Diecast #77: Shadow of Mordor, Twenty Sided Origins

By Shamus
on Oct 20, 2014
Filed under:
Diecast

121 comments

This is a special episode with a special guest. RandyIf you’re asking “who?”, then listen to the show. is on the show, and we talk about how the crew met and got this whole show started.


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

Hosts: Josh, Shamus, Chris, and Randy.

Show notes:

1:00 Dragon Age: Inquisition is for players that still appreciate the long game

Polygon source.

8:00 Shadow of Mordor.

My column tomorrow is also on this game. And I’ve been ranting about it on Twitter as well.

25:00 Mailbag question, right in the middle of the episode:

How did you guys all meet each other? And how will that be retconned in the upcoming “Spoiler Warning: The High School Years” series where it turns out you all already knew each other?

Wide and Nerdy

And so we tell the story of how everyone joined the show.

42:00 And another!

Dear diecast bunnies,

a nice quick question: since Shamus has been playing Alien Isolation, I wondered if he was brave enough to try playing it on Oculus Rift? I’ve been told it works well and is very intense and atmospheric, but that is probably a very subjective experience.

Phill

54:00 King of Dragon Pass

For the record, I LOVE the idea of a fantasy world where you can’t tell if magic, or gods, or perhaps one of many gods is real or not. Perhaps the “truth” of the world could be randomized from game to game, so that in one game you live in a purely mechanical universe and in another game one of many gods is the true one. Advisers can come to you with stories, “The worshipers of Molag Butts have great harvests and are unbeatable in battle!” Maybe Molag Butts is real and favoring his people. Or maybe they’re unbeatable in war because their army is well-fed, and their army is well-fed because they’ve had lucky weather the last few years.

Actually, maybe that would just be really annoying. But it’s an interesting idea.

1:04:00 Hey Josh, where is that Crusader Kings II think you were gonna do ten months ago?

I can’t believe it.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] If you’re asking “who?”, then listen to the show.


A Hundred!201There are 121 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

    • ACman says:

      Josh should buy Oculus Rift and Elite. He’s an X-Wing/Tie-Fighter fan – he’d have a blast.

      Waiting for both of those things to come out and be awesome is probably the optimal thing to do though.

      Maybe Josh could Patreon his Oculus Rift critical commentary of the Elite Dangerous Beta. That’d be cool.

      He could even do Star Citizen if that ever turns out to be a real product – BAM!!! take that Chris Roberts (imaginary) Space Industries.

    • evileeyore says:

      Damn straight!

      Hey Josh, thanks for recommending King of Dragon Pass. That game is almost everything I want in a strategy game.

      And only 6$ at GOG!

  1. Wide And Nerdy says:

    You know whats funny? I have thought about sending that question multiple times in basically that exact form (including the lame “The High School Years” trope joke) over several weeks and just got around to it this time when Randy was on.

    Its a shame Rutskarn wasn’t on because I was hoping someone would do something with my lame joke and he seems to be the one to pick up on that. But I really did want the answer to the first part and that was a good story.

  2. Re: Dragon Age being “long.”

    Call me a cynic, but when I hear something past 40 hours, I start thinking that they’re counting grind-y gameplay as hours of that total content. “Go get 20 Parrot Helmets,” or “you must be level 13 before you can pass, so go wipe out mooks until you are because you’ve done all the scripted content in this area” and so on.

    • Eruanno says:

      Yeah, I’m a little scared of that too. Or that they count the multiplayer somehow. I would be really happy if it was actually hundreds of hours of actual meaty RPG gameplay, though :3

      • Me, too. With at LEAST the breadth of Bethesda’s sandbox worlds.

        I’m starting to think the sandbox quests are often better than the main quests for the same reason a lot of old cartoon shows based on toys were (in retrospect) so off-the-wall and in some cases, innovative: I bet there’s nowhere near the executive meddling in that kind of stuff. I mean, if a side quest is a grind or in some way typical, meh, you got XP. If it’s something like FNV’s Vault 11, or the Skyrim quest where the guy admonishes you for looting his ancestors’ tomb while you help him clear it of undead, it stands out as something kind of neat or cool.

        I’ll be curious to see if the content has branching paths or interacts with itself (i.e. doing X quest with Y outcome pisses off Z faction) or if it’s all stand-alone with no apparent consequences beyond leveling.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      Yeah, count me in with those who think about 85% of DA3 is just going to be murdering a million billion billion darkspawn.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Yeeeeah, see I wouldn’t mind if it was loads of quality.
      Except it probably isn’t, because that doesn’t make good statistics.

    • Darren says:

      It’s not just you. Outside of sandbox games where you’re generally expected to dick around on your own and much of the content is there to facilitate that, game length seems to cap out around 40 hours. Some games–especially JRPGs–can lengthen that via challenge missions that require insane amounts of grinding and/or fetch quests, but the number of games that necessitate more than 40 hours just to get through the story (without counting sequels and expansions) is pretty low.

    • ACman says:

      Except in Dragon Age it was 60+ hours because “We copy/pasted this dungeon 5-10 times in a row with minor variations… Have fun fighting the same 3 combinations of Not-Orcs/Demons in very slightly different locations for the next 3 hours without seeing a shop maybe without even being able to carry inventory… Have fun!!!”

      • Mike S. says:

        Here’s a question: the first Mass Effect endlessly reused about three base designs for planetary missions. Dragon Age 2 endlessly reused That One Cave and That One Warehouse. In principle, those should be roughly equivalent. But while Mass Effect got some criticism for the weakness of the “base full of mercenaries/pirates/slavers” side missions, it’s not as strong.

        And that goes for me, too: with Mass Effect, I found it a little repetitive, made some headcanon about mass produced prefab space installations, and went on to replay the game several times. I got so tired of the Dragon Age 2 equivalents that I suspect it’s a big factor in my only having played it once.

        But I can’t articulate what the difference is. Anyone who had the same experience want to take a crack at it?

        • Thomas says:

          I’m thinking it’s about the length and importance of those missions. The Mass Effect ones are very short and are very skippable, whereas even main quest style missions in Dragon Age 2 took place in the same areas and they go on for a while. There’s no break from the monotony, whereas in Mass Effect 1 you’re constantly visiting new places.

