Diecast #110: Arkham Knight, Amibos, Graphics Hardware

By Shamus Posted Monday Jun 29, 2015

Filed under: Diecast 120 comments

Hosts: Shamus, Campster, Josh.

Heads up: No Spoiler Warning this week, but we’re going to try and post the archive of our E3 livestream.

Show notes:
0:30 Arkham Knight PC release was so bad the the publisher pulled it from shelves.

“Pulled it from shelves”? Pfft. As if they have shelf space for PC games at Gamestop. What is this, 1998?

Josh mentions the story about the $200 Batmobile Edition of the game, which was canceled due to “quality control” issues.

Here’s a thought experiment: WB plans to sell these crappy Batmobile statues by making them part of the $200 collector’s edition. They plan a run of N thousand statues. There’s a certain overhead to selling mass-produced crap like this, so you need to sell in volume if you want to make money. Then let’s imagine that when the pre-orders roll in, instead of thousands of people ordering the Batmobile edition, they only got a few hundred. There’s no way they can sell just a few hundred of these without losing a ton of money.

If you’re an executive at WB, what do you do? If you’re an idiot you can tell the truth and admit your product is far less popular than you anticipated, and you can piss off fans by going back on the implied promise of a pre-order. You look bad, your product looks bad, and your customers are pissed. Alternatively, you can claim that there are “quality control issues”. This makes it sound like it’s not your fault at all. It’s not you, it’s that crappy factory in China! They made sub-standard products, and you have heroically decided to give up all those sweet pre-orders rather than sell your customers a sub-standard Batmobile.

I want to stress that this a made-up scenario on my part. But my point is that the “quality control” line is the best answer they could possibly give. This answer might be the truth, but it’s also suspiciously the most perfect and expedient deflection of blame they could have offered. I can’t prove – or even seriously allege – anything, but I do find myself looking a this very cynically.

Two hundred dollars is a lot of money.

19:00 Chris talks about Amibos.


Josh and Shamus are both upgrading, so it’s time for the biannual rant about the ongoing war between NVIDIA and AMD.


Dood! Bruh…


WHAR MAH ERRANT SIGZ AT SON?! Been like, what…oh, just two weeks. Nevermind then.

That said, as the resident video producer, I have to ask what’s happened in the past year or so that’s marked what feels like a very sharp and sudden drop in video content on the internet. Many of my old standbys are gone and those that remain have drastically reduced their update schedule. I’m just curious really if you have anything to say about it. I know a good while back you made mentions of Blip on yer blog but–oh wait, about that…


The Neil Not From England

50:00 Historical basis of game worlds.

Dear Diecast,

It’s common practice, when inventing made-up peoples and cultures, to draw from real history and existing establishments. What games do you see as having done this the best? Which have done this the worst? Why?

Yours, Ira


From The Archives:

120 thoughts on “Diecast #110: Arkham Knight, Amibos, Graphics Hardware

  1. DeadlyDark says:

    I remember playing Chronicles of the Riddick on 6 fps with maximum settings possible. But that was worth it, back in the time visuals was great (best in 04, if you discount Far Cry, but they played on different fields). I think, first Crysis on ultra I played on something like 15-20 fps. But now? I don’t see progress in visuals that much to justify low framerate.

  2. James says:

    So Arkham Knight, oh jeeze.

    ItmeJP is a streamer, and he has a insane pc, its built for full time streaming, its something insane like a i7 dual 980 set up and even he had issues making it run properly at a decant frame-rate, TB has also stated the same and his PC costs something like 4 thousand dollars.

    The game is so badly ported that SLI doesn’t work, turning off motion blur causes the game to straight up crash. uncapping the frame rate so you can get above 30 which most people on PC consider to be bare minimum, causes the frame-rate to be unstable and dip heavily.

    Reports indicate the game hates AMD cards, something AMD users are getting more and more used to sadly.

    The PC version has features REMOVED, you cant pick which AA you use, Ambient Occlusion is removed, Depth of Field options are removed, Rain Textures Removed, and its been observed that some textures are lower quality then the PS4/Xbone versions.

    This has been the worst AAA PC port in years.

    Oh and Fuck the BatTank the person who thought that gem up is a moron

    1. silver Harloe says:

      re: the BatTank: I get a feeling they had a mandate to make the game more in line with the BatsVSupes movie (but I have no evidence to go with this feeling)

      1. Thomas says:

        I was going to say I doubt it, because Arkham Asylum actually muscled out the movie game of The Dark Knight and was something of a “this is how it should be done properly”, but I guess it is Warner Brothers in charge.

        On the other hand, I don’t think there’s really any sign that Rocksteady have had any talent in adding features that make the game feel more like a Batman game since Arkham Asylum. The ludicrous Riddler races are just the logical end of Rocksteady randomly cramming in villains into nonsense side quests in Arkham City. And ‘playable Catwoman’ was really the same kind of thing.

        They just made Arkham Asylum and quickly changed from a studio making a great game, to being a studio making a game that could be _marketed_ as a great game. “Batmobile” is a great back of the box feature

  3. The ‘wondering whar my Sigz at’ is the joke, not the legit inquiry as indicated by the ALL CAPS and general (and admittedly godawful) bro-speak. I’m still curious if Chris has anything to say regarding:

    1) The state of his blog/website and…

    2) Anything in general regarding the seeming shift away from ‘produced’ content towards less ambitious ‘commentary over random footage’ that has seemingly become the norm with video content on the web.

    1. Chris says:

      1) The state of his blog/website and…

      The state of the website is that Campster should spend some time working on his damn website.

      A few things happened that slowly pushed the blog into decay:

      • First, Blip.tv (the platform I usually link to on the blog) has a goofily strict 1.5GB upload cap on videos. This was okay when making 720p videos, but 1080p (or even high-quality 720p) videos tend to be >2 gigs. So my usual video linking platform sort of went ‘poof’ in the past few months as I’ve tried to up the video quality.
      • Then my spam filters got way out of date and I kept getting approval requests for penis pumps and what not in my comments. But to upgrade the spam filter I needed to upgrade WordPress. And in the process of upgrading WordPress I broke the video embedding in my current WordPress theme, which further disinscentivized posting there.

      Combine that with the fact that the vast bulk of my audience is on YouTube and not my blog and a production schedule that has been besieged with delays, and my time and effort felt better spent getting content out as fast as I could rather than spending evenings debugging CSS and re-encoding old videos at lower quality for Blip.

      That said, I’m still paying for the hosting and it makes no sense to abandon the site completely – especially if I ever get the urge to do some prose rather than video – so I totally intend to return to it. Like I said, I just need to get off my butt and fix it all. It’s just tedious work that I haven’t been able to justify.

      2) Anything in general regarding the seeming shift away from “˜produced' content towards less ambitious “˜commentary over random footage' that has seemingly become the norm with video content on the web.

      It was sort of inevitable – I mean, I was envious of the fact that TB could put out 5 videos of unscripted talk per week over unedited gameplay footage while it took me weeks to write, record, and edit my videos way back when I kicked off my Patreon campaign. Twitch has popularized that format even more, and at this point it’s the way people expect to discuss games in video form. It sounds self-evident, but you can just make so much more video content so much more quickly when you don’t need to worry about what’s going on on screen. I’d love to mess with the format, but I’m way more stilted and awkward off-script (see also: this podcast).

