Diecast #159: Huniepop, Ghostbusters, Civilization

By Shamus
on Jul 18, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

Bad news: No Spoiler Warning this week. Good news: I just opened a box of coconut macaroon cookies. They’re pretty awesome.

Direct download (MP3)
Direct download (ogg Vorbis)
Podcast RSS feed.

Direct link to this episode.

Hosts: Josh, Shamus, Campster.

Episode edited by Rachel.

Show notes:
0:01:22: Shamus played the anime dating sim Huniepop

Since I asked for recommendations, I guess I should make clear what I’m looking for in a Match-3 game: 1) Focus on planning ahead and setting up deliberate moves. 2) NO TIMER. I like working with a limited number of moves, but being allowed to consider those moves for as long as I like. 3) Ideally, there would be some sort of meta-game. 4) Preferably something without naked anime girls.

Also, this discusses quasi-pornography. I’d encourage everyone to be respectful. Remember that one person’s “tame cheesecake” is another person’s “sick filth”. We’re all coming from different backgrounds and cultures and have different expectations. This is one of those topics that seem to flip everyone’s jerk switch. Try not to be crappy to each other.

Also, I’d like to say how happy I am that I can use the phrase “naked anime girls” without worrying that the Google smut-bot is going to throw a fit.

0:25:23: The new Ghostbusters movie is apparently not the train wreck the trailers made it out to be?

This is a spoiler-free discussion.

0:33:35: Steam Stats

Here is the Steam statistics page we reference in this discussion.

0:45:04: Civilization series.

1:01:22: Mailbag

Dear Campster,

Do you think the changes Turtle Rock are making to Evolve will help the game’s playability and accessibility to a significant enough extent as to help them gain players, or is it “too little, too late” (or even just “too late”)?

Sincerely,
Funklewrinkler
(Funk-uhl-wrinkle-er)

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A Hundred!20202018Many comments. 178, if you're a stickler

From the Archives:

  1. Jokerman says:

    Not listened to this yet… but on a scale from 1-10, how awkward was it for Rachel to edit this one :D

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Since I asked for recommendations, I guess I should make clear what I’m looking for in a Match-3 game: 1) Focus on planning ahead and setting up deliberate moves. 2) NO TIMER. I like working with a limited number of moves, but being allowed to consider those moves for as long as I like. 3) Ideally, there would be some sort of meta-game. 4) Preferably something without naked anime girls.

    Technically huniepop fits all of those,since the girls are fully naked only in the uncensored version.Im not sure if you can skip the sex minigame though,because that is the only place where they undress.But its possible to blindly play that without ever noticing the girl on the right(I have),provided that you mute the game at that point.

    Also, this discusses quasi-pornography.

    Theres nothing quasi about it.Huniepop has literal porn in it.Its a bit tamer in the censored version,but its still porn.

  3. Ninety-Three says:

    quasi-pornography.

    This is one of those topics that seem to flip everyone’s jerk switch.

    Please tell me that was intentional.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus,you should totally watch TotalBiscuit being forced by his wife to play huniepop:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVa0Crj1oD8

  5. Wide And Nerdy® says:

    Huniepop really does sort of transcend its genre while still delivering what people presumably want.

    When you talk about self awareness, I assume you’re primarily referring to Kyu the fairy (I don’t think this is spoiling anything since she’s there right out of the gate). And yes I think you’re right that this is part of the joke about guys. She knows you’re hopeless with women so she’s using some kind of magic to turn your dating interactions with women into a primarily puzzle based game Which makes it hilarious when Kyu decides she wants you to use your “sexy puzzle skills” on her. The meta reaches its peak when you’re seducing your own fairy guide. Kyu is just hilarious in general.

    BTW, just to clarify the wording you had about the Match-3 mechanic. You can move the tile as far as you want in any one direction. The tile you’re moving itself doesn’t have to be part of a match in order for it to be a legal move, you can make matches out of the other displaced tiles.

    Its been a little while since I played either of these games but I remember coming out of Huniepop wanting more Match-3 like it and I picked up Puzzles and Dragons which is also very satisfying.

    The difference with Puzzles and Dragons is that the Match 3 is used for turn based combat. And what you do is grab a piece and you can move it all over the board for a second or two, displacing pieces in all directions trying to create as many matches as possible before letting go of the piece. You’re also trying to make matches that line up with the powers of your guys. So for example, every red match results in all of your fire guys being able to throw an attack (and some guys are dual element). Every blue match results in your water guys being able to throw an attack. Etc.

    And there’s more to it. The puzzle mechanic is a bit more reflex base but you can take as long as you want looking at the board before you pick up the tile and start moving it so you can take it slow in that sense, its just that once you do pick up the piece, you do need a little speed and physical coordination as well as some working memory to make the most of your move and there’s the element of building your various creatures up and choosing which team you take with you to the next level based on their various abilities.

    But if you feel like your reflexes are slow, you can keep grinding in earlier levels to get your creatures more powerful so you don’t have to do as many matches per turn (and strategy can compensate for twitch skill).

    Disclaimer. I’ve only played the 3DS Mario version of the game which is one time purchase so there are no free to play mechanics. Looks like the version on Android is free to play, so if you don’t have a 3DS, I can’t tell if you you’re going to like the version you can get.

    EDIT: Oops, it took me so long to write this, I forgot about your “no timer” rule.

    • Ranneko says:

      I remember spending a lot of time for a while in Doctor Who Legacy, which is a free to play mobile match three title.

      It uses the same free movement of the tile that Wide and Nerdy described. There is no timer on planning moves, but there is a timer from when you pick up the tile. So I guess it at least semi-violates one of your constraints.

      It ended up pretty fun for me planning out and then attempting to execute swirling moves to arrange for multiple blocks of 4 or 5 long matches to take place at once to clear as much of the board as possible.

    • evilmrhenry says:

      As someone who prefers match-3 games without timers, the timer in Puzzles and Dragons isn’t that big of an issue. Just plan your moves first, and get a good idea about how many tiles you can realistically move. You don’t need to think while the timer counts down, which is a problem with 10,000,000 or You Need to Build a Boat.

      • Wide And Nerdy® says:

        Agreed. After thinking about it some more, I think he’d like this one. Though I’m still uncertain about getting the free version. On 3DS there are no microtransactions or pay to win stuff. Don’t know if thats the case on Android.

        • The mobile version has a pretty standard energy meter mechanic that’s fairly forgiving in the beginning with level ups, as well as a pretty heavy gachapon slant for unlocking heroes. It’s also very schedule based, event dungeons, time/day/week dungeons etc.

          Probably my favorite spin on match-3. I’d say give it a download just to see the pure game design craft if nothing else. There’s no thinking timer, just an execution timer, which is kinda required by the nature of the swapping.

          • sheer_falacy says:

            I also really enjoy Puzzle and Dragons. It has a high skill cap but you can get quite far with some pretty basic combo skills. The basic gameplay is actually interesting and building your team has a lot of snazzy choices.

            I’m not so happy with how they’re pushing multiplayer these days, though.

    • Felblood says:

      “The tile you’re moving itself doesn’t have to be part of a match in order for it to be a legal move, you can make matches out of the other displaced tiles.”

      Bolded for emphasis.

      There’s this lightbulb moment, when you’re about to swap two tiles, and you suddenly realize you can drag the other tile as far as you want, to set up you next move. It’s the moment you realize that this game is the Real Thing, and you can never go back to Bejeweled Twist with Poke’mon, or Candy Crush ripoff #2473. It opens up entire dimensions in the game-space.

      I’ve never seen this done before, and it’s a genuine stroke of genius. If someone else did it first, we need to bring them some much deserved limelight. My morbid curiosity has dragged me through some unspeakable pits of debauchery in search of a gem such as this.

    • Muspel says:

      I, too, will strongly recommend Puzzle and Dragons. Unlike you, I’ve only played the free-to-play smartphone version, and you can easily get as far as you want to without spending any money at all.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    By the way,Shamus,if you havent done so already(in which case,I am sorry)never try to unlock the cat girl.The cringe with that one….

    As for the age,the final girl you get in the game is over 10000 year old.So hey,on average,all of these girls are older than you.

    • IFS says:

      Fortunately you basically have to look up how to unlock the catgirl since its so obscure. She was about the only part of the game that made me uncomfortable.

