Diecast #202: Kerbal Space Program, Human Revolution, Hosting Problems

By Shamus Posted Monday Mar 19, 2018

Filed under: Diecast 85 comments

Heads up: An enterprising reader has created their own RSS feed for the show. I don’t use RSS often enough to appraise it, so let me know how it works for you. If it’s good and does what we need, I’d be happy to make this the official feed.

Good news for those of you who enjoyed SolderHawk’s visit in the previous episode: She’s going to come back and visit again in a few weeks.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus.

Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
00:09 Mailbag

Dear Diecast

This week the community is doing a Return to Bloodborne event, which just means encouraging people to create a new character and go through the game again while using all of the online features. A similar event was done yearly for Demon’s Souls, which had its servers shut down earlier this year.

Which older game that you like would you participate in such an event for?

Love, Christopher

03:21 Kerbal Space Program

The new DLC (which we shamefully didn’t name in the show) is called “Making History”. The stellar Scott Manley can give you a pretty good overview of what the new features are:

Link (YouTube)

08:00 Issac played Deus Ex: Human Revolution

My son: This doesn’t work for me.

Me: That’s my boy!

13:57 SubNautica

Here is the first episode of the Let’s Play that Paul was talking about:

Link (YouTube)

23:34 My site went down for 6 hours on Friday the 9th.

Note that I think I used the wrong terms here. The tiers of web service are roughly: 1) Shared Hosting. 2) VPS 3) Dedicated hosting. In the show I mispoke when I said I needed “shared hosting”. I need the second one.

I have better things to do than move my site again, after the last move was such a nightmare. And I’m paid up for the year and I’d hate to see that cash go to waste. But this host is ticking time bomb.

Like I said on the show: I’m looking for a LAMPThe four pillars of the modern web: Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP. VPS with shell access. I know I got some recommendations the last time the site went down, but it’s been a few months and I’m looking for updated information. I have to crowdsource this, since, like I said in the show, the typical review sites don’t dig deep enough to find the big problems.

36:50 Affinity / Photoshop replacement

I can’t believe I’ve found a possible replacement for the venerable Paint Shop Pro 8.



[1] The four pillars of the modern web: Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP.

From The Archives:

85 thoughts on “Diecast #202: Kerbal Space Program, Human Revolution, Hosting Problems

  1. Anorak says:

    I use https://www.vps.net/ , which I get as just a plain linux shell which I then installed the LAMP stack on. My site is ultra low traffic, so it doesn’t cost me much. I also use Letsencrypt for certificates, which costs nothing.

    Although writing this comment has prompted me to look at my site….and it’s down. Guess I have some investigation to do.

    EDIT – looks like it’s not me, seems to be getting DDOS’d right now. So maybe I CAN’T recommend them :)

  2. Rob Lundeen says:

    You guys really need to play Subnautica (I think you would both love it!). While it does have it’s rough spots I think a lot of your concerns were actually addressed in the game. For example, at one point Shamus said something like “Why didn’t they start with the computer saying that it’s memory was corrupted.” That’s exactly what they did. One of the first notes in you PDA is Warning Blueprint Database Corrupted. There’s a lot of rough edges in Subnautica but IMO they nailed the early game.

    P.S. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see a Shamus long-form review of this game on Twenty Sided.

    1. Matt van Riel says:

      Joseph Anderson just put up a review a few days ago.

      One thing Shamus needs to be aware of (since the review is spoiler city); the performance is awful. And since he’s already in the market for better hardware, he might not have the best time with the game.

      1. Rob Lundeen says:

        Thanks for the link. That was a great review!

      2. Nessus says:

        Performance seems to be all over the place depending on random hardware compatibility. I played it on an integrated Intel chip since my graphics card is burned out, and was able to run it fine by dropping some settings. However, reading around reveals a lot of people struggling to get playable framerates on $2000 rigs, so it seems like it’s pretty luck of the draw.

        Biggest most consistent issue is the draw distance in incredibly ugly/janky. The game is great IMO, but to get there you really need the ability to overlook the most horrible pop-in. From what I’ve read, that’s got nothing to do with individual hardware, it’s an issue with the particular way the game was built inside the engine.

        1. Matt van Riel says:

          Yeah, pop-in is something devs do to lower the load on player rigs. If you ever saw/played Star Ocean 4 on PS3, the pop-in on that game is bonkers because they went too hard on graphics and couldn’t have all field enemies loaded on the console’s hardware.

          And if you’re already struggling to optimise your game… well, pop-in’s one of those horrible and janky things you can do to claw some performance back. It just looks terrible into the bargain.

          Fortunately Steam refunds mean Shamus could always give the game a try and if the performance sucks just refund :)

          1. Hector says:

            Normally, yes, but in Subnautica the pop-in issue goes further. I genuinely don’t think it’s a CPU saver so much as something going seriously wrong with the engine. It simply can’t handle the player travelling at more than swimming speed in some environments. The game has a very hard time loading many assets, but not just graphically: you can actually swim through objects because they can fail to load in time.

          2. Nessus says:

            The pop-in on Subnautica isn’t your bog standard pop-in, and has little to nothing to do with optimization. It’s an artifact of how the game was developed.

