Diecast #216: GDQ, Item Hoarding, NMS Rant

By Shamus Posted Monday Jul 2, 2018

Filed under: Diecast 128 comments

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
00:00 Games Done Quick Marathon

I really do love this marathon. This run was the highlight of the show for me:

Link (YouTube)

12:31 Shamus played Mass Effect Andromeda

Like I said yesterday, I’ll be streaming Andromeda later this week.

17:23 Mail: Item Hoarding

Dear Diecast

I was thinking about the “Too Valuable to use” problem in games where you have lots of rare and powerful items but you never use them because they are rare and valuable and you might need them later with the end result being that you finish the game with them just sitting in your inventory.

What do you think that developers can do to avoid this problem in their games?



36:28 Games to get when cheap

Might be kind of a time-sensitive question, since I thought it’d make productive DieCast discussion/comments before July 5, when the Steam Summer Sale ends.

Whenever the big digital game retailer sales roll around, I like to suggest, and ask for suggestions about, games you’d highly recommend to people *if they can be gotten cheap.* For instance, I dearly love Dragon’s Dogma, but I recognize that it’s peculiarly appealing to me and my interests, and that not too many people are going to get my kind of mileage out of it. But if you can get it for ten bucks, like you can now? I feel like that’s a great chance to test whether you’re an unknowing member of the cult that made it a cult hit, and low enough not to feel too cheated if you stop playing after getting wiped by the bandits on the road to Southron Gransys.

A better example might be NieR: Automata if it were on sale right now, which it unfortunately isn’t. I have plenty of high praise for it, but even more so than Dragon’s Dogma, Automata feels like a game that often consciously disregards mass appeal in favor of resonating much more strongly with a more particular audience. It’s an ambitious, cumbersome, touching, unnerving, beautiful death march of a game, and I’m wary of trying to convince players at large to drop sixty bucks on it. But if and when we start seeing the game hit twenty bucks, I’d start much more eagerly recommending it on the chance it might hit the nerve it’s aiming for, without so much sting if it doesn’t.

Do you have any games like this that you’d love more people to be able to take a chance on? I tend to think of it in terms of money and sales, since that’s the common practical consideration and because I’m a cheapskate by nature, but I guess the larger question is what you’d recommend to people if the opportunity cost were lowered or if the risk:reward ratio of trying a peculiar or unfamiliar game were suddenly lowered.


The Rocketeer

Note! In this section I said “Kaiju Game” when I meant Kaizo Game. Whoops.

41:51 Paul’s Epic No Man’s Sky Rant

Apparently Paul doesn’t care for this game? I don’t know what his problem is.


From The Archives:

128 thoughts on “Diecast #216: GDQ, Item Hoarding, NMS Rant

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Since this podcast was posted,no mans sky had 6812 patches that fixed all of the issues you mention.You should definitely go back to the game and finally give it a fair shot because it will blow your mind.Its everything you ever wanted from a game,and more.

    1. chris says:

      Fool, everyone knows you should wait a few weeks more for patch that will add everything you wished it had.

    2. TheJungerLudendorff says:

      Everything except a functional interface, because that’s really hard to do guys.

    3. Geebs says:

      I tell you what: I got my money’s worth out of No Man’s Sky, ehich is more than I can say for Mass Effect: Andromeda.

    4. StuHacking says:

      Huh… is this… is this a joke? If not, guess I need to give it another try then. I played maybe 2-3 hours of it about 1.5 years ago when it was in a sale.

      What I really wanted to play was the survival mode, for the feeling that finally crafting the gear you need was an achievement. But it just felt like the survival mode made it take longer to do anything with shortened timers for temperature and oxygen; I never felt a sense of real danger… just boredom. Is this still the case? Should I just play the regular mode?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        It is a joke because every time Shamus wrote something negative about the game someone would comment that “There were X patches since you last played that fixed the game”.It was never the case though.I mean the patches were there,and some things were “fixed”,but the core game is just too broken to be fixed with any number of patches.

        1. Stuart Hacking says:

          Ah, dang. Back on the metaphorical shelf it goes.

    5. Decius says:

      Unfortunately they added 6815 new bugs and misfeatures that make you hate it for entirely different reasons.

  2. PhoenixUltima says:

    One way to fight the “99 megalixirs sitting in the inventory” problem is to make the game hard enough to make you want to actually use all the best items. The SMT games go this route, and that’s a part of why I love that series. “This boss is kicking your ass? There are items that fully restore HP/MP to the whole party for a reason – USE THEM.”

    This raises the issue of how to balance the game so that even people who miss all those items can still feasibly beat it. SMT’s answer to this is just “grind more”, which can make the game tedious for people who aren’t careful about getting all the stuff they can. Persona 5 (a sub-series of the SMT franchise) also allows you to just lower the difficulty to the point where the game practically wins itself for you, which is… unsatisfying, to say the least (or so I assume – I’ve never actually played the game below hard difficulty).

    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

      I think there are better ways than making the game harder, unless players are rarely having to fight a boss more than a few times before winning (at that point, you’re going to have problems with any non-path of least resistance mechanics).

      The best way is to just cap their hoarding. If players are coming across items they can’t carry anymore because they’re full up, then they’ll be more inclined to use the items.

      The other way is to make them more integral to the game’s mechanics. Make them a bigger part of the player’s power; don’t just position them as “fuck-up” recovery or a generic power boost, but as a core part of how the game is supposed to be played.

      Another way is to use mechanics to train the player. Give them some fights that are flat-out impossible without item use (not through sheer difficulty, but through discrete mechanics) and have the game tell them that they have to use the items. Then give them replacement items as soon as the fight is over to signal that they don’t need to hoard,

      1. Redrock says:

        The other way is to make them more integral to the game’s mechanics. Make them a bigger part of the player’s power; don’t just position them as “fuck-up” recovery or a generic power boost, but as a core part of how the game is supposed to be played.

        That’s exactly it, in my opinion. A lot of items seem to be a “fuck-up” mechanic. I say, get rid of those. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 does this: you can’t use curative items in battle, the main way to heal is to use various combat abilities that damage the enemy and also cause instant healing potions to drop. And outside of battle you just regenerate rapidly. XC 2 has a lot of problems, but it does a good job of streamlining some JRPG mechanics.

        1. galacticplumber says:

          I mean, XC 1 already made a no consumeables policy. Just equipment, quest items, and more versatile than usual trade/vender trash.

          1. Redrock says:

            I wouldn’t know, XC 2 was my first game in the series. Mainly because the Switch is my first Nintendo console since, ahem, the Game Boy Advance.

            1. Mattias42 says:

              Would be kinda neat if at least one game showered you in those type of items…

              And just before the final boss, he steals and uses ALL of them. Giving him a few various super-modes depending on how ‘hoard-y’ you’ve been over the whole game. Ranging from barely managing to rip his shirt off, all the way to ‘Bow mortal, for I am a god now!’

              If you want that super-challenge you’ll need to skip using near all tools. If you want it easy, well, haven’t you used the super stuff anyway?

              Think it could work in the right game, at least.

              1. Nimrandir says:

                Our local Pathfinder organized play group does a variation of this for the end of a high-level ‘retirement’ arc. The original adventure is pretty old by now, and its final encounter can be steamrolled by most character options now available to players (to be honest, I doubt it was too dangerous upon publication). On the off chance someone here plans to play the Pathfinder Society scenario sequence ‘Eyes of the Ten,’ spoilers like below:

                As part of the proceedings, the party requires the guidance of magical stones imbued with the spirits of past agents. However, these stones actually contain doppelganger minions of the Big Bad. As written, the player characters end up fighting a group of melee combatants in full plate armor; this is pretty underwhelming as a coda to your character’s career. Our group spices things up by having the stones duplicate whatever buffs the party apply prior to the showdown. If you’re familiar with Pathfinder, that is not insignificant, and it makes for a cool ‘dark mirror’ flavor to the final battle.

                It’s not exactly the same as what you propose, but it’s close.

      2. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Personally I have greatly enjoyed Dark Souls approach to the estus flask, which may be considered the “core mechanic” approach you mentioned? It is a powerful healing item with a very limited number of uses that replenish when you rest at a bonfire and along the way you gather items that increase the number of uses and the strength of the healing. This means there are no long term drawbacks to using the flask (because it replenishes) but it is limited enough that finding an upgrade feels very rewarding. The games also have more traiditional consumables and I hated them, because I didn’t want to risk wasting them on what may turn out to be a failed run at the boss.

        1. GoStu says:

          That’s a good example and works for a few reasons:

          – Nothing about individual uses of the flask is unique, so there’s no collectible nature.
          – They may be limited, but the player knows when and how they’ll get more.
          – They might be powerful, but the difficulty of the game encourages their use.
          – Despite the difficulty, mastery of the game permits you to get by without them.
          – There’s really no other way to heal, so using them is almost mandatory.