    • Wide And Nerdy® says:

      The only thing that made the catgirl tolerable is that they seemed to be going out of their way to make you uncomfortable with that one. To the point where it was funny.

    • Phantos says:

      I have a story about that excuse:

      There’s an old episode of Game Grumps where they posted… “art” of Pit from the Kid Icarus games. When I pointed out that they probably committed a felony, THAT was the most common response I got. That excuse.

      “But their backstory says this character(who physically resembles a child) is over 9,000, so that makes it okay!” *fart*

      The game is literally called “Kid Icarus”! KID!

      That’s as convincing as a pile of ants wearing Groucho glasses!

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Personally,Id go with “Its a drawing of an imaginary character”.

        • Phantos says:

          I mean, there’s no excuse that makes it less creepy. And I get that people wouldn’t be in a rush to admit that they should be on a government watch list.

          But it’s like, I’m almost more insulted that they settle for such a weak excuse.

          “Uhh, it’s uh… an optical illuuuuusion!”

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    10000000 game Chris mentioned is crap.You have a timer,you are hunting for points,so the best you can do is just spam your moves randomly and eventually youll earn stuff you want.Theres no thought involved in it,because as soon as you stop and think,you lose valuable time.

    Huniepop is amazing on the other hand.Not only are your moves super important,because they are limited,Im pretty sure that they have some algorithms in place that make it so that the random “new stuff appear,gets blown up immediately” is reduced to a minimum and is of no importance.Also,Ive never seen a board where no moves are possible,so maybe theres something guiding that.And,the stuff that appears are not quite random,because there does seem to always be a certain balance of symbols.I cant say that all of this is deliberate,but it feels like it is.

    One other positive thing I can say about the game is that its not just the match 3 thats great in the game.The interactions you get with the characters between those match 3 are also mechanically great.Technically you can get through those sections without thinking about it,but reading them does yield better rewards.

  8. Tizzy says:

    Thanks, Chris, for the Ghostbusters report. I was equally appalled by the trailers, and so got very intrigued when I saw positive reviews start to come in. Your description helps make this make sense, and though I have little patience for improv-heavy movie, I guess I’ll give it a shot anyway.

    I have to ask what the hell is the deal with studios and their movie trailers, though. It’s far from the first time that I’ve seen a huge discrepancy between a movie and its trailer. You must come to the conclusion that it’s deliberate, but it doesn’t make a shred of sense. Why have so little confidence in your product? Why would you try to sell something as something else? Who is going to thank you for it? The audiences who got tricked into seeing a movie under flase pretenses, or the audiences who missed a movie they would have liked?

    If anyone has any insight on this nonsense, I would love to hear it.

    • krellen says:

      Marketers have no idea what they’re doing.

      While I do mean that as an insult on the profession, it’s not entirely the fault of the marketers themselves. Frequently they must begin marketing based on an unfinished product – which is why you will sometimes see a scene in a trailer that doesn’t actually appear in the movie (they trailed a deleted scene or a different take).

      Also, marketers don’t have expertise in the field they’re marketing – they have expertise in marketing, which is the “science” of manipulating people’s expectations – they supposedly understand “average” audiences, and have a lot of trouble with niche products.

      • Sunshine says:

        The retrospective article that followed the closure of Lionhead had an anecdote dumping on Microsoft’s marketing department for not even looking at the game when they were promoting one of the Fable games and going “Oh, yeah, fantasy. Knight, castle, dragon on the cover, done.” “No, there aren’t any dragons in the game.” “Shut up, we know what we’re doing.”

        Incidentally, I assume that article crossed Shamus’ path, but in case it didn’t: there is a part where they say that Fable II’s main quest was actually one of the last things in development, like the comments here that imagined them saying “Main what? Oh, shit! Can you knock something together?”

        • Mike S. says:

          Though as with book covers, accuracy isn’t really on the list of priorities. If a dragon on the cover gets more sales from people unfamiliar with the game (people returning to the series or deciding based on reviews aren’t going to be persuaded or dissuaded by the cover) then it’s done its job.

          I vastly prefer accurate covers with good art. But an SF editor of some stature made a convincing case that I’m rarely the target market for covers. Presumably the same logic applies to trailers.

    • Torsten says:

      Comedy films can’t put their best jokes on trailers, because then nobody would have a reason to go see the movie. So the trailers get filled with B and C level stuff that make the film look like a juvenile flick with bad jokes and poor humor.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        But then no one wants to go and see them because the trailer sucked.

        Also,good comedies can put some of their best stuff in the trailer.Jump streets couldve put whole scenes in the trailer and still have plethora left over to be a laugh riot.Its bad and mediocre comedies that have the problem with trailers.

        • Wide And Nerdy® says:

          Same solution as for the whole “will they notice the joke” problem. Zucker Abrams and Zucker always solved that problem by packing as many jokes in as possible. That way, you’re always noticing something funny and the movie has rewatch value.

          MST3K used quantity to solve the “will they get this obscure joke” problem. If you don’t get a joke, there’s another one coming right after.

        • Mephane says:

          Zootopia comes to mind. The long trailer with Flash was the very first thing I ever saw of the movie, yet it was just as hilarious when it finally happened in the actual movie. :)

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I always assumed porno games are low quality

    You assumed correctly.Huniepop is definitely an aberration.Even its sequel is said to be not good,even by people who really liked the original.

    • tengokujin says:

      Well.

      Let me go off-topic for a second.

      According to “Koe de Oshigoto” (a surprisingly well-written manga about voice acting in the adult games industry in Japan), erotic games are broadly divided into two types: romantic and assault. In those two types there are sub-genres: moe (cute), utsu (“depressing”), nuki (“extraction”, aka fapping), naki (“crying”), etc. It’s a complex venn diagram, really.

      In any case, “eroge” (“erotic games”) can easily fall into the cheap, disposable category, such as an “extraction’ assault game, where the point may be that the player has magical powers and all women fall under his spell, and he rapes them all, in a graphic and voice-acted manner.

      However, we have cases like “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When the Cicadas Cry)”, which is a somewhat depressing game about love, time travel, supernatural horrors, and murder, where the sex kinda exists to drive home characterisation (and player satisfaction).
      Or stuff like “Saya no Uta”, an eldritch horror story about brain damage, paranoia, persecution complexes, and psychosis.

      Basically, yes, the shitty games are dime a dozen, but you can find dark, disturbing stories or depressing stories or thoughtful stories that end up good enough that they get a wide release version made (see: Key games like Clannad, Kanon, or Air).

      While I feel like I might’ve meandered off-point completely, I’ll bring it back to: there are *good* “porn” games… depending on how you define “porn”.

      Heck, I purchased “planetarian”, a Key game on Steam expressly because I feel I might enjoy the story- and holy carp, Clannad’s on Steam.

    • NC_Schrijver says:

      Huniepop doesn’t have a sequel, though as their second game is a stand-alone game while only borrowing some characters from the first. On the subject of porn games, alot are of surprising high Quality in both writing and visual aspects. I would even dare to say those developers are more focused on delivering a quality product then most AAA sudios are. People are serious about their porn.

  10. krellen says:

    Re: Steam stats – Civilization 4 predates the dominance of Steam. My copy is on a CD. Were I to play it, Steam would not register it.

    • Matt Downie says:

      Yeah, I wanted to play a Civ-game this weekend, and Steam just seems so much easier than digging up my DVDs and expansions to reinstall Civ4. I just played Civ 5.

      Civ 5 seems weird in terms of difficulty for me. Playing on ‘Prince’, either I start out next to some crazed megalomaniac who launches a well co-ordinated surprise attack and wipes me out, or I get stuck on a tiny island chain in the middle of nowhere, or I have an incredibly easy game where nobody really challenges me at all.

      I tried playing for a cultural victory this time, but when my nation’s special units are unlocked, it’s hard to resist the tempation to use them on somebody. And if I’m well-prepared for a war, and it’s not some suicidal beach-head attack, I tend to win really easily.

    • John says:

      I got Civilization IV in the Humble Firaxis Bundle and then binged like a mad, binging fiend. According to Steam, I have 58 hours in the base game, 75 hours in the Warlords expansion, and another 10 hours in the Beyond the Sword expansion. So, y’know, I’m doing my bit for the cause. The interesting thing is that, because Steam treats the base game and the expansions as distinct games, if you weren’t looking closely at my Steam statistics, you might think I’ve played just 58 hours of Civilization IV whereas I consider myself to have played 143.

