Diecast #199: System Shock Kickstopped, Creeper World, Factorio

By Shamus Posted Monday Feb 26, 2018

Filed under: Diecast 97 comments

It’s been a while since we talked about programming around here. But this week Paul and I brush up against the topic.


Hosts: Shamus and Paul. Episode edited by Issac.
Show notes:
00:35 The System Shock Kickstarter debacle.

Here is the failure announcement from the team. Like I said in the show, I’ll be covering this in more detail tomorrow.

In our talk, I claimed “we never saw any gameplay”. Technically, they do show you hitting zombies with a wrench. They showed that in the original Kickstarter video in 2016, and we saw they finally got back to that point just before the project was canceled. So it would be more correct to say they didn’t make any progress on gameplay, or that we didn’t see any new gameplay.

Also a lot of what I said was conjecture.

21:18 Creeper World

Here is Creeper World 3 on Steam.

30:49 Having fun while playing Factorio with cheats.

This is the goal of the game. Just launch this rocket. It's super easy!
This is the goal of the game. Just launch this rocket. It's super easy!

For the record, I play with a mix of cheats and mods. I use the long reach mod to avoid having to walk into a nest of conveyor belts and grabber arms to reach the machine I want to interact with.

I really wish there was a mod that let you beautify your base. Trees, signage, that sort of thing. Usually by the time I’m done the thing is a square mile of pavement and electrical wires and it looks sort of depressing.

42:37 Hey You! Bob Case is going to be on the next Diecast. Send us some questions for him.

(Email in the header image.)

45:17 What happened to Project Frontier and Project Octree?

Here are the Unity tutorials I talked about. It’s probably the best overview of the process of starting with basic numbers and building up your own scenery. A shame they’re in video form.

I wish I had time for this sort of thing.

 


From The Archives:
 

97 thoughts on “Diecast #199: System Shock Kickstopped, Creeper World, Factorio

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I really wish there was a mod that let you beautify your base. Trees, signage, that sort of thing. Usually by the time I’m done the thing is a square mile of pavement and electrical wires and it looks sort of depressing.

    What kind of an engineer are you?Trees are the devils spawn and we should replace them all with glorious machinery!

    1. Tom says:

      Funny, I wish just the reverse – I wish the pollution caused by the machinery were more visible and specific, rather than just a generic red area on the minimap. Piles of slag should mound up around the smelters and need to be carried away (possibly with the option to be combined with stone into bricks for construction at the cost of more energy…). There should be acid rain killing grass and trees under clouds of smoke from burning coal, but not so much from oil and none from wood, and sludge from the refineries and chemical plants that must be stored or disposed of.

      The basic design I’d go for would be dumping solid or liquid waste (befouls the soil, kills trees & attracts alien aggression; solid can be cleared up later, but liquid soaks into the ground and does permanent damage that spreads radially the more you dump), storing it (at the cost of construction materials and needing more base area for the tanks), or capturing it in building materials (high energy cost). Waste gases could only be vented, so there’d some minimal level of pollution for certain technologies that cannot be avoided.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Im 100% with you.Screw the nature,lets have some dirty industrial fun!

    2. PPX14 says:

      Mechanist! Beware the coming of the Metal Age.

      1. Tom says:

        Good taste, that commenter!` :-)

    3. Echo Tango says:

      You could still make your base pretty without trees, if you used colors lights. Heck, the screenshot Shamus posted has lots of design going into it’s roads, with all three types of pavement being used to make it look nice. :)

    4. DGM says:

      Who let the dwarves from Order of the Stick in here? :P

  2. Infinitron says:

    Some comments from the System Shock Remake Kickstarter update:

    Here’s what happened:

    1 – Money taken for “original vision”; i.e. modernized System Shock. That’s what we all thought we were paying for.

    2 – Then somebody sat up and said, “You know, there really isn’t a market for this game beyond the Kickstarters. It’s a niche product. After this, the project just won’t bring any more cash.”

    3 – Then, another (or maybe the same) somebody said, “You know, if we *reimagined* System Shock, and dumped it into Unreal, we might be able to peddle it to publishers to make more money.”

    4 – Development changes midstream. I was pissed, too.

    5 – Meanwhile, PREY, a remarkable game (and essentially SS3), does a belly-flop in the marketplace. So does Deus Ex 2.1.

    6 – There now being no market for single-player immersive sims, SS-reimaged is roundly ignored by publishers.

    7 – Feb. 18: “We’re on hiatus, SS KB backers. Eat a hot choad in the meantime.”

    Somebody needs to kick whoever came up with item #2 on the list squarely in the bollox. That decision doomed the project right there.

    Honestly, I’d be willing to bet one of these two things happening now (seen them both before):

    1. Nightdive will send fewer and fewer updates, mostly containing fake “straight talk” about tough decisions being made, and new “community managers” introducing themselves. Then, after a while, things will quiet down and one day, Nightdive will have closed shop. No game, and no chance to get any money back, because there is no company anymore.

    2. They’ll work with whoever is left and deliver some sort of glorified tech demo and label it a game, just so they can claim they delivered something. Again, no refunds.

    What pisses me off more than the money being gone is the way they’re communicating it to us: Kickstarter backers get a short message, without any details and containing BS like “we were too successful” and putting the team on hiatus. At virtually the same time, a Polygon article appears that quotes an anonymous source saying that the KS funds are used up, and that 15 contract workers will be laid off permanently. I’d imagine that’s most of the team. So you’re willing to be straight with Polygon, but not with your backers? That’s just disrespectful.

    1. Tom says:

      If things are as bad as that, there’s one last-ditch, minimal-effort solution I’d make a beeline for right now.

      Step 1: Dig up the original, working Unity tech demo engine. For each panel shape & texture in the original game, make a relatively simple 3D model of that panel, and buff up the textures to hi-res. Then rig up a script that takes the original SS1 level files and assembles 3D unity levels using that and these prefab panels.