          Those counter (in loose order) player’s objections to using them:
          – “I’ll never get another one!”
          – “Who knows when I’ll get another one of these”
          – “Don’t need to use this”
          – “What if I’m screwed by not having this later?”
          – “I can just wait it out to regenerate, and save this for the boss.”

    2. Daimbert says:

      Making it so that you are encouraged or have to use items is NOT the right way to discourage hoarding, because all it does is encourage you to not use items except for boss fights, because you’re going to need them there. This is even worse if you can only get the items as drops from enemies, which the SMT series tended to do for SP restoring items, which is critical for any fight, let alone boss fights. Hoarding is so much less likely when you know that you can just go out and buy the items when you leave the dungeon, and so you can use them all you want without having to worry that you won’t have any left for the end boss.

      That also solves the issue of people who can’t find all the items they need. If you let them buy them, then they don’t have to worry about that. And if you increase the money drops at the lower difficulties, they should be able to afford them at pretty much any point if they’ve fought at all. You can even pull the trick that other games have done and make those items drop more if they don’t have very many of them left.

      EDIT: And given how the Persona games work, by the end of the game you’re mostly using Somas to restore your SP at the end, and not your HP, as Mediarahan will restore the full HP of the entire party and at least ONE party member and probably one or more of your own Personas will have it by the end game. My main strategy is to wait until the healer — or some other important party member —
      is almost out of SP and everyone is low on HP and then have the healer use it instead of healing. This does the healing job and restores everyone’s SP as well. The curry in Persona 5 was the very best SP healing item I’ve ever seen in those games.

      I play every Persona game on Easy (which is not the easiest level on Persona 5, but was for all the others). The best method for this was Persona 3, which gave you 10 Plumes of Dusk to continue the game, where if you died you were revived and it gave the benefits of Soma to the entire party (restore HP/SP to full), but in general what I find is that on Easy it’s harder to be overwhelmed but you still have to pay attention to the weaknesses of your enemies and of your own party/Personas if you don’t want to have a terrible time. The Answer didn’t have an Easy mode, and I finished that at least once, but found that, yes, the way to do that was to grind and grind and grind until my party and Personas were a high enough level to take on the boss, which was not at all fun.

      1. Syal says:

        The curry in Persona 5 was the very best SP healing item I’ve ever seen in those games.

        And you never had to use it because you could also buy Invigorate 3 bracelets for everyone.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I use those sorts of items a fair bit because I like to run each dungeon all the way through one shot and that allows me to use my abilities in each fight without worrying about running out of SP. I do think that in the last run I used them sparingly, but they were useful in my first run.

    3. Shas'Ui says:

      You may want to reassess your assumption: sometimes playing the game on super-easy can be quite enjoyable. It depends heavily on the game: story based ones are obvious, as sometimes you just want to get to the next plot point rather then grind, but even games that are normally very difficulty-dependant, like XCOM or ARMA can be enjoyed in “player always wins” mode.
      It may not be how it is intended to be played, but turning the difficulty down allows for the power fantasy that a lot of games try to offer, but in a setting that reflects it more; after all, if the game is balanced around you being amazing, the rewards for doing so are standard, whereas if you take what is supposed to be a challenging mission in a difficult game, and ace it thanks to mods making it easy, the game better reflects your “impressive” success. Clearing a room of 6 guys in ARMA feels better then clearing it in Half-Life 2, as even if the danger is mostly removed, the game still treats it as dangerous, and so does your mind, especially if you also play on harder difficulties.
      This also allows you to play even if you are mentally or physically tired, but still looking for entertainment. Easy mode is the difference between spending my tired, late night, only time I have for gaming, session on “XCOM2: four carefully crafted soldiers die horribly because I forgot the medkit” and on “XCOM2: These 8 heros are here to kill aliens and use medkits, and they’re all out of medkits”.
      On the other hand, I also only have my opinion on this, and I doubt it’s everyone’s idea of a good time, but I did want to mention that there is an audience for super-easy mode, and that it might not be as boring as you think.

      1. Droid says:

        I second this whole post. Whether it’s “games are supposed to be hard”, “the difficulty makes it enjoyable” etc. or the more tangentially related “you can’t use cheats in your singleplayer game, that makes you a despicable person!”, there have always been some people who wanted to police my idea of fun. And yes, I have used mods, cheats and even cheat engine to make games easier.
        But I always did so in singleplayer. The most impact I could possibly have on anyone else with what I did was through the Steam achievements I would not have unlocked without those methods, and that’s just a drop in the ocean of an utterly insignificant statistic.

        And before anyone brings it up: No, cheating doesn’t make games stop being fun; instead not having fun triggers cheating to get the boring parts of the game over with. It might not always work, but it’s worth a shot IMO.

        1. Shas'Ui says:

          In private, informed environments, I’ve even “cheated” in multiplayer: capping off a long friends-only session of CSGO with a silly match, where SV_cheats is on, gravity is (mostly) off, and the timescale set to 0.2, aka “matrix mode”.

          Obviously, you wouldn’t do this sort of thing in a competitive environment, but with friends, in a private match, it’s great fun. Just make sure it applies to everyone, or that the asymmetry is acknowledged and balanced through other means.

      2. Daimbert says:

        I do this for sports games. I’d rather win every game 15 – 1 than lose every game 2 – 1, but what I’d really like is to win almost every game 2 – 1, for it to be close but where I can generally pull it off in the end. But losing every game, even if it’s close, is not at all fun and is very frustrating, so I don’t want to play a game where that’s the case.

      3. Daemian Lucifer says:

        A difficulty slider is a separate thing from item hoarding however.One should never consider how to encourage players to not hoard items on easy,since you really should be able to breeze through easy without the need to use items.What is being discussed here is how to tweak the default,normal difficulty so that players should feel comfortable in using their consumables,without feeling the need to hoard them.Having an easy/hard difficulty on top of that is definitely a plus,and I like any game that offers a range of modifiers.

      4. Bubble181 says:

        I absolutely agree with this post. I’ve finished starcraft 2 on brutal, thanks. Now allow me to kill filthy terrans with glee and impunity.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The problem with magnum(and ar2,and to an extent the crossbow),is that you practically have to force yourself to use them for the first few minutes.But if you manage to do it in at least one major fight,you will see just how superior they are,and you will finally use them all the time.It took me at least two full playthroughs of half life 1 and one of hl2 in order to add the magnum to the list of my favorite weapons,but after that I started using it all the time.Its just SOOO good.And the low ammo thing isnt an issue due to how the game always awards you with the ammo you are using.

    It also helps to play the game on higher difficulty,because while the difference between two regular pistol shots and one magnum shot is not that big of a deal,the difference between 5 shots of your pistol and one of your magnum definitely is.This is one of the rare instances where giving enemies more health on a higher difficulty actually does work out.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You dont even have to play prey,just buy it.There already are a ton of games you bought and never play,so instead of those just stack your (virtual) shelf with dozens of copies of prey.

  5. Joe says:

    I do love a good speedrun, though I’ve never tried myself. I’m more of a take your time completionist. It’s amazing the tricks speedrunners come up with. Skyrim horse catapault is really something. And if you get married at one moment, it makes a cutscene interactive. How did someone even discover that in the first place?

    As for hoarding, I only seem to hoard useless items. Letters from friends in Skyrim, or saddlebag trophies in the Witcher. I know they have no real use, but I stash them anyway. In my Skyrim houses, there’s always one container I keep for things I’ll never use again. Yes, it’s stupid. No, I don’t plan to change.

    Recommended games. I think all three Borderlands games are really good, if you like that kind of thing. At the other end of the scale are the Harebrained Schemes Shadowrun turn-based RPGS. The first one is pretty small and linear, the third one gets a little too talky. But they all have their charms.

    1. Stuart Hacking says:

      The only thing I stashed in The Witcher 3 was old swords and witcher gear… er Just in case(?). Most other junk I kept in my inventory, for some reason. Er… crafting maybe? Until the inventory got to about 80% full, then I’ll sell a few pelts until I got it back down to a comfortable 75%…

      Yeah, My Geralt was mostly very strapped for cash.

    2. default_ex says:

      I tend to be a completionist even in replays of long games. It was fun to learn a few runs and attempt to compile my own. After seeing a run of Star Ocean 3 and seeing that it was very close to the US record, I noticed a few things I could improve. Spent a few months on that and posted my findings. Learned a few Nintendo game runs for times where I find myself in a boring social situation with a Nintendo around the owner has rarely touched in the past decade or so.

