Diecast #111: Her Story, Massive Chalice, Arkham Knight

By Shamus
on Jul 6, 2015
Filed under:
Diecast

99 comments

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Hosts: Shamus, Campster, Mumbles, Josh.

Audio excuse this week: We recorded this on July 4th, and so most of the cast had family to meet, cookouts to attend, and fingers to blow off with fireworks, so we couldn’t meet in the evening like we usually do. Which means we did this during the day when my family was awake and living their lives, which means the TV was on in the background.

So, sorry again. In my defense, I did an amazingGiven my limited skill and time investment. job at cleaning up the worst of it.

Show notes:

00:30 Mumbles and Chris talk about Her Story.

Note that while Mumbles warns that they’re about to spoil the game, they actually spoil very little.

12:00 Massive Chalice

26:00 Arkham Knight

This section has mild spoilers where we discuss the identity of the Arkham Knight. That’s either a massive secret, or incredibly obvious, depending on your comic book knowledge.

42:00 Arkham Knight ENDING SPOILERS

Seriously, we spoil everything here.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] Given my limited skill and time investment.



2020202019Ninety nine comments. Just... need... one... more!

From the Archives:

  1. MichaelGC says:

    59 minutes & 59 seconds! So close…

  2. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Frankly, I don’t mind being spoiled for this game. I already knew the identity of the Arkham Knight and this game hasn’t earned my respect.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Its funny what Shamus said about Arkham Knight. I would have found him annoying too if I didn’t know who he was. But, as Mumbles said, its obvious if you read the comics so I knew so I’m actually enjoying the character. Where others see him as cocky and abrasive, I’m seeing the pain and insecurity that also go with that character.

      Also Mumbles glossed over it probably only for the sake of keeping the show going but as I’m sure she knows, the vote by telephone to kill Jason Todd was very contentious. It was close and there’s a persistent rumor that one or a handful of angry fans skewed the vote by dialing in over and over again.

      And I agree with Mumbles about Riddler as a detective in the comics. I thought it was great that he wasn’t really suddenly a good guy, it was the same complex that drove him as a villain that he was now turning to legitimate purposes. I think him, Catwoman, and the Penguin all occupy an interesting space with varying degrees of morality and legitimacy (also, Dent but that was always part of his construction but got a lot more focus in The Long Halloween which was EPIC!!).

      Mumbles, how do you feel about the comics taking back Riddler’s knowledge of Batman’s identity? I thought it was perfect in Hush and I feel like they could have preserved status quo via his compulsion (as the Hush series suggests)

      As for Robin. I HATE the default Tim Drake look in this game. As soon as I discovered that you can change it out with a New 52 skin I did that. The shaved headed roided out look just isn’t right for him. It makes him look like a bro and Tim Drake is not a bro, he’s a brain. And in switching in the New 52 look, I discovered something about New 52 that I actually like, for once. I was always a fan of Tim Drake’s original costume with the green in it and seeing a more armored up version of that design was great. I was 13 again for five minutes and suddenly Superboy’s totally radical early 90’s look was cool again. Drake dating Barbara is weird though. Comic Book Time and all that. Drake was originally introduced as a 14 year old when Barbara was in her mid 20’s but I guess the timeline is different here?

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Oh, Mumbles doesn’t like Tim Drake . . . my favorite Robin . . . well pants to you then. Total pants.

        • Micamo says:

          She doesn’t like Stephanie Brown either. Heresy I tell you, heresy!

          • Mumbles says:

            I do like Stephanie! Love even! I read more of her stuff and <3. She's one of the reasons why I've grown to hate Tim, actually!

            • Micamo says:

              My apologies, I seem to recall you mentioning that you hated Steph in the Convergence discussion on the diecast. (Maybe you just meant you hated her role in that story?)

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              I’ll defer to you. I’m a lot spottier on Batman than some other characters. My dad introduced me to Tim Drake and the early stuff with him was stuff that I connected with. He liked computers, he played DnD, he wasn’t the most physically gifted Robin so he had to really work on that. He had his cool collapsible bo staff and the cool new Robin costume. But I couldn’t afford to follow his series beyond the early run, so I guess I didn’t see what you’re talking about.

              Is this about Tim returning and taking the Robin title back from Stephanie?

              • Mumbles says:

                No, it’s about their relationship. I thought he was really bossy towards her and kinda treated her like a kid instead of a girl he was interested in. IDK I’ve known a lot of nerd guys who talked down to me the same way Tim talks down to Steph, so it grinded my gears a little.