            During the first legs of development, the game was intended to use modifiable voxel terrain generated by a procedural system with a fixed seed. A lot of coding was done to modify the Unity engine to create a platform for this. Somewhere around 2/3 of the way into development, the devs decided the procedural voxel system was untenable, and began replacing it with static terrain meshes, but work was too far along to rip out and redo all the foundation that had been laid for the voxel stuff. So the final game uses a conventional static mesh terrain system kluged atop a code architecture designed for procedural voxel terrain.

            As a result, the terrain load-in is SUPER inefficient and janky. It’s pretty normal to be tooling around in your sub, watching the sea floor load in from literal nothingness in huge tiles right underneath you. In some areas it can actually be dangerous, as if you are moving fast enough, objects and/or creatures won’t load in until after you’re right on top of them. You can take damage because a rock spire or mushroom tree or reefback just magically appears less than a meter from your nose (so you have zero time to react), or you can get stuck inside wrecks or bluffs because they don’t load until after you’re inside the space they’re supposed to occupy. The two islands, when approached from the surface, will actually load inside out: caves and internal alien ruins first, then terrain, then trees.

            And the worst part is, there are fog systems in place to “hide” load-in, but the fog distance is set to over twice the load-in distance, so instead of hiding anything, it just makes it look even more janky.

            Like I say: IF you can overlook this sort of thing, the game is great. But the pop-in is so terrible it can make the game look like one of those shitty Steam shovelware games at times, despite the quality of everything else on display.

            All that said, I don’t really buy the line that the “normal” pop in seen in lots of other games is a necessary evil. I think it’s a farce that studios will throw ungodly sums of money down the hole chasing the next breakthrough in texture size or lighting effects in the name of ever more realism, only to ruin all that effort by “accepting” obvious pop-in. It’s like spending thousands of dollars on an Armani suit, then walking around with your junk hanging out your open fly.

    2. etheric42 says:

      This may be a problem with discussing a game without playing it. Since the concerns were already lampshaded by the writers.

      I mean, the computer congratulates you for all the time you’ve spent swimming to exercise, and says you must really love it (but you should do other things to exercise too). It really isn’t an AI (or if it is an AI, the part in your pod is really dumb).

      And rescue plans sent in a narrow window when broadcast is possible gets interrupted by a co-worker getting orders for a sandwich run. I just loved all the mega-corporate touches “You’re part of a Team (but really you have to pull your own weight)” throughout the lore drops.

      (Also, how does a Let’s Player focus on visceral reaction and not analysis if he’s been playing the game regularly in early access and this isn’t really a fresh play in a game about discovery? Not saying it isn’t possible, but just curious how well that worked out.)

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Yeah, like I said, the critique wasn’t fair as it was based on watching a not-world-building playthru. But I feel that the point stands that if they had simply offered the situation with no commentary, there wouldn’t need to be justifications in the first place.

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      Well, if you want Shamus or I to spend more time playing games, we both have Patreon accounts. Shamus and I both take time we could be spending on paying work to do entertainment. Make it worth our time and we’ll do more of it!

      Though, what I think we’d both end up doing is making procedural generation games. SubNautica has a lovely aesthetic that I’d like to explore. I’d be thrilled to be able to spend my time making a procedural base and vessel generator instead of doing plumbing diagrams. Gotta feed my kids though, which I can’t do on $7/mo.

      1. Rob Lundeen says:

        I love that idea Paul! I already contribute to Shamus but I certainly don’t expect him to review games just because I’m a patron. I’m only offering a suggestion as a fan. :)

        I think he’d like this game a lot and I would love to hear his analysis of the game and how it was built.

  3. Rymdsmurfen says:

    That RSS feed is really welcome. Thanks!

    1. Marc Forrester says:

      Is it still working for you?

  4. DanMan says:

    I saw this in the comments the last time you were having trouble with this host, but I would definitely recommend Amazon Web Services (AWS). It is “dedicated” hosting in the sense that you get set up your own virtual servers and database instances. Don’t know what kind of appetite you have for maintaining your own servers.

    The danger of AWS is that instead of “you have used too many resources, we’re turning you off” you get “use as many resources as you want. We’ll just bill you at the end for what you used.” The big difference is that AWS has extremely granular reporting on usage and you can even set up automation based on resource usage. From sending you an email to actually standing up or tearing down servers.

    AWS has LAMP Machine Images, where you basically just pick what you want from a catalogue and it stands it up for you. You can run your own MySQL database or have it managed by AWS (a bit pricier) so they make sure the database is up and available.

  5. Tuck says:

    Have you tried Paint.NET? Incredibly powerful, and there are dozens of plugins to even further increase its potential. And it’s completely free.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Alternately, just get used to the shortcuts for the Gimp. I mean, they’re all arbitrary menus, keyboard hotkeys, etc for every program, but if you take the time to learn a free program, you don’t have to pay money anymore. :)

      1. Tuck says:

        The Gimp started as a Linux/Unix application, and its user interface still reflects that to a certain degree because it has such a long history. It’s also a far more complex piece of software at its most basic.

        Paint.NET follows interface conventions for Windows applications (i.e. menus, keyboard shortcuts etc are not arbitrary), and is consequently far more intuitive for Windows users. It’s no harder to learn than MS Paint.

  6. John says:

    Hey, Shamus, are you using Affinity Designer or Affinity Photo?

