Diecast #165: No Man’s Sky, Mankind Divided, Harry Potter

By Shamus
on Aug 29, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

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Direct link to this episode.

Here is an extra-long Diecast to distract you from the fact that these posts are still wonky and I need to fix that.

Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster, Mumbles.

Episode edited by Rachel.

Show notes:0:00:45: Mumbles gives her take on No Man’s Sky

Most of us talked about the game a couple of weeks ago, but now we get to hear what Mumbles thinks of it.

0:05:07: Zen Games

0:08:15: Mankind Divided


Link (YouTube)

0:47:00: Looking Back: Josh discusses Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director’s Cut

I think that’s probably the most colons I’ve ever had on one line. Anyway, Josh played through the previous game before diving in to Mankind Divided, and has some thoughts on returning to the game after so many years have passed.

For those that missed it here’s our coverage of the original cut of the game on Spoiler Warning:

This was the season where Campster joined the show. Time flies.

0:55:35: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

THERE WILL BE TOTAL SPOILERS FOR ALL THINGS HARRY POTTER.

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A Hundred!20202012Many comments. 172, if you're a stickler

From the Archives:

  1. Mephane says:

    My biggest issue, with DXHR, apart from the boss fights, was the XP system. In particular, how different solutions to the same problem yielded different amounts of XP. Sure you’d get a lump sum of XP for a mission, but you also get a bonus for not being seen or triggering alarms. So the game tells me going in guns blazing is kind of doing it wrong? But then just sneaking through you lose out on all the XP you could have got taking down everyone. And then you get more XP for specific types of takedowns. Non-lethal yields more XP, and then certain takedowns give even extra bonuses (multi-takedown, melee), to the point where I found it just obnoxious.

    The first time I played the game I mostly ignore it because I said to myself “sneaking is not my thing” and basically went through it meticulously eliminating any hostile. However, my 2nd play-through of the game, months later, I couldn’t bear it for long. It always felt like disappointment, like I had failed completely, if I didn’t get some bonus XP for not being seen, or realized that while sneaking to an air duct I missed a room with 3 people I could have knocked out for more XP. I soon abandoned the play-through and feel kind of jaded about the whole game now.

    My biggest problem with that is actually not that the game rewards different actions differently, but that

    a) It makes clear that certain play styles are deemed “better”, by rewarding them better.
    b) Provides no open-ended outlet; you are limited to the finite amount of XP that is there to be potentially had, if every bit you fail to draw out of that pool is simply lost.

    I’ve probably said this in a comment thread here before, but I like open world game swith respawning enemies for this very reason. In Borderlands 2, you never run out of enemies, and thus money or XP, because the zones repopulate.

    Edit: That said, with how praxit kits are part of certain DLCs, pre-order/cross gaming marketing schemes (and according to one source even just plainly sold in bundles for real money), I am not touching DXMD, not even with a 10-foot laser pole. P2W my ass.

    • Hal says:

      Respawning enemies leads to a completely different style and pace of game play, though. Deus Ex lends itself towards careful exploration and consideration of the environment. If enemies respawn, there’s no stopping to smell the roses. There’s also no sense of accomplishment when clearing out an area; how could there be when they’ll be back? All it affords you is breathing room.

      • Mephane says:

        Well, an alternative to any form of “regeneration XP source” is, of course, not having unmissable XP in the first place.

        For a game like DXHR, I would have not made it via respawning NPCs, but dynamic procedural side missions (on top of the existing static ones) to provide a theoretically endless supply of optional XP – then it wouldn’t matter at all if you miss some XP in a main mission, static side mission or procedural side mission – you could always do another procedural mission if you need more.

        (And basically everything I said in this comment thread applies equally to money.)

        • Syal says:

          Or only give XP for reaching the midpoints and endpoints of a mission. If it’s already finite you might as well just tie it directly to the plot.

        • Games as meticulously designed as the DE series do not lend themselves well to procedural anything. Not discounting the problem mind, just the proposed solution. Knowing MD was coming up, I tried for a run of HR to get me back into the groove and found myself meta-gaming hardcore for exactly the reason yer talking about. That – and the fact that the Director’s Cut version I played is bugged as shit – had me dropping the run entirely.

          That said, I think they already figured out a solution. Remember XP was merely a single meter you filled in order to obtain praxis kits, which you bought your augs with. By quantity, there were more stealth based augs than combat, so it makes sense to have stealth actions earn more XP, since you’d be spending more kits on them if stealth was where you were going. It also made sense for combat to not be as aug involved as stealth since it is by nature a far less complex set of skills.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      The other problem with Deus Ex’s XP is that it had the same problem as Dishonored: If you’re committed to playing nonlethal ghost, you will be swimming in useless upgrade points. I think I ended the game with more than 50% of my points unspent. The game rewards stealth more than combat, but the combat playstyle is the one that needs those rewards because there are barely any upgrades available to nonlethal ghost players. Unlocking all the upgrades a combat player wants requires playing the game stealthily, which is just backwards.

      • Raygereio says:

        It’s been a while since I played DX:HR, but that’s not what I recall:
        Obviously there’s the cloak. But a stealth playthrough can also use the silent run/jump tree, the hacking upgrades, the icarus thing for disabling fall damage and the eye upgrades like scanning through walls and alarm cooldown timer.

        I think there were about the same amount of augs specifically meant for supporting run&gun style play, then there for stealth.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          I went back and counted. Here’s how I sorted the upgrades:

          Both playstles: 14 + a zillion points of hacking
          Hacking: A zillion
          Social enhancer: 2
          Jump Higher: 2
          Icarus: 2
          Immunity to gas: 2
          Punch through walls: 1
          Lift heavy things: 1
          Longer Radar: 1
          More inventory: 1
          Even more inventory: 1
          Still more inventory: 1

          Inventory upgrades are arguably for combat characters (because my stealth character only ever used the upgrades to carry a bunch of “just in case” rocket launchers and plasma guns I never ended up using), but I put them under misc anyway.

          Stealth: 22/19 (stealth has a few redundant upgrades, like “display player noise on map” vs “never make noise” upgrades)
          Display vision cones on radar: 1
          See when enemies will drop alarm: 1
          Mark 3 enemies: 1
          +2 marked enemies: 1
          +2 marked enemies: 1
          X-ray: 2
          Multiple takedown: 2
          More energy: 1
          Even more energy: 1
          Still more energy: 1
          Faster recharge: 1
          Even faster recharge: 1
          Cloak: 2
          Cheaper cloak: 1
          Even cheaper cloak: 1
          Silent Running: 1
          Silent Sprinting: 1
          Silent Jumping: 1
          Show player noise on radar: 1

          Combat: 16
          Damage reduction: 2
          More damage reduction: 1
          Even more damage reduction: 1
          More accuracy when moving: 2
          Perfect accuracy when moving: 1
          Half recoil: 1
          No recoil: 1
          Typhoon: 2
          Typhoon kills robots: 1
          Sprint Faster: 1
          Longer sprint: 1
          Even longer sprint: 1
          Immunity to concussion grenades: 1

          So it looks like stealth did have slightly more upgrades than combat after all, my mistake. I was definitely swimming in unspent upgrade points on my stealth playthrough, so I guess the problem is just that they didn’t give the player enough to buy, and a bunch of the stuff to buy was very niche. Despite an abundance of points, I never bought Icarus, gas immunity, punch through walls, and many others. I never needed those abilities, and like a JRPG consumable, what if I needed to spend those points on something else later?.

          • Viktor says:

            Punch through walls pays for itself pretty early, so I always get it. And Icarus makes Hengsha so much easier it’s ridiculous. Plus, even Ghost players need some combat augs for the boss fights. If praxis points are cheap, may as well spend them on the niche stuff, IMO.

            • Ninety-Three says:

              Plus, even Ghost players need some combat augs for the boss fights.

              Hah. The first fight is miserable (especially if you didn’t pick up the rocket launcher), but after that, a ghost player starts to accumulate truckloads of combat resources they never spend. Hoarding frag mines or X-ray-laser ammo lets you kill the bosses in seconds.