                • Deadpool says:

                  I can see that, but Steph not being ready to be a super hero is kind of a running theme of the character… It wasn’t until after Cassandra trained her and she became Batgirl that she started being accepted by the Bat-family…

                  My favorite Steph moments were her (sadly) short run as Batgirl:

                  http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/11111/111114723/3269946-2671287098-32551.jpg
                  http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/11111/111114723/3269947-1442973940-32551.jpg
                  http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/11111/111114723/3269948-9028515268-32551.jpg

                  http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/11111/111114723/3270004-batgirl_17_legion_cps_024.jpg
                  http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/11111/111114723/3270005-batgirl_17_legion_cps_025.jpg

                  She’s the only one that made Damian tolerable for me…

                  • Wide And Nerdy says:

                    I guess I missed some stuff. I left DC after Blackest Night (seemed like a good time).

                    Thought it was cool that Tim knows the gun is empty based on it’s weight. Great moments for both Tim and Stephanie and it reflects why Tim is such a jerk to Stephanie. Rightly or not, he feels she’s his responsibility and she just showed she can take care of herself now.

                    • Mumbles says:

                      Yeah I mean Tim is right in the sense that Stephanie is playing a very dangerous game. Writing checks her butt can’t cash and stuff. But, the know-it-all thing totally got to me. If he respected her more, I think he wouldn’t have treated her the way he did.

                      Also it’s nice talking shop with Batman fans <333

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Likewise :)

                      Your affection for the Riddler has made me reconsider a villain I often overlooked. I now feel like back when I was reading comics that he was underutilized. I’m going to have to pick up that New 52 story you mentioned a while ago where he was awesome.

                      Have you heard anything about a potential DC equivalent to Marvel Unlimited?

                    • Deadpool says:

                      The only part that hurts is that the New 52 undid ALL OF THAT. Steph is back to where she started: Untrained, over her head, and no one thinks she can cut it.

                      Her Batgirl run felt like a pretty natural progression to her arc, and it’s a bit frustrating to go back to a decade ago…

                      And yes, if you didn’t read Chris Yost’s Red Robin (this is prior to New 52) I highly recommend it for anyone that’s a fan of Tim Drake…

                • Wide And Nerdy says:

                  Its coming back to me. I guess I can see how it would have been annoying for you and not for me at the time. I was less aware of these things and at least early on it was like “Of course he should be doing that. He’s been trained more or less professionally by Batman, she’s someone who decided to start running around on rooftops to piss off her supervillain dad.”

                  But those were circumstances the writers had control of. I guess there’s no reason the Spoiler couldn’t have been someone as driven and smart as Bruce and Tim who figured things out on her own the way they did, and thus encouraging Tim to let her into the fold so she can have access to the Bat family gadgets and resources.

                  That would basically make her a clone of Barbara minus the motivation though. And the one thing that always grated me about Batgirl is that Bruce had been training since he was 8 years old driven by rage and grief and his vow. The first Robin was already an accomplished acrobat. The second Robin was already used to fending for himself on the streets. And Tim Drake, while a genius, was held back and thoroughly trained by Bruce for a long time before he let the kid loose (not wanting a repeat of Jason) Barbara was a fangirl raised by a crimefighter who happened to stay in shape, yet she was running alongside the boys in no time flat with no Bat training (at least in the cartoons, maybe its different in teh comics). Its more plausible a few years in, but the way she was introduced strained my suspension of disbelief.

                  So having Spoiler start out the same way essentially Batgirl did only to not be as competent until she gets the right training and the right access to resources, makes a lot more sense to me. But maybe Tim should have brought her in instead of lecturing her.

                  Side Note; I like the Arkham Origins take on Barbara where she starts out as a fangirl and helps Batman with her computer skills then (this is implied sadly and not shown) is taken into the fold on that basis and trained to be Batgirl. That seems a more plausible origin, somewhat mirroring Tim Drake.

                  • Mumbles says:

                    Yeah no, everything about Stephanie’s character arc is what makes her so special to me. She’s not as good as Babs and follows Cass, who was arguably the most competent Batgirl out there. To top it off, she went through a teen pregnancy arc that I think added to her strength later on and frankly made her feel more real.

                    I think I can forgive Tim for being young. He’s always going to be way too black and white for me on the morality scale, but I can get being so young and being worried about a girl trying to do the dangerous things YOU do without being trained by Batman. I get it. But, it def hit a personal nerve for me. There’s been a lot of nerdy guys who have talked down to me over the years when all I wanted to do was learn.

        • Deadpool says:

          I was a huge fan of Tim Drake. Particularly Fab Nic’s run on the comic (shortly before One Year Later) and the Red Robin comic.

