Ruts was centered, Shamus on the left, Chris on the right. Shamus was prett noisy, though, with lots of hiss and what sounded like someone laughing at one of his jokes.

      1. Deadfast says:

        They’re adding laugh tracks now!? Bloody sellouts!

        1. Peter H. Coffin says:

          Or Shamoose has a charitable wife….

          1. krellen says:

            Best I can tell, Heather genuinely finds Shamus to be highly amusing.

  15. Smejki says:

    MMO with permadeath? DayZ and FOnline 2238 come to mind.

    1. Cybron says:

      Also Wizardry Online

  16. Cybron says:

    I wouldn’t mind hearing about Minecraft every now and then, so long as the site doesn’t become a constant feed of Minecraft nonsense.

  17. silver Harloe says:

    The SimCity DLC reminds me of Farmville and similar games: content that takes them close to, but noooot quite, zero dollars to make, and which they can sell for literally ANY price, however small, and make a profit.

  18. Hang on there, Rutz. When you said “they made a movie about what’s inside the box,” do you mean the 2009 movie, “The Box?” Because that’s not what the premise was at all. It was a box with a button that, if pressed, would give you $1,000,000, but someone you didn’t know would have to die.

    It was a two-hour movie based on a half-hour episode of the newer Twilight Zone called ‘Button, Button.’

    1. Zukhramm says:

      I thought he meant Barton Fink.

      1. I did consider he might be referring to Pulp Fiction’s briefcase, or perhaps the ending to Se7en.

        Then my brain thought, “first you cut a hole in the box” and refused to have anything to do with me for half an hour.

    2. Peter H. Coffin says:

      My guess was the Hellraiser series…

      1. Hitchmeister says:

        My thought was Se7en. It wasn’t the whole movie, but figured heavily in the climax.

  19. Piflik says:

    Crysis 2’s story appears to be written by Richard K. Morgan. Not the biggest name in Sci-Fi literature, but I really enjoyed his Takeshi Kovacs novels. I think they did actually spent money on him…

    1. Cybron says:

      From what I understand, didn’t 2 have the best story in the series?

      I haven’t played any of them, that’s just a word of mouth thing.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        I’ve only played 2, and it had a perfectly serviceable B-movie plot. I wouldn’t quite call it good but it wasn’t cringeworthy and it had a few nice twists here and there.

      2. Weimer says:

        Well… Yes, that is true.

        Crysis 2 has actual characters to latch on, factions with somewhat coherent goals and actual steaks and conflict to drive the drama.

        This doesn’t sound much but it is loads better than the nothing of Crysis.

    2. I liked the first novel in that series the best, but the third novel was pretty weak: Making the “bad guy” a copy of the protagonist was just too old hat for me. It was a Star Trek transporter accident story with more violence.

  20. Paul Spooner says:

    On the topic of AAA games and visuals. I really like the image of building a monolith of cash and setting it on fire. It works on so many levels. I don’t even resent people doing this. It’s their money, they’re free to do what they like with it. What I resent is being told that watching a pretty currency bonfire is a life-changing experience and everyone should show up. It’s the kind of lie that, as was said, has blatant disregard for the intellect of the audience.

    In fact! If games are fundamentally experiences, then I can literally get a better graphical experience by walking out into my back yard! It’s even got physics and breakable objects! If I want to watch a pretty bonfire, I can do that with sticks. They cost less than dollar bills.

    I don’t want to be immersed in just any experience; I have that every day in real life! I want to be immersed in a specific experience. The quality of that underlying experience is what we call “gameplay”. Immersion is only valuable if the gameplay is valuable. So (assuming that visuals do in fact facilitate immersion) visuals are only useful to the degree that the gameplay is good. The “visuals first, gameplay second” school is objectively an inversion of reality.

    How can anyone pretend that this is even an interesting and valuable discussion? If you want excellent visuals without gameplay, look around at real life.

    1. Thomas says:

      We need a new word for something created with programming for entertainment/art purposes that isn’t specifically a game/gameplay. You could make an incredible detailed and creative alien world environment to be explored and really capture the feeling of actually being somewhere completely foreign to the range of human existence, without the passivity that a film or book forces, which would be something well worth doing and couldn’t be created in a garden.