      Step 2: Make a basic 3D model of each enemy. Copy their AI directly. Reproduce the original animations as simply as possible. Throw in some simple glue logic to make the models face the direction they’re moving in/what they’re interacting with, since they were originally sprites. Make a script that places them in the Unity levels, again according to the original game data.

      Step 3: Copy the original game text, sound effects and voice files directly, along with the scripts driving them. Run the MIDI files through a good synthesiser, turn them into MP3s and slap them in there.

      Step 4: Run the thing. Play through it and make a note of what looks good and what looks a bit naff.

      Step 5: If time permits, go back and finesse the crappy-looking/crappy-playing bits by slapping some new texture/model assets on top of the script-assembled prefabs, then ship. If time does not permit, ship as-is and finesse in update patches.

      THEN, AND ONLY THEN, consider value-add stuff like rerecordings, additional dialogue, improved AI, etc.

      Really, if it’d been my Kickstarter, stages 1-4 would have been the literal first stage of the project, and I would have explicitly said so during fundraising. That would be our Alpha build. Then we’d finesse the crap out of the thing where necessary, testing gameplay and fixing weak elements of the automatically-generated levels, basically going for an output that resembled Black Mesa Source, until the money ran out and it was time to ship. All value-adds (original assets, gameplay changes, etc) other than mouselook and a few interface tweaks would have been stretch goals.

      As it is, I hope they’re considering doing something like this as a rescue plan (and able to do so). Perhaps I should email it to ’em.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        At this point, I’d rather just have more new games in the same general thematic areas as System Shock. AIs gone rogue are relatively few in games, evil mega-corps are reasonably represented but still have room for more games, and far-off sci-fi lands with alien (bio)tech has tonnes of potential. The only recent(-ish) games I’ve had are Teleglitch (loved it!), Prey 2017 (Windows / console only, plus I don’t have a beefy enough machine even if it had a Linux port), and…that’s about it?

        1. Tom says:

          How could you leave out the Bioshock trilogy?

          Though I only just realised Deus Ex (the original, good one) actually ticks most of those boxes. Odd, even though it’s technically a cyberpunk, I never really thought of it in that category.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            I left out Bioshock, because the first game was (only) pretty good, (as well as being a dumbed-down shooter…) and the rest were downhill from there. The Deus Ex series is similar in many ways, although it only really has human-world elements (excluding the tinfoil-hat / conspiracy-theory-come-to-life elements of the first game). I suppose the Dead Space series actually started out very close to a modern System Shock, but that went downhill very quickly (poor writing, more dumbing down, microtransactions…).

      2. PPX14 says:

        Tbh as cool as an remaster sounded/looked, I then end up not knowing which to play, I want the original oldschool experience but also like the idea of the graphical enhancements looking so good. I’m just going to play System Shock Enhanced. The original limitations are part of the art style.

        But then with more recent games like Bioshock, it seems that might as well play the remaster if it has nice texture improvements rather than being an overhaul.

        1. Tom says:

          It’s probably because I never really played the original that I’m so keen on a remake rather than a reboot. I love retro games, I have a very high tolerance for gritty pixellation, (I finally finished the Descent 1 demo the other month, only about 22 years or so after first playing it… it still holds up!) but the one thing I do have trouble with is clunkiness, and original SS1’s interface is just too clunky, even for me. I’ve tried several times to get into it.

          1. PPX14 says:

            Aha neither have I played the original – that’s why it’s such a difficult decision. For a 2nd playthrough it would be easy but it’s the conundrum of for my first experience of the game, do I really want to play an aesthetically re-imagined version?

            Exactly – the clunkiness seems to be legendary : that’s why I’m going to play System Shock: Enhanced Edition. Oldschool graphics, but with updated UI. Actually looks very nice on my 4K screen.

          2. PPX14 says:

            Agh I need to get back to Descent 3! One of the first games I played the demo of back in 2000 when we got our Win 1998 PC. Had the full game now for a while, got to level 4, and then haven’t really played it since, it’s been a few years since then even! So many inferior games played since.

            1. Tom says:

              Really, you liked D3? Having played D1 & D2, D3 felt extremely tepid to me.

              1. PPX14 says:

                Yeah I love the atmosphere and tension and aesthetic (and weapons, enemy AI etc). Such an insanely stressful game. Back when I first played it in 2000 when I was 9, and over the next few years.

                But then I haven’t played 1 and 2. Got them on GoG recently now that they’re available for sale again. Looks like they might be a bit more on the action side, less of the creepiness?

    2. Geoff says:

      It does seem to me like there’s a lot of doom and gloom and misinterpretation about what’s been stated on this. For any that haven’t read it, it can be read on Kickstarter here.

      That reaction is pretty standard on any Kickstarter that I’ve been a part of (there seems to be a lot of it even when the product launches on time and goes completely on schedule!). That doesn’t mean that this, or Shamus’ read on the subject isn’t correct, but it isn’t what is actually stated or any other information confirming it.

      Nowhere in the statement do they state that they are out of money, they stated that they were seeking publisher funding for a larger overhaul of the original game. They did not say that no further work will be done, they said that they were stopping their current trajectory. Again, they could be out of money, they could be ceasing development, but that read is not based on any real information.

      The issues they described are standard scope creep common in any project and any game. Every team for every game you’ve probably ever played has dealt with this to some extent or another. Its all well and fine to say “We’ll just remake the game with HD graphics that run on modern systems”, until you get into it and realize just how glaringly terrible the interface is, especially contrasted with fancy new 3D models and textures. At that point, it would be perfectly reasonable to say, “Well, since we’re cleaning up the graphics, lets go ahead and smooth out the rough edges on the UI and update that to match modern sensibilities”. Then enemy AI comes up and you have a similar discussion. Then level design. Then the next thing and the next. Individually, none of these decisions are necessarily wrong (and some are probably even right!) or are a danger to the project, it’s only the collection of decisions that causes a problem.