          On the Arkham Knight “reveal,” it’s kind of funny because this weekend a coworker asks me “Who is the Arkham Knight?” Having never played the game I ask him what he knows, and immediately say “most obvious answer is Jason Todd but hard to guess without playing the game.”

    • Galad says:

      I don’t mind being spoiled either since I’m unlikely to actually care at any point.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I always have to think for a second when someone mentions that game,because to me it always sounds like hearse story first.

    • AileTheAlien says:

      Or maybe Hearse-Tory? Like, it’s a game about a mild-mannered Conservative Party member, who fights crime during the night, while driving a hearse?

  4. Henson says:

    I didn’t buy the new Batman game, but based on the things I’d heard online, I thought that the Arkham Knight was going to be Harley Quinn. Joker, the one thing that gives Harley’s life purpose, is now dead; and it’s Batman’s fault. And much like Bruce Wayne’s loss of his family made him become the Batman, the loss of her family breaks Harley, changes her, makes her change her identity and punish the people who took her love away.

    Yeah, it’s not terribly original. Which is probably why they didn’t go this route.

    • Neil D says:

      More original than what they did.

      • Supahewok says:

        I haven’t played the game, but the Jason Todd reveal pisses me off royally. Here is a quote from a presentation given a year before the game’s release:

        “There are only two things I can say about the character you just saw. Number one: his name is the Arkham Knight. Number two: he is a completely original character that we have designed at Rocksteady in collaboration with DC Comics. That’s it.”

        Completely Original Character. That is a bald-faced lie, made all the worse that Todd has not been alluded to at all in the previous 3 games. I mean, he was always the obvious answer to who the Arkham Knight was, but it was Rocksteady claiming that it was an original character that got me to think they might be going another direction with it. So the reveal was a great big disappointment, regardless of whether it was done well within the game or not.

        For my money, what I would’ve liked to see was: Batman hallucinating the Joker, because of his psycholgical dependency on needing an arch-nemesis to measure himself against rather than any bullshit magic science. Then the Arkham Knight shows up, and a lot of red herrings are left that point to Todd. Batman has the same hallucinations, flashbacking to the various tragedies that the Joker has visited upon the Batfamily over the years. Batman becomes convinced its Todd due to the Joker’s goadings, and then the big reveal happens: the Arkham Knight is Quincy Sharp. Sharp had already displayed his instability and has belief that he shall cleanse the filth of Arkham in Arkham Asylum, and in Arkham City its revealed the Hugo Strange has been brainwashing him before abandoning him in the City. It is fully conceivable that in his state, in the hours before Batman’s showdown with Joker, that Joker could’ve gotten his hands on Sharp and completely convinced him that all of the crazy supervillain’s running around are the result of Batman’s presence in Gotham, and that to purge the city, he needed to start with the Dark Knight. Then Sharp goes away, and either gets fit or gets a robot to transfer his mind into or something (its comic books for crying out loud, it can stick), transforming himself into Batman’s new nemesis, and Batman does not see it coming. At the end, turning Sharp of all people into the AK is Joker’s final laugh at Batman. This A) Makes AK an original Rocksteady character, B) Ties into the previous games far better than a character that hadn’t been mentioned much, if at all, C) Ties into Joker’s thematic arch, D) Presents a compelling reason to Batman beyond his unmasking for why he should retire, (namely, that his very presence can inspire someone like Sharp to do this much damage AND his own psychological instability preventing him from seeing it coming) and E) Is NOT just the same damn Jason Todd arch played out yet again, and is a twist that even Batman fans can be simultaneously blindsided by and pleased with.

        But whatever. Rocksteady can just rehash a decade old storyline and laugh itself to the bank instead.

  5. Phill says:

    To be honest, Mumbles’ splatoon-mode comments for the last week didn’t seem noticably out of character for her ;)

  6. Mephane says:

    Not being very versed in Batman lore, having read none of the comic books, seen only a few of few of the (older) movies and the (80s? 90s?) cartoon series as a kid, and played none of the Batman games:

    It is a secret who the “Arkham Knight” is? As in, this is a particular character? I just thought it refers to Batman, like, they just needed yet another subtitle instead of using numbers to distinguish the various Batman games.

    Did I mention that I hate the practice of not just numbering the installments of your series, so that an outsider has a hard time even figuring out in which order they came out and would theoretically be meant to be player?

    (For example, Borderlands The Pre-Sequel is one of the most awkward names for a video game, ever. You should just have called it Borderlands 3, there is nothing wrong with a higher numbered game telling a story that happens before any of the previous games.)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Oh yes,the whole subtitling your sequels without a number thing is stupid and annoying.But its at least slightly better than the “name of the original reboot”(the thing,doom,theif).

