Diecast #81: Ubisoft Sucks, Framerate, PAX

By Shamus
on Nov 17, 2014
Filed under:
Diecast


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Hosts: Rutskarn, Josh, Shamus, and Mumbles.

Show notes:

1:00 Ubisoft Sucks!

For context, that’s Numberwang! Also, here is some footage of Thief 2014 having the same (or similar) “Extras Intrude on cutscenes” problem we see in Assassins Creed Unity.

22:00 MAILTIME!

Dear Diecast,

Do any of you find your opinion of a game partly affected by the kinds communities you see forming around the game and the kinds of people the game seems to attract? Do you think it’s fair to allow the kinds of communities the game inspires to affect your judgement on that game?

My question can be applied to game series and franchises, and other types of media besides games.

Swarthily,
NotDog

38:00

Dear Diecast,

How do you podcast with boxing gloves on?

More seriously, several youtube commentators (TotalBiscut, Super Bunnyhop, etc.) have mentioned having a better experience when gaming at 60 or even 120 fps vs. a fixed 30 fps. Are you able to notice any kinesthetic difference between these standards? Does it even matter for the types of games that you play?

-Anthony

Here is the SuperBunnyHop episode on this topic. Highly recommended:


Link (YouTube)

56:00 PAX sells out in nine minutes.

So it looks like I won’t make it to PAX East again this year. Shame.

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2020202015There are now 95 comments. Almost a hundred!

From the Archives:

  1. wideandnerdy says:

    I think you can blame William Zabka for the lack of blonde male protagonists. He codified blonde guys as bullies in the 80s. (I’m being slightly facetious here but I think there’s something to it.) There’s also blonde guys an Aryan and surfer dudes. Hairism.

  2. Ilseroth says:

    I’m kinda disappointed no one from Twenty sided has been able to try out Elite: Dangerous with oculus. I have heard it is breathtaking but unfortunately I lack the funds necessary to try it personally. (Even if I could afford it, I’d have to completely revamp my system to play it at 120 fps)

    • Josh says:

      I’m pretty sure Chris talked about it on an earlier Diecast; He turned on his ship’s FTL drive without knowing how to turn it off and promptly got lost in space.

      • Retsam says:

        I can’t tell, is that meant to be criticism of the game or praise?

        • Ilseroth says:

          Honestly a little bit of both. The interface and controls are… a bit staggering if you aren’t used to flight sims. Just for movement you have to deal with

          Forward/Backward Thrust, +/-Yaw, +/-Pitch, L/R Roll, L/R Lateral Thrust, U/D Vertical Thrust, Boost, Flight Assist Toggle, Throttle Cancel (set to 0)… and these are just the defaults, you can set throttle keys to certain percentages, as well as overrides for all of these controls for when you have a landing gear out.

          That isn’t even to mention all of the power distribution, weapon bindings, targeting, module usage, ect.

          The game is great fun, but has a huge learning curve.

          • Zak McKracken says:

            Lateral and vertical thrust? Are they actually using semi-realistic physics here? I’m intrigued! Though mapping that to a joystick (or whatever type of controller) in an intuitive fashion is hard…

            • Ilseroth says:

              There’s newtonian physics model at work, but by default your ship automatically counteracts some of these forces to make flying more reasonable.

              However you can toggle flight assist off at any point in time for every action to require an opposite reaction to cancel it out.

              The only thing not accurately modeled is the “yaw” axis, which they nerfed because they felt it made for a better flying experience while dogfighting (it does)

              As for mapping the thrusters, I have them mapped to the hatswitch on the top of my flight stick, but I had it set up all right when I was on keyboard and mouse.

      • Ilseroth says:

        That’s weird, pretty sure I have caught every diecast, but I’ll just take your word for it.

        Actually Josh, you might be interested if you like invasions from Dark Souls. You can interdict people which forces someone out of the FTL mode. (supercruise) into a 1v1 duel. Really good fun finding player pirates and interdicting them and collecting their bounty.

        In any case, the game is already crazy immersive even without Oculus… it really is Oculus bait. If I had like… 600 bucks sitting around to get a new graphics card and then Oculus… Probably would honestly. Even with all the other things I could get.

        That being said, there is some crazy anger going on right now as they informed everyone there will be no offline mode. You can still play “solo” but it still is connected to the online server… It is a little bit like the Sim City quagmire, except apparently all of the information of the 400 billion star systems are on their servers… I am not technical enough to call BS on it… and personally I was going to play online mode anyways… but still a lot of people mad about it.

        • Chris says:

          If I haven’t talked about it on the show it’s mostly because I’m worried it’ll be another “Chris goes off on a topic for 15 minutes and everyone else falls asleep” things – I try to stay on topics that other people can chime in on if at all possible if only because it makes the podcast more lively to listen to.