      General thoughts about the trend:

      1. It tends to favor personalities more than ideas – what you say matters less than how charismatic you are when you say it. People don’t watch Twitch streamers for the points they’re trying to make but to “listen to So-and-So play Game X” and listen to them joke around or get angry or whatever schtick their personality lends itself to.

      2. It’s more talk radio than editorial. This comes with the unscripted nature of the programming, I guess, but it tends towards the populist and emotional. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that nuanced or complex topics are best left to scripted material.

      3. I’d like to think there’s room for both approaches?

      Anyways, sorry for misunderstanding your question the first time around.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        Wait, you’ve still been producing stuff? I figured life happened when I never saw a peep on RSS…

        1. Sleepy the Bear says:

          I think Campster is announcing videos over at Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/errantsignal/

          I hope that helps you get your Campster fix.

          1. Abnaxis says:

            I suppose it goes with the whole “commentary over random footage,” but I’m betting there’s no transcript anywhere anymore?

      2. Ivellius says:

        Chris, as someone who actually teaches university-level public speaking, you’re not nearly as awkward as you fear. (You do seem to have some speaking anxiety though.)

      3. Groboclown says:

        Is there a specific reason you can’t or won’t embed the youtube video into your blog, rather than having to deal with the blip.tv transcoding?

        1. Zagzag says:

          I believe the reason used to be that blip videos made Chris more ad money than Youtube, so blog readers might as well watch those versions.

  4. SpiritBearr says:

    Polytheism in Medieval fantasy is weird. I never got what it was doing until I got Darklands from GOG. In Darklands the powers your religious people use are drawn from gaining and using favour from saints. Saints are numerous and help with what they are patron saints of. Just like the ideas behind Polytheistic systems except x12 since Catholics love making people saints. The problem there was that I could never get them to activate.

    1. Vermander says:

      I think part of the problem is that many fantasy writers don’t understand how religion in historical polytheist societies actually worked. They tend to depict each god as having their own “church” with huge leadership hierarchies, major temples in every city and militant “templar” orders to do their bidding. So it ends up feeling like a society with 7 or 8 different monotheistic religions that compete with each other.

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        I read an essay once suggesting most fantasy writers are either believers who don’t want to profane their faith, so they use a lot of spiritual metaphors in their work (e.g., Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the like) instead of creating a believable fictional religion. Or they’re agnostics or atheists who portray fictional religions according to their negative biases towards real-world religions.

        In a lot of 80s and 90s fantasy fiction, any “good” religious believers are essentially deists. They acknowledge the existence of the Creator or God of Light or whoever, but never pray, observe any kind of ritual or service, or call upon divine power. Any organized religious factions in these novels are either openly evil worshippers of Dark Gods, or Inquisition-like militants who do evil in the name of good. It’s rare to find the fantasy writer who creates a believable, fictional faith.

        With tabletop RPGs and video games, there’s the added complication that these games are mostly about combat, often set against a backdrop of constant war or threat of supernatural violence. So the depiction of religion in these games often ends up being, “what would be a cool deity to worship, or a devious divine villain the PCs can kill at the end of the game?” rather than “what kind of gods would a functioning society acknowledge?” That’s why you see so many D&D players put “I worship the god of my character class” on their character sheet but if they’re not a cleric or paladin they’ll never otherwise acknowledge it, but almost no one puts the god of farming or sailors or mercy even if their upbringing would suggest it.

        1. Cuthalion says:

          This makes a lot of sense. I’d be uncomfortable writing a book where the protagonist’s religion contradicts my real-life one, even if that could make for interesting fiction and an interesting fictional religion. So I’d feel like I had to either include “the right one” somewhere in the setting, which would probably end up a cringingly obvious export, or be really noncommittal about the whole thing and avoid making the character’s religion simultaneously important and not obviously wrong.

          And the point about atheists or agnostics not being likely to portray a fictional religion well (or at least as anything better than a placebo that manages to make people nice despite being laughably false) makes sense, though I can’t speak for agnostic or atheist authors as to its accuracy.

          One other issue is audience. RPGs especially have taken flack in the past (and some in the present) for borrowing from (or appearing to borrow from) real-world religious or occult symbols, names, etc. If you want to make something inoffensive, you definitely don’t want anything to seem too close to a widely practiced real-world belief, so you pick something unpopular or widely seen as mythological, then tone down anything that bumps into real-world beliefs like demons, actual historical deity names, stuff that anyone might think of as witchcraft, etc. Polytheism with the sharp edges removed and the real-world remnants sanitized is the safest choice and provides a convenient RPG mechanci.

  5. Vermander says:

    I thought Dragon Age Inquisition did a decent job with religion (at least by video game standards). I’m sure there are many elements of the Andrastian faith that don’t hold up on closer examination, but I like that they depicted a church that had a large, complex hierarchy with several different organizations who were often at odds with each other. When the subject of electing a new “Pope” came up we learned that there were several different factions within the church. Some of the “bishops” were very conservative and dogmatic while others wanted to see major reforms.

    More importantly, it occasionally showed us why common people mostly supported the church. No matter what other problems the church had, we did see their representatives actually feeding the poor, assisting refugees and praying for the sick and the dead. In a world where there are few, if any secular organizations that provide charity, medical care or education it’s only natural that religion would be a huge part of everyone’s lives.

    1. Robyrt says:

      Yeah, Dragon Age does the medieval church about as well as can be expected with a modern game. Not everyone is a staunch believer, but everyone recognizes the church as a legitimate moral authority with big political implications. The Qunari are a pretty good stand-in for the Caliphate, too.

    2. Wide And Nerdy says:

      The good ideas were introduced in the previous two games. Inquisition kind of stamps all over it.

      Particularly egregious in the ending. There is absolutely no way, even in the circumstances of this crisis, even in if she’s the most politically savvy person in all of Thedas, even if the Inquisitor is a mage, that Vivienne would be able to form more than a tiny cult around the idea of her being the new Divine. The world is too anti-mage. Its like the medieval Catholic church appointing a pagan priestess to be the new Pope. Worse, this happens without you even knowing about it whether you’re mage or not.

      Also the reveal that the Seekers have a method that with some work could make mages immune to possession without stripping their emotions.

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        I don’t agree. The Chantry is not anti-mage: the Chantry believes mages should serve Man, not the other way around. This is how Tevinter justified their Divines being mages. And yeah, Tevinter is evil, etc., but the point is they didn’t have to violate Andraste’s scripture to do it. There’s been so much upheaval in Thedas in the last 10-15 years, including some incredibly dickish behaviour on the part of the templars (especially if you sided with the rebel mages and most of them become Red Templars) and other factions within the Chantry, there could easily be a groundswell of support for a mage Divine. Especially one who is a devout Andrastrian, a trusted advisor of the most powerful ruler in Thedas, and in all other ways a supporter of the traditional system.

        She’s the perfect compromise candidate on paper: a mage who wants to restore the Circles and the Templar Order. She could very well be a recipe for disaster in practice but Thedasians aren’t the most forward-thinking people.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Few things warrant this reaction but frankly, bullshit. I shouldn’t even have to explain it. There’s no way the church we saw in the first two games would come to the point putting a mage in charge. The events of all three games offer plenty to reinforce the fears of any who would oppose it. And Tevinter is exactly what naysayers would bring up the moment she put her bid forward seriously. The church isn’t going to go from keeping them imprisoned to putting them in charge so quickly. Maybe after a long tenure with one of the other choices of Divine to bring about reform might they consider it.