      As for the presequel,at least that one can be excused as a joke.

    • Vect says:

      Well, the Pre-Sequel is more a spin-off than the actual third entry. It’s the Arkham Origins of the series. That and it’s supposed to sound stupid.

    • Humanoid says:

      You’re definitely not alone – hell, even going back to Arkham City I thought it was just called that because the game was set out in the an open world city like GTA or whatever. I mean obviously I know the Batman city is called Gotham but I didn’t really give it a second thought, beyond “oh hey I guess they just let you wander around the whole city” and that’s all the title meant.

      Obviously the deficiency there is because I had no idea what an Arkham actually was, either in the context of Batman or not, and I only looked it up as I typed this comment.

      …and on reflection it probably means my assumption that Arkham Origins is a Batman origin story/prequel type thing is wrong, huh?

      • MichaelGC says:

        I reckon you’re basically right, actually:

        Arkham Asylum: ‘actual’ place in the DC Universe; game called after it ‘cos it was set there.

        Arkham City: part of Gotham is turned into a prison/criminal mental institution. So, alright, I can see that it would make some sense to call that part of the city ‘Arkham’. Not that anyone ever does in game, though – I think your initial understanding is basically correct.

        Arkham Origins: involves the same part of the city (plus a bit more), which is no longer a prison, etc. So, whatever “Arkham” residue may have applied to City is long gone, and the name is only really there for branding. (And it is indeed a prequelly-type thing.)

        With Arkham Knight I’m wondering if they started with the name, and used that to inform the choice of character & character-bio! I can imagine them thinking, “well, we’ve got to have ‘Arkham’ on the box somewhere; let’s at least try to make it make sense.”

        • Neil D says:

          Yeah, I think it was a mistake to use ‘Arkham’ as their franchise brand; after the first one the connections were always tenuous at best. As I recall, in Arkham Origins there were background rumblings indicating the rise of Quincy Sharpe and the opening of Arkham Asylum, so there’s your title, but I don’t think it had anything to do with the main storyline at all.

          • Thomas says:

            I think the mistake was in thinking that their names had to make in-story sense. There’s a ton of game franchises with names that really make no sense all in all, everyone would have accepted Arkham Noun as a franchise name without them contriving ridiculous ways to make it relevant (I always assumed this is what they did in Origin even).

            I wonder if in Halo they’ve broken the narrative trying to fit Halo rings into 4 and 5?

    • Aldowyn says:

      I think the most egregious example of this is Assassin’s Creed, which seems to have only done it so you weren’t reminded how many damn games there are every time you saw a title.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So does the bet mean if Shamoose ever gets to play that game he will have to write an entire 3k word article using splatoon talk?

  8. Alex says:

    Re: Arkham Knight:
    The team fights look really good, and it would have been nice to have a game about those rather than about the Batmobile. You only get the open-world roaming as Batman and as Batman driving the Batmobile, when you could have a game where Batman and Robin are both going off to fight some crime, or where you can play as Nightwing in the open world and the call Batmobile button calls Batman in the Batmobile to do some tag team combat.

    The handling of the people poisoned in the last game sucked. In Arkham City, we have to find the cure to save hundreds of people! Turns out, it’s only four. And the cure doesn’t work, because Joker blood turns you into the Joker for some reason. And then they all die anyway, because Batman is a sucker. Seriously, Batman went along with a murderous lunatic to save Harley Quinn’s life… which let him kill the wrestler guy.

    • Dovius says:

      In all fairness, the amount is explained by the number of potentially poisoned people being large enough that those that did manage to be affected were due to them slipping through the cracks administration-wise.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Specifically they were all cases of undocumented transfusions.

        The thing that confuses me is Batman took the cure. The others were affected because their transfusions were undocumented and thus they weren’t given the cure. But Batman took the cure, the same cure that fixed all but those four people. So why is he still affected?

        • Dovius says:

          The cure neutralized the Titan poisoning, but didn’t fully remove the traces of the blood from his system. That combined with his own stress and memories of the events and a ton of Scarecrow’s new fear gas to give him his own version of the Joker haunting him. You can see the difference between Bats and the other sufferers by the fact that while they slowly start exhibiting various parts of the Joker character (His showmanship, his planning and intelligence, his obsession with batman and his sadism), Batman’s being haunted by a shade of him that has the explicit goal of possessing him and re-emerging in full.

