Diecast #178: Ubisoft, Nintendo 3DS, Pokemon

By Shamus
on Nov 28, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

128 comments

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Hosts: Josh, Shamus, Campster, Mumbles. Episode edited by Rachel.

Like I said on the show: I’m going to be travelling during the second week in December. I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to keep up with comments, or if I’ll be able to queue up enough content to get us through.

Also, things may be disrupted a bit this week because I’m moving my home office.

My daughter Rachel moved out in early 2016. We left her room empty for a while, just in case she boomerang’d. But it’s been over half a year and she’s living stable, so I think she’s out for good. So we moved my son Issac into her room, and I’m taking Issac’s old room. This is a pretty big step for me. For two years I’ve been running this site from my living room where I’m constantly distracted by the television, guests, stuff going on in the kitchen, people playing music, people chattering on the phone, and a dozen other living-room things. But now I’m going to have my own room with a door.

That’s all good for the long-term, but in the short term it means tearing apart this gigantic command center of equipment and re-assembling it in another room. I know that’s bound to disrupt things around here, so please be patient if I’m worse than usual at moderating comments and answering emails.

Show notes:
0:00:33: Tablet Computer Q&A
I’m looking for a machine that can let me create content and admin this site. At the same time, we really don’t have a lot of money right now, since we’re spending it on the trip.

On the show I said we were looking at a Surface 2 Pro. I was wrong. The model my wife suggested is the Microsoft Surface, which is currently under $150 and comes with a keyboard. (Compare to Surface 2, which is around double that without the keyboard.) The other wrinkle is that after the trip, I won’t really have use for either device. But if we get the Surface, my wife could use it for digital art. So Chromebook is cheaper but useless once the trip is over, while Surface is more expensive but potentially will continue to be useful after the trip. The best way I can think of to make this decision is to gather as much information as possible before choosing.

So, anyone have any general advice for these devices? Things to watch out for? Have you used a Surface, or a Chromebook? Sure, I can read random reviews, but I find our discussions here to be a lot more useful.

0:09:36: Ubisoft exec says Vivendi takeover could “Damage culture of innovation.”

I talked (snarked) about this on Twitter, and the response I got from a lot of people was “What about Child of Light and Valiant Hearts!?” as if I was being unfair.

Sure, once every few years Ubi puts out something experimental and different. But the vast bulk of their resources go into making a bunch of games that feel very similar and feel like design by focus group rather than having any sort of creative spark. It’s not that they never do anything interesting, it’s that claiming to have a “culture of innovation” is like saying that Batman has a “mirthful personality” because he’s gotten nailed by the Joker’s laughing gas a couple of times.

0:25:38: Josh and the 3DS

0:42:55: Pokemon Sun & Moon

Having never played a Pokemon game, it’s amazing to me just how impenetrable this stuff gets. I think this is a good thing. It irritates me when people are dismissive towards Pokemon because the premise (capture animals and train them to fight) is simple. Mechanically, I’d say this game sounds pretty deep.

0:57:57: Physical Sales are down.

Stipulated: Discussing boxed sales and ignoring digital sales doesn’t paint a full picture of events. Having said that, this does make for an interesting collection of headlines:

Top 10 UK Sales Chart: Watch Dogs 2 Sales Down 80%
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Sales Fall 48% Compared to Black Ops 3
The Less Obvious Reason ‘Titanfall 2’ Might Be Failing
Call of Duty holds No.1 as Watch Dogs 2 launch sales fall 80% over the original

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Footnotes:


A Hundred!20827 comments. Suck it, base ten!

From the Archives:

  1. Raunomies says:

    Chromebook/laptop/surface contender: Asus Transformer Book T100HA or newer models.

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/Asus-Transformer-Book-T100HA-Convertible-Review.151966.0.html

    Full Windows 10, touchscreen, 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD and Atom that runs Netflix & other videos just fine. You can separate the saucer section and use it as a standalone tablet.

    Because it is in the same cost range as Chromebook but offers more (like windows desktop programs) I’d recommend this kind of hybrid machine instead of pure laptop or tablet.

    • Having sold a number of laptops, Chromebooks included, I’m going to agree that that’s definitely a better use of the money, entirely due to how lightweight the hardware in a Chromebook is.

      Light as freaking air, but it’s got less beef in the hardware than smartphones from several years ago.

    • Have they improved the casing over the last 5 years?
      I’ve previously owned an old Android Transformer book, and it became completely unusable due to ‘ghost screen’ (pointer moving around randomly) within about 18 months. Apparently there problems were caused by pressing too hard on the back while in tablet mode – something that a sturdier case would have alleviated.

      • Raunomies says:

        My brother has had this mentioned model for half a year so possible long-term problems have not yet surfaced. There was some ghost moving and clicking but it was caused by dirty contact surfaces between tablet and keyboard connector. Cleaning those remedied that.

        But casing is still not iPad level sturdy so some extra care is still needed imo.

  2. ehlijen says:

    I’ve been using a Surface NT and an asus Iconia windows 8.1 machine for a several years now.

    The Surface NT is easily sufficient for all my internet and pdf reading needs (it serves as my rulebook collection for tabletop RPG days). I don’t have the keyboard for it, so any serious work isn’t happening on it.

    The asus Iconia’s main strength is the extended battery life (keyboard has a whole second battery built in), and that the full Windows 8.1 OS allows for more flexibility in installing non MS programs, even some games (even a few very simple 3D games, which surprised me). It’s drawback is that it doesn’t have a full USB port in the tablet (only in the keyboard, the tablet has a micro USB port instead).

    These are very old tablets these days, so I’m not sure how helpful this is.

  3. Mr Compassionate says:

    Cool! Maybe now you can play all those games you couldn’t play in front of your family.

    • Christopher says:

      The Huniepop Spoiler Warning season is gonna be great.

      • shiroax says:

        You know, that seriously could be great for a short season. 2 hours, see the match 3, the unlocks, meet the girls, gtfo before any of the porn is unlocked. Bet Mumbles would love Audrey.

        On a related note, I wonder if I should revive my hobby of sending copies of it to people, now that it’s 75% off (alas, not 69 anymore) and had a price cut as well. Dunno who I could send it to.

        • Christopher says:

          I recommend Josh. The other cast members sometimes talk about their spouses. Josh basically only talks about Glitch(his brother?) and some dude who lives in… The Netherlands, I think? That sounds like a guy who can play porny match 3 games in his living room to me.

  4. One of the best things about Pokémon is that you can put in what you want and you’ll get the about the same amount. If you wanna just catch what you find interesting and play the game that way, you can, maybe with a little more difficulty.

