Diecast #100: MAILTIME!

By Shamus
on Apr 24, 2015
Filed under:
Diecast

Here are the show notes for part three of of this ordeal / episode. If you’re reading this in the archives, then the audio is here. I’m not going to embed it again because that seems to cause problems for RSS readers.


Interesting side-note: Josh edited the podcast this week. I usually do it. We both tend to edit according to our tastes. I like to edit out long pauses and cross-talk. (If three or more people talk at once, I mute people until we’re down to one or two.) I also edit out “backstage” discussions. Did Rutskarn go AFK? Is everyone ready to start? Can we move on from this topic? How long have we been recording? Josh keeps things pretty raw. I don’t know that one is definitively better than the other, but that’s what each of us prefers so that’s how we edit.

This segment of the show is where we finally get to the mailbag. Note that I purged the queue after this, so if your question wasn’t answered, it’s gone for good. That doesn’t mean it was a bad question. It just means it had bad luck and we ran out of time before getting to it.


2:00:00 MAILTIME!

Dear Diecast,

I have two questions, not necessarily related.

1. What are your thoughts on the recent features that have been added to Steam lately? (Such as User-Defined tags, in-game music player, broadcasting services, etc etc etc…)

2. Recently on the DieCast, I’ve been hearing some sort of odd ticking sound whenever it was Josh’s turn to talk. What is that ticking noise? Does anyone else notice it, or am I just slowly going insane? My guess is the latter.

Best Regards,
Joey

2:13:00 Don’t make this into a game!

Dear The Diecast,

Are there any books/films/concept albums/TV shows/other things that should be barred from being made into games, and if so why?

Also if Ruts was a Mongol would he be Ruts Khan?

Cheers, Neil from England.

2:17:00 No-kill policy.

die Cast, die

Have you ever adopted a “no kill” policy in a game, either as a challenge to make things more difficult or a roleplay mechanism? How did the game react? I’m playing Hitman: Blood Money at the moment and trying to be professional and only kill the designated targets … but although the game supports it, it certainly doesn’t make it easy. Other games like FTL have a “Pacifism Run” achievement but it only counts getting to sector 5 of the game, since beating the final boss mandates that you destroy at least one ship. Is it a valid playstyle? Should more games cater for it, or is it a weird meta-game in the same class as speed runs or 100% runs or playing while blindfolded?

-Neko

2:28:00 Abandonware.

Dear Diecast,

I find myself frustrated right now that I can’t buy warcraft 1 or 2 in a way that actually gives money to blizzard, and in the case of warcraft 1 without paying a collector price.

Where do you all come down on a title like this, which belongs to an active company, hasn’t gone the Good Old Games route,and hasn’t made it available through their own site at a reasonable price.

Signed,

Currently Torn Between Ebay and Piracy.

2:39:00 Valve v. Better Business Bureau.

Dear Diecast,

Valve, the company that seemingly everyone on the internet loves super huggy much, has a F grade by the Better Business Bureau. Any thoughts? Here’s the link:

http://www.bbb.org/alaskaoregonwesternwashington/business-reviews/computer-software-publishers-and-developers/valve-corporation-in-bellevue-wa-27030704

Best Regards,
Jared

2:48:00 Casual Games.

Dear Rutskarn is cool,

Your discussion of hidden object games last week got me thinking. I play a lot of casual games with my family on the TV computer. They’re generally non-violent and often have gameplay where it’s easy for other people to participate even if they’re not the one with the mouse.

Unfortunately, most of the sites that actually sell casual games make Steam look like a masterpiece of ecommerce design. Trials are a necessity rather than a luxury. On the analysis side, I’ve come across a few games that I really enjoyed but couldn’t put my finger on exactly what worked. Aside from a couple episodes of Extra Credits, I haven’t come across anyone who gives casual games the same attention that you all give to the AAA titles.

In your explorations of the games media, have you ever come across a decent review and/or analysis site for casual games?

WWWebb

2:52:00 Valve’s Cabal Structure.

Dear Rutskarn is sweet butts,

I’ve been rewatching the Half-Life 2 “season” of Spoiler Warning, and I’d forgotten that at the end you talked about Valve’s freeform organizational “structure” or lack thereof. Each member joins the project team that appeals to them the most, etc, etc. How does that model square with the way the company has been operating lately? Valve hasn’t really released a game in years, and in fact seem to be offloading the mechanics of game development to third parties (and through the Steam Workshop, their player base) How did a freeform game developer/publisher transform into a purveyor of hardware, like the Steam Boxes, Controllers, and forthcoming VR headsets? Where did all the software people go?

Sincerely, Adam S.

2:56:00 Everything is 3D.

The new season of Spoiler Warning has made me curious about 3D graphics. Specifically, why do so many games use 3D graphics when the gameplay does not obviously benefit from being in 3D? If you added a disguise mechanic to Hotline: Miami you would be more than halfway to a Hitman game with the advantage that you would not be depicting life-like 3D figures doing jarringly un-lifelike things.

Is it the audience’s fault? Are we graphics snobs who look down on 2D? Are developers snobs? Or are there just a whole bunch of 3D graphics programmers and artists these days, so why not?

Yours in befuddlement,

John

3:00:00 SimCity!

Dear Strongbad,

With the release of Cities: Skylines and the positive hype/sales that it got, there is no doubt many a pundit and critic having a compare and contrast discussion about it and the recent SimCity. Do you think there’s anyone at EA having that discussion?

Best regards,
Jared

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202020209There are now 89 comments. Almost a hundred!