    For simple re-sizing and cropping, I’ve traditionally used Irfanview, a free, lightweight image viewer for Windows. For more artistic purposes, I’ve been using Inkscape, an open-source vector-graphics program. For the record, I can’t particularly recommend Inkscape on any basis other than price. I saw a Youtube video not too long ago that compared Inkscape to Affinity Designer and I must say that Designer looked a lot better or at least a lot more responsive. Inkscape is oddly slow and I often feel like I am fighting with the UI.

  7. On playing older games, RPS has an article up today on NOLF/NOLF2, suggesting that people play it/them and report back in a week. I even have NOLF on disc (played it a bit, enjoyed what I saw, never finished it) so am somewhat tempted to join in – assuming I can get Cate Archer to play nice with Windows 10.

    1. Geebs says:

      Honestly, NOLF1 is really not worth the effort any more; by modern standards the humour is incredibly laboured, the stealth is wretched, the shooting has no sense of impact to it and the whole thing is about three times as long as it needs to be.

      NOLF2 is much better but it’s still far too preoccupied with lame “whacky” humour and the shooting still isn’t great.

      1. TBH, it was showing its age a bit when I first discovered/played it about 14 years ago! I may still see if I can find the disc and get it going again, for old time’s sake, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re probably right.

      2. Redrock says:

        Hmm, I haven’t played NOLF in a while, but I remember that the humor worked quite well as a parody of the 60s spy movie cliches. Then again, I was younger back then. I don’t think I have it in me to actually bother finding either of the NOFL games or trying to run them on a modern PC.

        1. Welp, I found my discs and it installed and ran just fine. And is about what I remember it being – tongue-in-cheek 60s spy flick humour as interpreted in 2000s-era 3D graphics. I may dabble. After all, “proper” female FPS protagonists are fairly few and far between!

  8. Paul Spooner says:

    That’s the right channel, but I actually watched/listened to the Subnautica “Full Release” series.

  9. Metheos says:

    While the boss fights in Human Revolution weren’t good (though the Director’s Cut improved them), I’m surprised that battles which took up about an hour in a 20-40 hour game affected the experience so much. It would make sense to me if someone didn’t like aspects of the game that affected the overall experience more (the shooting mechanics, the upgrade system, so forth), but I can’t really relate to a small part of the game ruining someone’s entire opinion of it.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Imagine you’re on a road trip. You’re wearing your comfy clothes, cruising down the road enjoying the scenery. Everything is great, except that every time you stop to get gas you have to put on an itchy clown outfit and do a humiliating dance while everyone at the gas station laughs at you. Don’t worry though, it’s only a small part of the road trip.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        It’s like what I’ve always said about endings: A story is like a plane flight. It doesn’t matter how nice the first 99% is, if it ends with the plane plowing straight into the ground nobody is going to be talking about how great the flight crew were.

      2. MicahelGC says:

        The boss fight characters (if we can call them that) also have to be clumsily shoehorned in to the narrative in order to ‘justify’ them being there in the first place, which weakens the story both because they themselves are weakly underwritten and are also taking precious time away from the aspects and characters which are rather stronger and much more compelling.

        So it’s as if every now and again you get a call or a text from someone at either the last or the next gas station stop, reminding you of your recent or impending irritating humiliation.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Ugh, you’re so right. Yuck.

      3. SPCTRE says:

        This, this is a perfect description.

    2. default_ex says:

      I think it comes down to differences in thinking. To some people if one detail is crap then the whole thing is crap. While others can ignore the crappy part as long as it’s not a major component. I first came to realize this when I bought a knockoff of the Hakko 986 soldering station. You see a lot of reviews saying “don’t buy, it’s crap” because the clones typically have a plastic heating element that wont last very long or tips that have too large of a bore to make firm contact with the element. Both of which are 100% compatible with any brand of tip and element made for the 986 series, they are also parts you should replace with favorites since that’s what ultimately determines how it acts (everyone has their own preference).

    3. It’s the Curate’s Egg problem. For me, while I enjoyed many aspects of the general DX:HR gameplay, there were bits (generally story-related) that I found really jarring and the boss fights and ending exemplified that in the most egregious way possible.

      1. Victor McKnight says:

        I agree with almost all the points people are making about DX:HR generally and the boss fights more specifically. However, there is one thing that I don’t see getting a lot of discussion, and which, for me at least, really softened my stance towards them. And Amazon_Warrior’s comment seems the best place to bring it up.

        The discussion about boss fights and game mechanics all seem to come down to issues of how every feels they “should” be playing a DX game or whether they were trying to do a no-kill/ghost play through or what is the optimum XP path or whatever. And that is all good stuff to talk about.

        But also, this is a game where in the first ten minutes, your place of employment is attacked, your ex-wife and her team are seemingly killed as well as a bunch of other people are actually killed and then you get thrown through a window and have a revolver round put through your skull. This set-up worked well enough for me that, when I finally had a chance to engage in fights with these guys, it felt cathartic to do so.

        But, Shamus has said on multiple occasions that the intro to Dishonored didn’t work for him. It didn’t work for me either. But the opening of DX:HR did work for me on a narrative level, and it carried me through the lackluster boss fights (and I haven’t played the Director’s cut yet so I am very much talking about the original ones).

