Diecast #52: Goat Simulator, Burial at Sea

 By Shamus Apr 7, 2014 62 comments


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Hosts: Josh, Chris, Jarenth, and Shamus.

Show notes:

1:00 Christopher is playing Goat Simulator

Here is the Goat Simulator trailer, which is a send-up of the infamous Dead Island trailer. And I’m pretty sure this is the Farming Simulator Joke Jarenth was taking about.

8:00 Joshua is still playing Dark Souls.

17:00 Joshua also played BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea DLC. Both of them. Together.

31:00 Dr. Jarenth has been playing Netrunner.

Here is the Leigh Alexander piece on Netrunner, which is what got both Chris and Jarenth interested in it. Also, he’s been playing a bit of Creeper World 3.

35:00 Shamus is playing Terraria.

38:00 Shamus and Josh talk about Archer.

Here is the Archer YouTube channel, to give you an idea of what the show looks like. Note that in the latest season they’ve abandoned the spy motif for a Miami Vice motif. Haven’t seen it yet myself. Netflix releases typically lag behind broadcast television.

42:00 MAILBAG!

After seeing the Machine for Pigs episode, I felt I should ask: What’s the most minimalistic game that you enjoyed enough to recommend? Conversely, what’s the most complex game that you can recall engrossing you?

-Rueben


Shamus chronicles his development adventures quite well for us, but what about the rest of you? Have you dabbled in game development at all and what did you think?

Even that stupid text adventure you wrote in high school could be fun to talk about.

-Taylor

This is my favorite question in ages. It turns out all of us have dabbled in game development. Also I talk a bit about the programming I’ve been doing lately.

I’m sure this topic will come up in the show itself, but I figured I’d try to make sure of it.

What do you guys think about Facebook buying Occulus? I mean, a global megacorporation that knows everything about everyone taking over the industry leader in virtual reality is basically the setup for almost every cyberpunk setting ever, right?

- Ed (Kavonde)


202020262 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.


  1. imtoolazy says:

    35:00 Shamus is playing Terraria.
    isn’t bolded!!

    Don’t undercut yourself, Shamus! You’re worth just as much as everyone else here!

    Also, cool, talking about Goat Simulator, Archer, and apparently I have to listen to the answers to that last question.

    Edit:
    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-06-06-android-netunner-review

    Link to a review by one of the people at Shut Up and Sit Down, and I think it’s what largely got me really interested in trying. (Still waiting to try, sadly.)

  2. Jarenth says:

    So, to head off any fellow Netrunner enthusiasts here: I apologize for giving the game such a rambling, sleep-confused introduction. In my ‘defense’, I hadn’t actually expected being asked to talk about the game I was playing this week, and I was less focused as a result.

    Had I had my shit together better, I could have better mentioned that Netrunner is a superb asymmetrical ‘Living Card Game’, which is like a cyberpunk-themed Collectible Card Game without the random-booster-pack aspect, from Fantasy Flight Games. That it’s basically two games in one, pitted in eternal competition: with the Corporation playing a slow, building game of subterfuge, bluffing, and educated guessing slash risk taking, and with the Runner playing an active game of poke-the-weasel, assembling their rig and building their contacts in order to best outrun or disassemble the Corp’s ever-building defenses.

    Hell, I could even have mentioned that between three Runner factions and four Corporations to chose from, no two match-ups feel quite alike: how a Shaper running on Haas-Bioroid will feel more like a blind-match puzzle game, while an Anarch taking on Weyland will have all the characteristics of two angry bulls butting heads. And that due to the limited mix-and-match of the deckbuilding system, every faction manages to retain its own identity, while still allowing you to play with the other groups’ toys.

    Basically, I could have mentioned that Netrunner is incredibly well-put-together in basically every aspect: it looks gorgeous, it plays well, and it has a style and a strategy for almost every level of interest.

    But alas.

    (I could even haven mentioned the Eurogamer review of Netrunner, which was a second major influencer for me to actually pick Netrunner up.)

    The only thing I don’t regret is my hard stance on Runners, which I still stand by 100%. Bunch of goddamned criminals.