    If you want to optimize the team you have with types and moves but not much else, you can do that as well. If you want to optimize every single facet of every single member of your team, you can do that and then go berserk when the next generation doesn’t let you import said team. XD

    • Cybron says:

      And if you want to catch them all and spend five hours in a Feebas fishing session and throw your 3ds against the wall when you find Magikarp #358 with no damn Feebas in sight, you can do that too!

      • Sgalacticplumber says:

        At that point isn’t it just better to say screw it and go online trading? Literally the first thing an intelligent, lucky, lazy person who catches one of the rare ones of the generation by pure chance should do first is start mating and trading off their stock to fill the dex or gain immediate access to competitive ready stuff depending on their priorities. It is literally the fastest way to accomplish whatever you want.

        • Generation 3, when Feebas was introduced, didn’t have online trading. It wasn’t until the release of FireRed/LeafGreen, which were part of that generation, that the games were capable of even WIRELESS trading, and that needed an accessory that only came with those two games when they were bought new and afaik was utterly useless outside of those two games and Emerald when IT was released.

          I don’t think they have compatibility with the DS’s wireless functions either…that’s when you realize why the Pal Park became a thing.

        • Cybron says:

          You can (and I definitely won’t have any reservations about doing so if I ever decide to do anything on the competitive side of things, as I’ve never enjoyed the breeding process required to optimize stuff). However, I’ve decided I want to fill in as much of the in-game dex (the list of stuff you can catch in just Sun and Moon) as possible through finding and catching things myself. I don’t think I’d get much out of just trading for rare stuff, even if I will have to trade for version exclusives and the like.

    • Christopher says:

      Can you not import your pokemon all the way from the first game to the last game anymore? Because I’ve got a handful of Ruby pokemon in Heart Gold still, I think.

      • Falterfire says:

        The only break point is 2nd gen (Gold/Silver/Crystal) to 3rd (Ruby/Sapphire). Any pokemon you have in a main-series entry from 3rd gen forwards (and a few spinoffs like Gale of Darkness and Colosseum) can be transferred through to X/Y, provided you have the right combination of games and systems.

        You can’t transfer to Pokemon Sun & Moon yet, but the key word there is yet. When Pokemon Bank compatibility is added in January, you’ll be able to move things from X/Y into Sun/Moon.

        (As an aside – I know at some point there were plans to allow the digital console versions of Red/Blue/Yellow to use Bank, but I don’t know if that was actually implemented or not)

        • Christopher says:

          Thanks! I wasn’t aware there was a break between the Game Boy and the GBA. I played those older games too, but it was all borrowed, while Ruby was the first I owned. So I vaguely thought that if I had those games, I could plug one into a GBA and somehow “leave” the pokemon on there and plug in a Ruby cartridge or something similar.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      If you want to optimize every single facet of every single member of your team, you can do that

      Can you really though? I mean you can do it, but you don’t get much out of the game if you do. It’s a very easy series, and not the sort with Final Fantasy-style super-tough optional bosses. The whole game pretty much rolls over and gives up as soon as you figure out “Hey, what if I didn’t split my XP six different ways?”

      • There’s some sort of Challenge Mode in Black 2/White 2 that apparently has every single Trainer at the strength of a Gym Leader, so it might be useful there, but otherwise that kind of thing is mostly for battling other humans or speedrunning, since not very many people are going to care about IVs and just a few more might care about EVs.

        Personally, if I didn’t already say it, I stick with just the movesets and typing, since that’s just before diminishing returns starts destroying everything the player holds dear.

      • Dromer says:

        There’s a postgame area called the Battle Tree (AKA Battle Tower for Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire) which puts your pokemon on a normalized level training field against a never ending list of trainers. After you start a 10 win streak or so the game will start optimizing teams specifically designed to exploit the weaknesses in your team. In addition they’re fully optimized so if you don’t go through the trouble of minmaxing your pokemon’s stats you’ll get demolished even with a type advantage.

        In older games (pre Platinum I think) the game would start outright cheating once you got to 60 or 70 wins where it would give pokemon impossible stats.

        • Fizban says:

          The challenge mode mentioned above is only available if you bought Black 2 or have someone who did IRL to unlock it on White 2 for you (and you need to beat the game first of course). As for the Battle Whatevers, I have a whole rant further down about their lovely grind so you can grind gameplay and terrible format.

          • Yeah, looked it up after I typed that. That’s really annoying since you have to either buy the right one or find someone who did to get an actual challenge out of the games. >:(

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              See, this is what makes these things so hard to wrap your head around when you’re not playing but just hearing about the games. I only occasionally hear some trivia and I have no idea which of the myriad editions it comes from.

            • Ringwraith says:

              You can only unlock it for yourself once you beat the game! Thereby making it useless for most of it!
              It was incredibly, and a shame, as it doesn’t make the usual trainers as hard as aforementioned, but it does kick the key characters into having having much stronger teams, including nasty combinations they know how to use.

      • Cybron says:

        That’s what multiplayer is for. The multiplayer for Pokemon is fascinatingly complex (though at times frustratingly random). However, the largest online multiplayer community uses a simulator to battle so you don’t really have to optimize a team in game to play it.

        That said, there’s always official Nintendo events.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Generation V, and also now VII (Sun/Moon) have scaling experience, so you gain less if you’re higher level than your foe, and more if lower.
        It makes a bit harder to just pile it into one.
        Although VI onwards made it so experience is never split between participants, and gave you the option to give the entire party a baseline of 50% of any experience.
        That does tend to break the game as you’re always earning ~250% the experience per battle.

  5. The original surface? The non-pro versions run sucky windows rt, so you won’t get any normal windows desktop software.

    The surface line is great, but it took a few tries for them to nail it. From what I recall the they were generally fairly underpowered for their displays until 3-4. (The current stuff is awesome, but super expensive)

    That said, they are all pretty good for drawing, and any of them will run the internet

    • Humanoid says:

      I impulse-bought a Surface 3 (runs full-fat Win10) about a year ago, when MS had a pricing error and sold the 128GB LTE version for the price of the 64GB wi-fi version. It’s a nice bit of kit, but has failed once (refusing to boot) and though the replacement is working fine, it repeatedly failed the Anniversary Edition update for some reason. So yeah, even the current model still has some kinks to work through.

      The other thing I guess is that it’s main purpose was to convince me that I actually don’t need a tablet PC in my life. I never feel the urge to pick it up when at home – anytime I need a PC outside my home office I’ll take my Thinkpad instead. The primary use for the Surface so far has been to keep myself occupied while in Doctors’ waiting rooms.