        So I would be legitimately interested to see other people’s thoughts on boss fights as a function of narrative and not mechanics. Because I play DX games for both, and this was one of those times where it made sense to me, especially on a first play-through, that you would want to kill these guys. That from a game narrative standpoint, at least some cathartic confrontation with these guys was necessary.

        1. Good point. Part of why they feel so dissonant (to me, anyway) is precisely because of the hard mechanical push towards stealth/non-lethal gameplay in the rest of the game. Remind me though – other than Namir, how obvious are t’other two bosses in the intro section of the vanilla version? I can’t remember from my first playthrough and when watching SoliderHawke’s first DX:HR episode (which I am pretty sure is the DC version), I noticed that both Barrett and whatsherface woman were more…. obviously present? But I really can’t remember if that was the case in the vanilla game. Even if they were, I may well have been too preoccupied with telling tutorial popups to sod off and wrangling with the cover mechanics to spot random invisible women.

          Totally get what you mean re wanting/being able to kill the bosses – that was never my issue with them. My issue was always the way the fights (most notably the first) were set up. I’m happy to kill a dude, but if I’m also trying to play a sneaky bastard, please FFS don’t make my character walk out into an exposed space for a chit-chat prior to locking me in a sparse room with a psycho bullet sponge the size and shape of a London bus. The fixes, as referenced by Redrock, did improve things by providing a somewhat more complex space for a bit of escape’n’evasion and some better options for sneaky hacker builds.

          1. Victor McKnight says:

            Its been ages since I have played it, but in the vanilla game I only recall Barrett and whats her face (Federova?) getting brief attention. Basically you just get some glimpses of them gunning down Sarif scientists. It is pretty thin.

            Anyway, its was more the whole sequence worked just well enough for me to keep me motivated. As you say, the three augmented operatives don’t get characterizations and the the cut scenes leading to their fights were not great. Especially the one for Barrett.

            It probably also helps that I almost always make hybrid stealth/combat builds in these things – ie stealth is a means to engage in combat on my terms as well as avoid it altogether. So even in the Barrett fight, where you are railroaded into the encounter, my character build didn’t leave me at too much of a disadvantage.

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I’m happy it worked for you because it must have improved your enjoyment of the game dramatically but this will definitely be a case of varying mileage since for me these characters weren’t built anywhere near enough for me to engage emotionally with the fights (other than perhaps frustration). I can definitely see that you can roleplay Adam as revenge motivated in your head but I don’t think revenge was ever a major theme in the game, and in terms of themes that are, or at least are meant to be, major (on a personal level Adam’s acceptance or lack thereof of his forced modifications, on a more general level all the augmentation, transhumanism and society related stuff) these people do nothing. If during the introduction sequence the mercs were replaced by faceless mooks and the boss fights removed entirely the game would hardly be poorer for it, heck, even the assumed desire for revenge would be, without any real changes to the script, retargetted to the person who ordered the attack rather than those who performed it.

          To be fair, we know that massive chunks of the initially planned content didn’t make it into the game (we’re short at least one city hub) so it’s perfectly possible the mercs were meant to have a greater role. Amazon_warrior below also mentions they’re more fleshed out in some companion novel but our positions on this kind of thing is pretty similar, so if it’s not in the game…

          1. Victor McKnight says:

            Its definitely a case of YMMV, especially, as you say, they really don’t get any further characterization in game. Its nothing like the fights with Gunther Herman in the original.

            Still, the designers did go to the trouble of having a 10 minute sequence of talking to people at Sarif and highlighting your role as head of security before having the place attacked. I don’t think you one has to play Jensen as being entirely revenge motivated for the entire game for the scene to work. Its just a question of whether the opening was enough to get you to buy into that part of the narrative.

            To both your points though, no, the game is really not about revenge and certainly it does nothing to sustain your conflict with the three mercs before your fight them. The only reason not to replace them with random mooks is so that you can have the boss fights with them later. And since they really are just stepping stones, it is true that when I was dealing with them, I was mainly hoping that doing so would get me closer to the people who ordered the attack.

            So it that sense, I think we do basically agree.

        3. Daemian Lucifer says:

          The problem with those fights is that you are thrown into the fray after a cutscene.Compare them to the boss fight in missing link dlc,where you are NOT immediately spotted and shot at by the boss,but rather can approach them in whatever way you wish.Essentially,the missing link offers you a boss arena,which is cool,while the original human revolution offered you a standard video game boss fight,which is just out of place for this game.Or heck,look at the fight where the plane is being attacked and you have to go in guns blazing* if you want to save malik in time,which is one of the best moments of the game,even though it pushes you strongly towards a bloodbath.

          *You CAN do it stealthily and with no kills,but that is VERY tough to accomplish,and essentially impossible on your first try before knowing where every enemy is and how they move.

          1. Dreadjaws says:

            That fight isn’t really that hard in a no-kill playthrough if you carry a bunch of non-lethal weaponry (particularly gas grenades). There’s really only one thing to worry about and it’s the damn robot. Any way you choose to disable the robot will make it explode, killing anyone near it instantly, so the real challenge comes from making sure enemies are far away from it when you make it go down.