    • krellen says:

      This? THIS is what you abandoned all your buddies for?

      For shame.

      (Internet disclaimer: my outrage is mock.)

    • ET says:

      Having played only a bit of Magic as my experience with card games, I’m glad to see that Netrunner doesn’t use randomized booster packs.
      The big reason I prefer to play* Munchkin instead of Magic, is that even with its fairly shallow gameplay, I don’t have to gamble my money away to make a deck.

      * OK, I haven’t really played in several years, but everybody got jobs and lives, eh? :P

    • harborpirate says:

      Good board games exist, and Jarenth found one of them. Yay!

      Shamus: I posted a reply in the comments for the previous podcast episode, apologizing a bit for being overzealous last time in my attempted defense of euro/hobby games.

      Some board games don’t suck. I wish Wal-Mart would stop their campaign of only selling the worst. That is all.

  3. Haven’t listened to the cast yet, so feel free to consider this a knee-jerk reaction to seeing the words “goat” and “simulator” next to each other.

    It irritates me that a slapdash, buggy game like GS can get on Steam in under a month with no hassle, but quality, polished indie titles get stuck on Greenlight for as much as a year. I don’t have a gripe with any other aspect of the game necessarily, but that on its own upsets me.

    • John Lopez says:

      Goat Simulator had massive marketing going for it, which I presume included getting involved with Valve’s marketing group early as well.

      Most of the “quality, polished indie titles get stuck on Greenlight” have zero marketing budget and thus can’t bend Valve’s ear. Greenlight was supposed to act as a way for Valve to get rid of the Indie Blindspot(tm) they had previously.

      And it kinda worked: many of the games in the first few release cycles where games that Valve simply overlooked that I had liked from the indie scene.

      However, I hear that complaint (slow access to the system) a lot now from people who have games that are… less than ready for the Steam front page. In fact, I would argue the problem has gone the other way around now. Instead of indies being overlooked, they just shovel them in, without any quality control.

      • Goat Simulator is by Coffee Stain Studios, the developers of Sanctum (1 and 2). It’s on Steam because they already have the right to publish on Steam, not because of any gesture on Valve’s part.

        Incidentally, I’m not seeing a huge influx of low-quality indie games onto the store; the trend recently has been mobile-port shovelware and publisher back-catalogues.

        • Mephane says:

          Yeah, that’s my observation, too. I really like that they release older games on Steam now, I grabbed some here and there just for old times sake (I am looking at you Jedi Knight series), but the recent influx of “mobile-port shovelware”, a term which I hereby adopt because it describes this type of game very well, is infuriating. Wasn’t that supposed to be part of Valves role, to be a gatekeeper to at least maintain some basic level of quality? Now we get stuff like this, which as far as I know is a reskin of a bad port of an already bad mobile game, and they even have the nerves to charge 9€ for this piece of ****.

          (Another reason I am angry is that Games Workshop seems to hand out their license to everyone who can at least scribble their name under a piece of paper; I’d rather have few quality W40K games than a huge pile of games that are so bad that their existence even hurts the brand.)

          • Bubble181 says:

            Good indies and quality older games: that’s GOG. GOG’s been getting more and more attention, especially with releasing new indies instead of only “older” software. In case you missed it, GOG is now the second biggest on line gaming community – after Steam, but before UPlay and Origin. Steam’s been releasing “old” titles they thought weren’t worth the effort before, for months now – trying to convince people to stick to Steam for their older games as well, instead of going to GOG for those. Matter of binding the customer to you.

            I’m a huge GOG fan, I’m also a bit of a fan of Steam, so we’ll see where this goes. A bit of competition can be good; Steam using clout, power and userbase to destroy GOG would be very sad.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Though apparently Greenlight is going to be scrapped within a year or so.
      I think Valve have known for a long while it’s a flawed system, but there’s no way to easily close it down without shortchanging a lot of people.

      • Zukhramm says:

        Though they’ve been talking about removing it since they created it.

        Now the question is whether to get on it now or wait it out. “Within a year” can mean anything from basically a year to a couple of months.

