Diecast #78: Unity, Unity, Borderlands, Beyond Earth

By Shamus
on Oct 27, 2014
Filed under:
Diecast

137 comments


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Hosts: Chris, Josh, Shamus, and Rutskarn.

Show notes:
1:00 The PC system specs for Assassins Creed Unity are kinda steep.

It used to be a regular thing: Upgrade your PC every two years or stop playing new releases. It was that simple. Then we had that nice long console generation and we got used to doing upgrades, “Every four years, maybe, or whatever.” This new console generation is likely going to force all of us to finally get around to doing those upgrades.

(Or, you know, just give Unity a pass. I dunno. I’m not your mum. Do what you like.)

Let’s remember, the real villains here are the video chipset people, because their naming system is poorly-documented balderdash.

15:00 John Riccitiello takes over as CEO of Unity. (The game engine.)

Once again I want to stress that “The company wasn’t losing money” is a completely inadequate defense. Not everyone who made money in the dot-com boom was a genius and not everyone who lost money was an idiot. There’s lots of noise in business. But when you judge the company on the merits of individual decisions, his leadership is far out of touch: The money paid for Playfish. The cost and return of buying Popcap. The green-lighting of The Old Republic. The mechanics of Project Ten Dollar. The absurd lateness and inadequacy of Origin.

He never had his finger on the pulse of gaming. Just having a couple of people who were active in the hobby as advisers could have saved the company billions.

But like we said in the show: He’s not being hired for his gaming experience, so this move makes sense. (Inasmuch as the mechanics of shopping corporations around make sense.)

28:00 Shamus is playing Borderlands the Pre-Sequel

35:00 Chris has played a bit of Beyond Earth.

43:00 Josh is playing more Crusader Kings II.

46:00 Josh got a Surface Pro and tried out Steam in-home streaming.

51:00 MAILTIME.

Greetings again from the totally-not-a-mad-scientist lab!

I have two new questions for the crew:
-Are there any games you think deserve a long form critical LP, but can’t do for spoiler warning? (either because of technical issues, veto, game mechanic, etc.) An example would be Alpha Protocol because of the short conversation timers.
-Does Chris Still hate Guy Fieri?

regards,
-Anthony

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Footnotes:



A Hundred!2017There are 137 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

  1. Thomas says:

    I hope if Steam Machines catch on, it doesn’t trigger another graphics arm race. I’m really happy with the ‘spend 7 years trying to make the best of a baseline of hardware and then jump ahead for the next 7 years deal’

    • Bropocalypse says:

      I don’t feel like Valve is the type of company to flaunt graphics capability if they don’t have to. Whether they feel they have to may not be wholly up to them, I will admit. Fortunately, they have made the vast majority of their money via their services.
      Also, you’re right in that the graphical leaps have slowed down in the past decade or so. Not like in the 90s where we had the huge jump from 2D graphics to 3D, and then the subsequent years of advancement in 3D rendering experience in both the science of graphics and the use of those technologies by game developers. These days I think the vast majority of gamers don’t care that much about polygon count, anyway. Probably because we’ve mostly approached the top of the logarithmic plateau of advancement in major performance advances. The devil’s in the details, now.

      • Thomas says:

        I think Valve’s plan is that they’d have no say in it. I’m not sure whether developers would decide to push specs or not it’d be interesting to see how it pans out. Everyone seemed ready for the next-gen jump, but would they jump again if there was no set pattern?

        • ET says:

          Has Valve ever officially stated anything on the subject? Honestly, I’d like it if Valve at least imposed some firm guidelines, specifically to avoid having an arms race. Something like, “Use approximately this much video/CPU power, for the next 5 years.”, “Don’t constantly up the specs”, etc. I really enjoyed the last decade of basically not needing to upgrade my computers. :)

          • Thomas says:

            I can’t find a specific quote now, but I’m pretty sure their talk has been about almost no product control at all. Certainly looking at the announced wave of Steam machines, it’s hard to believe that they’ve got certain spec guidelines people have to keep to. It’s lot of ‘open software’ talk

  2. Bloodsquirrel says:

    …I haven’t listened yet, but didn’t Ricky specifically leave EA because they weren’t meeting their financial goals?

  3. Leviathan902 says:

    Regarding Steam in home streaming, you really need to tweak your settings on both the host and the client.