      But that still contains your underlying idea, that if we want realistic graphics, it doesn’t get more real than life. You’re supposed to be doing something with them that people can’t easily recreate in their day to day existences, and even if that’s not where 60% of the work goes, it’s 100% of the point of doing it in the first place

      1. Cybron says:

        Who’s to say that the exploration of a–

        Oh no, I see what you’re doing. You’re trying to get me into the “What’s the definition of a game” debate again. Well not this time, sir. NOT THIS TIME.

        1. Thomas says:

          I refuse to define game now =D I’m going to stick with my afore mentioned ‘created with programming for entertainment/art purposes’ whatever that word is, because it’s 1. Objective and 2. Doesn’t carry any value to actually judge how ‘good’ something is. You can only talk about the thing

      2. Paul Spooner says:

        Sotfware Toy? Interactive Entertainment? Fantasy Simulation? I get what you’re saying though, and it seems you understand me, so we don’t really need more terms. To add (I hope) another dimension to the initial point:

        In short, games are useful in giving us new experiences. Thus the value of a game’s visuals (in showing us unfamiliar things) is inversely related to how “difficult” those visuals are to produce. This is why the “graphics race” is so absurdly misguided.

        Most games don’t fall down on the account of “lack of new elements”. They nearly always have some non-trivial aspect of wish fulfillment, fantasy empowerment, or otherwise non-backyard elements. The problem is that the stuff you could see in your back yard are the hardest to make good visuals for, precisely because we see them every day and can easily critique the minor disparities between what the game shows us and what we know (even subconsciously) it should look like. Sunlight filtering softly through translucent leaves and casting colored lighting as the breeze shifts subtly. A light scattering of dew evaporating into wisps of steam in the early morning light. People’s faces, bent close over a meal in earnest and subtle conversation. These are the things that games neither can easily present (being familiar and thus open for detailed visual critique), nor have any need to (since these are experiences that are easily accessible to all of us). And yet these everyday visions of faces and fluids are the constant focus for “graphical excellence”, in despite of the fact that we don’t need games to experience interaction with these things in the first place.

        As X2-Eliah says elsewhere, we long for experiences in games in direct proportion to the difficulty or cost of achieving those experiences in real life. Space flight, for instance, or excursions into the very large or very small (difficult). Also, unfettered violence and destruction (costly). But, due to our unfamiliarity with these realms, they do not require “excellent” graphics to be convincing, precisely because we are not prepared to compare them to the appearance of any of our experiences.

        1. Thomas says:

          Oh I like that idea. And so if we didn’t have a rush for graphical excellence what we’d probably see is developers stretch themselves more to produce creative ideas and experiences that we’re unfamiliar with to compensate with the lack of fidelity.

          Still, if I could have cheap, perfect and easily manufacturable graphics, there is a lot you can do with that to create experiences that are subtly beyond the grasp of our everyday lives, because there are interesting things to explore there. And there are unreachable experiences that still rely on a grounding of reality to grant them (being a badass soldier).

          And you know, some of that is quite important, my brother doesn’t connect well with very fantastical products and it is important that there are people serving his soldier/spy dreams but it feels like developers have got so caught up in what they were doing that they’re forgetting what they were trying to achieve in the first place and that actually there are a lot of other routes that they should be taking to get there and so many times the graphics aren’t worth the cost.

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            “Still, if I could have cheap, perfect and easily manufacturable graphics, there is a lot you can do with that to create experiences that are subtly beyond the grasp of our everyday lives, because there are interesting things to explore there.”
            Oh, I totally agree. I’d be as happy as anyone if we suddenly had free photorealistic real-time visuals in games. But, we do not. The reason we’re having this discussion in the first place is that the “perfect”, “easily manufacturable”, and “cheap” qualities in fact seem to be in a state of direct and constant exclusion, both here and in all other arenas of life.

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      What if I want both good visuals and good gameplay? What if I want to, e.g., fly a spaceship through the rings of Saturn without everything looking like a reheated piece of pork butt in microwave? What if I want to see the sight instead of reading a paragraph of descriptive text in this text-adventure-game-with-epic-gameplay you seem to advocate?