      Anyway, to bring this back to low-end purchasing advice, I’d recommend having a look at Notebookcheck’s recommendations. As the pricing data suggests, they’re a German-based site but most of the product advice is applicable worldwide and I consider them the most reputable source of reviews for any sort of portable computing device.

  6. On a different note than my other comments, I actually have the same DS Lite I’ve had since I was in high school in 2006/2007-ish, and outside of the FF4 remake looking like absolute ass on it, everything’s been pretty good…that’s including Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, which is about as good as a Kingdom Hearts game can get in graphics, combat, and not having cards as a mechanic in any way possible.

  7. Galad says:

    “Physical Claptrap that I chase my cat around with” – Stahp, STAHP, Mumblo, you can only be so cool before we have to start building you a shrine or something :P

    What’s a Diablo 2 battle chest and are there really a lot of people still playing D2 in 2016, and from the sound of it, even buying micro(macro?) transactions in it?

    • It’s something you can still find in some stores if you look, but there aren’t any RMTs in it since it’s about 15 years old.

      Also, the people playing it are the ones who got annoyed that D3 came out and wasn’t perfect.

      • Sgalacticplumber says:

        What? I thought those guys were playing Torchlight 2? The one that had more of the original talent on board and was more diablo than diablo 3…

      • JAB says:

        For me, Titan Quest and now Path of Exile scratch the D2 itch much more than Torchlight. Not quite sure why.

        • Syal says:

          Haven’t played Path of Exile, but Titan Quest has a much closer tone to Diablo than Torchlight does, and it also has boss fights that aren’t surrounded by infinity mooks. Torchlight is a much more cartoony game with lots and lots of enemies. I played a ranged character my first time through Torchlight 2; there came a point where I couldn’t move my character because there wasn’t a single panel that didn’t have an enemy on it. Very different tones.

          Also Titan Quest has inventory Tetris which adds to a somewhat oppressive atmosphere, while Torchlight made everything take up a single space to add to the arcadey atmosphere. Also I think the clicking is a bit smoother in Titan Quest? Maybe there’s just less stuff for enemies to get behind, or maybe it’s just slower-paced and the extra time makes it feel smoother.

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            Nowadays I tend to play the genre co-op with a friend, we’re actually going through Titan Quest now, due to the re-release and we found TQ rather dry. That said I do have high hopes for Grim Dawn (got it from Humble Monthly, played about 2 hours, waiting for the friend to get it) which seems more atmospheric.

    • baseless_research says:

      I don’t get it. Claptrap’s an obnoxious piece of garbage, why would you want a nagging asshole as house decoration?

  8. Twisted_Ellipses says:

    “What about Child of Light and Iron Hearts!?”

    Sorry to be that guy, but I think you meant to write ‘Valiant Hearts’. There isn’t a game called ‘Iron Hearts’ but you might’ve been confusing and conflating it with the Paradox game ‘Hearts of Iron’…

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    What do [Ubisoft] possibly have? Like you’ve pointed out, they’re really set in their ways, is it like, Vivendi was like, “You know what? I really want a company that just turns out cookie-cutter open world games.”

    Almost certainly. Vivendi is buying Ubisoft as an investment, investors want safety and consistent returns, and I can’t think of a studio that outperforms Ubisoft at profiting off playing it safe. Ubisoft might not be terribly popular with gamers, but they make money.

    • Henson says:

      Well, if they make money, I’d say that’s a pretty good indication that they’re popular with gamers. Maybe not as much with the type of audience you find here, but we really don’t make up a huge chunk of the gaming market.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        To some extent yes, but it’s not like there’s a one to one correlation of popularity and sales. People like games which happen to be made by EA, but across the entire internet, it has been a decade since I heard anyone anywhere suggest that they liked EA. They were still making piles of money when they were named Worst Company in America two years in a row.

        • Henson says:

          True, but I wonder how much of this perception is skewed by our own viewpoint. All the people I talk with online know about Ubisoft’s tendencies, but do a majority of consumers frequent those same online gaming sites? My guess is that the average gamer/consumer likes Ubisoft games, but doesn’t pay much attention to who’s making them, perhaps not even aware of Ubisoft’s reputation; they are looking at ‘the next Far Cry game’ or ‘the next Assassin’s Creed game’.

          In the case of EA, I’d argue that they still make money because their reputation is as a publisher, and people can still purchase the games they publish based on the reputation of the developer that EA will inevitably grind to dust.

  10. Christopher says:

    Pokemon truly is phenomenal. I played several of those games with no idea, basically just choosing whatever I wanted and going through the story. Then, after I did that once with Ruby, I happened to find an online pokemon site(Serebii.net?) which talked about EVs(how to defeat specific pokemon to raise a specific stat upon leveling up), IVs(The inherent strength of the stats a pokemon is born with), how a bred pokemon inherits different things(personality traits, moves) from its different parents, how personality traits affect the pokemon’s stats(you want it to raise a stat they use and lower one they don’t need) and all sorts of stuff like that. So I restarted Ruby and spent hundreds of hours breeding and capturing all the pokemon. Even with no opponents to fight(Pokemon might be deep, but that didn’t mean there was a big community of local people to play with) it was a lot of fun. They change up stuff for every game. I haven’t played one since Heart Gold, but I can only assume they have gotten even better with it and ironed out the wrinkles.

    Takes a certain something to be both accessible and deep. It’s the same thing which enabled Smash Bros. Melee to be both the Gamecube’s biggest hit(I think that’s the case) and also a popular fighting game at EVO over a decade after it came out. Shamus might think just the regular stuff sounds difficult(HMs and TMs), but in the games that’s all explained simply.

    The Pokemon hype is realer this year than it’s been for a loong time. I wonder if it’s all Pokemon Go’s fault.

    • Fizban says:

      What bothers me is how they’ve mostly abandoned trainer battles. You fight trainers and get money, but they aren’t battles. Back in the day you’d have to fight your way through more than a dozen trainers on almost every road, each with a team of 3+ pokemon (out of 6 maximum). Now it’s rare for a trainer to even have 2, while most throw only a single pokemon. While the player will have a full team of six, most likely overleveled unless they’ve been switching out every time they catch something.