    When I first tried streaming Assassin’s Creed 3 to my mini-laptop, the game was skipping and stuttering horribly, near to the point of motion sickness.

    Then I went in to the streaming options on both the host and the client and set everything for maximizing speed at the expense of graphics. It looked crappy at that point, but it played pretty well.

    • Eruanno says:

      I tried setting up in-home streaming with an old(ish) laptop (Core2Duo, 4GB RAM, NVIDIA 9400 graphics, wired gigabit network) I had and I could get either 720p/60fps or 1080p/30 fps, but there was always a strange little stutter happening no matter which one I picked and I kinda ended up giving up… :(

    • Primogenitor says:

      For me performance seems to really vary depending on the game – I guess that’s to do with how Steam hooks into the rendering pipeline.

      Also, it seems to need spare CPU cycles. I have two 2.4GHz quad cores, and almost always have an warning about encoding/decoding/both being too slow.

    • Mike S. says:

      Maybe I just got lucky, but I tried playing the Dishonored Brigmore Witches DLC via in-home streaming and it worked pretty well.

      It was in part an attempt to try out this whole “gaming on the couch” thing the kids today are all into. My basic orientation is much like Josh’s– gaming feels natural sitting at a desk, in my case with a mouse and keyboard. (I never had a console at home between Sears Pong and the Wii, and nothing since, so controllers still feel alien even if they’re a decades-old established tech by now.) But I’m toying with the idea of trying out one of this generation’s consoles (looking like the PS4 if it’s either). Before I commit to spending money, I wanted to at least get the feel for it, and Steam streaming fit the bill.

      For whatever it’s worth, I was streaming from a Core i5-2500K desktop to a 2010 Sony Vaio laptop with a first-gen Core i7 via gigabit Ethernet. The streaming experience was overall much better-looking than what I could manage running on the laptop itself. (It has discrete graphics that are up to running games playably at mediumish settings on its own, but the fan noise tells you that it’s working for it. :-) )

      Granted, given how clumsy I am with the controller, any loss of responsiveness due to lag was probably lost in the noise. I had to drop the difficulty to play at all.

      (One thing I didn’t realize till my wife mentioned it was that the game is still visible on the desktop monitor. She said it looked as if a ghost was playing.)

      I also discovered you can add non-Steam games and play them remotely as well, though it was buggier. (At one point Mass Effect 3 crashed, and I wound up at the other PC’s desktop. Which I could then also operate remotely.)

  4. Corpital says:

    This talk about hardware somehow made me wonder, if PCs will ever be advertised like cars. We get droned to death every day, all day with ads for cars, but usually no word is spoken about the cars performance, even the fuel consumption isn’t mentioned THAT often anymore. It’s all about the extras and knick-knacks and how totally affordable it is.

    A bit like mobile phones, where the quality of its central utility isn’t worth talking about anymore.

    • Mephane says:

      I am not sure who those car ads are even targeted at. It may be because I don’t own a car, but to me they all blur together into one single big scene of car drives through pretty backdrop accompanied by off-screen pseudo-philosophical blather.

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        Car ads are in a weird place, because almost nobody buys cars on impulse. They’re more about getting you to want to buy a car in the first place, and hopefully connecting that desire toward the right brand. Once they’ve gotten you into the dealership, then can throw numbers at you until you’re confused enough to give them money.

  5. James says:

    the odd thing i noticed with unity is it seams to need req far far above the consoles, the consoles are running on i think modified 7850’s, which is about 2-3 years old atm. but unity on PC wants a r9 270 (which is a like $300 video card)

    i suppose we should just accept that ubisoft sucks at optimization,
    also as a person who uses AMD not Nvidea i get a tiny let off this generation as the consoles are all AMD powered.

    • Eruanno says:

      Supposedly the Xbox One runs a graphics card that’s equivalent in processing power to an AMD Radeon 7750 and the Playstation 4 runs one that is similarish to a 7850 (or was it 7870?). They are both custom chips running on custom hardware with unified RAM and stuff, so take any performance comparisons with PC cards with a big grain of salt.

    • lethal_guitar says:

      “accept that Ubisoft sucks at optimization”

      Hmm, I’m not sure about that in general. It certainly seems so with their recent games (didn’t Watch Dogs also have pretty high requirements?), but OTOH, all the Assassins Creeds up to Brotherhood (maybe past that as well, but I haven’t played any of the more recent ones) run really smooth even on lower-end hardware, and look great at the same time.