    4. Echo Tango says:

      The problem is for people who didn’t build in a way that’s compatible with those boss fights. If you had sneaky headshot guns and hacking skill instead of big damage-dealers, the boss fights would be a huge spike in difficulty. I myself had to redo all three non-ending boss fights for about an hour each (or possibly more), in order to beat them. That’s a huge waste of my time. More frustrating still, is that at the time, I didn’t even know if I would be able to finish them, or if I would need to scrap my save and start a new game, with a play-style that I do not enjoy.

    5. Redrock says:

      Honestly, I just wish more people acknowledged that they mostly fixed the boss fights in the DLC and the Director’s Cut. That’s not something that gets done often. Yeah, they made a mistake. But they listened and actually put in the work to fix the problem. I think that deserves some praise and respect. And yeah, even in the vanilla game the boss fights don’t seem to be a big enough problem to discard the whole game.

      1. They…… kind of fixed them? And yes, that is more than many studios might have done. I recall running into Boss #1 on my first playthrough, as a pretty sneaky, mostly non-lethal, hacker Jensen and dying over and over until I finally alt-tabbed out, discovered that dude-fella was totally weak to the stun prod (and I happened to have a crap-ton of charges for it) and the fight after that was…. laughable. But that wasn’t something I would have inferred just from what the game itself was telling me. I’m not sure I even knew who the hell that guy was supposed to be on my first run, despite an obsessive habit of reading ALL the things. IIRC, the fixes were “we added a few side-rooms with bits’n’bobs to help you take these bastards down a bit easier, and inserted a small handful of scenes to better introduce Naked Muscle Man et al.”

        1. Redrock says:

          Well, it wasn’t just bits and pieces like extra ammo and whatnot. There were terminals to hack, turrets to turn against them, etc. You know, Deus Ex-y things. Sure, none of the “fixed” boss fights are as good as, say, the Anne Navarre situations in the original, but they do fall in line with the design of the rest of the game. You know, the good old sneak-shoot-hack choice.

          1. I don’t recall saying that “bits ‘n’ bobs” was only “more weapons/ammo”. ;) Honestly, my main beef with the DX:HR boss fights was that really I had no real handle on who they were and why I should give a fuck, at least in the first game I played. And that was despite, as I mentioned, reading every bit of in-game lore I could lay my sticky mitts on. And that’s something not solved by “Ok, have some turrets to hack.”

            1. Redrock says:

              True, yeah. I mean, you are basically told that these are the asshole commandos that raided your lab in the beginning, and that’s pretty much it. But, hey, it can be worse. Just yesterday I was playing Final Fantasy XV and there is this guy who was never ever mentioned before, he appears out of nowhere and then you kill him and he’s barely mentioned again. The in-game encyclopedia then informs you, if you bother to look, that the guy was kind of a bigwig in the villain’s army. Huh. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s just a Square Enix thing?

              1. That might explain a lot, yes! (I’ve never played any FF game, mind – my closest experience of them to date has been reading Shamus’ analysis of FFX.)

                ETA: Hey, at least it’s in the in-game encyclopedia! I think the DX:HR bosses are supposedly fleshed out in a companion book? I really hate that approach. If it’s important to the story of the game, put it in the soddin’ GAME, FFS!

      2. Hal says:

        The problem might be that a lot of people never went back to play the Director’s Cut; I can’t be the only one who didn’t, in any case. So even though there might have been improvements made, most of the people who played the game experienced it before the improvements were made, so there’s nothing there to change their impressions.

    6. Mephane says:

      My biggest issue with DX:HR is the levelling and XP mechanics. Specifically, the combination of XP gains punishing and rewarding different play styles differently, combined with the finite amount of XP in the game.

      Basically (using made-up numbers), if you stealth everything, never get detected, you can gain 1,000,000 XP in a play-through, and no more. If you play offensively and kill every enemy, you can only gain 500,000 XP. If you play stealthy, never get detected, but also non-lethally take-down every enemy, you can gain 2,000,000 XP.

      It doesn’t matter that the lowest amount of 500,000 XP is sufficient to finish the game anyway. Depending on how you play, the amount of skill points gained over time, but more importantly per amount of completed content (in a game with a finite amount of content), can vary greatly.

      As a consequence, if I want to engage a certain section of the game using a particular ability, if I haven’t been able to gather enough XP to unlock it by the time I have exhausted all other content before this section, there is nothing I can do about it. In games with infinite content (e.g. respawning enemies), I can just grind a bit more to get the XP necessary to unlock that ability. Which is one (of many) reason why I prefer open-world games, because they usually have some form of infinite content. Shamus once referred to this concept as “self-balancing gameplay”.

      I know I am in a very tiny minority here that minds this;there are so many single-player games that have this combination of finite XP with playstyle-dependent XP bonuses and maluses and I don’t think I have ever heard any other player, let alone a professional review, complain about this detail.

      1. THIS. VERY YES. The XP/reward system heavily incentivised a very specific playstyle, and although it was a playstyle that (mostly) matched my personal preferences, I still found it rather grating – and even moreso when thrown into unavoidable fights that completely ignored it.

        I also found myself really quite missing the way that oDX made it necessary to choose between augment upgrade paths and skill purchases (although if you were nosy enough, I generally found that by the endgame you could have maxxed out pretty much all the skills – even swimming! :p). “My” Denton always felt much more like my personal creation than “my” Jensen ever did.

