Diecast #70: Gamespot Layoffs, Playstation Now, Mailbag, Star Citizen

By Shamus
on Aug 4, 2014
Filed under:
Diecast


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Hosts: Chris, Josh, Shamus, and Rutskarn.

At the start of the show there’s some debate about how long it’s been since Rutskarn was on the show. For the record it was: Diecast #64: E3 Dustup, Watch_Dogs, Steam Summer Sale, back in June.

EDIT: No it wasn’t. It was a couple of weeks ago but I forgot to list him in the show notes.

Show notes:
2:00 Gamespot hit with layoffs.

The thing that makes this interesting is that the layoffs were mostly for people who produced text. Their video-production teams were largely untouched. This is pretty telling with regards to what pays the bills.

14:00 We compare the EA Access subscription service with Playstation Now.

24:00 MAILTIME!

Here is one we didn’t cover on the show:

When ya gun put a splash page over yer domain url?

Neil

But it’s answered anyway. IT IS DONE.

Now that the Patreon campaign for SW is several months old, would care to indulge us in what effects it had on the recording and ediing process, software licenced, et cetera?

Yours truly,
The guy who sent this email.

I think the reason Josh questioned the authenticity of the above question is that we had just been talking about this before the show, and it seemed kind of convenient to have an email pop up on the same topic.

With regard to how we record audio: I know we discuss this every six months or so, but the topic keeps coming up and I don’t know what else to do. It really seems like it should be super-easy to solve, so we get lots of helpful suggestions like, “I don’t see why you guys can’t just [impractical thing].” Explaining why the obvious solutions don’t work ends up being this fifteen minute enumeration of drawbacks and trade-offs. Sorry if this gets tedious.

Another thing that I’m realizing now is that we actually have different audio needs. The audio of Spoiler Warning is fine if it’s a little crappy. There’s game noise and music and shouting and it’s not expected to be high quality. Lots of internet shows have wretched audio and do just fine. But in podcasts, audio IS the content and some people have very very good audio setups. Some shows have high-end mics and compressors and all the hosts gather in the same room so latency isn’t a problem. They can get pro-quality audio. Our hosts have thousands of miles between us, and some of us are on sub-optimal machines, in noisy houses, with spotty internet.

I actually fuss with the audio of the Diecast quite a bit. If three people talk at once, sometimes I can mute or time-shift people to clear up the collisions, and I do what I can to even out the volume levels and make the show slightly less aurally unpleasant. (Chris has an electric hum sometimes. Rutskarn sometimes has ambient room noise like dogs barking or people talking. I have a ton of fans around me, flooding my recordings with white noise. Mumbles has really intense volume variations, from quiet whispers to explosive shouts. Josh’s hands-free setup results in occasional bits of background noise or sniffling that need to be silenced. And EVERYONE has different volume levels every week.)

So yeah. It’s harder than it seems.

I’m curious since you have actual professional experience with 3D internet what your thoughts are on VR internet. For Diecast or Blog or even just reply to me.

It started to sound like a stupid question to me as I was typing because we’re probably going to have MMO VR right? But then lag would probably be a big issue and MMOs are proprietary single owner platforms.

I guess there’s a question in there. I don’t need an answer, I’d just like to hear or see you pontificate on this.

Ever your fan.

Wide And Nerdy

47:00 Josh follows up on his Star Citizen comments from last week.

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A Hundred!20202018Many comments. 178, if you're a stickler

From the Archives:

  1. DIN aDN says:

    “I have a ton of fans around me[…]”

    Took me a second to realise that wasn’t a joke about being popular on the internet.

  2. I thought we established that Chris speaks Germish, not German.

  3. What bugs me most about video versions of video games journalism is that most of them are presented as if the people producing it think I’m 8 years old, hopped up on caffeine and sugar, and think I’ll be impressed by two guys who sound like a bad attempt at sounding like a “Morning Zoo” radio program.

    It’s also far easier to make things like that into “fluff.” An article listing, say, the top 10 uses of barnyard animals in video games can be as in-depth or brief as desired. The same list for video takes 5 minutes to execute, doesn’t have an easy way to skim said list, and is just someone reading the names of games, one or two sentences about the game, and then 30 seconds of game footage lifted from trailers. It’s inefficient and often un-fun.

    I appreciate game journalism/critique/whatever from someone surrounded by fans not trying to create a persona for themselves more than someone trying to sound like they’re wearing a Hawaiian shirt and holding a beer while his buddy is wearing sunglasses indoors and verbally praising a centerfold.

  4. Wulfgar says:

    what about Mumble for recording?

      • Unhidden says:

        I think he means the voice chat server, and not mumbles. ;)

        • Ringwraith says:

          I think it’s come up before. It’s mostly because it’s easier for them to edit everything afterwards in the current setup if I recall.
          At least, the last time they tried other options they weren’t as practical.

          • Lilith Novale says:

            I once tried to start a podcast with some friends, and we used mumble – it allows you to record each person individually, and the sound quality was great.

            In regards to latency, the latency was small enough for us to do improvised karaoke, so that was pretty amazing :D.

          • Volfram says:

            I actually just checked for exactly this reason. As of 1.2.3 it allows recording in-client(provided you’re connected to a 1.2.3 or later server) and can do multitrack recording.

            I personally don’t have much voice chat experience(I don’t know enough people online to really need to voice chat much in games), but my roommate has been heard saying he thinks Mumble has some of the highest quality and lowest latency of the systems(Skype, Ventrillo, Mumble) he’s tried. He and a friend of his were in a gaming guild(Angels Of The Warp) that had a couple of Mumble servers.

            I got to participate in a League of Legends tournament with them once.

        • She’s a server? But she sounds so lifelike!

      • Ranneko says:

        I like the idea of Mumble taking notes and providing a summary of the Diecast recorded on her own mic.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          [note:Read in Mumbles’s voice with her mocking tones]

          “Hello everyone,Im Mumbles.With me are Old Guy.

          Ehh?You kids get off ma lawn!

          Troll Guy.

          Uga buga buga!

          Peepants.

          I peed my pants!Also ludonarrative dissonance.

          And Buttskarn.

          Waaaah!Waaaah!I wan’ ma mummy!

          Nice.Now,our first topic today
          .
          .
          .”

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I dont get Shamooses hostility towards the concept.The execution,yeah,thats crap(I mean how awful do you have to be to offer something worse than ea).But the concept is solid.Instead of paying full price for a game(that,like youve said,you wont really own most of the time),you pay just a smaller price to rent a game,beat it,then never look back.Its something that Ive been rooting for for a while now.I just didnt expect that ea would be the ones pioneering the project.

    • Ciennas says:

      I dunno, I feel like this is EA’s desired MO anyway. Maintain control over their products, and don’t even let people own the product.

      If not them, then somebody else in the market. Ubisoft, probably.

      I understand why this model sounds good on paper, but I don’t really like the model catching on in pop culture.

      Imagine if they pulled this in the physical world. Books that spontaneously combust if you haven’t paid the fees, cars that disintegrate because you missed a payment, bridges that looped back towards the town because you forgot to pay the fee.

      Also, they keep treating the digital realm like it’s identical to the physical. I shudder to think what happens once we get full fledged AI’s and digital ghosts running around on it with this kind of mindset.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        But you forget one important thing:The cost.Sure,its worth it to pay 60 dollars for a game youll be replaying for months,or for a multiplayer game that you will be going back to for a long time.But for a single player game that you can finish in 4 hours?Yeah,renting that shit is a good thing.

        Not to mention that some games actually dont need to be over that length,but have so much padding because games are expected to be long.But if you make such a game and focus on renting it instead of selling it?Thats also a good thing.

        “Also, they keep treating the digital realm like it’s identical to the physical. ”

        Um,you did just that.You say its bad because thats not how physical things work.

        And really,this is basically netflix for games.You dont hear people complaining about their netflix stuff puffing out once they cancel the subscription.You do hear complaints about price and content,but thats implementation,not the concept,same as with this thing:Ea and ubisoft doing this?Not a good idea.Valve?A muuch better idea.

        • MadHiro says:

          The bits and bobs I’ve read about the EA subscription system suggested that the biggest, most glaring flaw would be that the games you got via it would be sans DLC. And given EA’s wholesome business practice of sawing off parts of the actual game and then hiding them behind that money curtain, you’re not actually getting the full game. Think about Vanilla Battlefield 4. Think ME3 (wait, no, no, stop thinking about ME3. Think of daisies and rainbows and buttercups).