              • First go around, playing reasonably stealthy non-lethal hacker-ish type, I only survived the first boss fight because I’d been cheerfully hoarding taser ammo. Once I realised just how weak the bosses are to that, I just hid behind a concrete block and spammed it at him until he went down. The fight went from “HOLY SHITBALLS, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO SURVIVE THIS?!” to “Wow. That was really, really dull.”

                • Daath says:

                  You don’t even need to hide behind concrete, because the taser stunlocks Barrett. I found this out entirely by accident. After repeatedly getting spread all over the floor in bite sized chunks to the tune of cursing like a sailor, I got frustrated enough to do something stupid and suicidal before quitting for a while. In this case, just rushing right ahead and tasing his stupid face. Actually winning the battle that way was a quite interesting mixture of much hilarity, disdain for the whole encounter, and relief at finally being able to get back to the interesting stuff.

                • Ninety-Three says:

                  Holy shitballs, I wish I’d thought to try that. After my tranq darts bounced off the bastard, I assumed the only way through it was to Rambo him.

                  • *holds up hands guiltily* I may have asked the internet out of sheer frustration! I have a limit on how much I want to cutscene-die-reload-cutscene-die-reload… But I couldn’t have pulled it off if I hadn’t obsessively collected all that ammo in the first place.

              • Isaac says:

                Just use the Typhoon twice. That kills every boss in the game!

          • Raygereio says:

            I was definitely swimming in unspent upgrade points on my stealth playthrough, so I guess the problem is just that they didn’t give the player enough to buy

            I think the problem was more that the XP reward balance had issues.
            If you shot your way through the game and ignored most of the side-content, you’d get about enough points to pick up the few essential augs for that style of play.
            If you on the other hand used nothing but stealth take downs, was good enough at it to get the ghost & smooth operator XP bonuses, explored around for the exploration XP bonuses, hacked everything you could and did all of the side-content: In other words, play the game like a friggin Deus Ex game, you’d end up with arguably too many points.

            I think the devs had a problem where they had a pretty neat XP system that pushed you towards a certain play style, but then found themselves having to screw up the balancing because other play style still had to be valid.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Isn’t it a fair design decision to reward certain ways of going through a game? Why shouldn’t they push you to use stealth, if that’s the way that they intend you to go through the game? It isn’t really intended to be a shooter, after all.

      Dishonored similarly allows you to kill your enemies, but it very obviously wants you to be stealthy and to avoid murder.

      They allow you the choice to do either, but they want you to choose the more peaceful option, and that’s okay with me.

      • Mephane says:

        That is a fair point indeed, the problem is not necessarily the different reward levels, but the combination with the finite XP pool in the entire game. Like, if you get more XP for playing in style A, the game should enable you to simply do more stuff in less-rewarded play style B. But when there is exactly the same amount of stuff to do for all play style (i.e. what the devs places as static one-time content), then I would question whether it is a good idea to allow B in the first place.

        “Sure, you can totally play your way. But we make sure that your way gets less XP and money with no way for you to compensate.”

        • Deadpool says:

          WAY less seems like an exaggeration. And it’s not like the game is harder to complete guns blazing than it is going stealth, so how exactly does t hurt you?

          Sure, you have less XP but you don’t need it so…

      • Tizzy says:

        I agree with you. I guess the discussion is: 1. “is this the design they INTENDED, or did they want it to be more open?” 2. “is this the design that was advertised to the customer?”

        My own preference is for games that encourage you to choose from equally valid options, but balancing the game so that all options are truly equal is very hard, and I can’t blame a dev for concentrating on other things. I’ll take the many-not-quite-balanced options game over the no options game any day.

        E.g., I never shared the crew’s disappointment with Dishonored’s mechanics. I was too grateful for the variety of plays offered to worry too much that some were more fun or less balanced.

      • Isaac says:

        “Dishonored similarly allows you to kill your enemies, but it very obviously wants you to be stealthy and to avoid murder.”

        *Looks at all the creative murder Dishonored montages on YouTube*

        Nah fam. Disregarding the chaos system, Dishonored is more balanced with its approach because its combat system is much more complex than Deus Ex’s.

        • IFS says:

          If anything Dishonored wanted you to play at least somewhat lethally given that the lethal play has so many more tools, and more interesting tools provided for it than nonlethal. The story gets ‘darker’ as a result but I think this is a case of the story and gameplay being at odds with each other (if only there were a phrase for such a thing… I bet Campster knows one) I had way more fun on my lethal playthrough of the game than on my (mostly) pacifist run. I’ve heard that they improved on this in the DLCs but I haven’t gotten around to those yet.

          • Merlin says:

            The story gets ‘darker’ as a result but I think this is a case of the story and gameplay being at odds with each other

            I’d argue that it’s exactly the opposite. The setting, plot, and characters are all designed with the sense of making you disengage, so “Everyone here sucks, burn it to the ground” is all the more justifiable and tempting. And crucially, the neither ending is a failure of any kind for Corvo. Your goal throughout the game is to save Emily and reinstate her on the throne. That happens, full stop, in both endings. The high chaos/low chaos distinction is just a reflection of how concerned you were about collateral damage – it’s not a good ending (you vanquished Dracula!) vs. bad ending (you killed some whip guy, maybe that’s good enough?) situation.

            The Dishonored DLC is good stuff, gameplay wise, but there’s a lot more dissonance there in my eyes. The whole thing is framed as something of a vaguely-defined redemption tale for Daud, which doesn’t jive at all with cutting through rabble like Corvo’s revenge quest does.

          • Ninety-Three says:

            Now, I think Dishonored is a flawed design for having mechanically deep combat with shallow stealth, but I would argue that that’s not actually ludonarrative dissonance. Dishonored calls it a Chaos System: The more murdering you do, the more rats infest the city and the more the plague spreads (which makes a certain amount of sense as long as you don’t get the “dead bodies disintegrate” upgrade). Dishonored presents a bunch of deep chaotic action gameplay to tempt the player, and then assigns consequences for the player’s indulgence. It doesn’t have quite the depth of Spec Ops, but you can read a coherent statement in that.

        • baseless_research says:

          Dishonored basically says that if you are a mass-murdering scumbag you clearly don’t care about the people inhabiting the city so the ending reflects that.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Yeah,thats why instead of mercifully ending them,you sell them into slavery.Thats what someone who cares does.

            I really hate that games approach to death and fates worse than death.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        For a game like thief,yes.For a game like deus ex,no.

    • Joe Informatico says:

      Doesn’t non-lethal play require more resource management? Unless you’re swimming in biocells, you can only do a melee takedown on maybe two enemies in short succession without having to wait for your energy to recharge, and there seems to be a lot less stun gun and tranq rifle ammo lying around than lethal rounds. Every enemy you take out gives you at least some lethal ammo, but you can only get non-lethal from scrounging or shops. I think the extra XP is a sop to the fact you can’t easily take out a whole building full of dudes non-lethally.

      • Isaac says:

        But the game is so easy that you can just load up on stun gun darts and tranq rounds since you’d almost always be swimming in credits if you take the stealth/hacking approach to your character build.

    • Darren says:

      My issue with the XP thing is that it reads as the game judging you in the most simplistic way possible. If I kill a guard, did I do so because I’m a psychopathic murderer or because it ensures that he can’t be woken up to plague me again? The game actually highlights this with a recurring guard character in China who exists just to see if you can get through the whole game without killing him; if I were to take him out at the first opportunity, he’d never be an issue again. Alternately, it could be because, logically, there are no nonlethal weapons that can 100% instantly and permanently take down a human being in real life, so the player may be inclined to feel that it’s not a plausible solution (even though, of course, the game’s nonlethal systems are indeed 100% instant and permanent).

      But no, in Human Revolution, as in so many video games, “killing=EVIL” without much nuance, and players who bring even a slightly different morality to the proceedings are judged harshly for their non-conformity.