      And that’s not even counting Pokemon Stadium. Josh referred to it as more of an extension last week (haven’t listed to this week’s yet), but stadium wasn’t just a few extra battles. It was a massive series of tournaments using a different battle style (choose 3 of 6 for each round vs 3 of their 6, best two out of three to beat an opponent) that made rematches against the same opponents different. Each tournament had a progression from weaksauce to themed teams to cheating bastards, with different team loadouts for literally every single fight in the game. That’s what, two cups times eight opponents times four tiers plus two more cups times eight opponents plus eight gyms times four opponents plus elite four plus rival, that’s 112 different fights. And once you clear everything it starts over in hard mode with entirely new teams, so 224 different fights. Oh, and they made rental versions of every pokemon in the game for each level bracket. And Stadium 2 had a ridiculously detailed optional training mode that actually taught you all the advanced techniques with notes, a quiz, and a practical battle test for eight different “lecutures.” Playing a pokemon game normally, you can only get certain pokemon after certain points in the game, you can never go back and just replay everything, you have to catch and raise everything yourself. Pokemon Stadium let you experience so much more it’s not even a comparison, without so much as a minute of grinding.

      Compare to today’s main games, where even the elite four don’t have full teams anymore (IIRC). And oh, they have in-game “tournaments” and Battle Whatevers for after you beat the elite four, but they’re garbage. Instead of picking 3 for each fight, you pick 3 and you’re stuck with them for the entire run, starting with the same guy every single battle. No best two out of three or continues, a single loss and you’re out. You fight 8 or 16 or more battles straight in a row with the same short team against randomly chosen foes that are perfectly optimized in ways you’d have to grind for days to match, in order to win a tiny number of grind points you can use to optimize your team so you can. . . keep fighting grind matches. It’s the most insulting bastardization imaginable, making it clear that someone’s willing to write up lists of enemy trainers, but apparently they can’t be bothered to put them in an actual game.

      And now we come to Sun and Moon, where they’ve moved the focus towards wild pokemon, which actually does something to cover the fact that the trainer battles have become superfluous. Wild pokemon can gang up on you in a way that trainers didn’t and makes catching them pretty annoying sometimes, and the island challenge setup of fighting “wild” pokemon means the game feels coherent again.

      Oh, and early xp share’s been around for a while. Scaled xp (more if you’re below enemy level, less if you’re overleveled) too, and when you switch train your pokemon, it doesn’t split the xp between them: both participants get full xp. So it’s been ridiculously easy to level up for the last few games, meaning the player’s full team is the same level as all those single ‘mon trainers, making it even more obvious.

      • Christopher says:

        I didn’t get as much into them as you, but I remember Pokemon Stadium being much harder than the main games too. You’re forced to fight an opponent with the same number of pokemon, on the same level as you, and without being able to decide your pokemon’s moves unless you’re importing. The final gym leader fights in particular I remember as harrowing because of that. And the electric guy had a Raichu with surf, which was a colossal pain.

        I don’t think the main games have gotten particularly.. well, I obviously can’t speak for any after Pearl/Heart Gold. But the Elite Four in the original Red/Blue only had five Pokemon each. The gym leaders gradually got more, starting out at a mere two and going up to five for Giovanni. I don’t think there’s any question that the battle-focused Stadium games have harder fights(in a sense) than the main games, but I don’t think the main games themselves have gotten that much easier in the fight department. Champion Cynthia in particular was a minor nightmare for me in Pearl, and they had starting giving the pokemon TMs specifically to cover their weaknesses, hitting me for a Super Effective whenever I switched in a superior type, like that Stadium Raichu. I’m not sure if that’s less hard than fighting a Psychic type back before Special Attack and Special Defense were split, though. The “dungeons” in the first generation in particular also felt much harder than in Pearl. I actually can’t remember a single Pearl dungeon. I can remember being beaten quite a bit in the earlier ones.

        I had no idea wild pokemon could gang up on you. Is this an evolution of the battles with two pokemon against each other? I think it was only for specific trainer fights before.

        • Fizban says:

          I guess the elite four was a bad example, but having every other trainer in the game on one or two pokemon is the main problem.

          Ganging up is new for Sun/Moon, directly tying in with the replacement of gyms with island challenges, and it has nothing to do with double battles. Not all of them do it, but most will start calling for help as a free action at the end of every round once they’ve taken some damage. Help may or may not show up, but if they do you don’t get to send out a second pokemon, you just get ganged up on. It makes debuffers and disruptors much more dangerous, since right before you finish them a bruiser could show up and force you to switch, and if you’ve got type disadvantages they’ll snowball fast. Josh mentioned having a ton of bugs: I do as well, tons of new bugs to play with, and then you try to train in an area with birds and you’re dead. As for double battles, funny how my pokemon all have these neat double battle moves when there’s been all of two, maybe three double battles so far, against pushovers with only a single mon each.

          There’s also a 4-way Battle Royale thing, but it doesn’t scale up your pokemon so you can’t fight until your pokemon are level 50 or close enough. So of course they send you over there when you’re level 20 and give you a demo fight that’s not representative of that at all.

          Anyway, getting double teamed on your boss fights makes it a lot harder, which is good, but if your team doesn’t match up you’re forced to go make a new team that is allowed to win, which is bad. The main benefit I find is that focusing on these gang up fights, both random and bosses, means that you’re preparing for gang fights rather than trainer battles, so the fact that none of the trainers actually put up a fight doesn’t matter. If we can’t have trainers worth fighting, at least now the wild pokemon can cheat themselves into putting up a fight.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Except wild pokémon calling for help, randomly, and as a free action, is terrible for general use.
            Especially as you cannot try and catch anything that has backup.
            Therefore unless you can inflict one of the two specific status ailments that prevent things from crying for help, catching random things can be an awful slog.

            It’s got some use for advanced users, but there’s even an item that specifically triggers it far more frequently, so it’s baffling it’s so common normally. I’ve had cases where they call for help in response to my first action being switching pokémon. It’s very badly implemented.

            • Fizban says:

              I agree that it’s not well implemented, very arbitrary and rule breaking compared to the rest of the series, which has always kept things pretty fair. But I still take it as an improvement in the sense that it’s a new problem to work out rather than just the mushy trainer battles.

    • shiroax says:

      Interesting how opposite it was for me. I played Sapphire and Leaf once and liked it, and then I found out there are hidden stats, STABs and all this other hidden nonsense and I now I never want to play it again.

      • STAB is actually fairly low-level compared to things like personality traits and IVs/EVs. :P

      • Christopher says:

        Are you the same way with, I don’t know, character action games? I don’t many any more advanced manouvers in Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising than Pirate Warriors 3 myself, but I appreciate the depth and really feel it if a game is just mashing. Finding out Pokemon had so many extra layers was a cool way of making that gameplay experience really fun in a new way.