          This is the problem with Bioware. They don’t care about their own rules. So I stopped caring about the plots, knowing that they could just change the rules whenever it suited them.

          1. stratigo says:

            The church is dead. Long live the church.

            Specifically, the Andrestian church has no power to do anything. Both their militant bodies are gone, their leadership is gone, their monopoly on magic is gone. Vivienne could get herself declared Divine by marching a small army into the conclave and demanding it. And, she has the political clout to get away with it in Orlais.

            We’ll see how the next game handles it, but the church is set up to collapse completely in a way reminiscent to historic issues that the catholic church had (there was three popes once, and no one listened to any of them). All the foundations of their power have been destroyed, and they have no way to enforce orthodoxy amongst the clerics on their own. The Inquisition, if it cares to, and the royalty of Thedas will decide what the Andrestian faith looks like in the future.

            1. 4th Dimension says:

              What is likely to happen at this point is not complete collapse and change into some sort of free flowing protestant system but enterprising land powers are likely to try setting up their own national churches along the old traditional lines. And with no power or support they are likely to get away with it.

              Also about the previous point not made by you I think how the scripture supports the mage being a Divine. The problem with that view is that it discards the influence of tradition, and you look at the IRL counterpart of Andrastian cult Roman Catholocism (and Orthodox church) tradition is EQUAL to the scripture. And if tradition says you can not have a Mage divine you will not have one, and even if the Inquisitior forces one upon the church what is likely to happen is that other high ranking church officials will either ignore her or raise a counter Divine to her to counter her influence. And they will not do that out of bigotry or thirst for power, but because they gunenly believe that tradition demands that a Mage can not be a Divine and allowing this to happen is a prelude to what happened in Tervinter of Mages trampling over the spirit of the law in the end.

      2. IFS says:

        But Vivienne can only become Divine if you personally endorse her through a war table mission, and the world at that point basically views you as a savior possibly chosen by Andraste herself. And while I haven’t made her divine in any of my games I am told she proves a difficult and controversial choice, who keeps a lot of authority by being very conservative in her actions (renewing the circles and such). Vivienne herself suggests Cassandra as Divine, and Cassandra and Leliana are both better candidates.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Its happened in games where people endorse others. Your endorsement is not the sole basis for whatever ends up happening.

    3. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Pillars of Eternity did a good job with Josh’s complaint about superstition. There were people who had plain old superstitious beliefs about things (for example, the local lord wanted to purge members of a specific faith because he believed it would appease the gods and end the Hollowborn plague). There were people who drew on soul power imperfectly, such as mages, priests, etc. Then there were people who approached the study of soul phenomena like a science, the animancers.

      And thats to say nothing of other reveals that come later.

      1. Micamo says:

        Pillars of Eternity sorta undoes all of the goodwill its setting builds up with its ending though, which is only slightly better than Mass Effect 3’s ending in the way that it’s at least *somewhat* foreshadowed. Thaos is basically the Starchild.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          That is an egregious insult to the writers at Obsidian. They built Thaos up over the course of the game. You encounter him first before you even reach the first town and on it goes from there. He may not be the most dramatically compelling villain but you clash with him throughout and he’s tied deeply to whats going on, which is clear from the beginning even if the specifics of why don’t reveal themselves till later. You spend much of the game uncovering his machinations.

          The reveal at the end is thematically in keeping with events immediately preceding the game that loom over the plot for its entire run. Think about it, the game starts with the aftermath of the Godhammer which slew a god. People are shaken, wondering what it means if a god can be killed, wondering if the Hollowborn plague is related. And it turns out it is though not the way they expect. The gods are artificial. Man creates and destroys gods.

          I understand if you got distracted with the side plots but its all there. Unlike Bioware, Obsidian still remembers how to keep their plot on track and making sense.

    4. Joe Informatico says:

      It even acknowledged that the period between Andraste’s martyrdom and the establishment of the Chantry as now known was pretty chaotic, and all sorts of factions and sects jockeyed for power in the early days. They don’t know if the current Chantry actually reflects Andraste’s teachings or not.

    5. Thomas says:

      I’ve no idea how well it matches up to a medieval church, but I think Inquisition had one of the best depictions of religion around (much better than the previous two games even, although I still love the Andraste’s Ashes quest). I recognise in a lot of the characters lots of fairly nuanced positions on faith that I recognise in the people around me. From Leliana’s desire to make herself more and more radical in the dedication to other people, versus Cassandra’s confused desire to do the ‘right’ thing for her religion but scared of doing anything in case she gets it wrong, to other characters cool “I don’t believe any of this but I’m happy you find some satisfaction”

      I guess that weren’t any militantly atheist people? There were atheists and agnostics but no-one who really hated the Andraste religion and everything it represented. Maybe that’s just because it’s hard to make that work in the plot

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        You might be able to call the Qunari militant atheists, since they are atheists who don’t believe in divine power but in what they can see and what they collectivly can do. And they are unlikely to allow the veneration of Andraste to continue if they took over. Which fits considering their comuneist leanings.

    6. Henson says:

      The church of Andraste was nicely put together, but I felt disappointed by the inclusion of the quest for the Ashes. Like, her real, actual ashes exist, and they have real, provable healing powers, and that just makes the whole ‘faith’ angle feel cheap to me. And yes, I’ve heard the argument that we don’t know for sure if the healing powers come from a divine power, since the world has magic and shit, but as I see it, the narrative never makes this an ambiguous question: they’re Andraste’s ashes, their power comes from the devotion of Andraste and the Maker’s will, ergo they prove the existence of the Maker.

      I wouldn’t mind so much if the game commented on this revelation, but it’s kinda just plopped down and then left.

      1. Csirke says:

        If you bring Oghren on the Sacred Ashes quest, he comments on how the mountain or maybe the walls of the temple are very dense in lyrium, so that could explain “spontaneous magic” happening there.

        But also, whenever any mage enters the fade, they see the black city, which could also be used to “prove” the existence of the Maker. As I think Anders points out after meeting Corypheus, if the Black City is the Golden City that turned black, then the Maker’s seat is there, which means someone must have sat in it at some point.

        But both of these things are only seen by a few people, so I can understand that it doesn’t have a large effect on the faith of the general populace. And the site of the Sacred Ashes does become an important place of pilgrimage, as we see in Inquisition.

        1. Henson says:

          I don’t quite buy it. We see the ‘black city’ in the Fade, but that’s it. The assumption that this is indeed the black city and that the Maker once resided there is exactly that, an assumption. It’s also perfectly reasonable to believe that mages saw this mysterious structure while in the fade, and then interpreted that in ways that shaped the stories that are common ‘today’.

          But with Andraste’s ashes, we have a cult that worships an Andraste, (it’s the wrong one, but it’s based on their ancestors’ protection of Andraste’s ashes). We have a spirit who tells us that Andraste’s ashes are in the temple. We have a bunch of ghosts who tell riddles about the life of Andraste. Everything in this quest is screaming “Yes, these are really Andraste’s ashes here”. There doesn’t appear to be any ambiguity.

          1. acronix says:

            You actually can do the same with the Sacred Ashes quest:
            You can consider that the spirit cannot be trusted (put no faith in him). Maybe he’s deluded into thinking it’s Andraste’s Ashes when it’s just some magical mumbo-jumbo instead. The fact that there are a bunch of other spirits who give you a trivia on her life doesn’t really mean much either, except for the fact that your character walks in, sees that, and interpreted it in a certain way (‘the ashes are TRULY there!’).

