Diecast #30: It’s a Good Day to Diecast

By Shamus
on Sep 17, 2013
Filed under:
Diecast

It’s another rambling chit-chat that’s long on anecdotes and short on news. These conversational shows seem to spend more time talking about what we’re doing and less time gnawing on obnoxious game companies, which makes the show more positive. So that’s nice.

I apologize for the way I sound. I was pretty sick this weekend.

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

Hosts: Rutskarn, Josh, Chris, and Shamus.

Show notes:
1:40 Shamus is programming.

But you knew that already.

We actually spend most of this segment talking about Minecraft and social media.

13:30 Rutskarn is playing Thief Gold and Super Hot.


Link (YouTube)

33:00 Chris is playing Brothers and Game Dev Tycoon.

We also digress into game piracy vs. abandonware. (And also Sim City. Obviously.)

56:00 Josh has been playing Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Rome War: Total 2.

We also talk about Dear Esther.

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From the Archives:

  1. Ben Hilton says:

    More Mailbag Please!!!…….And I’m not just saying that because I sent in a question….really…..maybe a little….

    • Rutskarn says:

      I’ll tide you over. Post your question here and I’ll give my response.

      • Bropocalypse says:

        Rutskarn, what do you do to keep your coat shiny?

      • rrgg says:

        From what I’ve heard, the review system in GDT basically works based on your previous best game. So unless you are constantly outdoing yourself according to your models you won’t get very good scores.
        Speaking of the review scores in that game shouldn’t they really be on a scale of like 7 through 10?

        Edit: I really meant this to be a new comment, not a reply to Rutskarn.

      • Ben Hilton says:

        Thanks for the offer Ruts, but unfortunately it’s a Shamus specific question about the new Dreamfall game.

      • Lord Nyax says:

        My question was to ask whether any of the Diecast crew still played tabletop games. I was particularly wondering when the last time Shamus played one was. Also I wanted to know what was up with Dead Salesman games, do you got anything going on? Is that Mary Sue game still a thing that might happen?

      • Gordon says:

        Ooh, ooh, I actually did send in a question directed at you! let me find it…

        “So, Rutskarn. You’ve brought up your Fallout hack for the Fate system, and since I really like both, I was wondering if you had considered doing a brief write up of the skills,
        Karma system, and whatever additional tweaks you might have made/wanted to make? Have you guys given serious consideration to running a game of that together, a la the D&D podcast the penny arcade guys do?

        What would the Reginald Cuftbert stunt entail?

        (Obvious Reasons
        Whenever fighting four or more opponents without an ally in the same zone, spend a fate point to consume every possible item that you are carrying and scream “STOP SHOOTING ME!” This will not cause your foes to stop shooting you.)”

      • Nick says:

        Do you think Mumbles should have made a covered in bees/Bs reference about your joke on the A Very Slender Evening video?

      • Lord Nyax says:

        …I don’t think he’s coming back.

  2. Bropocalypse says:

    Super Hot makes me think that it’s about as close as one could hope for to a turn-based first person shooter.

  3. Jacob Albano says:

    Just wanted to weigh in on Amnesia with a bit of my own criticism, since it came up:
    http://jacobalbano.com/2013/09/disappointments-amnesia-a-machine-for-pigs/

  4. rrgg says:

    My main problem with the superhot demo is that the bullets tend to blend in with the enemies that fired them, which really sort of hurts the mechanics. The bullet trails look really good when they are buzzing past you, but those are the bullets you don’t really need to worry about. The bullets that are actually heading straight for you generally won’t be seen until it’s too late.

    Also the projectiles seem to travel pretty slow in the first place.

    • That was a gripe I had too, but I also found the game uninteresting. The mechanics just didn’t really do anything engaging, and there was really not even a hint of a story until right at the end (of the trial version).
      All in all, I’m interested to see how the full game turns out, but not enough to actually play it.

  5. hewhosaysfish says:

    So how about yesterday’s Jimquistion, then? He talks about some concept called “Luponarcissist Dinosaurs”? Apparently its something of a new buzzword in games criticism.