      So maybe they just suck at keeping their existing engine tight and optimized while chasing “mooar grafix”..

    • Tychoxi says:

      Yeah, just another of the reasons why I have crossed Ubisoft out of my purchases. On top of UPlay, you do don’t want or care to optimize? The game will most assuredly run on lower specs than the supposed minimum, though.

    • Florian the Mediocre says:

      Unfortunately, this might not just be Ubisoft’s inability/unwillingness to optimize. Or at least not unwillingness to optimize for PC specifically.

      According to Carmack, consoles get twice the performance out of the same hardware because they ‘get less between you and the hardware.’

      If he is right, then PC Gamers may need these kinds of specs for new console titles at least until OpenGl Next and DirectX 12 (and maybe Mantle) hopefully narrow the efficiency gap.

  6. Dragmire says:

    Yay! Office chair gaming!

    Speaking of which, I need a new one. My chair is falling apart.

    I’d watch you guys play Borderlands, any of them…

  7. Benjamin Hilton says:

    I actually spent this weekend researching upgrades for my pc, and yeah the names for tech is completely bonkers. I mean hell, I’ve got a degree in computer science and even I feel like I need a cipher to decode these names.

    • Thomas says:

      It’s when you’ve got things like a Gx820 being way worse than a GT740 which is itself only on par with a GT780M or whatever, it’s completely impossible.

      At least processors on PCs seem fairly logical, when I was looking them up for a laptop, literally the only thing I could do was plug the number into a performance index and see where it came out. The numbers might as well mean nothing

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        Which is why there’s actually a niche again for custom system builders, who get to charge a premium for putting all that junk together in a working configuration into a case with adequate cooling at a noise threshold that’s comparable in absolute figures (like “This system runs idles at 45 dB at 1 meter in an open environment, and peaks at 63 dB under load. This other one idles at 50 dB, but never gets above 58 under load”).

        Of course the challenge is sifting out the competent and knowledgeable ones from the crap ones and the dishonest…

      • ET says:

        From what I was researching at Xmas time, it seems like the laptop versions of the video cards are basically the same, as far as what fancy new tech they support, but they have something like 10X – 1000X less processing power. So, the addendum for AssCreed Unity makes sense.

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          Not sure how that works, since bus, memory, core config, and clock speeds are all the same…. At least for the Nvidia lines I’m familiar with. The difference between a GEForce 310 and a GEForce 310M is basically mounting hardware and whether it comes with cooling, for example.

    • ET says:

      Would be nice if CPUs and GPUs were rated in terms of operations per second, on standardized benchmarks or something. I know you can already look this info up yourself, but if the name had a correlation to it, you wouldn’t need to. :S

      Or hell, if they just didn’t reset the model numbers. Why can’t we just have numbers where model 3000 is better than model 300? :C

      • Humanoid says:

        Even if that were done, competing architectures would mean any such numbers would have little correlation with actual gaming performance observed. I mean we live in a world where consumer advice regarding video cards tends to be tailored to specific games.

        • Benjamin Hilton says:

          Not to mention whether or not it supports whatever fancy new tech that is needed like Tress FX or the like. I was perfectly happy with my old card but it doesn’t support DirectX 11 which allot of newer stuff requires, hence the upgrade.

    • Mike S. says:

      I generally just go to Tom’s Hardware and get whatever GPU or CPU they recommend in my price range. And now they’ve expanded to motherboards, which I’ll appreciate next time.

      If it turns out that the conventional wisdom is that the site is full of charlatans, don’t tell me– I think this is an area where I’d rather feel reasonably confident than be precisely right. (See also: “Someone with a watch knows what time it is, while someone with two watches is never sure.”)

      I used to use Ars Technica’s builds as a starting point, but they don’t do them often enough these days to be particularly current.

  8. Thanatos Crows says:

    Well playing Final Fantasies with challenges (and perhaps switching them on the move) would make it interesting and there’s a lot of room for mixing and matching so that it doesen’t become too hard or too grindy. The lenght would still be a problem, though. Unless playing a low level run with lots of escaping

  9. Andy says:

    I’m sure I’d like Beyond Earth if I could actually get it to run properly. I’m having the “won’t do 1920×1080” problem and the “now it just crashes at the title screen” issue. I think I managed to take a turn, once, in several hours of fiddling with it. Given the length of some forum threads, it’s not just me.