          Saying that, I’m a Dragon Age 2 fan. I think it’s actually one of the most ambitious RPGs in a long time. It dared to try and break the standard Bioware formula that Mass Effect cleaved to, it tried to break free of the standard RPG story. It experimented with completely different story telling mechanics and really tried to shake up the companion system.

          It doesn’t quite work, but I think the problems are actually subtle. If the world felt more alive (and was open world) and easy to travel around, the pieces might have clicked together and created something amazing.

          The least daring game Bioware ever made was actually KotoR when I think about it (well excluding The Old Republic). Even then it’s kind of daring in how much they chose to dumb KotoR down, and it totally worked in making a great game, and it worked so well that it redefined what an RPG was.

          • Mike S. says:

            I really liked a lot of what DA2 was trying to do. It was mostly the details that wore me down– the reused environments, but also the badly explained random encounters that made it impossible to walk down the corner to the shop without being jumped three times. (Imagine in Mass Effect if every time you walked around the Citadel batarian mercenaries would spawn from nowhere and attack you. Except at least the game made it clear why batarians might have it in for you.)

            But I really appreciated the ambition of a story that wasn’t a Save the World plot, where you weren’t the Chosen Hero of Destiny. In which you were important but not the most important person in the world (or even the city)– and maybe one person can’t just stand athwart the tide of history shouting “halt!”.

            And I liked the idea of having some actual temporal scope. If only it had done more with that– Fenris not cleaning up his mansion after years was only one of the ways things managed to remain static in a game that should have had all sorts of little environmental clues that the city was changing between chapters.

            And if only they hadn’t decided that everyone getting all the content was more important than plot logic. (See also Mass Effect 3 and the rachni.) The ending could have been so much stronger if they’d been willing to have you not get every boss fight in every game.

            (I also didn’t really understand where they were going with the rivalry system my first time through, but I respect it. Trying it out is one of the things that tempts me to play again someday.)

            My great fear, as with ME3, is that they may have learned the wrong lessons from the backlash, and will back off on the actual good ideas they had in favor of safety, or imitating something more successful.

            • guy says:

              Probably the biggest problem with DA2 as a story where the hero is just some person who can’t thwart the tide of history is that Hawke manages to screw things up on a grand scale that alters the very shape of the world. He/She is personally responsible for unearthing the Ancient Thaig and then proceeds to let Bertraim wander off with the cursed artifact of doom (though, granted, with normal lyrium letting a dwarf carry it would be the smart move) that comes back to transform everything into utter disaster and trigger the world-spanning war that’s going to be the backdrop for Inquisition. Hawke then subsequently deliberately allows a known Abomination to escape on two occasions and subsequently kill hundreds of people, including the person who at least theoretically could have kept Hawke’s previous disastrous mistake from screwing up the entire world.

              Also, Hawke participates in a plot by rogue Chantry members to trigger a major diplomatic incident with the Qunari, but that’s more in the realm of things that would most likely have happened without Hawke’s involvement at all and the Arishok doesn’t appear to have minded that particular incident.

              • Mike S. says:

                Unearthing the Ancient Artifact of Doom is at least a pretty standard thing for a hero to do. (Going back to the ur-example of Ancient Artifacts of Doom and Mr. B. Baggins.)

                But it’s true that the other bit is tougher to swallow, because the aforementioned Abomination isn’t exactly being subtle about having some sort of radical plan, even if the shape of it isn’t clear. And if Hawke isn’t sympathetic with his goals, she certainly should be in a position to intervene against someone whose very existence is illegal if it were to become common knowledge.

                (I’m still not sure if they were too clever by half with the quest to send Hawke for ingredients. Lots of players are going to know what “sela petrae” and “drakestone” might be components to– especially if combined with, say, charcoal– but of course Hawke wouldn’t. On the other hand, the only difference it makes is to what extent Hawke is made to have unknowingly participated in the outcome, and I think it’s possible to flat-out refuse that quest.)

                • guy says:

                  Well, I think I got a somewhat weird outcome, personally. See, back in an early-ish quest where you rescue a mage from templars (IIRC, it’s part of a larger quest where you sneak into the Gallows), she freaks out about Anders being possessed, and he loses it and nearly murders her. At that point, there’s an option to throw him out of the party and tell him to get out of the city, which I took.

                  I think I lost every character you could lose prior to endgame, and I just had Varric, Aveline, Merril, and Fenris. There’s a quest where a party member gets kidnapped, and apparently the person who wasn’t in my active party when it triggered was ineligable, so Anders was kidnapped and used as a hostage, and I was required to go rescue him and let him just wander off. Never actually got the quest to help collect materials.

                  • Mike S. says:

                    I’m actually impressed that the game lets you dump Anders. So aside from the kidnap plot, does he just pop back up for his big bang?

                    • guy says:

                      Pretty much, yeah. I don’t think he makes any onscreen appearances except for those two. You do still wind up with his pamphlets in your house and stuff, though, so presumably he slipped back into the city at some point.

        • guy says:

          One reason why it made me so mad in DAII is that they botched the mechanical implementation. They don’t change your in-game map to reflect the passages they’ve blocked off, simultaneously making it abundantly clear what’s happening and transforming fairly simple spaces into confusing mazes.

          I’m not sure ME1 changed the maps, but there was at most one door that was/wasn’t sealed.

  3. Re: “I want a Star Wars game where no one’s a Jedi.”

    Wasn’t that supposed to be 1313?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Isnt it also pointless?I mean,if you arent going to involve jedi,why make a starwars thing then?Why not a new setting?

      • I wouldn’t say it’s pointless at all. In fact, dialing back the Jedi would help the franchise a bit, I think. They’ve kind of become like Superman, in that they’re a universal problem-solver and/or plot device that makes a lot of the rest of the world and characters secondary.