  4. jarppi says:

    Because someone propably asks this anyway, here is the video Josh was talking about at 46 min mark:

    Matthewmatosis: Tetris – A perfect game?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tnztj1UlkQs

    I found that video interesting.

    • ET says:

      Pretty sweet video!
      I wonder if Pacman could be re-tooled, to not have any cultur-specific stuff in it.
      Like, replace the ghosts with things that have spiky mouths, and the food with coloured circles?

  5. poiumty says:

    Sorry Josh, but you kinda ARE cheating in Dark Souls – the game isn’t meant to allow you to summon *specific* people, just random ones that are available. Second, you’re not supposed to be able to have perfect voice communication with anyone you’re summoning.

    But if that’s the only way you could get Jarenth/JPH to play it… it’s okay, I guess. I do recommend going through the game at least once by yourself, no matter who you are.

    • IFS says:

      Eh, so long as they’re having fun what does it matter? Besides there is at least some consensus that there is no such thing (other than hacking) that counts as cheating/cheesing in Dark Souls.

      That said I do second the recommendation of playing through the game solo at least once, as it is a fantastically atmospheric experience.

    • Kana says:

      It’s not really cheating. There is nothing wrong with summoning specific people. They’re given to you (mostly) randomly, you can pick and choose who you want.

      Voice coms goes various ways. They added a demi-voice system with Artorias of the Abyss DLC, and gestures. But the levels are almost all one-way, you won’t get lost in most of them, and most people just sit behinds their summon anyways.

      At least if you’re on voice com, you can organize so the host can join in and not body block.

      That said, the whole broken nature of summons was addressed somewhat in Dark Souls 2. The way it was described before, summons have a limited duration, and them killing something takes off additional ticks. You can’t just sit behind white phantoms the whole level, they’ll get banished fast.

      Upside, you seem to be able to use the Bonfire with phantoms in your world. You can refresh spells/health without having to banish everyone, which is nice.

      • StashAugustine says:

        It’s also worth noting that to the best of my knowledge DaS2 has matchmaking and voice chat (although in true Dark Souls fashion it requires some items and hoopjumping.)

  6. Sacae says:

    I love Bioshock Infinite though.

  7. Alex says:

    Disclaimer: I am not a programmer. I am also not suggesting that you switch engines in Good Robot(because that would probably be very stupid at this late stage).

    Unity is weird about procedural content. At most you don’t actually get source access only the plug-in API. It seems to always mess something up. Shaders are really pretty hidden away and hard to understand beyond “this is the way we do it!” All of that is just what I saw coming out of our developers though(I only did art and shaders), and I do like the graphical nature of it. Also, I think that both Unreal and Cryengine are better options(this week :P ) for the niche that Unity fills.

    Shamus what are your thoughts on something like Ogre, Irrlicht, or Panda 3D? For someone like you, who does very low level stuff, wouldn’t they help with the trickier parts of writing for various pc setups?

  8. But is Proteus… really… a video game?

  9. Jabrwock says:

    The website is horrible for dropping connections, but in Canada we can watch the latest Archer on Teletoon At Night.

  10. Eldiran says:

    Chris, I for one would love to hear a more detailed account of your (mis)adventures in game development. It’s a pretty unique thing to dabble in, especially without a programming background. And as a naive indie myself, I have personal interest in learning about unsuccessful indie startups :P

    • Chris says:

      I should probably turn it into a blog post at some point, but instead of a whole history of my thought process and what was going on in my life at time I’ll just present you with a greatest hits list condensed as far as I can make it without just going “Gosh, I did some stuff, I guess.” Most of these were made between late high school (~2002ish?) through to just before I started doing Errant Signal (2009-ish). Note that any games with real builds are all Windows-only builds and they’re so old and so dependent on abandoned middleware that I offer exactly zero support for them).

      JR. HIGH: Duke Nukem 3D Levels – These have been lost to the sands of time, but I made lots of them. Sometimes it was a near-perfect recreation of my home or my school, sometimes it was a completely fictional space I tried to embed some environmental storytelling in. Barely game dev, but since I would have been doing it in 1998 at the age of 13, it was as close as I could get. Well, that and QBASIC, which offered more creative control to the design but without the flash of a 3D engine and simple tools – to a 13 year old that’s important, and so the snazzier level editor won out over the stodgy programming language. This is why it’s important to have good, simple, visual tools for kids to learn with!