        Incentivisation (intentional or otherwise) of player behaviour through game mechanics is a topic I find endlessly fascinating to discuss and analyse, but can also have the slight downside of meaning that I find it very hard to un-notice such systems in games.

        1. Redrock says:

          Looks like I will be the resident Human Revolution apologist for today. I don’t think it’s as bad as you make it sound. First of all, I think it can be safely said that HR rewards the style of gameplay that is the heart and soul of Deus Ex – sneaking, exploring, etc. I know a lot of people will say that it’s limiting the player’s freedom, but come on. It’s Deus Ex, not Doom. If you’re running and gunning through the game, you’re playing it wrong. Second of all, I think it kinda makes sense from a design perspective? The brute force approach doesn’t really need that much augmentation. Stealth-based players need all the Praxis they can get, what with the need to upgrade cloak, battery, hacking, silent step, vision, etc. If you go guns blazing, you mostly need supplies and some dermal armor and maybe the Typhoon. So it very much synergizes with a given playstyle.

          1. Uhmmmm. Hmmmmm. Even though I know that I (and many others) chose to approach oDX with a more stealth/intel approach, it was by no means the only way to do so – and I knew of people who went through it as murder-Denton and had a blast. I suspect they would have been rather put out to be told they were playing it “wrong.” oDX, IIRC, mostly just gave XP for completing missions and for exploration/discovery – it passed comparatively little judgement on lethal/non-lethal approaches past the first few areas. It was also usually pretty good at “blank-filling” in case you’d shown up in an area without the “right” skill or augment, too. Room full of poison gas in your way? Didn’t pick the right chest upgrade? Never mind, here’s a hazmat suit. Not trained in using it? Better be quick, then!

            I think what riles me about obviously incentivised playstyles is that the freedom it limits is the freedom to adapt to different situations on a personal level. And also that, as mentioned, once I can see my behaviour being manipulated I find it quite hard to stop noticing.

            Re design decision: I really think that comes down to the fact that the choice in DX:HR is not “which of these two upgrades best suits my playstyle?” but “which upgrade shall I buy first?” By the end of the game, I suspect that (other than self-imposed limits to create personal challenges) most people will have had basically the same Jensen, tooled to the max for fighting/sneaking/hacking/button pushing. And that may well be regardless of how violent (or not) they have been.

            Also, I think you’re reading me more negatively than perhaps I am actually being. After all, I have played DX:HR through at least 2-3 times (with and w/out the DC and Missing Link DLC) – much like OGH, I nitpick because I care! ;)

            1. Redrock says:

              I think what riles me about obviously incentivised playstyles is that the freedom it limits is the freedom to adapt to different situations on a personal level. And also that, as mentioned, once I can see my behaviour being manipulated I find it quite hard to stop noticing.

              That I can agree with, I’m pretty much the same way myself. Which is why I vastly prefer Death of the Outsider to the other two Dishonored games, even though it’s smaller and has less variety. Hate to be artificially limited in my responses.

              But I’d still argue that in case of Deus Ex there is, shall we say, the optimal experience and the alternative ways to play. You can play as a murder-Denton or a murder-Jensen, sure. But such a playthrough wouldn’t be very good compared to other, more specialized shooters, and wouldn’t really have what makes Deus Ex, well, Deus Ex. I’m not saying you can’t have fun that way. To put it another way, playing as murder-Denton is a lot like playing as a Nosferatu in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. It’s viable, it’s a fully intended option. But it’s not the optimal experience or a good representation of what the game is. Same for a low-intelligence Fallout playthrough, for example. I admit, “you’re playing it wrong” is not a diplomatic way to put it. But that’s what it boils down to, especially if we’re talking first and/or only playthorugh.

              1. Re “optimal” vs. “non-optimal” – Mmmm, fair. But I think it’s something much better handled with some subtlety: oDX NPCs comment favourably/unfavourably on your degree of homicidal mania in the first few areas, which lasts just long enough to set the main tone of “this is not your usual shooter” and clue the player into the fact that there are alternatives to run’n’gun through everything. After that, though, you’re mostly left to your own devices as to how much you choose to stick with the proposed tone or go off-rail on a murder rampage. Contrast with DX:HR, in which the “goody-goody” routes are heavily larded with XP just in case you’d failed to notice what kind of game you’d bought. oDX did something rather new (from a FPS POV) and communicated it fairly gracefully; DX:HR wasn’t really doing anything new, but felt it had to bludgeon people with the message anyway.

              2. Aside: Death of the Outsider is Dishonored 2 DLC, isn’t it? I’ve played D1, but not D2 yet – dunno if it’ll run on my increasingly elderly GPU (that I cannot in any way afford to replace right now!). But I dearly, dearly would like to stick one to the Outsider, stupid emo git that he is.

                1. Redrock says:

                  It’s a standalone, actually. It’s pretty much more Dishonored 2, but with no chaos system. Be as lethal or merciful as you wish, basically. Makes things much more organic, honestly. It’s just that much more immersive to, say, knock out the servants but kill the asshole sadistic guards, for example, and not limit yourself to one style just because the game will railroad you into one or the other path otherwise.