From the Archives:

  1. shiroax says:

    Have any of you checked out Steam Broadcasting? You complain about Twitch a lot, but haven’t said anything about it that I recall, so I take it it0s no better?

    • OboboboTheNerd says:

      From the few times I’ve attempted to use it, it has far less options than twitch or related streaming sites like hitbox, and freezes even more frequently than twitch does. One of the largest problems I’ve found is limited bitrate options. I can’t upload at more than about 450kbps without packet loss with online games, the lowest steam can go is 750. You also have limited selection. Even if I could stream at (For example) 1300, I’d have to choose between 1000 and 1500, rather than just typing in the bitrate I want.

      You’re better off just using OBS and hitbox/twitch/streaming site of your choice.

  2. Alexander The 1st says:

    I think WWWebb meant with the TV computer in that they were specifying between that and one that they personally use with a monitor at close range – essentially the family’s equivalent of a Steambox.

    Which reminds me…the original Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan was often called the Famicom for the short name for the Family Computer.

    And now consoles basically *are* computers this generation.

  3. Ayegill says:

    Looks like the “2:00:00 MAILTIME!” headline accidentally got placed inside the first text box.

  4. Kerethos says:

    I feel the need to speak out in favor of the “no-kills” run too. I’m also the kind of player who just jumps straight into “kill the least amount possible” in any game that allows it.

    I really enjoy playing “not a mass murdering maniac”, when that is an option, and you’re spot on about Bioware. The “nice”-option always seems to play out the best. So since that seems to always be the best way most people play like that (I’m including myself in “most people”).

    Sometimes I really wish being nice would cause more bad things to happen in Bioware games. But I’d be lying if I claimed that I didn’t really enjoy most of their games, because I really enjoy them, regardless of all the morally justified murdering of criminals and animals that you do in them.

    • Tizzy says:

      I tend to play Bioware games pretty straight too, and I would love it if the games made it harder. You could do it in a couple of ways: (1) have bad consequences as has been discussed in the show. But also… (2) have the player incur a cost for playing the White Knight. Money, maybe, but that’s a bit boring. So what about: oh, you saved this guy, but now you need to give them a really powerful/unique piece of equipment? Something to make it hurt. [Edit: It has to be something that the player actually uses. Don’t force the player to give up a meaningless McGuffin.]

      Likewise (or alternatively), give players an incentive to be bad. It could be that being bad gives you the easiest solution. Or you could become more powerful when you’re bad.

      I’m a big fan of VTM: Bloodlines, but I always felt like the Humanity mechanic had not been properly exploited. Basically, the only incentive to play a low humanity vampire was that your dialogues would switch over to a brand new selection of wacky sociopathic options. These were funnier than the usual sociopathy of Bioware games, but not quite enough to justify the playstyle. Additionally, normal gameplay gave few occasions to lose humanity and too many opportunities to regain it (which is not thematically appropriate, losing humanity should be much easier than regaining it), and it created drawbacks (easier frenzy) but no reward. Meanwhile, there were all these opportunities to give weird, evil powers that the bad guys enjoyed, but they never took them. Dial up the drawbacks and rewards and you could offer some really interesting player choices and truly drive up the replay value.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        If you have to give something up for playing the straight and narrow, why not have it be your friends?

        Mumbles talked about playing a character that didn’t give their close companions safer, preferential treatment just because they knew them a bit better. I think spotlighting a player’s choice to let innocents, perhaps many of them, perhaps explicitly under their protection, to suffer in exchange for keeping their cronies safe and feeling good, rather than, you know, actually doing their jobs when it might get them hurt or killed, or affect them psychologically or emotionally.

        And what about the cast themselves? The player might be a selfish jerk, but if the other characters have some altruism, wouldn’t knowing they were letting people suffer financially, emotionally, or physically for their leave them with serious guilt, or disintegrate their trust in or obedience of the player character?

        As long as the writers twist the knife skillfully enough, that could be a real dilemma for some players. Especially stereotypical Bioware fans, who have a reputation for being… particular about their pet characters’ treatment.

      • General Karthos says:

        Well, it really does make a difference in KOTOR if you take the “nice options”. Instead of having enough money to buy a planet after one or two of the Starmap planets, it takes you at least three. Same with Mass Effect. And Dragon Age. Yes, you inevitably do have enough money to break the economy of the game, but the nicer you are, the longer it takes you to get there.

        I also wish it were more common to be penalized for the nice choices, but I do have to point out that in Mass Effect 2 there are several cases where NOT taking the Renegade Action makes things more difficult, actually. Like in the fight against the Gunship in the Archangel mission, if you take the renegade action, the gunship has less armor. In the fight against the Krogan, in the science facility, (not the one where you recruit Grunt, the one on Tuchanka for Mordin’s side quest) if you don’t take the renegade action, you fight three fewer Krogan. There’s at least one time where, rather than listen to someone and then fight him and his various minions, you can just Malcolm Reynolds the situation by shooting him.

        I guess that is advantages for being a Renegade, rather than penalties for being a Paragon, but it works out similarly.

      • Deadpool says:

        This is a very common problem with games morality structure right now, in that it is largely divorced of a cost/reward function.

        Traditionally you’d expect being “good” to be harder than being “bad.” But that is rarely, if ever, the case in games: The rewards for being “good” tend to be, at worst, just as good and most often considerably better, than the rewards for being “bad.”

        • krellen says:

          Why should being “good” be punished? There is ample evidence that kind, cooperative people actually do, on average, reap more benefits in life.