      See also: Bioshock, Dishonored

      • oDX got around this thorny problem by not giving XP for takedowns. You get XP for exploring and completing missions, but the only way it’ll judge your violence (or lack thereof) is through NPC responses. I miss that approach. :(

      • IFS says:

        I’m not certain how you’re reading the ‘killing=evil’ thing into HR, the game doesn’t often judge you for your approach (unless you count at the end where Jensen’s monologue differs slightly based on his body count, but even that is fairly minor). Instances where violence is discouraged often make sense (for example Sarif telling you not to shoot up the police station to get the evidence you need) and if anything the game can be criticized for failing to react to your violence if you say shoot people in the middle of the street (the police will attack you for obvious reasons but it doesn’t stop you from progressing and goes otherwise uncommented on).

        Now I’m not saying the game was particularly nuanced in that regard, but I don’t think it really labelled one route as good and the other evil in most cases.

        • Darren says:

          It’s been a while since I played it, but if I remember correctly I think it gave more XP for non-lethal takedowns than lethal. It also made lethal takedowns noisier than non-lethal ones, a decision that only makes sense if the game is judging the lethal option as morally inferior, since there’s nothing about the lethal takedowns that seem inherently louder than the brutal beatings that Jensen administers during nonlethal ones.

          • IFS says:

            It’s been a while for me as well so I can’t dispute that, I feel like you got a similar amount either way and I don’t think I ever did a lethal takedown (I didn’t go purely nonlethal but I never saw the point with them as when I wanted people dead I just shot them) so I really can’t comment on noise differences. That said HR showers you in XP regardless of your approach to the extent where a common complaint is that you’ll have just about every upgrade by the end so while I suppose the XP system might be a bit judgmental (which is unfortunate) it’s not a significant problem.

            The discrepancies do make me wonder if at some point in development the game intended for enemies to be able to wake up, either on their own or because another enemy found them, thus making the xp/noise penalty your cost for having permanently dealt with that threat.

            • Non-lethal takedowns are definitely “quieter” (as rated by the game) than lethal takedowns – I tested this. And you get an extra 20 XP (50 vs. 30) for non-lethal.

              Oh, and active NPCs can revive unconsious NPCs, I’m pretty sure.

              • IFS says:

                Can they? I don’t remember that at all. I should really go replay HR when I’ve finished MD.

                • Yep, just tested with tranq gun and takedown.

                  “What’s that soldier? He broke your arm in three places and punched your teeth through the back of your skull? STOP BEING SUCH A PUSSY! ON YOUR FEET, BOY, AND DO YOUR JOB!

                  • IFS says:

                    Ha, seems they operate on the same rules as the player in all those coop games with teammate revival. All it takes in Gears of War is a pat on the back and some encouraging words to recover from a dozen bullets and a hand grenade after all.

                    • But of course! Nothing fixes up bullet holes and grenade damage like some stirring words from the squad commander!

                      Anyway, now I’m trying to decide if this is something I’d like more granularity on or not. Would a game be more interesting/challenging if it differentiated between kills, chemical KOs and physical KOs, given how much damage it actually takes to knock someone out cold?

                    • Syal says:

                      I think if a game is going to have a lot of granularity it’s going to need to be built around using the entire spectrum. No point in having lots of different KOs if you can use just one the whole game.

                      Although I suppose a one-way route could still work if the enemies used all of them. But then you’d need companions for them to use them all on.

                    • Oh, definitely. Enemies being immune to one (or more) KOs, for example.

                      Enemies using different KO types is an interesting one. Mostly, if enemies do non-lethal damage, it’s part of the “captured in a cutscene” trope.

              • Mormegil says:

                The ability of NPC’s to revive each other invariably results in a pile of sleepy guards as I hide out with a tranq gun and knock them out as they come to revive their comrades.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Im really sad that this thing survived the transition from tabletop to computers.It makes no sense for a predetermined system to award xp like that.You should get flat xp for doing a challenge,no matter how you do it,because a computer cannot judge how well your solution was like a live gm.

      This doesnt mean that you should always get the same amount of xp however.For example,you could have one reward for finishing a level,one for doing it without ever being detected,and one for never having the alarm sound.Whether in the end that means that you were silent because you slaughtered everyone or because you crawled through the ducts shouldnt matter.

      • Falterfire says:

        I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of games that outline specific XP for specific scenarios as well. To me it makes more sense in a computer game where you theoretically could be running the same level multiple times in multiple ways.

        If I’m running a game with four people, no matter what each of them is doing, I’m not going to want them to get apart in XP, and I probably have an idea of roughly how strong I expect the party should be at a certain point. So if I’m giving the party a level, I’m giving them a level, and I’m not worrying that all the bits and pieces add up to precisely the right amount of XP for each player.

        Plus computer games frequently offer ways to grind if a player wants to go off the regular path – I’m not going to sit there and DM one player running random encounters after the other players go home because they want to grind up an extra level.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      From what I remember of the comment threads for the Spoiler Warning series, lethal takedowns yield more ammo and such on the bodies, so if you go lethal, you should be getting comparable resources, it’s just that the resource that has a pop up is lower and the other compensation is that the blind bags of loot are statistically better on average than they would have been on a stealth run. From a game logic perspective, that makes sense, and if you were fighting orcs or dragons you could contrast physical resources like exposed and harvestable viscera versus skill and divine favour, but a guy having more bullets if you shoot him doesn’t make sense in a realistic game. Well, usable bullets.

    • Unless that source is today’s Jimquisition, you’ve got two sources now. :P

  2. Hal says:

    Funny, I’ve been playing through the original Deus Ex on a whim.

    It definitely shows its age at this point.

    For example, I remember one of the major selling points on it being that the world felt lived in, that level design reflected a place where people actually worked and lived.

    Then I played it again. You walk into an office; there’s a lamp in one corner and a potted plant in the other. Also, there’s a candy bar in the desk drawer. And some 10mm ammo, because maybe you need some?

    That sort of thing felt revolutionary in 2001; I guess we’ve gotten spoiled 15 years on.

    • I started playing Deus Ex Revision a wee while ago, but got put off by whatever they did with the shadows that makes distinguishing anything completely impossible and just stopped playing. I suppose I should check to see if it’s something they managed to fix yet.

  3. Tizzy says:

    Well, sounds like Deus Ex once again is biting more themes than it can safely chew.

    The “Every single aug goes apeshit” scenario seems a bit clumsy, because then anti-aug prejudice becomes quite a reasonable position, whereas blaming all augs for the crimes of a few seems like much more fertile grounds for commentary. Solves the issue of why Adam Jensen wasn’t part of the global freakout. Also, depending on the number of augs out there, a believable body count for a global freakout could change the world even more.

    A partial freakout of augs would also pit augs against augs, and have sand augs wondering “why not me? Could I be next?”

    As for the cops, a nice dialogue along the lines of “- Wow this is unfair to augs!” “- Better keep that to yourself if you know what is good for you ” would dial up the menace of the setting and humanize the opposition at the same time.

    • Zoe M. says:

      There is one cop who is kinda philosophical on the subject and has that ‘Yeah, it’s just what the system wants’ view of things.
      There is also one NPC who expresses a desire to remove his augs and go back to normalcy.

      There absolutely should be more of them, but it’s not quite fair to say they *never* touch on nuanced subjects.

      • DeadlyDark says:

        Well, there are few cops that more or less are sympathetic to augs (old detective dude in the murder scene, good female cop on fake papers sidequest, one or two cops that checked papers was like “it’s my job, I’m sorry”, or if you “talk” with random cops some of them are reasonable). Though, I always see that kind of things as “Guys who randomly stops you” probably will be more anti-aug, while adequate guys wouldn’t bother to stop you with no reason. And I can hardly blame people for prejudices in case of the global incident, frequent attacks and brain-washing TV. It doesn’t absolve them, buy I understand where are they coming from and why they probably be in majority.

        Also there are guy from Sobchak security that actually removed his augs. And there is couple of stories of how “naturals” remembers the day of incident. But it was two years, it’s logical that majority of people moved on and don’t talk as much about it.

        “Solves the issue of why Adam Jensen wasn’t part of the global freakout” Explained in HR, either Megan disables Adam’s rage-chip-thingy or you have an option to never install it in the first place.