        As it is, Star Wars is becoming a lot like Harry Potter: If you aren’t a wizard, you’re not a part of the core plot. Star Wars should be different, in that you’ve got this whole galaxy of aliens, droids, starships, lost civilizations, etc. that can be out there, but we’re going to keep going on about internal conflict and light side/dark side woowoo that really doesn’t hold together the longer you look at it. It’s as if they’re making Gandalf the main character in The Lord of the Rings when there’s so much more potential in the setting.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Thats because this whole galaxy sans jedi is basically a whole galaxy in any other setting.Again,why not just make a new franchise,introduce all the extra terrestrials you want,and do with them whatever.

          I mean,imagine what would harry potter look like without wizards and witches:Exactly the same world we have now.And there are a bunch of stories in the world we have now,no need to include some wizards in it that will never be used in any meaningful fashion.

          • I didn’t say their universe should be bereft of them, but here’s the thing about the Jedi: They’re rare enough that they’re shrouded in mystery, and there are few enough of them that after they’re wiped out, people think they (and the Force) are BS about 20 years after they’re gone (from General Order 66 to Episode IV). This is even with a friggin’ Sith lord and his apprentice running the galactic empire.

            If you changed the name from Star Wars to Jedi Academy, you might have a point, but this isn’t a movie franchise that’s exclusively about Hogwarts for Force-Sensitives, is it? One thing Harry Plinkett really nailed with his prequel trilogy reviews is how lightsabers and the Force became un-special thanks to Episodes I-III. Both were whipped out at the drop of a hat compared to the original three movies. Maybe that was due to budgetary constraints, but it made the Force something special and not a Swiss Army Lightsaber that would end just about every problem, so long as it looked cool.

            • JackTheStripper says:

              Right, the Original Trilogy speaks of the Jedi as legends. People who no longer exist. One of Darth Vader’s own officers even refers to The Force as an “ancient religion” while in Vader’s presence (to which Vader responds to by force-chocking him). Also, lightsabers were used sparingly, and not exclusively either. In Return of the Jedi, Luke still prefers to use his laser pistol over his lightsaber on several occasions.

              Then the Prequel Trilogy came around and now everyone’s a jedi and have lightsabers so that they can all go fsht! Vwoom! Bwom! Psh! Ksh! Woowoowoo! Vsh! Sha! Every single fight scene.

              Anyway, going back to the original point, a good example of a Star Wars game without Jedis is the one mentioned by Randy in this same Diecast: Shadows of the Empire. In that story, the only Jedi that appears is Luke and he is never seen fighting anyone or doing anything other than talk. The whole game is about Dash Rendar’s adventures helping the Rebels against some criminal syndicate that has ties with the Empire. Not a single lightsaber or Force move is shown and the game is one of the best Star Wars games around.

              • Mike S. says:

                I got the impression that the guy dissing Jedi in Star Wars was a peer of Vader’s, with them both reporting to Tarkin, rather than a subordinate.

                But that’s one of the things that changed over time, even as the original trilogy unfolded . Vader’s a mid-level operator in the first movie, not the number two man in the galaxy. And the Empire as a whole in that movie seems to be a technocratic organization in which Vader is a useful and therefore tolerated anachronism. (Not the fulcrum of a galactic struggle between Force-using orders, in which the Empire itself is fundamentally a tool.) The Jedi (and later the Sith) really are the tail that winds up wagging the dog.

      • ehlijen says:

        Because X-wing, Tie Figher, their sequels, Dark Forces, the Rebel Assaults and Republic Commando were successful even without making the player a jedi?

        In the original trilogy, jedi were few, mysterious and not the main focus of the story. There is a lot of room for stories not about jedi in star wars. To say star wars must be about jedi or not have anything on its own is, in my opinion, a denial of the effort many people have put into the franchise.

        • Felblood says:

          “In the original trilogy, jedi were few, mysterious and not the main focus of the story.”

          Except that the entire star war is just a backdrop for drama involving the few remaining force users.

          • And there were only three Jedi in that whole series: One died in the first film and cameo’d in the second and third, the other had a role in the second and died in the third. There weren’t scads of Jedi all over the place to the point that they were practically another mook army (like in episodes II and III).

            Again, they don’t have to be the focus, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a part of the world. They’re coolest when they ARE mysterious and kind of unknown, because the more you nail down stuff about them, the closer you get to freakin’ midichlorians. And how many more characters do we need whose sole purpose is to pick light side vs. dark side? I think Han Solo was the most interesting character in the whole series, and he was just a regular dude.

          • ehlijen says:

            I vehemently disagree with this. The core of the movies was the struggle of free people against an oppressive empire.

            Yes, Luke was the main character of A New Hope. But what did he really achieve in Strikes Back or Return?

            He got shot down on Hoth, leaving Wedge to have to do the cable stunt.
            He got some lessons…which he then ignored to go charging off to the rescue, but:
            his friends had already rescued themselves from the trap for Luke and had to save him instead!

            In Return he is part of a convoluted plan to save Han, sure. But after that?
            He goes on the secret mission…and abandons it. He confronts the Emperor, but that face off isn’t resolved until after Han destroys the shield and the Rebel fleet prevails against infinite odds on their own strength.
            Luke saves Darth Vader, but the free people of the Galaxy win the day on their own.

            The major characters also included Han Solo (not a force user), Leia (never used the force in the movies, even after she learned she could) and the droids (who might have the force, I admit. else they’d be scrap by now).

            If you can look at the original trilogy and say they’re all just about the force, then I don’t know what movies you’ve been watching.

            • Mike S. says:

              Before the prequel trilogy, even the official tie-ins (whatever one wants to say about their quality) weren’t notably Jedi-focused. Holiday Special (Wookiees vs. Empire, with a brief cameo by Luke in which IIRC he’s working on his X-Wing, no Force required). Ewoks. Droids.

              As far as I can tell, the Force only ate the universe after the prequels. Which I suppose is another count to be laid against their door.

            • Joe Informatico says:

              Yeah, I’d argue that as presented in the original trilogy, the death of the Emperor, while the capstone to a compelling human drama with important story themes, isn’t as crucial to the Alliance’s success as destroying the One Ring is to the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth in Lord of the Rings.