          That said, I have messed with it on the Oculus. It’s a sometimes food, not an all the time food, but I do enjoy it. Really it’s a lot like my exposure to Half-Life, only with a ton of the edges smoothed over. Combat fares better here than it does in the comparatively super-fast HL2 – it’s intense but not “ugh I’m gonna throw up” intense. And there’s definitely something amazing about being able to look up in your little dome and see the guy you’re trying to hunt down and know how to maneuver appropriately, or the panic that sets in when you take fire and see the sparks flying off the front of your ship and right at your face. It makes the combat encounters more intimate and memorable.

          But also like HL2, it truly shines when you’re really able to take it in. To sit in your ship, look around, and take in an entire asteroid belt. To dock your ship and get a real sense of the scale of the space station you’re connecting to. Just to be able to sit in the cockpit of a space fighter you own and look around and feel like you’re really there encourages a sort of role playing that these games thrive on. Because you can play the game as a spreadsheet of numbers and transactions if you want, but what always sold me on games like Freelancer was the promise of making your own way as a pirate, merchant, or a noble gunman who was never-the-less for hire. The best moment in a space trading game, to me, is basically that moment from the end of Guardians of the Galaxy – sitting on your bridge and asking yourself if you want to do something good, something bad, or a bit of both. And the rift makes it feel that much more real. So that’s neat!

          But it’s also really taxing to play a super complicated game like a space sim when you can’t really see the keyboard. And you do eventually get motion sickness/eye strain after extended use, especially since the framerate isn’t great (I don’t believe it renders direct to the Rift yet). Also, Elite in general has a long way to go before I’d consider it an amazing space sim; it feels very prototype-y. A solid foundation, perhaps, but just the foundation. Not enough player expression-y role playing bits, not enough refinement in the controls despite a clever interface, not enough content. So Elite and the Rift is great for escapism in short bursts – a dogfight or a docking sequence – but not a whole world to lose yourself in.

          • Ilseroth says:

            I agree with this in whole, even without the rift. There are a ton of things you can do in the galaxy. You can be a pirate, you can be a bounty hunter, a trader, a miner, a explorer, so on so forth…

            But they don’t give you a *reason* to do any of those things, besides the rather cold reason of acquiring cash.

            Whenever a friend asks me how the beta is coming along I always throw out something along the lines of it being a great skeleton, that is missing the meat.

            What kind of makes me a bit on the nervous side is the fact that the game launches in a month… Now granted they intend on continuing development long past the launch date allegedly, claiming things like multiple players in one ship, being able to walk around in stations and on your ship, and even planetary landings as a goal…

            I can’t help but be a little jaded about long term promises like that given the fact that most game devs that promise that kind of scope end up… not following up.

            Oh and thanks for the writeup on your experience with the rift… even though it is a “sometimes” kind of tool right now I look forward to when I get a chance at it, but I am holding out for the actual consumer version instead.

            • Mephane says:

              But they don’t give you a *reason* to do any of those things, besides the rather cold reason of acquiring cash.

              As someone who has been folloing the game since before Alpha (and been playing/testing myself since Alpha phase 3), I can confirm that this statement is true.

              But, and this may very well be just a personal thing, but I love it because of this. It is such a fresh feeling to have this vast game world where I am free to go and do as I please and the game never tells me “do this, do that”, there is no “pick a class” screen, no “there are 100 widgets on this map, collect them all and your gadget gets a +1 bonus”, and last but not least you are the opposite of the chosen one* – just a pilot in their small** ship trying to get along in the universe.

              The worst, imho, what the devs could do to kill the mood, is to slap achievements or collectibles on top of the game.

              ————————-
              *I am so sick of this trope now that I have developed a tendency to avoid games where this is the central premise, even if they are otherwise very good. The most recent example would be Dragon Age: Inquisition. I read this very promising review I linked to until this came up:

              A breach has opened in the sky and threatens to devour the entire world. With a mysterious mark on your hand and a groan-inducing spot of amnesia, you find that only you have the power to slow the growth of the breach

              No thanks, not again.

              **Well not really small. This is the smallest playable ship, and here you see it compared to the largest ones and the Big Ben.

              • Ilseroth says:

                I think you and I are talking about two different things. I am not saying I want a storyline, just a world that reacts to my actions, as they imply it will.

                When I say reason, I don’t mean an achievement, I mean a motivation. Yeah doing things for the sake of doing them is great the first time. Maybe the second time. But if nothing happens from it. What’s the point?

                For instance, the federal distress beacons that you can go and kill people. But it doesn’t matter which side you choose, people still treat you the same. It doesn’t matter how long you fight or how many you ill, that ship will stay there are 5% forever.

                I am not asking for an achievement, I just want to be able to do things and have things happen because of it.

                • Mephane says:

                  Fair enough, however you need to consider that since this is a multiplayer environment, the behind-the-scenes numbers are probably balanced around many players taking part in the battle, and therefore no single individual can directly see or feel the effect of their actions on the outcome.

                  It is be possible, however, that these battles are not yet completely dynamically simulated, and instead static points of interest which they just manually change around from patch to patch.