    Pretty sure that waiting for a while before buying/playing it is the proper course of action…

    • Dragmire says:

      I had a similar problem with Civ 5, running it in windowed mode solved the crashing issue. You may want to try that.

      • Andy says:

        Civ 5 works fine (I picked it up late, after a lot of the bugs got fixed). The windowed thing is the “recommended” way to get full resolution, but it’s a terrible solution. The window border and taskbar and stuff take up way too much space, and totally clash with the aesthetic of the game. :P

        (Also, hypothetically supposing I could GET to the options to change it, without it exploding…)

        • Dragmire says:

          I fully agree with the aesthetics clash but for me it was the clash or nothing. Granted, I couldn’t take it in the end and stopped playing Civ 5 very soon after launch…

          Anyway, you can alter your shortcut into the game to start in windowed mode so getting to the settings screen isn’t an issue for that specific problem.

          “-windowed or -sw – Forces the engine to start in windowed mode.”

          I just can’t remember exactly where to put it so this works.

          • Florian the Mediocre says:

            You could try to download a program to switch the game to borderless window mode. That would make it look like it’s in fullscreen mode.

            I have positive experiences with something called Borderless Gaming.
            Here is a little more information.

            I, personally, like borderless windows because it allows immediate alt-tabbing in games where this is normally problematic, but it should help here, too.

    • Abnaxis says:

      Did they do the thing with Beyond Earth that they did with Civ 5, not releasing it with hot seat because “everybody plays online, no one plays local”?

      Civ 5 is the last game I will ever, ever pre-order because of that bullshit. I might wait for Beyond Earth to drop in price because I’m still ticked off about that.

  10. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I can’t believe I just bought my NVidia GTX 760 video card with 4GB GDDR5 earlier this year and there are already games coming out that officially recommend a more powerful video card.* I know, video cards go obsolete quickly, blah blah blah. But in my experience its usually just that you can’t run the Ultra settings on the newest games after a year, not that the card fails to even meet the recommended spec (which is normally much lower than what is required for Ultra).

    I’m just glad that I have no interest in this particular game and that I have so many previous generation games to explore. I guess this is “be careful what you wish for.” Because I was moaning a year ago with all the other PC gamers about how consoles were holding us back.

    *The only reason I didn’t go with a GTX 780 was because my motherboard would have bottlenecked it. But now I find myself wishing I had because then I would be able to get away with just upgrading my motherboard and processor to keep up with spec but now I’m going to have to squeeze in a video card upgrade as well.

    • Humanoid says:

      Especially dislike the practice of throwing excessive amounts of VRAM on medium (or low) spec cards, deceptive marketing at its finest.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        What? Is 4GB not useful for a GTX760?

        • Humanoid says:

          It’s …marginal. There’s a good reason the ‘standard’ configuration for the 760 is 2GB, and while there are some cases for which the 4GB may be useful (primarily super-high resolutions likely involving multiple screens) it’s almost always the case that putting money towards a faster GPU rather than more VRAM will produce a much bigger difference.

  11. Zukhramm says:

    So I haven’t listened yet, but why did Gearbox feel the need to invent a word that already exists? I don’t get it. Is it a joke? It’s not a funny one if so.

  12. dustDevil says:

    So way back in the 70s there used to be clothes for kids called Garanimals. Old folks like me might remember ’em, but for the uninitiated they were basically shirts and pants that had little animal tags sewn onto them, the idea being that you grabbed a shirt with a Giraffe tag and pants with a Giraffe tag and viola, your outfit matched. Mind you, with 70s clothing patterns this was a big deal, but this made it a snap. Gorilla with Gorilla, Turtle with Turtle, and Skunk with Skunk. Kids still put Cat with Dolphin sometimes, but it was a more innocent age, man.

    So I got to thinking, why don’t we start doing this with PC hardware? The back of the box spec is a picture of a Rhino. If your system is Rhino, you play.

    Or you upgrade from Platypus.

    • syal says:

      I disagree; Platypus should be the top of the line. What animal isn’t somewhere in a Platypus?

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      Of course the idea that a preschooler needs to be judged on how appropriate the top-and-bottom matching choices were is kind of… surreal. By the time the kid is in high school you’ll be lucky if he’s wearing a clean t-shirt with the same jeans and hoodie he’s been wearing all week.