              • I’m not sure where it was put in the lore, and I’d call it pretty much a retcon, but fans will argue that the Emperor was somehow directing the battle (further elevating Jedi/Sith to Mary Sue status as “army glue” holding combatants together, nudging them subconsciously so they better coordinate, etc.) and when he got reactor shafted, everything fell apart for the Empire’s side.

                This didn’t come up in the prequels to my knowledge. You’d think such a power would’ve set off an alarm bell or three if the Jedi were influencing the minds of the clone troops when (and before) the order went through to ludicrously kill them.

                • Mike S. says:

                  I’m assuming the idea must have shown up before KoTOR, since Bastila Shan’s “battle meditation” in that game, which makes her a McGuffin in the first act, is pretty clearly based on it.

                  Edit to add: Why am I speculating, when top Star Wars geeks have explored the question more deeply than I ever could? Wookieepedia credits the idea to Timothy Zahn in Heir to the Empire, where (of course) Grand Admiral Thrawn explains where the Emperor went wrong with it. (Giving it the name “battle meditation” comes from KoTOR.) http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Battle_meditation

                • ehlijen says:

                  That idea originated in the Thrawn trilogy (and was supported in the Rebellion computer game).

                  But even so, the emperor’s death was not the turning point:
                  -The ground battle had already been won (and here the emperor relied on conventional troops to do his fighting)
                  -the shield was down
                  -the fighter attack run was well under way (and would likely end in the death of the emperor even if Luke hadn’t turned vader)
                  -despite the death star laser being operational and a vast numerical advantage, the empire had made little apparent progress against the rebel fleet (note how the greatest sith force user choses to rely on the death star laser towin this battle, not the force or even his force coordinated fleet)

                  The only major event in the fight to occur after the death of the emperor was the destruction of the super star destroyer. And that really had no impact on who’d win the battle (reactor run already underway), at worst not happening would have made it a martyr victory for the rebels.

                  But I’d say the Jedification of star wars began with Dark Forces II, Jedi Knight. Dark Forces one had deliberately not made the main character a jedi so as to not result in a shooter where the mystic, peace loving jedi would be shown to chop down hordes of dudes with a lightsaber. But apparently the request for lightsabers to be added was so common that lucasarts change stance for the sequel.

  4. lethal_guitar says:

    So have you already decided which graphics card you’re going to get, Shamus?

    I’d highly recommend the new GTX 970, really great price to performance ratio.

    • Mike S. says:

      If you can find one. :-) I was hoping to get one for my wife for her birthday to replace her HD 6950 in advance of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s release, but they’re perpetually out of stock. Maybe by the holidays.

      (The 6950 will probably work fine. But I’m guessing pushing full resolution to her WQHD screen will require downshifting to lower than max settings or else lower than native resolution.)

      • lethal_guitar says:

        Yeah that’s the problem with these new cards – everybody wants one. I initially wanted to get the 980 Gaming edition by MSI, shortly after release.. but it was out of stock everywhere I looked. Except for some shady online shops offering them for 150% of the normal price.. So in the end, I got the one from Gigabyte, and I’m happy with it so far.

  5. Cybron says:

    I love King of Dragon Pass. It’s a fantastic game, and I’d definitely recommend anyone who thought the description sounded appealing play it. I also might append the tagline “text-based dwarf fortress with pseudo-vikings,” though it’s less like the building part of dwarf fortress and more about the handling weird situations.

    That said, I don’t think the bit about magic being “maybe real” (cool as that might be) is a very accurate description. If you read the battle reports, for instance, every once in a while certain worshipers of a particular god will actually throw lightning. There are a few other things that are pretty explicitly magic (like the hero quests), plus several very real (and threatening) fantasy races. The game itself does feel rather low magic compared to typical fantasy, thoughh, because D&D style blow-em-up magic is by and large absent. It focuses more on immaterial things and is more integrated with the world, which is how one might get the ‘magic might not be real’ impression.

    The setting itself is based off the old Runequest tabletop RPG setting, Glorantha, which you can read about here (though you may want to avoid reading them if you’re looking to play the game; knowing too much can spoil some surprises):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glorantha
    http://www.glorantha.com/glorantha/

    King of Dragon Pass is set in a very small fraction of that setting (Dragon Pass), which is populated by people that the larger setting regards as backwards and primitive. This isn’t reflected in the game, of course, because you’re seeing events from their point of view. They have a very particular interpretation of the world (which is wrong or fractured in some parts) and the game does a very good job of immersing you in that worldview. It trains you to immerse yourself and view the world as the Orlanthi do. Much of your success comes from successfully applying Orlanthi logic to the world and behaving in ways that comply with their standards of behavior. I think it’s less a management game and more a roleplaying game.

    My only complaint about the game is that once you reach a certain amount of knowledge the game becomes very easy. Once you’ve discovered the majority of the events and how to beat them there’s not much left to do. Until then, though, the game is very cool and pretty fun.

    • Raunomies says:

      I absolutely adore this game, it was and is so different from anything else. I still have the original cd somewhere. But now it may be easier to get it on GoG or for Android or iOS tablets.

    • Humanoid says:

      My chief complaint about the game is that due to your tribe’s development being somewhat constrained (one might say railroaded) in order to stay “true” to the setting, a lot of games end up being rather samey. The event that always fires when your tribe reaches a certain size for example, that essentially forces you to split off a branch in order to enforce relative power parity. Events and factions (the various cultures that live on the edges of the map) that are literally undefeatable, which give effectively instant game overs.

      Fans of the setting might appreciate it I guess, keeping it all neat and tidy in the context of canon. But for someone who doesn’t give a stuff about it, it’s just an annoying arbitrary limitation that does nothing but hinder replayability.

      I feel the same way about many licenced games, ultimately the IP becomes nothing more than a straitjacket. Prime example: every Star Wars game ever.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    As if you needed more proof that Gabe Newell is a god,Shamus confirms that he changed lives.

  7. Theminimanx says:

    So Rutskarn is now some sort of invisible stalker-host, capable of hosting a podcast without talking or other people even knowing he’s there.

  8. Corpital says:

    Marlow Briggs and the Occulus of Puking?