          • MikhailBorg says:

            I was wondering that myself. In BioShock comments, so many people wanted there to be more of a penalty for saving the Little Sisters instead of harvesting them, and I didn’t get it.

            The cynic in me wondered if it was to provide a justification for being evil. (“I’d be good, maybe, but gosh it makes the game so much harder…”)

            • IFS says:

              I think part of it is that they feel like being good doesn’t mean anything if there isn’t some personal sacrifice. Making it a more difficult choice in some way not related to morality might also make for more difficult moral choices. Personally I’m fine with good being rewarded better than evil most of the time, a difficult moral choice should be difficult because of the options each having some moral value to them, not because being a dick lets you get the +1 flaming longsword of decapitation.

          • Deadpool says:

            Because it’s most player’s immediate response?

            Players want to be good guys. If being the nice guy provides better rewards and is easier, or just as easy, as being the bad guy, then the choice is pointless.

            Refusing to steal food is an easy decision when no one is in any real danger of starving.

    • Neko says:

      One counterpoint to games not allowing you to spare certain individuals I thought of while listening to this is games not allowing you to kill certain individuals. Like, I don’t know, Kai Leng, or that one obnoxious quest NPC that is clearly screwing you over. I understand that games might need to enforce an unkillable or unsavable character in some situations simply because of writing constraints, but if it protects or dooms the wrong ones, it can feel really jarring when the player wants to do what they feel is right only to find they can’t.

      • General Karthos says:

        I would actually like the option of dispensing my own version of vengeful justice a bit more often. Instead of being forced to say: “Well, Fergus, you blew up the Chantry, precipitating a war that will tear the entire world apart. Get out of my sight, but there’s no way I’m going to arrest you or kill you for murdering innocent people who by the laws of man and the maker were guilty of no crime.”

        (Or worse yet, telling him to stay is actually telling him that you don’t give a crap, not “stay so that you can face justice later”.)

  5. Thomas says:

    I was thinking the Valve system must create some crazy interesting group think. If you have a differing idea of whats ‘good’ for Valve than the group then you literally get paid less money.

    So its natural for everyone to converge towards one idea of whats best for business, which means that there’s even more people punishing you for acting outside the group.

    You combine that with literally no management, and the fact that Valve is in many ways an incredibly isolated company full of super geniuses… It must create some really beautiful emergent processes

  6. Tizzy says:

    About the Valve Customer Service.

    The problem is that even mediocre customer service is ludicrously expensive. To maintain a large enough phone center, for instance, large companies in the US each spend Billions on customer care, all this for a service which is rather mediocre at best.

    Of course, these figures are for large cable companies or mobile phone companies, Valve’s potential costs would be much smaller. But still, it’s hard to overstate how daunting a prospect it would be to make things more manual. So I don’t think the automation has anything to do with them having a tech mindset: they won’t spend large amounts of cash on customer service unless it makes sense to their bottom line, or unless they are forced in some way.

    As far as the BBB grade goes, there is nothing surprising there. Maybe this was not made clear enough in the show, but a lot of what the BBB seems interested in is how well the business addresses customer complaints, rather than make pronouncements on the quality of the service itself in the abstract. So if the service works perfectly for 99% of customers but royally screws over a few unlucky people with no chance of fixing the situation, the BBB will hear from the people who’ve been cheated and them only, and rate the business poorly.

    • Muspel says:

      Clearly, the real secret to getting a good BBB rating is to make sure that any customer that you don’t serve well doesn’t live to make any complaints. So make sure that in any situation where your product fails, it will fail as explosively as possible*.

      *Do not do this.

    • krellen says:

      So, anecdotal, but I work doing hardware warranty repairs for one of the largest hardware manufacturers in the world. My job is technically technical, but in reality it’s mostly customer service (and the service I provide is entirely a loss to the company – every repair I make costs them money).

      But from the things I hear from the customers I serve, it’s a cost well worth paying, because they are (usually) very happy to have someone that actually works for my employer there doing the fix, rather than some third party that works for a lot of different manufacturers, and I frequently hear horror stories about our competitor’s service that do not match any of the first-hand knowledge I have of our own missteps.

      Good customer service can often pay for itself through word-of-mouth advertising and customer retention.

      • Tizzy says:

        Krellen: I am glad to hear that your company is doing well by its customers. And I think that many at least try.

        But you mention that customer care is worth paying, and I think that’s worth addressing.

        We have to keep in mind that how much a company spends on customer care has to be based for the most part on a cold calculation. As you noted, it’s all cost for the company, so this cost has to be outweighed by the benefits. And companies usually quantify very tightly the cost of bad customer service, based on a mix of various statistical models and conventional wisdom (I’m not judging the accuracy of the approach, just saying that they have a very clear idea of how much they can afford to spend on care before it ceases to make sense).

        To me, this explains why companies can differ so much in the quality of their complaints handling, with each company having a perfectly rational approach, just different calculations.

        So to come back to Valve, my impression is that the slightest attempt to throw in more manual decisions into the mix would translate into a HUGE cost increase. And my guess is that they would find it hard to justify for their bottom line, given that the huge majority of their customer base looks super-satisfied.

        • krellen says:

          I think Valve’s decisions are based more on the lack of any real competition. I can say “one of the world’s largest hardware manufacturers” and not reveal what company I work for. If I said “one of the world’s largest online game-delivery platforms”, that wouldn’t be true.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      So it should actually be named a better complaints Bureau?

    • Epopisces says:

      Caveat: have not yet listened to the episode, I’m at my relative’s house and have to keep my listening PG haha. So this is in reaction to the topic & comments here.