        I feel you if you just don’t want to deal with all the micromanagement, though. At the time, I was 13 and mostly at home during a summer vacation. I had all the time in the world to just grind out interesting new attacks. Don’t know if I would bother becoming a Pokemon Breeder again. But I don’t mind a deep game that’s not too good at surfacing it’s deeper mechanics as long as the first experience is still great.

      • Fizban says:

        The hidden stats are quite annoying, I agree.* You can ignore them and do just fine, but once you know you can’t unlearn it. X/Y and Alpha/Omega finally acknowledged it fully in the open by giving you the Super Training set of minigames. You could look at the previously hidden EV totals for each of your pokemon, and play touchscreen minigames to boost them. Once you learned the minigames it’d take about 45 min- 1 1/2 hours to grind anew pokemon to maximum stats in exactly the areas you wanted for peace on mind on the optimization front. I haven’t seen anything like that in Moon so far though, so I’m guessing that like almost all good ideas they ditched it immediately but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised (not looking it up because surprises).

        *Though STAB hardly counts, it’s intuitive and has been taught by the game itself for ages now. I’ve run into no less than three (three!) NPCs in Moon who’ve told me about STAB. And they’re even tracking type matchups for you now, so from the second battle onwards against any given foe it just tells you how effective your moves on on the move select screen.

        • Cybron says:

          EV training in SM is more annoying than the previous iteration. If you don’t want to do it the old fashioned way you have to use EV lowering and raising foods from the Festival Plaza, which requires engaging with the headache that is the Festival Plaza. The old EV lowering berries still exist as well. Way less easy than the Super Training stuff IMO.

          The big advance this time is “Hyper Training” which allows you to train IVs.

          • Fizban says:

            I heard about the hyper training, and I care so little that I am once again insulted. It only applies to level 100 pokemon, which are completely unnecessary and I don’t even know how you’re supposed to grind that high with scaled xp. Someone was saying it’ll seriously bridge the gap between casual players and tournament players, and that someone was clearly a tournament player who doesn’t understand that a casual player does not grind to 100 or care about IVs. Super training your EVs was actually useful for optimizing a team to play the actual game with, hyper training IVs is just more post-game perfection nonsense. Instead of doing the breeding grind to get good IVs, you level grind to get good IVs, in order to. . . play the Battle Grinder or tournaments against tournament players.

            We’re just a step or two away from the AAA multiplayer game with a training mode campaign tacked on, if not there already.

  11. tmtvl says:

    I’ve had really good experiences with a Chromebook and bad experiences with Windows laptops.

    Of course the big thing is that if you go with a Chromebook, you can just set it aside when you’re back, pick it back up when/if you ever go traveling again, and it won’t bother you with a bunch of updates which can wreck the thing (like what happened with your main machine).

    • Paul Spooner says:

      I, too, have had great experience with a Chromebook. If you want a machine that you can use to write anywhere, or for the kids (or, you) to watch you-tube, or do any web-related tasks, I can’t recommend it enough.
      Here’s the killer for me, the battery on mine lasts for 10 hours (brand new). Sure the hardware isn’t all fancy and flashy, but that’s what your desk machine is for. Plus you can just shut the lid and it hibernates for a week or more. Mine is five years old and the battery still lasts about 6 hours of operation. When you want to work while traveling, battery life is king.

      • Shamus says:

        I was really leaning towards Chromebook, until I saw the prices. They seem really steep. $300? $400? That’s basically the price of a surface, which does all of that, plus it can run Windows stuff.

        Admittedly: I’m comparing apples and oranges here, because I’m comparing the now-Chromebooks with OLD Surface machines. But there aren’t any old Chromebooks for sale where I looked. So maybe the problem is that there just aren’t many old CB’s out there. I dunno.

        For the curious: We went with the original Surface and got it for just over $100. (Price was REALLY important this time around.)

        • Paul Spooner says:

          It’s possible there aren’t many old chromebooks… also possible that they have the apartment in NY problem, that no one gets rid of them.
          If you really just want something for this one trip, I’ll lend you mine, and you don’t have to buy anything.
          Yeah, like I said, I’ve been out of the market for a while now, and looking at the new prices, they are much more expensive than some alternatives. I wonder how much the Surface is subsidized by Microsoft to keep people on the Windows platform. Hopefully you don’t have any OS related troubles.

        • CraigM says:

          Well good for you then. I’ve got an original gen Surface Pro, and I love the thing. Wonderful piece of hardware for what I wanted, and even a decently capable gaming machine*

          There is lots of little things on the system to learn, but for what you want it should be quite useful. Now I can’t speak to the drawing capabilities personally, though I know that Gabe over at Penny Arcade gushed when he first got one, I use it for web browsing, light gaming, some coding, and e-book reading.

          And Netflix, because my wife would rather watch home makeover shows than The Clone Wars.

          *I am firmly a strategy, and mainly turn based strategy/ Paradox Grand Strategy gamer. So not one for super graphics card intensive games anyhow

        • tmtvl says:

          The downside of not having the same community to fall back on I guess. Still, good on you to invest in keeping the site running.

  12. Micamo says:

    To be fair to the 3DS hardware, the ghosting on virtual console games is actually a shader that Nintendo added to the emulator for who the hell knows what reason. If you hack your 3DS so you can install homebrew software, you can install patched versions of these VC games that removes the ghost effect.

    • Christopher says:

      Is it similar to the Wii U’s emulator? I was pretty surprised by the NES mini comparison.

      • Echo Tango says:

        It’s pretty crappy that the official Nintendo emulators don’t just offer every possible combination of retro filters, switchable in the options menu. Scanlines like an old TV. Wrong aspect ratio like a TV from country X played in country Y. Colors wrong. Colors right. Pixel-perfect. Whatever you want should be just one more checkmark. :S

  13. Christopher says:

    You just got a 3DS but you’re gonna wanna switch now.

    Josh doesn’t have time for puns.

    On a related note, I wondered if the quote Chris was going for was gonna be “Clever Nintendo”.

  14. Nick-B says:

    About physical tablets, what I am looking for is one that can display my PC screen wirelessly. Many times I want to curl up in my warm bed and watch a video I was in the middle of watching on my PC, but I either have to awkwardly lie in bed at an angle to watch my small monitor from across the room sideways, or stay in my chair.

    The Wii-U, strangely, is a pretty good version of what I want, except that it does not show my computer screen. It doesn’t have to be a strong computer, I just want a wireless touchscreen for my PC so I can click on links and type in URL’s. Is that so hard?