      HIGH SCHOOL: Pushmod – In high school I was really into modding (middleware as such didn’t exist for the hobbyist developer yet and I was a high schooler learning in his spare time, not a programming prodigy, so I couldn’t hand-craft my own DirectX renderer). So I tried my hand at modding Quake III, but I didn’t want to make just another shooter. I was thinking it’d be neat to have a game where instead of directly dealing damage you could impart velocity onto players through your weapons.

      COLLEGE: Cyberpunk 0 – Another game lost to the sands of time. Like I said in the podcast, I was messing with VisualHAM, which was basically a Visual Studio port of HAM, a Gameboy Advance SDK. But hey, I won the Game Developer’s Club’s first Game Development Competition with it. Except, you know, there were ~10 people in that club across the whole campus and yet we only had two entrants – me (a council member of the club) and the president of the club (who went on to work at Gamebryo as an engine programmer! So thank him for some fundamental Skyrim wackiness, maybe!).

      COLLEGE: Monkey Game – I was really into “game feel” at the time and wanted something that was WASD+mouse that wasn’t a shooter but still “felt right.” Arrived at moving an avatar around on the screen and “flinging”/”flicking” with the mouse. However, the metaphor kinda sucks and the rules need explaining – your goal is to collect bananas, and bunching bananas together gives you bigger points. However, the monkeys keep stealing bananas, which sucks because A) they’re stealing your score and B) Every banana they steal cuts down on the time until a lion shows up. You can defeat the lion by knocking out monkeys and throwing them at the lion until he’s full. Also if you bank a 5-banana bunch you get a dart you can use to shoot the monkey without needing to run to a rock. Helpful to save for when the lion attacks.

      INDIE: Simple Picross – I made a Picross game with my friend Mike. The idea was to make a quickie casual game to fund development of a bigger indie game (see next). This was… ill advised. It just meant we were churning away on a product neither of us cared about (I mean, we love picross, but one can only be so invested in HECK YEAH LET’S WORK FOR POVERTY WAGES ON A PICROSS GAME) while the game we wanted to work on had serious issues that didn’t get resolved. It didn’t help that we had no money, no experience, no finished games to our name, and no idea what it would take to do things right. The result bears that out – it’s an okay-ish half-functional picross game, but our lack of experience (and access to Torque’s source to suss out some of the harder to reproduce interface bugs) really hampered the project. Also, hey, Kevin Macleod music! It’s like you’re watching a Spoiler Warning credits sequence while playing a Picross game!

      INDIE: Point Of Sale (POS) – The “other project” was our intent of lampooning GameStop/EB’s terrible terrible business plan. Here is where not prototyping kills indie developers. We started making done-ish art assets way before we had anything close to a playable build, and we didn’t realize how complicated this all was. We had 2 flavors of games (new and used), 6 genres of game, 2 states of games (latest in franchise, older game). Then cross that matrix by something like 8 customer types all of whom had their own preferences for games and a bunch of inventory management and item placement and… ugh. It was too much to manage, and by the time we figured that out we were out of money and out of time. The game never saw the light of day. I got my current day-job soon after.

      POST-INDIE: Smaze – Made for the TIGSource de-make compo (this was back before month-long game making competitions morphed into the modern game jams). The popular games were all taken, so my partner Mike and I decided to demake a game that kinda sucked and see if we could make it better. We settled on Haze (which was a disappointing PS3 shooter from the Timesplitters devs) and even got some nice art assets from Gone Home’s Karla Z. (I think she did the Helicopter boss and jeep, among other big pixel-y things). It is also not very good (the drug effects were meant to be Eternal Darkness-y but just come off as annoying). But hey, it won the most looked forward to award from Bytejacker for that compo. It also has some pretty catchy music by one of Mike’s friends whose name escapes me.