      . . .a lot of what the BBB seems interested in is how well the business addresses customer complaints

      This is very true: most of the grade is based specifically on how complaints filed with the BBB are addressed. Therefore if you don’t address the complaint through the BBB itself and neither party notifies the BBB that a complaint was addressed, it still shows up as a bad grade.

      So you as a business have to care about not just your customer service, you also have to structure it in a way that works within the system the BBB has in place.

      In the end BBB is most important in competitive industries where customers are trying to compare like services and doing research before purchasing. I’m guessing Valve doesn’t see what they offer as falling in that category* :P

      *Because their competitors are still years away from being competitive.

  7. Paul Spooner says:

    The “Sim City Driver game” was called “Streets of Sim City” and it was amazing. Terrible… but amazing.

    Here’s a spoiler. Multi-player quad machine-gun super-jump on-ramp.

  8. John says:

    Aw, you guys answered my question. You rock. I will treasure Mumbles’ video-game buyer impression ’til I’m cold in my grave. I suspect it may take me that long just to stop laughing.

    • methermeneus says:

      One more note on the 3d graphics thing: the cast explained why AAA games tend to be 3d pretty well, but a lot of mid-level games are also in 3d because it’s easier for the programmers. I know that seems counterintuitive, because 3d programming tends to be messy and difficult but most graphics programmers tend to have most of their experience in 3d libraries (most notably Direct 3d and Open GL), and graphics cards are optimized to take 3d coordinates from the computer. Even a fair amount of 2d games are programmed as 3d games with no variation in the z axis because of this. Granted, Direct 3d and Open GL have 2d options, but they aren’t as well put together (well, not since D3d tried to get rid of DirectDraw and then reimplemented it due to game dev complaints), and most programmers have far less experience with them. Also, a lot of the more popular game engines implement 3d natively, like Unity and Source. The main reasons game devs might not do 3d are for intentional stylistic reasons, inability or lack of desire to use a major game engine (price, dislike of the API, etc.), or the expense in time and money of creating 3d art assets.

      • John says:

        Based on his description of Good Robot, that certainly sounds like Shamus’ method. As I understand it, he creates some rectangles, applies textures containing “sprites” to the rectangles, and sends them to the graphics card to render. Food for thought.

  9. JakeyKakey says:

    I’m not sure where all the software people went, but Valve is clearly too busy raising massive shitstorms by trying to put mods behind paywalls.

  10. Steven Jensen says:

    So about that Felix the Cat game Mumbles wished existed…
    It doesn’t (yet) but there is one particular game called Cuphead whose visual aesthetic is basically 1930-1940 Hannah Barbera type of animation: Hand-drawn frames, Film Filter, no spoken language, Piano/Saxo Jazzy music, etc.
    It feels to me like a game that feels just like Tom and Jerry… which is the enterity of my child-hood.

  11. BitFever says:

    Both this podcast and the one before it aren’t showing up for some reason. Like the play window for them straight up don’t exist. All your previous podcast are showing up on there respective pages so I’m not sure what’s going on there.

  12. Mike S. says:

    This probably properly belongs with the previous segment, but I want to give a shoutout to Leigh Brackett. She’s obviously obscure to the Diecast crew. (And I get that, given that she died before most of you were, I think, born.) But she was a really major figure who deserves to be better known.

    She was a major science fiction writer of the Golden Age, a time when few women were. (Both on her own, and in collaboration with her husband Edmond Hamilton, likewise an important SF writer, and someone comics fans may know as an early Legion of Super-Heroes writer.) In addition to SF, she was a moderately successful writer of hardboiled detective stories.

    She was also an important Hollywood screenwriter. Her actual contribution to the final product of The Empire Strikes Back is disputed– some sources say Lucas binned her draft and gave something completely different to Laurence Kasdan. (Though her own pulp planetary romances were definitely part of Star Wars’ ancestral line.) But long before Empire, she co-wrote The Big Sleep (with William Faulkner!), and several well-remembered Howard Hawks westerns like Rio Bravo and Rio Lobo.

    (Interestingly, she said “there was never actually any discrimination against women screenwriters”, but that there was later in television writing.)

    She was a World Science Fiction Convention guest of honor in the 60s, and she died, too young, in 1978.

    For those who are interested, there’s a nice interview with her and Hamilton near the end of both their lives at http://www.tangentonline.com/interviews-columnsmenu-166/1270-classic-leigh-brackett-a-edmond-hamilton-interview

  13. Felblood says:

    Yes, we are pretty much all stuck with 7-zip because the original seeders have to upload multiple copies to get the swarm started, and they care about that 2% compression.

    This isn’t really a problem since basically all pirates already have WinRAR (to open RAR files), which has built-in 7-zip support.

    Like walking into a biker bar, there aren’t any good books on how to torrent things. You have to know someone who has done it properly, and get basic, up-to-date instructions on the current protocols.

    I’m currently in the market for a new torrent client, BTW if anyone knows a good one. uTorrent used to be my favorite, but it doesn’t really do any of the things that used to make uTorrent special anymore.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Like walking into a biker bar, there aren’t any good books on how to torrent things. You have to know someone who has done it properly, and get basic, up-to-date instructions on the current protocols.

      Not true anymote.In the age of google,your basic search will link you to the top pirate sites,and all of those offer comments not only on the quality/danger,but on how to find a better thing or fix an issue.So you can just google for stuff you want and download it without fear.Heck,some of the browsers even offer torrent downloading addons,so you dont even need to download a separate program to do that.