                  That’s the trouble with games with a binary karma system. You might as well just choose your karma at the beginning and strip away all the opposite option for that playthrough.

                  1. That’s the trouble with games with a binary karma system. You might as well just choose your karma at the beginning and strip away all the opposite option for that playthrough.

                    YES. On this, we are quite in agreement!

                    Having checked the min/rec’d specs for Dishy 2, I don’t think my poor 5850 is gonna cut it. Ah well.

                  2. Mako says:

                    While I don’t really disagree, but I’ve found that, at least with each of the Dishonored DLC (Knife and Witches), if you hold back in the first two missions, you can safely go to murdertown in the third one (both DLC are comprised of three missions) and maintain low chaos.

                    1. Redrock says:

                      Yeah, but you are still painfully aware of the system. And the fact that you can game the system like that just drives home how artificial it is. “Ok, man, you can painfully murder up to 11 guys and gals. I mean, really go to town, have rats devour them alive, cut of their limbs, burn them and drink in their screams. Have fun. The city will be a-ok. But kill just one other person? The city will go to hell. And you will be a very bad person after that. 11 guys? Totally fine. 12? That’s the line we do not cross”. Yeah, no, thanks.

        2. Victor McKnight says:

          This is one area where I feel like Mankind Divided handled things much better. Its been ages since I played DX:HR, but I just finished DX:MD a few months ago. MD hands out experience points for all kinds of things. If I shot a guy in the head, I might get “Trooper” +25 xp, but if I did a non-lethal take down it would be “Merciful Soul” + 25 xp. I seem to recall xp awarded both for accessing a system via hacking and doing so via entering in the correct code as well as “ghosting” an area vs. hiding until an alarm “reset”.

          I can’t claim to have done a detailed analysis of it, but it “felt” like a step in the right direction.

          1. Oh, now that’s interesting. I have DX:MD in my Steam library, waiting for a much-needed GPU upgrade.

      2. Echo Tango says:

        You might have gotten more exp from the non-lethal options, but you also spent far more of your precious upgrade points. Hacking was split among more than one skill (plus other non-lethal skills like heavy lifting and invisibility), if I recall correctly, and you needed to get high level to be guaranteed success. If you played shoot-mans style, you had a lot more wiggle room, because the game didn’t require so much investment from you.

        1. As much as I enjoyed the hacking mini-game in DX:HR, I also came to realise that hacking was lol!broken as soon as I noticed that I was preferentially hacking terminals I had logins to, so that I could reap the sweet, sweet XP/money/software goodness that hacking provided. Although it helped to bump up the hacking augs, you could get fairly far along anyway as long as you had some facility with the mini-game.

          Random aside – Why is it that people assume that run’n’gun people might not want/use the so-called “non-violent” upgrades? Throwing drinks machines at peoples’ heads is fun! And cloaking to get into the sweet spot for a good fire fight sounds like just good tactics to me. I’m sure you could do a murder run without those upgrades, but I’m pretty sure they’d have their uses in practice.

          1. Mephane says:

            I completely forgot about that, yes! Once I realized that using the correct key codes robbed me of the chance to hack the terminals for XP, I avoided using codes whereever possible…

            1. Yup! I liked hacking, but I always wished they’d implemented it slightly differently – rather than XP/cash bonuses, I always wondered what it might have been like if the aim had been to capture different parts of the system – so *this* node gives access to the cameras and *that* node controls the turrets, for example. And using the correct access code would have granted easy access to all available systems on the terminal.

      3. Dreadjaws says:

        I wouldn’t call it “punishing”. You simply reap different rewards. Stealthing rewards you with more XP, while killing rewards you with more ammo. You’re simply given the reward that better fits your playstyle. Like it or not, that person who doesn’t go for stealth doesn’t need as much experience. You don’t need most of the hacking skills, the silent mods, double-takedowns, etc. Meanwhile, the few augmentations pushed towards gunplay are more concise and effective for it.

        Granted, Mankind Divided still did a better job at it.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          But you dont know that when you first get into it.All you see is that if you stealth,you get more xp.

  10. Cinebeast says:

    Never thought I’d see Jacksepticeye mentioned on this blog!

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      If you’d like a more cerebral SubNautica play-through, EnterElysium might hit the spot: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLR5ZBfGW6e1kn7cKg57RU6m3B4NYyNy8i
      As I said in the episode, I’m not comfortable with Jacksepticeye’s profane banter, but he’s certainly got the appeal of enthusiasm.

  11. Chris Robertson says:

    I recommended them before, and nothing has changed… http://digitalocean.com/

    55 seconds and you can have a LAMP host. https://www.digitalocean.com/products/one-click-apps/lamp/

  12. Mako says:

    Any reason why Isaac played the regular version of Human Revolution rather than the Director’s Cut? The Missing Link pacing issues aside, the DC really improves the game, most especially with altered boss battles.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Yeah, I’m curious about this as well. Why would anyone still play the original game when the Director’s Cut is available?

      1. Shamus says:

        He did play the DC. Did I say he played the original in the podcast? If so, I misspoke.

        1. Droid says:

          You said he played “the original”, likely meaning “the one without a number or subtitle”, i.e. the first one. At least that’s what I think people are referring to here.