      Summarized in a Kickstarter post after months and months of development, the problems are obvious, but they always are in hindsight. It happens to both new and veteran developers alike, especially when you’re passionate about the project you’re working on. It’s not that this couldn’t be the end of the project, it might be. But its a little early to call it.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        A million dollars would buy a small- or medium-sized team about a year or two, depending on the number of people, and how much they’re getting payed per year. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to salvage this game project. Do the math yourself: If everyone made approximately McDonald’s cashier-level hourly wage (ballpark $20k per year full time) that’s fifty people for one year, or ten people for five years. If you assume that industry veterans are making more than McDonald’s hourly wage (a fairly safe assumption!) then being out of money after two years is the deadline you reach.

        1. Geoff says:

          Sure, assuming the entire team involved are full time employees working on only this project. I don’t know how Nighdive staffs, but, likely for a studio of that size, most of their content creators are contractors, not full time employees. The big name guys they pulled in for High Level Design input and new Concepts are almost certainly not full time employees or even contracted full time (you don’t need high level guidance 8 hours a day). The Kickstarter is also not Nightdive Studio’s only revenue stream, as they have a number of other projects and rereleases that can be generating money for them and share the burden of the top management’s costs.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “The interface is so bad”
    “Story delivery is bad.The intro is so hilariously bad”

    Wait,dont you love this game?Id hate to hear from someone who hates it.

    Nah,Im joking.I did the same thing about half life a few days before.The biggest fans are the biggest critics.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Story isnt a problem in creeper world because you can easily skip it,and its there only in the base levels.But the fact that the top players on every table have “finished” levels in 5 seconds,now thats a big problem.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Totally agreed that the story isn’t a big problem, since it’s totally skippable. It’s just curious that it’s there at all, and so weirdly dissonant with the game feel.
      Yes, leaderboard hacking is rampant. Wouldn’t be too hard to fix, and it doesn’t ruin the game or anything. But it seems to belong to the same class of curiosities. If it’s so broken, why include it at all?

      Both “features” seem to have been included by rote, rather than intentionally, and neither evidence much polish.

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        Well, if it seems the dev is essentially playing with ideas and sees what sticks, I’d guess those elements are there because they wanted to try making them.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Trying to murder everyone,trying to turn it intoa shooter”

    Is there a different way to play gta that Im unaware of?

    1. SharpeRifle says:

      There is this rumor about something they call a “story” that allows you to play the game differently.

      Most everybody thinks that if it exists its simply a bug they are trying to pass off as a feature.

  6. @Shamus In your System Shock blues you forgot to credit the editor of the Diecast this time?

  7. Ninety-Three says:

    If you want a game that’s like Factorio but played from an eye of god view, I recommend Big Pharma. The major difference is that you’re trying to make a profit running a factory, rather than just expanding on your own time by turning more resources into more mining rigs, and that might turn off some Factorio fans, but it definitely has the same “Building and optimizing an assembly-line” feel to it.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Man, I want a mod that takes out the player-character from Factorio, and just leaves robots and factories. You could even add better turret-defense mechanics to the game, and it’d be even better than the base game. Lousy base-game combat…

      1. Tom says:

        I find using defensive structures offensively is the best way to do combat in Factorio. The game’s about engineering, so I try to think more like a sapper than an infantryman. Once I’ve got construction drones, I carefully lay a temporary power line up towards an alien nest, then have my drones rapidly plonk down a prefab emplacement with several laser turrets surrounded by walls, which immediately powers up and flattens everything in range while the drones keep it repaired.

        I was rather disappointed there was no achievement for that – “destroy an enemy structure using only turret fire.”

        If resistance is likely to be heavy, I place each emplacement within firing range of a secondary one already placed further up the power line to give extra cover.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Yeah, turret creep is the most viable strategy, even after the big combat rebalance last year. The devs don’t like it, but their game doesn’t really support good combat, and turret-creep is what we’re left with. Given that turret-focused gameplay is what the game can actually support, a turret-defense (or -creep!) style of gameplay is what they should be focusing their efforts on, to make the game fun, instead of pouring good money after bad. My opinion, natch.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            The devs don’t like it

            Why?The whole game is geared towards you never doing anything yourself.Why should combat be the exception?

            1. Echo Tango says:

              The devs want combat to be player-character focused, and don’t like turret creep. It’s been stated on the forums, patch notes, and blogs. So the “why” seems to be that the devs have the wrong idea of what fits with the rest of their game. :)

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Thats so counterintuitive.

              2. Tom says:

                It seems to be something of an ironic truisim in this dumb industry: sometimes the players get a feel for the heart and soul of a game better than the people who actually made it. It’s called emergent gameplay, people, and old-school devs used to fervently pray for their game to be blessed by it. Modern devs frequently seem to respond to it with “you’re having fun wrong!”

  8. Lee says:

    Project Frontier is what got me to come back to the site. At some point earlier, I had found GM of the Rings, but it was already done at that point, so I binged it and left. Project Frontier I found on the 3rd article, I think, so I added the RSS feed to my reader, and here I am.

    To this day, the programming parts are still my favorites.

    Incidentally, talking about learning to code using videos, have you ever looked at the Handmade Hero series? He’s building a game, from scratch, in C++, and on stream. Archives are available on Youtube. And if you pay for the game ($15, I think), you get access to source code files, separated into what the code looks like at the beginning of each episodes.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      The programming posts are what got me interested in the rest of this blog! :)

    2. Methermeneus says:

      I’m currently trying to catch up on HMH. It’s very tiring, but I actually think I like the video format for programming tutorials. True, they’re not very information-dense (I once saw someone say that after two years of videos, Casey has basically done two months of full-time programming; the context was that the game was pretty amazing at that point for that amount of work) , but I actually think that, for someone who has little experience in the subject, low density is better for getting things to sink in.