          The Netflix metaphor only works if you extend this element into it. Sure, I don’t own these movies and sure, if I can cancel my subscription I can’t watch them anymore. But they’re whole, coherent, and sometimes even -good- movies that I get to watch in their entirety. If a scene started to play and it went ‘Please authorize payment for the DLC required to view this scene’, that’s where the wheels come off the rails. That’s where the two would be similar. EA doesn’t really publish games at this point; they publish a chassis for DLC sales.

        • Rick says:

          I don’t think paying any amount of money for Kane & Lynch 2 is a “good thing.” In fact you should probably be getting paid at least minimum wage for playing it.

    • Steve C says:

      The hostility is due to “Games as Service” vs “Games as Property”. Changing something you should own into something you don’t via a manufactured wall of some sort is anti-consumer. In the past it was DRM. If it is a service where value is constantly being added via real time updates then a subscription is much easier to swallow. MMOs being a good example of the consumer getting something and Adobe products being the absolute worst example. But the MMO subscription model isn’t exactly thriving for a reason.

      As for your stance, “you pay just a smaller price to rent a game,beat it,then never look back” there’s a baked in assumption that the cost will go down. It won’t. At least not in the aggregate because it can’t.

      EA wants to increase it’s revenue. If a ‘play it and forget it’ AAA game is $60 to buy and finish or $6 to rent and finish then everyone will just rent it. There’s no up-side to EA from that. They’d have to get 10x the rentals via the new business model compared to the old just to break even. AAA games already have huge market saturation. If a game needs to sell 10 million units before and now it needs to sell 100 million. They just aren’t going to ship those extra units via any method on price alone.

      Games won’t be cheaper because they can’t be cheaper. The minimum total revenue per game title is set by the cost to make that title. The only way total revenue can go down is if total costs to make it go down. This rent-vs-buy doesn’t address that at all and they aren’t going to do that anyway because they are EA and they think expensive blockbusters are the only way to go. Believing it’s going to be cheaper is a pipe dream.

      If it’s not going to reduce total revenue where does EA think the revenue is going to come from? There’s only one place it can come from- the used games market. This entire plan is an effort to recoup what they feel they are losing to the used game market. I think they are vastly overestimating both what they are losing and what they can realistically recoup.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        How old are you?Im asking,because anyone who has lived before the internet knows that renting of books,music and movies was alive for a long,looooong time.And it didnt destroy any of these industries,nor did it utterly ruin sales.Heck,even these days you have netflix,yet discs are being sold by truckloads.

        Same was true for games before all this drm crap.Renting was very much alive for them as well.It only started dying because of the whole online activation crap.

        But you know what these enraged arguments remind me of?The whole “Television will destroy cinema” craze.Funny how that one turned out.

        • Steve C says:

          I’m in my thirties. Yes I remember computer game rentals and movie rentals. I do not remember music and book rentals. Those were just libraries. I have no problem with rental services and I want them to exist. In fact I want games added to public library circulation desks just as books, magazines, newspapers, music and movies are all available for loan.

          The difference here is those are third parties renting out and they were physical objects- not digital downloads. I can see a membership fee to access a digital library but not a fee on a per unit basis for 4hrs. Renting out a digital download in that manner is simply anti-consumer because it’s no different from a book self-immolating. It can be done, just not like that. Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited is a good system. Marvel charging per comic read is not. One is a service being charged as a service. The other is a sale being charged as a service.

          You seem to be looking at the issue only from a consumer perspective – ‘Game I want is now a fraction of what it used to cost,’ – while ignoring it would be economically infeasible for EA to do that. You have to look at the producer’s motives and what they are trying to do and compare that against the economics of it all.

          I don’t really understand where you are going with the rest of what you said. I never said rentals would destroy the industry.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Funny thing is:Ea is not the one with the per/hour rentals.They have a monthly subscription for any game in their library.

            But even if they did,there is nothing wrong with the concept of giving an option for a X hours rental.Its just as arbitrary as per day or per month.In the end,the only thing that matters is the price.

            And once more,I have to repeat that price is a problem of implementation,which is not what Shamoose,raged against.He raged against the very concept of renting out a game,and that is what baffled me.

            Also there are plenty of reasons for publishers to do rentals.It actually can help them stifle the second hand sales they hate so much.Because if they were to actually offer their old library for a certain monthly (daily/hourly) fee,they can gain a significant chunck of that demographic.

            • Shamus says:

              Actually, I think I need to read a bit more about the two plans. I HATE the price, to the point of taking offense. I HATE the idea of them selling DLC for a thing they’re renting to you. And I think streaming game footage (like OnLive) is problematic.

              I think those three issues set me off a bit too much to look at it objectively during the show. I’ve never been a fan of per-unit rentals anyway.

              LONG VERSION:

              I think I developed this during the 90’s. I’d rent a video several times because I loved it, then realize that I’d paid enough so far to [nearly] buy it outright. This creates a really uncomfortable decision paralysis for me. If a rental is 1/4 the price of a purchase, then I end up standing there in the store thinking, “Am I ever going to watch this four times? I don’t know. If I rent and then decide to purchase, then I’m effectively overpaying for this movie. But if I buy and only watch it once, then I’m also overpaying. I can’t make this decision until I see the movie and I can’t see the movie until I’ve made this decision. Screw it. I’ll go home and play videogames.”

              This is why I still haven’t seen Thor 2. I keep deciding to watch it, and then getting caught in the “Should I buy or rent?” loop, giving up, and doing something else.

              And renting the video doesn’t always solve the problem. “Okay. I’ve seen the movie. I liked it. Should I buy it now? Will I actually watch it 4 more times?”

              This all happened during some pretty lean years in my life, which probably exacerbated the problem. It’s one thing to blow a few extra bucks on some entertainment when you’ve got money to burn, but if you only have just enough to rent a couple movies a month, then this decision becomes painful. A bad purchase will devour your entertainment budget for the next few weeks.

              TL;DR: I don’t enjoy renting, and the reasons are mostly due to my own personal quirks.

              • Rick says:

                What about renting a new release and buying it later from the bargain bin if you liked it?

              • syal says:

                “This is why I still haven’t seen Thor 2. I keep deciding to watch it, and then getting caught in the “Should I buy or rent?” loop, giving up, and doing something else.”

                I can solve that one. You should rent it.

                • Shamus says:

                  It’s complicated, because there are five of us. If we wait until everyone is available to watch a movie together then it’ll never happen. So we rent, and then someone misses it because they’re busy, or working, or visiting friends. So do we rent it again? Buying is currently 3x as much as a rental. And it’s always nice to be able to go back and re-watch bits of a movie, particularly Marvel movies with connected coninuity and nods to other work. Then again, I don’t like to pay this much for a movie if I can’t be sure it won’t play on all my devices and…

                  Screw it. Back to videogames.

                  • Now you’ve got me wondering if someone should’t do a kind of anti-rental parody video like the old anti-piracy ones:

                    You wouldn’t rent a car!
                    You wouldn’t rent food!
                    You wouldn’t rent pets!

                    • syal says:

                      And you wouldn’t rent a car pans over to a car rental place with Satan standing behind the service desk.

                      Preferably with a nametag that says ‘Hello, My Name Is” and then a whole list of names for the devil that are ineptly crossed out, eventually ending with ‘Luke’.

                    • Ringwraith says:

                      Anytime I see that stock phrase I’m just reminded of this version.

                      It’s almost a curse.

                    • Trix2000 says:

                      And now you’ve got me wondering what food rental would look like. THANKS.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      @Trix2000

                      Watch repo the genetic opera and you will see the gist of it.

                  • syal says:

                    You could have someone sketch the important parts and turn it into a flip book for anyone who missed it.

                    I’ve found that every movie is improved by turning it into a hand-drawn flip book.

                  • Chris says:

                    Do you guys not have Red Boxes or some equivalent up in Pittsburgh? Digital rental’s expensive; typically $3-5 depending on where you get it and whether you’re looking for HD quality footage.

                    But Red Boxes, though physical, only cost something like $1.25-$1.50 per night. That’s ten rentals you’d need to get through before you’re at “Shoulda bought it” capacity! Plus if you like the movie you’re out about as much money as a soda in a vending machine rather than a full cup of coffee from one of those fancy coffee huts. The downside, I guess, is the pain of physically getting up and getting and/or remembering to return the physical media. That and their selection & availability vary. Still, it’s a good, cheap alternative for seeing movies, especially if you can avoid renting on Friday/Saturday nights when everyone else ransacks the machine first.