      POST-INDIE: Lots and lots of prototypes that go nowhere – This is where I am today. I dabble. I toy with mechanics, I try to keep in touch with what middlware is out there. But I have no delusions that I’m creatively or technically capable of producing anything anyone would want to play. But sometimes the urge to create something that isn’t an internet video strikes, and I come up with such titles as:

      • Creepy Doll – At some point I was listening to a lot of Jonathan Coulton and tried making a game where a creepy-ass doll would follow you, but only indirectly when it was out of your field of vision. It was primarily inspired by Creepy Watson. However, once that mechanic was in I didn’t know what to do with it. Turns out the answer was to make it Slenderman and make like a hojillion dollars.
      • Popular – Based on a design by JP LeBreton, the idea was to simulate a social network in a high school class. You’d spread rumors. The problem? Keeping the matrix of what 10-16 people each think of 10-16 other people straight in your head is all but impossible. There’s a reason we only care about what our immediate friends think, and why we tend to form cliques and other groups – we can’t handle a complex network of individual nodes.
      • The Thing I Started This Week – I had an idea about a game where you’re a small child trying to go to sleep but there’s a monster in your room, and you have to weigh closing your eyes and falling asleep against making sure he’s not about to eat you. Right now it’s a prototype that doesn’t work with a bunch of blocks standing in for both the room and the monster!
      • Eldiran says:

        Looks like it’s a blog post already to me! :P Seriously though, thanks for the in-depth response. The games all ran for me — it’s impressive you still have ‘em, and that so many are remotely complete. My own work is almost all half-prototypes lost to the sands of time.

        I can relate to making levels in Duke Nukem — I spent my youth making mediocre levels for Marathon Infinity. Definitely more engaging than programming on the ol’ TI-83.

        Pushmod actually sounds pretty neat. Kinda like a Smash Bros. of FPSes. And it’s a shame your GBA game is lost. I suppose you’d probably need the SDK to play it, anyway? (Also apparently Firefox thinks NC State is a phishing site…)

        I won’t lie, I found Monkey Game confusing, even with your explanation :P It kinda felt like a gravity gun for bananas.

        Simple Picross has a nice aesthetic. Also now I know what Picross is. And there’s nothin’ wrong a little MacLeod music :P I just released a game with a MacLeod track in it the other day.

        I can see why Smaze got that award! It could be pretty good with some polish. I didn’t get too far, so I didn’t get to see the vehicles. I don’t know anything about Haze though so I didn’t know what the drugs did.

        I find it slightly ironic you were unknowingly working on a Slender-like, as you don’t seem to enjoy it much :P

        As for your latest prototype, you’re in luck — blocks are big right now! :D

      • Thearpox says:

        Oh my, I love these blog-sized comments of yours, Chris. Please don’t ever stop. And you’d need much more than a blog post if you were to elaborate even further. Although it is a bit funny that there is no middle-ground between “Gosh, I did some stuff, I guess.” and the above. :)

      • ET says:

        I really enjoyed Monkey Game, and Smaze!
        One thing though: In future projects, you should include a simple PDF manual, or even a readme text file, which explains the controls. :)

      • imtoolazy says:

        “B) Every banana they steal cuts down on the time until a lion shows up. You can defeat the lion by knocking out monkeys and throwing them at the lion until he’s full.”

        This is the greatest thing I’ve read all week. I’m just going to give that game a 10/10 review.

        The rest was also interesting.

  11. Ilseroth says:

    So Shamus goes on a rant about people saying “OH you shouldn’t do that”

    And then says “Bitmap, don’t use that!!!”

    I’m just kidding of course, I understand the difference, just thought it was funny.

    Personally I, like Chris, tend to go more for the design side of things, so I dabble with modding and 3d modeling here and there; but developing an engine is really just…

    I did some programming in high school/college but they never do anything with graphics, though I did basic network programming.

    While I wouldn’t mind learning some programming, graphics programming is daunting as hell, honestly I wouldn’t even know to start >.<

    But at the same time I am in the same boat as Shamus when it comes to like, Unity. I look at it and kind of go, okay well how would I do this… I'd have to mess with this and this and this, and wait this is supposed to help? The amount of time it'd take me to learn how to use unity properly, I'd rather use to learn how to do engine building.