          I mean, it’s bullshit, but bullshit that’s viable within comic book science.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            So then

            Those four and Batman were the only ones to actually receive some of Joker’s blood while the rest just got the Titan poisoning? The game isn’t really clear on that. Also, HOW ON EARTH IS THE JOKER ABLE TO ENGINEER A VIRUS THAT TRANSFORMS PEOPLE INTO HIM?

  9. Will It Work says:

    It’s surprising to me to see the responses to Massive Chalice here.

    To me, Double Fine products are always marked by old game concepts implemented in interesting ways with glaring flaws. Every Double Fine game that succeeded (erm, Psychonoauts, basically), has succeeded in spite of itself.

    Every other one had some problem which failed the game.

    • Thomas says:

      Around the time of the first Double Fine kickstarter, I realised I liked the existence of Double Fine as a concept and a studio but I didn’t really personally enjoy any of their games.

      I like that people are making games like Stacking and Costume Quest, I just don’t want to actually play Stacking or Costume Quest

      • AileTheAlien says:

        Stacking and Costume Quest were actually two of their games which I actually enjoyed. The gameplay was fairly shallow, but the story, characters and aesthetic were so good that they made up for it.

        From what I’ve heard about Massive Chalice, it sounds like it’s got the same level of gameplay (shallow) but also doesn’t have any of the charm of past Double Fine games. :C

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      In this description, what I really wanted added to the game was The Sims. XCOM combat, Crusader Kings dynastic struggle, and home decorating in the keep.

      Then again, I likewise obsess over the layout of my XCOM bases, too.

      I may have to keep this game in mind. Maybe the Steam Sales…

  10. John says:

    If they must do another Batman-based game my hypothetical vote would be for a Nightwing game. Nightwing has the same skill set as Batman, so the mechanics should work out fine. What Nightwing doesn’t have is all the grimdark baggage that Batman has been carrying around since Frank Miller got a hold of him, so the tone of game could be a lot lighter.

    • Joe Informatico says:

      The first Chuck Dixon-penned Nightwing series is one of my favourite things ever. I love the idea of Nightwing as the working-class Batman: instead of a jet-powered military grade vehicle, he has a souped-up hot rod chassis and powertrain with interchangeable auto bodies so it can look like a plain sedan, a luxury car, an ambulance, etc. Instead of having a supercomputer for his intelligence network, his day job is a beat cop, so he can hear about all the unsolved crimes.

      I’ve heard the newer Dick Grayson comics where he’s a spy are pretty good too, maybe that’d be another workable concept for games.

      • John says:

        I suspect that the adventures of Dick Grayson as Batman’s double agent within the ranks of the mysterious intelligence agency Spyral would necessarily be a very different sort of game from the Arkham series. Not bad, mind you, but definitely different and fairly hard to pitch to a skeptical publisher.

        Frankly, it’s hard to imagine a AAA developer working on a Batman game that doesn’t feature Batman as the main character. I want a Nightwing game, but I doubt I’ll ever see one. I think Mumbles’ idea for a Batfamily game is more plausible, since Batman would be a playable character and feature rather heavily in the marketing.

        • Thomas says:

          The didn’t explicitly mention it in the diecast, but at the end of the game Bruce Wayne fakes his own death. It would be very easy to bring him back, especially since the Arkham games have never actually used his Bruce Wayne side much/at all.

          And they’re absolutely going to continue making these games, just hopefully not with Rocksteady at the helm (so rocksteady can do other things)

        • Joe Informatico says:

          All for the Batfamily too. Those 1990s Batfamily books, where frankly every other hero in Gotham was more interesting than Bats himself, are probably the only Big Two superhero books I ever really got into. (I was more of a Vertigo fan, or anything Warren Ellis did for Wildstorm.)

      • Mumbles says:

        Chuck Dixon is my faaveee

        • John says:

          Have you forgiven him for writing all those Tim Drake comics?

          • Neil D says:

            I was curious about something similar. Does your dislike of Tim go all the way back to his early appearances? I quite liked the character when he appeared, earnest and capable, but humble and respectful. Then he got a lot less interesting to me as he drifted off on his own and changed to Red Robin. The bland, insufferably perfect version we have today bores the crap out of me.

            The Arkham Knight version is different to the point that I basically think of him as an entirely different character. I don’t mind him on his own merits, but I dislike him as an interpretation of Tim Drake.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Im actually glad that they are doing superman and not batman next.In fact,ever since the city came out,I was hoping they would move on to do someone other than batman.

  12. Ranneko says:

    I really love Massive Chalice and I think one of the most important tips regarding the tactical combat is that it isn’t XCOM and it plays fundamentally differently to it.