                    As for Thor 2 in particular… eh. It’s pretty forgettable. It’s not bad – it’s not the trainwreck that was Iron Man 2 or anything – but it’s just a romp through Asgard. The film’s primary problem is that it has an utterly forgettable villain that doesn’t really ever feel legitimately threatening, so the whole thing comes off more as a low-stakes side story than the next epic chapter in Thor’s life. It’s neat to see more of Asgard and the fight scenes are enjoyable fluff, but the best moment in the film is probably The Collector’s stinger and that just makes me want to see Guardians again. It’s probably not something you’re gonna want to buy for keepsies.

                    • Joe Informatico says:

                      Pittsburgh Public Library also has Thor 2. For free. However, you might end up getting a disc so scratched up it looks like a rink after free skate. On the other hand, it’s old enough that the holds queue has gone way down, so an alternative copy could be requested immediately.

                    • Henson says:

                      I get all my movies from the library nowadays. I may not be part of the conversation around the latest movies, but there’s a lot more variety (I borrowed two neat Korean action flicks, and not ‘martial arts’ action, either, but a Western and a Heist flick. It’s neat to see how other countries interpret certain genres)

                      And yeah, just like Joe, I run into scratched discs, which is the absolute worst. But I also get to see Frozen eight months later for no money. So I guess I’m happy with it.

                      I can’t imagine doing it if I weren’t watching these movies by myself, though. The fear of the disc freezing up 80 minutes into the film in front of all your friends is terrifying.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      So if libraries have discs that they are giving out for free,why arent they just stashing them online,or on one of their computers for you to easily burn a disc if you want to?I mean,they already have photocopiers in there(at least the major libraries around here do,but they dont allow for most books to be carried out).

                      Also,is there any moral difference between getting a risky disk from a library and getting a sure fire copy from a torrent site?

                    • Iron Man 2 was a “trainwreck?”

                      Compared to what? It wasn’t the best of the Marvel movies, but it certainly wasn’t as awful as the latest Superman outing or the third Nolan Batman movie. I thought it was a decently above-average sequel that didn’t stop the Marvel continuity-train from rolling along.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      @ps238principal

                      I agree,but people have already agreed that marvel is like unto a god,and if they make something merely average,then that is GODAWFUL.I stopped caring by now.

                      Also,funny how everyone forgets the snooze fest that was the first hulk movie.

                    • Henson says:

                      @Daemian Lucifer

                      I’m afraid I don’t have very good answers to these questions. In some sense, yes, I am denying artists their profit (though there’s always the question of whether or not I’d pay for the content if I couldn’t get it from the library: likely not). Does this undercut the entire library system? I don’t want to put the vast accumulation of knowledge and art behind a paywall, not at ALL, but from a perspective that takes into account the money supporting artists, perhaps some of the more frivolous areas of libraries (taking out DVDs, for example) could be reserved to those who pay a subscription. This is certainly shaky ground, though, and I’m sure that we would have heated arguments about what we classify ‘frivolous’, and whether such a distinction is even desirable.

                      Bottom line is, I continue to exclusively use the library for movies because a)society supports it (and so do I), and b) I can. So yeah, maybe I am little better than a pirate. A pirate with sanctioned government backing.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      @Henson
                      “So yeah, maybe I am little better than a pirate. A pirate with sanctioned government backing.”

                      Thats highly questionable,because of the sheer number of different pirates.

                      There are those that actually do the work of cracking the protections and distributing the stuff.Some do it for money,some just to show off,some because they believe in free data.

                      There are those that just download stuff cracked by others,then sell it.

                      There are those that use free stuff as demos,then go to buy it.

                      There are those that hate drm,so while they still pay for stuff,they use pirated versions for convenience.

                      There are those who use pirated stuff because legal is not available where they live.

                      There are those who use pirated stuff just because its free.

                      And probably many more.Oh,and lets not forget that there are countries where pirate copies are still legal.According to your last paragraph,isnt this equivalent to what you are doing?

                      It really is not that black and white like many would like to believe.

                    • Bubble181 says:

                      The difference between torrenting (illegally) and getting it from the library (legally) is exactly that; legality. A library PAYS per piece of IP or copyright they have in their catalogue. Usually covered either by a combination of late fees, membership fees and service charges, or directly from taxes. Either way, the ccreators *are* definitely getting their cut (smaller than from a sale every time, but bigger than from one sale of the property).

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Thats definitely not true for every piece of digital media (Im not sure if its true for digital media at all),because the more expensive stuff gets donated to a library rather than being bought.

                      Regardless of that,I know that the issue is legal in nature.What I was asking is about the difference in morality,ie do people see the two differently regardless of what the law says.

                  • Cuthalion says:

                    Echoing what Chris and others have said, if you have any Redbox kiosks in your area (usually attached to or inside of grocery stores), they’re fairly cheap. But if you want it for multiple days, I recommend checking the library system. If your area libraries are any good, you can probably get most recent-ish movies if they’ve been out a year. We’ve caught up on comic book movies this way, for example. Getting to know the reservation and transfer requests of your library system can help you get the best out of it.

                    But yeah, movies that are popular with kids usually have to be sprayed with windex and wiped off with a paper towel first.

                    • Henson says:

                      Actually, you shouldn’t use a paper towel. They contain small amounts of aggregate material that can scratch disks. Cloth is much better.

              • Tizzy says:

                In the less lean years, you have to worry about: do I really want to kick all this crap around through moves, and store it, etc.? Even in virtual form, your movie/book/music shelves can groan under the accumulated weight, you need to skip past so much uninteresting fluff to get to the good stuff… Renting sounds pretty good all of a sudden.

                • ET says:

                  Digital stuff should never feel like a chore to get through. If it does, somebody failed at providing a useful search function, folders/sorting options, or some other user interface thing. So, rental vs ownership should only be a really tempting option when it’s heavy physical stuff which takes up a lot of space. Digital, it should be trivially easy to decide that yes, I want to buy this once and own it, not continuously get nickel-and-dimed by a company trying to take all my hard-earned cash. :C

                  • Tizzy says:

                    I agree with you, and certainly, the digital edge is in the ability to search efficiently. But it is still a challenge, and digital doesn’t always provide a clear advantage.

                    Example 1: digital documents are great for finding keywords, but if instead you’re trying to find a page that you can vaguely remember reading, vaguely remember what it looks like, rifling through a physical book is still your best bet.

                    More pertinent here, Example 2: a search function will help me look through a digital library for a specific title/author/performer only. I can look at my books/dvd collections to find ideas about what to read/watch. In particular, it’s easier to rely on subconscious inspection for a physical library than it is for a digital one.

                    • ET says:

                      Hmm. I think those kinds of feelings can also be had with digital stuff. Like me, for example, the two things you list, are things I already associate with my digital media library. It’s probably something that comes slowly over time, so if you spend most of your time with physical media, then that library is the one that gets burned into your brain. I basically don’t have a physical library of stuff. All the important things are already digital, so that’s where I get my sort-of-subconscious feelings from. :)

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                But isnt that the same problem with buying?Do I buy it now for $60,or wait a bit till it becomes $40?Or wait more,for a sale of $15?And what about versions?What if next year it gets the ultimate super duper uber version containing all the dlcs and the expansion for $30?

                • Shamus says:

                  In one case, I pay more to get the game sooner. In the other, I pay more to “own” the game or less to rent it. That’s a different tradeoff with different variables.

                  I think it would help a LOT if rental price could go towards a purchase. Like, I pay $5 to rent a $20 movie. If I decide to keep it, then instead of returning the movie I just pay them the other $15 and it’s mine. (Presumably they would also give me the proper case and not the usual rental box.) I’d appreciate a system like that. And maybe someone does this. I wouldn’t know. Haven’t been to a video rental place since we got Netflix.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Netflix is basically the best kind of rental service(again,not talking actual price here,just the fee for “access to library” thing).Would you be opposed to renting games in such a fashion?

                    I like the option of choosing fixed X hours or a flat monthly fee for digital rents,because it mirrors the way ISPs treat internet access:You can buy a bunch of gigabytes you can use until you spend them,or as much data as you can squeeze through in a month.Of course,that works in places(like my city)where theres a plethora of ISPs competing with each other.

                    • Shamus says:

                      I used Gamefly for a while. It was alright. But as I shifted more and more to PC games as a matter of convenience, the service was less useful to me.

                      I wonder how something like that could work on the PC today. A sort of “get the whole library for $X a month” type deal. I doubt the big companies would bother, but would indie devs dig it? Would consumers? I wonder.

                    • I’m still wishing that the movie industry would adopt the Steam model for movies.

                      Buy it once. You own it for downloading forever (for certain definitions of “forever”).