    Anyone on the Spolier Warning/Diecast cast heard of anything like that before?

    EDIT: Shoulda gave the URL
    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/8105-Lugoscababib-Discobiscuits

  6. Zukhramm says:

    Actually, in Frozen Synapse, you can run your tactics simulation against moving (and ducking, or aiming or any arbitrary plan). It’s just the game doesn’t give you the AI’s orders, so you have to decide for yourself what enemy tactics to set up and simulate against.

    • Jacob Albano says:

      Wow, I never knew that. I always just used it to judge line of sight and kill probability.

    • WillRiker says:

      Wow, I never knew that either; the number of people saying “I didn’t know that” leads me to think that the game really needs to do a better job of teaching it to you.

      • Zukhramm says:

        What? It’s clearly stated in a sub-menu to a sub-menu in the list of text tutorial available by pushing the small button in the corner on the main screen!

      • Shinan says:

        I’ve heard a lot of similar comments about how Frozen Synapse is obtuse and unclear in many respects but I have to admit that I found the game incredibly easy to use and intuitive.

        So much so that I sometimes find it hard to believe that people actually think it is difficult to use. But I guess it has some fiddly bits. But I don’t see it somehow. I just see lovely drag and drop and making plans and previsualizing and all that other goodness.

        But yes Frozen Synapse is probably one of my favourite games (so I’m also fanboy) and I’m greatly looking forward to Frozen Endzone.

    • rofltehcat says:

      Unlike the guys above I already knew that ;P

      I sooo love Frozen Synapse but it was already nearly dead when I discovered it :(

      It also had a few problems like insanely unbalanced maps, matches never ending etc.

    • So, when I bought Frozen Synapse, I bought it with a friend, who loves strategy games. I, on the other hand, am utterly atrocious at them.
      I knew you could set the actions of the opponent while planning your moves – which I knew from reading all of the development blog posts (I’d been following the game since about a year after development started).
      He didn’t know that, so in the first 3 rounds I completely smashed him. And then, feeling guilty, I told him you could do that.
      I never won another round.

    • postinternetsyndrome says:

      Yeah, came here to say that too. I can accept that the game is not for everyone, but I felt it got misrepresented in the episode.

  7. bucaneer says:

    Rutskarn, in Frozen Synapse, you can order enemies around like your own guys in the simulation phase, so you can plan your move around what you predict the enemy will do. It is comprehensive.

    EDIT: ninja’d.

  8. Zukhramm says:

    I don’t you can compare Dear Esther and Gone Home in any way other than them being in first person.

    BRB playing through Dear Esther again.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I really liked Dear Esther (the mod), but I’ve not yet played the “full” version. I definitely will make time for that now, I feel like it’s been long enough since the last time that I’ll get something new from it.

      Also, people should play The Stanley Parable, which is getting a huge updated version on Steam at some point.
      http://www.moddb.com/mods/the-stanley-parable
      (see also Steam Greenlight and stuff, I’d post a link but I seem to recall this comment system doesn’t like multiple links per comment)

      • Thomas says:

        I think the level design got way better in the redesign. Some people in reviews from the mod were saying the way to go wasn’t always obvious, but I found in the updated version that it should really be schooling some big games in showing people where to go from the level layout

        • Minnow says:

          In Dear Esther? I guess for the most part it did a decent job but it did so in the laziest possible way, utilizing literal paths [that occasionally split] that lead the player through the level, often leading to a single point from which to proceed.

          There were a few times I found myself lost during an initial playthrough due to this issue however, as some paths split off into dead ends [for no reason beyond the illusion of multiple paths I guess] with little discernible difference between which is correct.