            That’s one of the problems with faith/trust. You can always find ways to doubt it. The only way you couldn’t do that is via a supernatural act that proves the fact. A miracle, basically. But in worlds of magic where the magic is not accurately designed, you can’t really have that. Why do the Ashes heal everythingt? For the same reason that Spirit Healers can heal wounds, or for the same reason the Fade exists. Magic!

            In that sense you are correct in that there’s no such thing as faith in that quest. The Ashes indeed do what they do. But why they have those capabilities is something you can always doubt.

  6. Mathias says:

    One of the silliest examples of historical inaccuracy is games like Mount & Blade or Witcher 3 where the Scandinavian stand-in culture is still full of bearded, tribal raiding barbarians long after Denmark, Norway and Sweden became modern (at the time) semi-centralized feudal monarchies.

    And in Mount & Blade you have cultures ranging from Third Crusade-era Middle Eastern cultures named for a culture that was overthrown by the Arabs (the Sarrinid Sultanate) to the Republic of Novgorod (Vaegirs) to the Golden Horde circa Ghengis Khan (Khergit Khanate) to the Holy Roman Empire (Swadians) and the Italian States (Rhodok Republic) and 9th century Scandinavia (Nords).

    1. Andy_Panthro says:

      That’s kinda the point of Mount & Blade though, isn’t it? So that you get very different types of units and that each faction feels very different. Mind you, there are more historically accurate mods available.

      I do wonder what they’ll do with Bannerlord (the upcoming sequel). The screenshots I’ve seen look fairly similar (just a bit better graphics).

    2. John says:

      Mount & Blade pulls its factions from a lot of different places in space and time, but the game isn’t trying to tell a sophisticated story–or any story at all, really–so I don’t mind too much. The closest it comes to world building is the little comments your companions sometimes make, and those strike me as fairly true to history. Bashetur’s remarks on the Khergits could come from any number of history books describing what happens when a nomadic culture conquers a sedentary one–which now that I think about it strikes me as maybe a little too sophisticated for a guy with Bashetur’s biography. Oh well.

  7. The Rocketeer says:

    I’m really digging the outro. I get kind of a “should be playing behind my Daily 4-Day Forecast” sort of vibe from it.

  8. Jeff R says:

    Clearly the answer is to stop being videophiles who pretend that games are noticibly more fun at 60fps than at 30fps and join the lowest common denominator playing everything on console…

    1. Squirly says:

      Yeah Diecast. What’s with the privileged tone of demanding to enjoy next-gen gaming when you can have last-gen gaming on your next-gen console dammit?

  9. Joe Leigh says:

    Well… as long as your monitor has HDMI, you can just plug a modern console into that, and play right at your desk. Using a console with a TV rather than a monitor is largely a matter of legacy rather than necessity, is it not? With the whole Steam Machine thing happening later this year, I see the distinction between console vs. PC no longer being an issue of furniture and family preferences; it’s now an issue of whether you want to screw around with all the fiddly bits of setting up and optimizing a PC to squeeze every last drop out of your experience, vs if you just want to plug a box into a screen, pop in a disc, and enjoy. (I don’t see that distinction going away any time soon, not when the whole shebang runs on Windows.) Someday maybe you’ll be able to plug a mouse and keyboard into a console, and then even inputs won’t be a distinction.
    Before we get into a bunch of master race vs peasant nonsense, I have both a decent gaming PC I built myself and a PS4. I love them both the same.

    1. Humanoid says:

      Audio setup becomes a bit more more painful though, because as crappy as TV speakers are, they’re generally still miles better than those built into monitors, if it has them at all. (Terminology is difficult because “monitor speakers” are a different thing entirely)

      The PS4 for example only has HDMI and optical out for audio I believe. So unless you plonk an AV receiver between the console and the display, you’re going to have to mess with TOSlink cables and adapters.

  10. Abnaxis says:

    Can I friend Chris and/or Mumbles from Splatoon purposes? Is that how that works?

    1. Steve C says:

      I read that as “spittoon purposes” the first 3 times. Mumbles’ enthusiastic reply gave a very different mental image.

  11. Cybron says:

    King of Dragon Pass is really good and one of my all time favorite games. SO GOOD. Can’t wait for the spiritual sequel, Six Ages, which is currently in development.

  12. krellen says:

    I still don’t understand video cards, and I do hardware repairs for a living.

    PS, what card should I buy if I have about $300 to spend on it?

    1. meyerkev248 says:

      Short version.

      1) You want NEW stuff. If you spend $50 more on a card with the same perf and better price/performance ratios, you’ll make it back in power bills alone.

      Most people will not “upgrade” from 2 6970’s to a 980, but I knocked about 400W off my desktop (or 14c/hour in power bills and ~5F in ambient room temperature) and gained 50% performance.

      2) AMD vs. Nvidia.

      * AMD is releasing all their new cards. Wait 3 weeks and see how this shakes out.
      * With Nvidia, the magic numbers are 9xx. 9xx means the new, less power-hungry process.

      Then pull up the power consumption graph (Nvidia usually wins this one), and pick whatever’s in your price range.

      1. Steve C says:

        Where are you that you pay 35c per kWh? That’s brutal.

        1. meyerkev248 says:

          Welcome to CA.

          17c->35c/KWH in progressive tiers and $1.17/therm.

    2. Volfram says:

      Here, let me solve your problem.
      First, look at this list.
      Second, check this channel for additional info.(optional)

      Congratulations, video card model questions solved.

      1. Supahewok says:

        And allow me to give you the extra short answer that doesn’t require a couple of hours research:

        Save about $35-$50 more and buy a GTX 970. Or just go hungry for a week and get it now.

        There was a controversy a while back about how the 970’s last 512MB of vram ran slower than the other 3.5GB. So turning up the graphics TO THE MAX would actually cause the game to slow down once you passed a certain threshold. But if you’re gaming on a budget, as you seem to be, you’re probably not playing on a 4k monitor and streaming and all that extra jazz that it takes to push the card that far. So long as you keep it in mind, you’ll do okay.

        1. Volfram says:

          Your solution answers the question of “which video card should I buy?”

          My solution helps him make sense of all the numbers.

          1. krellen says:

            His solution works. Yours doesn’t, because I’m not going to visit that site or that channel because, like Shamus said, I DON’T CARE I JUST WANT IT TO WORK.

            For the record, in my budget, $350 is “about 300”. The reason I’m keeping it that low is because I also plan to buy new monitors (but not huge ones because I’m not a videophile) since the ones I have now are over 5 years old.

            1. Volfram says:

              My mistake. By the way you and Shamus worded your complaints, I thought you actually wanted to understand video cards. If you just want to be told what to do, then yes, the GTX 970 is the most powerful GPU available for less than $300, and is also the best deal in its local price/power range.(A close second to the GTX 960, which costs 68% the price and has 70% as much power.)

              1. Humanoid says:

                The 970 is a good card because (aftermarket versions) run cool, quiet and efficient while still beating anything AMD has in the price range. The 960 on the other hand, I can’t realistically recommend in good conscience to anyone as it compares poorly in value to cards around it pricewise. (The was a brief period when it came with both Witcher 3 and Arkham Knight which made it competitive pricewise, but now it’s only Arkham Knight)

        2. meyerkev248 says:

          Also this.