      Also, about copy/pasting code snippets, I’d generally rather type it in myself. It sinks in better than if you just move it to another window, it lets you integrate your coding style more easily than editing afterwards (Casey uses PascalCase for variables and functions, underscores_for_structs, braces on separate lines, no spaces around parents, all sorts of things that one coder may love and another may hate), it lets you make the small mistakes that help you really understand what’s going on (why am I not getting sound? Oh crap, I forgot to unlock the sound buffer!), and specifically for HMH (yymv for non-streamed YouTube tutorials) questions from the audience get answered at the end of the tutorial for which they were asked, rather than on the next one or a week later or whatever.

      I don’t think most experienced programmers would get much out of HMH, though, and anyone who advocates for flow charts and OOP will hate it. (The latter is not speculation; forum/Reddit/stack overflow posts on the subject are clearly divided.) I do think that HMH is precisely what Shamus would want in a video tutorial: code for the whole project is pushed for public (well, project-backer) download immediately after each stream, and annotated video lists make it easy to find a specific topic within a two-hour video. (The former is just part of the project, but the latter is community-maintained, so maybe it’s not a great example of what Shamus would like about the project itself.)

      1. Echo Tango says:

        How much is the Handmade Hero guy doing from scratch? Looking at his episode list, and picking a few at random, it seems like he’s doing nearly everything himself, without any major frameworks / libraries that I can see. (i.e. He’s only using the most low-level things provided by the OS.) That might be useful for somebody who wants to get into engine programming, to make sure they’ve got the info needed for both the design and low-level optimization of that engine, but that wouldn’t be very useful as a general programming guide, since most people don’t write engines – they write games! :)

        1. methermeneus says:

          Well, my main point as relates to the Diecast was just that the documenting and teaching methodology works pretty well if you’re interested in learning what HMH has to teach, even though (or especially because) it’s in video format.

          To answer your question, though, Casey’s starting from as low as he can go and still have a game that runs on a modern computer. The point isn’t to show how to make a AAA game, but how to make a game at all. He separates out layers of the game, so he’s still showing how to work with libraries; it’s just that the libraries in question are also written on the stream.

          Basically, it’s not in-depth on any one aspect of programming a game, but an overview of every step of the process. Yes, he’s doing OS stuff directly, but he’s only setting that stuff up to work with this one game, so it’s not really an engine tutorial; stuff like that. As someone whose experience in programming consists entirely of command-line tools for my own use and some web programming (plus a few attempts to learn a little more, which I’ll explain in the next paragraph), it’s pretty awesome.

          The biggest thing about this is, though, it’s a game. Think about this: The best way to learn programming is by doing it. The two best ways to do it are to do exercises or find a problem that needs solving and try to solve it. Generally, when I think of a project to solve a problem, it turns out that someone has already solved it better than I could unless it’s a very specific thing (hence my command-line tools), so I’m better off using that solution and getting what I need to do done. As for exercises, until very recently, there was pretty much nothing for someone at my level. Everything was either so simple I could have done it in junior high when the only programming I knew was a little PHP and JavaScript or so far out of my league I needed two or three Wikipedia tabs open to understand what the exercise was even asking for. Do you have any idea how hard it is to work on a learning project when those are your choices? Motivation just evaporates.

          Thing is, though, one problem that will always need solving is human entertainment. And a lifelong programmer who writes low-level tools and compression algorithms for a living (Casey is one of the primary authors of Bink, the video compression format used for the majority of video game cutscenes for a couple decades now) dumbing things down for a relatively beginner audience, as it turns out, is talking pretty much exactly at my level. Sure, sometimes he goes too simple for me, and sometimes he goes a little above my head, but that’s pretty much perfect, since I stop to think about the analogies he uses for the zero-experience audience members (I’m often not a fan of analogies, so figuring out where they work and where they break down is a bit of a hobby of mine), and I have to stretch myself a little to work out why he’s doing something a little more advanced. In other words, for the first time in years, I’m actually learning something new about programming, more than just single isolated facts from random articles or from solving that one problem that was nagging me in that Bash script I was working on.

          Basically, I don’t care how practical his approach to programming games is. (Although, since he claims it’s not far off from how he actually programs, and he’s coming out with a non-publicly-coded game this year, and his basic ground-up philosophy doesn’t seem too far off from Jonathan Blow’s, I’m not so certain that it is impractical, at least at the single-A level.) His game programming stream is a valuable resource for programming in general for us neglected (probably because most people think we’re CS students or low-level professionals) lower-intermediate-level self-taught coders.

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    I’m with Paul on Creeper World, the blitzkrieg/surgical strike playstyle is way more interesting than the slow, grindy consolidation of territory. I too was disappointed by Particle Fleet because it felt like the only playstyle was “Attack-move your units forward”, and the only decisions you made were whether you attack the east emitter or the north emitter first. You can occasionally do a surgical strike by sending in construction ships without fire support, but then the gameplay is just a bunch of really fiddly micromanagement to have your ships duck and weave through particle streams, and that gets old fast.

    My favorite level in CW3, hell one of my favorite game levels of all time, was the one where there’s some kind of enemy base sending out automated mining drones, and you have to prevent it from mining a certain amount, through some combination of attacking its mining drone centers, and shooting them down when they go to mine in different areas. I love it because there are so many opportunities for interesting tactics, it’s the one level in the game that seems really designed to push you out of the “consolidate territory” comfort zone by forcing you to advance on a timer. If it weren’t for that level existing, I might think that CW3 being great for people like Paul and I was just a happy accident, but there’s something there. I don’t think the promo videos are him playing eleven-dimensional chess trying to bait people into thinking “I could do it so much better”, because I’ve heard more casual players talk about the appeal of the turtling strategy, but I think he knows there’s a layer of depth there if you want it, and that’s on purpose.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Shooting them down?How do you shoot them down?I tried all the things and nothing was targeting them.And you couldnt even block the resource sites since they would destroy whatever you had down there when they landed.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        The snipers will shoot the drones.