        Also, I probably in the minority here, but I disagree with Shamus (and I kinda don’t get where he coming from, but I respect his position). The way I see the game, is that I actually can see how the world from the state of the HR came to MD. I kinda believe in why the game world is such a mess. Probably, it’s an mentality thing, but I believe it. And hey, there is an old dude who saw similar things in 80s, though without segregation. And still, segregation is perfectly explainable, cause augmentation could be potentially dangerous after the incident so there is additional scanners in aug lines, to scan for potential danger and to show your gun, ugh, aug in public. Different aug line – well, we could as well do different wagon just in case, voters are on our side. Hey, different treatment in metro? Why wouldn’t it go to other places like cafes and clubs? Clients will feel safer and they have majority of cash at the moment so it’s profitable to cater to that position. And etc.

        And the thing is, it’s all in the background. Just like in HR, Adam doesn’t concern himself with things, he investigate his own problems. So, the games doesn’t bother themselves with keeping all the issues in focus (just enough of them in the side-quests, which I mostly liked in the game), but I still see the coherent with their in-game logic, though, many things you have to think for yourself (like, say, an Mad Max Fury Road). And, to to be honest, in HR the Adam’s story was more interesting than background world. But here, it’s otherwise, I actually like MD’s world and the implications more, than the main plot, which is serviceable (not bad, not good, adequate).

        P.S. Funny thing, there are an moment in the game about augmented hands not having fingerprints.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          The problem with the aug oppression thing is twofold. Firstly, they keep mixing metaphors instead of trying to worldbuild. As the Diecast said, there’s “Aug lives matter” vs “All human lives matter”, obvious Jim Crow stuff, Soviet “Papers please”, augs are terrorists… it really doesn’t work when you try to present it as all part of one consistent place, instead of the collage of real-world periods that it is.

          The second problem is that the world’s reaction to the aug incident doesn’t really make sense. This is supposedly a society shaped by “That one time someone hacked all the augs”, and yet no one seems particularly concerned about hacking. Three thousand people died in 9/11 and it shaped the United States for decades, but two years after millions died because of a hacker, how is cyber crime not the biggest topic out there? We should be hearing about countries outlawing wifi-enabled augs, and people switching to the kind of augs that defintiely can’t turn you into a berserk killing machine, but instead everyone’s just rolling with it because to do anything else would undercut the “Augs are a class of people exactly like a persecuted ethnicity” metaphor they’re building.

          You can handwave some of those issues by saying that everyone acts like they do because of Illuminati propaganda, but that undercuts the whole racism metaphor even more strongly: it’s no longer a story about racism at all, now it’s just about how evil shadowy corporations can manipulate public perception through the media.

          • sona4 says:

            It’s also kinda weird on the developer’s part because Mankind Divided only takes place about ten years in what is supposed to be our future. So it’s not just that we’re getting a poor metaphor, but we’re also kinda actively dodging the issue of racism by trying to use augs as a one size fits all stand in for the world’s minorities. So we get this weirdness in HR where our character is in Detroit during extreme unrest, the US is apparently about to split apart, but we have absolutely nothing to say about the cyberpunk bread and butter of oppression, corruption, and rebellion that is woven into the history of the city. Instead we get: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He09JaBVZdE

            What happened to the city’s persecuted underclass? Dunno, they’re Augs or racist caricatures now.

  4. Grudgeal says:

    I always preferred Stand Alone Complex to the original Ghost in the Shell to be honest. Of course being about ten times as long (more if we count the second season) it gets a lot more time to go into different themes about Cyberpunk, but I also think it was a lot better about applying them in a more down-to-earth, less ‘high-waxing philosophical’ way.

    Either way, from what I remember of DXHR, saying GitS did it better would be an understatement, and it seems like the sequel hasn’t improved things so I’m going to stay off it for the time being.

    • Joe Informatico says:

      I honestly don’t know how relevant cyberpunk fiction still is today when our world’s already surpassed or fulfilled most of its genre conventions. Information technology, the growing power of multinational corporations, leet-hackers leaking the secrets of the most powerful corporations and government agencies in the world, the encroaching police state–a lot of classic cyberpunk already feels dated or not prophetic enough. Maybe virtual reality’s not as far along as cyberpunk predicted but then again, cyberpunk didn’t really foresee augmented reality to any great extent either.

      The only thing classic cyberpunk really has to talk about anymore is transhumanism, and when cyberpunk or post-cyberpunk gets into it at all, it just ends up retreading ground that other science-fiction genres already have. It’s either a literal metaphor for technology taking over our lives, i.e. one of the oldest themes in science fiction, or it’s a Gnostic, “rapture of the nerds” vision of the future where we will transcend our limited physical bodies and become pure information living in some Matrix somewhere. Or as I like to call it, secular-materialist Christianity. And this itself is just a modern update to the classic science fiction idea (usually associated with Star Trek) of transcending our physical bodies to become beings of pure energy.

      • Grudgeal says:

        It’s still good entertainment.

        That aside, Cyberpunk generally also posits a breakdown in social order and central authority that leads to an increased rich/poor divide and the development of urban poor with an advanced technical skillset, like said hackers, plus a decrease in worker’s rights, mechanization of labour, and the expansion of the “salaryman” concept to encompass the majority of the workers while mass-market mass-media is used to supress discontent towards the rich and powerful. While the technology has mostly caught up on the tech front, I’d say we still have a ways to go on a social level and Cyberpunk can sort of be a showcase for how bad it could be and, maybe, what we don’t want our current society to devolve into.

        I’m probably getting dangerously close to crossing over into politics discussion here.

      • Geebs says:

        The best cyberpunk was never about the tech anyway.

        @Grudgeal: if anything, Git’s Sac had a bit too much time to investigate its themes ;)

  5. Isaac says:

    Only problem with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gameplay-wise is that its much too easy. I rarely ever have to carefully consider what I’m upgrading and it doesn’t help that most augs only take 1 or 2 praxis kits to obtain and/or upgrade.

  6. Ninety-Three says:

    Re: Freely going wherever you want in Deus Ex: It’s much worse than Campster describes. You know how there are separate lines for augs and naturals? Jensen can just walk through the natural lines. You get numerous opportunities to do so, and the game never reacts. At one point you can have a cop ten feet in front of you, watching you do it and not caring. Hell, he does it in a cutscene, the very early train station scene with Alex! I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be diegetic, or sloppily executed on the part of the developers.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      That early train station scene bugged out massively for me, with all the NPCs either standing in one place, or walking through each other, or popping in and out of existence right in front of me.

      I found it hard to concentrate on what was supposed to be going on, but there is a moment where you and Alex show your papers to a cop, and another where you get scanned by a drone?

      • Ninety-Three says:

        Yes, and that moment happens literally two seconds after you walk through the natural line right in front of both of them. And yeah they ask you for your papers, but that’s the same request they’re making for the dozens of people queued up in the aug lines right beside you. Either the cops just don’t care about you cutting lines and disregarding their Jim Crow metaphor, or the person who rigged that cutscene didn’t notice the “Naturals” sign above the doorway Jensen walked through.

        I think it’s a perfect metaphor for Mankind Divided as a whole: It wants to act like it’s talking about issues, but then your metaphorically coloured character sits at the front of the bus in a cutscene, and the game has so little to say about it that the player can’t even tell if it’s a scriptwriting error or not.

        • Deadpool says:

          I don’t think the game is trying to say anything about racism.

          Sure it’s the setting, but it doesn’t make any attempt to talk about the issue. It merely has a story in which the issue is involved.

          Lot of people seem to hate that, but I don’t hold it against the game…

          • MichaelGC says:

            I agree that it doesn’t particularly need to say anything, but if it’s not going to, they might have been better off with a different title. If it’s OK for the title to only nod at backdrop, they could have called it Deus Ex: Bohemia, Randomly.