    • Echo Tango says:

      If you buy this app, you can mirror your screen. Looks like it’s made to go pretty much from any device to any other device, as long as you’ve got the app on all the devices. So, use whatever tablet you’ve already got, and just buy the software?

    • Humanoid says:

      Sometimes the old ways are better: instead of a small screen you either have to hold or awkwardly place somewhere near you, an entry level projector might be the ticket. Should come to a similar cost as a tablet, and you can probably get away without a screen until you decide to expand your setup down the line and have a home theatre quality arrangement in your room.

  15. John says:

    I threw out most of my actual game boxes a long time ago. I only had a small collection to begin with and I needed the shelf space for books. The last PC game I bought that came with an actual cardboard box was probably . . . hm, let’s see . . . yes, Knights of the Old Republic. Wait, no, I bought a boxed copy of some Neverwinter Nights premium modules sometime after that. Since then the relatively small number of physical PC game purchases I’ve made have all been CD-case or DVD-case versions.

    I don’t miss boxes all that much. No, what I miss are proper manuals. The manual for Alpha Centauri is a glorious, real, and proper 247-page paperback book. The game also came with a glossy, full-color poster showing the technology tree. (I have just unfolded the poster for the first time in over a decade and I see that the tech tree is really more of a tech pyramid. Huh.) I tried to find a manual for Crusader Kings II just now–because if ever a game could use a manual Crusader Kings II is it–and Steam took me to a blank white screen and didn’t even have the decency to give me a “File Not Found” message. (I am aware that there probably isn’t a manual–or at least not an up to date manual–for Crusader Kings II what with all the patches and DLC over the years.)

    • TMC_Sherpa says:

      Yup. I miss printed tech trees and paper maps so much.

      Heck, it’s why I got in on Rogue System early. One of the original buy levels was for a boxed version with a paper flight manual for the ships. The irony is I’ve spent more time writing my own documentation for the game than playing the bits that currently exist.

    • Philadelphus says:

      I tried to find a manual for Crusader Kings II just now…

      Here you go (first result on Google for “ck ii manual”), though what you really want for a Paradox game is the wiki, given that CK II is over four years old now and the wiki updates to keep on top of the many changes and improvements.

      Changing gears, on the subject of boxed games and physical media, you would probably have to pay me to take one now. I managed to be simultaneously vaguely aware of Steam and not really knowledgeable about its capabilities until 2011, at which point I got an account (for Portal 2) and quickly realized:

      • I no longer need to keep old physical boxes, disks, and manuals around cluttering up space (I have too many things as it is), nor do I need to worry about misplacing or losing things in moves. My game collection has easily grown in size ten times, at least partly because they don’t take up physical space now.
      • When getting a new computer or installing a new operating system I no longer need to laboriously go through all my old CDs and manually reinstall everything (especially tedious for games with multiple disks), I can just queue up what I want to install on Steam, leave it on overnight or while I’m doing other things, and find it there for me a few hours later.
      • Many games nowadays are “living” programs, growing, changing, and getting patched multiple times (especially the Paradox grand strategy games I love now), instead of the largely single-release, static games of old, which makes manuals go out of date over time. Wikis, in contrast, can grow and change with the game, and hyperlinks conveniently allow you to follow the trail of what you’re trying to learn about.

      So all in all, I’m much happier with the way things are now. (I’ll admit that this is all predicated on having a good Internet connection; I can understand antipathy for Steam and cloud-based storage due to bad connectivity.)

      • Echo Tango says:

        Even for the games that are finished when they’re shipped (plus or minus a major patch or two), I think you get most of the benefits of physical copies by just having DRM-free digital copies. Mainly, the ability to play the game regardless of what happens to the company in the future. You can stick it in a fire-proof safe, make backups, or even just throw it on a shelf, and know that you don’t have to worry about the DRM servers going down. Also, you don’t need an internet connection, so if you don’t have reliable internet, or want to play at the lake/uncle’s farm/grandma’s house, you can do so without hassle.

        • Philadelphus says:

          In the event that I ever lose access to a game due to DRM, you have my complete and full permission to point and laugh and say “I told you so!” :)

          I’m lucky, I suppose, in that my tastes don’t run to games that need any DRM other than Steam’s own (and several I own, such as all Paradox games, are completely DRM-free).

          “But what if Valve goes under,” is the usual response I hear, “what then, smart guy?”
          I mean, sure, there’s always a chance of that happening. In the very long run the chance approaches 1, I suppose. But how low does the chance of it happening in my lifetime have to be before it becomes an acceptable risk? Sure, Valve could go out of business tomorrow for a variety of reasons, but I find the chance low enough that I’m willing to bank on it.

          (I’ve also heard, on The Internet™ so take it with as large a grain of salt as you like, that Valve have a “Doomsday” patch prepared in the event they are forced to shut down suddenly which would remove the Steam DRM from all games sold on Steam. I have no clue as to the truth of this [though it does sound like Valve], but I consider the probability of them going under low enough that I don’t really care either way.)

          Although I will concede the point about Internet (seeing as we don’t have globally-available affordable high-sped access [yet!]). That’s the one sticking point at this time, though after making the evaluation it effects me infrequently enough that I’m still willing to go with it (given that I have reliable, pretty fast Internet where I’m at, and since I’m lucky to see any of my relatives more than once or twice a year due to distance I can only imagine the tongue-lashing I’d get for playing games rather than interacting with family during my limited time visiting with them :).

          • Ahiya says:

            Actually, the possibility of Steam shutting down in your lifetime is pretty high.

            For one thing, take a look at the history of music and ebook sellers, for example. We’ve had several major shutdowns already. It’s part of why piracy and breaking DRM is so prevalent with ebooks and music, people learned not to trust the services the hard way.

            Leaving aside the specific history of downloaded digital goods, the wider history of business suggests that even wildly successful companies often don’t last more than a generation.

            On the technology side, internet caps are becoming more and more prevalent while video game sizes are becoming larger and larger. Unless these trends reverse, downloading games is going to become less feasible.

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            The problem with the “doomsday patch”, which far as I know has been mentioned by Valve, though non-commitally, is that there is more in play than just Valve’s goodwill or lack thereof. I obviously haven’t seen their contracts but I suspect developers and publishers who rely on Steam for their DRM might have something to say about it being removed wholesale.

      • John says:

        Thank you for the link, but I don’t actually need a Crusader Kings II manual right now. (According to Steam, I’ve sunk over a hundred hours into the game already.) My point was that in Ye Goode Olde Days of Wine and Boxes a game like Crusader Kings II would have come with a manual. People would have been outraged–and justly so!–if it hadn’t. I was simply curious to see if Steam, the closest thing I have to a box in this, the Glorious Post-Box Future, offered a manual as well. It turns out it doesn’t. Whether that’s Valve’s fault for screwing up the link or Paradox’s fault for not providing Valve with something to link to I couldn’t say.

