Diecast #214: Mailbag Clearinghouse

By Shamus Posted Monday Jun 11, 2018

Filed under: Diecast 42 comments

I’m very busy with E3 this week and didn’t have time to come up with good topics. So we emptied out the mailbag.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
00:00 Intro

The email is in the header if you’d like to send us more questions.

00:54 Hitmans, and changing your opinion on a game.


That’s a non-question first, since I’ve just listened to episode 211 and since I’m late I have a feel, that a comment under it will be pointless. Sorry for this frivolousness on my part.

Anyway, about Thief vs Thief 2. I do prefer T2, but I saw enough people who preferred the first one, they saw T2 more boring, since it lacked diversity of levels and moods (less horror and tomb raiding). Actually, I thought just like you, and hated these levels. But I replayed a year later and… I loved these levels. They do work, they have their own mood, and sometimes it’s more fun to evade every obstacle by using acrobatics, instead of killing everyone. Thief 2 is still better, but Thief 1 isn’t that much worse. Deadly Shadow’s is enjoyable (I don’t think that game is worthless, even missions other than Shalebridge Cradle are pretty good and worth playing).

I’m surprised with your comment about Hitman and Hitman 2. Hitman 2 is a vastly inferior game, flaws of which were inherited by Absolution. More linear levels (many of which without the targets, you must just pass them through), very easy to get your cover blown (you can’t even run, just slowly walk), very limited choices of dispatching the targets, and removing money system in favor of unlocks (in a game about contract killer!). Codename 47 wasn’t perfect game, very uneven I agree. But highs of C47 were way higher than highs of SA, and lows are relatively equal. Thankfully, IOI made Contracts and Blood Money. May be it’s just me, who views Silent Assassin on par with Absolution.

So… The question is (returning to that Thief question remark)… Were there games, that after replaying them, you drastically change your opinion on them, for better or worse?

Best regards, DeadlyDark

15:16 Choosing Guns in Games

Dear Diecast,
I also started playing Destiny 2 recently, and wanted to get your thoughts on the weapon design.
As I see it, there are three variables that define the overall appeal of a weapon:
Firstly, its raw stats, the things that are directly measured by the in game power level.

Secondly, there is the utility/suitability of the weapon: things that make a weapon better or worse for a given environment or play-style; for example, a higher capacity, lower damage weapon when facing swarms, a shotgun instead of a sniper rifle when in narrow, twisting corridors, or a sight that highlights enemies when in dark areas.

Thirdly is the aesthetics of the weapon: how it looks and feels to use. (There are some definite winners & losers in this category, in my, admittedly biased, opinion)

How much do you care about each aspect? Are you willing to put up with a gun that is statistically more powerful, and well suited to the environment, if it looks or feels bad? Are there weapons that were surpassed in stat power several levels ago, but you still use because it is far better suited to your needs?

I find this problem more notable then in other games (ie borderlands) because swapping weapons around eats ammo, which is most noticeable on the power (purple) weapons, which also happen to be, in my experience, the category which has the most specialized weapons, which need to be changed to fit the situation more often. They also have the lowest ammo stores.
Between that and the relative lack of "safe" spaces to mess around with menus in, picking a well rounded loadout is key, as if something isn’t working, it’s not easy to swap it out.


22:55 Timeless Games

Hello Diecast,

I’ve been wondering, is there any game that you often come back to and it still plays as good and feels as great as when you played it the first time?

For me it’s Half-Life 2, everything just fits together so well… Also what do you think the secret to that kind of game is? IS it a mix of genuinely great game design and nostalgia?

Keep up the good work!



29:24 Controller Complexity

How do you feel about 4 face buttons being a standard for all consoles. I’ve been playing a lot with my old xbox recently and noticed that the black and white buttons are neat for some extra functions. So, now electronics have advanced a lot, why wouldn’t they put on 2 more.

Imagine 4 shoulder buttons and 6 face buttons. Seeing how often games have multi-button presses or tap/hold or multifunctional buttons (search and swap weapon for example) it seems silly not to just give devs a few more facebuttons to work with.



From The Archives:

42 thoughts on “Diecast #214: Mailbag Clearinghouse

  1. DeadleDark says:

    That’s surprising to see my questions first. First thing – Thank you for reading it! (not to mentioning talking about it)

    And the second one. I don’t know what consensus about C47 and SA either. You mentioned that C47 was considered worse than SA, which made me surprised in a way “that’s what people think? really?”. Sorry if my confusion it fell on you.

    Still – thank you

  2. DeadleDark says:

    Timeless Game for me is Jedi Outcast. Always glad to return to it. Having no alternatives to it also helps to make this game timeless.