      • dustDevil says:

        True, but I think that it made the li’l guy or gal feel like they could dress themselves, just like the big kids.

        It’s also worth noting that this is the same period in human history where asbestos was used to make Halloween costumes and cigarettes were good for your “T-Zone,” whatever that is.

        • Mike S. says:

          I’m pretty sure Camels being good for your T-Zone and Garanimals are about a generation apart. Though granted, the older I get the shorter that feels.

          (I remember when growing up that the 50s– which I learned of mostly from that historical documentary series, “Happy Days” :-) — were a long-ago vanished world. Somehow, the now equally-distant 90s don’t feel nearly so remote.)

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    50 gig of memory?Seriously,what the fuck?

    • Eruanno says:

      What? No. 50 GB of hard drive space, not RAM. That’s not completely unheard of these days – Wolfenstein: The New Order wants like 48 GB and Titanfall wants 49 GB.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Wolfenstein HURK the new order is also insane,and titanfall is an mmo.

        • Thomas says:

          I’m pretty sure 50GB is going to become the new standard. It’s the amount of data you can fit on a Blu-Ray and the Xbox One switched over to Blu-Rays because DVDs weren’t cutting it anymore.

          I’m sure there are some console quirks which mean it’s easier to design the game around using that capacity to the max too.

          • Humanoid says:

            Apparently PC ports are shipping with uncompressed audio for “performance reasons”. Which I guess is to say that the port is so unoptimised, they need every possible CPU cycle free to run the game itself, leaving none to decode the audio. (The consoles presumably have a specialised audio processor for this purpose)

      • Zukhramm says:

        FFXIII is also 50GB. But it’s a super sloppy port.

  14. thebob288 says:

    So for the first part of this diecast when you were talking about graphics card names this is half the reason I’m a console gamer. I just do not have the ability to decipher the difference between computer parts I prefer caveman gaming: BOB PUT DISC IN BOX BOX PLAY VIDEO GAME ON SCREEN YAAAAAY. I respect people that can do hardcore pc gaming but man I just can’t be bothered.

    • Humanoid says:

      And even then consoles still have the potential to confuse with their flaky record on backwards compatibility (especially with the infinite variants of the PS3). Then there’s the Xbox non-sequential numbering system. So damned either way really.

  15. Wide And Nerdy says:

    There is a mod for Dragon Age Origins that gives you an item that insta kills all the enemies. You can get another that makes the characters run faster. With those two, Dragon Age Origins would become a lot more tolerable for a Spoiler Warning.

    You can also get the “Skip the Fade” and “Skip Ostagar” mods but thats more for replays.

    • Attercap says:

      The insta-kill item would be pretty cool for Spoiler Warning. I presume that if one doesn’t use the item they would be able to fight through the enemies? That could allow for the occasional fight to showcase character abilities or particular bosses.

      I want to watch Spoiler Warning episodes on all the BioWare games, really.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Thats correct. You seat the item on your quick bar and manually activate it when combat begins just like any other ability and it just kills everything instantly. Though I suppose the could set a tactic for one of the characters to use it instantly when any combat begins (then you just swap tactics slots when you actually want to have a fight.)

        I should add, there’s also an auto-loot mod if you’re really looking to cut down on the busy work.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Except they havent done any of the mods in other games,so why start now?

    • Henson says:

      I’ve suggested before that Dragon Age: Awakenings would work pretty well, too. It has a surprising amount of the elements and style of Origins, shrunk down and compressed into a workable duration. The only major hurdle would be whether YouTube would get ban-happy over Broodmother teats.

      But still, I agree that there are probably lots of other games that I’d rather see on Spoiler Warning.

  16. StashAugustine says:

    I brought this up in the forums, but after one play of Beyond Earth it feels promising and definitely better than Civ V vanilla but it could use some patching and an expansion or two. Ironically I spent most of my time playing CK2 instead cause they just pushed a beta patch that fixed a lot of the issues. (Although not the one where the Abbassids can form the Shia caliphate and thus not have to deal with their doomstacks in the 800s.)

    (On the subject of ‘what do you know about Charlemagne’ I took great pride in sending Austria a humiliating peace deal in EU4 on Christmas Day, 1800.)

    • Ithilanor says:

      Seems like the Civ games (and Paradox games, for that matter) always need an expansion or two to feel fully realized. It’s good that Beyond Earth has a better base to work from, though.