          Also I can’t have been the only one to have thought you were supposed to enter the run down ship at the beginning of the second segment. I might have been the only player to rage-quit in frustration after discovering my efforts to enter were in vain however…

          • Thomas says:

            No, I mean it was corridor from place to place, but it was like that in the original too, that’s just how the game worked. What I mean is whenever yo go to an area you see a beacon in the sky framed above you, or the cliffs would sweep down to this house or the moon would shine along this path. If they took away the rails, in the updated version, the place where I needed to go would also be the place that I always wanted to get to next

  9. X2Eliah says:

    Welp, nice to see that at least one of you four is playing Brothers. I really liked that game (though the somewhat infamous TotalBiscuit video on it was a tad more enthusiastic than I’d have been).

  10. rrgg says:

    My two main problems with the Rome II patches coming out are:

    A. In the back of my mind I’m thinking wait, so this was all stuff that could be super easily fixed within a week that they just didn’t bother with before launching?

    B. It means that a lot of the major balancing or mechanical changes which would really help the game are probably off the table since developers probably don’t want to be changing the rules midway through people’s campaigns.

    • meyerkev says:

      So I haven’t played it yet, but from what I’ve heard…

      So you get 1 army per 4 cities. And then every time you conquer a city it hates your guts.

      So you can either advance slowly step by step praying that nothing happens to cause a city to revolt, waiting for each city to stop hating you, and meanwhile giving your enemies time to rebuild (and TW AI enemies have always been like an M&M, where you just need to win the opening battles and THEN blitz as far as you can through the soft chocolatey bit of their undefended cities before they can rebuild).

      OR

      You can blitzkrieg your way through, but you’ll have to accept that you’re going to need to reconquer everything you just took because you just let it revolt.

      Whose bright idea was THAT?

      • hborrgg says:

        It’s made a little bit easier by the province system which makes it so that once you a specific group of 2-4 cities they all share resources such as public order, so any temples or armies garrisoned in one city will help the entire province.

        But yeah, you need to build lots of public order buildings and destroy buildings from the previous order that cause squalor. It gets even more annoying later on with harder difficulties when you start running into horribly mismanaged cities full of high-level squalor buildings that were made by an AI that gets a huge public order bonus.

        Currently the main issue I have with expanding is just the giant stack of money necessary to convert each new city. That and the fact that each new province you take is generally going to have a provincial instability of -20 public order, it decreases by -1 each turn so I generally have to wait for quite a while before I can even start taxing new provinces.

  11. Flavius says:

    Really, Rutskarn…You did not think of looking for dirt in the garden? (Yes, I realize what you mean, but I am kind of surprised you did not milk that statement.)

  12. Ilseroth says:

    Whats that, sections talking about thief, the movies and daggerfall, woo! Having something to say!

    With regards to Daggerfall, I completely agree with pretty much everything ruts said. I picked up the game about 6 years ago after playing Oblivion. I had played Morrowind (the high mark of the series for me in a lot of ways), so I kinda wanted to look back further.

    As much as I really did enjoy Daggerfall, it’s dungeons were indeed just too damn random. You would get a seemingly simple quest from a man in a bar and it would end up being a several hour romp through a dungeon that all kinda looks the same. Didn’t hurt the the map system, while cool, was as confusing as it was helpful.

    While I love Daggerfall for being the heart of the series where they started the idea of “Skill” based gameplay (as opposed to traditional leveling up) I think that as a game the original game (Arena) actually holds up a lot better. Hand made dungeons, some of them long some of them massive, and enough stuff to do that it was fun, shame it had a traditional class system. Without spoiling anything (in a several decade old game on a site that hosts “Spoiler warning, go me?) the end game gets a bit ridiculous in terms of difficulty, but otherwise was solid.

    That and I enjoyed that upon arrest in Daggerfall you were brought to a court room and could and I quote “Debate” or “Lie” in order to get out of the sentence, and proclaim yourself Guilty or Not Guilty. That being said, since it was randomized, I once got away with murdering a dozen or so guards by lying, and subsequently got jailed for accidentally pickpocketing someone instead of talking to them.

    That being said with regards to both Thief and Daggerfalls map sizes being huge, I am kinda on the fence. Part of the problem with the alternative (small linear play areas) is that for instance you never get a feel of a truly epic area. For instance in Skyrim, every dungeon can be knocked through in about 10 minutes or so and at the end somehow you’ll find a switch or secret door that pops you out about where you came in.