    P.S. I actually watched Galaxy Quest without watching Star Trek. Still enjoyed it. I watched it again, after I watched all the Star Trek – still a great movie

    1. Redrock says:

      I kinda prefer Jedi Academy to Outcast, if only because it drops the pretense and allows you to focus on the Jedi stuff right from the start. Also, the additional lightsaber styles are nice, although ultimately inferior

      1. DeadleDark says:

        I totally understand you.

        But I like story* and levels more. And less enemy jedi to fight – it makes them look more menacing. In Academy they are a cannon fodder, since there’re so many of them.

        *Story is still objectively bad. But I have a soft spot for it.

        1. Redrock says:

          Oh, I think that Outcast is a better game. But I’ll return to Academy more often, because I don’t care about the story by now and just want to get into the lightsaber action ASAP.

          1. Benjamin Hilton says:

            When I feel the urge for the force I always end up playing these two back to back.

            1. PPX14 says:

              I played Outcast and then Academy many years ago, and have since acquired Dark Forces and Jedi Knight, have been making myself play through them in order. Finally finished Dark Forces (on Hard, so took ages!), can’t wait to get to play Outcast again.

              Doing the with my other equal-favourite game also mentioned by DeadleDark: Thief: Deadly Shadows. Have been slowly going through Thief 1 and 2 and loving it.

              Amazing franchises.

  3. JB says:

    The timeless games for me are Stars! and SMAC, still my 2 favourite 4x games 20+ years down the road. However I may just be a grumpy old man, stuck in the past, get off my lawn etc…

    1. Droid says:

      I think I’d play the heck out of Stars! if only it weren’t 100% UI (and non-graphical at that). A bit of graphical sweetness, a bit more pleasant controls, a bit more generous limits on ship models, etc. and I would gladly play it dozens or hundreds of hours.

      EDIT: That said, I had a lot of fun with Endless Space, which surprised me after I bounced off Endless Legend, but I guess you can’t just expect the same mechanics to work well on planets/star systems as well as a planet surface/hex grid.

    2. GargamelLeNoir says:

      I’ve discovered SMAC quite late myself, and once I managed to grasp the controls I was amazed at how amazing it is! It’s hard to express how angry and disappointed I was at Beyond Earth…

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      Oh yeah. I love going back to Stars! (despite the integral punctuation) and messing about. I never really got good at it though. Always felt like I was missing something.

  4. Joe says:

    In Australia, the stereotypical bogan is related to the American redneck/white trash and the British chav. From a lower socioeconomic background. No taste. Quite crude. Big fan of reality TV. Would like Mad Max Fury Road better if Max rooted (had sex with) one of the women. Or at least if they got properly naked. As with the other versions, people either make fun of or embrace it. So that’s the origin of that one gun in BL:TPS.

    As far as aesthetics are concerned, I like the look of Dahl and Jakobs guns in BL2, but they don’t fit my ‘more dakka’ style.

  5. Hal says:

    The Division definitely has bad weapon feel to me. This is mostly because the enemies are damage sponges; I can unload an entire magazine from my SMG into some foes and they still stand.

    What’s funny is that this would be fine if it were some other genre, like a sci-fi shooter. Being a realistic, modern-day shooter, however, it just doesn’t feel right for me to unload into an enemy and not drop them. It makes the weapons feel very weak.

    1. Nixorbo says:

      And that’s why I never played more than the beta.

    2. Redrock says:

      While I’m not touching the Division ever precisely because of that, don’t SMGs feel weak in most games? Apart from possibly the Alternator in Titanfall 2?

      1. Hal says:

        Yeah, you generally have a progression of something like SMG-Assault Rifle-Shotgun-Sniper Rifle in terms of power, wherein you’re trading power per shot for the speed/utility of the weapon. The details might vary game to game, but that’s generally an understood paradigm.


        In this case, you’re playing in NYC. My current enemies are rioters, dudes wearing jeans and hoodies. I should not unload 30 bullets center mass into one of these fellas, only to watch them stagger, shrug it off, and charge at me with a baseball bat. That’s ridiculous and feels terrible.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          But like, maybe they’re bodybuilders who are also high on drugs, and…yeah, there’s no way in hell that makes sense. ^^;

        2. Shas'Ui says:

          Don’t forget machine guns, which often deal less damage per shot then assault rifles, despite IRL using the same ammunition. In games, the faster a weapon fires, the less damage it does. If you could get a bolt-action, single shot pistol, that would be a one-hit kill.

          Pretty much all of the benefits SMGs offer IRL are not useful in games: you never see a digital soldier get stuck because his 5ft sniper rifle got caught in a door, nor do you accidentally overpenetrate and hit a noncombatant through a wall, and most of all, you don’t worry about the weight of the gun.