          • Ninety-Three says:

            Unfortunately my Google skills fail me, but around the time of the “Mechanical Apartheid” controversy, I recall one of the developers taking to social media where they wrote an impassioned defense of the game’s decision to talk about racism. Whether or not it was sincere is impossible to judge, but sincere or not, the intent is the same: Eidos wants us to think DXMD is talking about racism, so I think it’s fair to criticize the game for its failure to do so.

    • Jsor says:

      There is actually a very, very rare piece of flavor dialogue where a cop can say something like (paraphrasing massively) “use the right fucking exit, clank.” I’ve had it happen a grand total of once.

    • PeteTimesSix says:

      Far as I could tell Jensen has Special Interpol Papers that let him cut through the naturals line. You do also get them checked just about every time you take the metro in the naturals only car (…it took me a while to notice there was actually an aug terminal separate from the natural ones).

  7. Andy_Panthro says:

    I played many hours of No Man’s Sky exactly as Mumbles said, as an interesting game to just wander about in and learn alien languages. It is a very zen game (except when pirates attack), and I’ll probably play it long enough to get most of the alien languages.

    I do feel like I broke it slightly by not following the Atlas path though, I thought there would be an alternative, but I haven’t found anything yet.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Here is an extra-long Diecast to distract you from the fact that these posts are still wonky and I need to fix that.

    You say that,but its not really that extra long.The average length of diecasts is 1 hour 11 minutes(and 3 seconds).Even if we discount the two extra long and the extra shortones its still 1 hour 10 minutes(and 31 seconds).And the number of diecasts longer than 70 minutes is 86,which is about 52% of them all.And sure,the number of diecasts that go over 79 minutes is only 32,which is only 19%,but I know that you are seeing these as an hour of content.Which they definitely are not,because only 26 are an hour or shorter,which is just 16%.

    Basically what Im saying is:I have absolutely no life.

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    The world is filled with people who hate augs for no reason, and never talk about it

    So exactly like Human Revolution then?

    I swear, the only time that game ever explained why anyone disliked augs was when a random civilian bark said something to the effect of “It just makes my skin crawl”. There were valid reasons within the fiction: neuropazyne dependency is dangerous, augmented people competing naturals out of the job market, what if someone hacks all the augs to drive people insane… but not a single character ever grabbed one of those and said “This is why augs are bad.”

  10. Jsor says:

    On the whole “if Voldemort won just tell the Muggles about the Wizarding world and they’ll figure it out” thing. I’m pretty sure Rowling herself has outright said that a Wizard loses every possible engagement with a sniper.

    • Grudgeal says:

      I’m reminded of The Dresden Files, where that matchup came up at one point in-story. Without spoiling too much, the sniper won.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      Though her tendency to issue Twitter encyclicals regarding canon undermines it, I’ve always respected that attitude from Rowling. There isn’t this grasping, insecure drive to try and build up the subjects of her writing as the be-all, end-all of everything and everyone everywhere; it’s just a story about the wizarding world, and the appropriate level of seriousness to bring to it is discretely beneath an SCP-esque deconstruction of how any given combination of magic and mundane forces would match up. Just a good old, “Yes, yes, you could totally beat Voldemort with a shotgun, now back to the story I’m actually telling.”

      Contrast to the comics writing paradox, where almost every character is eventually written to be one of the most powerful, unbeatable characters in the canon.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        The idea of trying to “fix” Harry Potter’s drama-first world always bothered me. The original books were written with such disregard for creating a logical world (and it is important to note that it was indeed disregard, rather than a failed attempt) that it would take another three thousand pages to fix all the plot holes, and to do it any less than that would only serve to draw attention to the many remaining holes. Even if you were to take up the ludicrous task of exhaustively fixing every “plot hole” of a drama-first children’s story, you couldn’t get very far into such an endeavour before suspension of disbelief failed and it became clear that your writing was an exercise in retconning rules into a world that had none.

        • Decius says:

          It’s not even a good drama-first world.

          Tell me about a prison that literally eats your good memories, or tell me that the good guys send their defeated foes to prison. Don’t tell me both of those things.

          • GloatingSwine says:

            Unless you want to imply that your good guys have a questionable set of moral standards (by modern standards).

            The wizarding world is supposed to be somewhat socially backwards and insular, the “good guys” aren’t necessarily all what you’d think of as good people.

  11. Ninety-Three says:

    The worst names in the entire literary universe

    Come on, Albus Severus Potter is bad, but does it really compete with Brisela (the result of physically fusing Bruna and Gisela), Renesmee or Darth Andeddu, the Undead Sith?

  12. Christopher says:

    Is a zen game for you the same as a “podcast game” for me? I never really zone out and just play something mindlessly as a way to relax, but I’m the first one to put on a podcast when there’s no talking on screen after Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning broke me. And that can be games like Dragon Age Inquisition or Skyrim where you walk around doing easy. repetitive tasks, but it’s mostly action games like Dark Souls or Street Fighter where I really should be paying attention. Because there’s hardly any direct storytelling going on, or in Dark Souls’ case even music, I find it’s pleasant to have some banter in my ear. I play worse because of it, but it alleviates some of the frustration of losing.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      For me,tbs became that.Civilization,xcom,doesnt matter.As long as its turn based,I can just mute it and listen to whatever while I play.

      Except for heroes of might and magic II and III.Those I still love listening to.

    • IFS says:

      There are a few games that work really well as podcast material for me. Hearthstone is a big one, its turn based and fairly simple at its core so I’m not too distracted. Race the Sun and more recently Grow Up are also ones I’ll play while listening as they’re fairly calming games on their own.

    • Mintskittle says:

      I also have certain games I like to play when listening to podcasts. For me, it’s Minecraft, Factorio, Creeper World 3, and Warlock: Master of the Arcane. Really, anything that’s light to no story and mostly mechanics driven works for me, but those are my go to games.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      I quite like Monster Hunter for this. Clearing out a few lower rank, repeat monster or gathering quests while I listen. I don’t play online when I’m listening to something online, though, because that’s asking for a disconnect.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Yup, I too usually have at least one game that I can play while paying attention to something else. This time it was Cities Skylines.

    • I don’t really have “podcast” games, but do have zen games (Quell, Mahjong Solitare, farming in lotro, that sort of thing). I do listen to podcasts on occasion while gaming, but it’s more likely to be in an MMO when I’m grinding or leveling and have seen the content repeatedly. I have many memories of marathoning podcasts while going from 80-85 for the 3rd-I lost count time damn you wow.

      (Note, I do in fact mean farming as in crop-growing. Sitting in Bree, watching the toons run by, occasionally reading world chat, well, my burglar’s gone from 20-30 something doing that. Of course, that means I HAVE NO FREAKING CLUE how to play her, but that’s fine. I like her being my farming toon)

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Damn,old man Shamus transitioned into the modern era of “all paths are equally good” rpgs before me.If you tried that thing back in old rpgs,youd get slaughtered.A lot.If human revolution was made before 2000,you know that it would literally make the game unwinnable if you accepted the upgrade.

    • Henson says:

      That upgrade is something I still don’t understand. The point of the upgrade is to make sure that all augs are under the control of the Illuminati, yes? And they get everyone to make the upgrade by triggering something that cripples all augs momentarily; Jensen suffers this in Hengsha just as a ton of other augs go into seizures as well. So…if the Illuminati already had control over augs, why did they need to install a chip to gain control over augs?

      • Tohron says:

        It’s the difference between being able to slightly disrupt everyone’s augs for a moment, and having total control over everyone’s augs permanently.

        • Philadelphus says:

          I think the question is, if you have the ability to put in a remote-control momentary-seizure switch in all augments in existence, why not just build the remote-control permanent-control switch in at that point in time?

          • Supah Ewok says:

            They only finished developing the new chip a short time before Jensen’s adventures, and I’m pretty sure the Illuminati required the kidnapped scientists to complete the project.

  14. Rayen says:

    So on the whole which is more canon at this point, A Very Potter Musical Trilogy or The Cursed Child? Interestingly both are stage plays.