  6. Galacticplumber says:

    Slay the spire is ten bucks and has devoured just over 32 hours in approximately half a week or so. Deck building turn based roguelike at its finest.

    For those unfamiliar deck building is a subgenre of card game wherein adding and subtracting cards from the deck is an active part of gameplay as opposed to merely preparation. Success is often reliant on knowing when NOT to take cards when given the option because all choices make the deck less optimal and removing cards from the deck is costly and rare from shops, or rarer still from random event rooms. A game where restraint is a valuable skill alongside the usual risk/reward brinkmanship.

    1. Fizban says:

      Any idea how it compares to Hand of Fate? I liked that one until the endgame where it turned into a marathon of perfect dodge survival fights into a screw you final boss, after it just gave up and just started dumping unavoidable penalties on you as a substitute for interesting difficulty. Apparently left me pretty bitter. Not that it’s turnbased or a deckbuilding game, but it had a pretty good base of roguelike via cards.

      1. galacticplumber says:

        Beating the base game with any of the currently available characters isn’t generally too difficult once you reach a basic level of competence with the game’s systems. It will take either some practice or watching some play to learn what’s good, but once you’ve done that reaching the end isn’t so bad.

        In fact the real challenge of the game is getting the best scores possible which is tied to the unlock structure. Also daily seeded runs with modifiers to shake things up.

        Beat a daily and you unlock the ability to play with however many modifiers you please. This is also where you get access to the optional difficulty increasing Ascensions that hardcore players enjoy. A set of fifteen stacking penalty modifiers wherein the next step is unlocked by beating the last.

        Most of your content actually comes from trying all the archetypal strategies people have come up with, mastering the currently three characters, shooting for high-scores alone or on the dailies to hit the leaderboard, or just messing with modifiers. Also we have a modding scene where people have added entire characters. Also ascensions obviously, but you said you don’t like penalty stacking. Optional. Totally optional.

        All characters have entirely unique cards and systems built around them. It makes for a very content rich roguelike.

      2. Syal says:

        Very few mandatory penalties in Slay the Spire, and most of the curses are just “there’s a useless card in your deck now”. You can also raise and lower the difficulty once Ascension unlocks, and the final bosses seem designed to counter specific decks instead of every deck. If you get the perfect deck against the right boss, you can kill them before they get a turn. Also never more than five enemies at once, usually you’re up against two or three.

        Much fairer than Hand of Fate’s “take a crippling curse every floor and removal costs four times more gold than we expect you to have” endgame.

        1. galacticplumber says:

          Also pretty much every long-term curse is either something that you voluntarily took for a benefit, had a chance at a benefit to get, or got a benefit with a chance of a curse. There’s no auto-curse because fuck you style gameplay. It’s about legitimate choices.

    2. MrPyro says:

      Slay the Spire is an excellent game; it’s has been one of my more recent life eaters. Seconding the recommendation.

  7. Fizban says:

    Most of the stuff in my library seems pretty straightforward, I’d recommend it either way to the appropriate person, but I’ve a couple:

    Dark Souls for one, give the gift of gitting gud for $10. In roguelike bent of same, Darkest Dungeon isn’t for everyone either, but at $7.50 it might be. Basically any roguelike or “hardcore” game can fall into this category.

    I picked up Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force (long-named expanded edition) for $10 after LRR gave it a try and found it bleh while I was intrigued- it’s chock full of super anime visual novel tropes that will put some (probably a lot of) people off, but I was pleasantly surprised enough once it hit the turning point that I would have been happy if I’d paid $30. For recommending it to other people, well they’re chopping it all the way down to $6 right now, and if that’s not low enough to stir interest then you probably wouldn’t have liked it anyway.

    Tales of Symphonia is a much easier recommend for general JRPGness and also at $5 right now, as previously discussed.

    Tower of Guns wasn’t good enough I’d suggest it at full price, but it’s got $4.50 worth of amusement at least. It had a special problem of being easy enough I got through the first boss in just a few tries, but then had the super final boss be so ridiculous I just dropped it.

    Grimrock’s 1st person real-time old-school dungeon crawling isn’t something most people have tried, but for $6-$10 I could see some people giving it a shot.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      Seconding darkest dungeon. Hard like a souls game, but entirely turn-based such that all difficulty is a matter of decision making, preparation, and adapting unexpected but rarely entirely unpredictable adversity. In the sense that most of your problems can be chalked up to either your own tactical/strategic failings or can be dealt with fairly easily. This is especially true once you internalize that not every troop’s life is precious.

      Also why did it delete my required fields? I had a convenient not having to type that every time thing going.

      1. Redrock says:

        I dunno, I feel like Darkest Dungeon is the opposite of a Souls game – too much randomness. Souls game have little to none randomness, on the contrary, their main schtick is forcing you to learn everything that happens by heart, because everything always plays out the same way.

        1. galacticplumber says:

          All randomness has rules most of which is directly told to you. Game is actually more open with info than souls for the most part. Hell most of what you’d want to know about specific areas can be summed up with a brief paragraph detailing whether blight or bleed is effective, and what provisions you want.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Im wtih Redrock here,darkest dungeon relies a lot on randomness.Its not as stupid as some games like heartstone,but its pretty present in there.

            1. galacticplumber says:

              Then why is it that I only lose people when intentionally throwing cheap expendable bodies away for quick cash, fighting shamblers because orange loot is worth more than characters, or just throwing away my least useful grunts for new grunts with good positive quirks because the roster was full?

              Yes if you throw a group together randomly, or underprovision, or go into an area with a bad skill loadout, or without spending the gold to improve your troops you’re likely to have problems. The fact that there is some level of chance on how bad your mistake screws you doesn’t mean the game is dominated by randomness.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                The fact that you can PLAN for randomness does not mean that randomness does not influence the outcomes.Again,its not ridiculous to the level where you can win or lose a whole dungeon simply due do RNGesus,but there are still cases where you can be screwed or win due to no influence on your own.

              2. Redrock says:

                It’s worth mentioning that none of this makes Darkest Dungeon a bad game, in my opinion. I just think it has a very different principle in comparison to Dark Souls. That’s pretty much it. Honestly, I’m not a fan of either game, but that’s beside the point entirely.

                1. galacticplumber says:

                  And then you remember that one of the core unique features of the game is randomly introducing unpredictable enemies way stronger than common ones on a semi-regular basis and that such is the endorsed manner of play. You don’t get to say your game isn’t random when one of its core selling points is random gankers with no warning or even tactical limits.

                  1. Redrock says:

                    There’s random as in, you know, actually random, and there’s “random” as in unexpected. The way Dark Souls is built, every fight and every level plays out exactly the same every time. You might be surprised by some stuff, perhaps in an unfair way, but when you return next time, the same enemy will be in the exact same place, with the exact same set of moves that will have the exact same damage, range and other parameters. Each of your hits will also cause the same damage every time. No dice rolls or coin tosses involved. In Darkest Dungeon, there’s a dice roll to almost everything. You can plan for the randomness, as DL mentioned, but the principle is different. Again. no one is saying that Dark Souls is better than Darkest Dungeon. Just that they’re fundamentally different.

                    Again, I’m not a fan of the way Dark Souls forces you to learn its ins and outs through constant repetition, but its core principle is that the knowledge you gain that way is rock solid. It is very much a game about shared knowledge, a game for the Gamefaqs era, if you will. It’s not the same for roguelikes.

                    1. Droid says:

                      galacticplumber was talking about PvP invasions, as in “You have been invaded by [Insert_Slur_about_your_Mom_here]” -> one hit does 1/3 of your HP in damage -> roll-catches you 3 times without you being able to do much about it -> “YOU DIED”.

                    2. Redrock says:

                      Oh. I play offline, so never had that particular issue. Still, not exactly the same definition of random, I think.

        2. Grimwear says:

          100% agree with this. I picked up Darkest Dungeon and played a bunch of it. Made it to the final dungeon then just kept getting hit with crap RNG over and over and couple that with the random “mini bosses” that can spawn and it just killed all of my enjoyment for the game. Really interesting game, just got tired of the pointless resets and grinds. Joseph Anderson’s video on the game explains it very well.

          Also when the vampire dlc came out I thought about going back but reading all the comments it seems the blood mechanic and lack of blood vials just ruined people’s campaigns (maybe it’s fixed now?) and I just couldn’t be bothered.

          1. Fizban says:

            I just picked up the DLCs on this sale after playing vanilla before- the vampire DLC is definitely another RNG diffuclty, but the game does warn you about that when you pick the DLC you want active for a run.