          • Zukhramm says:

            If I haven’t talked about it on the show it’s mostly because I’m worried it’ll be another “Chris goes off on a topic for 15 minutes and everyone else falls asleep” things – I try to stay on topics that other people can chime in on if at all possible if only because it makes the podcast more lively to listen to.

            You always seem to be the most quiet person on the show, I seriously don’t think you have to worry about that.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Assassins creed lore?What is that?

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “The point isnt to just put the word assassins creed on a box once a year”

    Ha!Tell that to xcom shooter,syndicate shooter,all the crappy movie tie ins,….

    But you know whats the saddest part?It works:(Especially for yearly sports games.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Rutskarn,was that at 23:10 aimed at Shamus?

  6. Alexander The 1st says:

    “Somebody needs to make more cons.”

    So…what you’re saying is…we should host con contests?

    Or perhaps, since we’re talking about game cons, shell games?

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,you should have your own vegas con,with blackjack,and hookers!

  8. Wooji says:

    Be it a PC gamer or a console gamer i can’t think of any situation where anyone i know has ever expressed a wish for a game to run on a lower FPS. If 30 is enough or not is somewhat depending on the individual but in general i think most people like more FPS:es in their games.

    • ET says:

      I know that some of my friends who only play (computer) games occasionally, actually couldn’t play with 60 FPS back when it was new, and had to turn it down to 30. Me, as a frequent player, felt a bit weird for half a minute at 60 FPS, then was comfortable adapted to the higher framerate after that point. Small sample size I know, but I think there might actually be a chunk of the population, who need the framerate in their games lower.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      This all somehow reminds me of CRT monitor’s refresh rates.

      Back in the day, after I had figured out that most monitors actually can do more than 50Hz, I set mine to run at 120 and was smitten. Then I suggested to my Mom to put hers on a higher refresh rate as well. She didn’t think it’d make any difference and didn’t notice anything. However, when it switched back to 60 after a while because of some driver issue, she noticed and immediately asked me to put it back again because all the flickering was too much.

      I quickly developed an aversion to CRTs with low refresh rates, more or less stopped watching TV on them and felt thoroughly uncomfortable whenever I sat in front of other people’s CRTs that weren’t adjusted …

      The FPS debate is something similar, I think: You may not notice the effect immediately but once you’ve had it for a while you won’t want to go back, completely independent of whether it will make you better at games or not. It just feels more continuous.

  9. Ithilanor says:

    As a Paradox fan, I’m occasionally annoyed by new stuff being buggy on release…but even by those standards, the stuff in Unity is pretty egregious.

    “once a year is too often for a single-player, story-based game”: I think the issue is that Assassin’s Creed isn’t thought of as a story game, for better or for worse. It’s just thought of as another entry in the series of Generic Ubisoft Sandbox-ish games.

    • grampy_bone says:

      Shamus seems to be under the impression that these games are produced in a year; this is incorrect. They are produced by multiple teams in a staggered release schedule. Unity has been in production for 3-4 years. That actually makes the production issues a bit less excusable really, but the entire argument that “one year is too short for development” is totally false. Assassin’s creed games are not developed in a year; really with any knowledge of AAA development it’s foolish to even suggest this.

      As to the story, AC games have actually become more open and less story based with the last few iterations, but the older titles had a strong focus on narrative. I think the staggered release schedule and having multiple teams working at once muddled the overall direction and weakened the story.

      • ET says:

        So…doesn’t that imply that they’re still turning out poor quality games, even with 3-4 years dev time and a thousand people?

      • Supahewok says:

        3-4 years dev cycle? Do you have a source for that? I was under the impression that each main installment ran on a 2 year cycle. Of course, I don’t have a source either. But 3-4 years, with a new release annually… that means they have 3-4 AssCreed games in the pipe at any one time. Multiple studios each, if we estimate a thousand employees for each game that is… an incredible amount of people. All in one franchise.

        Frankly, if you’re right, that means that Ubisoft is putting… SO MANY eggs in this one basket. So many eggs that, if the basket were to drop, I think they’d go broke. My mind boggles at the thought of a publisher putting so much into a franchise that’s bound to get stale sooner or later (for some of us it already has), but the cynical part of me is saying “Of COURSE they have. They’re idiots.”

        Also, 3-4 years makes the current mess even more inexcusable.

        • Ranneko says:

          You can see this bleed through into their other words. Ubisoft is so creed focused that those elements pushed through into Farcry and Watchdogs, complete with the towers to climb and the random activities on the minimap.

        • Eruanno says:

          I seem to remember reading 3-ish years for Unity somewhere as well. I think that yes, Ubi does have a couple of AssCreeds in the pipeline at all times but aren’t working fully on them. It’s entirely possible they put a bunch of developers into one of the games and then ramp up the production/manpower when they’re 1-2 years from release? Maybe?

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Keep in mind that the new consoles were available to the devs only recently,so even if they had a huge amount of time before that,they had only about a year to adapt the game.