    • Humanoid says:

      And in a really nice touch, the final patch for the game removed the disc-check DRM. Combined with the disc version being much more mod-friendly (since the mods would all have been written prior to the Steam port), it’s still a better decision to buy a physical copy of the game in-store today rather than on Steam.

      (Assuming the current boxed release isn’t just a Steam key)

  11. Hal says:

    As far as Match3 games go, I really liked Marvel Puzzle Quest on my phone. The mechanics are really satisfying, although I quit because the rate of new content wasn’t enough to sustain my interest.

  12. Bad news: No Spoiler Warning this week. Good news: I just opened a box of coconut macaroon cookies.

    When I read this I read it in the voice of Shamus in the voice of Professor Farnsworth.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Civ4 is the best simply because its the most polished one.It has a long line of games behind it to draw inspiration from.Civ5 may be worse mechanically,but some ideas it has have immense potential.My only hope is that they dont ditch them,but rather refine them.

    The most obvious example is the hexes and everything about them.One of the worst things about it is that it brings back the old exploit by which you could use your cheap unit to block the enemy your ally from settling in an ideal spot(or other stuff).However,even civ3 had this exploit,and its only civ4 that solved it.So yeah,LOOOONG road ahead of the hexciv until it reaches the greatness.

    As for call to power,it was weird,but it was awesome weird.You get to enslave people and build your economy on their backs,you get to make the matrix to turn your people into obedient drones,you get to use ecologists to obliterate enemy cities and turn them back into nature,…Im really saddened that that spinoff was so short lived.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      The biggest problem with hexes was just that the AI was absolutely braindead about them. One time I had a city in a heavily forested area, being defended by one archer and one swordsman. The AI invaded with nine units, a force so big it could have beaten me just by saying “All units move directly towards the city and max attack”. I think they spent more time running around the forest getting into arbitrary positions than attacking. I killed six and the others retreated without me losing a single unit. The secret advantage of Civ 4’s doom stacks is that they make combat very simple, so it’s hard for an AI to screw up.

      • Flip says:

        The AI isn’t just bad at combat. It will also settle cities in stupid places, buy your luxuries even if it doesn’t need them, take bad religious beliefs…
        I fear Civ VI will have the same problem. A lot of the mechanics seem cool but it looks like you need a lot of judgement and foresight to use them effectively. For example, will the AI understand that it needs to build science disctricts next to mountains? Will it settle cities accordingly? I have my doubts.

    • Phill says:

      I was going to make the same point that Chris does: the odd numbered civs (civ, civ 3 and civ 5) are the ones that introduce radical new ideas into the game, but since they are so new, the mechanics end up being slightly unbalanced, unpolished or unsatisfying in some ways, while the even ones (civ 2 and civ 4, and hopefully civ 6) are more about refining and polishing the things that didn’t quite work in the previous iteration. So I’m hopeful that civ 6 is going to improve the mechanics of civ 5 in the same way that 4 did for 3.

      Although I’m in the minority opinion of prefering civ 5 to civ 4 – civ 4 was indeed mechanically polished and well designed, but somehow I just never enjoyed playing it as much as 3 or 5.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Its not a really solid rule.Civ4 introduced religion and had a ground breaking overhaul of the economy(which I think was the best).I think 2 introduced the fewest new stuff.

        • Merlin says:

          Civ 4 did introduce religion, but it’s only barely a game element compared to what 5 did with ideologies. The manual even has a nearly-full-page aside that boils down to “Religions all have no definable features because holy crap that would open a can of worms that we don’t want to deal with.” Which of course means that religion ends up being a meaningless bit of branding that only serves to stir up trouble with your neighbors… which is its own can of worms, really. :P

          • Ninety-Three says:

            I never realized this until now, but it’s crazy on the level of Nuclear Gandhi that Civ 5 lets you found Christianity before anyone has formed Judaism.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            No,religion was very meaningful for diplomacy as well as various other things like happiness buildings and money.Its individual religions that had no meaning and were interchangeable,but as an element,religion was pretty important in 4.

            • krellen says:

              Religion was incredibly important, because its addition allowed the existence of the incredible Fall from Heaven mod, which took religions and used it to add another level of depth to the game – each religion played very differently, and modifying them with each individual side could lead to a great variety of playstyles.

          • Veylon says:

            I feel like they should’ve Dwarf Fortressed this. A new religion gets named after a person, city, or culture related to where it was formed. (e.g. The Peking Faith or Adamsism). Then it gets X (possibly zero) gods. Then, it gets it’s random bonuses/maluses. It might be a religion that emphases otherworldliness (malus to productivity) and conformity (bonus to morale).

            If the religion gets stressed, it might fracture. Maybe it’s home city gets conquered or becomes a backwater or a large chunk of it’s adherents find themselves fighting each due to national wars or are maybe just far away. So if your country gets converted to Pattonology, you’d have the opportunity to try and break off your own sect of Neo-Pattonology and even enforce it as the “correct” one.

            • Merlin says:

              That’s not really Civ’s MO, though. Part of the joy of playing Civ is seeing the Babylonian empire crush Hindu theocrat George Washington with stealth bombers from their forward airbase at Helsinki. Playing historical musical chairs is pretty ingrained in the franchise’s identity.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              But then it wouldnt be civilization.One of the things civilization does is that it draws influence from actual history.Thats why there are real names for cities,leaders,great people,etc.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Its not a really solid rule.

          No right – Nemesis is even and that’s absolute garbage.

          Wait … I think I mentally wandered off slightly there; sorry about that.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            SFDebris came up with a different rule for treks:If it has singing in it,its crap.

          • Wide And Nerdy® says:

            Apart from Daemian’s suggestion, which is pretty solid. Fans have proposed you could resolve it by including Galaxy Quest in the sequence, which was released between Insurrection and Nemesis. Nemesis then becomes the 11th movie that was bad, Star Trek 2009 becomes the good(ish) 12th movie and Into Darkness becomes the bad 13th movie. Which hopefully means that Beyond is good.

      • Philadelphus says:

        Although I’m in the minority opinion of prefering civ 5 to civ 4 – civ 4 was indeed mechanically polished and well designed, but somehow I just never enjoyed playing it as much as 3 or 5.

        Yeah, I’m with you there. My first experience with the Civilization series was 3, and it was also my introduction to turn-based strategy games in general, and it was pretty much all I played for a year or two in my mid-teens.

        Then I was given Civ 4 as a gift, and I just couldn’t get into it. They completely removed ranged combat, one of my favorite parts of the game, and I always found the new 3-D look goofy and cartoon-y for some reason. I could never get the hang of the Health mechanic, it’s like my cities could be healthy, or happy, or neither, but not both. In retrospect, I realize my computer was definitely on the lower end of its playable range so it always ran slowly for me as well, which isn’t exactly a fair reason to dislike it, but, well, I did anyway at that age.

        Then Civ 5 came out and they added ranged combat back (and even buffed its usefulness well above the levels seen in 3), and the 3-D didn’t look silly to me anymore. With both expansions (and all the little civ-packs) I’m so satisfied with it that I’m not even particularly interested in 6 yet.

        • Philadelphus says:

          Thinking about this some more, and having actually listened to the discussion, two more points come to mind:

          One, I realized the main reason I’m not particularly interested in Civ 6 has a lot more to do with discovering Paradox grand strategy games in the interval than anything relating to Civ 6 itself. It’s not antipathy so much as apathy; grand strategy games scratch the same itch Civilization did, only ever-so-much-more-so, and while I still play Civ 5 with a friend from time to time I just have very little desire to play it by myself anymore when I could be playing Europa Universalis IV instead.

          And two, Josh talked about how the even-numbered games are the good ones and the odd-numbered ones not as good, and like I said in the preceding comment I’ve always felt the opposite, though to be fair I haven’t played Civ 1 or 2. But I started with 3, and I wonder if it makes a difference whether you start on an odd- or even-numbered title.

    • Humanoid says:

      Civilization was included with my Sound Blaster 16, which ended up being my introduction to strategy games in general. I didn’t end up playing it all that much because it resulted in me going out to buy Civ2 almost immediately afterwards. It ended up being the most played game of my childhood, though I really mostly played it as a “city”-builder type game, sticking with the lowest difficulty, rather than playing it “properly”.