                      This, of course, will never happen.

                  • Dave B. says:

                    If you get a movie from Redbox, it will continue to charge you the daily rental price for every day you keep it, up to the max rental price (about $25 USD for DVD’s) and you keep the movie. I don’t think they send you the real case, though. I don’t recommend doing this on purpose, though. It would almost always be cheaper to return the movie after one day and buy a copy somewhere else.

                  • Wide And Nerdy says:

                    Thats something I wish Amazon would do (rent goes toward purchase). They already do it with rented digital books. Usually textbooks and technical manuals.

            • Steve C says:

              “It actually can help them stifle the second hand sales they hate so much.”

              And there it is. That’s my problem with it. That goal is anti-consumer. If they want to provide more opportunities and choice for consumers then I’m all for it. If it’s a money grab or an effort to destroy 2nd hand sales then I’m against it. Going after 2nd hand sales is anti-consumer and it’s stupidly shortsighted. If EA actually succeeded at destroying the 2nd hand market for their games by somehow ‘capturing it themselves’ they would go bankrupt in short order.

              As for X hour rentals I’m not concerned about the number of hours. 1 minute to a 100yrs doesn’t matter. (Though even short games are in the 5-10hrs range so I find 4hrs suspect. Seems like they purposely picked an amount of time that wouldn’t be enough. But I digress.) My problem is with a per unit rental fee for a virtual good.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                “That goal is anti-consumer.”

                How?By offering more choices to those who dont want to pay full price?How is that anti consumer?Not everyone wants to give money to gamestop/other owners for second hand goods.And if the developer offers a better deal,how is that wrong?

                If a company stifles something,its not automatically wrong.Its how they do it thats important.

                “My problem is with a per unit rental fee for a virtual good.”

                Why?Like Ive mentioned above,thats what ISPs are already doing.Whats wrong with offering a choice between X hours and a flat monthly rate?Some people actually prefer to have a fixed amount of hours/data that they can use from time to time until they run out.

                “Though even short games are in the 5-10hrs range so I find 4hrs suspect.”

                Watch Angry Joe.He pretty consistently ran across such short games(harry potter ran bellow 3 hours).

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        I won’t be able to listen to the podcast until I’m back so I don’t know the details of the discussion yet and while I do agree that the shift from product to service is a bad thing for video game owners a rental system is something that I could get behind if executed properly and under some circumstances, as an alternative to buying rathe than a complete substitute. Especially with AAA titles there’s a number of them that I could be convinced to hand over a few dollars to play so as to keep up with the current gaming discussion and buy them at a later date when the selling price drops. I’ll leave calculating whether this solution would be profitable to the company, but this could be a way to make some people pay for the game twice, and with pleasure.

        • ET says:

          I too, would like this. There’s a whole bunch of new stuff in my Steam wishlist, which turns into old stuff nobody’s talking about anymore, because I don’t want to play it enough to fork over the full price.

        • Ranneko says:

          Heck, that is why I am subscribed to Playstation Now, it is marginally more effort than I would like, but it means that I have a pool of console games for a reasonable price, so when I do feel like it I can dip into that world so to speak, but don’t need to spend time and thought on it otherwise.

      • Zak McKracken says:

        I think their idea of makiong money with this is that they’ll still “sell” to mostly the same people they’re selling to already, plus get subscriptions mainly from people who don’t care enough to buy new games but are still sort-of interested. If someone would usually only be buying maybe one not-so-new EA title in two years (because it’s cheaper) but could now be convinced to spend 30$ per year on a subscription, EA gets more money per year from them, plus there’s a chance that person would really like one game or another and purchase the DLC too.

        … well, on the DLC side, this whole deal is really weird … no idea what they were thinking but probably something about getting people hooked via the subscription and then selling added-value stuff to them. Possibly “forcing” them to keep the subscription for as long as they want to keep using the DLC. That would make some money if it worked, though I still find that aspect despiccable.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Strangely, I find myself agreeing.
      Stop pretending to sell games and just explicitly do what online-DRM has been doing all along.
      That said: Those time frames and prices look pretty crazy to me, but then nobody takes me serious anyway.

      The subscription model, (assuming they increase number of games in the “vault” and maybe reduce the price a bit) seems like the best approach here. Maybe add in an “Economy” version for people who either don’t play much or just want to try a few games to decide which ones to “buy”, and of course an option to have all add-ons available in the same fashion (instead of trying to sell them to people who’re renting the main game…)? It makes sense. I probably wouldn’t do it (I still want to properly own my games, at least the good ones), at least not with EA games but somehow that looks like a much more honest way of earning money for letting people play games.

      … if GOG did this sort of thing, I’d probably get on board. There are so many older titles I haven’t played but ain’t sure about that I’d like to try. Condition: No creepy online-surveillance software crap on my computer. Cryptography let’s you do amazing things these days without having to transmit my shoe size. That and trusting your customers as much as you want them to trust you.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        You know who I’d really like to see it from is Nintendo. If I could buy a Wii or Wii U and pay a flat monthly fee to access their catalog of old games through that virtual console, I’d be on board.

        Gamestop’s got the closest I’ve seen to this “Netflix for Digital Games” model so far. It looked interesting, I just didn’t happen to be drawn to the games you could play through it.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The original doom in VR.Now that wouldve been an experience.Or maybe original UT.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      That whole generation of shooters would be problematic because of the fast running and the way the gameplay is designed around it. I don’t know if that’s what you meant or not.

  7. Zak McKracken says:

    I think the audio recording stuff would make for a good blog post since there may be quite a few people interested in the set-up.

    The one thing I’d like to see improved:
    I’m mopstly listening while driving, which means lots of ambient noise, which means I have to turn the volume up a bit to understand some of Josh’s (or anyone else’s) mutterings. But then, whenever Josh has something slightly more intense to say, especially words containting “s” or “k” sounds … it becomes painfully loud at times. I’m sure that’s a consequence of how Josh is recording, which is as it is, but would it be possible to maybe run a compressor filter across his audio track? Wouldn’t mind it for the rest of the crew but with Josh it’s most noticeable.

    • Oh yes, the Josh problem. Drives me nuts when I’m listening with ambient noise (which is pretty much everywhere right now between ACs and leaf blowers). I turn it to a volume where I can hear everyone else clearly and Josh’ll occasionally be much louder.
      I’ve assumed that Josh just naturally has a bit more variation in volume/intensity, is there a way to tone down the top edge? His levels are good most of the time so overall quieter wouldn’t work but just bringing that upper boundary down a tad would do it (I think, I have no experience with any sort of audio fiddling).
      I don’t notice it with Spoiler Warning, but that likely has more to do with SW being something I watch on computer whereas the Diecast could be listened to on the computer, through my car speakers via tape adapter and mp3 player, via my Nook’s speaker (lousy sound), or on headphones via any one of the previous devices.
      It’s certainly not bothersome enough to stop listening, it’s just a mild annoyance.

    • ET says:

      Mumbles also gets a bit loud at times. Good thing I finally figured out the audio-level-compression settings in VLC to make the podcasts more or less constant-volume. :)

    • Paul Spooner says:

      So, here’s my suggestion for the Spoiler Warning / Diecast team (since you’re basically the same people).

      Find the chat solution with the best latency, and then do individual recordings in addition. I recommend buying everyone a handheld “digital voice recorder”. (Mine is a $100 Olympus WS-600S (other brands are available) and it records fantastic stereo audio straight to MP3.) Each of you can put it on the desk, turn the thing on, and forget about it for a couple hours. When you’re done, send all the files to Shamus. Plus you’ll then also have a really handy mobile audio recorder for personal use.

      It takes a bit of work to edit (I know, I’ve done this before) but you get the best of both worlds. Plus, if Shamus is editing anyway, it’s no extra burden. If one of the personal recordings is lost, or craps out for whatever reason, you’ve still got the shared stream to fall back on (at a lower quality, but probably no lower than what you have now).

      Here’s a live hangout discussion that I used to synch audio. And here’s the resulting audio once it was combined with the individual recordings. You can really tell which guy wasn’t able to send his personal audio, and his audio quality was poor to begin with, but that’s because he was doing this whole thing from a mobile device in his garage. I’d say the technique works fairly well overall.

      • The Schwarz says:

        That’s exactly how we do it in my podcast. Skype + individual recordings through Audacity. Great latency, perfect audio, and in almost 100 episodes, the only issue we’ve had that wouldn’t have been just as bad with a shared stream is when someone’s cat stopped the recording. And even then, you just start again and it barely affects anything.