        • Supahewok says:

          PC’s have been around since the ’80’s. Now I don’t pay attention to Assassin’s Creed these days, but it’s been my impression that the launch has been a failure across ALL platforms. Even the one that has been available to them since long before they even dreamed up the game.

          Then again since when the hell did Ubisoft give a damn about the PC anyway.At least, consistently give a damn, maybe it comes and gos.

      • spelley says:

        The problem with having multiple teams producing multiple games and staggering the releases is threefold:

        1) Coherent vision, story and tone is harder to communicate.
        2) You can’t do a proper post-mortem/analysis of one game before moving onto the next, meaning it can take longer to correct mistakes.
        3) Having a single team create the games means that *all* their focus can be on one game, and they are bringing experience with them from game to game.

        Obviously, this would slow down production which is the reason they don’t do it.

    • ET says:

      Even with a sandbox-heavy, story-light game, I think you need some time in between the releases. For comparison, look at Just Cause & Just Cause 2 – four years separation. The Elder Scrolls games have several years between each one. Same with the GTA games – it’s more variable, but is pretty much in the range of 1-3 years between each one.

  10. grampy_bone says:

    Assassins Creed Unity runs fine on PC. I’ve been enjoying it just fine all week. Game has some gameplay issues I could grumble about, but it’s not a broken piece of crap at all. Seems like people are dogpiling on the game in order to stick it to Ubisoft.

  11. SyrusRayne says:

    As far as the PAYDAY 2 community goes, yeah. You’re not wrong. Sometimes you can find a decent random, but… Don’t count on it.

    The Crimefest thing – the community event Rutskarn mentioned – brought out the absolute worst in an already downward-trending group. I think the John Wick thing is fucking rad, personally. Sure, it’s dopey and dumb, but PAYDAY 1 has a heist where you break into Mercy Hospital and steal a sample of the zombie virus from Left 4 Dead. PAYDAY 2 has a mission where you rob a train and steal the TF2 Engie’s turret. I love that crap.

    Kicking people for messing up is inexcusably trash behaviour. Indefensible. People get so wrapped up in doing it ‘right’, or optimally, or whatever that they forget that you don’t need to play that way! You don’t need to have the Best, Most Optimal Loadout. You don’t need the Top Tier Pro Heist Build. The only time you’d need that is when playing Death Wish missions (the highest difficulty).

    I enjoy the game quite a lot, but I often wish I had more variety in the people I could play with. I mostly stick with my own group of 2-3 others.

    • Humanoid says:

      Besides, Keanu Reeves but with a proper actor’s line delivery: how could that possibly be a bad thing?

    • Nidokoenig says:

      Surely people kicking others for breaking stealth is a result of the game being designed in such a way that stealth is very binary and the game is multiplayer? This creates a situation where the other players can play perfectly, then the new guy screws it up for all of them by doing one single thing wrong. You couldn’t design a better way to get people pissed as shit at one person in a video game.

      • Ciennas says:

        Nintendo’s top scientists make a general effort to try and create such gameplay every so often in their multiplayer titles.

        The last example I can recall off hand was Super Mario Brothers Wii- Four player platforming with a finite life count system and a seeming idea that the players were going to try to be dicks to each other, here rendered by being able to screw up a partner’s jumps or fling them into something unpleasant and make ganking powerups or playing keepaway trivially easy?

        Yahtzee called it the friendship ender and I daresay with the right crowd that is indeed a very apt name for the thing.

        I really think Nintendo could be a much more cuddly variation of a social experiment factory. Admittedly, most of those experiments are in the line of them being seeming mad scientists in the videolectric entertainment industry…

        More to your point: Then the game needs to adopt a variable AI skill tracking system- A player becomes more skilled and the game becomes less forgiving of foolishness. And then you could have a bunch of players wander from all different skillsets and still have a fun evening.

        If your game engenders real anger and frustration outpoured on someone else for not being good enough, you have created a negative feedback loop that will murder your gameplay. You have also failed at designing a multiplayer game.

      • Ivan says:

        I was going to mention this. Payday 2 isn’t designed to be flexible. You either decide to go in stealthy or hot and you prepare for that. If you plan to go in hot then any stealth you get is a bonus, but honestly you’re just waiting for it to fail because it will. Your heavy armor and weapons make you far easier to detect and you simply won’t bring any tools that you would use for stealth because you’ll never get the opportunity to use them.

        If you gear up for stealth then you have a finely balanced setup. You have no armor and the smallest/least conspicuous weapon you can get a silencer on. You probably have most of your perks devoted to being sneaky too. Basically, the second that the shit hits the fan you are boned. Stealth is an all in thing, and once it is lost you might as well all sit there and wait to be killed, because you will not succeed and there is no turning stealth mode back on.

        Also don’t even bother trying to mix and match your party. 2 stealth and 2 combat dudes won’t get very far either, or if they do then the 2 combat dudes spend the entire round doing nothing, or the stealth team fails and are now useless for the rest of the round (which will probably fall apart shortly anyway).