      Alpha Centauri came along at about the right time, and is the game where I essentially learned how to play Civilization, odd as that sounds. Call to Power came out around the same time, and the two games were endlessly compared in various PC gaming publications. I got suckered into buying it, and absolutely hated it. To this day it’s one of the three worst games I’ve had the misfortune to purchase (the other two being Oblivion and Mass Effect 3).

      Civ3 came and went, I have the fancy special edition tin somewhere around here but the game was unremarkable, for better or worse. I played a little of Civ4 on launch, then didn’t touch it again until after the second expansion, at which point I suddenly sunk a few hundred hours into it.

      I played half a game of Civ5 when it launched. I haven’t returned to it yet.

      I’ve never played CtP2, Beyond Earth, Colonization (both original and remake).

      • Supah Ewok says:

        I wouldn’t call it perfect but Civ V is vastly improved by its expansions. Brave New World rebalanced like 80% of the game into something that was actually interesting. Just an FYI in case you ever feel like giving it another chance

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    One does not simply walk into the forbidden city!

  15. Kand says:

    The big problem with The Division isn’t the engine, it’s still a terrible design for a multiplayer game, but they stepped up their detection so that the “easy” cheats simply get you banned.

    The main issue is that their “End Game” just isn’t working, probably because of a lack of experience combined with a lack of time to properly test things.
    There are plenty of systems that are broken or have a serious identity crisis and a general lack of “worthwhile” content (even though there is a still a lot of content available).
    So there is currently very little reason for people to keep playing once they reach a certain threshold.
    Having played almost 500 hours since launch I personally am fine with what The Division offered, but they clearly are not yet in a position to offer the ongoing experience they wanted.

  16. Ninety-Three says:

    Re: Match 3s being random and broken, I have exactly Shamus’s problem but on a larger scale. Most Match 3s want you to play for points, which means getting as many match 5s and chains as possible. Doing that requires looking five moves ahead, which requires a supercomputer. Even if they fix the “bottom of the board locks up” and “powerups are super random” problems, getting the board into a state where you can score many points feels more it happens by lucky accident than careful design. Since looking everywhere even two moves ahead would require exploring a possibility space too large to store in the human brain, the most advanced strategy I’ve ever found is “Try not to match any red ones for a while so that the board gets denser with them”.

    Hunie pop, with no timer and limited moves sounds like it’s encouraging you to play like a supercomputer, and I love those sorts of games, but only when it’s humanly possible to do so. You have to stare at a board for minutes just to consider every possible move one move out. For me, nothing could be more aggravating because it’s designed to reward a playstyle where perfection is forever out of reach. Making a move isn’t about deciding “Yes, this is clearly the best move”, it’s more a matter of “I’m sick of searching, this seems good”. Every move I make in these sorts of games feels like not just a defeat, but an admission of failure.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Huniepop solves this by having 4 symbols that give you points,and 4 special ones that give other things.One of those special symbols increases how much the 4 regular ones give you(this is called passion).So you arent hunting for the five in a row as much as planning how much you will increase the value of regular matches before you start matching them.

      Also,because there are items in the game,you are also encouraged to plan your strategy around them.And in order to use these items,you need a separate resource(affection) given by another special symbol.My strategy ended up revolving around collecting affection so that I could use practically all my items in a single turn,which awarded me bunch of points,extra moves,and increased value of regular matches.

      But there are various other strategies and synergies that you can make because there are a plethora of other items.In fact,because every girl has one symbol they prefer,you can always put an item that increases the spawn rate of that symbol in and then focus just on that one.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        That doesn’t sound like it solves my problem. My problem is that like chess, every move you make will have ramifications felt ten turns from now, so playing optimally requires looking as far ahead as possible. The only limit to your foresight is either the number of game-states you can keep in your head at once, or your patience for staring at the same board for half an hour. I prefer Match 3s with a timer for the same reason I prefer chess with a short clock. Even though it can feel (and arguably is) less strategic, it’s the game’s way of telling you “This is how long you’re supposed to think about a board, it’s okay that you’re not spending an hour to look ten moves ahead”.

  17. shiroax says:

    Once you run the DRMfree version, everything you run is uncensored. Apparently no way to reverse it. I want my censored version back, and some brain bleach.

    And I did warn you to stay at 2 hearts.

    • IFS says:

      Fortunately you never have to look at the pictures the girls send you (though this approach will leave you with a bunch of lingering ‘you got a message’ alerts), and so long as you never do a date in the evening you’ll never run into the sex minigame. This does also mean you’re cutting yourself off from getting to ‘date’ one of the funniest characters though.

  18. Veloxyll says:

    The other Match-3 game that comes to mind, though it is a little different and does occasionally have you getting spited by the board.

    Ironcast.

    Giant fighting steampunk robots that fight via match-3. No porn. Though drawing lines is not quite the same as dragging a loveheart across the moving board and everything explodes in sparkles. No timers, and some rng that affects how your game goes. But it’s fun, the soundtrack is good and the mechanics work pretty well.

    Oh also for Hunnipop the uncensored variations are a lack of underpants and uh. juices.

    • Humanoid says:

      That last one depends on the gender the player character is.

    • Ysen says:

      Yeah, Ironcast is pretty decent.

      I also suggest Tidalis. Its mechanics are a bit different to a normal match-3, but it’s a similar style of game. It’s got a bunch of different game modes and options, including a challenge mode where you have to solve puzzles in a set number of moves with no time limit.

      If you have a 3DS, Puzzle & Dragons Z + Super Mario Bros. Edition is also decent. I think there’s an F2P Puzzle & Dragons for phones as well, but I’ve not played that one.

  19. IFS says:

    “I am a connoisseur of the dating sim genre”

    When Josh said this I pictured him collecting only the highest quality Historically based grand strategy dating sims.

  20. Fists says:

    No spoiler warning? How can you do this to me! What will I eat?

    Also in this episode Shamus has reached Grandpa Simpson level not knowing what’s “in” in gaming culture.

    “I used to be with it, but then they changed what ‘it’ was, and now what I’m with isn’t it. And what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me.”

  21. Falterfire says:

    So I’m typing this up before I get done listening to the podcast based on only the description, but I’d recommend either Puzzle Quest or Gems of War (A later F2P game made by devs who worked on Puzzle Quest) as an excellent game.

    1. The game has a back and forth between you and the AI, which makes planning a pretty simple affair: You’re planning about one move ahead, and it becomes much easier to parse moves because instead of asking “Will this help in five turns” you ask “Does this set up the AI for a move that hurts me more?”

    2. NO TIMER: Done.

    3. There is a meta game in both where you gain access to ‘spells’ that let you spend your turn doing something besides making a match. The things you can do include things like blowing up columns, rows, or a 3×3 square and you can hold abilities until you need them. This is also related to your goal for the game which is to deal enough damage to defeat whatever the adversary is this round.

    4. Done.

    If you want to try another Match 3 game that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, I highly recommend at least trying Gems of War.

    • I played Puzzle Quest on the DS for ages, man that was a great game. You have a metagame, and strategy in what you decide to match (do I get this kind of mana for this spell next turn or take that skulls match to hurt my opponent and prevent him hurting me, ect…) and the limit is your health bar and that of your opponent’s.

      If you’ve never played it, I would highly recommend. The DS version is standard fantasy, I don’t even remember any boob armor.

    • Jeff R says:

      Seconding the Gems of War recommendation. It’s got one of the more free-player-friendly FTP models out there, none of the charges or timewall nonsense going on.

      And there’s also the Treasure Maps in it, a solo-play mode with the kind of look-ahead puzzle play when you’re feeling like that rather than facing the AI.

  22. shiroax says:

    Check out Might of Magic Clash of Heroes. Planning ahead, no timer, a story campaign in which you level up which 3s you can match, no naked anime girls. All requirements met.

    • Christopher says:

      That’s what I was thinking. It’s got somewhat the same anime-like art not actually done by japanese people look to it, too. Except more Saturday morning cartoon and less hentai. So the culture shock from Huniepop won’t be _too_ big.

      It’s a great game, only complaint I had was how the reset period after switching to a new character in the story meant you started with fewer, less fun units. It’s probably on PCs, right? It was on the DS and the 360 at least.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And since no one mentioned this yet:

    The most unrealistic thing about huniepop is that you GET money by taking girls on dates.Total immersion breaker.