    It is a shame, I mean I know there are millions of "game designers" out there, and I definately wouldn't want to do it as a "job" but I can't help but stay up late contemplating game mechanics, ect ect ect. Just not sure if I can get over the hump of learning the engine programming stuff.

    • ET says:

      For somewhere to start, I’d learn Python, and get started with PyGame.
      Sure, most “production”-type stuff is written in other languages, because of performance gains, and the libraries/tools are more mature, but for starting out, and making 2D games, I’ve found that this is pretty darn good.

      Links:
      Python
      Learn Python the Hard Way
      PyGame

      Hmm…there’s a really good set of introductory tutorials for PyGame, but I can’t seem to find them.
      The ones listed on the PyGame website are OK, but usually flood the tutorial with a huge amount of information, which is completely irrelevant to all the games you’d be making when you start out.
      Later on, sure, you want to have a good structure, and have good programming practices, but early on, you just want to get simple things done.
      It’s kind of like the old NeHe tutorials for OpenGL: there were other tutorials, but they were written like technical manuals for experts, not learning material.
      I’ll post a reply when I get home to my bookmarks.

  12. Volatar says:

    Whoops. Looks like I forgot to sign my email.

    That question by Taylor is me.

  13. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    My brother was a bit of a programmer -he created a helicopter game where you had a top down view and moved your helicopter around and blew stuff up -and when you fired the missiles it would shift to the gunner’s view to see the thing blow up.

    I helped a little (this would have been early 90s on an Apple IIgs, and I was like 9), but we ended up animating everything frame by frame, which was probably not a good way to do it, so in practice we put the game on some pretty serious rails. You put the aircraft on autopilot and then it was just a matter of selecting weapons and firing them.

    I decided to drop the animation, since that was took forever, and went with text based stories, but I had no talent for multiple solutions to problems, let alone how to program them, so despite aspiring to Infocom (I’d played Trinity), I basically had a quasi-interactive novel.

    Eventually I dropped the interactive and just started writing novels, and my only programming is a little bit of webdesign stuff at work. I was helped along in this by my high school dropping programming in favor of office applications in computer class in the interim.

  14. Cybron says:

    Campster, you can play Netrunner online with OCTGN, which a program for playing card games online. Here’s a link: http://octgn.gamersjudgement.com/wordpress/anr/

    Netrunner is really hard to play. It’s just too much for me, and that’s coming from a devoted Magic player. Which, as Shamus can attest, is pretty complicated. That’s why Wizards of the Coast created Duel of the Planeswalkers to help teach new players in a solo environment. It’s VERY good at that.

    Most complicated game I would recommend: Dwarf Fortress. So many menus. So many systems. So much fun. Space Station 13 is also up there, though I think it takes a certain kind of person to enjoy SS13′s unique mix of creativity and sadism.

  15. Thearpox says:

    So can anybody (Josh?) find the link for that spymaster assassination attempt? I really want to see that screenshot right now.

  16. Eric says:

    Quick kinda-off-topic question – is there any sort of feed link available for Diecast episodes so I can add it to a podcast app on my phone? Been looking but I can’t find any.

  17. Duneyrr says:

    Every time I think of Tetris, this video is tied to it in my mind: http://youtu.be/Alw5hs0chj0

  18. Tychoxi says:

    A minimalistic game that proved OMG AWESOME is “One Finger Death Punch.” Can’t recommend it enough.

    • ET says:

      That’s actually a really cool example of what you can do with “counter” systems, if you do them properly.
      From Total Biscuit’s video, it looks like the timing/positioning of the enemy within your little melee-range meter affects what you do, so it’s not just a simple “are you countering? Y/N?” kind of thing.
      For contrast, the counter moves in the first Assassin’s Creed* game, were just pre-baked animations, which killed a dude if you pressed the counter button within a certain window of time.
      Didn’t matter when you pressed it, as long as it was within that time, so…purely succeed/fail. :P

      * I can’t comment after the first game. I think I played five minutes of the second one, and then gave up on the series. :S

  19. Kavonde says:

    Hooray, I got my question answered indirectly!