          The only reason I didn’t want to pick a card is because there were no cards at $300 exactly that wouldn’t make up the price difference in electricity costs down the line. 970 is my recommendation, albeit noting the 3.5GB issue.

          So $350 for a 970, $200-ish for a 960*, or give it a couple weeks for AMD’s releases to shake out and see the new prices.

          * with exactly the perf hit you’d expect in a world where you can stick 2 cards in a computer and get 180% of the perf of that one card so every card is competing not just with the cards as expensive as them, but with TWO cards half the price**.
          **This kinda screwed over the 480 when the 460 came out, because a $550 480 was in a fight with $460 worth of 460’s. Reading the reviews was amusing.

    3. Cilvre says:

      it really depends on what you have now overall in your computer, so that you will actually benefit from a video card versus having other bottlenecks make your experience lackluster. I just bought an AMD 290x a few weeks ago on sale for 280 dollars and it was the best investment i made on my otherwise maxed out pc. coming from an amd 6870 to a 290x was a 300% increase in my benchmarks and allowed me to max out all of my settings where i was struggling to do so before and keep things playable.

      1. krellen says:

        I have 6GB of RAM and a 4-core 3.0GHz processor. Pretty sure my crappy Radeon HD 6450 is the bottleneck.

        1. Volfram says:

          It probably is, but the 6GB of RAM isn’t helping any. When I upgraded my laptop from 4 to 8, it didn’t run significantly faster, but I did notice I could throw more at it before it started to slow down. For someone who wants to do any more than watch DVDs and run spreadsheets, I would highly recommend at least 8.

          [edit]HD 6450… how… old is your machine? I haven’t built a new computer in several years, but based on my previous experience, a GPU upgrade may mandate a mainboard and PSU upgrade as well.

          [edit edit]
          Um… yeah… PCIe 2.1 vs. PCIe 3.0, check your mainboard’s features before upgrading, you will probably need a new one. And going from 18W to 145W, the PSU may need to be replaced as well.(fortunately, even high-end power supplies are pretty cheap.)

          If that turns out to be the case, I can point you towards good deals on desktop and laptop PCs, though you’ll need to purchase the GTX 970 anyway.

          1. krellen says:

            I work for one of the largest hardware manufacturers in the world. I should get an employee discount, but because of the wonky way my employment is configured, I’m not technically employed by them.

            1. Volfram says:

              i7 or (approximately) equivalent AMD CPUs with 12-16GB of RAM and varying GPUs for $300-800. Frankly there are too many options, and they change weekly, but I’d be happy to help you shop if it turns out to be a good deal for you.

              [edit]Right now is not a good week. The site has a bunch of Cyberpower machines with AMD CPUs and low-end video cards. The higher-end models aren’t bad, but still cost at least 50% more than they should. And apparently the build quality is atrocious.

              1. krellen says:

                Intel has a chip plant in my neighbourhood. It’s bad for my future to buy AMD.

                1. Volfram says:

                  Cool. That saves me the trouble of having to convince you not to buy an AMD.

                  I mean honestly, there’s not really anything wrong with them except that Intel CPUs are better in every way.

                  [edit]Turns out a pretty good deal if you need to buy a new computer is to run over to HP.com and build an Envy without a GPU(because they charge like 20% more than market price).

                  It’s going to cost about $1k, though. I’m too lazy and poor to worry about building my own systems right now.

                  1. krellen says:

                    That is the employer that I technically don’t work for.

                    1. Cilvre says:

                      if you head over to pcpartpicker.com, you can piece together what you currently have and see what will work with your pc as well as what upgrades you can make for it.

                      You can also ask questions there with folks who are more than willing to help you out, but there will always be a bias on there for fans of different brands.

                      I’ve tried almost every brand out there over time and so i avoid some and will willingly use others if i have the money for their costs.

                      You may also find someone in your area thats more than willing to help you build the pc for free. I do this on occasion if all the parts are bought before time because i enjoy building them.

                    2. krellen says:

                      I actually can build the PC. That is what I do for a living (I do warranty hardware repairs.) I could even build a laptop, if that was actually a viable thing one could really do (due to weird corporate policies, I actually did basically this for a customer last week.)

                      At the moment, however, my usually ample extra income is being delegated to another endeavour, so I’m actually somewhat poor at the moment.

                    3. Volfram says:

                      Well the employer you don’t technically work for produces some nice computers at a really great value.

          2. krellen says:

            As for how old it is, it’s about 3.5 years old.

            1. Humanoid says:

              Specific CPU model? 6GB is an odd amount of RAM to have, the last Intel generation where 6GB was a ‘normal’ configuration was the i7 9xx series due to it using tri-channel memory configuration. That CPU is over six years old, so if it’s anything more recent, they’ve reverted to dual-channel memory which means 4, 8, or 16GB of RAM. Some enthusiast platforms (the -E designated series) use quad-channel, but that’s also going to give the same RAM totals as dual-channel.

              Regardless though, anything released late-2009 or after, and you realistically don’t need to upgrade the CPU. Any Intel i5 or i7, excepting perhaps the rare dual-core i5s they released early on, is still relevant and competitive today. I’m still running the i5 750 I bought in early 2010, with a mild overclock from 2.66GHz to 3.33GHz.

              P.S. The PCI-E specification thing can be safely ignored for current products, version 3 may have twice the theoretical bandwidth, but current cards don’t even saturate the old version.

              1. krellen says:

                CPU is an i5-2320.

    4. Humanoid says:

      Generalised advice is that there are actually only a few price points worth thinking about for any gaming card.

      At $150, R9 280 is the clear winner.

      At $240, R9 290 is untouchable.

      At $310 (approx, Newegg pulling that annoying “put in cart to see final price”), GTX 970 is the pick.

      At $700 you go for aftermarket GTX 980Ti, bypass the stock blower version that’s $650.

      For what it’s worth, AMD cards come with Dirt Rally, and nVidia cards comes with Arkham Knight. Normally you’d say the latter game is the better deal, but considering recent news, perhaps not.

    5. Zak McKracken says:

      Two years, ago, when I got my Radeon 7770, I did this:
      I scoured Tom’s hardware for the most power-efficient bunch of cards:

      I picked the few best of those from nvidia and AMD (forget all others for now, they’re mostly the same, and we’re just trying to find the right chip atm), then put them into a comparison thing. There I looked for the highest frame rate across some of the games relevant to me, relative to power consumption, and with a limit on power consumption at 70 watts (I have a quiet living-room PC, and I want it to stay quiet). That came up with two cards, of which I picked the one that gave me more FPS per money.

      I just tried to repeat that process but failed. This site is so broken that the comparison widget doesn’t work properly on Firefox, and there is not a single site out there which will just give me a scatter plot of fps vs. power intake, or fps vs. price — because those two would be enough to remove 90% of the cards on offer from consideration, and the rest would be decided just by choosing how much you’re willing to pay in terms of both electricity/cooling and money.

      As it stands, this is a terrible business… I can understand why the manufacturers would not make it too easy (if you can compare directly, you’ll see how often the competition is actually better) but there is really no excuse for the numerous comparison and benchmarking sites to get it so wrong.

  13. squiddlefits says:

    given you’re talking upgrades, CPU/mobo talk: would you wait until september/oct or just take what’s available now. And what’d that be?

    1. meyerkev248 says:

      Skylake is supposed to be coming out EOY 2015.

      If you can wait that long, that’s going to be the time to upgrade.