            Basically what it does is add a new area (fine), then have enemies from that area pop up in all the other areas (so your party has to be good vs the area you’re entering but also bloodsuckers), and they can infect your characters with the blood curse. The blood curse is the potential run ender, since it means you have to make occasional blood gathering trips to keep those characters alive, and from what I understand even after you’ve cleared the quest they still pop up. So while the bloodlust stats and special trinkets can be good, it’s basically another time and resource crunch, which if you play on the difficulty tier that has a time limit, can be crippling, because you absolutely will have your best characters infected eventually, and you can’t just throw out your best.

      2. Droid says:

        “Also why did it delete my required fields? I had a convenient not having to type that every time thing going.”

        THIS! Shamus, please, you can’t expect me to remember to put in my name and e-mail every time I want to feel like someone has an interest in what I’m saying! Have mercy!

        [or give in to your dark side and put that feature behind a paywall, MWAHAHA!]

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          A paywall? That’s for amateurs!
          Real villains put those features in their premium lootboxes! With a droprate in the negative triple digits!

          1. Droid says:

            Wait, are you saying the drop rate is 1:1000, so it’s 10^(-3) and that exponent is negative three, or did you mean it’s something like 1:(-1000)? Like, what would that even be? As a mathematician, I’m somewhat used to generalizations that make no intuitive sense, but at some point even I have to ask: WTH?

            1. Kylroy says:


            2. Eigil says:

              There’s no reason you couldn’t have a signed probability measure :P

              1. Droid says:

                True, the concept is not so foreign that it would not be interpretable with the right mathematical tools. What drove me to write my previous post, however, was that I wanted to hear some wacky explanation about how that number actually makes sense in context (well, “sense”); and to my great shame I could not come up with one.

        2. Shamus says:

          Does it to me, too. Every couple of days it throws away my login credentials and makes me enter them again. I’d change it if I could.

          WordPress is… strange.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Wasnt there one update before that did that same thing once?If you find out what is causing it this time make a note “how to fix wordpress update screwup #174”.

          2. Redrock says:

            Was planning to mention that too. For the last several days, I have to reenter my login details every single time. That’s never happened before. Anything I could do about it on my end? I tried disabling and reenabling cookies, but that didn’t seem to help.

  8. Redrock says:

    I think the item hoarding problem is twofold. First off, yeah, there is the ever-present idea that “I might need it later”. But, at least for me, there’s also a second component: a link between using more powerful consumables and a feeling of failure. While it’s not necessarily the case with ammo for powerful weapons, I often feel that way about consumables. If I get hurt in a battle and need to use an elixir, it feels a lot like conceding that I suck. I get that drive to finish the battle while using as few items as possible and the weakest ones at that. It’s not quite the same with stronger weapons, but similar: “Did I really need to use my rocket launcher to finish off these two (three, five, seven) assholes?”.

    1. Droid says:

      For me, it’s a mix of that (specifically in Souls games, where the first part is even part of the design, I think) and the fear that using them in the “training” phase, where I die after chipping down 1/10 of the boss’ health (of the first of three stages!), I’m just being needlessly wasteful, since I stand no chance even with them, while after learning all the patterns, they become just easy enough that I sincerely feel my pride prevents me from using anything that is not an Estus flask.

    2. Matt Downie says:

      In any game with an easy reload option should you fail a battle and die, it’s going to be more satisfying to win ‘clean’ without using your items, and the penalty for trying and failing is minor.

  9. Dreadjaws says:

    Resident Evil 7 forms part of this conversation. It’s a game that, as a fan of the series, I wasn’t sure I was going to like, but it turned out to be pretty great. Helps that it’s modeled after more classic entries in the series and not the newest action-based ones, so it’s more focused on exploration and avoiding threats than blasting your way gung-ho like a one-man army.

    Hell, I think even Shamus might like this one. Gone is all (well, most) of the goofy silliness, characters are interesting and hey, there isn’t even one QTE! If you’re on the fence, it’s cheap enough now to purchase it, even with all the DLC (side note about the DLC: it’s varied enough that there’s a bit for everyone in it).

    Also, it happens to be one of those games where you end up hoarding useful items because “you might need them later”. But I hear that’s only true of Normal difficulty (and, by extension, Easy too, I guess). The Madhouse difficulty might actually require you to use them all.

  10. Bloodsquirrel says:

    The ammo hoarding problem is one of those things that the two-weapons system solves; in Halo, you can’t afford to hoard rocket launcher or sniper ammo, because then you’re down to one gun. You have to use whatever you pick up. Grenades are in the same boat; you need them for the tougher enemies or you’ll run out of ammo.

    I also wonder how much quicksave plays into this; it makes retrying after death so cheap that it never feels like you need to use something more powerful, since you can just save scrum it.

    Also, crossbow scopes are an actual thing.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its just replacing one problem with another.So now,instead of hoarding ammo for powerful weapons and never using them,you will never use those weapons because they have low ammo and you cant afford to carry them around with you.

      If you really want to limit the number of weapons you get to carry,at least do something like mass effect 2,where you get to carry two standard and one heavy weapon with you.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        You can pick up enemies’ weapons in Halo, though. And you tend to use up the ammo on whatever weapons the enemies *aren’t* dropping, you’ll be changing out weapons anyway.

        Halo is basically designed to cycle you through weapons on a regular basis.

      2. GoStu says:

        Generally speaking the Halo games give you the power weapons at a time where they’d be helpful. Rockets tend to appear when there’ll be hostile vehicles and to a lesser extent Sniper Rifles appear when it’s a “sniping section”.

        The player generally gets a choice:
        – Use the weapon immediately to mitigate the difficulty of the part ahead.
        – Work harder to save that resource and get the reward of its power later.

        For example I can think of a fight in the first Halo when you’re fighting your way off the Control Center pyramid. There’s a pretty significant Covenant force at the base that’s a serious challenge to beat with small arms. There is, however, a semi-hidden Rocket Launcher near the base that’ll let you destroy the Wraith tank and (if your aim is good) a couple Elites. There’s also a Sniper Rifle that’s a little more hidden that’ll let you pick off some more Elites. You can either use the weapons this way, or you can save the Rocket Launcher and easily blast your way through the next couple fights, or you can miss these weapons entirely and struggle through with other weapons.

        Another example: in the initial Assault on the Control Center you can find a sniper rifle partway through the level in an open arena area. Saving the rifle and a couple bullets for it lets you pick off a Banshee pilot near the and and steal the Banshee, skipping one tough fight, one easier fight, and the run & gun section up the pyramid, as well as letting you access an easter egg you have to fly to.

        Like Bloodsquirrel said, taking and using these guns up isn’t a big burden – whatever you kill with it will drop a weapon you can take. You’re almost guaranteed to have access to something to put in that slot; the worst-case really is picking it up and hoarding it.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      That doesn’t really solve the problem. There are better ways. Universal ammo is one possible way. What you need to do is having a bunch of weapons, each more powerful than the last, but the most powerful ones consume more ammo, or need a recharge period after firing, or can only be fired under specific circumstances, etc (no chance of working on “realistic” games, but at least it’s something).

      Another possibility is to, rather than have items that are increasingly more powerful you could have items that are better than others under the right circumstances. So let’s say you have a bunch of regular zombies. You have no problem using bullets against them, but you’re hoarding a bunch of flamethrower fuel because you don’t want to waste it. Then the next section of the game does away with zombies and instead introduces plant monsters. Bullets do practically nothing against them, but flames? That’s the way to go. Now you’re saving the bullets and using the fuel.

      That could work for healing items too. Rather than having special items that cure everything, you have certain items good for curing cuts, other ones better to cure burns, other ones to cure broken bones, etc.

      A third possibility is a crafting system. Everything you use in the game uses different combinations of basic ingredients, so rather than hoard specific items, you always just create the ones you’re going to need.

      1. Redrock says:

        Dunno about universal ammo. The risk there is that you can’t actually have a backup weapon, once you run out, that’s it. And it rarely works in terms of worldbuilding. There’s also the problem that the concept of universal ammo is linked in my mind to Deus Ex: Invisible War, which, as you can guess, paints it in a negative light a priori.

    3. Redrock says:

      I utterly despise two-weapon systems. In COD-like shooters those systems just underline how boring and functionally similar all weapons are. In shooters where there is an actual distinction between weapon types, like, say, Bioshock Infinite, it’s an unnecessary restriction that makes you wary of actually carrying situational weapons, like sniper rifles, for fear of running into a situation where you might need something else. In most cases games with such system will actually force you to use a particular situational weapon and shove it down your throat at select moments, which eliminates all choice. A two-weapon system can work in games where you pick a loadout best on the intel about your upcoming mission, like in MGS V. But in most cases it’s a bad, bad idea.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        The only place where Ive seen a two weapon system work well is team fortress 2.And thats because every character has their own two weapon loadout to work with.