        So yeah, if the community is poor it’s because this is essentially two different multiplayer games that put all their players in the same lobby. Each side is going to be frustrated by members of the other side constantly messing up their plans, and even worse, when that happens everyone will louse.

    • Chiller says:

      If you’re in Europe* I’ll be happy to play with you as I don’t really have a regular group to play with.

      Boring info: I’m II-100 currently and playing mostly DW loud but I’m not all that much into it and I would like to go back to stealth after I finish all the DW achievements.

      No idea how to get in contact but we can figure it out (forums?).

      *I don’t personally care where you’re from, but I lag when the host is farther away than Europe (+Russia), which is pretty bad in this game, esp in stealth

  12. Boston roads appear to be the motorway infrastructure version of a tarball approach to programming. Basically, Boston is comprised of a bunch of smaller communities that were absorbed into one big one, resulting in the inability to plan a grid system, street names being duplicated (three towns = three chances for an “Elm Street” somewhere) and said street names appearing to start and stop at random. Then there’s the fact that the roads were originally built around hills and swamps that no longer exist, the weird thing coastlines/rivers do to most street layouts, and that the peninsula was expanded with landfill later on in its existence.

    You would’ve needed several really good crystal balls to have planned out Boston from the get-go, sadly.

  13. silver Harloe says:

    “video games suck. but we need more video game conventions.”

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That video kind of reminded me of back in the day when surround sound was becoming a thing.I was firmly in the “Its a pointless gimmick” camp until I got my own 5.1 set.And once you get used to that,going back is really harsh.Same holds true for low fps:People that think 30fps is just fine are people that havent experienced better(well they and the marketing departments).

    • C0Mmander says:

      I’ve been on the side of those defending lower framerates but it’s only because I thought higher framerates made the game less stable or were more taxing on a computer. And I recently realised I had no idea if that was true or not. If that’s actually true however then I won’t change my position because I don’t care for people wasting time adding something I probably won’t notice.

      Mind you I fully expect this to be complete bollocks and to have to change my position to “accepting higher framerates are better but not feeling rushed to get a rig able to show them to me.”

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        “If that’s actually true however then I won’t change my position because I don’t care for people wasting time adding something I probably won’t notice.”

        The truth is,you wont notice when you switch to higher frame rate.But if you use it for a bit,lets say a month,and then go back to the lower one,you most definitely will notice.Whether thats a good thing is up to debate.

        • C0Mmander says:

          You mean like how I’ve got an HD tv for a couple of years now and I still can’t really make out the difference. Anyway my point isn’t about how noticeable it is. It’s that it’s the developers’ choice if they want to put the efforts into making a game work at a higher framerate and it’s the customers’ choice of what FPS they are willing to pay for.

          That is, I guess, until you start talking about those that get sick from lower framerate at which point you start a reality show that pits the team of programmers that tries to fix the game vs the team of doctors that tries to fix the player… Or they could just refund the game but let’s keep this to realistic solution shall we.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      That. Pretty much like people in the CRT era saying that they couldn’t notice the 50Hz flicker. After a year at 100 Hz they could :)

      Also, it very much depends on what you do: If you have very quick movement (especially of small things) on screen, then something that takes 1/10 of a second to cross your screen will leave 3 images of itself at 30 fps, 6 at 60 and 12 at 120 — this means you probably won’t even be able to tell that it’s moving at 30 fps, you’ll just see something flash up in three places. At 60 fps, you’ll have a chance, and although you cannot ever make out the single frames at 120 fps, you will properly see the trajectory taken at 120 Hz.
      (Good experiment: move your mouse pointer quickly in a circle in front of a dark background. Do you see lots of mouse pointers or a continuous movement?)
      What’s possibly more important: Try to follow something slightly larger moving across the screen, that takes about 1 second. At 30 fps, you only get a picture every 1/15 of the screen, at full HD that’s 128 pixels. So if your eyes try to track the thing continuously, relative t that referenc, it’ll be jumping back and forth in 128 pixel increments. With 120 fps, that’s reduced to 32. Still visible bit but much easier to follow.
      (the experiment here: Set your browser to autoscroll on a website with lots of text and read what scrolls past you — becomes difficult at some point, while reading printed text while dragging the paper across your desk is much easier)

      The “ultimate smoothness”, really, only happens when nothing moves faster than 1 pixel per frame. That’s why Jump’n’runs on my old C64 looked nice and smooth: the movement rate of the protagonist was usually exactly 1 (or possibly 2) pixel per frame*
      While slowing down from or accelerating to that speed you would notice the stutter.

      * indeed, the C64 had a hardware command that shifted the whole screen by one pixel, in one CPU cycle. Very useful! We’re talking about multicolour pixels here, of which there were 160 by 200 on one screen. It could do 320 by 200 only in text or “Hires” mode.