          What makes the Division most egregious: the Tom Clancy label. Long reserved for “high realism, 1 hit kills, not your COD regen health, serious planning etc.” While other games under the label have abandoned those ideals (*coughGhostReconcough*) there was a period of time where slapping the name on let you know that this shooter was going to be different in a very specific way.

  6. bobbit says:

    i bet the rts paul is thinking of is dark reign: the future of war. (available now on gog.com!)

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yep! That’s the one.

    2. evilmrhenry says:

      And the other game was Star Control 2.

  7. GargamelLeNoir says:

    Doing a mailbag episode during a busy period is more than understandable, but I don’t think it’s reason enough to start the episode without the customary “So Paul…”…
    It’s when faced with urgency and adversity that we must hold on to what makes us great!

  8. Redrock says:

    When it comes to guns, as a western fan, I’ll always gravitate to revolvers, shotguns and lever-action or otherwise semi-auto rifles. I generally avoid full-auto weapons. I hate the feeling that each individual bullet is weak. I prefer to make my shots count and seeing each bullet have noticeable impact. That said, I’m not good enough to always effectively use semi-auto weapons in multiplayer, depending on the game, and I’ll switch if I’m letting a team down. But I play multiplayer shooters so rarely, it’s hardly a common problem for me.

  9. Narkis says:

    Timeless game? Master of Orion 2 for sure. No other 4x game feels quite as good.

    1. John says:

      I’m going to rain just a little on the Master of Orion 2 parade and say that, as much as I enjoyed it, I think it’s a little over-rated. The combat is very slow. It’s not very deep until you start getting end-game tech. If you just focus fire on one target at a time you have effectively mastered Master of Orion combat. And all too often the party with better tech and more ships wins and tactics are irrelevant anyway. I can see why most contemporary 4X developers don’t bother. The diplomatic options are also fairly limited compared to more contemporary 4X games.

  10. Tuck says:

    Timeless game: Sid Meier’s Colonization.

  11. kunedog says:

    For me, the post is cut off in the middle of the show notes at “Controller Complexity.”

  12. John says:

    Incidentally, the game with the Ur-Quan masters is Star Control 2. I can’t find any evidence that Shamus ever wrote an article specifically about Star Control 2, but people mention it repeatedly in the comments in his “Sandbox Space Sims” series from 2014.

  13. evilmrhenry says:

    Spend time talking about how unaffordable VR systems are, then the Oculus Go gets announced at E3. $200 for a stand-alone system.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Finally, we’re starting to enter the age where VR isn’t clunky and expensive. :)

    2. rabs says:

      Unfortunately Oculus Go is only 3DOF HMD and controller tracking, so it can barely be called VR.

      You can see depth in your environment, but cannot move your head nor you controllers in it.
      With 3DOF, to grab an object you point a laser/dot and click. With 6DOF, you reach and grab.

      There are some use cases though, like watching 3D movies, browsing the web, simple games. John Carmack said it’s more like an immersive equivalent of a tablet: instant on, can do simple tasks.

      6DOF VR is not that costly though. Windows MR HMD can go as low as $200 on sales, but requires a gaming PC (a $100 GPU won’t do it).

      On pricing, I don’t know what Paul refered to. Maybe he was taking gift cards and stuff in account:

      – Rift is $400, and a $70 third camera for a good room scale setup. Most people also buy cables extensions.

      – Vive is $500 with everything required for room scale. Most people buy the $100 deluxe audio strap for comfort. I don’t have one and do over 4h sessions without problems though.

      – Windows MR HMD are cheaper (starting from $300) but have flaws, though people still have a great experience. They are easier to install and move around, as it’s inside-out tracking.
      A special one it the Samsung Odyssey ($500), that fix many of the flaws and have the best screen of the market.

      1. rabs says:

        To clarify:

        – 3 degrees of freedom: rotation in 3 axes. You can look and point all around.

        – 6 degrees of freedom: rotation + translation in 3 axes. You can also move all around, witch is appreciable even if it’s small movements.
        It also reduces risk of sickness, because if you lean forward a bit the world will behave accordingly instead of sticking to your head position. That was the big jump between Rift DK1 and DK2.

  14. default_ex says:

    Know the learning a new 3D modeling kit too well. I learned how to use AutoCAD in high school. So when I took to 3D modeling I used 3D Studio Max which was very similar to AutoCAD but with some useful additions to assist with developing models for games and video. Tried many times to switch to Blender but it never fits with my workflow when 3D modeling.