    XCOM is about managing cover and finding good flanking shots to take out enemies, with overwatch to keep them locked down and unable to move.

    Massive Chalice is about managing Line of Sight. You want to try to close on enemies without letting large groups of them know where you are and what you are doing, using hunters to scout and enforcers and caberjacks to knockback and stun.

    Cover, overwatch do not exist, but neither does the enemy get a free move to scatter when they are spotted and the range of engagement is much smaller, given that most of the enemies have to close to melee range to do damage.

    I agree that it is hard to become attached to individual heroes, personally I have found it much easier to become attached to houses, Iridhasa provided me with an awesome crew of hunters and the house of Bane produced wicked Caberjacks who feared no demon.

    On a final note I’ve actually have been making Massive Chalice tip videos. They are up on my YouTube channel, the link is in my profile if people are interested in checking them out.

    • Merlin says:

      Having not yet listened to the discussion in the podcast (booo audio content)… You’re spot on about the structural difference of combat between XCOM and MC. The spacing game is really a much more traditional take on tactical combat – it should be very familiar to Fire Emblem or FFT vets – but XCOM seems to be the first thing off of people’s lips. Some of that is probably just its recency and some of that is the similar structure of the games’ strategy layers, but it’s not a very good analogue.

      Re: attachment to heroes, I agree that it’s difficult, but that’s also kind of the point. Massive Chalice embraces perma-death more so than any game I’m aware of. Yes, games like XCOM include it, but it’s a failure state, and generally a really rare one once you learn the game. MC reframes this by making death a constraint rather than a risk. It’s a question of when the hero dies rather than if. That makes it very, very good at incorporating the mood/tone of a dispassionate sim-style game into the structure of a turn-based combat game, but really bad for people who go in wanting to dress up their action figures and love them forever. And similarly bad for people who want a dispassionate sim-game all the way through, a la Crusader Kings 2. (And also for people who say “I thought it would be like Game of Thrones,” but that doesn’t actually mean anything so forget those people.)

      You’re right that the goal/relative strength is getting attached to bloodlines instead, but where I’ve seen that people can’t make that attachment, it’s again because it’s such a sim game. I’m seeing a lot of people going in expecting House Suchandsuch to be preternatually good caberjacks or House Whosiwhat to be unparalleled hunters, but genetic systems under the hood are fairly realistic – there are actual alleles and Punnett squares in play. It’s really not-fantasy/not-gamey, which again pushes it into that weird middle ground between turn-based strategy and sim. It’s a niche game, for sure, but it’s very good at scratching its specific itch.

      That said, the game does shine a little brighter when you plan ahead. It’s a different beast to sift through heirs when a regent dies than it is to see that your regent is pushing 60, identify a 15-25 year old that’s a great heir, and plan accordingly. The latter scenario gives you specific sub-goals in combat, like feeding the unit kills for XP, and also makes losing a particular unit hurt more specifically. Unfortunately, the UI doesn’t really account for this. Just being able to flag units per your tentative plans (aka “Dave Smith, Heir of House Smith”) would be a huge help in this respect.

      Were you a bloodline backer? House Hanlon is mine, but I’ve just been pulling in randos for my other 4 lines when I play.

      • Ranneko says:

        I was not a bloodline backer, I was initially pretty hesitant to back, it was after all a kickstarter run before Broken Age had released but before the split was even announced if I recall correctly.

        I really enjoyed the teamstreams and the open development process that they used, so I upped my pledge later but didn’t up it all the way to Bloodline. I kind of regret that.

        I think what makes the XCOM comparison so easy is that it is still fairly similar, 5 man squad, 2 action points, hotbar of abilities down the bottom. It explicity drew on XCOM for inspiration. It also drew on FFT for inspiration but I suspect that most of the audience are less familiar with those and the visual comparisons are much less obvious.

        • Ivan says:

          Not to mention the fact that you’re building a kingdom (base), have a research tree, and have a world map where you fastforward time to wait for events. Then you’re attacked in multiple places at once and can only respond to one of the attacks, getting different rewards depending on the region, but if you ignore a region too much it will be overrun.

          The actual combat might be very different but MC and XCOM obviously share a lot of systems. It’s obvious that MC draws on XCOM for inspiration.

          • Merlin says:

            Oh, the structure of the strategy layer is absolutely “XCOM with a twist.” I’m just surprised/annoyed that so many people look at the combat specifically and see something exactly the same, despite the fact that the games share only the most common genre conventions. It’s like calling Half Life 2 a “Doom Clone” on the basis that both involve walking around shooting people.