    • Eruanno says:

      I play a variety of 60 fps and 30 fps games across PC and PS4 and I can tell you I am less bothered by the lower frame rate but more bothered by a fluctuating frame rate. (I can absolutely tell the difference between 30 and 60 and obviously prefer 60 if given the choice.) I’d rather play a game vsynced to a constant 30 at all times than a game bouncing wildly between 40-60 fps.

      Example: I played Hitman: Absolution on my old PC not too long ago. Frame rate bounced wildly between 30 and 60 depending on what was on screen/load of the area/etc. Very annoying and noticeable stuttering. Played Hitman: Absolution on PS3 at a constant 720p/30 fps. Much better experience (except the loading times on PS3 were pretty long…)

  15. Dragomok says:

    I’m a bit disappointed Mumbles/Rutskarn didn’t get to talk about Homestuck community.

  16. HeroOfHyla says:

    When I read the show notes and saw “PAX sells out in nine minutes” I thought you meant something like them turning corporate and dropping their moral stances in exchange for profit.

  17. Abnaxis says:

    I played a MOBA on PS3 once, right after it came out. It seems like fun.

    I will never, ever try to seriously play a MOBA on PC, even though I might enjoy the mechanics. The community is just TOO SERIOUS. It has all the “professional sports” overtones that I can’t stand in RL sports, and I don’t want to deal with it.

  18. Abnaxis says:

    Whenever tickets for anything sell out in minutes, my assumption is that 80% of the purchases are scalpers. You see the same thing on Black Friday every year, where the fad products get bought immediately by people who want to hike the price and sell on EBay.

    It’s one of those few (OK, the ONLY place) places where I think advances in DRM might actually be worth something.If the person who uses the ticket doesn’t match the name on the ticket, too bad, come again…

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Seeing how packed pax is each year,and how people barely have time to visit everything they want,adding another security layer to weed out a few bad people(I seriously doubt that its even 50%,let alone the 80% you mention)is a terrible idea.Not to mention that there are certainly a bunch of people that buy tickets as a gift,or had to give them away due to last minute changes,etc,etc.

      • Abnaxis says:

        That’s not the point. The people who bought scalped tickets who can’t attend are only an unfortunate side effect while the system adjusts–I’m going after the scalpers.

        In my experience from when I worked at Wal-Mart lo many years ago (and from people I know who still work there) you have two kinds of people who show up in the lines for the super-popular stuff as soon as they are able to: die hard fans and opportunists. This is because it takes real dedication to go through all the effort to get that Furby, or whatever, the kind of which is only begotten by rabid fanboyism or cynical profiteering.

        It’s the same thing here. The event sold out in nine minutes. Everyone who got a ticket had to have been focused on doing nothing else but refreshing the page (or, since this is a digital transaction, written a piece of software to automate buying tickets for them). Of the people willing to do that, who do you think outnumbers who–the fanatics who are just really dedicated to going to PAX, or the scalpers who know they can get huge margins on every ticket they get their hands on, and will use whatever technology they can muster to make it happen?

        The only policy I’m saying to put in place, is to require the name of the person using the ticket when the purchaser (who doesn’t have to be the same person) buys it. Heck, at first let it be convenient to transfer ownership–make it free and easy to go on a webpage and change the owner, but track how many times the final attendant matches the original.

        If 80%+ of the people who attend weren’t the original intended recipient, you have a real scalper problem, and if not I’ll go stick my foil hat back in the closet.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          You are really underestimating the popularity of pax if you think the fans arent that numerous.

          “The people who bought scalped tickets who can’t attend are only an unfortunate side effect while the system adjusts–I’m going after the scalpers.”

          Heh,Ive heard such a thing from ubisoft,ea,and numerous other publishers so many times.

          • Abnaxis says:

            It’s not an issue of how many people there are looking for tickets–or rather, how many online accounts are looking for tickets, since this is a digital transaction. It’s a matter of proportion. Assuming there are (say) 300,000 instances of the web-page open looking for tickets, how many of those are legitimate fans and how many are scalpers or the bots of scalpers?

            It’s like when you look in the line at Wal-Mart for people buying a Furby. You see a block of twenty people, who are all clearly friends/close relations, who all buy the maximum of 3 you are allowed to buy. Unless there are sixty children among them…well, what do you think they are planning there? That’s one household, where you bring the brothers and the cousins and the friends of the family all so you can get around restrictions intended to defeat what they are actually doing: trying to make a quick buck without making any sort of meaningful contribution to society.

            Contrast this with the one beleaguered father who got there 10 hours early because his kid has been bugging them for this toy for the last six months. He would clearly much rather be doing something else but Black Friday is…well, Black Friday. He’s just trying to get A Furby for his kid and get out without being mugged. That’s a one Furby per household, because there’s one kid.

            You have two kinds of families–the ones who want to use the Furby for it’s intended purpose, and the ones that want to profit off of the scarcity of the Furby. If even if the former outnumbers the latter ten-to-one, more Furbies are being sold to the scalpers.

            With digital transactions, it’s worse–no human capital needed, just write some software to buy the tickets faster than any human could. One scalper can get many magnitudes more than an individual could or would even want to. Again, at high margins, which purchases do you think outnumber which?