    I mean, this is very convenient but at the same time, consider some of these places scope. I mean for instance there is “Labyrinthian” which is known for being… A labyrinth ((Who would have thought). Yet as a game space it is nothing but linear corridors.

    I miss truly epic locations in games, such as the old Wizardry games (and other games of the same ilk). Part of why I was dissapointed by Legend of Grimrock is that it nailed the tone perfectly, and then the game was over in like 4 hours. To be fair it is an indie game, and has a content creator build into it… but the base campaign was pretty damn short.

    With regards to The Movies, I think in and of itself was an interesting premise that was handled the wrong way… pretty much the same as all of Lionhead’s games. Though for the record, you could indeed voice act your movies. I know this because one evening my brother, exceedingly drunk, with his friend (similarly as such) got their hands on it and made the most lewd “The Movies” movie in existence. No I will not post it.

    But as someone who approached The Movies with a bit of optimism it definitely had me interested at launch, and was kinda fun to tell your characters to do things, make up absurd situations and so on. That being said I think pat of the problem is that it’s acting is designed to *not* have a voice over. This means every scene is someone overacting a ton. This looks appropriate when doing a film from the 20s, bbut when you are at the modern era part of the game it just seems silly.

    Please excuse my massive ramblings >.>

    • Neko says:

      The decline of “sprawl” in games really gets to me too. I loved Thief Gold and Thief 2’s huge levels that felt like real cities and tombs, I love Morrowind’s landscape and dungeons. With the improvements in technology, we could afford to hold even larger levels in memory… except we got bigger polygon budgets for the models and statics instead. Not that that’s a terrible thing, but there’s diminishing returns for throwing more graphical fidelity at the game.

      Also of course I blame console DVD load times and the relatively small memory budgets we got with the current generation.

    • “For instance in Skyrim, every dungeon can be knocked through in about 10 minutes or so”

      Wait, what? Dungeons were a huge thing in my play-through – taking between 1 hour and 4 hours to finish. Then again, I gave up before reaching level 5, so it may have just been attempting a dungeon as a low level stealth mage.
      I do agree with the excessive linearity of them though – they never really felt like real places, always just a string of encounters to get through.

  13. Thomas says:

    Hades was a word greeks used for hell, but it was specifically a Greek Christian word for it (and lots of modern Bibles actual use Hades instead of Hell in the New Testament). The Greek Underworld was the ‘Realm of Hades (the God)’ and I think that ended up being shorthanded to Hades (the place) but the Underworld itself wasn’t a fiery pit of doom, it was more like the place where all the dead people go, so the super cool place all the heroes got to go to was in Hades too (whereas Hades as used by greek christians was referring to a Sheol style place of punishment deal)

    I hope that’s not too religious, it’s mainly historical/etymological (although etymology can be just as dangerous a topic around here =D)

  14. How you know Minecraft has saturated past gaming culture: at Disney World the other day before the nightly Halloween Party started, I spotted someone in a full Minecraft Creeper costume. He just stood in the middle of a pathway, staring at passing park guests.

  15. Spammy says:

    I liked Dear Esther, but as much as I don’t like the “Game or not-a-game” debate, I still don’t want on instinct to call Dear Esther a game but an experience. Because I felt like I wasn’t playing it, I was experiencing it. Experiencing the narration and the rich visuals and the far-off shadow guy. But it’s so non-interactive and so linear and there’s no real player input besides choosing to go into the water when you’re near the beach. But, I found the visuals and the mood and narration to be very effective and I did like Dear Esther.

    The comment about The Dark Descent breaking the rules and having a monster come after in a well-lit room and how predictable Slender was brought up a somewhat old idea I had, that I called the meta-horror game. I’d just got done reading MAJORA (which I guess is Ben Drowned now?), which is about a haunted copy of Majora’s Mask. Things in the game break, like the main town missing some textures and all the townspeople while one of the songs plays in reverse. In one dungeon Link’s torso is snapped ninety degrees to the right. Death animations last much longer sometimes.