        Mass effect 2 and 3 maaaaaybe count,but seeing how at least half the combat is based around powers instead of weapons(unless you are a soldier),its not that much of a limit.

        1. Redrock says:

          That’s an appropriately stretched “maybe”. I wouldn’t really count ME 2 and 3, because 2 is all about preset roles and playstyles, while 3 has a pretty flexible loadout system that I adore. ME 2 expects you to choose a combat style, a mix of guns and powers and basically stick to those. It’s not the same as two-weapon systems in pure shooters, where you’re pretty much expected to switch weapons on the fly.

  11. Chris says:

    In HL2 they give you the ammo you lack. So if you hoard magnum and crossbow ammo you are doing it wrong.

    For other games I tend to use all of it except 2, those two just incase. Dragon quest 2 had a fun mechanic where there was an island with igdrassil that you could pick up a free full hp/mana as many times as you liked. But you could only pick up one. In the end the road towards it was too long or me to go back, but I liked the concept. Then you at least knew blowing your super item wasnt a permanent waste you could never recover from. Heck, in the GBA port they added a subquest where one of your guys gets sick if you rest at a specific inn and they force you to get the item to heal him.
    Ninja gaiden black has it on normal with potions that restore your mana. But I guess they are there for people who use magic as crutch, while people that hoard magic just incase they need it (and end up playing through the game without relying on it) end up becoming better players. Then hard mode (and very hard and master ninja) they removed all the mana potions, so you have to deal with little magic anyway. And they also limit your potion count, so you know that hoarding them is useless since you will pick up some more anyway later. That said, the boss Alma really needs you to hoard potions because if you walk in without any you are screwed, the savepoint before the boss doesnt have a shop and you cannot get to a shop by backtracking (blocked).

    1) dont have rare items
    2) have them available in some way
    3) have the game have some kind of loop to allow you to know how to ration your items.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There is one other way to get players to use their consumables:Make them cheap to refill.Witcher 3 has you always being able to refill your potions with just cheap alcohol,so you never have a reason to not gulp a bunch of them when going after a tough monster.

    A strong consumable that you can only use X times in an encounter is much preferable than a strong one you can only use X times in the whole game.

    1. evilmrhenry says:

      I’d also toss Path of Exile on the pile: potions refill in town, and gradually on killing enemies, so you can have potions without them being consumable. Have specific resource levels available for use, with known places for refills.

      Another way to deal with this: infinite ammo boxes. In Half-Life 2, they’ll have an infinitely-large box of rockets and a helicopter or something. This is an easy way to say: “Hey, use your rockets here”. The same players who will hoard rockets for the entire game would look at the infinite box of rockets, and use them on every single target in sight.

    2. Redrock says:

      That’s because Witcher 3 potions are basically powers in terms of game design. Now, other pure consumables, like, say, weapon repair kits, I still hoard like crazy on Witcher 3.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Theres never really a need for those.Unless you plan to finish a bunch of jobs in one go,youre likely to go back and fix your weapons in a town at the same time you are unloading your inventory.The only exception are a two,maybe three slightly longer main quest dungeons.

        Honestly,weapon degradation is such a pointless thing in witcher 3.They really shouldve nixed that one.But than,in 99% of the games,weapon degradation is a pointless thing.It works only in actual survival games like the long dark.

        1. Redrock says:

          Yup. I never figured out the reason so many rpgs have weapon degradation, especially since in most cases the cost of repairing weapons is negligible. It’s just an extra reason for a trip back to town which you don’t need because the same games tend to have a carry weight limit. Overall, weapon degradation is a goddamn useless mechanic in RPGs. Brawlers and survival games, yeah. But, for me, survival games are just annoyance simulators with their endlessly degrading bars for everything. The only game with survival mechanics that I found tolerable was Pathologic, way before those became cool.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Same reason why so many games must include crafting and “rpg elements”.It was successful in a few titles,so everyone has to copy it,because thats how success works.

          2. Droid says:

            As someone who has the same puzzled/annoyed reaction to survival games and their mechanics, I was highly surprised by Subnautica. It offers a genuine story for you to investigate instead of a surrogate progression system that gives you 0.05% less annoying Annoyance Bars of Boring, and the sound design alone is so good you’ll be surprised how much the game can mess with your expectations. In the end, it’s actually not all that dangerous, to the point that you kinda have to roleplay the survival aspect a bit, because most enemies can actually be AI-looped to death if you want to go to the hassle (please don’t!).
            But if you let yourself get immersed in it, it has this cool mixture of guided experience and the feeling that you got wherever you just got yourself, through exploration, without any handholding.
            It does have some serious load-in problems, however. In general, the technical side seems somewhat lacking. But the gameplay is top-notch, and, IMO, a really fascinating proof of how survival games can be done RIGHT (for me).

  13. Paul Spooner says:

    I never knew that NMS was riffing on the Destiny interface. That… doesn’t explain anything really. I mean, why would you copy the aesthetic of a good game, and then copy none of the parts about the game that made the game good?

    Also, my 5yo got bored of No Mans Sky while I was recording the episode.

    1. utzel says:

      “Game of the year”
      – frustrated Paul

      There’s the new box quote ;)

      Your suffering is not in vain, apart from amusement (sorry), stories like this help and remind me why I never bought NMS. Everytime I read about a new update or planned feature that sounds interesting I think about trying it, until I hear or read something like this.

      Now excuse me, while I return to downloading the new Star Citizen update, I’ m sure parties will work again (again (again)).

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Your smile put a smile on my face too.
        I hear Elite:Dangerous isn’t too terrible?

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          Eh… It’s a decent space flight sim if you just want to fight pirates in an asteroid belt, but there really isn’t much content in the game, and the developers aren’t exactly making rapid progress. Most of the attempts to add depth have been half-assed at best, the (paid) expansions are a scam with how little they add, and while being a theoretically multiplayer game, there’s basically no reason to ever play the game with another person.

          I had fun with it for a little while, but don’t go in expecting much.

          1. GoStu says:

            Sounds like your info’s a bit out of date. There’s only been one paid expansion (Horizons) and since it released as 2.0 there’s been a lot added to make it worthwhile.

            They’ve also since added wing missions that are way easier to complete with other people helping (they’re barely profitable alone, they’re lucrative with a team). Fighting the alien Thargoids is very hard to do alone and rewards cooperating with wingmen.

        2. GoStu says:

          Long-time Elite: Dangerous player here.

          I absolutely love the flight model and enjoy zipping around in just about any ship I’ve flown; from the small and zippy Cobras and Vipers you get early-on to the larger and more intimidating ships you can upgrade into, Frontier Developments absolutely nails the feeling of being in the cockpit. Their sound design is completely top-notch and I have heard amazing things about the experience if you can do it in VR. The Horizons expansion I’d class as basically essential; not only are major upgrades gated behind it (analogous to “ten+ more levels” in a fantasy MMORPG) but it really helps bring out a sense of scale. That tiny little dot at the edge of a solar system grows to a planet, which is actually planet-sized when you land on it and drive it in a buggy.

          The downside: the game is not what I’d call great about teaching you its mechanics. Early in the game I’d definitely recommend keeping your head down in Solo Play while you work things out. I suggest joining a group of some kind with some objectives to keep the later game fresh and focused. It’s possible on your own to simply amass an incredible pile of money & ships and go “now what?”.

          1. WarlockOfOz says:

            Concur with this. The flight and combat models of Elite Dangerous are best in class. It eschews (or did while I was active, which was more or less up to the expansion release; I intend to go back to it) a lot of the little conveniences we’ve grown used to over the years – for instance, if you want to return to a system you once visited you have to actually travel there yourself using the normal mechanics – but the payoff is a superbly immersive feeling. I backed it and Star Citizen’s Kickstarter on the same day and it’s the latter I regret.

  14. John says:

    Tolkien pedantry, ahoy! I don’t really want to do this. Paul only mentioned Tolkien in passing. It’s not actually important. But he somewhat mis-characterized the Silmarils, and I’m constitutionally incapable of not “well, actually”-ing when something like that happens. So here goes:

    If you live in Tolkien-land and you want to make a super-nifty-keen magical thing, there are two things that you must understand. The first thing is that making a super-nifty-keen magical thing always require you to put a piece of yourself into the thing. Er, spiritually. You don’t have to cut off a limb or pluck out an eyeball or anything like that, though that would probably work too. The second thing is that you can only make a particular super-nifty-keen magical thing one time. The idea, I think, is that when you put that spiritual or metaphorical piece of yourself into the thing you don’t ever get it back and you can’t use it twice. In a non-Silmaril example, the Valar created The Two Trees, which, until they were poisoned by Morgoth, provided light to Middle Earth. You’d think that the Valar, being effectively archangels, could just make new Trees, but no. Similarly, Feanor can make only one set of Silmarils and, weirdly enough, Feanor’s mother can make only one kid, Feanor being so super-nifty-keen that she moved into the Halls of Mandos (an actual place in Valinor where all the dead elves live, and, no, that’s not an oxymoron) without having died first.