    • Josh says:

      Wait, the Abbassids can do what?

      • StashAugustine says:

        There doesn’t seem to be anything about it in the Paradox forums, but someone on SA noticed that the Abbassid sultan created the Shia Caliphate and vassalized him. I haven’t played Muslims so I’m iffy on the specifics but essentially a vassal of the Abbasids meets the requirements to form the caliphate and does so within about a year or so of the Charlemagne start, which thus prevents the “Rise of the Shia Caliphate” event around the Old Gods start. So the Abbassids don’t have to deal with the revolts nor with fighting off another Muslim blob. On top of that they appear to have gone a little overboard with the decadence rework (I think it was bugged at first so you could send ‘straighten up’ threats every seven days instead of every few years) so the Abbassids are unnervingly stable. Meanwhile Europe tends to fracture unless AI Charlemagne does a good job. The devs are aware of the issue but have said it’ll take a patch or two to fix.

        • Grudgeal says:

          I recommend going straight for the new beta patch. It resets decadence straighten ups to the intended period so the Abassid dynasty can at least no longer enjoy a thousand years of decadence-free peace.

          It also fixes vikings no longer being able to sail up rivers, which was just odd.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Technically grass in more door is mostly in the second area,which is not more door proper.

    Also,I like it how models are given priority,so even on the lowest settings they look ok,while its the environment that takes the biggest hit graphically.

  18. Dragmire says:

    I wonder if the 50GB for unity is another case of uncompressed audio.

    • Eruanno says:

      It could also be a case of “we’re not sure how much space any future DLC will use, so we’ll just put 50 GB on the box”. I know Destiny says 40 GB required on the back of the box but actually only uses ~25 GB when installed.

  19. Ithilanor says:

    Out of the games mentioned, Borderlands seems ripe for a special. It sounds like what you have to say is more focused on tone and setting, so you could say your piece without having to spend a bunch of time waiting to get through the story.

    • Humanoid says:

      Sadly the Borderlands 2 stream has been consumed by the Livestream monster. Thankfully though, the Sleeping Dogs stream that immediately preceded it survives.

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Main impression I get from beyond earth is:Its just too sterile.Theres plenty of it I dont like(seeing how it didnt fix most of the problems I had with V),theres stuff I like(the tech web is great),but on the whole it just feels sterile and generic.It has no personality like alpha centauri.

    • Aldowyn says:

      This may seem small, but it has an outsized impact: the tech quotes are all narrated by the same person. Even though they’re all quotes of the leaders, just like in SMAC. Also no wonder or victory screen, just splash screens.

      • StashAugustine says:

        I don’t mind it having less atmosphere than SMAC since that’s lighting in a bottle but it somehow manages to have less soul than Civ V, mostly because Morgan Sheppard is the Platonic ideal of narrators.

      • krellen says:

        SMAC was so perfect, I do not understand why so little of its mechanics or design have been carried forward since.

        • StashAugustine says:

          I’m gonna be honest, outside of the terraforming and the unit workshop (which was also done by a lot of other games) SMAC is not a terribly well-put-together game. It’s got outstanding atmosphere and the AI factions have personality but it’s pretty broken and the AI doesn’t really know how to play the game well.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I’ve seen very little of Beyond Earth so far but I got a feeling the factions do not feel quite as distinct as in Alpha Centauri? I’m speaking in term of character more so than in terms of gameplay. SMAC leaders had some very memorable quotes that I can still recall after years.

      • StashAugustine says:

        Yeah, the leaders are pretty bland in-game, the quotes are pretty mediocre (a couple are decent but there’s only one or two I can recall off the top of my head). The encyclopedia is pretty well-done (it’s from the perspective of future historians writing about the original colonization) and the supplemental materials are decent but the leaders don’t have real personality beyond “Reginaldo will fuck you up, Fielding can’t be trusted, and Barre is oddly insistent that no village was ever ruined by trade.”

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        They are bland compared to all civs.They are just a set of bonuses,nothing more.

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,when did Chris try the ps?

  22. NotDog says:

    So Handsome Jack isn’t funny anymore in Borderlands 3.

    Is Mr. Torgue still OK?
    (At least, for those who thought he was funny in the first place?)