    Recently managed to build up enough tools to take on woodworking projects again. Table saw, sanders, chisels, etc… Found a great source of wood in shipping palettes, shave off the ugly surface layer and you find beautiful hardwoods (best of all, free for anyone that can haul them away). So I began to shop around for a good personal use modeling software. A lot of stuff out there now and a lot of it is so damn clunky that it takes forever to get anything done. Finally I gave in and tried Sketch-Up. Took a couple hours, very painful hours to figure out how to get accurate cuts and extrusion but once I got a feel for it I found I like it. Within a couple days I had my mother’s new large cupboard, shelving and broom closet modeled. Split it up into individual boards and transferred into cut diagrams to make sure I waste as little wood as possible when it comes to making it. It would have taken me a week or two to do that with AutoCAD.

  15. Echo Tango says:

    Re: controller complexity

    Personally, I think we should go back to having a range of controllers/input devices, like in the 90s. I know all the waggle-stick manufacturers want to have another revenue stream besides the cut of the games on their platforms, but all the Bat-a-rang controllers are pretty much standard at this point. Those could all label their standard buttons the standard way in USB or whatever, and they’d be interchangeable for different platforms[1]. With that as the “standard”, there could be a lot more room opened up in customers’ wallets, to buy other controllers:
    – Switch-style mini-controllers / snap-on controllers that have fewer buttons. Better for new players and kids!
    – Light-guns / gyroscope- / acellerometer-powered guns!
    – Steering wheels / ariplane cockpit / mech-cockpit setups.
    – Standardized friggin’ VR controllers!

    [1] There’s already a 3rd-party company making a dongle (or whatever), to do this feat. It should just be standard out of the box.

    1. I’d love that! I miss my Microsoft Dual Strike, and would love an updated version (it was always more comfortable for me than a regular controller as my thumbs never really recovered from my serious GameBoy addiction). Sure, I alternate between touchpad and mouse for camera control now (in games like ESO or Skyrim), but another option’d be nice.

    2. Lazlo says:

      There are *so* many games (even console games) with interesting and complex controllers, and I feel like they generally don’t get the kind of love that they deserve. Forza was basically built around a steering wheel controller which, in my experience, was really nice. I don’t think I’ve seen a flight stick style controller for a console, but there really should be one. Then there was the Guitar Hero / Rock Band etc. games where the game itself was just a small shim wedged in between song licensing and ridiculous controllers. And then there was the ultimate console controller: Steel Battalion. I never got a chance to play it, but I desperately loved the idea of it.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Yeah, I totally forgot the guitar / drums / etc controllers! Add on top of that, things like Rocksmith, which used an adapter to plug into a real electric guitar! Really cool stuff, but expensive to be made obsolete all the time / vendor-lock-in. :)

  16. James says:

    Get it in yaa!

  17. ColeusRattus says:

    Now I know I am late to the discussion, but as an early consumer level adopter and aficionado of VR, I have to point out that the Rift is cheaper than the Vive!

    And concerning controls: there are some games that make you use the virtual controls with your tracked controller, like Star Trek Bridge Crew or VTOL VR, and even the latest build of originally and mainly pancake flightsim XPlane 11. It’s actually pretty awesome, but just like any motion control, it does lack feedback.

  18. PPX14 says:

    My timeless game is Space Invaders (1999). Can fire it up and blast through it in an hour. Pure fun (and sweaty palms).

    Replaying it on Hard once, I found out that there was an Insane mode to be unlocked, with a new (and rather familiar) end boss.

  19. rabs says:

    Some VR simulators are doing great “physical” interfaces.

    The one I like the most:

    – plane: VTOL VR (most complex one)
    There are some nice videos and tutorials on Youtube as well.
    For example, a new plane presentation : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_ex72dyNfg

    – submarine: IronWolf VR (best graphics)

    – train: Derail Valley (still a demo)

    – guns: H3VR (I’m not a gun fan, but like to play with those well simulated mechanical devices in VR – it’s not just about aiming and pressing a button)
    There are doing great dev log videos. I especially like this one where he explains how it’s designed in Unity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exXcf72FuRY

  20. MechaCrash says:

    Fallout 4’s pipe gun has a few purposes, despite being worse than the 9mm pistol you have when you start.

    The first is that the bandits need to shoot at you with something, and they have numbers on you, so there has to be something crappier than your gun so you’ve got something going for you when you face them.

    The second, which is a consequence of the first (although I don’t know if it was meant to be), is that the .32 ammo used by pipe guns is super abundant, so “running out” isn’t really much of a concern. You’re eventually swimming in every kind of ammo under the sun, but before that you may need to think “is this really worth using up some my precious 9mm ammo, or can I get by with the common garbage?”

    The third is that pipe guns are super customizable. If you find a pipe gun chassis, you can mod it into a submachine gun, a sniper rifle, a quick light backup pistol, anything you need. Sure, it’s worse at any of those roles than anything built for it, but until you get something that’s built for it, a pipe gun may be all you have. Laser and plasma weapons have the same versatility, but are more resource intensive to get, use, and modify.

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