        The only downside is that you have to carefully synchronize everyone’s files or it gets weird, but what we do is when we start recording we all count to 10 together and then it’s really easy.

        (I’d link to a sample but it’s all in Hebrew)

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Having now listened to the rest of the podcast: I didn’t seem to have the problem this time. Should you have followed my request before I made it, or was Josh’s set-up just different this time?

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “But it’s answered anyway. IT IS DONE.”

    Oh,right,this was the first thing I wanted to comment on,but I forgot.Nicely done!So puuurty.

  9. KingJosh says:

    Diecast #67: Unrest, Mailbag (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=23748)

    Since there were two last week, Rutskarn was gone for one week.

    /pedantic

  10. Primogenitor says:

    “ediing process” – well, that’s an unfortunately accurate typo.

    • Thearpox says:

      My speeling rocks in that one, doesn’t it? How reassuring that I had the foresight to hide my identity, or it would be embarrassing. Oh wait.

      But Ruts, Dear Diecast WAS IN THE SUBJECT BOX!

  11. silver Harloe says:

    paraphrasing: “…VR seems best in a multi-user environment if it’s primarily social, maybe with gestures and body language…”

    so basically, confirmed the suspicion that as with most new tech, porn will be the first adopter.

    • Volfram says:

      Second-Life already has support for the Vuzix Wrap series and probably has Oculus Rift support as well.

      So… yes.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      I just find myself thinking as I’m still kind of new (18 months) as a web developer, the internet’s current capabilities really shape what we think it should be used for. For example, many a web developer’s lament, designing for a screen is limiting. If elements could float in space around you and be manipulated in three dimensions, you could do a lot more. I for one am looking forward to the VR desktop at least. Or maybe an AR desktop would be better. Or an AR desktop that could flip to a VR mode.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        We have these huge kick ass screens,and yet what most users want is for the main content to be in the narrow ribbon in the center.Why do you think that with a full sphere of available space those same users will want to turn their head in order to see something?The narrow ribbon will still be the most popular place for main content.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          That gets back to my point about the limitations of the current internet. Yeah if you use it to consume an article, the current internet is generally adequate. But what if you’re working in a web app and want to have reference and/or monitors open. The way things currently work, making good use of your monitor space for that is awkward. Having a tablet on hand helps. Or what is the concept is just better conveyed or interacted with in 3D?

          What if I’m on Amazon VR and I want to compare 4 products. What if I could pull them into the AR or VR space around me instead of working with those awkward in page rotating images and flipping between tabs or resizing your windows to get them all to show up at once? (and yes, I just thought of a 2D solution to that two but you can hopefully begin to see where some 3D space might be of use when browsing.)

        • Bubble181 says:

          ….USERS want it in a tinyribbon in the center? Did I miss a memo? I, and everyone I know, absolutely hate the fact so many websites squash all their content in a small ribbon somewhere between the 2/3 of the screen that’s either white space, or banner ads. WHy in heaven’s name would I want my text in a 480 pixel wide ribbon on my 2000 pixel wide screen o_O

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Personally,I agree with you.But I know that stance is in the minority,despite my,or your,personal feelings.Shamoose did talk about it way back when we called him out on that.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Having articles that way is useful. I personally have a problem with my eyes drifting between lines as I’m reading of losing track of the line I’m on. Keeping the article column narrow helps (as does generous line spacing. And yes I know there are things I can do myself to remedy the problem)

            But for other things, web applications, intranet portals, etc, designing for a small screen is confining.

            • Bubble181 says:

              A valid point I did not really consider. I would imagine line spacing would be more important than width, but it would certainly play a major role as well.

          • Zak McKracken says:

            I actually prefer to have several windows side by side, and a paragraph of text is much easier to read if it is not too wide, otherwise it’s much easier to miss when trying to jump to the beginning of the next line. That’s why most magazines have a multi-column layout.
            … that’s for text of course. For graphics, it wouldn’t really make sense, and “upright” videos are somehow super-bad. People shouldn’t do that.

            Apart from movies, though I’d actually prefer the old 4:3 ratio for screens because with current screen sizes, that’d allow me to get one (upright) A4 page on screen and still be able to read all the small print, and indices in the small print. Ever wondered why paper with text on it is usually in “portrait” orientation? I’m not completely sure myself, but I do prefer it to “landscape” for text, and for websites, that means one not-too-wide column is my format of choice.

            That said, yes, it’d be nice if this site’s “main” area was scalable so everyone could have it as they prefer. But that seems to be a technical problem, so…

  12. Kana says:

    Speaking of VR MMOs as a social space and anime, has anyone seen/heard of .Hack//Sign? The show mostly takes place in a game called The World, and the gameplay shown is always… kinda shallow. Class based, mostly dungeon diving, spell-spammy.

    The thing that really drove it on was the character interactions while trying to uncover the mystery of the world and figuring out why this one guy got stuck in it. Everyone has his or her own reasons for playing the game and chatting with each other. Sometimes that grows or diminishes. It’s… hard to explain. Just, the whole show is very talky.

    Makes me think of a new, mechanically-shallower MMO landscape. Something where people gather and chat with their avatars and then maybe go run a simple dungeon or two if they feel like it.

    • Daimbert says:

      That was their big multi-media experiment that also included a set of console games and even manga, I think. The games expanded on what the gameplay would be, which was a little limited but kinda fun regardless.

      I liked both the Sign anime and the original game(s), but they have moved on from that a bit as well, which I didn’t get into. But, yeah, if you add in a few new concepts like, say, DCUO did in making a console or PC-based MMO, and it could work.

      • Kana says:

        Yeah. Kind of annoying, because the end of Sign was a bit of a tease to get you to read the manga (it’s not nearly as bad as the very end leads you on to believe).

        I really liked the games, and I’d totally play an MMO casually that played like that, just to sit around the waterways of Mac Anu and chat. Also hated that the games had designated hero, I really wanted to play a magey Wavemaster, not the rogueish Twin Blade, and the gameplay was fun enough.

        Like, you guys already made The World as a single-player game. Just do that as a small MMO, the series has fans that would play it. Doen’t have to be cutting edge graphics and super tight gameplay.

        (Yes, I know how much I’m trivializing the cost of an MMO. I just really want to play that game.)

        • Daimbert says:

          They tried an online variant, .hack//Fragment, which ran only in Japan and lasted about two years. It was a bit of an odd set-up, though, so that would have hurt it. You could try it with, as I said, a DCUO engine which might work, but the MMO market is a bit saturated at the moment.

    • Steve C says:

      Oh gawd .Hack// That was a terrible anime and terrible game. It had potential but it went nowhere slow. The game part I tried was a single player PS2 offline game. I played it and “the servers went down for system maintenance” as a plot point.

      Imagine that in a TV show. Next up on 24… Jack Bauer spends 5mins in the bathroom! Tick tock tick tock

      • Daimbert says:

        I actually really liked Sign, and the anime shorts that came with the games. They had great character development and weren’t that slow. I also played the first game of the original series recently, and in any case where the servers were down for maintenance you were supposed to read the boards and your E-mail so that you could continue.

        • Steve C says:

          “you were supposed to read the boards and your E-mail so that you could continue”

          Oh I understood that immediately. I did not like it. It’s the worst part of a real MMO experience. In a TV show that accounts for every second of a day they could simulate bathroom breaks. Except they don’t because it’s shitty. Trying to play a game and you can’t because of a gimmick that’s inherently unfun was too shitty for me.

  13. Eldiran says:

    I hate to be that guy, but a heads up: on the new splash page, in the description of DM of the Rings, ‘eviceration’ should be spelled ‘evisceration’.

  14. Graham says:

    Everytime I hear about graphical glitches irt the oculus, someone brings up an anecdote about something that happened in VR that was not only nauseating, but also borderline terrifying – and while that’s absolutely a bad thing for most games, I’m really interested in seeing devs make use of that to intentionally breed fear and paranoia. I’m really interested in horror and glitch art, and in recent years I’ve seen a couple of devs try to combine those in 2D games. What I’d really like to see, though, is someone take advantage of the unreality inducing nature of VR and make something truly weird and freaky. Being trapped in a VR shark cage is scary, but having the nature of the shark cage and your environment be uncertain sounds really terrifying.

    • ET says:

      The really useful thing for VR horror games, would be to find some audio/visual trick which would induce nausea, but not be consciously noticeable by the player. Then you could use it to make people really scared of your monster! Might need a warning, like TV shows which can induce seizures.