      1. Humanoid says:

        Last I heard, Skylake for desktop would be out by September. Now, the average performance gain between generations these days for Intel is only on the order of 5-10%, so normally it’s not a big deal, but Skylake is interesting in that it’s the first mainstream platform to support DDR4, which is the wildcard here. Hard to tell what kind of impact it will have, but likely it will depend on how quickly DDR4 prices fall over the latter half of the year.

        Note that Skylake also supports DDR3, which RAM slots are on the motherboard is left to the discretion of the board manufacturer, and AsRock usually do a weirdo model with *both* types of slots on it.

  14. lethal_guitar says:

    Guess I’m one of the few who got lucky regarding Arkham Knight. It doesn’t run great, but since the saturday patch I have between 45-60 FPS on highest settings. Definitely playable. Of course, you shouldn’t need a 1500 € machine just to have it playable.. Anyway, just finished the main story an hour ago, and think it’s a really great game buried under that bad port.

    Looking forward to your column on the tank, Shamus!

  15. Why gods in fantasy don’t match real-world medieval religions:

    People would complain even more if you used an actual religion. This isn’t me saying anyone’s faith is false, but no faith has temples sitting around where the dead can be raised, actual healing potions are brewed, and debilitating wounds are mended via a member of a given order laying on their hands. Why is this a problem? Well, because one group of people will be upset that you’re proselytizing, giving a deity or faith the appearance of supernatural power that they appear to lack. On the other hand, the adherents of that faith would get angry that you aren’t portraying their faith realistically or fairly. Even among novels that are by and for people of a given faith, said novels fall under criticism that they’re not adhering to the canonical texts of Deity X.

    If you think Star Wars novels are bad because the core characters can’t change, can never die, and put the plot on rails? Imagine what trying to incorporate a 1000+ year-old body of dogma into the portrayal of a deity will get you if you’re trying to be accurate. The best you can do is the Sandman and Lucifer, but that’s just as fantastical as what Josh complained about.

    A simpler answer is the old “good guys vs. bad guys/opposing guys.” Hey, we worship the Lady of the Henge, and she’s a decent person, but so is the Lord of the Hunt. Unfortunately, they both want this one kingdom to venerate them and the worshipers are getting violent over it. Then if you get historical, if you bring out Celtic gods, and they have powers, why did they get displaced by another faith which didn’t seem to be all that into miracles but was more about better weapons and superior numbers?

    And to be fair, you could argue that Europe has had pantheons of a sort in the Medieval age, once… *puts on sunglasses* …more Christians started having sects.


    TL;DR Fantasy gods are safer, more useful to plots, and don’t raise as many uncomfortable questions.

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      Yeah, Dungeons & Dragons did have supplements featuring Hindu and Shinto deities for the first and second editions of AD&D. But since 3rd edition, when they’ve used real-world deities at all, it’s from cultures that have long since given up those faiths, e.g. Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Finnish, Aztec, etc. I guess New Age/neopagan followers of those gods are either too insignificant, or generally tolerant and understanding enough not to have to worry about.

      1. JAB says:

        There was an article in an old Dragon Magazine that suggested using 4 essentially omnipotent, multi-aspected elemental gods instead of any other gods. So, you’d have farmers worshiping the aspect of rain, sailors worshiping the aspect of the sea, etc etc.

        Also, religion in Runequest is crazy detailed, and affects the political realm significantly.

    2. Honestly, I can think of a reason even simpler than that (apologies if this has already been covered in the podcast; I am an INAPPROPRIATELY HUGE FAN of bronze-age and classical religion and have replied before listening)

      Simply put, what most (I will concede not all) people in the modern, western world (and in the English-speaking world particularly for some points; not going to mention which since that could break the taboo on talking about religion here) are familiar with as being religion and what they would expect from religion in a fictional setting is a bit different from most of the polytheistic belief systems that exist or that have existed historically. Especially the big familiar classical ones from history class. Hoo boy. Very different.

      Anyway, from where I’m sitting that would make trying to implement a true-to-life polytheistic society in a fictional setting (one that draws on a living or historic society and its belief system) take a lot of effort to implement in the first place – doing research and building up a world and characters that would fit into the setting you’re building – and then take another big effort to make the characters and the setting relatable to your audience, so that you can tell whatever story you were intending to tell in this setting and neither have to stop and explain things every ten minutes nor have your audience feel like tourists on a cultural immersion evening.

      Now on the other hand, there’s already this cultural milieu that exists among audiences of fantasy & science fiction where you have these archetypes that have grown out of the work of many other authors before you – things like ‘the temple church of the gods’, ‘the dark shadow sect’, ‘the druid circle’, ‘the order of reason’, ‘the secret creepy demon cult’; I’m sure most of the people reading this recognise these – and all these ideas come out of works that were ultimately based on some real thing or another, as interpreted by an author, but I think that as fantasy has become more defined as a genre you’ve got all these preexisting ideas riding along with it that an author of a new work can take out of that box and play with and build into their own version that they can tell their own story with. And that’s not always what happens, but it certainly does seem to have an influence on works out there.

      Apologies if that was a lot of questionably-coherent text out of nowhere.

      1. I think the difference is something Shamus and Josh wanted to know: What would the effect of the supernatural be on a society?

        Well, this could just be me, but if someone discovered that sacrificing people on an obsidian altar out in the woods granted them super powers, you’d get those creepy demon cults. If someone else found the Platinum Tablets of the Most High and could heal people so long as they kept to the tenets of the tablets, you’d get some of those holy temples springing up. If both of the above weren’t unique…

        Basically, it’d be “Small Gods” by Terry Pratchett.

        1. Ohhhhh, OK. Creating a setting where there is an explicit, immediately evident basis for people’s mythology that goes beyond just the social utility and personal value of it.

          Well yeah, I can see where that might tread on people’s toes RE: beliefs and religions. And I think, given that, I’ll leave this line of discussion where it is. Interesting subject though!

    3. John says:

      Some historical polytheisms would not have supported the cleric as a distinct character class either. In ancient Greece and Rome, being a priest was a part-time thing that rich people did for civic reasons, not a career. With the possible exception of priests at really important cult sites like Delphi, nobody devoted themselves full time to religion.

      1. Which is also something of the point. Delphi’s crew really believed (in so far as we can tell) they were invoking prophecy from the gods or the beyond or whatever.

        If the people who served Apollo could shoot radiant sunbeams out of their fingers that smote skeletons or worshipers of Anubis could animate said skeletons, I think you’d get a more devoted and structured bunch of people. I mean, you’d either need them for that skeleton army or to keep the graveyards from uprooting themselves.

        1. John says:

          The point that I had in mind but failed to articulate is that some polytheistic religions are more organized than others. Being a priest was not a full time job for worshippers of Zeus or Jupiter. On the other hand, I happen to know that being a temple dancer for certain Hindu deities was a full time job within living memory. So if I were looking for a religion to swipe for my RPG and I wanted to include clerics or a cleric-like class in my system or setting, I would look for a polytheistic religion which had built-in support (so to speak) for religious vocations.

          1. That’s the question, then: What motivates that support for a clerical hierarchy?

            In a typical fantasy setting, it’s probably the powers it grants and the need to cultivate them and keep the deity providing them happy, or at least, not hostile. I’m sure picking which gods to allow to operate in a kingdom would weigh heavily on most kingdoms, as would cultivating magic.