      Only the obscure stuff,like specialized hacker tools,cannot be found with google.

      • Felblood says:

        Once you’ve been initiated, it’s easy to forget how hard this stuff was, because you can tell by “feel” which sites are giving you legitimate/current information. Before you reach that point, Googling is pretty useless, because — as Shamus pointed out– you don’t know enough to know what information you should seek/trust.

        Example: When I’m looking for torrents of a legal nature, I go to Demonoid.pw. You’ll see a lot of warez in here too, but this is one of my favorites for stuff that is being legitimately published via torrent.

        To someone who hasn’t been torrenting things for years, this site probably looks dodgy as all Hell. –weird domain name with a weird extension, lots of dummy domains that redirect to the site, you need an invite to view a lot of the information, a lot of stuff seems broken at first glance, etc.

        I actually feel a lot better about downloading stuff here than just grabbing a torrent I found on somebody’s fan blog, or off of Pirate Bay.

        Demonoid members, especially the uploaders, value their reputation in the community, and will generally respond to questions regarding the safety of their files.

        Torrents are one of the few things where it pays to read the comments underneath (this blog and game mods are the others) and gated communities like this tend to host higher quality comments.

        • Andy_Panthro says:

          Another issue is that all those popular torrent sites might be blocked in your country, making it even more off-putting. “Torrenting = piracy/illegal activity” is the way a lot of people think, and that makes it more difficult for any legitimate use.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Deluge has been recommended to me as a good torrent client, it might not have all the features you want, but it works.

  14. Felblood says:

    Regarding Valve and not releasing any games, but rather new systems and distribution models, etc.

    From my armchair, I can see two possible reasons:

    1. Steam is Valve’s big money maker, and they are trying to chase that success. New systems for publishing games (greenlight), mods (workshop), and soundtracks (Steam Player), is going to look more important to the people who are sustained by the last major paradigm shift in publishing.

    2. Starting development on a game is exciting and energizing, but finishing games (especially games up to Valve’s standards for polish and iterative refinement) requires real dedication, and a leader with the ability to draw others into his vision. It’s possible that Valve’s game development “Cabals” are having trouble with their workforce being poached by rival Cabals, with fresher, still-exciting projects. If, as everyone seems to be guessing, HL3 isn’t the game changer that HL and HL2 were, it might be stuck in development hell, due to a simple lack of manpower — at the company that head-hunts the most talented game devs in the world, and has Steam’s income backing it’s payroll.

    We might be seeing the first cracks in Valve’s foundation, as it becomes too large to function the way it did in 1995, and starts to crumble under it’s own weight.

    • Pretty shit move by Valve to take 70% of the money for mods.
      The fair thing here would be to give the modders at least 50%.

      • Felblood says:

        Sorry, bro.

        I am all out of troll food.

        • I meant Valve and Bethesda taking 75% combined, that 70% was a typo.

          Or do you mean that modders shouldn’t get 50%?

          Take Rutskarn that wrote a virtual book, how can Valve and Bethesda possibly fairly claim a 75% cut?
          It’s all original content. He did not take a existing model or skin and edit that.

          If you do a cover song of a band the copyright owners of the song would take a much smaller cut than what Valve and Bethesda is taking here.

          The percentage is insane.

  15. MichaelGC says:

    No-no, no: thankyou.

  16. MichaelGC says:

    Josh’s final thoughts were certainly food for, er, thought. I’m now trying to reverse-engineer a semi-reboot of Citizen Kane with those as the ending:

    Tacos…

    Fire hydrants…

    ~fin~

    • Syal says:

      Easy; when they were young they would eat super spicy tacos and cool the burn by drinking from the fire hydrant. So tacos and hydrant vandalism are the new ‘rosebud’.

      The only problem is throwing the fire hydrant into the furnace at the end.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Mumbles is actually correct with regards to your average idiot customer.Just check the plethora of user reviews,and youll find gems like “man,this graphics is crap,it looks like something made last year 1/10”.

  18. lethal_guitar says:

    About 7zip: Well, it’s not only a few percent better, but quite a lot. The most important point though is that it’s free and open source. Which is in contrast to WinRAR, which requires a license to create archives.

    The problem of malware sites having better placement in Google than the legit sites for often used software is a bad one, of course. I found a site once that wanted you to pay money for the Firefox Browser..

    http://www.7-zip.org/

    • 4th Dimension says:

      I’m still stumped how he managed to stray so far and download a malware instead of 7zip. It’s not like it’s an obscure program. It’s right there with WinRAR as something most computers should have installed.

      • Shamus says:

        It was literally the first search result for “7zip” on Google.

        As I’ve discovered recently, Google offers different results for different people. I NEVER use torrents / pirate sites / whatever, so my search results are likely going to be different from someone who does a lot of those kinds of searches.

        • Felblood says:

          Yeah, Google’s attempts to deliver results that are “more relevant” often lead into “Stop helping me!” territory.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          WIERD. What wierd logic did Google use to serve you that kind of program I’ll never know. For me literary the entire first page it’s links to 7.zip program. Like first two directly link to 7zip site. Next one is a link to their sourceforge page and than dozen or so mirrors like CNET.