    • Tizzy says:

      There are a lot of inventive people out there. Once VR becomes widely available, we can look forward to some really new games styles and creative ways of both getting around technical limitations and/or incorporating them into the gameplay.

    • Spammy says:

      When I first read the original Ben Drowned creepypasta (before it became a dumb ARG Marble Hornets knockoff) it was one of my first video game creepypastas and for some reason the thought stuck with me of the game glitching out where it shouldn’t. Music is distorted, some textures go missing, character models glitch out.

      It gave me an idea for what I called the meta-horror game where the scares don’t come so much from sexy faceless nurses and zombies and Slendyman but from the developers intentionally glitching the game. You play like a third of the game normally to see what everything’s like and then the errors start happening. Suddenly the villagers have no animation and only a blank dialog box when you speak to them. The ground textures vanish for a moment and you see a face below you.

      I wonder how scary it would actually be if you couldn’t quite trust that the game world itself was “working” and these glitches were all intentional in-universe on the part of the baddy.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      I was thinking this exact thing! Probably the easiest thing to do would be to intentionally mess with the head tracking data. For example, have a simple regular exploration game that looks totally normal, maybe the interior of a house, or a canyon vista or something. Over the course of ten minutes, the head tracking “sensitivity” slowly turns up until you can turn your head 360 degrees around in-game by turning your real head 60 degrees to the side. If it was done slowly enough, the player wouldn’t even notice… until they took off the display, at which point their neck feels paralyzed, and their eyes are de-synched from their inner ear. Cue disorientation and nausea that you can’t escape from because your brain now thinks the real world is fundamentally wrong.

      You could do it the other way too, where having certain in-game objects on screen slowly reduce the head turning sensitivity, until, like in a nightmare, you literally can’t look away. This might cause people to injure their necks though.

  15. Rick says:

    It’s silly, I know, but I’m curious on how the order of the splash page was chosen. At first I thought it was alphabetical, but Chainmail Bikini is the near the bottom. Is it ordered by Shamus’s most favorite to least, most popular, or is it just completely arbitrary?

  16. MichaelGC says:

    Thanks for the Star Citizen rant, Josh!

    I originally started on a longer post, but then I realised I was adding nothing to what had already been said. Nothing!

    PS For $25m I will add something to the discussion, for $50m I’ll add something interesting & original, and if we hit $75m I might re-do the whole comment with formatting. By December 2017. 2024 at the latest. No? OK, thought it was worth a shot.

    • Eric says:

      For the record, Star Citizen is nothing compared to Shroud of the Avatar: https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/?page_id=35139

      • Zak McKracken says:

        11000$ for a virtual castle plus a RL dinner with and house tour by Richard Garriott? I can see how lots of old (and affluent) Ultima fans would go for that. Forget that effing virtual castle, it’s Lord British, and he’s got a real one!

        The same amount for just a virtual spaceship? I’d say Star citizen wins that one, and I can for the life of me not understand why someone would do that, especially before there is evidence that the game will actually be similar to what one hopes it’ll be.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Are you using metric prefixes? Because I’d totally be willing to foot the entire $0.075 for you to “re-do the whole comment with formatting.” How do I transmit it though? It hardly seems worth the transaction fees!
      Maybe we could do some sort of work exchange?

      On the topic of Star Citizen, I agree with the general feeling on the show. I wouldn’t spend the money, and it seems it could be used better elsewhere, but I don’t begrudge others spending it if they have money to spare and really want to give it to those… fellow professional digital artists and programmers… in exchange for non-tangible goods and services of vague description.

  17. Groboclown says:

    Huh. VR has real-world physical consequences. I predict that there will be real engineering laws regarding the safety around VR applications. Just imagine someone in the near future saying, “Yeah, here’s a neat looking VR game on a cheap Steam sale! Let’s try it out!” Followed immediately by the gut-wrenching hurt. This might fall in the law cases under the same category as the “seizure warning” and “repetitive motion” issues, but I have a feeling that this would fall in a whole other category.

    But let’s also not forget what would happen if someone created viruses to take advantage of this.

  18. Thearpox says:

    As a fan of Dwarf Fortress, I actually find it kind of cool that a developer is taking their time and developing their perfect vision of a space MMO or whatever Star Citizen is supposed to be.

    You know, when your favorite game is 40% done and 12 years in development, a couple years delay doesn’t seem like a big deal. And it’s nice that they are able to keep this continuous stream of revenue which allows them to work on it at a steady pace.

    But I have to agree with everyone on everything else. Pay to win, shifting goals, possible negligence. Hopefully it will be the Dwarf Fortress and not Duke Nukem of crowdfunding.

  19. Wolf says:

    Regarding the importance of sound quality in video formats:
    I have this one friend who did a thesis project thingy on youtube culture and the general consensus among regular uploaders was pretty clearly that soundquality trumps video quality. To the point where deliberately trashy styled youtube “personalities” would secretely use expensive sound equipment in contrast with their otherwise dirt cheap video setup.

  20. straymute says:

    Star Citizen’s pledges worry me a bit too. They went with the WW2 style of dogfighting and one of things in most decent sims with that style is that different craft can be almost like different characters in a fighting game. For example even though you would classify the P-38L and Spitfire as fighters they require completely different tactics to use effectively. A player who enjoys turning battles will probably not want to use the P-38L in this case. If he fights the way he enjoys he will get killed.

    In that way the idea of buying them for pretty large sums before people even have a chance to experience the nuances of each ship seem like it is going to backfire at some point. To continue with the fighting game analogy you don’t want to buy Zangief for several hundred dollars only to realize Chun-li is the one who’s actually fun to you when you get the game.

    There’s is also the fact that if your ship is fun for you and you spent a few hundred dollars for it yet it is not fun to fight against and ruins the game for other people it could create a pretty large stink in the community.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Eh, ships would be different if space sim games would have more advanced craft models. From what I have seen most crafts model characteristics can be numbered by fingers of one hand (top speed/acceleration*, maneuverability, mount points, cargo space, HP/shielding). Thus the possible space of different ship configurations is really limited. It’s really 2D space with a mount point vs speed/manuverability trade off, while WWII airplanes in flight sims have a possible space of many dimensions (top speed, acceleration, turning speed, engine performance at heights, top dive speed, armament, climb rate etc) so a traditional B&Z FW-190 is very different from a Spitfire, and both of them are less armed but more maneuverable than a heavy bomber hunter and so on.

  21. Problem with ads are that they are targeted thus they show ads related to the visitor.

    Instead the ads should go back to the old original ads, the ads that are content targeted.

    After all, if I’m reading about graphics hardware I would not mind a ad for a graphics card. A gambling ad on the other hand would annoy the heck out of me at that point.

    Also, I’ve had it with sites telling you they use cookies and then you have to click “OK”. Only in my case the same sites nag about that every time (I’ve set the browser not to store cookies).

    Then there are sites that overlay “subscription” forms when you try to view an article (just because you have no cookie stored).

    Then there are sites that overlay a “floating menu” that is larger than the static menu when you beging to scroll down the page and showa shadow under it so now you feel like you are viewing through a letterbox.

    Any website should be designed to work without cookies and without being annoying by default, few ever are though. *sigh*

    • ET says:

      The click-to-accept-cookies thing is from European law*. They have to warn you that they’re using this technology. The problem I have, is that they don’t give you an option to view the site without; All the sites I’ve seen just dump you off of their site if you don’t accept cookies. :S

      * I think. I live in Canadia, so I don’t really know for sure. :)

      • “They have to warn you that they’re using this technology”
        Technically speaking they do not have to use it at all, they could just make it 100% opt in, instead you have to keep a cookie that tells them you do (or do not) want their cookies.
        Um hello, Do Mot Track is a browser feature you know. *sigh*

        Also, if the user log in etc, then you do not need to tell hen about this as by being logged in it is implied you are being tracked (otherwise you could not be logged in, doh).

        You also do not need to show that warning if the tracking is for that site only and only for that browser session. (so called session cookies).

        A website you are not logged into should not need any permanent cookies at all, that’s just stupid design (in my opinion, obviously); hence no warning about cookies needed.

        • Shamus says:

          (Not sure where to stick this reply to make sense, since I’m entering the discussion so late, so I’m just putting it here at the end.)

          I can understand how this happens. A lot of functionality (and data-harvesting) is built into cookies. This means that an alternate cookie-free version of the site requires more coding, more testing, more bug reports. (Every single bit of cookie-reading code needs a “no cookie” fallback mode. And if something complex – like the search functionality – uses cookies, then that feature would need to be completely re-written.) From the perspective of the company, what’s all that extra hassle worth to them? If you’re not willing to use cookies, then you’re not going to make an account. You’re not sharing any information. You’re not going to share the page on social media. To the company, this is a tiny group of people who are asking for special consideration and not offering anything the company wants. To them you’re like the guy who comes into the restaurant and only orders water.