    As for the Silmarils in particular, they’re basically Macguffins. They’re the Maltese Falcon in the form of three magical gems. People do horrible things in order to acquire them, but that’s because the people concerned are over-proud assholes, including Morgoth, who is the Tolkien-devil, Feanor, who is the global standard by which obnoxious elves are measured, and Thingol, who has been King of Beleriand since the approximately the dawn of time (not an exaggeration) and can’t ever forget it. The point is that the Silmarils themselves are morally neutral and as far as I can tell also morally inert. They aren’t trying to corrupt anyone the way One Ring is.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah, you’re right. I should have been describing making magical artifacts, not using them… though it kind of amounts to the same thing. You have to put part of yourself into this creation, and it can’t ever be duplicated, so you’re not going to part with it easily, and neither is anyone else.
      It’s the aspect of the Tolkien mythos which I dislike the most.

      1. Hector says:

        Well, Tolkein wasn’t much for Allegory but he did like him some Metaphor. And ACts of Creation were important metaphors for him. It embodies in a kind of “physical” way that creating anything means putting something of yourself into it, be it time, energy, or thought, and that by doing so you expressly close off other possibilities. Likewise, any power you create, whether we’re talking about a machine, a political force, oreven an idea, is partly taken out of your control once you make it.

        For something that’s a relatively small point in his stories, it gets surprisingly deep.once you examine different characters.

      2. John says:

        It is surely a bit of a downer when you stop and think about it. Of course, the entire history of Middle Earth as expressed in the Silmarillion and the Lord of the Rings is a bit of a downer too, so the magical mechanics are at least thoroughly thematically consistent with the rest of the world-building. I like that. I also like that it makes magical items–the important ones at least–seem suitably important and, well, magical.

        In the interest of thorough-ness, however, I should emphasize that the rules I described above really only seem to apply to Big Deal magical items. Finely crafted weapons and armor with certain magical-seeming properties–glowing in the presence of orcs, say–seem fairly reproducible.

  15. jake says:

    The link for “This run” is missing the youtube.com/watch part.

  16. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Ah, I wish I could enjoy the Games Done Quick marathons the way other people do but I just can’t get into speedruns. I really dislike the runs based on glitching the game, stuff like “and if you jump on this box and over the wall you fall out of the level and the game instantly teleports you to the next one”, because it doesn’t feel like people are playing the game (or I suppose they are playing a different game than the one I want to watch) and while I can appreciate a masterfully executed no-glitch run it still doesn’t give me anywhere near the entertainment that watching a person going through a game for the first time and discovering things does. Well, to each their own.

    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      I see a lot of people have this complaint, but I feel like it’s mostly due to being misinformed. It’d be like if a person watched a lot of speed walking or sprinting events and then watched a biking event and was like “But they’re cheating! They’re not even running the race!” You need to be cognizant of the rules they’re actually following because they do exist. Things like “you have to be using this specific version of the game” and “you can’t just mod the game with an external program to do whatever you want it to do.” The rule “you have to play through the game in its originally designed format, beating every level in order” CAN be a rule… but also it doesn’t have to be. A speed run with glitches is like a combination hacker competition/ tightwire act/ performance piece. What they’re doing is actually very challenging, more so than the normal game.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        This is a tangent,but a fun thing about speed walking is that cheating is kind of part of it.The rules for speed walking say that at no point are you allowed to have both feet in the air at the same time.And yet,in order to enforce the rule,the judges simply look at the runners,even though cameras could pick up irregularities like this for decades now(like they do in tennis).In fact,when they do film the runners,youll see that almost every one of them has both their feet in the air at least once(but usually more often).

      2. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I didn’t really mean it as an argument speedruns in general, and just to be clear I don’t think there is anything morally reprehensible about glitch runs*, just that I find them uninteresting. To explore your comparison a little bit** it’s as if I was very interested in marathon running (mastering a videogame) for the specific purpose of witnessing people bring themselves to their limit, seeing if they are capable of achieving this or if they collapse to exhaustion and someone else recommended F1` racing (glitch speedrunning) to me because I’m into “racing”. Yes, the element of physical exertion by a human is present (in fact crucial) in F1 but it is performed very differently and accompanied by a lot of aspects to the sport that are not directly related to this particular one and in terms of satisfying a spectator it will work for some marathon running fans and not for others. Glitch runs just don’t give me the satisfaction because they don’t explore the aspect of playing games that I’m interested in. And yes, I’m aware that there are also people doing non-glitch, non-assisted speedruns but I was specifically talking about GDQ (and why it doesn’t work for me) where I don’t think they’re featured prominently.

        *Just dropping this here for the sake of clarity because I know some people become weird about this, like using glitches in speedruns even when clearly stated ahead of the run is against some unspoken ethical code.
        **I don’t mean to use this metaphor too close;y, let’s not explore in what ways is speedrunning videogames more like biking or marathon running.

    2. Fizban says:

      There are some glitches I can appreciate, generally stuff like glitching through walls or slinghsotting in the right place, especially when it took a lot of effort to figure out, but then there are some I can’t. A pokemon speedrun sounds cool, but then the entire thing is just using a glitch to dictate where you go and what happens, and that’s not really interesting.

  17. Syal says:

    Here’s my attempt at a list of games to look for. No idea if they’re on sale right now.


    Slay the Spire was mentioned above, and is very good. Turn-based roguelike card game RPG with a sort of Paper Lovecraft aesthetic, player stacks advantages as they go but the enemies are tough enough the game stays tense. I bought it alongside Into the Breach and Battle Brothers, and Slay the Spire was the clear winner.

    Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is a highly charming turn-based JRPG series about two siblings becoming junior fantasy-policemen-equivalents, with massive amounts of dialogue and a country that tries to feel like a place people actually live. Combat is forgiving but fights can still be tough. The second one is pulled down by its villains but still retains the charm and general feel. Balanced around Normal (don’t play Nightmare).

    [Diablo-like hack and slash games]

    Grim Dawn is a spiritual successor to Titan Quest, using roughly the same 3-skill levelup system, adding-bags inventory system and semi-plodding combat style, with several new features like faction alignments and shrine bonuses. There’s also a couple attempts at branching path moral choices, though they don’t branch much. Enemies auto-level, but the shrine constellation bonuses mean you’ll still get stronger than them. The two biggest downsides are auto-levelled superbosses that will always have to be chipped down, and significant amounts of damage floors that the controls aren’t really meant for.

    Titan Quest still holds up. I’d say Grim Dawn is better but Titan Quests doesn’t have autolevelling or the kind of damage floor emphasis.

    Torchlight 2 is much faster paced than Grim Dawn or Titan Quest, and also has much less emphasis on worldbuilding. I generally think of it more like a pinball arcade, with enemies and particles flying everywhere. Downsides include a lack of bosses; pretty much every boss has unlimited mooks swarming around them.


    Rogue Legacy, <Binding of Isaac Rebirth, and to a lesser extent Enter the Gungeon are all still fun. Go into a random dungeon, unlock stuff, die, start again with the new stuff unlocked, unlock more stuff, continue until satisfied.

    [Fun games you shouldn’t expect to finish]

    I’m going to put Enter the Gungeon here too. It’s a roguelike bullethell, I think, and the unlocks are mostly new guns with their own ammo limits, not passive buffs.

    Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based RPG with permadeath and a powerful Lovecraft-style atmosphere. It gets harder as you go, and you have to level your characters just to keep pace. I always flare out at midgame; not just because of the difficulty, or the grind (there are four separate bottleneck currencies), but because of the animations. The short static images make the hits feel hard, but every effect has its own two-second-long window. An attack that causes stress, debuff and bleed will take about ten seconds to finish animating, and there can be four such attacks in a round. It makes a long grind much longer.

    Haven’t gotten very far into Battle Brothers, but it’s an indie Mount and Blade style game with similarities to Darkest Dungeon, mostly in that characters take a while to level and suffer permadeath. Turn-based hex-based strategy game with lots of hard-to-balance stats, anti-disengagement mechanics and significant miss chances in combat. If your favorite part of Mount and Blade was guild quests and your least favorite part was immortal nobles, here’s an alternative. I don’t think it’s worth full price, but it might be worth half.