      2. Ninety-Three says:

        It’s been ages since I played, so I don’t remember the proper unit names, but I think it was the sniper towers that hit them. In addition to the obvious tactic of laying down sniper towers on areas you control, you can drop snipers on creeper-infested areas to get off a shot before the creeper kills them in order to impede mining in distant areas, and there’s a really cool trick you can pull of dropping two command centers in the middle island before it gets covered with creep to rush down one the of the drone producers at the very beginning of the level.

      3. 4th Dimension says:

        Yeah can confirm snipers target them, which is REALLY not logical. I only found that out once I expanded from the northern island and put a sniper where one of the Creeper spawners was to ward off the annoying runners.

        Also those transports are f-ing annoying to shoot down even by snipers since you need quite a lot of them to shoot down the transport before it does it’s job and flies away and they will still re-spawn after a while.

        So snipers can only EXTEND the time limit, not stop it.

    2. 4th Dimension says:

      While I’m kinda finding the Prospector Zone levels which are mostly about consolidating and creeping advancement boring, I have to say I was NOT a fan of the time limit. Not because I lost that mission (there is a MUCH more generous time limit after you fail the primary one) but because the sudden need to rush things was kinda going against the tactic that was supposed to be used so far.

      That being said, whenever we need to hop islands remain one of my favorite levels since the issues of performing an opposed landing are nicely shown in the Creeper world. The fact that unless you are landing on a beach withing your own artillery’s sight you will be landing into the teeth of the enemy and untill and unless your troops manage to bite in and make a beachhead you can’t bring in the logistical segment to supply them.

      Also this is like one of rare games where mortars and artillery is actually key part of the army.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        there is a MUCH more generous time limit after you fail the primary one

        The next mission is much tougher if you want to do it in the first part.I barely managed it.The only downside is that if you do it like that you dont unlock the battle cruiser.

        1. 4th Dimension says:

          Battle cruiser? Something like the Thor in the last mission?

  10. MadTinkerer says:

    So, in a nutshell, they pitch System Shock, they got paid to make System Shock, and they started to make System Shock. But then a few months in they decided they actually wanted to make Deus Ex Invisible War instead.

    If I could have afforded to back them at the time, I would be so pissed off right now.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I’m just disappointed I don’t have a version of SS1 that plays with modern controls. I tried the super-mod version that changes most of the controls to be sort-of modern, but the game still played like a shopping cart with a janky wheel.

  11. Mokap says:

    Did the podcast RSS break on the switch to the new site, or is my podcast app just acting up?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yup,the move broke the thing down.Shamus mentioned it last time:

      The podcast-specific RSS feed is broken and isn’t going to be fixed anytime soon.

  12. DangerNorm says:

    Never mind if they fail, Kickstarted projects should be FOSS if they succeed. As it is, they want to have the good parts of doing work-for-hire (somebody else puts up the initial funding and takes the risk), and the good parts of being investors (control of the property and all of the profits if it succeeds).

    Crowd-funding for closed-source, restrictively licensed software is inherently a scam.

    1. Kylroy says:

      Honestly, that’s not even my beef with Kickstarter-funded games; it’s that making video games just takes too long. Most games will take about two years, and companies with elaborate business plans and full-time accountants struggle to make accurate predictions on that timescale – anybody informal enough to justify a Kickstarter is pulling numbers out of thin air.

      I’m never going to Kickstart a game again, because a) if they don’t complete, i get nothing, but b) if they *do* make a game, I’ll just buy it then. This isn’t the ’90s, I don’t need to worry about them running out of boxed copies.

      Conversely, my wife buys a lot of Kickstarted boardgames and has excellent luck…largely because boardgames can go from idea to print in under six months. Plus, they really *might* run out of copies if I’m not a backer, so there’s a genuine reason to pay now and not later. The success of Kickstarted boardgames is what makes me think the retention of IP isn’t what makes it a non-viable, it’s the turnaround time on videogame development.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Conversely, my wife buys a lot of Kickstarted boardgames and has excellent luck…

        Ive heard other people having positive experiences with boardgames as well.So if you dont like what video games have been doing with kickstarter,try some cardboard.

        1. Decius says:

          Cardboard? I didn’t think Labo was on KS.

    2. Bloodsquirrel says:

      That would remove a large incentive for people to kickstart a game, since they’ll get it for free if it succeeds whether they backed it or not. It also restricts your funding window to the kickstarting campaign alone; you can’t make money from sales afterward. Which, of course, means that the developer has less incentive to put in more work than was promised in the hope of getting as many post-launch sales as possible. From the moment your campaign ends, you’ll have made all the money you’ll ever make on the game, and every moment you spend afterward is reducing the amount of profit you make, no matter how much it benefits the end product.

      It’s really not a viable idea at all. Yes, kickstarting games is risky, but you’re taking on that risk because publishers won’t and you want to see the product. It’s not like these kickstarter-based studios are rolling in giant piles of money; kickstarter campaigns rarely raise enough to support them entirely on their own. Even some of the more successful campaigns run out of money. I don’t think the model would survive a FOSS requirement.

      1. DangerNorm says:

        Maybe not, but the “model” effectively amounts to Extremely Advanced Pre-ordering, despite Kickstarter’s assertions to the contrary.

        1. Kylroy says:

          Adding a FOSS to software Kickstarters would remove the the only financial reward for actually completing the project (hazy and uncertain though that reward is now). So as an attempt to drive a stake through the heart of a flawed financial model for software development, it’d be very effective. “The Producers” style scams are probably the most effective way to make money on software with Kickstarter, this change would ensure they are the *only* way to make money.