          Not sure why I felt the need to point this out. I guess just because I kind of sympathize with the company. The fact that many companies have turned cookies into creepy Orwellian spy snacks has ruined what could have been a nice convenience for everyone.

          • Cuthalion says:

            We have this issue where I work, but with JavaScript. Everything important has to work fine without it, which I think ends up costing us quite a bit of time ($$$) for a small percent of users. But it’s nice to know our site works for pretty much everyone. :)

          • Tizzy says:

            As you say, if it wasn’t for the horrible potential abuse of cookies… My browsers tend to have a high level of paranoid no-tracking dispositions that can ruin most websites for me. Every time I think this is too much, The evidence of the tangled web if tracking going on on typical sites reminds me why I put up with this.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      There are a bunch of problems with content targeting however.What is blip going to show me if I watch Spoony?A place to buy wrestlemania stuff,a video game store,or a cinema?Worse,some of those things dont even exist in my country,or there simply arent enough companies in my vicinity that have contract with blip(I think I saw less than 10 ads in hundreds of hours Ive spent there).

      • It’s also interesting how web advertising is (in my opinion) burdened with unreasonable expectations, which also means less $$ for content providers.

        It used to be that if you wanted ads with content like a newspaper page or a TV show, the best you could get as far as a “guarantee” of custom for your business was demographic information regarding the content. Advertisers paid a fee based on ratings and scarcity of space, regardless of whether or not their ad was successful.

        For internet ads, thanks to the scads of data harvested from our activities, there are ad networks that won’t pay up (or pay decently) unless someone doesn’t just SEE the ad but CLICKS the ad. Still others say (or said, it could have changed, but I bet there are still ones like this out there) the content provider doesn’t get the money unless the reader clicks the ad AND buys something.

        If other media relied on that model, newspapers would probably vanish almost completely and TV would mutate into a kind of targeted-ad YouTube Hades.

  22. So, with Dragon Age Inquisition getting nearer there is one thing that irks me.
    BioWare has something called “The Keep” that will be launched.

    It is a website you can log in to (via Origin), and you can create a world state (to replicate choices fro Dragon Age: Origin and Dragon Age II), you can’t import your old save games but fair enough a this let non-PC gamers set this up too, even those not owning a previous Dragon Age game can set the world state the way they want it.

    When you Start Dragon Age: Inquisition you can load the world state from the cloud, and when you save in the game the world state is uploaded to the cloud.

    Here is the issue though, you can not for example save the world state as a xml to disk (or a USB stick) and import from that, nor can you export a world state to say a usb stick and upload that to the website.

    I have no idea why they do not allow this, if they are concerned about piracy they this is a very weak DRM as there will be a bunch of save game editors out there soon enough.

    The site reasons like wanting to ensure there are no impossible states and handle corrupt save games etc.
    But I fail to see how this can prevent corrupt savegames, corrupt savegames are caused by bad code and will happen regardless of the cloud or not.
    Likewise if importing/exporting to a xml is a issue as to file corruption, use a checksum, that is what they exist for in the first place.

    There is anoter thing, which I do not have a particular issue with, after all I did suggest this (on my own site way back I think, or no wait, it was in a Gamasutra post I wrote).
    But there I suggested that at the end of the game they ask (nicely) if the player wish to submit their savegame to the developer.

    In this case with The Keep it is automatic, and I do not know if this has been stated or not… (it should in that case).

    The benefit of giving the developer access to the saveame (or world state whatever) is that they get some awesome gameplay stats out of it, what choices people do, and they can determine what content is more popular or if some parts are never visited (and can maybe find out why).
    But that need to be made clear or disclosed so customers know.

    Saving the world state to the cloud is not an issue, but being unable to make a local backup (import/export) is a major issue.
    If the cloud is inaccessible you will be unable to start a new Inquisition world the way you designed it, instead you get the default (which could be very different depending on who live/die is king/queen at the end of DA:O for example).

    Also, couldn’t this be a offline program or app in addition to the cloud stuff?

    A very odd mix of choices on The Keep thing there.

    • Ranneko says:

      That is an interesting concept. Especially since Dragon Age Origins: Awakening lets you make a canonically impossible story. It lets you continue from your save even if you have your character die at the end of DAO

      I wonder if they will let you duplicate that set of events via Keep.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Except it’s not canonically impossible, as this is precisely what the Orlesian origin is for, it makes the Warden Commander someone who was shipped in to manage the keep in light of the lack of wardens.

        • Ranneko says:

          Except that you can choose to continue as the Warden who died, rather than be the new Orlesian commander, you are explicitly the same character, with the same preexisting relationships, you just… aren’t dead

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats because you were only mostly dead in the first place.

            • Ringwraith says:

              I’d be more inclined to let that slide if it didn’t specifically involve killing yourself (as part of killing something else at the time) as a requirement.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Okay my bad.
            That seems… odd.
            Not sure why this was an option, when they specifically wrote something an logical alternative.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Because bioware.

            • Ranneko says:

              Honestly I was pretty pleased that they left in the option, as it was the one I took, saved me from having to play again and make a different choice.

              Their FAQ (apparently, as the original page is gone) stated:

              2.3 – If my PC died at the end of Dragon Age: Origins how are they alive in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening? (Back to top)
              If a player wants to, they can import their “Dead Warden” into Awakening and play as them. For the story it’s assumed that they didn’t make the ultimate sacrifice, instead somehow survived. A player would start as the same level with the same gear as their “Dead Warden”. Essentially, if a player doesn’t have a problem hand-waiving the story in this regard – neither do we.

    • Groboclown says:

      They probably want to avoid an issue with “inquisitive players” who want to muck around with the file, and put the world state into something they don’t handle. Yes, they could add checks for only valid states on import, but that sounds like more coding and testing.

      (Evil Overlords Conspiracy) It also sounds like a way to reverse the conditioning that big media companies are pushing, which is the everything-is-online-you-can-only-lease-or-rent-so-we-smooth-out-our-revenue-model-to-make-investors-happy-and-we-move-off-of-the-lumpy-revenue-hit-driven-model-that’s-not-working-like-we-want approach.

  23. @Josh Did you guys look into Dolby Axon?
    https://axon.dolby.com/ (oops no recording? great quality though)

    Hmm. or Raidcall
    http://www.raidcall.com/index.html (has recording)

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Two things you may or may not have looked into: Teamspeak and Jitsi

      I’ve recently started using Jitsi as an XMPP client and for VoIP (and rarely video chat too) and it supports a huge load of codecs. It is, however a bit ressource heavy, so people wiht slow connections (or little RAM) lag in online games when simultaneously audio-chatting with Jitsi (Teamspeak does that better, but with a stronger compression, dictated by the server). I think you can record voices individually, and there are plenty of settings for the encoding. It also allows screen casts instead of video calls, so maybe that’d be useful to you. I’ve only tested those via LAN, though, so don’t know how well it works via internet.

      Jitsi itself is just an XMPP client, so anyone with gmail account can be contacted via their e-mail adress. Setting up is super easy (enter your XMPP/Jabber/GoogleTalk account login, password, done), earlier this year, it wouldn’t run (or only after serious troubleshooting) for some people but with the current version noone I know has problems with it (except for the resource hunger…)
      Alternatively, since Shamus is running a web server anyway, you could just set up your own Jabber server, which costs nothing. I know nothing about the technical details of that, though.
      The good thing: Jitsi works on any operating system and plays nice with most other Jabber clients (most of whom only support text, though). It also has very easy-to-use encryption for everything and there are compatible XMPP clients for Android (don’t know about iOS), so people could even just use their mobiles if necessary. …

      For Teamspeak, the audio compression rate is limited by the server, but the server itself is also freely available, so you could set up one yourself. THe TS client is much lighter than Jitsi but limited to audio and very basic text chat. The server admin decides whether to require user accounts for authentication, a simple password, or just let anyone take part. There’s no encryption though (irrelevant for the podcast but in case you want to have private conversations, TS is a bad choice).

  24. As to sound quality itself.
    Mics with similar or the same characteristics is probably advised.
    I’d suggest getting half a dozen USB mics of the same model, why USB? Because the mic amplifier is included so you eliminate differences in soundcards/setups etc.
    Modern USB mics are just plug and play with no need for a driver as well (or should be).