    And it got me thinking, why couldn’t a game developer do that intentionally? Like, the game starts of creepy but level, but part of the way through the developers intentionally start to mess things up. Make animations spaz out, textures disappear, basically intentionally break the rule of game design that the game design has to be watertight. The player stops at a save point and while you think the game’s frozen because you’re saving it’s actually not, and a monster walks through the wall and gets you as a setpiece, and make the real plot not about the in-game story but now this new presence that has control of the game itself and is messing with you.

    I think that would be neat and do a better job of paying homage to internet horror stories than making a game where you walk through the woods for no reason holding a camera for no reason (Seriously why are you looking through a camera in Slender) while Slenderman pops around you like Nightcrawler.

  16. Now I want someone to work out how many human hours of productivity Minecraft has cost the nation, with bonus points for the hours lost when you start over because the new features won’t run on your current world.

    I almost wish I’d saved one world I had when they ran an update and wherever I hadn’t explored, there was a sheer drop-off straight into the ocean.

  17. Quotes for everyone says:

    The best description of Dear Esther I have heard was by the writer

    “In Esther, the story doesn’t really actually exist,” he said. “It’s just a whole bunch of ideas about a story that the player then uses to create the story themselves…”

    Oh also here is the explanation for Dishonored’s chaos system and the rather boring nonlethal playstyle
    “Colantonio: Yeah. I mean, you know, to be fair, the non-lethal thing in Dishonored 1 started as an easter egg almost. It was a mandate that both Harvey and I had that was not so exposed initially. We wanted to find a way to complete the game without killing anyone and make it super hard, but we wanted to stick to it. This survived all along throughout the design process, but it didn’t become a big deal until our second E3 when everyone got to play. Then we realized that everyone was super excited about the fact that you could finish the game without killing anyone.”

    • abs1nth says:

      That is a great quote about Dear Esther and that’s imo the problem with most story-telling in videogames it’s largely not interested in the player and that’s poisonous in a game.

      To the Dishonored quote: Except non-lethal is the opposite of “super hard” I think it’s actually the easiest way to play the game – just blink to victory.

  18. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So why does total rome get less flak than simcity,when it is just as broken?From everything people said about it:its riddled with bugs(land ship ho),ai doesnt work(both the campaign,with its passivity and peasant armies,and the battle one,with its run towards enemy then turn back tactics),core mechanics are broken(formations scatter immediately,and then the flag thing),turns take ages to go through if you include everyone,and graphics is sometimes worse than in the previous wotal tar game.And yet,everyone thinks simcity is the worse thing since holocaust,but rome is just having a troubled launch that will be fixed soon.

    • Retsam says:

      Well, my understanding was that many of the problems with Sin City were caused by, related to, or showed the ridiculousness of the claim that “always-online is a core feature of our product, and totally not something that we shoved in last minute to use as DRM”.

      Played having a hard time logging in, which wouldn’t have been an issue without the always-on thing. I understand they claimed certain calculations were being done on the server, when they blatantly weren’t.

      And, yeah, just in general people were less willing to be forgiving due to the ill will that I think came from the always-on thing.

      (Plus, it seems like RomeII is getting their act together much quicker than Sim City did; and at it’s core RomeII is probably a better game than Sim City 2013 is)

    • rofltehcat says:

      It is not as bad as one might think. If you listen to the Three Moves Ahead podcast, you’d think it is the worst thing ever but even on there they say it is an ok-goodish (casual?) game.

      It just lacks (about 3 months of) polish whereas Sim City was simply broken and couldn’t be played at all by most people. Plus Rome 2 is patched constantly.
      I think the last patch cut my turn time down by like 75% (or maybe it is just a bit better when playing one of the central-Asian kingdoms.