        For the record, I do not believe that game developers have a moral obligation to produce and provide manuals for their customers. Modern games tend to teach the player how to play–some more elegantly than others, it must be said–so that manuals are less crucial than they used to be. But manuals are still quite useful, especially for relatively complex games–grand strategy games, for example–and I still think that they are in general a good idea.

        • Matt Downie says:

          I just clicked on CK2 in my Steam library, then clicked on Manual (half way down the Links on the right-hand side) and it came up fine.

          Though personally I see a manual as being worthless nowadays. Anything that you can put in a manual, you can put in a help popup in the game.

    • Humanoid says:

      WoW expansions still come in cardboard boxes, but yeah, besides that it’s mostly Kickstarter games and Collector’s Editions (if we count those, then my most recent is Civ6 which arrived yesterday).

  16. Syal says:

    I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to keep up with comments,

    WOOOOO, Politics and Religion Week!

    SPRING BREEEAAAAKK!!!

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,so sun plays on your regular clock,and moon plays on an inverted one.Mumbles,you want to play at night when you are playing at night,so your solution is to buy moon and fiddle with the clock on your console instead of buying sun?

  18. Joey245 says:

    I agree with Chris about the 3DS – it has an amazing game library, and being able to play console-level games on the go is just astounding. I never would have thought I’d be playing Kingdom Hearts on a handheld, yet Dream Drop Distance is one of my favorites of the series. Agreed wholeheartedly.

  19. David says:

    Whereabouts in Texas are you going to be? If you’re in Austin, I might be down for a fan meetup (assuming there are others).

  20. baud001 says:

    For the Ubisoft/Vivendi situation:
    Even if you are right about Ubi’s “culture of innovation” (and I think you are), Vivendi has ruined the creative side of the company where I am working now, the Canal Plus Group (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canal%2B_Group#Canal.2B, mostly on the side of the television network who has lost all the interesting shows (petit & grand journal, guignols de l’info).
    I am mostly blaming Vivend’s boss Bolloré, which arrived in 2014 (which might explain why there was not the same problem with Activision Blizzard, whose stake disappeared in 2013).

  21. Retsam says:

    I was a pretty big Pokemon fan for a long time; but at this point I’m pretty burned out; this is the first main generation game that I just don’t think I’m going to buy. (At least not unless I can find it real cheap) I got about halfway through X&Y before just losing interest.

    The formula just hasn’t changed enough to be interesting, and a number of the later additions to the formula have ranged from “meh” to “bad”.

    As a tangent: it seems like the “Mons” genre is fairly dead, other than Pokemon. Particualrly outside of Japan. Which is a shame, because that’s always been one of my absolute favorite genres.

    There was like a golden age back around 1999-2002: Digimon World 1-3, the highest rated Monster Rancher games, Jade Cocoon 1&2, Gen 2 and Gen 3 of Pokemon, and (my favorite) the Dragon Quest Monsters Games.

    All of those series hit their high point in that era, (with the possible exception of Pokemon) and, other than Pokemon, the rest are either dead, or dead outside of Japan. (Though Digimon looks like it might be trying to come back: there’s a Digimon RPG has escaped Japan for the first time in 8 years this year) Nor have, as far as I can tell, any new contenders really entered the ring since then.

    I’m hoping the Kickstarter Era might make something happen.

    • Philadelphus says:

      The formula just hasn’t changed enough to be interesting, and a number of the later additions to the formula have ranged from “meh” to “bad”.

      While I’ve never owned a Pokémon game myself, I’ve played bits and pieces on friends’ devices, watched and read a few Let’s Play’s, that sort of thing, and I kinda feel the same way. It feels, paradoxically, like there’s too little innovation and too much. I was actually kinda mad about Mega Evolutions in X/Y; it felt like Game Freak wasn’t confident enough in making new ‘mons that people would like, so they went “You know all those ‘mons that people really liked from earlier games? Let’s give them new forms using some process that no-one has ever noticed before somehow despite the game’s plot itself making it obvious that it was in use thousands of years ago!” (And now there’s Sun/Moon, with it’s “Alolan” forms of various common 1st-gen ‘mons..)

      While I enjoy the mechanics of Pokémon a lot, I always felt kinda like the mechanics and in-game story were a bit at odds. Theoretically (at least in the early games?), you’re supposed to be a sort of junior research assistant, running around collecting data on species people haven’t seen before for the Poké-Prof, and yet everytime you catch something the Pokédex instantly fills out with a whole bunch of information about it, even Pokémon that’re supposed to be merely legends and myths.

      I think I’d really enjoy a mons-game that actually stuck with this as its theme: have it be about exploring a large open world, collecting data on actually never-before-seen species, or ones you’ve only heard about as rumors from a few farmers in an isolated village telling stories in the local tavern, that sort of thing. Make it so when you catch something you initially know little about it, and have to interact with it somehow to learn things about it’s behavior. Have an ecosystem that works and makes logical sense, though I admit that could be a difficult task (at least make it appear to work). It might even be cool to have a *low voice* procedural generation option that could be enabled to allow truly blind runs after the first time through.

      I guess I’m thinking something like No Man’s Sky + Pokémon, basically. Though 2D would be fine for me, it wouldn’t need to be 3D.

    • I tried the Digimon MMO not too long ago; it’s essentially the Shin Megami Tensei MMO with less quality of design.

    • Cybron says:

      I’d say it is well and alive in Japan. Youkai Watch is very popular. Outside of Japan, Sun and Moon is doing quite well and is easily the biggest shakeup to the formula in franchise history. No gyms, a huge emphasis on wild Pokemon battles and totem boss battles, dropped mega evolutions almost entirely, massively reworked expectations on what is catchable and when, etc.

      I get the burnout – I skipped 5th and 6th gen both on the basis that they looked too formulaic. But this gen feels a lot fresher to me. Of course, that could be because I haven’t played a Pokemon game since Pearl, so your mileage may vary.

    • tmtvl says:

      It’s weird considering Pokémon to be the same type of game as Monster Rancher, where Pokémon is more of a collect-a-thon (catchphrase here), while Monster Rancher is more like Black & White in that it’s more about raising your monster (kinda like the Cute Knight/Long Live The Queen/Princess Maker/… games).