  15. SlothfulCobra says:

    Ghost in the Shell really did wind up doing everything that Deus Ex is trying to do now better. They never come outright and ask you to really ask yourself about anything, but they demonstrate the problems with cyberization, you can be hacked all over the place, you can get exposed to bizarre viruses that will make your own body go haywire, it’s dehumanizing, and it exposes you to new diseases and all kinds of things, but hey, you can get a data feed straight into your brain and lift heavy things. It’s the way of the future, and sure there are plenty of problems with that.

    They even do the whole angle of cyborgs as an underclass of people better in 2nd Gig with all the refugees from the last war who are wandering around ghettos with robot bits.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So that harry potter fanfic,is it better or worse than the star wars fanfics?

    • The Rocketeer says:

      Rutskarn still seems arguably capable of human speech, which rules out its being worse than Star Wars.

    • galacticplumber says:

      If you want a good harry potter fic just look up harry potter and the methods of rationality. Best there is.

      • topazwolf says:

        The ending’s not great. But it is pretty enjoyable up until that point.

        Also for a Harry Potter time travel fanfiction that is actually entertaining I would advise Harry Potter and the Wastelands of time. Just because it’s fun to read. Probably a terrible Harry Potter fanfiction that doesn’t care about it’s source at all though.

        • galacticplumber says:

          What on earth was wrong with the ending? Most of it was completely and utterly foreshadowed to effective payoffs right down to the voldemort ”killing” method. The only things I didn’t expect at all were how they resolved hermione, but given how massive an effect her death had on the plot they had to do SOMETHING to give that closure.

          • topazwolf says:

            It’s not the foreshadowing I disliked it was that Voldemort didn’t put up more of a fight and seemingly left a huge chunk in his defenses despite being probably the most genre savvy and intelligent person in the book up until that point. I don’t think I would have been overly satisfied with anything short of him effectively winning or pulling a sort of compromise. That Harry could do everything he did in the story stretched my suspension of disbelief little by little until it finally snapped when he won against a foe he shouldn’t have been able to touch.

            The ending was fine for closure and making it a complete story. I just didn’t like it personally due to my own conception of the characters and situation that may not actually line up with what was really written. Some of my friends that have read it agree with me, though being my friends that isn’t much verification and I’m not surprised that others found it to be more satisfying than I did.

            Also worth noting that with the dangling plot threads that could be made into a sequel, my own objections at the ending could easily be retroactively corrected given such a sequel.

  17. RandomPerson says:

    Regarding the reasons for “anti-aug” sentiments in Mankind Divided: I haven’t progressed very far in the main story, but reading e-books and talking to random NPCs in Prague reveals that fear is definitely the strongest motivator, which is partially reinforced by the terrorist attacks. For instance, one person says something along the lines of “Your kind keeps blowing up parts of my city, and you expect me to be polite?!” and there is another conversation about having a way to shut down the augments of criminals.

    In fact, the controversial Human Restoration Act is about mandating the installation of a control chip that will allow the authorities to remotely shut down the augments of anyone they want and isolating any augmented person that refuses the chip from the general population.

    From what I understand, the divide is a result of a combination of the panicked reaction to the Aug Incident and the Illuminati’s propaganda (Picus) painting the augmented as a danger to society. So, basically, the entire crisis is a result of the Illuminati being concerned that widespread augmentation is going to make it harder for them to control the population.

    By the way, there are definitely some cops who say that they are “just following orders” and “sorry, but this is just the way it is”.

    • RandomPerson says:

      Thinking about it, this trailer adequately conveys the reasons on both sides of the conflict. At least up to the point in the story where I am at.

    • Chris says:

      So, basically, the entire crisis is a result of the Illuminati being concerned that widespread augmentation is going to make it harder for them to control the population.

      This is one of my big problems with Eidos Montreal’s approach to the entire Deus Ex universe and Mankind Divided in particular. Their vision of the Illuminati makes no sense. I almost get the sense that they don’t know how these conspiracy theories are supposed to work? Not that, you know, conspiracies of a shadowy group of old men running the world are going to be particularly airtight, but the basic mechanics of “a technology comes along and disrupts the Illuminati” is antithetical to how the Illuminati are supposed to work in-universe.

      The idea is that the Illuminati is the name applied to a comparatively small collection of individuals that control government, finance, media, and science through means that all re-inforce themselves. That is, they know how to find how a system can be controlled and then they do so. They control government with money, they control companies with governmental regulation, etc. They control quote-unquote “everything.” That’s the whole reason it’s a ridiculous conspiracy theory.

      And what they control includes technology and society! Again, look at the original Deus Ex: The Illuminati were the ones who engineered JC and Paul Denton. The Illuminati made light of their opposition’s “ethical inflexibility” when it came to augmentations. The Illuminati even engineered the Grey Death as a means of control. It wasn’t a plague that came out of nowhere, it was a self-replicating nanomachine virus that spread among the population and VersaLife’s Ambrosia™ was the sole recurring treatment. With this they could suppress rebellion or hold a government representative hostage to treatment via shortages. The opening of the game establishes all of this.

      So all of that said: I don’t get why the Illuminati are threatened by augmented people. One of the sole non-Illuminati producers of augmentations, Serif Industries, is disbanded by the time of Mankind Divided. It’s not like they couldn’t throw their money or power around if someone wasn’t going to play ball – they could purchase the companies outright or threaten the board members’ families. And once they own the tech they can put any monitoring software or safeguards to protect themselves that they might want in there. So where’s the existential threat? Augmented people aren’t coming from nowhere – they’re coming from their own research. Adam Jensen himself is a product of the Illuminati’s research into augmentation tech! They invested (and made back) billions of dollars! This was all part of The Plan! Make super human abilities a product that you control, then use that control as part of the Illuminati to maintain power!

      But now, suddenly, they view augmentation as (to quote Lucius DeBeers in the intro) a “disruptive element” that can only be addressed via the Human Restoration Act. Which I just don’t get – it means that either The Illuminati didn’t foresee super powered humans maybe being a threat to societal stability, or they don’t wield nearly as much power as they would have to in order to quote-unquote control the world. Either way they’re incompetent, and are running a completely reactionary and thoughtless enterprise. That’s the opposite of the high-minded, well thought out, completely amoral conspiracy group they’re supposed to be!

      • Ninety-Three says:

        So all of that said: I don’t get why the Illuminati are threatened by augmented people.

        Now I haven’t finished DXMD, but my read on the conspiracy was a bit different. The Illuminati did see the whole thing coming and they were responsible for the secret control chips that drove the plot of Human Revolution. Their plans went awry when Hugh Darrow went off the deep end and used their secret cybernetic backdoor to upload berserk.exe. As a result of this, the aug companies of the world must have identified and fixed that particular exploit.

        So now augs are running loose and the Illuminati have lost their plan to control them. That’s where the fearmongering comes in: the Illuminati endgame is to have governments pass laws mandating augs install remote shutdown chips, essentially restoring their backdoor. Arguably, that’s not the best way to go about accomplishing their goal, but as you pointed out, conspiracies rarely make perfect sense.

        Someone who has completed the game, is my read compatible with the canon?

      • Chris says:

        And this is tangential, but I also sort of have to echo Shamus’ point about the bad guys always needing to be The Illuminati, which Eidos Montreal seems to have decided are always and forever The Bad Guys in the Deus Ex universe.

        First: Like Shamus says, it’s boring. Is this game going to be a series of dudes in trenchcoats all slowly discovering that The Illuminati Did It? Nevermind the fact that the player knows The Illuminati Did It going into it, so there’s no tension or interesting angles here. It’s not even different Illumati! It’s the same assholes as the first game, just younger! We keep discovering the same six idiots!

        Second: They have no meaningful plans outside of the game in front of us. A real Illuminati have grand plans for society as a whole – visions of A City on A Hill. We never get what the Deus Ex illuminati are working towards other than the immediate plan of “evil terrorist thing.” Which works insofar as they become evil false-flag terrorists that operate as bad guys, but we don’t really get why. Why try to legislate away augs? How is ruling over a few cities of Aug-Only-People and a vast swath of aug-free society going to improve things for their plan? This is a problem in Deus Ex as well, but that’s less of a problem because…

        Third: The Illuminati weren’t even the villains in the first game! Not really, anyways. The bad guy in Deus Ex was Bob Page, flat out. Everyone else could be an antagonist at times, but even The Illuminati were betrayed by Page when he decided to use Project Echelon to upload his consciousness with his secret Helios project instead of just, you know, monitoring the world’s communications from the shadows. Deus Ex treats The Illuminati as power-hungry jerks, but power hungry jerks mostly making what they thought were the right decisions before one of them went rogue. Heck, you kinda sorta befriend Morgan Everett and Nicolette DuClare.