      Or does that undermine your “graphics don’t matter, only gameplay does” stance, so you ignore the possibility entirely?

      Tell you what, I’ll launch up ‘X3:Terran Conflict’ – a space game with deep gameplay *and* strong visuals – and you fire up your real life spaceship. Let’s meet up in a week and share photos we each took of the solar system, kay? Does your “go outside” suggestion work for that?

  21. GeneralBob says:

    The true metric of a company’s trustworthiness: Would you purchase a hygiene product from them?

    1. Hitchmeister says:

      When they were discussing the SimCity/toothpaste tie-in I kept imagining it as something one of the secondary characters on Mad Men would come up with so Don Draper could roll his eyes at it and come back with something brilliant.

      1. Hitchmeister says:

        Oh, and here’s a head start on next week “SimCity Bad News of the Week” (a list of new bugs introduced by the 2.0 patch. (Remember when patches were to make games better?)): http://www.reddit.com/r/SimCity/comments/1cwkne/post_your_simcity_20_problems_here_heres_my_list/

  22. Astor says:

    I recently started playing Thief for the very first time too (thank you GOG). It’s very interesting because, yeah, animations are horrible, graphics can be “difficult”, the huge levels are rather empty, but it’s interesting because gameplay remains so similar in a modern game like Dishonored (you find notes and messages, steal stuff that transforms directly into money, steal keys from guard’s pockets, you overhear conversations, knock out guards, kill guards, you can sneak, etc), and the AI is pretty much the same too!

    I was surprised but guards react pretty much the same! If they think they heard you or saw you, they’ll mumble something and go search for you, and if they fail to find you they mumble something about the wind. If they see you they’ll mutter other phrases or call for help and attack you. If they see you and there’s an alarm system they will go activate it and then attack you. So I am enjoying it enough thus far.

    Also, I don’t think Gravity Bone is required to play Thirty Flights of Loving! But you should play it because I liked it better than the sequel. And I also agree that the music in those two games is refreshing! They are short, Gravity Bone is freeware, the sequel is cheap, no reason not to play them!

  23. impassiveimperfect says:

    Can anyone provide a link to the Battlefield for kids game? Searches aren’t turning up anything yet.


    Nevermind, it might be this.

      1. Oh, that thing?

        I remember a trailer for it long, long ago and it just looked like an attempt to slap a coat of TF2 on a CoD game. That was so it could be marketed to kids? That’s pretty evil.

  24. guy says:

    I am astounded by just how many of the latest crop of AAA games sold millions of copies while falling short of their sales projections. It’s like they decided to fit an exponential curve to past sales and pretend that fit reality.

    And it’s every AAA publisher doing this at once with strangely similar numbers. It’s like a shadowy cartel run by stupid people has taken over video games.

  25. Here’s what I don’t understand: I’ve heard more than once around here that the original Xbox couldn’t process large levels, but Halo: CE had large levels and sprawling environments. Morrowind was also on the Xbox. How could Thief 3 or Invisible War be exempt from this?

    1. Shamus says:

      Like the original Thief, Halo levels were pretty bare and mostly static. It had lots of cube rooms and empty hallways, and very little of it was interactive. Thief 3 and Deus Ex: IW aimed at more detailed environments: Furniture, stuff on the walls, fancy doors, lots of interactive stuff in the environments. Open doors and windows, collect clutter from around the room, turn lights on and off.

      Also, Halo had the advantage of being a platform exclusive that used an in-house graphics engine, and Bungie was able to invest some time in getting the most out of the Xbox.

      In contrast, Deus Ex Invisible War:

      1) Had a super-short dev cycle, which limited how much polish they could put on the engine before they had to start finalizing art assets.
      2) Was an early cross-platform game using a third-party engine, which probably limited what the programmers could do.
      3) Had a setting that demanded a lot of environmental detail.
      4) Had gameplay that demanded a lot of conversations, different animated NPCs, and tons of dynamic things in the environment.
      5) Allowed backtracking and non-linear progression, which made it that much more difficult to support huge, sprawling spaces. (It’s a lot easier having a big level when you know you can throw away huge chunks of it once the player passes through.)