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          Note that other people get different ordering of results. My results look like

          #1 7zip.org (project home page)
          #2 SourceForge project page
          #3 SourceForge download page
          #4 Wikipedia article about 7Zip
          #5 CNet download for 7Zip (questionable)
          #6 FileHippo page for 7Zip (VERY dubious)

        • Zak McKracken says:

          I recommend using Duckduckgo for searches. Not only does it not try to individualize stuff, it will also show you the wikipedia entry on the thing you looked for, and its official home page (properly marked as being that), which means that most of my searches end in the upper half of the first screen, like so:

          https://duckduckgo.com/?q=7-zip

          (I’ve never tried using it to look for torrents, so no idea if it would be any good for that)

        • Zak McKracken says:

          I think that Bittorrent is a great way of getting stuff out there without actually having a server. It is, if you will, the democratisation of large-volume digital content distribution. The fact that it’s often used for dubious or outright illegal purposes? … well, http is used for those, too…

          Loved that my old Opera had a client built in, but these days (on Linux) kTorrent handles things even better.
          I downloaded the Linux installation DVD image via BT, by the way… people who make free software shouldn’t have to pay for servers with massive upload capacity. They did provide the link on their website, though, so no searching on dodgy biker bars required.

          Most of the custom downloaders that companies use for their stuff are secretly Bittorrent clients, those companies just don’t want to admit it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that Steam is using BT internally. I think they should just switch to letting people use a BT of their own choosing: less unwanted software on my machine, and BT gets the credit it deserves.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The problem,sadly,is not just with shady sites that offer free stuff with malware.Even the legit stuff,like java or flash player,are prone to installing unwanted stuff(like google chrome),and even malware(like the ask toolbar),while running their official installers taken from their official sites.

      • Psy says:

        And Linux distros have has had online package managers for about a decade now making Linux users forget hard Windows users have it doing it the old fashion way. With Linux the biggest pain is dependencies breaking because the program you are trying to install uses incompatible libraries so you have so rebuild the binaries from source yet that is rare.

    • Tektotherriggen says:

      Another drawback for standard zip format is that it compresses files individually. Suppose you’re compressing a load of small, similar files. 7-zip (and other compression formats) will lump them all together, and then compress as a single stream of bits, so it can use what it “learns” from earlier files to better compress later files. Normal Zip will take each file individually, so you don’t gain anything from the files being similar.

      But that in turn gives 7-zip the disadvantage that, to extract one file, you must extract them all (temporarily). Normal Zip can easily pull any random file from the middle of the archive.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      Also, in comparison to native Windows zippery “actually supports real encryption” and “easily creates multipart archives” aren’t frequently used but are important.

  19. 4th Dimension says:

    Yeah. Especially the teen demographic who are especially sucseptible to hype being not fully formed humans. I know this since I am teaching in a highschool and from time to time we have spare time and they start talking about games, and the major thing for them in games is GRAPHICS! Currently most of them are majorly turned on by the GTAV BECAUSE GRAPHICS MAN!

    I think it’s tied to their own internal hardware measuring competition, where being able to play a new game on high raises your standing among your peers.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      I replied to Demian.

      Also this spam filtering is getting on my nerves. LITERALY EVERY SINGLE post I made in past few days has been flagged as spam.

    • Mike S. says:

      I’m a little surprised, since in my limited experience of teens (mostly nieces, nephews, cousins, kids of friends) they’re mostly either console/mobile gamers, or else trying valiantly to extract performance out of inadequate laptops. They don’t have significant sources of their own income or space for a desktop separate from the low-to-midrange laptop they got for school.

      (And if they don’t have a laptop, they’re competing for time on an often badly-aging family computer. The XP obsolescence at least helped clear out some of the very bottom end of that, but there are plenty of early Vista machines still crawling along.)

      Nor are the parents I know generally eager to spring for the substantial premium of a laptop with high-level discrete graphics.

      Granted, they’re mostly younger teens, so maybe they’ll figure something out. (I’d certainly be glad to help my nieces or nephews build something if the issue ever arose.)

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    What about the reverse no kill runs?Meaning,kill everything runs in games where killing is discouraged?Like pillars of eternity.Anyone here try that?Because the challenge of those is often the same,if not greater,than no kill run in other games.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I was really tempted to do a “kill everyone” Oblivion run, but never got around to it (and obviously there were plenty of people you weren’t allowed to kill).

      I’m thinking of doing this with Skyrim now though, although I kinda feel like I should play it normally first. (haven’t actually played it yet, even though I’ve had it for ages, much like many other games in my backlog).

    • Jokerman says:

      I did this in Fallout New Vegas, it really was hard as hell… i could no go anywhere or do any mission without everyone trying to murder me. Being a cannibal helped.

  21. Neil W says:

    So having sent in that somewhat confrontational question about things that shouldn’t be games, perhaps I should explain myself. I did have a big thesis, but the cast have asked that questions be brief. Clearly I was too brief (and now I’ve forgotten exactly what I was trying to get at).

    I suppose I was hoping for a conversation like this:

    Rutskarn: Well, if you do it right almost anything can be a game. Except Zardoz. Don’t touch that shit game developers.
    Chris: Actually, they could totally make a Zardoz game in the style of [obscure Indie Game].
    Shamus: I heard about that game, but haven’t played it. Is it like [Some Old Game]?
    Chris: Well, maybe…
    Josh: You know, better than Zardoz, you should make a [obscure indie game] in the style of 2001.
    Ruts: YES. Get on that game developers.
    Mumbles: Fuck that shit. You know what’s needed? A [Some Old Game] but about Booster Gold wrestling all the villians.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ultimately it depends on what you have in mind when you want to translate it to another medium.You sure cant* turn the visuals of avatar into a book,no matter how hard you try.But you sure can do it with the story.

      *You cant do it as well or better than in the movie.Doing it poorer is pointless.