    Anyway, I’ve been playing a lot of Sunless Sea since the combat update and even continued playing Fallen London a bit and a game in the Neath could be really interesting on the Rift, after all a lot of the world is centered around being sick and mad, so it could use the hardware to it’s fullest.

  9. Steve C says:

    Randy you seem like a nice guy but your mic needs to die in a fire.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Randy you seem like a nice guy”

      Bwahahahahahahahaha!Go watch the first season on spoiler warning and youll realize why that is so funny.He is awesome,but he is definitely not nice.

      • Humanoid says:

        By far the most mellow-sounding of the SW hosts though, always listenable. If I were to choose hosts based on voice alone, the Diecast would be the Randy and Jibar show.

  10. brashieel says:

    On the one hand, glad for new Diecast. On the other hand, ashamed at the state of gaming culture that Mumbles basically decided it’s too toxic to be worth the risk right now.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Don’t use her to make your point. Make it yourself. You’re using her as an excuse to drag a topic into this comment thread that has nothing to do with this week’s Diecast. This site has a forum. Thats the place to bring this up.

    • Jokerman says:

      I must be out of the loop… what’s up with Mumbles?

      • evileeyore says:

        My guess, the gamergate nonsense/war/slurfest. She doesn’t want to get drug into it or get any of it on her.

        Don’t much blame her.

        • qosiejfr oiq qp says:

          Not everything has to be political. Rutskarn isn’t here but that doesn’t have to mean it’s because of [internet controversy]. She has activities outside the podcast, maybe she didn’t have the time, energy or interest to do a podcast.

          Also the whole gg bullshit is pretty distant from this site and from a podcast that’s about 3-4-5 people chatting about what they played the week before.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Its good not to make assumptions. With that sentiment I agree. But she did post on Twitter that she’s not here because of Gamer Gate. If you go to her twitter and look back a few days, you’ll find it.

            I found the post and was about to post the link but honestly I want this all to go away as much as everybody else and I feel like linking to a raw moment in her life would be contributing to this all not going away.

            And she’s not dwelling on it. At least she’s not openly. Any other thoughts I have about this are reserved for the forums (and not really worth getting into).

  11. Steve C says:

    Campster talking about being eaten by the alien oculus rift style sounds fairly horrific and appropriate to a horror game. It’s way up there on the awful way to die list. Like what happened to Olga Moskalyova. Here’s a video summary for tl’dr crowd. Without experiencing the game +oculus myself I’ll trust Campster’s opinion that it’s silly due to his beard. The plain opinionated description sounds like true horror. (BTW that story is fake from a tabloid- still told well though.)

    • ET says:

      When Chris and Josh were going over that type of situation, all I could think of, is the classic “Oh crap, I think I’m dead now.” scene, that’s in lots of war movies.* Like, I do think it would be silly if the game completely left you on your own, to see that you’ve been killed, but if it maybe flashed the screen red when you stopped moving, then you would be clued in, to look around for the alien currently chewing on your spine. It’d be something to experiment with for sure, finding the right amount of signals to indicate to the player that they’re gravely injured, but not so much that it seems comical.

      * Or really any film where somebody gets shot without realizing it.

      • Alex says:

        Yeah, clearly the player needs some kind of feedback to know they’re dead – it’s not like the character wouldn’t know something bad just happened when they get impaled.

        On the other hand, if there’s ever a time to induce simulator sickness in the player it’s when your character just got stabbed through the torso, so I wonder if the simulator sickness itself could be an asset in this case.

  12. Felblood says:

    Oh man!

    I have been dying for you guys to talk about Shadow of Mordor, so I have a place to argue with Shamus’ blasphemous twitter rants. 140 characters just doesn’t work for guys who talk in semicolons; I need to make too many clarifying statements for twitter to be feasible. ( I don’t know how anyone communicate successfully online without saying everything twice to ensure the correct meaning is conveyed; text-only content is too ambiguous in our language.)

    I will agree that the tone of the writing is all over the map. Ratbag, in particular is a mess, but other than Sauron and Celebrimbor, nobody is written consistently or sensibly. None of these fixed characters are driven by their own motives, so much as what makes the plot work.

    I did however, love the ending, which everyone else seems to have hated. This is weird because I hate the rest of the story, which many people seemed to like, and that’s the reason I liked the ending. Talion and Celebrimbor spend the ENTIRE GAME doing quests for nobody NPCs whose primary function is to either die as a poorly timed joke, or to show up in spin off merchandise. I was less than halfway through the game when I got sick of that BS. Then at the end of the game, Talion completes his given quest, and gets his revenge and his eternal reward, and the quest-giver is giving him his happily ever after, WHEN HE FINALLY ENDS THE SECOND ACT. (Mark you, it would be nice if I got all 3 Acts of the 3 act arc for the price of admission, rather than being on the hook for DLC, but that’s why God gave me this hook for a hand.)

    Talion the Generic, DOES SOMETHING. He says to himself, “Screw the plot, I have the tools, I have the skills, I have the will, why am I going to let myself be upstaged by a couple of hobbits?” Maybe licensed gaming has finally broken my will, but this caught me completely off-guard. A spin-off protagonist who decides that he doesn’t want to exist stage left and fade away when he gets too close to the canon peaks my interest; Talion was born to be disposable throw-away character, and I liked that his decision to stick around and do more acts of good, even though it came between him and the one thing he was previously established to care about was his own. The tragedy is that, like Dash Rendar and Kyle Katarn before him, when he draws to close to the real plot, they’ll have to find ever more creative ways to explain why he isn’t more important than Aragorn or Frodo, without killing him off and losing a cash cow.

    In summary, I would take Talion over all the Assassins, especially Desmond Bland.

    As to the combat. I think the familiarity of the basic combat and sneaking mechanics was deliberate and necessary. The basic mechanics are intended to be easy, because they aren’t the stars of the mechanical design, and they didn’t want to waste too much time teaching them to players. Then the game chokes on it’s own lack of confidence and makes a wa~a~a~y too long tutorial for this combat system, capstoned with the bossfight against the Hammer (which is the absolute low-point of the game). Half of the game is a tutorial for the basic combat, and the second half is all about a much more interesting set of mechanics that play off of those. You get access to the real toys at the end game, for insane reasons.