  24. John says:

    The Football Manager series is, at least according to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, staggeringly popular. They post about it all the time. By my quick and not terribly scientific count, they’ve had 10 posts tagged Football Manager 2016 in the last year alone. No, I don’t understand it either. But it’s a big world with all kinds of people in it. Many of them are nuts for soccer, from what I hear, so it’s not too surprising that a soccer-related game could get so huge.

    • Sunshine says:

      Also, in what might be the missing piece of the puzzle, Rock Paper Shotgun is British and so much likely to be into “proper” football.

      • John says:

        Certainly.

        I mention Rock, Paper, Shotgun because it is the only reason that I know that the Football Manager franchise exists. Without it, I’d be as clueless as the Diecasters. (Or quite possibly worse.) I read Rock, Paper, Shotgun mostly because it’s a PC-centric site and doesn’t waste my time on news, reviews, or articles on games for platforms that I don’t own, but the Britishness does provide occasional fringe benefits.

    • silver Harloe says:

      Without knowing the gameplay, just on surface description, it sounds comparable to Fantasy Football, and many, many of my friends who are into American Football are also into Fantasy Football.

    • Humanoid says:

      While Football Manager’s target audience obviously consists of (association) football fans, it was kinda the reverse for me – I ended up following football mostly because of the game. Or rather, it’s predecessor, Championship Manager. Back when I was a kid, I’d try just about any game demo included with gaming magazines.

      So I fired up the CM2 demo, picked a club that starred the player I was most aware of at the time (Jurgen Klinsmann at Spurs) and that was that. The demo allowed you to play half a season, which was pretty generous, so it was plenty of time to get attached. Even today the formula is the same, the demo is half a season, but now with a lot more things to do. I’m not a fan of the feature bloat the series has developed, but the introduction a few years ago of a stripped-back “Classic” mode was just what I needed.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      Football Manager is a subculture game as well. A lot of people who play FM play almost no other games.

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamoose,you can now answer the most important question:
    Would you rather have broken gameplay and shitty story coupled with a theme you like as in bethesdas fallout OR good gameplay and funny characters coupled with a sleazy theme as in huniepop?

    • Wide And Nerdy® says:

      Now that is a great question.

      Because I don’t mind the theme, being a lonely bachelor, I can make a substitution. Dark Souls vs Skyrim.

      For me its no contest. I’d prefer Skyrim.

      One thing I’ve been reflecting on having gotten back into both Skyrim and FO4 lately after playing other games, I really appreciate that both games allow you to just be within the space if you want. Its kind of soothing to enter a world of danger and then have places to retreat to within that world, along with legitimate stuff to do while I’m in these mostly combat free zones.

      I think this is part of the reason so many people have so many hours logged in them. When you fire up a typical game, you’re expected to be ready for action. The places within those games where that isn’t true tend to be few and you tend not to want to stay in them long. So when you fire up a normal game, you have to be ready to play. But even if you aren’t ready to play, you can still have fun in a Bethesda game.

      • Wide And Nerdy® says:

        I don’t mean to pick on Dark Souls btw. I just mean its a game that has interesting looking combat and exploration but the setting and themes make me uncomfortable. At least as much as Huniepop makes Shamus uncomfortable.

  26. Ninety-Three says:

    So Shamus talked about how it’s gross that Hunie Pop incentivizes you to play a sleazy pickup artist who lies their way into the hearts of the girls, but I find it interesting that he immediately followed it up with “You don’t actually have to, it just gets you more points for the Match 3 minigame which represents conversation”. Basically, if they think you’re into the same things as they are, it’s easier to flirt with them.

    If this were a Telltale game, we’d be talking about roleplaying, and how it’s interesting that the redneck always hates you for the one thing you did wrong, and how you’re really not supposed to go for the “perfect” playthrough where you’re best friends with everyone (and not only because the game is one big magic trick with no real consequences).

    The game rewards lying, but you don’t have to lie, and from the sounds of it it doesn’t push you into lying? That doesn’t sound sleazy, it sounds like a reasonably accurate depiction of real life: If you don’t have any compunctions about it, you can lie to get ahead.

    I’m sure that Hunie Pop doesn’t even have the puddle-deep roleplaying of a Telltale game, I’m just enjoying playing Devil’s Advocate here.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Weeellll….It kind of does push you into lying,only not really hard.Technically you CAN finish the game by not gaming the scene,but because youll get less points that way it will take you longer.So you trade your time for honesty.

    • Wide And Nerdy® says:

      It does back off of some of the worst stuff.

      Alcohol for example. No amount of alcohol gets you to the bedroom. All it does is help her loosen up so she enjoys the date more. And you’re better off doing other things first, like giving gifts. Gifts and alcohol both boost the amount of points you get for each conversation interaction. Those points allow you to buy upgrades that improve the puzzle segment.

      So its all about doing everything you can to help her have a good time on the date part of the date.

      The other thing I think is interesting is that with each date, the point target escalates. It takes more and more effort to keep this up.

      And the women are so likable that it made me sad whenever I got a question wrong. Their reactions indicated disappointment that I wasn’t putting in the effort. Like they weren’t worth it. It made me really want to keep the answers straight.

    • Shamus says:

      I literally realized this very point in the middle of the Diecast conversation. I think there’s even a pause where the realization hit me.

      The game even encourages “smart” lying, not just picking the most pandering claim. When Jerkface asks if you like to get high, “No, I never do drugs” is wrong, but so is “I DO ALL THE DRUGS!”.

      Which means the conversations in HuniePop contain more roleplaying than most of the conversations in Fallout 4. That’s… really something.

      • Felblood says:

        The writing in this game is often a lot smarter than it pretends to be, specifically becasue it uses the bog-standard PUA handbook BS as a smokescreen* for a lot of actually thoughtful writing.

        It’s not just about mirroring the attitudes and actions of each girl, but trying to figure out what idealized version of herself she’s trying to find a Mr. Right for.

        It hit me when the grumpy barista that hates caffeine addicts, sunshine and humanity in general, asked my character if he was an optimist or a pessimist. The trick is to pick the unspoken third option, becasue she isn’t looking for a fellow grumpy pessimist, she’s looking for a realist. Partly, this is becasue she sees herself as a realist, and she thinks the world is just a crappy place, but on a deeper level, she’s looking for someone who can cheer her up and share her interests when she’s down, but still give her some space when she needs it.

        With that singular bonus question, the writer of this game put more thought into this character than 99.99999% of dating sims put into their entire cast. Like the long distance sliding mechanic, you need to be pretty literate in the genre conventions to understand just how special this game is, but it is a unique, if often grotesque flower.

        * (which is standard issue for dating-sims, becasue that crap is marketed to the same immature, power fantasy of being an irresistible swami, but ruins the lives of non-fictional people.)

  27. Ya know… The antagonist in Fallout 4 is actually the player character.
    The player character goes on a murderspree across the common wealth. Killing animals, people, synths. Siding with either synths or humans. Steal everything not nailed down, and if something is nailed down steal the nails too.

    The player character ends up wiping out either the institute (and all that tech is lost forever), the railroad, the brotherhood of steal (loosing all that tech too). Not to mention all the chaos wrought in vaults and settlements.

    Here, let me move you beds. Now you will sleep in here with this chainlink fence surrounding you, have a nice night. You send provisioners out without any guards (unlike the traders/merchants walking around)

    Not to mention all the meddling the player character does in the lives of everyone. And to top it off the player character (if going against the institute) betray their son and kill them (directly or indirectly).

    The player character is one psycho jet away from channeling Heath Ledger’s Joker.

    • Kerethos says:

      Good Sir, I do believe that you truly grasp the full extent of the Fallout 4 story.

      It is a story about a (wo)man out of her/his time, finally free from the conventions of modern life and surrounded by armed murderous strangers and mutated beats. It is in this moment all that silent rage is finally freed, that complete lack of empathy becomes an asset. All those years when modern medicine and therapy kept the urges in check – that’s all in the past now.

      You emerge and you find a world with little law and plenty of strangers to murder. Finally, you can act in accordance to your nature. You can take what you want, strike down anyone who gets in your way (unless they’re somehow magically immortal).