      • Neil W says:

        So attempting to reconstruct my thoughts when I sent the question:

        Let’s imagine that I’m making a Moby Dick game. Now I could make a First person whale hunting simulator. Or a Telltale style adventure game. Or a Moby Dick themed Hidden Object game. Or a whale hunting strategy game.

        In any of these cases aren’t I mostly better off if I just made the game I wanted? Other than possibly any marketing benefit from having Moby Dick on the cover.

        Perhaps I could set Moby Dick in space. But rather than have someone with a prosthetic leg chase a White Space-Whale, perhaps I would do better to use elements from Moby Dick and instead make The Wrath of Khan?

        (Aside – One of the problems with Into Darkness is that the elements it used from Khan were taking scenes and characters from the earlier work and shoving them into the film and saying look! It’s Khan Noonien Singh! Look it’s that scene, but the characters are the other way around!. While Khan used elements from Moby Dick to examine the theme of revenge, Into Darkness didn’t want to examine anything really, let alone themes from the earlier film)

        There’s obviously a difficulty in taking Avatar – designed to show off 3D film technology – and write a book trying to give even a glimpse of the visuals in the medium of words. Even if someone could spend a dozen pages and get half way there, they would probably be better off spending that effort writing their own work. But a book about being in another body, living in another culture on another planet – the physical and emotional feelings, things that films are not so good at, now that might get somewhere.

        So back to games: Are there certain works in other media that would be poorly served by games as they currently exist; why; and what angle could games approach it from?

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Well the thing about video games is that they are so diverse,that there really isnt anything that cannot be translated into them.Now there are stuff that cannot be translated into certain genres of video games.For example,silmarilion.You cannot really make a good fps out of it(maybe of a certain chapter,but not a whole book),but you could make a great rts out of it.

          • Syal says:

            I’m trying to imagine a game version of The Hunt for Red October, and I’m not seeing it. Or, like… Henry Fool. Or The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. What would those games look like?

            Like, the thing about non-interactive media is they can tell really complicated non-interactive stories about a whole lot of people doing a whole lot of nothing.

            • Neil W says:

              Oh my. There were two Hunt for Red October Video Games, one in1987 “based on” the book, and one in 1990 “based on” the film.

              Also a board game.

              If I had more time I would try to see if anyone has done a let’s play.

              • Syal says:

                Well, technically the Blues Brothers had a game as well (the worst part is that that’s an easy movie to make into a game and they didn’t bother). It’s easy to make a game if you’re just borrowing portions of the setting and ignoring the theme of the original story. The story of Red October is about preventing exactly the scenario presented in those games.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Like, the thing about non-interactive media is they can tell really complicated non-interactive stories about a whole lot of people doing a whole lot of nothing.

              You mean like the time management freemium games?Where all you do is wait for your energy bar to fill up so you can click one button.

  22. Ventus says:

    Sorry Josh, but I gotta say I prefer the way Shamus edits the podcast ;P Not tryna be mean (but I’m gonna be so why preface it, I don’t know) but while I was actually listening to to it I thought that it actually hadn’t been edited at all since it was such a long one. Still, I commend you for working on it, even if I found the results to be oh-so-inferior to Mr. Youngs skills :D

  23. Andy_Panthro says:

    I’ve never really got that difference in immersion between first or third person games. I’ve felt plenty of immersion in games like Ultima or Baldur’s Gate, without the need to see directly through my characters eyes.

    It’s the atmosphere, story and interactions which build that immersion rather than the 3D world itself. Also I suppose I don’t care much if it’s in 3D either, but certain games do benefit hugely from being in 3D (FPS, Flight/Space Sims, and so on).

  24. Bryan says:

    …Comment completely unrelated to the post, but I don’t twitter. In your feed there’s a retweet of (…a screenshot of, which is … wasteful) this error message:

    > cannot convert argument 3 from ‘ID3D11ShaderResourceView *’ to ‘ID3D11ShaderResourceView *const *’

    and the original tweet has a couple of replies. But all of the replies are missing the critical bit. The critical bit isn’t the const, it’s the extra * — argument 3’s type is a const pointer to an ID3D11ShaderResourceView pointer (…read those C and C++ types inside-out!), and what’s being passed is an ID3D11ShaderResourceView pointer. The const can be added automatically.

    The function needs another pointer. Grab the address of whatever variable you’re passing to the function. (And yeah, it’ll likely have to be a variable.)

    I vaguely suspect this is an out pointer? Probably with CreateShaderResourceView? D3D, being based on COM/ActiveX, is full of that kind of out-interface-pointer insanity.

    Ah, no, reading the API docs some more, I bet this is one of the three device-context ??SetShaderResources methods, as those have the explicit const. (The create function doesn’t.) The problem is that these methods are expecting an array. (Which is what the other two args — StartSlot and NumViews — are for. They tell the function where in the array to start, and how many views to bind to the shader.)

    If you only have one resource view, then using its address should work, with a StartSlot of 0 and a NumViews of 1. A real C array might be more futureproof if you want, but eh.

  25. Adam says:

    Yay! You answered one of my questions. Sadly, I’m not Adam Savage. My name is not that cool.

  26. Christopher says:

    I didn’t get to the podcast until today, so I’m sorry for talking about the first hour.

    It’s weird to listen to Shamus talk about how the Souls Community annoys him more the more they say it’s not punishing or that hard. Jeff Gerstmann has been getting into Bloodborne despite not liking the earlier ones. In a post on his tumblr, the thing he’s been pissed at the most about the game is the way the internet has told him they are way harder than he finds them. I’ll quote the last paragraph.