    My question wasn’t 100% serious, but I have to admit that I’m way more cynical than you guys about Facebook’s buying of Oculus. Not that I think they’ve got “mwa ha ha” evil plans, but Facebook makes its money by selling personal info to various companies. Having direct access to player data and metrics just seems like it’s going to take targeted advertising to another, even more annoying level. Obviously, it’d be the same deal if Google had been the one buying Oculus, but eh.

    Mostly, though, I just think it’s funny how, when it’s put down on paper, the buyout really does sound like the backstory of a cyberpunk novel.

    • ET says:

      Adblock Plus: VR Edition :P

      In all seriousness though, while I understand that some companies make their money through advertising, they need to cut out the obnoxious ads, which prey on innate human perceptual trickery, and psychological BS.
      In the hopes of making companies start using non-obnoxious ads, I click all the text-based ads I get.
      I think Gmail is the only service to actually use ads like this.
      Everything else is friggin’ auto-loading, drains-my-expensive-bandwidth video ads. :S

  20. Neil W says:

    As for diversity in 007 stuff, in the novel From Russia With Love Bond has a committee meeting with Captain Troop, the Secret Service’s Head of Admin. They get into an argument about homosexuals as a security risk.

    It’s not Archer, but it’s also not like the films.

  21. RE: Burial at Sea (Episode 2).

    Eh. So, here’s the thing: I do not like the story of BaS ep2 at all. Infinite had a lot of problems going for it, but despite all that–even though, yes, it could have been better–I really liked the journey of Elizabeth and Booker. And even though the ending was frustrating, too-much-fast, and not as satisfying as it could have been, I really liked the idea of it, and the symbolism of it. Overall, I was enthralled with the theme of Booker’s redemption, and I liked how the whole game and story revolved around that.

    Burial at Sea 2 completely pisses on that, it changes the theme from one of redemption to the more cold themes of constants and variables and the grand scope of “What’s more important: your part in the play, or the play itself?”. That stuff was in Infinite, and that was fine, but it was very muted–maybe too muted. But it felt like Levine realized those two themes were muted and went overboard with it in the new installation to the series. It effectively changes the whole story. Booker no longer matters–he’s been completely killed off, and Elizabeth (managed to completely kill herself off too) no longer matters either. Everything became in service to the set-up of the original Bioshock: the game everyone loved, the game everyone won’t stop talking about, and the game Levine can’t escape from. And it’s a game I never played, and the game I don’t give a crap about. I cared about Liz and Booker. I also hated what they did to Daisy Fitzroy, so I disagree with Josh on that too. Her real problem (like the rest of Infinite) was a lack of development in what they already had–a tragic figure pushed to the edge. Was Burial at Sea development for Daisy? Yes, but it was stupid, contrived, and in ultimate service to the set-up of everyone’s precious Rapture (this, incidentally, ruined the Lutece twins for me too). Elizabeth went from being the interesting character I thought she was in Infinite, and became nothing more than a tool in Burial at Sea.

    The only thing I’m willing to concede is that it there was probably nothing wrong with it. It completely changes the context of Infinite and its themes; if you liked that, and you liked Rapture, then hey, good for you. But I’m not one of those people. And as broken as Infinite was, I felt like something was taken away from me. Infinite didn’t make any logical sense, but that’s okay because it didn’t need to make any logical sense (time travel and multiverse is an impossible mess anyway), because its emphasis was on the redemption theme and its imagery. And I really dug that.

    I was really looking forward to playing this final installment too.

    PS: Gameplay gripe: Elizabeth didn’t even get any tear powers like Levine said she would. Yet another thing he promises and cuts without notice.

  22. wererogue says:

    I’m pretty touchy about offensive jokes, but Archer hits home runs for me more often than it fails. It still messes it up quite often, but not as often as it makes it work.

    I really think it helps that (in most seasons) they contextualize the joke. When somebody says something awful, usually there’s somebody that we (the audience) like to react to it appropriately.

    The supporting characters really make the show. Pam and Cheryl are amazing, especially from season 3 onwards.