        • Distec says:

          The Illuminati are (IIRC) depicted as an entirely valid ending choice in both Deus Ex and Invisible War, with no moral sneering that I remember. They weren’t to my taste, but I’ve read enough discussion online to know that many players thought they were the ideal solution in both games, at least compared to the other options available. So it is a bit weird seeing the “grr Illuminati” treatment it seems to be getting so far in the prequels.

  18. Start says:

    I didn’t actually have time for the whole podcast and planned on skipping the Harry Potter bit, but I’m glad I stayed. Good show, Rutskarn :D Now I’m late gotta go

  19. MichaelGC says:

    What I want to know is: is Pritchard in it?; and, does everyone refuse to talk to you if you’ve a weapon out? – whether or not they themselves are brandishing a Kalashnikov and/or are having to dodge bits of civilisation as it figuratively crumbles around their ears.

    PS You might not have time for the whole of the Deus Ex:HR SW season, but I’d recommend Josh’s awesome Jensen impression, which occurs right at the start of the final episode.

    • IFS says:

      Pritchard isn’t in it though you can ask Sarif what he’s doing, same with Megan but not Malik who so far hasn’t shown up and you can’t ask Sarif about her (I’d guess because she could die in HR). People still refuse to talk to you if you have your weapon out though I don’t know how extensive this is.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      I’m more impressed by the Doctor Claw voice. That must have been hell on your throat Shamus.

      • MichaelGC says:

        It’s very good, but Shamus only does a few words, whereas Jensen keeps it going over the first minute or so. I mean Josh keeps it going. I struggle to differentiate at times.

        Jensen’s strange brand of soft gruffness is very tricky to pull off, as one of the other cast members demonstrates much later in the episode. That attempt is a very good impression, sure, but it’s a very good impression of Christian Bale’s Batman. XD

  20. Thomas says:

    I want to write a story where a couple of characters touch a time travel device, flicker and then say to a third “Yeah that didn’t work out, it’s too much effort to explain”

  21. Dragmire says:

    Rutskarn’s recounting of the Harry Potter play aligns with what I heard from NerdCubed on his podcast. There was less angry profanity from Ruts though.

  22. MichaelGC says:

    I have an obvious retort ready for anyone alleging this is in any way off-topic:

    How fair are your dice?
    http://arstechnica.com/the-multiverse/2016/08/how-fair-is-your-d20/

  23. Phantos says:

    That Harry Potter thing Ruts described sounds like Sonic the Hedgehog could just show up, and it would not be out of place or be a drop in quality from what came before it.

  24. SlothfulCobra says:

    Time travel where the butterfly effect will ruin everything that isn’t The One True Timeline just robs characters of any of their agency regarding the situation. Back in the Prisoner of Azkaban, the time turner just made a neat little time loop with one singular timeline.

    Honestly, I think that Rowling was getting worse towards the end of the book series, and it was a good thing that she had a baked in deadline for Harry’s graduation.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      You know how everyone says the problem with Star Wars is that George Lucas got too successful and no one could tell him “no”? I think Rowling had a bit of that problem. She never sunk to Jarjar depths, but the way her books doubled in pagecount when her popularity took off, felt less like a necessity of the story and more like a matter of “I can sell whatever I want, I don’t need to edit this down!”

  25. Benjamin Hilton says:

    Mumbles: “It sounds like a bad fan fiction of Batman trying to save his parents”

    So it’s basically the Flashpoint Paradox.

  26. I hope I don’t offend anyone here with this, but… I don’t know what’s so great about Ghost in the Shell.

    I was given a copy to watch years ago, and I was told that it would make me realize how amazing anime could be and this story was so epic and original, far beyond anything I’d seen before, etc.

    Maybe I had a different geek background. I’ve read and watched metric tons of sci-fi, and after seeing Ghost in the Shell, I was left thinking two things:

    1. Sure, the animation was cool.
    2. That was it?

    #2 is born of having seen/read many, many stories that fall in and out of the Cyberpunk genre that deal with what makes someone or something sapient. It was such a familiar concept that I was left thinking that the whole movie was a two-hour setup that could’ve been done in half the time for a story they didn’t finish.

    Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Maybe it’s the best of its genre and that’s why it’s held up for so much praise, but I didn’t come away thinking I’d been exposed to any groundbreaking or new concepts.

    • Retsam says:

      There is a bit of a “Seinfield Effect” with Ghost in the Shell; a fair number of things have been inspired by it in the last 20 years, (including, somewhat famously, The Matrix films) which can make it seem less original than it was.

      And, plus, if you’re comparing GITS against a bunch of sci-fi literature, it might seem shallow, but then almost any sci-fi movie pitted against any sci-fi book is going to seem shallow; there’s only so much ground that can be covered in two hours of screen time.

      The television show (Stand Alone Complex) goes into greater detail and has more time to flesh out the setting; though it takes a less philosophical tone.

    • Grudgeal says:

      Ghost in the Shell is basically a very well-worn plot in western sci-fi (“pretty much the plot of Short Circuit“), wrapped in all the style of the anime medium (i.e. big-boobed lady with guns). The production values and animation are the parts that highlight the strength of anime, and you can add the soundtrack if we add the television series (Stand Alone Complex). It’s notable that most of the films and games inspired by the original film, like The Matrix and Ultraviolet, tends to copy the style more than the story elements.

      Sad thing is, by the standards of anime, the Ghost in the Shell franchise pretty much is one of the most original franchises around, and Stand Alone Complex is one of the more well-written anime series of the last two decades. Which says quite a bit about the standards of your average anime I suppose.

      • Ciennas says:

        I liked Stand Alone Complex but for 2 things.

        1) It needed to trust the audience. They violated Show Don’t Tell so much, and to little tangible benefit. The show was soo much stronger when it just shut up and told its story.

        The scene in 2nd Gig where they had to play bodyguard to the prime minister against a crowd of potential viral infectees was just super. It was freaking INTENSE and well done. As an example.

        2) I wish that they hadn’t crammed all of the sexualization solely onto the Major. She’s very iconoclastic with her style, and nobody else really seemed to wear anything like it.

        Not inherently bad, it just bugged me; take this story seriously, but also look at TITS! A lot of butt shots too.

        Again, not bad, but it irritated me.

        And then the finale of season two with the apple screamed symbolism to the point that I was eyerolling.

        Great show overall.

  27. Shamus, in response to how Deus Ex HR looked, I noticed something while watching the SW season for the game that had a lot to do with why the game looked funny: Anything a character was wearing on their upper chest/neck was welded to them as if it was a second skin. This made shirts, ties, blouses, etc. distort when they turned their heads, which looks completely jarring compared to how necks work with normal shirt collars and so on. It may not be noticed at first, but as the game goes on, it (combined with the small heads) starts to look really odd.

  28. Sean says:

    I just started playing Dragon Age: Inquisition about a week ago, and I’m ~60 hours in.

    I totally get why Mumbles thinks it’s a zen game — this game is massive. I spend so much time just running around. I don’t even get mad when I pick up a quest on one end of the map that has me run back across to the other side ( where I just was ), my reaction is just “cool, more time to scenery gaze”. I’m still paying attention to conversations though, so I’m not entirely zoning out. I’ll definitely end up doing another playthrough, considering how many times I played through the Mass Effect series ( too many times ).