        2. Mako says:

          Huh. The podcast does mention him playing through the Missing Link. Maybe I was under the impression the DLC was installed on the non-DC version. It’s probably that the podcast underlines the problems with boss battles, and I always felt (and still do) that the DC has done away with most of their flaws. Therefore I assumed he played the standard version.

          Then again, I almost never played the game fully non-lethally. I tend to start out with a non-lethal approach and then switch to lethal in a few select situations (like the battle against Belltower mooks who shoot you down and try to kill Malik — I basically always do that in full murdertown mode). So for me, the issue with the boss battles wasn’t so much that you couldn’t do them non-lethally, it was that you needed to fight head-on, which they’ve done away with in the DC.

          Actually, in my first playthrough I abandoned the non-lethal route the moment you first come across the red-and-grey clad mercs and you find out they’re part of the same squad who attacked Sarif. I felt like the Adam Jensen I was playing would be really pumped, that he wouldn’t hold back against these guys. These emotions really came through for me, and it’s something I really appreciate about Human Revolution — the plot might not be the best, but it really works for me on an emotional level (especially in the first half of the game).

        3. Dreadjaws says:

          This is strange, because everything in the podcast points to the game being the original. Leaving aside the fact that the boss battles are entirely changed so that you’re no longer forced to do gunfighting, which would do away with most of the complaints heard here, the DLC is integrated into the story and no longer referred to as “The Missing Link”.

          Are you 100% positive he played the Director’s Cut?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Integrated is not how I would describe it.Forcefully shoved in is a better description.

      2. Leocruta says:

        In my case, it’s simply a matter of owning the original and not the DC.

  13. RJT says:

    Paint Shop Pro was amazing (I had it back when it was JASC Paint Shop Pro, and they provided free updates through version 8). I can’t get it to run anymore, or rather, I can, but it usually crashes one hour after I stop remembering to save. I really don’t understand how Photoshop is so ubiquitous, considering it’s cost and incredible level of DRM. I might have to try Affinity!

  14. Chad says:

    I am having trouble figuring out how to subscribe to the Diecast with my podcast app on my phone. With the old one, I’d just search and click, but the new one isn’t coming up that way. When I try entering the url, it keeps saying it isn’t valid. Any suggestions or corrections so I can listen to the new Diecast?

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Are you trying the link in the text (where Shamus talks about ‘an enterprising reader’)? The link below the media player indeed doesn’t work, but the enterprising reader one does now work for me in the iOS Podcast app.

      Thanks, Enterprising Reader!

      1. Chad says:

        I tried it too, but I might have done it wrong.

  15. 4th Dimension says:

    If you think finding suitable LAMP hosting is hard, it’s got nothing on finding ASP.NET hosting, if like me somebody decided to make their own simple site in C# and ASP because they didn’t want to have to do anything with PHP.
    There is MUCH fewer hosters supporting the technology and higher prices.

  16. Somniorum says:

    Hi Shamus, if you’re seeing this : ) Early in the podcast you mentioned something to the effect of “wouldn’t it be weird if tons of people were playing low level characters in WoW today, queuing up in big lines to kill some quest target”.

    There actually are a lot of people playing through the old content with new characters right now, and you don’t really have to compete with other players for kill-targets anymore.

    Part of the reason they’re making new characters right now is because four new races (“allied races”) were added, which start at level 20 (at least four more have been announced, too, which will be coming out during the next expansion. Likely more than that, in fact). On top of this, they released these four new races at roughly the same time as they introduced level scaling to the whole game – basically, zones in the game now have enemies that level up with you up to a certain point. So, think of Darkshore – an early Night Elf zone that, iirc, you rather liked. That place scales between something like 15-60. The Outland and Northrend (the continents of the first two expansions) actually share the 60-80 bracket, so you can skip one completely if you really dislike it. It allows a freer way to play the game, where you’re not having to worry about levelling up so fast that quests at the end of a zone are grey (which became a problem during the third expansion for low level content).

    And people no longer need to compete for quest targets (aside for a few small instances) because people share credit for kills now. If you jump in on a fight that was started by someone of your faction, you get quest credit and loot (the loot is specific for you – they don’t see what you get, you don’t see what they get). Special enemies – like certain important quest targets, or stuff like grey-dragon enemies that drop special loot – are actually shared between both Horde *and* Alliance. So, if an Orc starts a fight with some bandit leader that’s the single target of a quest, and a Human hops in and gets at least one hit in, they both get credit and loot. Makes the game *way* more pleasant to play – strangers regularly gang up on tough enemies because it just makes sense, and nobody even needs to discuss it beforehand. It’s generally not perceived as rude to join someone who’s fighting some bad guys without asking, since it’s just making things go a little smoother for both of you. Oh, and most respawn times are pretty reasonable these days, too.

  17. Son of Valhalla says:

    A few things to keep in mind when it comes to customer service for any IT company…

    1. Press 0 for customer service or attempt to get to Tech Support.
    2. Tell them the issue with as much detail as possible.
    3. If your representative is bad, hang up and call back.

    The goal should be to get on the phone with someone who is going to be human to you, not someone who talks like they’re a robot or sound hasty and annoyed.

    And trust me, customer service sucks, but the least people who function as reps can do is work to solve a problem and ‘act’ like they care.

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