  23. MichaelGC says:

    I hope Uncle Ed doesn’t listen to the Diecast! Kinda blew the surprise, there…

  24. Manny says:

    I’ll have to disagree about Unity and procedural content generation.

    With just the free indie version, I managed quite easily to build programs within which a terrain or other objects were generated procedurally along with their textures. The gameworld in the editor basically only contains an empty game-object with the main script attached to it. And I’m not a professional programmer, I was just inspired by Shamus’ work.

    The built-in TerrainData class supports creating a height-map based terrain from scratch by code. It does have some seemingly arbitrary and potentially annoying limitations and is not well documented, but it also comes with handy features such as automatically generating different level-of-detail meshes, clipping planes, texture mip-mapping etc.

    And if you don’t like to work with the limitations of the Terrain class, there is a more general Mesh class which allows the creation of meshes from scratch by setting the vertices, faces, uv-coordiantes, etc. The documentation here explicitly explains how to create meshes through code.

    For Shamus specifically, I think the cross-platform support could be the most tempting feature. But I guess other “features” such as the IDE that comes bundled with it, along with the buggy debugger (!) and the lack of control you have on the whole rendering pipeline could be quite frustrating. Those and maybe C# or javascript.

    Actually, thinking about it, I would love to read a “Shamus tries out Unity” series (or “Shamus rages at Unity” or whatever it would turn out to be).

  25. Gilfareth says:

    For the minimalistic game, I’m actually surprised (and a little disappointed) that Campster didn’t jump in to recommend Super Hexagon. Maybe he’s just upset with myself and the others beating his high scores. :P

  26. Super loved this diecast guys! Just, all the things, keep it up.

  27. DGM says:

    @ Shamus,

    You mentioned having a chicken-and-egg problem of game engines requiring you to start a level before you can run scripts to procedurally generate one. Game Maker works that way, and I came up with a simple workaround for problems like that. Just load an empty level (one with no content) at the start, run whatever initialization scripts you need to and then shunt the player into another level (in your case, the one you just procedurally created). As long as the engine lets you create and save new levels in scripts this should work.

    And if that’s a problem for whatever reason, another thing I’ve done is to store my level data in a text file, load an empty level and then populate it from the text file before giving the player control.

    Either way should spare you from having to touch the source code.

  28. Asimech says:

    I ordered Android: Netrunner in January, IIRC, but got to play it only once the mentioned article got out. The friend who I played it with bought the Core set and several data packs within days of getting back home. The following few weeks has resulted in him getting a second Core Set and several more data packs.

    So. Fairly compelling.

    However I’ve noticed three challenges in getting into it:

    1) Jargon – It serves double duty for strengthening the themes and as practical shorthand, but it’s a hurdle in getting into it. They’re fairly easy to remember by association, though. For example the Runner’s hand, deck and discard pile are Grip (something you do with a hand), Stack and Heap (latter sounds like it’s referring to “trash”).

    2) The rules in the box are awful. I don’t know if there’s a single Netrunner player who hasn’t been playing wrong for at least 6 months before finding out something doesn’t work quite the way they thought it did.

    Fantasy Flight Games doesn’t seem to be all that interested in trying to fix this, as far as I can tell, but it is a complex game so I don’t feel that miffed about this.

    3) One Core Set isn’t enough for decent deckbuilding by itself, but new players have a pretty large amount of packs to go through to find out which one they should buy to try to cover for the Core’s limitations. Unless they want to double or triple their spending on the game right from the get go by getting a second or third Core Set.

    For those who don’t know: In any given deck you can only have three of any individual card. Only the Core Set doesn’t come with three of all cards. (This is likely to facilitate learning: you only need to take cards belonging to a faction you want to use and combine them with the neutral cards and you’ve got a Tournament legal deck.) Some of the cards in the Core Set need either “equivalents” (there are no identical cards with different titles in Netrunner) from packs, which requires research, or another Core Set, or two, to get them up to three so there’s a better chance of getting it in your hand before the game is over.

    This miffs me. FFG could very well make a “Core Filler Pack” that would bring all cards in the Core up to three (when combined with the Core Set) giving new players an obvious first step without multiplying the entry fee. But for some reason they don’t.

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