            Since in such outfits, divine power (and its opposite) are a fact of life with evidence presented to you every time some adventurer gets raised from the dead or when the local people in funny robes heal your kid after it gets gored by a rampaging unicorn. It’s kind of hard to compare that to real life and actual human institutions.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Arkham Knight PC release was so bad the the publisher pulled it from shelves.

    Thats not quite accurate.The quality of games was this bad before,but companies didnt resort to pulling their products because there was no reasonable refund policy.But now that steam has one,these “brave” wb people have decided “out of goodness of their hearts” to pull the game from steam in order to fix it.

  17. I have a simple rule on CPUs and GPUs:

    If a new CPU or GPU is twice the performance of my old one then it’s worth upgrading.
    If a GPU or CPU costs twice as much as the old one then I expect four times the performance, if not then I’m not upgrading.

    Most of the time the price is often double but only 10% or so more performance, which is crazy.

    I always try to loosely follow this rule when upgrading. For the same cost (inflation considered) I want twice the performance.

    It’s also difficult to choose a CPU, here some of the cheapest intel CPUs cost more than the more expensive AMD CPUs.

    In a large onlie store here the AMD FX-8350 is around 200 bucks cheaper than a Intel Core i5 4460.

    And the AMD CPU is better. Also, 8 cores vs 4 cores. I’d rather have 8 cores.

    Sure Intel has very high end CPUs that leaves pretty much all AMD CPUs in the dust, but they cost the same as 2 or 3 mid end computers.

    AMD brings gaming to the masses, most of AMDs CPUs and GPUs may be mid-end but they are affordable. Intel an Nvidia can’t compete with AMD in the mid range, not without dropping their prices a lot.

    So while Nvidia and Intel may snag 90% of the high end gamers, AMD can easily snag 90% of the mid range if they tried.
    And the mid range market is several houndred times larger than the high end.

    I like how AMD now seems to push forward open standards (like Freesync / Adaptive Sync) and new APIs like Mantle / Vulkan.

    One can do fine with a mid-range CPU these days. A 8 core AMD or 4 core Intel will do fine for years to come, software still do not fully take advantage of multiple cores.

    With GPUs things (as far as I can tell) are worse. Both AMD and Nvidia have just brought out cards that are almost the same as old ones or barely a improvement on previous ones.

    Back when I went from a Nvidia Geforce 8800GT to a AMD Radeon HD 6950 the improvement was close to double for a cost that was not that different, in other words progress.
    But now to get double the performance of my HD6950, well I can’t, the cost is insane.

    The Radeon R9 380 (a rebrand/slight tweak on R9 285) is close, but it’s not twice the performance of my old GPU. If the price drops some more than it’s very attractive, especially 4GB, not sure I’d recommend getting anything less these days than a 4GB card. When you buy you should plan 5-10 years a head and in 5-10 years ahead 4GB is sure to be the minimum spec on new games.

    System ram is easier. It’s fast enough now that unless you are a Tweaker then you only need to worry about buying enough. In the past the upgrades has gone from 2GB to 4GB to 8GB. Will the next upgrade be 16GB ? Maybe; although beyond 8GB there are diminishing returns today. But if the price is right then 16GB would be desirable as games in 5-10 years will probably have 8GB as a recommended minimum.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      You do bring up a good point that I’m kind of allways embarassed to mention, and that is that while I know that Intel stuff is all better, in my price range (where a 400-500€ computer is HIGH END computer) AMD stuff is better and gets me better price to performance ratio. Same goes for the graphic cards. My price range for the GPU is UP to ~100€, and there again AMD stuff works really well at allowing me to play all the games at acceptable graphic settings.

      1. *nods furiously*

        Shamus is right too BTW! If AMD stopped focusing on the high end and instead focused on the mid-end and low-end then AMD would dwarf the market.
        Intel can’t compete with AMD on the mid and low end.
        Nvidia can’t compete with AMD on the low end.
        On the mid end Nvidia does have some stuff that is closer to AMDs pricerange.

        Also note that when I say high end, mid end and low end. “High end” is basically where the Nvidia Titan cards are and where all the SLI etc stuff is. The average gamer can not afford hardware like that.
        If a computer “needs” a 1000Watt Powersupply then that is probably a high-end PC.

        1. Aristabulus says:

          While the high-end graphics arms race gets a lot of visibility, I think AMD is already playing the bread-and-butter game.

          It’s old news now, but both the PS4 and Xbone are using AMD’s APUs. Those same APUs provide some decent performance for people that think computers are literal magic-boxes-wot-do-magic-for-you. A quick glance at newegg shows about 200 ready-to-buy desktop models using some grade of APU.

          I’ve had several ATI/AMD cards in the past, and never had any serious problems with them, but I am much like Shamus in that I don’t need bleeding edge performance… I just want the new card to reasonably run new-ish titles. I don’t think I’ve spent more than US$120 on a video card, ever.

        2. Zak McKracken says:

          I think that AMD is kind of serving the mid-market, they’re just not advertising it well.
          Supposedly because that’s just not as sexy as having the fastest racing car…
          Actually, AMD has been offering the “better” (for my needs) mid-range graphics for a while but “nvidia is faster” from the mouth of a hardcore gamer will quickly convince any potential mid-range buyer with little knowledge to buy nvidia. Same thing worked for CPUs, until at some point it actually became true.

          2-3 years ago, the then-new Radeon 7750 and 7770 were the most efficient devices in terms of electricity/framerate, by a good margin, and also fairly inexpensive. To bad that nvidia has since then released proper new chips while AMD has only relabeled the old ones after giving them a bit more RAM or increasing the clock rate a bit (or not) … the 3xx series is still using the same chips as my semi-old card.
          That said, the Fury chips have just appeared (last week or so), and are supposed to be quite a bit faster at equal or less power — I’m curious to see how that will work out in the mid-range.

  18. meyerkev248 says:

    So the graphics card “system” is pretty simple, once you crack the code (which as you’ve said, is hard).

    Look for the long number, and see if anything comes after it.

    ???? XNN (or XNNN) ???? So GTX 980 TI

    The first question doesn’t matter.
    The X tells you the year (So Nvidia has been using numbers from 2xx to 9xx for as long as I’ve actually cared about this sort of stuff).

    Within a year, the higher NN/NNN gets, the faster it is.
    If the 2nd ???? exists, it’s usually faster than the same number without the 2nd ????

    So a 980 TI is faster than 980 is faster than a 960 is faster than a…

    The problems are:
    * Comparing year to year is a pain. Even things like “Oh, of course the 6970 is faster than the 5970” not always true.
    * You can’t compare across companies easily.

    But within a year/company, yes, there’s 30 different models at 30 different price points, but they all come in order (Well, until you get to the crazy $400+ stuff, but at that point, it’s probably assumed that you’re more computer-literate than most and you can parse something like EVGA ACX2.0 SC GTX 980 TI to “It’s a slightly overclocked 980 TI with a fancy cooler”).

    1. Humanoid says:

      It generally works, but then you realise that the 750/Ti is actually a 9xx series card (technically speaking, Maxwell-generation) which had nothing to do with the rest of the 7xx series (Kepler) and then the headache comes back.

    2. 4th Dimension says:

      That does work for nVidia stuff, with a small caveat that X20 or X200 should be renamed (X-1)400, on the other hand I was never able to figure out the ATI/AMD number designations.