      I preordered it via (cheap) import key and although I am a bid sad that it is worse than Shogun 2, I still get a lot of entertainment out of it.
      For anyone interested in Total War games but unsure whether to get Rome 2, I’d suggest picking it up discounted (import key, maybe retail, maybe Steam deal). That way you save money and many bugs will already have been fixed by that point :)

  19. Andy says:

    Clearly, Campster needs a copy of Outlast.

    While we wait for his reaction, Mack’s “Outlast played by a complete p***y” series is pretty fun for fans of the “arachnid eyelid” genre.

    http://youtu.be/UlcQNcTfm_M

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “What if Mirrors edge was about shooting people?”

    So just like mirrors edge then.

  21. Retsam says:

    Starting to listen to old diecasts (I think I started regularly listening around episode #12 or so; haven’t heard #1-11). Just hit episode #2 where Shamus says “Oh my goodness, we’ve just blown a quarter of the show talking about what we’re playing.” Good thing they’ve stopped doing that… (This is not a complaint)

    Speaking of which, the context of that remark was interrupting an extended conversation about Minecraft. Ever going to get that Minecraft-themed podcast? That’d be fun.

  22. Retsam says:

    Starting to listen to old diecasts (I think I started regularly listening around episode #12 or so; haven’t heard #1-11). Just hit episode #2 where Shamus says “Oh my goodness, we’ve just blown a quarter of the show talking about what we’re playing.” Good thing they’ve stopped doing that… (This is not a complaint)

    Speaking of which, the context of that remark was interrupting an extended conversation about Minecraft. Ever going to get that Minecraft-themed podcast? That’d be fun.

  23. TSi says:

    Listening to Chris describe the games he’s playing reminded me of the Floigan Brothers on Dreamcast. Nostalgia… X )

  24. Paul Spooner says:

    Most of the “team of 30 people” who developed Minecraft are not part of Mojang, and haven’t seen significant returns. A lot of the peripheral guys (including myself) got paid a single flat fee instead of a percentage. Not complaining, but the revenue is fairly concentrated. Hopefully it will keep Mojang going for a long time, and they will do lots of good work! I’d be pretty impressed if Mojang made a contribution to Zachtronics, since Infiniminer was a pretty complete proof-of-concept that Notch worked from. After that, paying out some “thanks for contributing” would go a long way toward keep the community going. I suspect there are a lot of modders who have inspired additions to the game and haven’t received anything for it.

    So, wait, Ruts’, you needed to “find dirt” and you didn’t think to look in “the massive garden zone”? I feel like your pun senses should have been tingling at that point.

    It always struck me as a grevious oversight that the Hitman games don’t have a “wait for X” mechanic, where X is minutes, discovery, sighting someone, or some other trigger condition. The tedium seems unnecessary.

    It seems like the player character in Super Hot actually does move supernaturally quickly. Especially since no one else is moving, there’s nothing to compare to other than the bullet speeds. Then again, all I know is from the trailer. Seems like a good note for design, but not a complex enough composition to be interesting.

    Man, another missing pun! “You get four scores…” presumably on the game you started seven years ago? And “…romance films are hot right now.” Aren’t they always hot? What is this podcast coming to?

    Hope you’re feeling better soon Shamus! Being all stuffed up is miserable, no matter what the cause.

  25. Phantos says:

    I like how the ad I have for this podcast is just an anime picture with a single word: “Rumplestiltskin”.

    Also, the Minecraft sales would be impressive, and a boon for creativity in games… if GTA V didn’t make $800 mil in one day.

  26. abs1nth says:

    I never could quite empathize with people saying that Dear Esther has no gameplay that it’s a game just about walking.

    I’ve played a couple of games that have tried similar things like Proteus and non of them have accomplished what Dear Esther made so great for me: To make exploration without systemic ties meaningful and engaging. People applaud BioShock for its environmental storytelling but I never felt compelled from a story motivation to explore and observe where was the mystery or the promise of revelations hidden within its environment. Dear Esther to me is the prime example of environmental storytelling done right and that’s what made it engaging that’s the gameplay: listening to the story trying to piece it all together while exploring the environment to find additional clues or impressions.

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