    Seriously, once you get branding, the game is far better. Stealth failure is more punishing (you’ll lose a lot of branded guys if you get spotted). Nemesis opens up a lot more (you can put together a specialist team to take out that invincible orc, or a special team that ).

    To Shamus’ complaints about the combat being too different for Arkham: Would you have liked it more if it was just like Arkham? If seems that the more forgiving mechanics pissed you off because you had mastered the harder ones, and you missed a game that dared you to be more. I haven’t logged nearly as many hour of Arkham as you, and my lack of skill let me to immediately notice a difference: countering is a lot harder than in Arkham (the window is narrower), but dodging is easier. This probably means nothing to a master such as yourself, but I appreciated that there was a benefit for taking the riskier option, when I had two methods of defense. Likewise, I found the cape stun in Arkham too difficult to use reliably, but wraith stun is my go-to method of killing anyone who isn’t immune to it. (Even if a character has Combat Mastery and can’t be hurt by melee finishers, the first hits of a stun-flurry still deal damage. Just let your flurry stop before it reaches the finishing move, and you won’t get countered.)

    As to the randomness of the Nemesis system. I found the best parts of the game were when I found a boss I couldn’t defeat with my usual tools and I needed to practice some of my other abilities or even get some new ones. One guy was functionally immune to everything but explosions, and luring him to a place where I could take him down felt really great, even though I later got some orcs who rapid shoot explosive arrows, making such tactics obsolete.

    • Shamus says:

      Just to clarify: I am by no means a master of the Arkham games. I’ve played a lot, but the hard mode challenge scenarios are still(!) mostly beyond me.

      • Ivan says:

        I will say it is very disappointing to hear that the combat is like Arkham whatever but easier. The only reason I haven’t played shadows yet is because Styx: Master of Shadows, came out the day after or something like that and was $10 cheaper. In any case, my approach to each batman game is to crank the difficulty up to max and muscle my way through that. Even then though I found it disappointing that the difficulty in Arkham City hit a plateau half way through and I’ve caught myself thinking that Origins feels like one big QTE already (though I think the fault of that is from the actual QTEs that appear during boss fights).

        I don’t know if I could make it through a game that is pretty much Arkham combat but easier. It might all be worth it to have a look at that Nemesis system though. And finding ways to kill enemies as hard as the one Shamus was being tormented by does sound like a fun challenge. Shame about the stealth system though.

        • Deadpool says:

          18:40 For the fast running, arrow guy. Draining people gives you free arrows. And Shadow Strike counts as ranged and is great for catching running people…

          “As to the randomness of the Nemesis system. I found the best parts of the game were when I found a boss I couldn’t defeat with my usual tools ”

          Probably my favorite thing about the randomly super badass Orcs.

          My favorite was a guy who was immune to ranged, stealth, Monster Slayer, powers up mobs around him and can’t be terrified… So the only means to hurt him was Combat Finishers.

          He was also Power Level 20 BEFORE I killed the Hammer, partially because I sent him a Death Threat, which meant he was surrounded by about 40-50 random guys surrounding him, AND he was a Warchief Bodyguard, which meant I more or less had to kill him first (or else it’d be harder).

          I stalked him for a while trying to figure a way to kill him, some sort of weakness… And then I found it. Not his weakness, his strength. He was immune to being terrified. So I drop a hive of Mogzhai Flies in the room. His mobs dash out of the room, leaving him alone. I attract some Cazadors on the outside room to keep them busy, while I jump down and fight this jackass one on one then jump out the window before the mobs get me…

        • Hydralysk says:

          It gets way easier than Arkham combat near the end.

          You get an ability that costs 2 ‘ammo’ that will instantly kill any non boss orc, and you can have up to 12 or 14 ammo at a time after upgrading. This means any special orc like the ones with the shields or the ones that can counter you can be instantly eliminated without risk. What’s worse, you get a finisher move that can be activated after 8 hits that not only refills 5 ammo for your ability but also forces the enemy it’s used on to fight on your side.

          You get so overpowered by the end of the game fights become downright boring.

      • Felblood says:

        Yeah, but compared to me, you might as well be Kung Fu Tze himself. I suck at this game, and I think that made me enjoy it way more.

        I’d seen a couple of let’s plays, from players of varying skill levels, so I knew a lot of tricks and tactics to help me compensate, but battles that are trivial to a pro gamer gave me a lot of interesting decisions, trying to find a way to give myself enough advantages to survive.

        When I started playing this game I had to focus on stealth kills or pick of single orcs who wandered away from the pack. If a second guy got behind me, I had to run or die. In no small part because I was used to Arkham’s more forgiving counter windows. I got better, in no small part because the random Nemesis guys force you to learn all the systems to advance, but those first few hours were very rough.

  13. Steve C says:

    Campster’s wife screaming, “I don’t want to do this anymore! I don’t want to do this anymore!” and running into the bedroom is better than all the times she said that running out.
    (You set yourself up too well to let that one pass. I’m sure if Rutskarn was there he would have said it.)

  14. Felblood says:

    Okay, I have an idea. This is going to sound crazy, but hear me out.

    Spoiler Warning: Shadow of Mordor.

    It’s short, so it won’t likely outstay it’s welcome.

    It has all kinds of toys that Josh can play with to create zany shenanigans.

    The least entertaining parts of the game (cutscenes, walking-and-talking bits, and boss fights) are the ones most likely to evoke conversation. These are the kinds of games that Spoiler Warning best improves.

    If you do run out of content, Shamus can fill hours ranting about how much he hated various things. Every season has this fail-safe.

    This is basically the only game I have watched non-Spoiler Warning Let’s plays of in over a year. I have watched 3. Each one brought an entirely different approach, and I even liked watching the guy who didn’t get it muddle his way through.

    • Shamus says:

      Josh HATES the Mordor / Arkham combat really bad. SoM is a non-starter for him. I could do it, but I can’t play and comment at the same time, and it would drive me crazt to not get to comment on this game.