    3. Vorpal Kitten says:

      “Oh, it’s pretty simple” – follows with several paragraphs filled with numbers and variables and the number ‘2’ apparently translates into the year something came out somehow and…. sheesh, I guess I’ll buy a console.

  19. wswordsmen says:

    I love that last question. The tangential discussion about how the world would be different if it was different is a huge pet peeve of mine in most fantasy. It always drives me crazy that fantasy stories always try and squeeze themselves into the real world even though the idea that this is happening in secret is more unbelievable than any high fantasy setting.

  20. Kagato says:

    Here’s how I wish Amiibos were handled:

    * Associated with each Amiibo is a basic 3D model of the character, and a good 2D portrait.
    * Characters are flagged as Anthropomorphic or Other (at least).
    * All anthropomorphic characters are rigged with a variation on a standard humanoid bone layout. This rig should be able to match up with Mii animations.

    * In ANY game where it is appropriate to do so, an anthropomorphic Amiibo’s basic model can be used instead of a Mii or other avatar. For example, you could use any Amiibo in the Wii Sports games, or as a driver in Mario Kart.
    * The few non-anthropomorphic characters would typically default to decorative items such as mascots, pets or vehicle ornaments. They’d have to be restricted to a small set of default animations, so game-specific behaviour would be limited.

    Other games could of course just use the Amiibo ID to load custom hi-res character models, levels, skins or whatever.

    But the Amiibo provides a baseline of content available for any game that could reasonably make use of it.

  21. Retsam says:

    Hot Date sounds repugnant.

      1. Supahewok says:

        No need to be pugnacious, Mumbles, its just an opinion.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            I sense pugilism is imminent.

  22. IFS says:

    So if Mumbles and Chris are still playing Splatoon then I feel a very important question needs to be asked: Team Dogs or Team Cats?

      1. Nidokoenig says:


    1. Chris says:

      I’m honestly impressed Mumbles is sticking to the bet.

      That said, we talked about this in Vent before a recent show – as the owner of a pug and a mutt I’m inevitably on team Dog, and because of Kirby and Spidey Mumbles is on team cat. We are naturally born enemies who must destroy one another on the fields of ink.

      1. Mumbles says:


  23. Humanoid says:

    Just as an addendum to the graphics card discussion, since Josh mentioned frametime it’s interesting to note that AMD now actually have better frametimes than nVidia, as of the generation just gone (i.e. Hawaii 290 series onward vs Maxwell 9xx series).

    What’s even *more* interesting is that now that that fact is established, several review sites who used to test frametime have suddenly stopped doing so. This is a red flag in itself, but is even more notable when we know for a fact that when AMD were actually having genuine frametime problems, nVidia actually went to each reviewer, sat down with them and showed them to them how to use FCAT – a tool they had written specifically to measure frametime – and made sure the numbers were published prominently in reviews. Now that the tool shows nVidia cards in an inferior light, the tool has been dismissed as “no longer necessary, both products are good enough in this respect”. Just goes to show how much of the graphics war is actually about PR.

  24. StashAugustine says:

    You know who needs to make amiibos? Paradox. I’d shell out for a bobblehead Jan Sobieski to plug into EU4.

    1. weimergunners says:

      Yeah, people would love to buy little plastic Hitlers to spice up their games outside of HoI -series. I imagine the Hitlamiibo would just add dictators randomly to your favorite games without any logic or reason.

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Damn you Shamus!You let me glimpse into the future only to yank it right out from under my feet!

  26. Core says:

    I must have the one GPU the PC port team of Arkham Knight did their entire Q&A op on(for reference, a Geforce 780GTX) plus an SSD to help with the texture streaming and it ran fine for me since launch, with an average of 30FPS at medium settings with no crashes or bugs or framerate spikes and it still does after they patched the missing visual effects/rain shaders back in a day ago, I didn’t even consider getting a refund because of that, but I’m probably in the absolute minority here.

    I’ll also add a thought about the tank: I actually enjoyed it, it’s not often that you get a vehicle that handles that well(I love the dashes and the afterburner) to pilot around such a detailed sandbox environment with lots of bits that you can gleefully smash through with nothing but a small penalty to your momentum. I liked the role it plays in the title just since no matter how much you refine Batcombat and Batstealth, they’ll still feel at best like a riff on what’s been already played in the past two(I don’t even want to acknowledge Origins, and it pains me that AK actually does even in minor ways) Batgames and the vehicle play is given exactly the amount of time it deserves because of that, it’s just difficult by this point to come up with enough distinct new designs and encounters for the familiar modes of play.

    So basically, the amount of Batmobile content, both the racing and the hovertank fights only ended up increasing my enjoyment of all the tons of neat improvements in the rest of the game.

  27. Rayen says:

    To see made-up cultures and religions and such done right, a good one is (Raising Flame-wall) Bethesda with The Elder Scrolls Series. Specifically Daggerfall and especially Morrowind. The Gods are real, you can talk to (some of) them. You can find out what they think, what they feel and how they see the world and it changes around them.
    in the mailbag episode you said Witcher 3 has Great deep Lore and serviceable mechanics, and skyrim has the opposite, Great Mechanics and barely serviceable lore. Morrowind (if your willing to look for it) has really deep well thought out lore. Oblivion does nothing and adds nothing to it that I found. Skyrim adds a little more, there are a lot of books if you’re willing to read them, that do justice to the History of the Empire their decline and the way things sit right now. They even Talk about how mages and magic affect the world and combat and wars and politics. I forget which book it is but there is one that talks about a disastrous campaign against Akavir and how not enough battlemages were brought to the fight and that magic caused and failed to correct a lot of problems.
    Morrowind with its conversation system where you could find who a person was what they did, where they were from and how they lived was fun. but it had that text format window and nobody reads anymore. Shame about oblivion and skyrim going to that voiced model that barely scratches the surface of what someone at Bethesda thought up.

  28. ogg says:

    My computer is nowhere near running things like the Arkham games graphically.
    Sounds like the gpu use is alot more than cpu, if just putting in a newer card boosted it. I wish more games would have the option of turning that off. Plenty of interesting plots and settings in recent games, but they have not much interest in stretching their market to include PC people who only care about gameplay and asthetics. It just seems like those things are a times being left a bit flat in favor of piling on shaders.

    Total agreement on the graphics card discussion, Nvidia and Intel’s business practices just make them companies I do NOT want to support. Of course I’m not in anyway a high end user, but I have a cheap old quad core, and I’m yet to see something other than Dwarf Fortress that seems it should tax it. As an example, there are plenty of games I would play if game companies would just let me turn off all the graphics effects and turn down the texture resolution. I have a geforce 9200, and with those sort of options found I can run Skyrim 720p about 15-25 fps. It only goes slide show when my performance mods miss some gameplay useless shiny effect while it feels like my cpu sits there bored . Don’t mean to start anything, but I just don’t get why the more gameplay focused game companies don’t try widening markets by reducing the gpu needs for us that don’t care about the arms race. There are alot more computers out there than just the high end boutique stuff.

    Viva la AMD!

  29. Will says:

    Thinking about the subject of war mages: Erikson touches on this subject in his Malazan novels. Mages usually end up negating one another across a battlefield. It’s when one side falters that you get a magic – fueled bloodbath. There’s a rarely voiced bargain between the mundane footsoldiers and the mage cadre. The troops watch the mage’s back so the mage can focus on keeping as many people alive as possible. It helps that the army is also laced with various minor talents and specialists.

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