    “Mostly, it’s just frustrating that there are people who try to paint it as extra difficult and then lash out at people who don’t like its particular brand of action as “casuals” or “not real gamers” or whatever the fuck else, like enjoying this developer’s work puts you into some kind of secret coolguy club. Sometimes it feels like there are fans out there trying to paint these games as modern masocore or something. Bloodborne ain’t that.”

    Make up your mind, completely separate internet celebrities that I follow. I guess everyone is in agreement on fans making it worse, at least. Good thing about the fan death, then.

    I guess all I really wanted to say is that I love bosses. I think the Souls games have largely good bosses as well as enemies, and that’s rare these days. Yeah, you usually just dodge and hit them unless there’s a trick or two, but that is the gameplay in those games. Everyone else has got extra mook waves instead. I enjoy them, but I think the Arkham Games would have been vastly improved by having at least one of their colorful villains actually be a good boss fight. What’s the pinnacle so far, Mr. Freeze? That fight with Joker and one of the sickle and hammer brothers, a bunch of mooks and a toy train? At least Arkham has them, though. It’s preferable when a game whose primary mechanic is combat actually features a lot of confrontations with unique and powerful enemies. Not if it’s like Alan Wake and what passes for a final boss is a boring tornado that doesn’t do anything despite the game being all combat all the time, or if it’s Mass Effect and the final boss is a mildly bigger version of a regular enemy that shoots shotgun blasts instead of regular bullets. And those are the best bosses in those games. That’s just not an exciting crescendo for me. Believe I was most pissed at Bioshock Infinite. Bioshock 1s wasn’t good either, but at least it wasn’t tower defense. I’ve been Playing the new Tomb Raider for a while, and in this game that apparently features moving magical armors the closest I’ve gotten to a boss fight is climbing a tower. Old Tomb raider might have controlled terribly, but it at least had the decency to make a T-Rex fight you at some point. That would have livened up all the dirty men in garbage huts. I accept that games like Life is Strange won’t have huge boss fights, but if you’re making games based in large part on combat and feature magical or science fiction monsters, I don’t get the reasoning behind not letting you have exciting battles with them. Infinite was such a tease with Songbird, too. I actually really like how Tomb raider feels and would have appreciated the opportunity to fight something other than regular dudes.

    It’s sort of difficult to sum up, but to take it back to RPGs, the difference in approach between me and Shamus might be that he is into roleplaying. I’m into beating up big, unique monsters in impactful and responsive combat systems with a good ability to dodge. In the genre of action RPG, I haven’t found any game that lets me beat more monsters up better than Dark Souls without a bunch of elf racism or whatever getting in the way. Hope this wasn’t an annoying read, I’m not trying to push Souls on anyone, I’m just saying this is part of why I approach it as an answer to the show notes.

    The Avengers casting seems accurate.

  27. Yeah – Superman fan here. Really quite disappointed by that trailer.

    My concern is that they’re going to get the tone entirely and completely wrong. It’s looking like a Batman movie featuring Superman. Superman is a humble good guy from Smallville who happens to be ridiculously powerful – not a self styled god like Zod was demanding to be worshiped.

    On that note though – I’m not too up in arms about Superman killing Zod. It’s not unprecedented – and ‘no killing’ has not been a fundamental part of his character. The trying to save everybody is.

    • Mike S. says:

      No killing has been a central part of his character for decades. Not all the way back to the beginning– he tossed people over the horizon in the Golden Age, and wasn’t above tricking someone into self-destruction in the 50s, just as Golden Age Batman occasionally resorted to firearms and homicide. But certainly for half a century or so.

      (He has historically been okay with others, like police or lesser supers, using deadly force for the usual defense of life reasons. He defended a teammate in the Legion of Super-Heroes from expulsion for killing in self-defense, for example. But his line has been that his powers and invulnerability mean that it’s obligatory upon him to always find another way.)

      In the comics, violating that code means he stops being Superman– something he’s been known to declare prospectively and to follow through on. That’s seen most vividly in Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” (where he commits an entirely justifiable homicide against an enemy who’d killed most of his friends and was a threat to the entire world, and then walks into a vault with Gold Kryptonite to give up his powers forever).

      But even the much-referenced execution of the Phantom Zone criminals on Pocket Earth (which was a bomb thrown by John Byrne in his last issue, leaving his successors to pick up the pieces) was ultimately resolved by his going mad, then leaving Earth for its safety and his atonement. He eventually came to terms with it (because unlike the Moore story, they weren’t ringing the curtain down on the character). But his self-imposed exile lasted a year, and ended with a reaffirmation of his commitment to never take a life.

      I’m less concerned about the idea that Superman is being idolized or even worshipped in the movie, because I haven’t seen any sign in the trailers that he endorses it. Superman’s had cults form around him more than once, and has had to remind people that despite appearances, he’s not a god.

      I’m guessing that Batman is going to assume he has more to do with that than he actually does. (What with his experience with figures like R’as al Ghul.)

  28. Joey says:

    I am honored to have part of my question read in Chris’s goofy voice. :)

    Loved this episode of the DieCast, keep up the great work!

  29. Zak McKracken says:

    Thanks for validating all of my reservations against Steam by confirming that there are indeed people who lose their entire games library to some bad decision on Valve’s side which cannot be appealed. Now I get to spend another year preaching to people to stay away from Steam and feeling moraly superior.

    … in fact, some may not consider this something to be thankful for, but what do they know?

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