        • Zak McKracken says:

          I think the people who’d buy tickets at several times their price would have the dedication to be there when the ticket sales start, too, so the skalper problem can’t be too bad.

          That said: This is just what many large events are doing: You have to give a name (for Glastonbury, even a passport photo!), and either you completely cannot transfer the ticket, or you need to go to some tricky process to do it. It’s very annoying for everyone because as a collateral, the event organiser ends up with lots of private data of every single attendee, which at least in some cases is then shamelessly used for marketing purposes, or sold, or “lost”, or used for whatever shady purpose, and if you get sick you’re either treated as a criminal or you loose that expensive ticket.

          … not really happy with this approach, either. Some other method, that is at least reasonably effective: Limit the number of tickets a single customer can buy in one go.
          Also: Print the price on the ticket, and prohibit sales for anything but the official price. In the UK, there are actually exchanges for superfluous tickets, and they (seem to) take care that stuff is only traded at official prices. Selling tickets above official price is a proper offence. Don’t know how effective that is (and how these exchanges work seems a little shady, too) but at least that sort of thing doesn’t affect the regular ticket buyers.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      If something months away sells out in minutes, then that thing is vastly under-priced. This is a super easy problem to solve. You reduce the demand by increasing the price. PAX has to cost more. This is so obvious!

      If PA really wants to make it affordable for the common man, then they could do a tiered system, where the first half of the tickets are “cheap” and the rest are on a per-demand pricing schedule that takes ticket sales into account to scale the price up.

      • Abnaxis says:

        While I would agree that a fast sell-out is indication that PA could be making a lot more money if they raised prices, I don’t really know if pricing would really get at the issue I’m having trouble with.

        Economically, what you are describing is not really different from the way things are now–scalpers essentially provide and on-demand pricing schedule. If PA switched to this scheme, it could severely backfire–someone seeking an easy profit can buy up tickets at the discounted price and then compete directly with the event owner. I’m…not sure what that would do to overall prices. Maybe it would make scalping less profitable, since cheap tickets are more scarce? I dunno.

        My problem with the whole thing isn’t so much from the consumer’s standpoint of having to pay higher prices. It’s that I think scalpers are leeches, parasites living off the work of the people who put on the event without actually contributing in any meaningful way. Even if prices are higher, I consider it a win if the proceeds actually go to the people who are working to deliver the good experience.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          That’s really interesting, because in my view the scalpers are providing a valuable service of getting tickets to people who want them at a high enough price that they don’t sell out immediately.

          I just think PA should be the ones raising the prices instead of the scalpers, because then PA gets the profits and people don’t have to feel bad about buying from scalpers or hassle with sneaking under security. It would be a lot less work for everyone if the tickets just cost more. The downside is that a lot of poor people wouldn’t be able to attend… but that’s true anyway.

  19. newdarkcloud says:

    I think Shamus is right. For the kind of games Assassin’s Creed tried to be, the yearly release doesn’t work.

    The solution: Turn it into history-themed FPS franchise, starting with WW2 (of course).

  20. Sigilis says:

    Shamus, slight correction to the show notes: you appear to have misspelled GALAXY GUN’s name as ‘Mumbles’ or possibly something way more complicated involving lots of name swapping.

  21. Zak McKracken says:

    I’m still completely confused about why current consoles shouldn’t be able to render 60 fps … My old Athlon with a Geforce 256 DDR graphics card was regularly going above 70 fps in Counterstrike in the early 2000s, and I’d think that current consoles are slightly more powerful than that. Alright, that was only at 1024*768 but still…

    The thing is this: Of course you’d have to sacrifice some of the bling shaders that games love to use these days to make that work. But this will always be the case, no matter how powerful they become: “regular” gaming devices (consoles or PCs, or whatever they be in the future) will have a certain rendering power, and the game designer will have to decide whether to use it on framerate or image quality (or resolution, or whatever). So there’ll always be a reason to stay with 30 fps and rather use that fancy new shader, or else you’ll look old.
    At the same time, the then-current expensive overpowered systems will be able to display the same stuff a lot faster and thus allow higher frame rates.

    Saying “current consoles are still too slow for 60 fps” is not true, it’s rather that developers think that the audience will value it less than the increase in image quality that can be had by halving the frame rate.
    It’s the same stuff as with laptops and PCs: Laptops will never catch up with the computing speed of PCs, no matter how fast they get. The thing that changes is the value that customers assign to processing speed over portability (and price, of course), and what you can do with that procesing speed.

    I guess at some point the possible gain in visual quality from doubling GPU capabilities will be less valued than doubling frame rates (possibly after another round of increasing screen sizes and resolution), and _then_ developers will start moving to 60 fps as standard. Technically, I don’t think there’s anything keeping them from doing it right now.

  22. Steve C says:

    In the lightsaber game, I really hope that if you spin the lightsaber the wrong way you can cut off your own head. Then your head falls off and rolls onto the ground… in full puke inducing VR. I really hope that because I’m powered by the Dark Side.