    3. Dreadjaws says:

      This approach simply can’t work. Kickstarter backers need some incentive in order to take the risk, and rewards are that incentive. In the case of games, a copy of such game is a basic reward. FOSSing the game would remove it, eliminating the incentive to take the risk. And no, offering other incentives is not an option at the basic level of pledging, since that would mean they’d need a higher goal to reach. The game is the one reward they can give without spending an extra dime.

      I know it’s easy to see this from the side of a consumer and thinking Kickstarter is some kind of scam, but the truth is that the situation is the same for every game in existence. Someone has to take a risk and many, many times it just doesn’t pan out. We just don’t hear so much about those cases because they’re rarely made available to the public (and if they do is generally several years later, as you can see in places like Unseen64).

      Thing is, in the case of publishers, they take a higher risk (putting all the money by themselves), and with that they reap a higher reward (being able to profit from sales and exerting control over the property). You certainly can’t expect the same level of rewards for the ridiculously small risk you get as a backer. And you certainly can’t expect the same kind of rewards, even at a smaller level.

      Do you expect to get profits as a backer? Using round numbers as an example to simplify things, let’s say a project gets 10000 backers and offers the completed game at $20. That’d be $20 divided between each of the backers and the developers (who are likely to get a larger cut personally than each of the backers). Except there are other costs to take into account, such as server maintenance and/or Steam’s cut if they release there (which is a hefty 30%, I believe). The game would have to sell tens of thousands of units for a backer to even be able to recoup their pledge.

      And control? Do you believe you can just have 10000 people on a project and they’re all going to share the exact same ideas and opinions? That is entirely unsustainable. It’s perfectly logical that the developers keep control. It’s fine if backers give suggestions or if they’re allowed control on certain things if they give a high enough pledge. But otherwise control should be left to the developers.

      This isn’t any kind of scam. It’s simply the only way things can work with any degree of order in crowdfunding.

      1. DangerNorm says:

        The existence of the game is their reward. Isn’t that supposed to be the entire point of crowd-funding? It must be, since the same logic you use here also applies now: just buy the game when it comes out instead of backing it. Or don’t, if it’s not actually good, or doesn’t come out at all, which leaves you in the same position as a backer but with a little more cash. The fact that people back things anyway shows that the “reward” of a copy isn’t as important as helping to bring it into existence in the first place.

        Trying to fit the funding boost of a kickstarter campaign into what is otherwise normal commercial game development is exactly what I’m criticizing. Indeed, that is exactly the scenario that seems to be what happened with System Shock, as discussed in the cast. If that’s all crowd-funding is, then crowd-funding is just pre-orders on steroids, which a sensible person shouldn’t fall for.

        (I wonder if EA is ever going to get in on it. You know they’d love to take 3-year-in-advance pre-orders if they thought they could get away with it.)

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          The existence of the game is their reward.

          There’s a difference between reward and incentive. In any case, no, of course the existence of it is not enough. If they had to purchase the game after releasing they’d effectively be paying for the game twice. You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that’s a deal most people will refuse.

          It must be, since the same logic you use here also applies now: just buy the game when it comes out instead of backing it

          I don’t see how this has anything to do with what I said. Or how that logic applies. Again, there’s a risk/reward ratio. If you wait until the game is released to purchase, the risk is smaller, but since you have no guarantee that the game will be released, taking a greater risk helps turn the balance in your favor. I really don’t see how you have trouble understanding something so simple.

          Trying to fit the funding boost of a kickstarter campaign into what is otherwise normal commercial game development is exactly what I’m criticizing. Indeed, that is exactly the scenario that seems to be what happened with System Shock, as discussed in the cast. If that’s all crowd-funding is, then crowd-funding is just pre-orders on steroids, which a sensible person shouldn’t fall for.

          You’re making no sense and you’re contradicting yourself. What happened with System Shock is an entirely different can of worms and in any case crowfunding is merely an alternative to publishing. They both have their pros and cons. There’s no perfect system. Believing any of them is “inherently a scam” like you say only because you’d prefer it if things were better balanced in your favor is, well, I don’t want to sound insulting, so I’ll just say “nonconstructive”.

  13. Bloodsquirrel says:

    On having to use an avatar to build things in Factorio: Logistics bots and constructor bots theoretically solve those problems, but they can be incredibly slow sometimes. Also, they can’t do some important things.

    What would really be cool if you could build a remote avatar bot, so at least you could have different avatars that you could switch to between. It would be especially useful when you have mining bases that are 1 minute + train rides away.

    My biggest problem is being out there, working on a mining outpost, and not having X, so I have to go all they way back and get it. Having a cargo helicopter that could be sent between the avatars would be cool as well.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      There’s a lot of mods, which could make Factorio closer to the vision Shamus has, of a player-character-less game. If you just search for “robot”, you’ll find several that add personal roboports/robots of some variety, that are up to date with the latest version of the game. There’s also a user who’s made several mods which add various ground-based vehicles to the game, and one of his mods let you control them like an RTS game. Also noteworthy, is the mini-game / mod included with the vanilla game, where you have a god’s-eye view and no player character.[1] Given all of these mods that already work in the game, I feel like a mega-mod which implements Shamus’ vision is definitely a possibility.[2] Heck, if you wanted to, you could redo the art-assets, rebalance and/or strip out some pieces of the game[3], and make it a total-conversion of the game! :)

      [1] For anyone who’s never bothered to click in that particular sub-menu in the “campaign” menu, it’s the one called Transport Belt Madness, and you basically solve puzzles, trying to zig-zag transport belts around each other, to deliver items to specific boxes.