      Basically, it’s the story of a psychopath who wants all the stuff and there’s no one around to remind her/him that it’s not right to shoot a mans arms of and steal his pants. Also there’s apparently plenty of people who are willing hire a complete psychopath to solve every problem they have… since their problems can probably be solved with cold blooded murder, but they’re not psychopaths so they hire the psychopath that just happens to walk by.

      Because that’s not really a “video game protagonist” they’re seeing. No, that’s the cold blank stare of a psychopath they’re seeing – and that’s just the kind of person they need to get their murdering done.

      Basically, Fallout 4 is scary when you step out of the shoes of the psychopathic protagonist and observe the madness from outside…

  28. SpiritBearr says:

    I haven’t played Football Manager 16 but I used to play Football Manager often. They kind of got replaced by Paradox titles and Dwarf Fortress for me. They just scratch that numbers are going up itch for me.

  29. 4th Dimension says:

    The best part of this is Shamus’s unease that he played Hunnie pop and what it is about. I can imagine the scene where he realized that it’s going to be a bit more than tame anime girls and he stopped the game imediatelly thinking “I’m a married man I should not be playing this” only couple of hours later to realize he was having an itch for Hunnie’s match 3 gameplay and he was thinking “Just one more board. Just one more. Here I will tape this paper over the part of the screen the girl is. There now I’m playing a totally notmal and tame puzzle game”. Then one of his younger kids walks in and he has to scramble to quickly kill it. “What are you playing daddy, can I play” “Nah I was not playing anything. I was just reading another of Josh’s boring AARs that we will never publish. I was definitelly not playing a filthy FILTHY match three game. No siree”
    Allmost certanly unrealistic but the image made me laugh.

  30. Ninety-Three says:

    So, semi-serious question. Is this Hunie Pop thing establishing that we can send Shamus random weird games, and if the weird bullshit piques his curiosity, he’ll actually play it?

    Because that’s setting a dangerous precedent, I’m suddenly tempted to send Shamus the infamous piece of gaming history: Daikatana.

    • krellen says:

      Full Disclosure: I was consulted before the game was sent for my opinion on how Shamus would react. The person that sent it really did want Shamus to examine the game mechanics and explore the conversation stuff, so it wasn’t just to troll him.

      If you honestly think Shamus could get good content out of exploring Daikatana, send away, but if you’re just trying to troll him, you should probably refrain.

    • Shamus says:

      After reflecting on this for some time:

      I’m not against being sent games, as long as its understood that I might not play it. HuniePop is an example of things working out just right:
      * It was a game I wouldn’t gave bought myself (or even thought to do so)
      * Once offered, I was curious.
      * I saw an opportunity for content, since “Shamus plays HuniePop” seemed like something that people would want to hear about.

      But if it’s a game already in my backlog, or if I’m not curious, or if it doesn’t seem like good fodder for site content, then it probably won’t get played.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        Daikatana was a trolly joke, I don’t think there’s anything there except a Battlespire-style “Holy shit, look how awful and broken this is” LP. But I might be able to think of a few interesting-yet-approachable “cultural outsider” experiences like Hunie Pop was…

      • Dragmire says:

        This is something that crossed my mind as well though not with full games.

        During some spoiler warning seasons, the cast would go through dlc that not everyone played. I’ve always had the urge to basically donate dlc for the members who didn’t have it so there would be more opinions during that section. It’s kind of hard to talk about how a section of the game is different and interesting when half the cast is trying to learn the plot and premise while reacting to shenanigans that may distract them from understanding what’s going on.

        Not that you would be obligated to play it of course but I think the risk vs reward of whether you do play it or not is worth the cost of the dlc.

        By the way, I’m still curious as to how you felt about the New Vegas dlc that wasn’t covered in that season. I’ve heard good things about them and you hadn’t played it at the time.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Heres the thing:Huniepop isnt just some random weird game.Its a really good game with a sleazy theme.Daikatana on the other hand,isnt that good of a game.

  31. JAB says:

    On the “I don’t know anyone playing football manager” thing, I wonder how much of a language barrier there is. Like, if 80% of the people playing have Spanish as their primary language, that might explain some of it.

    • Sunshine says:

      There’s probably even a load of English-speaking FM fans, just not so many in America.

    • Jokerman says:

      There is also the fact… it’s not really something i would talk about here, because i know that nobody would be interested, maybe there is more people… and we all feel like that. I don’t play it every day… but probably boot it up once a week.

  32. Christopher says:

    Honestly, the self-awareness is one of the main things that kept me away from Huniepop. I have played some romantic dating sims I’ve liked and watched some porn I liked, but I don’t want Deadpool in my dating sim. I’m not watching porn ironically. But it was probably a good move to send Shamus a game with that approach rather than a completely straightfaced one.

    “Old guy playing the anime girls porn game” is a series I want to see more of, but I have no idea how many have any gameplay to talk about. The ones I’ve played are either visual novels or management sims, and that’s about as exciting as it sounds. I wouldn’t send those to Shamus.

    • Felblood says:

      It’s a difficult question, and there are not a lot of good resources to help you.

      It’s especially difficult becasue a lot of hentai games exist becasue their target audience cannot legally get their fix with porn involving real women. I have no interest in Loli, BDSM, Transformation, Rape etc., but there’s a lot of it out there, and you’ll often find it tucked inside an otherwise vanilla game, apparently under the assumption that appealing to more fetishes will broaden your product’s appeal, rather than diminish it.

      I guess you could spend a few hundred hours hanging out in Hongfire’s hidden forums (Only members can see them, and membership is free. It’s a TOS thing.) That would help you build a mental library, of which developers produce products that hit you sweet spots on the Tame/Hardcore and Fetish/Vanilla spectra.

      This is not a problem that science has solved, but I feel like there’s a joke flowchart about this, somewhere on the internet. Perhaps that a muse showing me the negative space where it should be, but I will ignore it.

      One of the questions on the chart is “Illusionsoft?” and the options are Yes/No. I guess you can start by answering that one.

    • Humanoid says:

      It’s a shame that videogames never had an equivalent to the 70s Golden Age of Porn. Maybe a game could tackle it as a setting, like Boogie Nights.

      • GloatingSwine says:

        Boogie Nights the videogame sounds like it would be fairly far up Rockstar’s alley (ooerr missus and all that).

        Porn in games though is p. closely tied to the anime porn industry, even the ones that aren’t actually Japanese are heavily influenced by that industry. I’m also wondering whether the hentai industry as a whole* is caught up in a fetish extremism version of the loudness wars that hit music recording in the wake of CDs due to the internet making everyone have to clamour much more for attention against the sea of suddenly more visible content.

        * And maybe porn in general, but hentai is obv. less constrained by the legality or physical plausibility of what’s being represented.

  33. Cinebeast says:

    Man, it’s weird to hear Shamus talk about Huniepop. Not bad, but weird. It’s one of those games I like to watch Youtubers play — especially couples — just to catch their reactions, which are always seesawing between complete engagement and bemused repulsion.

  34. Wide And Nerdy® says:

    I don’t really see movie Thor as “Scowling.” He’s more “Ha! Ha! Finally a challenge” type.

  35. MichaelGC says:

    I’m happy to show up every day and bore everyone to death talking about soccer, if you like. Ibrahimović and Mourinho? Yikes, there’s never going to be a dull moment!

    So, Football Manager! (What is this? – Outside Our Comfort Zone Week?) I think it’s one of those games which lots of people who only play one game play. So, that’ll be another factor explaining the silence, I reckon, along with the other reasons given on the ‘Cast and above. Plus, there’s not a great deal one can say about it, at least relative to the amount of time one can lose to it. It’s more on the Civilization or Chime end of the spectrum than the Fallout or Final Fantasy end in that regard.

    It’s cracking stuff for what it does, though, and it’s fascinating to hear Josh has considered playing it (well, assuming he doesn’t care a jot about soccer!). He’s essentially correct about what he’d find in the game – whether he’d then go on to enjoy that, I couldn’t say…

    Oh, and you don’t directly control any of the players during an actual match, but these days you can issue pretty detailed instructions whilst it’s going on, as well as make substitutions and change formation, style o’ fing. Between games you also talk to the press and to the players, and suchlike – I’ve never been entirely convinced of the merits of that side of the sim, but it can get pretty role-play-ey if you’ve the right sort of mind for it.