      Deus Ex could have been a LOT better with more time and money, but it was never going to be able to compete with Halo for sheer square meters of playable game area.

      1. Okay. I knew about Invisible War’s development problems, but I didn’t think of the levels in terms of how interactive they were. That’s interesting. Thanks!

        It kinda marvels me how much Bungie got out of their engine considering how pressed for time they were at the end(Halo was built, scrapped, and rebuilt SEVERAL times before being moved to the Xbox itself and Microsoft setting a date).

  26. Even says:

    One thing I couldn’t get over in Thief: Deadly Shadows was the lack of, for lack of a better word, kinesthetics. In Thief 1 & 2, playing as Garrett felt very physical, which gave its own spin on the immersion level. All sorts of little things like the slow draw of the bow, sword swings with a sense of force in them, being able to do a simple pull-up, the stealth mechanics encouraging you to focus how you move around the area and the world reacting to the sound of your footsteps.

    It took me a good wile to get used to the the third person camera and the weapons with no “feel”. It’s still a decent game, but not necessarily a step forward in all areas.

  27. Asimech says:

    I’m interested in Salem, but not really interested in playing it. Last year when I still cared enough about it to actually read up on it I got the impression that the devs are “eccentrics” and not really out to do anything that’s actually enjoyable outside of trolls.

    Their solution to trolling (you leave a trail when you do something “wrong/illegal” or something) sounded like it would be gamed by trolls ultimately resulting in even more trolling & basically killing all influx of new players after release.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the more prominent trolls were the devs, to be honest.

    And that’s without the real-money store stuff. With that I have no plans to play the thing.

    1. Asimech says:

      More about Salem, again based on possibly old info:

      It’s possible to lose a lot of work in death and the devs claimed this would in fact discourage trolls because the trolls would have to spend a lot of time to become powerful enough to troll and then they would have to risk it all.

      Which just sounds like more incentive to troll, since the trolls are less likely to care so much for their characters as others.

  28. Paul Spooner says:

    Of all the Diecast episodes so far, this one seems to have the most laughter, glee, and all-around good times. Not sure what factors contributed to this, but I approve. Keep it up guys!

  29. Heaven Smile says:

    –About Minecraft:–
    What do you think of the idea of the audience making better content than the artist itself with the artist vision?

    I mean, Minecraft has reached a point that the original game is only 1/100 of ALL the cool stuff that people talk about and make videos off. Basically, if there is ANYONE who should be paid at this point for the hours of enjoyment of the rest 99/100 (thanks to the mods) its the modders themselves, not Mojang or Notch.

    What would you do in this situation when its clear that you can’t produce quality entertainment at the lvl of the audience? the best updates that Minecraft had were basically using the same ideas that modders used before, like the Piston Mod and the “Mo Creatures” Mod, and even then its not nearly as depth as the originals. Should the developers just limit themselves to bug fixes instead?

    Anyone remembers this on the old pistons?:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9BKmgCl1eg

    –On Realm of The Made God:–
    It has perma-death, BUT you can buy with in-game currency (named “Fame”) a medallion that allows you to resurrect after you die and then its gone until you buy another one. The catch is that it cost too much and occupies a space that could be used for more useful stats like extra hp rings, and you can’t buy it with real life money either. The problem with “Fame” is that while every action earns and accomulates fame, you CAN’T use it UNTIL your character die, that is why people makes characters to get high ammount of fame,items and stat potions for the REAL character they are building up, avoiding the frustrating risk of wasting equipment on someone that could die very easily.

    Its one of those games that is more skill based rather than just stat based, meaning that you can (in theory) solo the final boss even with a shitty character just by your ability of dodging the bullet hell in front of you. It HELPS to survive to have the best stuff but its not required because even the final boss has a instakill move that kills you no matter what if you are reckless enough, but at least you don’t have to have the best stuff to enjoy ALL the game features.

    The best part is that experience is shared with everyone you are next with, meaning that no one drains the exp of others and the more rare loot can be seen by specific people, if you did x amount of damage you get a specific loot that only you can pick up and see and therefore everyone gets it share.

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