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Um,whats the reason you dont let Chris capture footage for you?He has more consoles than the rest of you combined,he has at least some of the necessary capture software,and I guess he could obtain the rest,and he is the most skilled player.If the problem is editing,he could always send it to Josh via any of the sharing sites.Though Im not sure how fast upload you guys get in the usa,so it may take about an hour for every gigabyte.

    • Ithilanor says:

      I’m guessing the issue there is that Chris would be playing. Nothing against him, but playing a game, while doing commentary, conversing with people (over Vent/teamspeak/etc.), is a really tough thing to do. Josh has a lot of experience doing it after 15 seasons of SW; it’d be hard for anyone else to do as good a job as he does.

  24. Isy says:

    I dunno, after all the discussion of how people get food in the zombie apocalypse games, seems like Mordor needs its back nine to feed its infinite supply of orcs.

    I’m still grumpy at Assassin’s Creed 3 for not having the main character be Conner’s mother, who was about five million times cooler than him.

    • Eruanno says:

      I remember being really annoyed at playing Connor’s dad for ages and ages and wondering when I was going to get to play the guy on the box. After actually playing Connor, however, I really yearned to go back to mr. Smooth-Talking Templar-Dad… :(

    • Thomas says:

      That’s actually canon. Tolkien was exactly the kind of guy to stress over where Orcs get their food from

      • Mike S. says:

        Though while I appreciate the effort, the logistics of maintaining a country-size garrison (that outnumbers the armies everyone else can field) in an unlivable desert surrounded by mountains, at the tail of a supply line all the way from Nurn…

        Well, lets just say it helps to be a demigod with mostly unspecified magical abilities.

        (The goblins/orcs of the Misty Mountains are worse. Able to raise numbers to challenge three armies, while living under mountains without any supernatural assistance and eating… well, there’s some cave fish.)

  25. lostclause says:

    As someone who knows people similarly afflicted, I love it how Josh’s page is Charlemange this week.

  26. Rick C says:

    “Let’s remember, the real villains here are the video chipset people, because their naming system is poorly-documented balderdash.”

    What? Reissuing the same video card but bumping the generation number is a totally legit marketing strategy!

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      Gen 1: GMX Graphix
      Gen 2: GMX XTREME! (added half again as much memory, same GPU)
      Gen 3: GMX Green (Same GPU/memory reengineered to single chip, with crappier heat dissipation
      Gen 4: GMX Value (Green card cut to half the price because it’s now six year old tech)

      • Humanoid says:

        The truth is worse than anything you can make up there.

        Once upon a time there was a GPU called the 8800GTS. Then along came a revision, superior in every way, called the 8800GT. There was a higher performance variant of the 8800GT, called the 8800GTS, which is an altogether different thing to the 8800GTS (not a typo).

        Fast forward a year, and suddenly appear a pair of new cards, the 9800GT, and the 9800GTX+. Except these were the old cards, the 8800GT and the 8800GTS (which was not an 8800GTS), with a different sticker applied.

        Fast forward another year, and another product with an altogether different name appears, the GTS250. Which was a 9800GTX+. Which was an 8800GTS, but not an 8800GTS.

        • Grudgeal says:

          I think I bought one of those actually.

        • qosiejfr oiq qp says:

          Is this an issue that nvidia is more afflicted by than NVidia? It looks like it to me but I’m not following the graphics market that closely…

          • Humanoid says:

            nVidia are definitely the ‘pioneers’ of rebranding their products, but AMD have done it a few times since then as well, including with some current products. It’s also generally more rife when talking about mobile products than desktop cards, even though the listed example is very much a desktop one. Mobile GPU nomenclature are so confusing that it’s easier to get away with the deception, I suspect.

  27. Regarding dat intro music: Anyone else getting quasi-Gravity Falls vibes off’n dat?

  28. Steve C says:

    Can you mod Shadows of Mordor? When I think “Mordor” I don’t think “Grass”. A No Grass mod sounds like it would be performance enhancing and more in tune with the setting. It would be the opposite of the Fallout 3 mod that makes everything trees (GreenWorld or w/e).

  29. Alchemist64 says:

    For some reason, I misread John Riccitiello as John Carmack at first. There was a moment of both bliss, “OK…?” and “Aren’t you taking on too much at once? Is this actually legal?” before I realized who you were actually talking about…

  30. Canthros says:

    I wish to point out that I would totally put an astromech droid in my computer.

  31. Thomas says:

    So is there anything stopping you from putting something ancient like Starcraft 1 or SMAC on a Surface Pro?