            I’m doubly surprised to hear “total XCOM ripoff” coming from Josh, since I seem to remember him having quite a bit of TBS experience.

            • Ivan says:

              Ah, I get it, I hadn’t listened to the podcast yet. Yeah it is unfair that Josh specifically called the combat an XCOM ripoff. Shame on you Josh.

          • Ranneko says:

            Yeah, it is true it takes much more than visual cues from XCOM, but on the other hand I mostly hear people refer to it copying XCOM combat, rather than the research/production system.

      • Ivan says:

        This is an interesting approach to the problem of letting your units go. XCOM goes a long way into making a characters death part of the game (rather than a louse condition) but it still doesn’t quite get there. I still hate lousing units unless I feel like the aliens outplayed me, but unfortunately those situations are extremely rare. More often I louse units out of carelessness or something unexpected, like a car exploding from being shot or grenaded. But making it certain from the start that all my dudes are going to die and giving me enough of them to avoid death by attrition does sound like a good solution.

        Having the conflict span generations would do other things to improve the game as well. In XCOM if things start to get bad, you have no reason to think that they will get better, but in MC you should have your next generation of promising recruits brewing to look forward to, so holding the line and cutting your losses starts to feel like a valid strategy. I suppose the reason that XCOM doesn’t feel the same is because the resources you need to get stronger are only obtainable from aliens, so every lost battle feels like a missed opportunity. Ontop of that the aliens are constantly getting stronger, so waiting feels like it will only make your problems worse.

        I suppose what’ll make the difference is what is stronger in each game. In XCOM your troops were your backbone but your technology gave them the edge they needed to win. If in MC your technology is your backbone and your troops give you the edge you need then MC might finally be able to convince me that I can’t win just by micromanaging everything, but I can win if I fight on a strategic level.

        It does sound harder to grow attached to a house than a person but I definitely want to give MC a try now.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      In fairness to Josh,he is a newb when it comes to game like this(he hasnt even played jagged alliance 2*snort*),so its easy for him to make such a newbie mistake.

  13. Artur CalDazar says:

    Her Story sounds very interesting and similar to a Christine Love game.

    Massive Chalice has Xcom combat? I kept hearing it was much more basic than that and never looked into it. Huh, Now I’m vaguely intrigued.

  14. Christopher says:

    Is there any story in Massive Chalice? I’m not familiar with Xcom, so maybe I would know if I was, but from what you were saying there doesn’t seem to be any characters or story to speak of. I’m not sure if there even is a narrative or what the end would be from your description. “Evil forces invade” just sounds like a premise.

    • Merlin says:

      Barely any. The Cadence represent uncaring forces of decay (rust, fossilization, forgetfulness, etc) putting you in a very literal fight against time while the chalice charges up its 300 year mega-spell. There are tiny CYOA events you encounter in the strategy layer that flesh out the world slightly or imply a narrative, but it’s very light.

    • Ranneko says:

      Yes there is. The story it is pretty barebones, coming from the initial premise, the finish and emerging from the houses and random events.

      The events during the strategy layer, which are a little bit like those from FTL, are where the world-building really occurs, because they show a lot more about what the regular people in The Nation are doing as well as what your heroes get up to when they aren’t training to prepare for the inevitable but rare incursions that take place at most 4-5 times a lifetime.

  15. Joakim says:

    I must say, I was impressed by the way you managed to not really reveal anything of Her Story.

    Just wanted to say I really appreciated your efforts.

    • Mumbles says:

      I think halfway through talking about it, I was like “I really want people to actually play this.” And, that’s hard to do if you already know the big spoilers.

  16. Wide and Nerdy says:

    http://games.on.net/2015/07/scary-mask-man-and-the-dark-rainy-city/

    From Mumbles twitter feed. Mild Arkham Knight spoilers

  17. Muspel says:

    I’d actually like to see Rocksteady do a Batman Beyond game now that they’re done with the Arkham trilogy. There have been enough Batman stories and new characters since the original show that it would be interesting to see what the future-version of the new stuff would be like. IE what happens with Damian Wayne 30 years down the line? Maybe Riddler is now the police comissioner. Et cetera.

  18. No idea how many here know about Jim Sterling and Digital Homicides little feud (or one-sided mancrush, who knows what the deal truly is).