  29. Peter H. Coffin says:

    For an actual sort-of-good answer to the kind of question “You mean to take care of Voldemort, we just needed guns?” is, Harry Potter and the Methods or Rationality bears a reading. See http://hpmor.com/

  30. Zak McKracken says:

    Heard the latter half of this thing on the radio the other day:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07pd4zg

    …I hope you’re able to get it outside of the UK: It’s a radio show which includes an interview with James Swallow, writer on DE:MD, and Rhianna Pratchett. I love how she acknowledges how they had to go from Lara being afraid to hurt a deer to ploughing through waves of enemies in no time because once a player has a weapon, it must be used… and also James Swallow seems to be aware that on most teams not everyone is pulling in the same direction, story-telling-wise.

  31. topazwolf says:

    I am always annoyed by people complaining about the time turners. It is shown in the books that the time turner can’t actually change time. No matter what you do, you end up causing events to pass as you witnessed them. So for this “book” to have the time turners change the past is pretty outrageous.

    • Wait, is it shown they can’t change time, or were the users admonished to not change time? Because if it was impossible to change the past, why would the Ministry be so worried about misuse?

      If the worry was someone seeing something they shouldn’t, then what’s the difference between using a time-turner vs. just scrying an event when it’s happening?

      • topazwolf says:

        Well Harry would have died had Harry not saved Harry. So pretty much. It is proven to be a stable time loop that means your actions in the future are accounted for in the present. All the events after they turned time where accounted for in the present. Like distracting the werewolf and saving the Hippogriff.

        That being said, an item that lets you be in multiple places in the same time frame can be easily misused. Though it does make more sense why they would give it to school children when they know that the school child can’t actually meddle with time.

        I think they are worried about some fool looping an event hundreds of times until they are effectively everywhere at once. It would also be bad for someone evil to have it since they could murder/destroy/attack pretty much everywhere at the exact same moment. Why have they never used it to bolster their forces when fighting by having multiples of the same people? I suppose we don’t actually know they didn’t do that.

        Though honestly, objects of power shouldn’t be given to teenage girls to use to help their studies.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          One stable time loop does not mean you cant change the past.It just means that you can create a stable time loop.

          • topazwolf says:

            I’m reasonably certain that a stable time loop proves that they didn’t and can’t change time because both the present and the future were already written since without the loop they would be dead. The existence of the time loop itself hints at the mechanics of how time travel works by way of the time turner. Either way, actually changing the past is never even hinted at in the story itself.

            Worth noting is that such things are pretty common in Harry Potter since prophecies are a thing and it seems the act of making the prophecy changes how events occur. After all, Harry Potter himself comes about as a consequence of a prophecy. I feel that J.K. really enjoys this particular view of causality.

            Also worth noting that I am not particularly interested in arguing various merits of fictional time travel types. I was just noting that a stable time loop’s very inclusion pushes this particular method of time travel towards the paradox free-ish type (of the variety that can’t actually alter the future and only modifies the traveler’s perspective) most often seen in fiction. If a multiverse was possible, it would be the far more likely outcome then the incredibly specific creation of a time loop. I was just saying that the Cursed Child is dumb.

            Short Answer: The existence of a time loop normal means the past, present, and future occur at the same time and the only thing that changes is the traveler’s perspective. While not always true (looking at you Doctor Who), this holds in most fiction.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              The end of eternity by Asimov has a stable time loop that gets changed because those from the future decide to alter the past.So no,the existence of time loops does not mean that the past cannot be changed,it only means that time loops are possible.

              As for prophecies,even in harry potter they are the useless kind that can be interpreted any way you want.

              • topazwolf says:

                I’m not going to talk about science of casuality. I’m merely going to state that thematically the butterfly effect and time loops are on opposite ends of the spectrum to get back to the original point that the fanfic the Cursed Child is at odds with the original Harry Potter story. Thus it is bad in more ways than are acceptable.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  But they arent.Butterfly effects can cause time loops,and time loops can incorporate butterfly effects in them.If any of the professors said “you can never change time”,then it wouldve been firmly established.And again,fate doesnt count because of the conveniently nebulous prophecies.

  32. Nimas says:

    Sooo I’m late to the comment section, but I’m pretty sure that this was the post that Mumbles was referring to.

    It really is an interesting thought about the Harry Potter universe.

    Note, I love the earlier Harry Potter books where it’s more about school which J. K Rowling was quite good at writing (Book 2 was the best when she’d found her feet after the fairly amateurishly written but *highly* imaginatively done first book) but dropped the series when it turned into a much more conventional fantasy story, which is *not* Rowling’s strong suit.

  33. Wolf says:

    I recently reset my phone and noticed that the diecast RSS feed only contains the 11 newest episodes. I had some older episodes on the backburner because of story spoilers (I even wrote down the numbers on a piece of paper like a caveman) and I seem unable to get them from the feed.

    Is there a more complete feed or archive page in the feed that I could point my app at to get these old episodes into it?

  34. Kyte says:

    Just FYI HR had already established augmentation as a permanent thing. One of the steps is installing a chip in your brain to let you control your robot arm. Even if you remove all the robot parts, you’ll still have the brain chip that is the source of the entire debacle. Becoming augmented is a one-way road.

    The whole conspiracy plot of HR was about getting a malicious firmware update to your brain chip, which, incidentally, Pritchard said he wouldn’t be installing it before running further diagnostics, explaining why Sarif, Pritchard and Malik aren’t affected. You can get affected though, the same malware that Darrow exploited was the one that Zhao Yun Ru used to turn off your augs (which, if you fell for the trap, would get fixed by Megan later on, explaining why it doesn’t affect you that second time).

  35. Regan says:

    I love how little Campster know about rest of the world but acts like he know everthing.

    He think that Russia invading Ukraine in 2016 would be something unreal but from 2014 in Ukraine is civil war in which Russia delivered arms and soldiers to rebels.

    And how ridiculous would be neonazist and comunist iconografy in eastern europe
    but in reality there are plenty nationalist ideas and symbols in post soviet countries.
    In Slovakia neonazist party is in parliament, UK is living EU and in many europe countries is increasing support for nationalism.

    I love like DE:MD is in Czechia but all time Campster thinks about it in American
    criterias and ideaology. I curious if even Campster were in Europe or everthing he thinks is vision of Europe through tv and the internet. And if Campster know anything about Czech Republik and Eastern europe.

  36. byter says:

    To respond to some points brought up in the podcast about mankind divided…

    Josh brought up that one of the devs ‘doubled down’ on using the term aug lives matter… whilst you guys were quick to condemn it… I felt it was prudent to check it for myself. I think he’s referring to this twitter exchange: https://twitter.com/manveerheir/status/760839454642741248?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

    Actually reading the exchange I don’t see it as something to get over a tizzy about. He might not be cow towing voraciously enough for some but I don’t think this dev’s twitter exchange is extremely bone headed.

    He says that he ‘understands the current tensions’ that he recognizes the ‘unfortunate coincidence for sure’. But he also seems to be firmly set on the claim that AugLM was coined ‘before’ BLM and that therefore it had nothing to do with it. So basically he is aware of the issues but he was also firm with the truth about the past…

    The next point that Mumbles brought up was that the team was probably a bunch of white dudes, that minorities could’ve done a much better job…

    Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    To give some intellectual charity, I would suggest this point might have some waters in regards to the writing staff possibly writing from personal experience. However, the oppressions depicted in the game seem a fair call from anything experienced in Montreal, ‘even’ to the minority groups there.

    With that being the case. Ugh… I don’t think that we should be so quick to jump to the possible lack of melanin in the skin of the writing team.

    Papers please, 1984 and probably many other oppression-type stories have been written by white people… :/

    Historically white people have had plenty of oppression and hardship as well…. it’s not, and has not always been a utopia in the west… :/

    I hope my opinion isn’t too political.. but basically I wish for:
    “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
    The new Dues Ex games have always been 50/50 with their writing quality. This was a problem before, when the narrative wasn’t even about race. So can we please stop trying to stick these problems to whitey… :/

    To bring this full circle.. the dev in that twitter exchange was an ethnic minority and he too was fairly sick of the race-baiting… so can we please stop calling the minorities and majorities as insensitive to the minorities when this is an issue of poor writing and direction that probably has little to nothing to do with race?

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