      [2] Basically, just combine all of these mods, the belts-puzzle mini-game god-view, and rip out the items in the game which only make sense for the player character.

      [3] I really hate the proliferation of different types of inserters in the game. There’s seven entities in the game which all overlap to various degrees and clutter up the UI, when everything else in the game is either clearly-defined niches or strict upgrades. Boo! Booooooo!

  14. Gordon says:

    I was already using longreach. Your idea of free crafting for essentially everything your character uses, but not for sci packs and rockets etc is great, you have persuaded me.

    Also there are creeper world 4 dev videos here https://www.youtube.com/user/knucracker/videos

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Oh yeah! I forgot to mention it, but the next version of Creeper World looks to be in 3d with a few neat additions. Hopefully it will be coming out in the next few months.

      1. Mintskittle says:

        CW4’s move to 3D doesn’t appeal to me all that much. CW3’s Art style had a charm that’s missing in the new models. That said, I do like the new production models being tested in the demo vids.

    2. Gordon says:

      So apparently there is a way to disassociate the factorio controls from the character
      https://wiki.factorio.com/Console#Enable_god_mode
      you can thank me later

      edit:
      Also this
      https://mods.factorio.com/mod/instant-blueprint

      1. Gordon says:

        I made a mod that is basically my wish list for god mode, YMMV
        https://mods.factorio.com/mod/GodMode/edit

        It does the following:
        Cheat mode on (so unlimited free items)
        God mode on (camera and actions are no longer tied to the avatar)
        Remove the player avatar
        Deconstruction planners apply immediately
        Blueprints apply immediately
        Disable nighttime

        I would like to remove all non final products, from the item menu, basically everything that isn’t peaceable or a module. But I suspect that might be beyond my hack skills.

  15. Paul Spooner says:

    Seems like you could pretty easily write a mod for planting trees in Factorio. For example, this one:
    Bio Industries
    Which includes capability to plant seedlings that will grow into trees.

  16. default_ex says:

    I like how Shamus says “it’s really easy to not draw the rooms you are not in”. Said so casually, calmly and confidently. Yet there are huge books surrounding the subject of culling rooms in a corridor shooter so that you don’t draw the rooms your not in. Such a massive problem that several competing and cooperating techniques were developed to pull it off in “real time”. To be fair it is somewhere between beginner and intermediate level of programming now but not very long ago that was a huge field of research and development.

    1. Droid says:

      The wheel probably was a huge field of research and development once.

      I know this comment was more about “it wasn’t so long ago” rather than “it had been difficult once”. But it still reads as though the fact that it once required a lot of effort to figure out makes it somehow special, when our lives are shaped by tons of things that only look easy after someone else has explained them to you, things that were a big step forward in progress at the time.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      What do you mean by “not long ago”? I was learning about BSP trees back when *I* was in uni, over a decade ago. Maybe the fastest algorithm were difficult, but culling non-visible objects in a fast-enough (i.e. some reasonable polynomial time) algorithm is fairly old.

      1. default_ex says:

        That’s actually what I mean. I remember taking part in many very long discussions on gamedev.net and similar forums where we were taking shots at solving it in an efficient enough manner that it would be doable on any reasonable desktop computer. Each time the discussion would start to run dry some new paper published with techniques no one had considered applying to the subject pushing it even further.

        I just found it astonishing that I’m in my 30s and remember taking part in that one. Yet it’s become so trivial that Shamus just casually states how simple it is.

        1. Shamus says:

          Just to jump in here for a second:

          I wouldn’t try any of the complex polygon cutting techniques on a procedural environment. That would indeed be prohibitively hard. (Particularly since you don’t want the player sitting around for too long while the program optimizes the level it just generated.)

          If you generated a level, then it’s already broken up into rooms and doors. So you already know where the rooms are and how they connect. (You need that info anyway for the AI.) Rather than doing some crazy BSP stuff to cull, I’d personally just throw the entire room and all its contents at the graphics card. And if this room is currently connected to any others va open doors or windows, then draw those rooms too. (And the rooms they’re connected to, etc.)

          This will be very wasteful. You’ll end up drawing the lobby, even when there’s a large object blocking your view of the open doorway. But if you aim for something pixelated and blocky, then a modern GPU can easily handle the extra polygons and potential overdraw.

          Death to photorealism. We could be doing more interesting stuff with that processing power.

          1. Mephane says:

            I am fine with non-photorealistic graphics but I hate the pixelated textures style of Minecraft. I don’t mean to complain because hey, lots of people don’t mind or even prefer it that way, but it’s not for me. I’d rather have solid colors then with no textures at all instead, e.g. the way Grow Home/Up do it.

            1. Paul Spooner says:

              I really enjoyed the “clean” texturing in The Witness. The baked light-maps don’t hurt either, maybe if the environment was low-poly enough they could be baked in real time?

    3. Xeorm says:

      Might also be meant more literally. It’s difficult to figure out which rooms to cull, but once you have it’s really easy to not draw them.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Yeah, not-drawing things is easy. I’m not-drawing several hundred things right now, while typing this comment.

  17. Olivier FAURE says:

    I really wasn’t a fan of Creeper World. Bought CW3, played it for a few hours, got bored, asked for a refund.

    Don’t get me wrong, the concept is interesting, but in all the levels I’ve seen it’s poorly executed. The most basic strategy (build a safe base, then spam generators) works all the time and is basically unstoppable. The game incentivizes the most boring kind of micromanagement.

    (also, you can tell the game was made on Unity because the UI is ugly and amateurish)

    1. Cerapa says:

      It’s one of those games where it’s possible to just force your way through levels. The fun comes in when you try to actually do the maps with speed.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Which is why the stupid leaderboard hackers are ruining the game.You cant do a spacechem and see how good you did compared to the world and thus decide to improve because on every level youll see people who “did it” in 5-10 seconds.