      There apparently is a Monster Rancher game for Android, but I don’t do mobile gaming (except Go, but that’s different).

    • Austin says:

      I agree, and I’m kinda tired of Pokemon. But I’m gonna get it anyway.

  22. CaveTrollWithABeard says:

    Rachel moved out? Congratulations to her! I know moving out on your own for the first time is a scary thing, but I have to say, she couldn’t have asked for a set of parents who could better prepare her with all the basic knowledge building blocks that are needed to live live. Best of luck to her and your other children as they move into adulthood :)

  23. Hermocrates says:

    Mumbles was literally describing the Hollywood “blockbuster tentpole” style of releases, where mass-appeal blockbusters are released with the (at least partial) aim of funding the more risky artfilms/dramas, and I’m surprised no one else on the cast gave it any credit.

    Although the comparison only goes so far, if you compare how much Hollywood studios will advertise their dramas to how much Ubisoft advertises their indie games. It also doesn’t help that Hollywood studios will release these risky films with the hope of an Oscar, while nothing of that prestige exists for video games.

    • Christopher says:

      I wish there was an easier way to see which parts of Ubisoft develoepd which games. There are so many studios now, and it’s tough to tell who’s getting to do Child of Light and who’s stuck doing Watch_Dogs 2. For instance, apparently Ubisoft Casablanca, whom I have never ever heard of, helped develop Rayman Origins in some way and closed this year.

  24. Grimwear says:

    I apologize for this nonrelated comment but I don’t have twitter so in response to your tweet regarding Hitman they didn’t actually fix anything. You can play your unlocks in offline mode but you still can’t unlock anything in it. Meaning you’re still pretty much stuck being always online.

  25. Cilvre says:

    Shamus, having used a surface pro 2 for 2 years, I highly recommend it for your wife. It has hardware that is decently capable for some time if you can get the 8gb ram model. I recommend searching ebay, as I purchased mine with the docking station and a case for 350 on there. You can find good deals if you watch it for a day or two, especially now that black friday sales have completed and people may be selling their old unit. contact me on twitter if you want help finding direct links to ones that should be good for you all.

  26. I’ve been using chromebooks since shortly after they came out, and while I have just recently upgraded my mobile writing solution to a Macbook (entirely, if I’m being honest, because of how much better Scrivener is on Mac), I highly recommend chromebooks for a cheap mobile writing solution. There are a few stipulations though. Note that I have never shelled out for more than whatever the current cheapo $200 chromebook is.

    The main thing to remember is that the Chrome OS is literally the Chrome browser – no more, no less*. If you can do it in Chrome, you can do it on a Chromebook. If you can’t, c’est la vie. The benefit here, though, is that because of this setup, despite the incredibly low specs of the chromebook, it feels zippy and handles well – it’s a very streamlined OS. You’re not going to do well with thirty tabs open, but four or five is generally fine.

    For writing, your best bet is probably Google Docs, with all the good and bad that goes with it. Make sure you set it up for offline use ahead of time. It’s not super difficult, but syncing could take a while if you have any documents you want to be able to work on when offline, and if memory serves it’s not set up for offline use by default. This may have changed since I last had to set it up, or my memory might be hazy.

    Two other notes regarding the chromebook. First, it makes a surprisingly good Linux machine, with caveats (mainly that you do NOT want to run a heavy desktop environment like Unity on a $200 Chromebook, and most chromebooks have extremely limited hard drive space to put a Linux install on). Chrubuntu used to be good for this, but it went defunct a few years ago and is generally not worth the time now. I recommend Crouton or GalliumOS; Crouton runs Linux alongside Chrome OS simultaneously, switching back and forth with a keyboard command, which is possible because Chrome is running on Linux stuff in the background anyway; lots of people love this, and it’s pretty cool, but as of the last time I used it is had some serious compatibility issues caused by fiddly hardware support and Chrome using a stripped-down kernel.

    What I’m currently using is GalliumOS, a Ubuntu derivative designed specifically to work on chromebooks, and it’s been one of the least painful Linux experiences I’ve ever had – *especially* for a chromebook. Again, you won’t have a lot of hard drive space to work with, but Gallium is much lighter on the HD space than a traditional Ubuntu install, and you end up with enough space to play around with. Carefully. And don’t expect great things out of Wine on the machine.

    Finally, even though I have a fancy new writing solution, I still get a lot of use out of my Chromebook as an extra screen on my desk. It’s incredibly useful sometimes to have another screen I can use to do internet research on why some game is murdering hardware it has no excuse to be murdering on my main PC.

    TLDR: I love chromebooks, but you have to make sure you know what you’re getting into. I steer my tech-unsavvy friends and family away from them because they will invariably expect it to do something it can’t and then call me for help, but it does offer some real advantages in terms of usability & portability per dollar.

    *Google is in the process of making chromebooks able to run apps from the android store, which is theoretically a huge step forward in usefulness. It’s not rolled out to all machines yet, including my aging Acer C720, so I can’t speak to how well that’s going.

  27. Adam says:

    Hang on, at the end you said “water radiators are terrible”. But here in the UK *everyone* has them – even in brand new homes built today.

    I think I am missing something fundamental about how heating systems work around the world. Why did you say that? What is the problem with them?

    • Shamus says:

      I can’t speak for Josh, and I don’t know if the ones you’re using are like the ones I saw in the 70’s, but the usual gripes with them are:

      * Like a fireplace, it creates focused heat but doesn’t distribute it. This is fine in a very small room, but in something more comfortably sized you’ll end up with the problem of it being too hot on one side of the room and too cold on the other.
      * The pinging of the expanding / contracting metal can be annoying for some.
      * Small leaks can develop that gradually drip water and cause rot on the floorboards or carpet directly underneath, where you can’t see it.
      * It’s obtrusive, cutting into the room and taking up space in a way that a simple vent doesn’t.
      * They’re not terribly attractive.
      * You need one in every room.

      In a more modern HVAC setup, you just need one furnace, which sits in the basement where it won’t cause noise or take up living space, and it can heat the entire house evenly and invisibly. Plus, the same duct-work and fans can be used to distribute air conditioning in the summer.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Air conditioning is also pretty much not a Thing in the UK, only about 0.02% of houses have it, so it can’t piggyback off that system.

      • Nidokoenig says:

        Worth noting that UK ideas of “comfortably sized” are much smaller than American ones, since we have less landmass to work with. No room in my house struggles to be heated by a radiator, or even a cheap plug-in space heater. Also, we don’t do basements, generally, I gather for mostly geological and flooding related reasons, though our radiator water is heated from a small unit in the garage, so minor point.

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