    • Christopher says:

      My experience growing up was that football(soccer) games was something that people who played and liked football played. They might not play many other games besides maybe an Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty, but they get their football games every year. Football games is just another way to interact with their hobby. Both the management and Fifa stuff. It’s a huge mainstream audience, tons of people love sports. In my country, football is without question the biggest one in the summer. But while it’s a mainstream thing, if you don’t give a shit about football, you reeeally don’t want to hear about football. At least I don’t. It bores me to tears(so thank you for your consideration), and it’s everywhere in mainstream culture.

      That might explain why there isn’t a ton of it on a nerdy, US-based analysis site.

  36. Grudgeal says:

    I agree with Shamus on the aspect of Dating Sims being essentially a “pick the right option” game where the goal is to be as disingenuous as possible to gain progression. It was one of the big problems I had with Persona 3 — a lot of your Social Links (basically, friends you make in the Dating Sim part of the game) are engaging in self-destructive behaviour, many of them at cross-purposes, and you end up having to condone pretty much all of them to befriend people. And then there’s how all the opposite-sex Social Links are romantic. It makes me feel like the main character is a manipulative cynic, or at least some kind of empty shell so desperate for validation he always goes along with everyone. Either way, the gameplay ends up undermining how the Social Links are supposed to ‘mean’ something by being bonds of friendship.

    Persona 4 was slightly better at it, in at least you’re not forced into dating everyone your opposite sex and that the game’s theme of ‘pursuing your true self’ means some of the options you can pick seem less sycophantic and you can sort of roleplay your character into a distinct personality. The irony that the main character doesn’t have a ‘true self’ is still present though. You’re not playing a Tidus or a Lloyd Irwing, you’re still playing a pixel puppet for yourself.

    Either way, of course, there’s the fact that Social Links are essentially a power-up for the dungeon crawling segments, your entire motivation for doing them is to get better at killing Shadows. Also, said Links do not change the main story at all. Bit of an unfortunate implication there.

    • Christopher says:

      Long post, sorry. TLDR: I like how the anime adapted the MC’s character based on the videogame despite him practically having no personality, and I never personally read him as manipulative while playing the game. These are my reasons:

      I always liked how the anime approached Yu’s character based on the gameplay and story progression of the game. He starts out lonely and sort of worthless. No specific aims, no specific goals, he’s very expressionless and just going with the flow for a wile. He doesn’t know anybody in this new town, and things are awkward with this new family he’s moved in with. His only charm point is that he’s a weird and pretty funny guy. Not saying much, but doing the right stuff. Gradually, he becomes a better person. His lets loose when he gets his Persona(identity), and Elizabeth tells him that helping people will let him summon more personas and get stronger. He’s incentivized to get to know people for once. He takes jobs and builds his “stats”, like his expression and knowledge and diligence, in order to get to socialize with new people- He empathizes with the people he meets, listens to their problems, and tries to be supportive and tell them what they need to hear. The anime also does social links in less of a conversational way and more in a “Yu doing stuff” kind of way, which helps with the conversation issues. He’s having so much fun being with his friends, and he’s doing his best to make them happy, because he feels better about himself when he’s with them too.

      At one point, in one of the anime’s good original plots, an enemy traps him in a nightmare where the Investigation Team caught the murderer and then gradually drifted apart from one another. Without a common goal, they hadn’t formed any bonds worth keeping, and the only one who wanted to keep meeting was Yu. The enemy takes the role of a Shadow(since Yu has no shadow in the game) and confronts him with being empty, of being worthless and manipulative and being nothing without his friends. In the end, his real friends help him escape and prove their bonds are real by having a party Yu dreamt they didn’t come to. This also comes up again with the villain, who very much IS Yu, but without socializing and trying to get to know people. You have tons of personas you got from your friends. He’s still got the first one you had.

      Besides that, I kind of don’t think the social links are manipulative. No matter what you say to a person, they progress in the exact same way. Like Shamus said about Huniepop, you just get more points for the next scene. It’s basically just building up affinity with a scene instead of grinding it through generic hanging out-scenes. You can look at it as manipulative if you feel Yu’s JUST doing it for personas, but a huge part of Persona 4 are the characters. Not just social links, but the dungeon based around people’s inner demons and all the main story scenes of your party just hanging out. The appeal of the game isn’t necessarily the personas, it’s the progression of the story and the characters, and having a strong persona lets you get to the next scene easier(and rescue your friends, in danger in the TV). I never got the impression that Yu was manipulative, I figured he wanted to get to know people because that was what I wanted myself coming into Persona 4, a stranger in a new family and town with a mystery to figure out.

    • Felblood says:

      Persona is very much an endorsement of the idea that you need a different persona for various social situations, and it’s only natural to show certain parts of yourself to certain people.

      Trying to 100% the game does take that to a fairly skeezy extreme.

      It’s very much “fake-it-til-you-feel-it” therapy for homebound depressives.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      See, the thing that turns me totally off dating sims is that I’ve met people who treat actual dating like a dating sim game. And get away with it. It’s the notion of having to press the right buttons to get the girl (or boy — that goes both ways), and having that idea confirmed when it actually works sometimses. And then the notion of making “strategic” decisions about whether to keep this one or maybe go try and get a “better” one. The amount of people who think that romantic relationships were like that and handle them accordingly makes me sad.

  37. Steve C says:

    Speaking of popular games that fly under the radar, Warframe has consistently been for 3 years in the top 20 most played Steam games (currently immediately above Fallout 4) and it isn’t even a Steam game.

    I’m surprised that you (Shamus) haven’t talked about it at some point over the years since the Studio (Digital Extremes) has an interesting history and is very open and candid about that history and day-to-day operations. They went from a AAA dev studio (Bioshock, Unreal Tournament etc) to a broke self publishing indie studio that later became wildly successful after no publisher would touch them. All those boardroom deals that don’t make any sense- DE has explained how a lot of them went down for them. Some of the details are spread out in articles about the company and a lot more in the weekly dev streams they put out where it’s the senior staff drinking beers and telling everyone what they are working on. Plus there was the convention for just Warframe they hosted a couple of weeks ago.

    I’m surprised that you never look at this company given that you always want to know what happens in the industry behind the scenes. To put it in perspective, I know a lot about the development of Good Robot. However I know significantly more about the development of Warframe.

  38. Steve C says:

    If your family is into romance games I’d recommend Katawa Shoujo. It is really good and significantly better than it has a right to be. It is explicit but I don’t consider it porn. It’s more like a R rated movie in my mind. You can turn on a censored version. Caution– there will be emotional gut punches.

  39. Sunshine says:

    The first rule of Football Manager is…the offside rule.

    I wonder if Football Manager fans would rather be playing Football Manager than talking about it to outsiders.

  40. Sunshine says:

    I wonder if Evolve’s 300 pre-update players now have an invitation-only part of the Evolve forums or a subreddit called r/trueevolve where they gripe about the changes and the influx of scrubs.

    At the intersection of Evolve and Match-3, there was a promotional match-3 game of the iOS App Store that was entertaining for a while. The best part was that the voice acting was at least not lacking in enthusiasm, and when you matched up an attack, one of them would step up and declare either a corny action cliché – “This ends NOW!” (Actually, there’s several rounds to go) – or something absurdly obvious – “Taking on aggressive wildlife!” (You don’t say?)

  41. MichaelGC says:

    The Beyond Earth expansion involved building out over the ocean – sea habitats and suchlike – and thus involved stretching the same amount of mediocrity over a greater surface area.

    Like in soccer when you can be unsure whether to shoot or pass and so lamp it straight into the crowd, I think they weren’t sure whether to make Alpha Centauri 2, or make entirely their own game, and so they managed neither very well. There was plenty of rhetoric at the time, but like it or lump it there was no escaping the historical associations, and they perhaps might have done better to embrace them.

    A shame! Like a shot ‘high, wide and handsome’, as we say when discussing any shot which is high and/or wide, and ugly. (It’s going to be all soccer similes from here on, by the way; the era of the Terrible Car Analogy is over…)

    • Ninety-Three says:

      Based on their public statements, they were trying to distance themselves from Alpha Centauri, and tell people “It’s not that much like AC, please stop saying that?” Of course it’s unclear whether or not that’s because they didn’t want to make AC2, or because they realized that they had half-tried and fully failed.