      I’m not ruling it out entirely, but there would need to be some kind of change in our lineup to make it possible.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        What about Chris?He is the best player out of all of you after all.

        • Alexander The 1st says:

          “Oh great Chris – 10 hours in, and you haven’t died or failed a stealth challenge once. How are we supposed to comment on the Nemesis system now?”

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Well you still get some nemeses even if you play perfectly.Practically any time you kill an orc without chopping off their head,thers a chance they will end up being just mostly dead,and theyll return.Though I guess then you are their nemesis instead.At least thats how I got lûgdash the friendly to be my pincushion of choice.I think its funnier that way,when you feel sad for the guy constantly trying to murder you,and failing.

  15. guy says:

    I love some of the KoDP advisors. For instance, some of them can be crazy, and always talk about how you need to be fighting elves/zombies. Or they always respond to events with obscure proverbs, and then your ancesteral ghosts show up in the clan hall and tell you to fire your advisor because the proverbs are getting on their nerves.

    Also, one of my favorite things with the heroquests is that if the quester is sufficently awesome, you can sequence break them. For instance, in “Orlanth and Aroka”, the story is supposed to be that Orlanth fights Dagda, god of drought, but is defeated and must seek the rain god Heler, battling four enemies and taking something from each one before slaying the dragon Aroka and rescuing Heler. You can do that, or you can slay Dagda in single combat and instantly end the quest. It doesn’t count as a success for your counters, succeeding at the drought event, boosting your magic total, and possibly the extra boon to your crops, but it also doesn’t slap you with the penalty for failure you do get one of the treasure rewards and the knowledge that your quester is more awesome than your warrior civilization’s chief god, since for reasons relating to the confusing nature of time in the godplane, he or she literally killed an evil god in single combat.

    There’s also a great event where a ghost starts haunting one of your clan’s houses, and you can send your lawyer to sue it into going away. And it works.

    • Cybron says:

      Worshipers of Eurmal make the best advisors. Always trust the trickster. What could go wrong?

      • guy says:

        They actually sometimes do. You occasionally get an event where the Trickster gives away an entire herd of cattle because they’re funny-looking. The clan gets upset if you don’t take them back, but if you do you’re going to have a “broos have infested the cattle” event soon enough.

        • Cybron says:

          Yep. There’s also various other benefits to keeping one around. They can occasionally bring home unexpected treasures from certain negotiations and pull off similar crazy stuff at times. They also have above average stats (which would be great if they weren’t so unreliable).

          Their advice is pretty suspect most of the time though.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Maybe the new penny arcade comic will make you mellower about shadows of more door.

  17. Adam says:

    Hey, Shamus! You should make some spooky techno stuff for the invariable halloween-themed episode!

  18. Neil D says:

    Thanks for the Hammurabi sidebar, Shamus! Something was tugging at the back of my mind, but I couldn’t place it until you mentioned the name. I remember playing it on my TRS-80 Model 1 – in fact, I think I typed it in (though likely a very small version of it). Awesome memories.

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I think you guys wouldve loved shadows of more door if you got a nemesis like I did:
    Lûgdash the friendly.He was afraid of betrayal and vulnerable to stealth finishers.Ive killed him a total of four times,before he stopped coming back in ever more ridiculous clothes.

  20. Blovsk says:

    This music is awesome and fits the show way better than Joypuke : )

  21. MichaelGC says:

    Just on the Shadow of Murder guy’s name – it’s not Shakespeare, or anything, but there is a little more to it than ‘Generic Brodude, Tolkien-edition’:

    the English word talion (from the Latin talio) means a retaliation authorized by law, in which the punishment corresponds in kind and degree to the injury.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_for_an_eye

    • Mike S. says:

      Though Tolkien was consciously trying to avoid Latinate naming allusions in favor of Anglo-Saxon, since all of Middle Earth was in part an attempt to create something specifically English. (While the Elvish languages were modeled on Welsh and Finnish, with the challenge being getting the two to still be related to one another. :-) )

      Sometimes Romance language bits sneaked back in despite him: while the “Mor” element in many of Tolkien’s names had an internal-to-the-world meaning of “black”, the connotation of those words to readers was certainly influenced by Latin/French “mor(t)-” words, where it means death.

      (He’d still have probably avoided an obvious classical term like “talion”, though.)

      • MichaelGC says:

        Well, I’m glad I said ‘not Shakespeare’ – but more to the point it’s clearly ‘not Tolkien’ either! Ah well. Better than e.g. “Blake Thrust” or “Chuck Evisceratesyer.” Just not vastly better… :D

  22. How much of a truly accurate Tolkien-esque game would consist of walking, eating, nearly dying, and getting rescued by wizards or elves?

  23. Bloodsquirrel says:

    D&D was actually a mash-up of Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and HP Lovecraft, which is why a lot of the ideas in it don’t fit in with pure Tolkien.

    Most of what I hear about DAIII sounds good, but I don’t trust Bioware in the slightest. After fans accurately called out DAII as a dumbed-down button masher and Bioware kept insisting that it wasn’t….

    • Mike S. says:

      Also Fritz Lieber. But yeah, by all reports, Gygax didn’t even like Tolkien all that much. Though obviously that didn’t prevent lifting hobbits, ents, orcs, and decidedly Tolkienesque elves and dwarves. (On the other hand, D&D trolls were from Poul Anderson.)

      • phill says:

        I was hoping someone would mention Lieber since I’d forgotten his name. But yeah, the action in D&D owes a lot more to Howard and Lieber, for all the elements of the setting taken from Tolkein.

        It’s nice to see people remembering to Runequest and Glorantha though. The late bronze age setting and complex (and ambiguous) lore stuck me as much more interesting than any of the prepacked settings that D&D had. The game system was much more coherent too.

        There were only really three RPGs when I started playing: D&D, Runequest traveler (sci fi game). They all had radically different systems. In some ways, D&D, with its rigid class system, weirdly scaling combat system, and arbitrary mishmash of made-up-on-the-fly systems was the worst one to become the basis of most modern computer RPGs

        • Mike S. says:

          There is a huge and obtrusive founder effect in cRPGs. (Western ones, anyway– I haven’t played enough jRPGs to know if it applies to them.) Looking at the difference between that and tabletop RPGs, it’s as if you had an entire continent colonized by Romans in the first century still speaking classical Latin (with a highly modified vocabulary and a bunch of pronunciation changes, but essentially the same grammar), at the same time as Europeans were speaking Portuguese to Romanian, where they weren’t using Germanic or Finno-Ugric languages instead.