    Disgaea 2 is pretty much the polar opposite of Darkest Dungeon; a silly anime Strategy RPG where the stats get absurd. The player starts with 20 hp, the main story boss has 20,000 hp, the super boss has 20,000,000 hp. Items can be leveled up to level 100, item amplifiers can be levelled separately, actual characters can level up to 9999 and then reincarnate and keep going to a soft cap of 127,500. Easy game where the player has enormous advantages, but level differences are crushing. Pretty much the ultimate “play this while listening to something else” games. 2 has the better item world (the item world is the heart of the game) and runs better on PC. There’s partial mouse support but it won’t move the camera so it’s not very useful.

    [Get it cheap]

    Into the Breach is a fun tactics game about maneuvering enemies to save cities. Unfortunately it’s very short, and the bosses are overshadowed by the turn counter. Ten different squads that play very differently. Fun while it lasts.


    Undertale is an incredibly charming RPG about a young child wandering through a strange new neighborhood, making and/or murdering new friends. The gameplay is just okay but the story is worth seeing.

    I hesitate to recommend the PC version of Nier: Automata, but if it isn’t crashing every 30 minutes you should play it. The gameplay is solid enough, but the game is first and foremost a character piece. Hard to describe, especially due to spoilers, but Ending C is worth your time. (…seriously though, get it on console.)

    [Fascinatingly flawed]

    From the makers of Disgaea, Phantom Brave is a melting pot of experimental ideas. A Strategy JRPG where characters are summoned into objects on the map, to fight for a few turns before disappearing. Like Disgaea, the level cap is somewhere in the realm of “aren’t you bored yet?” Unlike Disgaea, there’s no movement grid, characters can stop anywhere. The ground can have slipping and bouncing mechanics that make it hard to end up where you want. Items can be thrown off the map and destroyed. Players can fall off the map, to be warped back to the edge.
    Also enemies can fall off the map, and if they do all the other enemies gain levels. Sometimes enemies won’t stop throwing each other off the map and you end up against something overwhelming. The slipping mechanic finally made me quit, but it’s a unique game.

    Final Fantasy 8 is such a bizarre thing. Nearly everything about the game is unintuitive, but once you know what you’re doing you can get endgame strength before you reach the first dungeon. The story goes completely off the rails and heads out into space. I’ll recommend it till the day I die.

    1. John says:

      I bought Disgaea 2 recently. I like the game’s mechanics. I knew I would because it’s basically the same, mechanically speaking, as Disgaea 1. But I have come to hate hate hate hate hate the characters and plot. The bonus campaign with Axel was particularly intolerable. I liked the plot of the first Disgaea quite a lot. It wasn’t brilliant, but it had a sense of mischief and subversiveness to it. The plot of Disgaea 2 doesn’t. It’s a bunch of warmed-over anime tropes with a couple of last-act twists that are quite clever in concept and utterly underwhelming in execution. They might come off a little better in the alternate endings that I’m not willing to grind for, but I doubt it. Fortunately, the game always gives you the option to skip story content before and after missions. If you haven’t played any of the Disgaea games yet and are concerned about the bugs in Disgaea 1 for PC, I’d try Disgaea 1 (or maybe Disgaea 3, 4, or 5) on console before playing Disgaea 2.

      1. Syal says:

        Depends what you’re looking for. Both plots are very expendable to me, the big difference is the item world. 1’s item world can have unwinnable layouts and spawn geo panels instead of bosses. 2 has optional areas, more geo panel types, more going on in general.

        1. John says:

          Yeah, the Item World in the second game is better and, since the Item World is basically the entire game if you aren’t playing for the story, that’s a pretty big deal.

    2. galacticplumber says:

      Pretty sure there was a thing in the options to turn off/speed up animations. Just so you know. Darkest dungeon actually has very robust experience alteration options right down to changing some gameplay rules.

      1. Syal says:

        Just checked, I don’t see anything that affects turn speed.

        1. galacticplumber says:

          There’s in-game options for the barks characters do, and mods in the steam workshop to speed up actual combat moves. If your problem is that combat takes too long there are tools available.

    3. Redrock says:

      FF 8 is so weird, but I kinda love it. The magic farming and hoarding is unfortunate, though. Whenever I encounter enemies with magic I want, I just have to turn on cursor memory, enable turbo and lay down the controller until all of my guys are packed to the gills. The Limit Break spam is also an odd, odd choice for the series. All in all, I think most of the game’s systems are fundamentally broken. It all works, somehow, but I have no idea if all the magic farming and limit spamming was the intended gameplay experience.

      1. Hal says:

        I hated the summoning system. You have to spend all this time summoning the eidolons so they bond to your character, but the summons aren’t any good unless you “charge” them by . . . mashing on the button. But don’t over shoot it, or you’ll drop back down to zero.

        Gah. What a terribly annoying system that was.

        1. Redrock says:

          As a kid, I used the summons a lot, because they looked cool and gave off the impression that they are supposed to be the most powerful attack at your disposal. When I replayed the game last year, I noticed that I mainly stick to physical attacks and various combat abilities. I have no idea how the developers actually expected you to play. It’s puzzling.

    4. The Rocketeer says:

      “Fascinatingly flawed,” eh?

    5. GoStu says:

      He’s tried Undertale (it’s on his no-show list for its year) and found it wasn’t really “speaking his language”. I had a similar experience and gave up on playing it after a couple hours. It’s very much riffing on a genre that I have no experience in. It felt a bit like going to a comedy show being done in a second language – everyone else is laughing but I’m just not quite following the fun.

      I’d second a recommendation for Enter the Gungeon but would probably skip Isaac at this point. While it was definitely a forerunner in the genre I feel like a lot of its best and most fun ideas have since been borrowed and put into better games elsewhere.

      Into the Breach was fun but I couldn’t help but compare it with FTL: Faster Than Light, and I much preferred FTL. Something about Into the Breach just didn’t click with me; some of the other squads I tried seemed to completely lack the ability to handle the enemies thrown at me, and I just kind of stopped playing it.

      I’d recommend the modern XCom games, either Enemy Unknown/Within or XCom 2. They’re something I see as a very good update/reboot of “old game that’d have limited appeal now”.

  18. Hector says:

    I’ve been trying Valkyria Chronicles. It’s so distinctly different and original that it seems to work really quite well. Overall, it’s quite fun although the masses of cutscenes really slow it down (and also, there are hidden optional objectives that usually require cheese strategies).

    1. Redrock says:

      Do you feel as if it pushes you to grind the optional missions? I can’t decide whether you need to grind to be strong enough for some boss encounters or whether I just suck.

      1. Syal says:

        I played on Normal, ran exactly one skirmish mission, and haven’t felt like the bosses were overleveled. Poorly designed and annoying, perhaps, but not in a way that leveling up would help.

  19. Mephane says:

    I have mentioned this a while ago in another thread here – I hate consumables, in particular stuff that gives you temporary buffs, and rarely use them. Usually I just vendor the stuff at the earliest opportunity.

    * Since different people use these items at different rates, there is no guarantee everyone will have some left for any particular encounter. So the game has to be balanced around not having it available anyway. Thus using it feels rather wasteful when I could turn it into gold which could buy me a permanent upgrade instead of a 10 second boost.

    * Many (single-player) games strictly ration the amount of total resources available in play-through. Sometimes it’s fixed and predefined, sometimes it’s random, but in any case, if you have only N amount of a resource (e.g. gold) for the whole play-through, I would rather not waste some of it for temporary buffs when it could mean I can’t afford a new weapon later on. It’s less of an issue in more open-ended games, or games where stuff respawns so you can always go around and farm some more.

    * If a game is truly built around and properly balanced for the scarcity of consumables and finite resources, I am not going to touch it anyway. If the use of these resources is required to beat the game, and they are finite, that means there is an implicit fail-state where your entire savegame is ruined because you have used too much of and cannot progress any further without. I have no desire to waste my free time with such BS. (See also my recent comment about Black Desert and how you could permanently screw your character out of some skill points, where the only way to fix the situation would be to start over. Nope. Count me out there.)

    * If a game mitigates this by dynamically adjusting the stuff you find based on what you’re missing, it almost always leads to a situation where you constantly juggle stuff you don’t even have any desire to use. Destiny 2 is a good example here: when using your kinetic gun, enemies drop mostly energy ammo. When using your energy weapon, enemies mostly drop kinetic ammo. I mean, I get the idea, but all of this boils down to me having to use good old boring bullets half of the time even though I am actually here for the laser guns.


    The best way to mitigate these issues and entice players (read: me) to use these consumables instead of hoarding is a combination of the following:

    * Consumables don’t take up regular inventory space or carry weight, and thus don’t compete with regular items. Instead, each consumable has its own reserved slot with a finite number how many you can ever carry.

    * Consumables cannot be bought or sold, and thus neither compete economcally with regular gear and other more persistent upgrade purchases.