  18. Philadelphus says:

    I just discovered Creeper World 3 back in January, and have been hooked ever since. I actually liked the story, though I realize that’s not necessarily the same thing as it being good; but I found it interesting and engaging enough to keep pushing through the campaign to learn more of it. The campaign also serves as an incredibly good tutorial, by the way: each level for something like the first 10 or 12 levels introduces some new facet of the game in a level that’s tweaked to force or at least encourage you to engage with the mechanic that’s being introduced. Seriously, more games should do tutorials this good. And if you really don’t like the story, there are literally hundreds of other levels in the game that you can play.

    Also, I like the fact that you can play it multiple ways. I was always a turtler in RTS games, and that’s how I played initially, and some maps basically force you to play that way, but some 30 hours into the game and I’ve become more of a blitzkrieger like Paul mentioned. Figuring out how to execute a coordinated surgical strike to destroy an emitter from across the map is incredibly fun! But the game doesn’t force you either way, which is great; I was able to start out in my comfort zone of turtling and expand into a new role.

    My one beef with the game is the limited amount of music. What music there is is fantastic, but there’s only about 4 or 5 tracks so you’ll hear all of it pretty quickly.

  19. Echo Tango says:

    Re: Shamus streaming

    You don’t really need to worry about streaming your face on a camera; Lots of people just stream the gameplay footage, while they talk about the game! Unless of course you weren’t being literal with “on camera”, in which case I still want you to stream games while you talk about them. We already hear your voice in the podcast – this’d just be an unedited / live version of that! :)

  20. Alex says:

    Regarding Factorio, there is a way to move the camera without moving the character in more of rts fashion. When you enter map mode (‘m’ by default), you can zoom in anywhere you have radar coverage and interact with your base using blueprints and robots. I also think that long reach work through the radar coverage so you really can interact with anything from everywhere.
    Another mod that I would recommend would be one of the early start mods that give you some of the advanced tech from the start, like roboports and electricity. Nanobots are also a good mod for early start as it gives you a different type of robot with pretty cheap research and build costs.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Does Long Reach work through the radar vision? From watching some streamers recently (NorthernLion and crew), I thought that it did not.

  21. Aaron Nowack says:

    I quite like Creeper World, having played through the campaign of all three. (I haven’t tried the spin-off.) I won’t argue that the story is particularly well-told, but I’d call it more charmingly amateur than anything else. I certainly think the games would not have appealed to me as much without it. The middle parts of Creeper World 3, where you encounter a parade of dead civilizations and the relics of their failed attempts to defeat the Creeper actually stuck with me to some extent – it managed for me to at least evoke the immensity of the absurd timescales the plot throws at you.

    Gameplay-wise, the above-mentioned map that forces a blitzkrieg strategy was frustrating and unfun for me – I think my ideal iteration of the system would be one focused on the WWI-style slow creeping (pun slightly intended) advance across the map that is sub-optimal in the current games.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      Yeah, the one mission in the campaign that’s on a strict timer comes out of nowhere and is a huge difficulty spike. I managed to beat it my first time, but with literally seconds to spare. I like that most of the game lets you pick your approach—slow and steady, or fast and risky—to best suit your playstyle, or even your particular mood that day. (Sometimes I want to play fast and loose, and some days I just want to sit back and inexorably turtle forward.)

  22. Amstrad says:

    It’s really great to have Diecast back in action. I really enjoy hearing Shamus talk about stuff that interests Shamus and I think Paul is doing a good job not only as a second perspective but also doing that thing that all great co-hosts do in that he prompts Shamus with just the right comments and questions to keep the discussion flowing. Looking forward to getting more on same semi-regular basis we once did.

  23. newplan says:

    Re Factorio what you discovered is the next level of the game and the solution to this level is the same as the previous but harder to implement – you have to automate it.

    Put down robo ports everywhere you want to place things, radar where you want to see, power poles to make sure you have power over there. Make sure you automate EVERYTHING you want to place and craft nothing by hand.

    In the game just be in map mode and as long as you have radar coverage it’s basically like you’ve got a free camera.

    1. Xeorm says:

      This for sure. Even better it’s easy to place blueprints. The actual bits you need to build are fairly easy to make once you have logistic bots. Building something like the refineries is a pain via belt, but simple with chests. Roboports make everything easier.

  24. Kagato says:

    Regarding the podcast RSS feed:

    Disregarding whatever fluff iTunes expects, you can get a functioning RSS feed with only the Diecast posts using this URL:
    http://shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?cat=287&feed=rss2
    (Well, the ten or so most recent posts, anyway.)

    In my player, most of the posts are showing up as text articles (which was expected). However, there are two exceptions — episodes 189 and 193 — which do show up as proper audio episodes, and can be downloaded or streamed using the player.

    Running the feed through a validator shows that these two episodes have the [enclosure] tag defining the audio file. (Episodes 163 and earlier all seem to have this tag included, but I’m guessing you had a different setup then.)

    I don’t know how you specify the enclosure for a post using the back end, but if it’s something relatively straightforward, doing so might get you a working basic feed (for non-Apple devices, at least).

  25. ulrichomega says:

    Would it be possible to have the “Hosts: …” section? I had a little trouble finding a link to Paul’s site.

    EDIT: Also, in the process of posting this comment the page reloaded and killed the stream for me. Not a major issue, but now I’ve got to re-find the point I was at.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Seems self-promotion isn’t particularly high on the list of priorities.
      Yeah, I usually download the audio so I can post comments as I listen. Even though I prefer to post one big comment at the end instead of commenting as I listen, if there’s already a thread dedicated to the topic I’ll chime in there instead. So, yeah, that playback interruption happens to everyone; Just gotta work around it.

  26. Pssssst Shamus – click “SHOW MORE” on the second procgen Unity tutorial vid and there’s a link to all the source code on Github. Any good?

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