  23. Dt3r says:

    The funny thing is that I actually wasn’t thinking about PC vs. console with my question. My PC rig can only run 40-50fps for most games and I have bad visual sensitivity. So when I play a game capped at 30fps vs. one that’s not capped I have a hard time telling the difference.

    I also play a lot paradox games, where FPS doesn’t matter as much.

  24. Phantos says:

    Shamus, it takes all of my willpower to not just assume that anyone who goes to PAX is an evil date rapist pile of human garbage. So instead, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are unaware of the monstrous behaviour and precedent set by Penny Arcade and PAX.

    I’m going to provide some reading material. Hopefully you will understand why going to PAX sends an incredibly selfish, ugly message in places that are already struggling with how women are treated in a public space.

    I’ve looked up to you for a long time. But going to a convention that openly victimizes people, and even tries to profit from it sends a message and sets a tone. It says: “I want to see new video games, and that’s more important to me than someone else’s safety!”

    Please don’t turn out to be another guy who can’t put sympathy for victims of this crap above your video games. There are other conventions. There are better conventions, for better people. They could use your support.

    I already lost a hero in Mike Krahulik, I do not want it to happen here too. Yeah, you didn’t get tickets this year. Don’t be sad that you still have a chance to be a good person.

    • Shamus says:

      “Shamus, it takes all of my willpower to not just assume that anyone who goes to PAX is an evil date rapist pile of human garbage.”

      Can you see how completely unfair and unreasonable this is? Do you realize how many people go to PAX, and how few of them know about these controversies?

      I have a feeling I’m about to lose you as a reader, but for the sake of understanding I’m going to try and help you see this from my perspective. This means I have to tip my hand politically, which I hate to do. But here goes:

      I HATE the US drug war. I really, really hate everything about it. Every day, thousands of young mean are rounded up and thrown into cages even though they haven’t hurt anyone else. They are often thrown into jail for longer than murderers, and they will spend those years being beaten, terrorized, and raped. (Or learning to do those things to others as a means of survival.) This happens almost entirely to lower-income men, depriving children of fathers and tearing families apart, all for the sake of stopping people from committing a victimless crime. (Often just smoking weed.) We spend billions to catch, prosecute, and house these men and the whole system creates huge, violent criminal organizations. It’s like prohibition, only far more expensive and far more unjust, and it’s been going on for far longer.

      Okay, so now you know how I feel about that.

      The thing is, LOTS of people – probably MOST people – support the drug war. Not because they are evil, but because it’s the status quo and they don’t understand the harm its doing. It would be completely unfair for me to say all those people “support” the murder, rape, and loss of freedom that this system creates. If I refused to do business with people who support this awful system of oppression, I would have to live in a cave, shaking my fist at the world.

      It’s the same with with Mike K. I certainly disagree with the insensitive things he’s said, but I can’t blame him for the way trans people are treated any more than I can blame my neighbor for the way poor young black men who smoke weed are treated, simply because she refuses to hate the system as much as I do. I like to keep a clear line between “people who mean harm” and “people who don’t understand”.

      I have to forgive just about everyone, every day, (and love them anyway) just to keep from going crazy. I can’t hate my neighbor, and I certainly can’t hate Mike K.

      If you still think of me as possible human garbage, then it’s probably best not to read my stuff at this point. My desire to go to PAX isn’t an endorsement of Mike, but a desire to see all the other people who share this hobby.

      • Phantos says:

        See, here’s my problem with that argument:

        Going to PAX DOES support Mike Krahulik. You are giving him money. You are giving his cause attention and encouragement. You’re not boycotting him or giving your business to a competing convention. The message he gets by your endorsement is: “I guess what I did was okay, because nobody’s punishing me for it.”

        You are basically telling him, and all of the people associated with him who have and will hurt people that they can get away with it. And that just lets a hostile environment continue to be hostile, just because it’s not directly hostile to you.

        It tells real victims of their chicanery like Jessica Nigri and “DragonKitty” that their abuse was just something they should have to put up with.

        Your actions mean something, Shamus. They may mean more than you meant them to. When you go to PAX, knowing the harm it causes just lets that damage go unchecked, that is not “forgiveness”. That is turning a blind eye to people who went to that convention hoping for a safe environment, only to be barraged with abuse and rape jokes.

        I can’t expect you to change all of that. But I think if you have any sympathy for victims of a totally corrupt institution, and you have the option to reject it, you should. You’ve sworn off less on moral grounds. This is more important than DRM.

        I’ll think about what you’ve said here. Please think about what I’m saying here too. It’s not fun questioning the moral standing of someone I admire, but I would hope someone would always be there to do the same for me.

  25. Jarenth says:

    Disclaimer: I invite Josh to Gamescom every year. But it’s always something with that guy: “Waah, waah, I live on the other side of the world, and I need a visa, and I can’t afford to take time off work, and, and, and…”

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