    As an alternative to a USB mic is a USB headset instead. These are close mic’ed and may have noise cancellation or directional mics.
    Background/room noise is not a issue then.
    Buying a few of these “bulk” would probably be pretty cheap.

    • ET says:

      This actually sounds like a reasonable plan. Link to a specific model, with reasonable quality, price, and possible noise cancellation?

      • Oh boy…

        I’m not the right person to talk to on that. (I’ll post another comment on that), so without rambling on further.

        1. If a headset then get circumaural ones with semi-open back (closed can get pretty warm after a while, not everybody like that).

        2. You want your ears to fit inside comfortably, if you got big ears or small headphones then you do not want them to press on your ears for long sessions, trust me on that, you can’t even touch your ears for an hour after removing them if unlucky. Headphones/headsets with 50mm drivers is what you’ll usually look for when going for “big”.

        3. Replaceable earpads or washable ones, and a comfortable headband (if you have no hair, little hair or thin hair or like having a shaved head you need a comfy headband), if possibly the headband should be replaceable/washable too. Avoid fake leather stuff, after some time they start to flake, go for some “textile” ones instead.

        4. The mic should be a adjustable and possibly such that it can be moved out of the way.

        5. A mic mute button on the cable would be a plus, and could solve the Ventrilo issue/mic always on issue. The downside is that it could wear out i the future. Myself I prefer cables with no mic button and no volume slider, less things that can fail down the road.

        6. USB headset to ensure the same sound characteristics etc.

        7. Avoid headsets marketed as 7.1 or 5.1 or surround. Any normal stereo headphone/headset can be “surround” using HRTF software, most soundcards come with that now in some form. Now if it’s a software feature listed on the box then that is perfectly fine, but if it’s marketed “as” a surround headphone they might just be blowing smoke up your behind and the money is better spent on some other product.

        That’s the criteria I would look for in this case.
        As to specific models brands, no idea, this is Norway ad the market is way different here, sometimes the US and Europe use the same model number for different products etc. Or one product does not exists on the other continent etc.

        Two ways to go on this though, just get cheap ones so you can easily just get a few new ones once they start breaking.
        Or go for high quality ones, sucks if they should break but the sound will be better and they might become the preferences headpiece of the gang for gaming too, durability is better too.

        Both ways have merit, it’s a cost vs use issue really.

        Wish I could be of more specific help though.

  25. This is another comment.

    (me and headphones etc.)

    I got Soundblaster Z, with that weird little beam mic that is placed on top of the monitor, it uses matched stereo mics to create a cone area in front of it and it has some aggressive noise cancellation etc. But works only with that card obviously.

    Besides that I got a proper big dynamic “hand” mic on a floor stand, but I rewired the mic from unbalanced mono (original) to balanced mono and basically record in stereo via the mic input (using my older Xonar card since the Soundblaster can’t handle a balanced line mic for some reason, may e a conflict with their beam mic).
    Then in the sound editing program I invert the right channel and merge the channels at 100%, any hum or noise on the line vanish, 100%, it even nukes some soundcard noise here, I get a theoretical mic noisefloor of -85dBFS, as a dynamic mic has no self noise. (this is the cool thing with balanced audio, it cancels out interference that is across both left and right wires, or hot and cold as it may be).
    I know of hardly any software out there that support balanced audio (automatic inverting of the right and then mixing of the channels at 100% volume) so probably not the way to go either.

    I also got a Logitech G35 headset, but the headband was really horrible, the earpads are washable which is something I love, I tore off the headband and wrapped a piece of towel around it.
    I never use the mic on this headset. Hey are roomy enough for my ears, but the sound is a tad anemic. I wish in retrospect I had bought something else. And for now I’m stuck with this as I can’t afford anything else.

    I’ve gone through a large amount of headphones and headsets. Either hey are too small for my ears (I must have circumaural and either closed or semi-open back.) Sometimes buying cheap on the net is not always smart, the return would sometimes cost half the product price so I returned none usually.
    I’ve gone from expensive KOSS headphones (heavy uncomfortable beats) that actually broke.
    I’ve had to make my own cables sometimes as I’ve pulled a few too pieces.
    I’ve blown one speaker/side on two occasions (don’t ask me how).
    My Xonar soundcard had it’s output line damaged (which the headphones was plugged into) so there was always static, though the line in is fine.

    I am yet to find headphones or headsets that fit or are comfortable and don’t generally suck, it’s a minefield out there. And I’ve lost count on how many have had their headband or earpads smolder to pieces over time.
    I sit with headphones on 90% of the time I’m at the computer, usually with sound on, but sometimes not. (closed back ones are nice at dampening PC case fan noise which ca get annoying).

    And don’t get me started on soundcards.

    I’ve had a Audigy 2 ZX, a Xonar DG, and now a Soundblaster Z. I loved the sound on the Xonar, and the special mic that comes with the Z is pretty good.
    But damn the drivers suck. Issues with the Xonar was left unfixed for months and months.

    The Audigy drivers was abandoned and a guy on the net fixed them on his own (and Creative got all pissy).
    Hardware/software features exists in the card/drivers but are disabled/enabled depending on which “model” you buy. *sigh*

    The latest drivers for the Z suck, I can’t use them, if I do it takes a minute for the soundcard control panel to open, and another minute for each panel/tab.
    With the drivers I use it only takes 20 or so seconds to open and the tabs/panels are almost instant.

    No idea what the issue is, it seems tied to AMD HDMI audio output (the Soundblaster Z control panel seems to pick the wrong device or something).

    The technology seems to get better but more buggy (very counter-intuitive if you ask me).

    Next time I think I’ll go for some USB headphones (with/without mic), and make sure people report that they can use them just fine without installing any extra/special drivers.

    If I counted up all the money wasted on all this crap I could have gotten a insane pair of custom made headphones I’m sure with a standalone USB headphone amp to power them.

    Then there is me and keyboards. I’ve yet to find a keyboard where the keys do not loose their lettering, the only keyboards I know that would be good enough re double injection-moulded or backpainted transparent keys, but nobody sell those any more.

    I’m not happy with mice interface either, right now I got the Logitech M570 trackball which is the best input device I’ve found so far. carpaltunnel almost zero on this one for me, who knows how long they’ll keep selling that one.

    Then there are monitors with horrid black levels and vertical viewing angles worse than their horizontal ones. *sigh*

    I really suck at peripheral it seems (except that trackball, then again I’ve gone through two other trackballs a touchpad and a whole bunch of mice before that.)
    I’m pretty good at building a cheap and decent AMD CPU based box though, *shrug* not much comfort though.

  26. Paul Spooner says:

    I love Shamus’ up-beat angle on the text content issue. Now that text content is no longer a “money making” discipline, we’ll be rid of the posers and shills as along with the well-paid experts. A mixed blessing, but perhaps for the best, all things considered.

  27. Talby says:

    When Rutskarn said, “at least we won’t squander it on a fruitless project that leaves everyone demoralized” I was expecting him to say, “so, it won’t be like Tropes vs. Women in Videogames.” :p

  28. David says:

    So, MMO in VR… maybe something like the investigation portion of The Secret World?

    • Thanks for making me miss City of Heroes even more now that I’ll never be able to Oculus Rift through Paragon City flying, super-jumping, or running at super-speed.

      Teleporting? No, forget that crap. I’d get sick in my VR helmet.

  29. Mumbles says:

    My best solution for audio fixing is to constantly talk in my robot voice.

  30. Zak McKracken says:

    On the “video ads in front of text content” thing:

    On my phone, I usually just read stuff. Playing videos takes forever, annoys people (because of sound and stuff), and of course takes more data (well, I’m usually on wifi but still), so … no. If I come across interesting video content while browsing on the phone, I either back out or store the URL for later viewing on the PC. Only very few things are looked at.

    Also (independent on what device I use), when I’m reading text content, I enjoy being able to either skip a paragraph or go back a few sentences, re-read whom some name belongs to (Unless I know them already I can never remember the names and roles of protagonists in a news story, even while reading it…) that sort of thing. And of course be able to listen to music on the side. If I unexpectedly hit a video, especially with ads … I’d consider that an attack and close the tab.

    That said: What’s the problem with static (or animated GIF, flash) ads? Are video ads really that much more effective?

    • Were I guessing, the flash plugin can “harvest” more data, and its harder to block without disabling a bunch of other stuff (YouTube, games, etc.).

      I hate how those ads eat up RAM, myself. I’d tolerate them more to support sites I visit if there was some upper limit on how many of the latest “browser game with huge breasts” or “car I’ll never buy” ads per page there were.

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