    Jim and Digital Homicide had a voice chat with each other that was recorded: http://www.thejimquisition.com/2015/07/special-podcast-jim-sterling-and-digital-homicide-hash-it-out/

    And here is a transcript somebody did http://www.scribd.com/doc/270508471/Transcript

    The darn thing is an hour and forty minutes long, and it’s dry and repetitive and logic goes out the window again and again, and that’s just Digital Homicide.
    Jim on the other hand, well my respect for Jim just increased, the patience of that man is incredible.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Just whilst we’re off-topicking, have you seen the changelog for the next Witcher patch? It’s like they came ’round my house, listened to all the changes I wanted, and then went away and quietly coded every single one! XD

      http://www.pcgamer.com/the-witcher-3-is-getting-a-very-large-update-in-version-107/

      Storage! Now I just have to remember which merchant I sold all those scrolls & letters to after I’d cleaned-out the book-guy in Novigrad…

      • Holy shit now Jesse Cox can loot even more shit (his playthroughs are borderline hilarious at times).

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          But thats how you play these games.Whats the point of playing an rpg and not getting everything not nailed down?And then everything that was nailed down.And then the nails as well.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Jesse Cox goes beyond that. He does absolutely everything. I believe he’s STILL working on his Dragon Age Inquisition playthrough and based on his pace there, it will be a couple of years before he’s done with Witcher 3.

          • MichaelGC says:

            Aye right! There’s good dismantlin’ on them thar nails!

            It did amuse me at one point when Geralt is investigating a deserted village, and he’s all like: “Hmm, hasn’t been ransacked by raiders or thieves,” and I’m all like: “Yeah, until now, suckers!” *yoink*

      • James says:

        HOLY shit them changes, i need them i got into the issue of collecting relic swords, i have like 20 i need storage. i’m so happy.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The best comment from Sterling is when he was playing through second warfare a second time(hah),and he responds to being called petty with “I would like to refute that.I would say that Im being infantile and petulant and spiteful.”

    • Nimas says:

      I doubt you’ll see this, given how long after this post has been up. But thank you, that transcript (still reading) made my day so much better.

      Honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve read in ages.

      • I try to keep an eye out and do a ego search on older articles I’ve contributed comments to (for better or worse). But yeah after a while I don’t go back to older articles.

        As to that audio transcript, Amazing does not even describe it, a new word is needed to describe what the heck that was all about.

  19. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    This is an audience that may know -in describing “Her Story,” I was reminded of a game my brother played when I was young -would have had to been 6 or 7, so early 1990s. The concept of the game was that you were working at a computer for a space colony that had been wiped out -or otherwise had its computer knocked out -and you had to visit the different data archives to recover the data. As you went from archive to archive, you’d find more about what happened, and also restore connections to different data archives.

    I tried to play it, but being 7 I had a hard time with the vocabulary. I tried to play it with my brother and lost patience for the system rather quickly.

    At this point, all I remember is that it was played on the Apple IIgs and that the medical archive was called “Med 10.” It also involved a lot of disk switching, and the main screen was several rows of boxes, each labeled a different data archive.

    Anyway, an early precursor to the basic idea of “Her Story.”

  20. SlothfulCobra says:

    I don’t think Riddler in the Arkham games has washed himself once throughout the series. He looked like a dickensian vagrant that had just crawled out of a dumpster back in Arkham City.

    He did look pretty dapper back in the Arkham Asylum concept art, but so did Calendar Man.

  21. Vect says:

    Well, there are various directions they can take if they plan to make another DC game. As noted, a Bat-Family game could be cool with multiple characters having their own variations of Batman’s style. I’m doubtful of a Suicide Squad game mostly because it might feel the need to tie into the film somewhat (and quite frankly, everything about that film looks pretty lame). Justice League seems like it’d have to be either really large-scale (since they deal with global threats while Batman deals specifically with Gotham).

    Still, I think that they certainly can adapt the gameplay to fit almost any IP. Interested to see what Rockstead have planned for the future.

  22. Nick Pitino says:

    Oh Double Fine, I still haven’t forgiven you for burning me with Space Base DF-9…

    Anyway I think you’ve sold me on Her Story, so we’ll give that a go.

  23. Nicholas Hayes says:

    Mumbles – it’s interesting that you saw the song in Her Story as (spoilers ho!) evidence of her being unhinged, because whilst the lyrics mirror the events of the story, I just read it as a normal English folk song.

    Now maybe that’s just because British folk songs in general are about people dying in wars; people committing suicide and/or sailors drowning – and are pretty f***ed up in general. It’s an actual folk song she’s singing.

    But thanks for the recommendation – enjoyed playing the game

  24. Adam says:

    Soooo… who was creepy-Mailbag-man-voice at the end?

  25. Vorpal Kitten says:

    I really want to see a game where you play as Batgirl and Nightwing and it uses the Shadow of Mordor NPC system to populate the game with low level ‘supervillains’ that rise up based on your actions.

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