    • Humanoid says:

      A Surface Pro is a PC like any other PC, with all that entails.

      A Surface non-Pro, on the other hand, is *not* a PC, and supports about as much software as an Etch-a-Sketch.

      • Josh says:

        And has apparently been quietly discontinued. The Surface 2 came out around the same time as the Surface Pro 2 last year, but the Pro 3 has been out for nearly five months and there’s no sign of a Surface 3.

        It’s probably just as well. Nobody wants a Windows tablet that can only run Metro apps.

        • Mike S. says:

          Though I wish there were more Metro apps, and they weren’t so limited. Even when I’m using my first-gen Surface Pro as a tablet, I wind up using desktop apps (with inconveniently tiny touch targets) because the tablet equivalents tend to be bad, nonexistent, or not updated in recent memory.

          The Surface Pro is surprisingly gaming-capable, though. It runs the Mass Effect series usably, which impressed me. (And of course does fine with non-intensive games like Unrest or Long Live the Queen.)

          I imagine the 3 does even better, especially with the larger screen.

  32. Tizzy says:

    If that Assassin’s Creed specs bit was a Daily Show segments, it would be one of those where Rutskarn/Jon Stewart sips coffee while listening to a news clip and then spits it all out over the desk in shock.

    That’s the way Rutskarn’s voice sounded to me, anyway.

  33. Tizzy says:

    Combat in D&D based games was always more fun. Maybe because they never tried to artificially “balance” anything?

    Anyway, what the system certainly did for those games is prevent the feeling of jogging in place that most leveling systems do. No hitting a little bit harder palette-swapped foes. New spells, new gear, radically different challenges. I never quite appreciated the complexity of the ruleset until I played those games.

    • Otters34 says:

      That, and never underestimate the wonders of letting the players deal with problems besides attacking HEAD-ON. Part of the whole point for making direct combat so crazy and often complicated was to discourage players from just attacking all their problems away. So instead they rig up that boulder, hoist it into place with some ropes made of grass they wove a couple days before because “You never know”, and drop it on the head of the angry wyvern guarding the pass. Or they scrabble above it across the cliff face, or sneak through the venomous jungle below, or sacrifice a much-needed pack mule, or confuse it with mirror images, or…there’s a lot of ways to deal with problems in the real world, and it’s a shame our computer RPGs so rarely come close to giving one one-thousandth of the options we can come up with.

  34. Joey245 says:

    Listened to this episode while collecting clusters in Saints Row IV. Good times, good times. :)

    Keep being awesome!

  35. ET says:

    So, one of the things that they added in a brand new game to fix the loot/money system…is from 14 years ago? ^^;

    • Shamus says:

      Yes. It’s even more absurd when you realize they were ripping off a lot of Diablo gameplay to begin with. It’s like, did they think that bit wasn’t important, or did they only want to steal the mechanics a few at a time?

  36. lethal_guitar says:

    Regarding the overhead of PCs over consoles: It’s not so much about Windows/operating systems, but more about consoles being “closer to the metal”, i.e. the overhead of talking to the hardware is much lower on consoles. Now I don’t claim to know all the details, but Carmack mentioned one example in one of his QuakeCon keynotes: On the PC, your graphics driver does a whole lot of data transformation behind the scenes, e.g. converting texture formats. This is necessary because you want to support a whole range of different hardware but keep the interface consistent. On consoles, the hardware is fixed, so you can basically just have your textures in the right format and the additional work doesn’t need to be done (as far as my understanding goes).

  37. Cybron says:

    Lost it at the description of John Rigatoni as a sexy contract princess.

    Also I’d watch a spoiler warning of Chrono Trigger. Love that game.

  38. Zak McKracken says:

    Hooray for Rutskarn having no TV!
    I’ve moved out of my parents’ almost 20 years ago and have never seen the need to have one. Had a TV card in my PC for a few years but ditched that about 8 years ago… internet is so much more interesting then TV, my monitor is large enough or me, and for movies with friends, there’s always the projector connected to the PC in the living room :)

    … on the other hand, I’ve got two “proper” PCs, when most of my friends have abandoned theirs for laptops or tablets…

  39. nstll says:

    On long form lets play critiques:

    I feel like Halo 2’s Developer Commentary is a decent bar for games where you have commentary but not necessarily enough material or patience for an entire season.

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