          Not quite comparable, I suppose, since D&D and its close variants like Pathfinder are still easily dominant in sales. But even late versions of tabletop D&D and its clones are in some ways farther from 1st ed. AD&D than many cRPGs are. And I rarely see anything in cRPGs straying as far from those roots as, say, Feng Shui (which is still a class-based, combat-focused adventure game), let alone something like Nobilis or Unknown Armies or Gumshoe or DramaSystem.

          (As witness that “RPG elements” in some computer game contexts means “having D&D-like stats and crunchy bits and inventory” rather than “playing a role”. Diablo is an RPG, despite having essentially no role-playing, and I’ve seen games criticized as “not real RPGs” for not having inventory management or trash loot.)

          • Zukhramm says:

            The JRPG has that but doubled as they are in turn inspired by western computer RPGs, which is why we still see a lot of first person dungeon crawlers from Japan. Of course, there’s been plenty of mutation along the way, leading to games like FFXIII.

        • Mike S. says:

          Re D&D inspirations, I should also give a shoutout to Jack Vance, from whom the whole “memorize a number of spells, each of which disappears from your mind when it’s cast” system was lifted wholesale. (Along with a host of magic items.) It’s so made to be a game mechanic, it’s hard to imagine just what D&D magic might have looked like if The Dying Earth had never been written.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I’m pretty sure the magic in KoDP is real. A lot you could interpret as superstition but just off the top of my head there is an event where some Orlanth worshipers straight up fly into your town, and another where guys working for the Pharaoh kill half your clan ring with magic if you piss them off.

  25. phill says:

    Ah, the TI 99/4-A (they also made the TI 99/4, so technically that is two compete they made…) was my first computer and the one that I first learned to program on. And the one for which I wrote my first game. It was a pretty good system to learn basic programming on. Hmmmmm… nostalgia.

    • Mike S. says:

      As the proud owner of an Atari 800 during that era, I think we have to fight now.

      (Unless we should just team up against those smug Apple ][ owners, or the C64-come-latelies.)

      • Point of order: Commodore sold 4,000 PET computers in ’78, a year before the TI 99/4 or Atari 800 even came to market. And while the C-64 came out in ’82, it holds the distinction of being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the top-selling single computer model* of all time.

        Load “pwnt”,8,1 :)

        * Note that this probably won’t be achieved again due to the variety of computer models offered now and the customizability of said models. It was measured back when there were a fraction of the computer brands there are today, so it’s hard to apply against today’s sales unless you do things like consolidate them into “MacOS,” “Windows,” and “Linux” or something.

  26. James says:

    So am I the only one who likes those old inventory systems and managing them? Cause I loved ME1’s inventory system, you could do some crazy awesome stuff with the upgrades yah it could have been implemented better but seeing your gun do cool new things felt good. I mean in ME1 I had a handgun that couldn’t overhead, slowed enemies down and stops Krogen in their tracks. Even if after the game Shepard shoves it up his ass and only takes it out in ME3’s ending(seriously were did my god pistol go).

    As for Arkham vs SOM I think the easier combos is in their because while batman can take on allot of enemies Talion is fighting off dozens at a time, the change is supposed to kill enough to not get overrun especially when your fighting the boss orcs. Overall i actually enjoyed SOM its not perfect, or even better than batman but its fun, later parts can be fairly difficult and I liked the Nemesis system, its like the perfect death mechanic, the game takes into account your death and it gets harder because of your death. I do agree that the Middle earth setting is distracting, it was not needed. Not being part of the LOTR lore may have helped it alot.

    • Mike S. says:

      But surely the part where the inventory filled up with a hundred trash guns, which you had to sell or convert to omnigel one-by-one— and once the inventory was full, had to do it right now, even if there are a million geth on the other side of the doorway– still wasn’t fun?

  27. Nixitur says:

    This is just rumor, but I’ve heard that Youtubers that were paid to make a Shadow Of Murder video were instructed to never mention Lord Of The Rings at all.
    That, allegedly, is how far they went to dissociate themselves from “boring, nerdy” Tolkien.

  28. Artur CalDazar says:

    I bought King of Dragon Pass ages ago after somebody recommended it to me in response to my enjoyment of the Banner Saga, and it’s a really hard game to play, because its not entirely consistent, at least not so far as I can tell. But its inconsistent in ways that are not annoying, and even if it was its worth it.

    A member of my circle (clan leadership) is a worshiper of the trickster god, he has proven he cannot lead any trade, raiding, questing or diplomatic party. He will render any operation he leads to moot, excepting exploration. So he’s largely useless and performs tricks such as placing a idol to his god in the temple of the clans favoured god, angering our god but moving it would anger his. He produces so much trouble, but I keep him on the circle, because he gives valuable advice, is honest about his tricks and when he turns his skills on my foes he is twice the trouble to them he ever is to me.

    I love that I can have this complicated, begrudgingly accepting relationship with this character who is on his own interesting.

    This game is everything I want in a city builder civ game thing. It is a shame that the game that lead me here, Banner Saga is so far as I can see the only game in modern times like this. Many games have aspects like it (Dragon Age Awakening has rulership aspects for example and thats my favorite part of that expansion) but there’s nothing that captures so much so well.

    I wish I didn’t do so badly at it.

    • Cybron says:

      I suppose it’s somewhat fair to call the game inconsistent. Very few options in the game are automatic failures or successes – the vast majority present a certain chance for success or failure. Certainly, some options are way better than others, but it’s possible to select the ‘wrong’ answer and still manage a good result (especially if your relevant ability is good enough). Likewise, sometimes you can pick the answer that gives the best chance of success and still fail.

      To me this is just a means of encouraging you to immerse yourself in the setting instead of taking a trial and error approach, but I could see why it might be frustrating.

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