  42. Dragmire says:

    I remember really liking Call to Power 2…

  43. MetalSeagull says:

    I want to recommend a match 3 game I’ve been obsessed with for a long time now. Puzzle Kingdoms mini game in dungeon mode. You start out with a full 6×7 board of five colors, and the goal is to remove all blocks in as few moves as possible. The levels are 80, 60, 40, and 30 moves. Around the outside edge are the next color block for that row or column. You click on one to push it onto the board, where it will move in a straight line until it hits another block. You can also push blocks off the board if the row is full.

    There is no timer, and there is mix of strategy and luck. Towards the end, as the board empties, you often have no good move, and have to reason out the best bad move.

  44. GavintheGrey says:

    As a long-time Civilization player who hasn’t really been involved in the community beyond the couple of friends I have who play, the Civ discussion was interesting. I started with Civ 1 when I was very young, then didn’t play Civ 2 until much later, played a lot of Civ 3, played a little of Civ 4 and then moved on to Civ 5 and didn’t look back. If Civ 4 is really that much better I might have to go back and play more of it.

    P.S. This is my first post here! Hello everyone!

  45. Felblood says:

    Shamus, dude.

    Regards Football Manager.

    The World Cup was yesterday. Europe and Central America are at maximum Football* hype right now.

    Talk about your cultural ignorance.

    *Alien football, not real football

    Edit: Do you think this is too subtle for the internet?

  46. Felblood says:

    Okay, actually regarding Football Manager.

    I got a free copy of FM … I think… 2010? several years ago. It’s probably rotting at the bottom of my Steam library somewhere.

    I played it for about 2 hours and decided it wasn’t for me, but it’s basically the direct ancestor of Crusader Kings. It’s very much about stats, spreadsheets and the web of relationships between characters.

    You want your veteran players to mentor your rookie players, but you don’t want to put two guys together if they are going to get in a fight and carry a grudge that will impair their teamwork on the field. That’s pretty easy to do with defenders, but good offensive players tend to be drama queens.

    You have dating sim style multiple choice conversations with your players and with reporters from the media, etc.

    • Humanoid says:

      Or thankfully for some, you can now play the Classic mode where it’s really just about signing shiny new players, setting a plug-and-play general purpose tactic for every game, and just going through the season so you can repeat the process and become champions of the universe. It’s this positive feedback loop that the series started as, being the big boss in charge of the actual football rather than being the club shrink trying to sort out every petty grievance of each of your players and rolling out the cliched soundbites to the media.

      • felblood says:

        So is it like Madden and Final Fantasy, where everyone has that one version that was just perfect for them, but other fans of the series might hate that one in particular?

        • Humanoid says:

          Sort of, it’s an annual release where there’s always some new complexity added with the new version. Features added throughout the years include things like press conferences, team talks, hiring non-playing staff, implementing training routines, specific instructions for dealing with individual opposition players, even the idea of “shouts” (on the fly tactical adjustments which simulate the player standing on the sidelines yelling instructions at players). As a result, getting through a single season now likely takes several times longer than it used to.

  47. felblood says:

    When Shamus used the phrase “morbid curiosity” I was taken aback, because that is my go-to phrase for explaining why I mine the Internet’s massive catalogue of weird Hentai games for new game mechanics that have never seen the light in mainstream gaming.

    I’ve been using that as an explanation for so long it’s become a catch phrase of sorts, so I wondered if I had ever used it in the comments here.

    I actually have not, but it looks like I didn’t invent it. A younger me seems to have stolen it from this very blog. This article to be exact.

    Memory is a funny old thing.

  48. Steve C says:

    Bill Murray did a cameo in Ghostbusters2 because Bill Murray was threatened with being sued by Sony. There’s a lot more info about this online.

    From: Steinberg, David

    In order to more fully evaluate our position if Bill Murray again declines to engage on “Ghostbusters”, AG requested that we identify “aggressive” litigation counsel with whom we can consult to evaluate our alternatives and strategize.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Yeah, there was a lot of sleazy behavior around this film, and that’s even before you get to the attempt to recover from a bad trailer with a media smear campaign against its critics. Not a good look.

      This sort of dirty tactics may be a consistent Sony thing, though, and not specific to Ghostbusters. IIRC, long after the whole kerfuffle around North Korean threats against “The Interview” settled down, it was revealed that the capitulation on Sony’s part was a deliberate effort to whip up controversy to save a project which was not expected to do well financially.

  49. Burek says:

    Football Manager (along with Pro Evolution Soccer) is one of the biggest games in Europe and Russia if not the biggest. One of the main factors for FM popularity is that you have a lot of second league clubs which allows people to manage teams from their local towns. And like few people already mentioned, it’s a game that’s mostly played by people who aren’t usually into gaming that much.

  50. Bryan says:

    Actually Shamus, in Huniepop, you only have sex with a girl after the 4th date at night, specifically. You can date her and play match three without seeing her naked forever, as long as you date her in the morning or afternoon, rather than night.

  51. Vect says:

    I guess I shouldn’t recommend the Rance series. It’s a series consisting of Strategy RPG gameplay deep enough to be worth a damn, but it is by far lewder and definitely more disturbing than Huniepop (which is by all standards is not too high on the “Lewd” scale).

    Also, for what it’s worth, a lot of female LPers seem to take Huniepop with a good sense of humor and the dev on twitter claims that more than half of the people who worked on the game are female. The VAs for their part also seemed to have had a lot of fun with their roles and aren’t exactly ashamed of being in this game.

  52. Dave says:

    Small part regarding the steam stats: It’s not necessarily all about popularity. You guys mentioned that there are more people playing clicker heroes than there are playing Fallout 4? I would say that’s about 50/50 due to two things: First and foremost, it’s a free-to-play game, and kids and others who don’t have $40 to spend on Fallout are still going to want *something* to play. Secondly, it’s an idle game, so it’s not like it’s occupying everybody’s attention at all times. You can basically have it running in the background and earn points by doing nothing.

  53. ThaneofFife says:

    I actually discovered Huniepop when a feminist blogger I read linked to a review in which the author basically said, “I feel like I should hate this game, but it’s actually really entertaining and self-aware.”

    Just googled. Here’s that review: http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2015/05/21/hunie-poppin-ladies-this-dating-sim-should-be-offensive-and-why-i-love-it-so-much/

    I ended up buying the game on the strength of that review and watching a let’s play by Jack Septiceye. He’s an absurdly entertaining Irish youtuber, if you haven’t seen him.

    I’ve enjoyed Huniepop quite a bit, even though I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with the idea of dating sims in general, and several aspects of this game in particular. I’ve mostly gotten over that, but the cat-girl’s dialog still makes me squirm. She’s a “secret” character that you can only get by throwing away a goldfish in a certain place (maybe the beach, iirc). Also, I totally want to live in that town–it looks gorgeous, and has everything you could want for nature and entertainment–forest hikes, a great view, a beach, ice skating rinks, a carnival, bars, and a casino.

  54. Austin says:

    This episode amused me more than usual. Which is to say, a lot.

  55. sofawall says:

    One thing in Football Manager’s favour is that most people who play it are not people who play games, they’re people who play Football Manager. It is also competitive with DotA2 for number of hours per person, so it makes sense that a large proportion of the player base will be playing at any time.

  56. Zak McKracken says:

    Josh, “Schadenfreude” is pronounced “Shah-den-froi-deh” (or that’s as close as I can get it with English phonetics)

  57. Zak McKracken says:

    Re Football manager and Civ 5:
    Well, FM is obviously more popular outside the US than within, also it was just the world championship, and also both Civi and FM are games with a lot of play time. Back in the day I played the hell out of Civ 1 and 2 quite a bit Railroad Tycoon, too. That’s when I had the time to do so, and they were the kinds of games you couldn’t play through in a few hours, and which you could replay pretty often, as opposed to some action game that you go through maybe a couple of times, and often in small bursts, but then that’s it. With strategy games, they’ve got much more variablility and less intensity, but more long-term stuff that you want to see play out. They’re the kind of game that makes you go “alright, half an hour, then I’ll go sleep” for the entire night… Alright, I did that with Diablo, too, but after the third play-through I was done. I probably spent way more time in Railroad Tycoon than Diablo, although Diablo is certainly the more memorable one of the two.

  58. Astograph says:

    Football Manager is HUGE in the UK, and to a lesser degree in the rest of Europe as well. Their database, compiled every year by a network of voluntary researchers all over the world, is so impressive that it’s actually used for scouting by some professional teams.

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