    * Consumables can be instantly refilled for free at specific places, and further refills are also free and just come as you play (e.g. enemies could have a drop chance for them). What’s important here is that the players can rely on there being a consistent supply of the stuff, and that hoarding it won’t carry over, because for example the stuff is refilled at the start of a mission anyway.

    * If there is an encounter that is absolutely designed to be only beatable with some consumable, there is also a free refill right before it, so you are not punished for generously using the stuff throughout the preceding fights.

    * Last but not least, and a particularly personal peeve of mine: I want to be able to heal independently of consumables, typically achieved through some form of passive regeneration.

    The worst games for me are those where consumables are in a finite supply and the only way to heal up. Every encounter that I leave with a net loss in health or and/or healing potions feels like a defeat. It doesn’t matter whether the game is perfectly balanced, even if I know that the game is still easily beatable, every fight becomes ultra-stressful and every victory feels hollow. I tend to avoid these types of games and in the rare case that I play one, I usually abandon it midway through when the difficulty starts ramping up. A game has to be really good to motivate me to play to the end anyway, and the last time that happened was with the excellent shooter Space Marine, which had the mitigating circumstance that you could also heal up by performing execution moves on some enemies.

  20. Rane2k says:

    Angry/Frustrated Paul is great. :-)

    On the inventory / hoarding problem.
    This is widespread, I know it affects me and several of my friends.
    And not even in video games only.

    Recently, we finished a campaign of Star Wars: Imperial Assault (great tactical board game), and we realised only in the final mission of the campaign that we had a one-use card that could have saved us in several earlier missions.

    Another thing that is annoying about this is when you just get some items. You don´´´`’t need them right now, so you stash them and often forget about them. And then later you find a permanent, non-consumable item that does the same thing.

    Baldur’s Gate 2 comes to mind, that game showered you in potions of [Some type of giant] strength, but you also aquired several belts during the game that just had that effect permanently.
    Or things like “Scroll of Death Cloud”.

    Interestingly, Zelda: Breath Of The Wild managed to both circumvent AND intensify this problem for me.
    There is very limited inventory space and items break very fast, so you have to use your good weapons after a while, especially when there are no desposable weapons around (I had this while travelling through the ice landscapes above Gerudo). So you actually get to use your cool weapons and not feel bad about this.

    However, at some point I realized that for some weapons – weapons that are very useful, there is only a limited amount of in the entire world – I REALLY wanted to keep them.
    An example are fire swords. They are decent melee weapons, but the important thing is that they keep you warm while travelling cold lands.
    So I was back at the point where I ran around the landscape with the fire sword, but switched back to a lesser weapon whenever I fought enemies, to prevent breaking my fire sword(s).

    1. Redrock says:

      What the?! Fire swords actually keep you warm? I never realized that, probably because I got warm clothes way before I got a fire weapon. I do know that standing with a fire weapon next to an ice block can melt those, although it’s a painfully slow process for some reason.

      1. Rane2k says:

        I know, right?!
        I also only found it out by accident, the other way around.

        My fire sword broke while I was in the mountains, and suddenly I started freezing to death and didn’t realize why, at first.

        There’s a little indicator in the inventory, the sword gives 1 out of 2 cold resistance.
        Same goes for ice swords when you travel the desert (but not Death Mountain, there you need flameguard, not fire resistance).

  21. Ninety-Three says:

    I like the Zeboyd strategy of dealing with item hoarding, implemented in pretty much all their JRPGs: Items aren’t fully consumable, they refresh themselves each battle (how? Magic, shut up). If you have two health potions and a grenade, then you can use two health potions and a grenade in every fight.

    On the one hand, it’s sort of giving up on finding a “real” fix for the issue, but on the other hand, I think consumable items might be an unfixable balance problem. After all, if consumables are more powerful than your regular attacks (and if they’re not, why do they even exist?), the optimal strategy really is to hoard them for a handful of extremely difficult fights where you get the most value out of them, but you can’t balance the bossfights around assuming the player will be spamming grenades because then if they weren’t hoarding grenades the fight will be impossible, but if you balance for low item-use then the grenade-spamming hoarders will find it a cakewalk…

    1. Syal says:

      There are two fixes to item hoarding; make consumables regenerate like MP does nowadays, or make them all expire over time whether used or not.

      I guess a third option would be cripplingly small inventory limits that discourage keeping things you won’t ever use, but “make a bigger problem” isn’t a great solution.

    2. Rane2k says:

      Yeah that works (I too liked the latest Zebody games), however, at that point these “items” are actually more like abilities (that can only be used once per encounter).

      I agree that it’s a rather hard problem tough.
      Either the hoarder “cheats” the hard parts by hoarding (as Shamus mentioned for Quake 2), or the careless player finds themself without crucial supplies when the time comes.

      There is a third solution, often used in open world games, where it might be possible to farm items or components and then craft items. But that leads to “grind”, which is also often not very meaningful gameplay.

  22. Steve C says:

    SpaceChem is $11 regular priced. Paul said it was $20. Nope, just $2.49 right now on Steam. Not my thing, but I thought I’d give a heads up.

  23. Ninety-Three says:

    I just want to echo Shamus’ comments that Angry Paul is fun, more of that please!

  24. default_ex says:

    Long speed runs really do take understanding the game at least from a played most of the way through it perspective to appreciate. The FF6 run by puwexil was a beautiful run because the category was a completion category and he relied upon knowing how the game’s RNG sequence looks based on some common starting points. Once he figured out which sequence a section was in, he could pick and choose actions to influence it so he only gets the best of the RNG while avoiding the worst. I certainly couldn’t do a run that long that is very strict on input and timing all the way through.

    As far as sitting that long. Most of the long form runners are careful what they eat and drink leading up to a run to avoid the need to pee as much but usually pick out a section that is just long enough to run to the bathroom and auto plays itself. In FF6 it’s the opera, plenty of time to afk while that plays out.

  25. Asdasd says:

    What’s amusing is that most of No Man’s Sky’s writing was done by a former PC Gamer/Rock Paper Shotgun writer.

    Imagine spending decades tearing into the creative work of others, only to turn out such florid and over-written dreck when it was your turn to show the world how it ‘should’ be done.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Not a shock if you’ve read much Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

  26. 4th Dimension says:

    Discord is a really surprisingly good service that does practically everything and for FREE. This last bit is probably it’s biggest deteriment. In that I’m highly doubtful of their economic model, given that they give ALL the features for free, reserving only some inconsequential cruft for their Nitro paid model. And given that I don’t think there are any limits on number of Discord server members, or number of concurrent conversations (which are of HIGH quality) etc, one wonders how they intend to have the money to keep paying for all the servers and the needed throughput.
    Note that you can seemlessly drag and drop images into it and they’ll be placed there with no down scaling or like. Which means if you have a fanserver, I imagine the database that contains that server will bloat QUICKLY given all the fanart and like it will contain. And yes, Discord remmembers EVERYTHING posted to it, and you can always go back and read old posts.

    Actually, I think it kinda has that if you can accept the low number of viewers. It’s FREE Video conference service allso includes screen sharing feature. So tehnically you might be able to stream something to up to 9 friends.

  27. Asdasd says:

    A few further thoughts on this podcast:

    Listening to Paul getting slowly angrier, to the point where I was wondering if he was going to swear was seriously great.

    In general this was a really good episode, definitely one of my favourites, and I think the reason why is because there were several topics where you were both familiar with the material you were discussing. Don’t get me wrong, you can have valuable conversations about a game only one person has played. They can describe it to the other, who can take on the role of the interviewer, looking to mine the other person’s experience for insight.

    But the richest conversations (imo) come when two people are in full flow. I think it’s because a) the rate at which ideas are exchanged increases by a fair bit and b) two perspectives on a given thing are interesting in the way they align or diverge.

    I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the Penny Arcade podcast, Downloadable Content? It’s actually (again, imo) a lot better than the strip. They discuss a wide range of games in the process of coming up with ideas for comics, and there’s a mixture of things they’ve both played, things that only one of them has played and things neither have played but are excited about. Of course the nature of their job and the fact that they do it together affords them a lot more convenience in terms of the range of games they will have both played, often together.

    I realise it’s a lot to ask for when you seem to do this more or less simply for the love of it, and you should feel free to tell me to go jump in the river, but if you’re looking for ways to improve the show (which I already think is great) I think one way would be to coordinate your play schedules to create more opportunities to discuss games you’ve both played. I realise that that’s perhaps unrealistic and maybe even a little unfair of me to ask for, and I’m sorry if I’m coming across as entitled. I’ll still listen to and enjoy the show either way!

  28. Aaron says:

    no mans sky is like walking down a corridor of a space ship looking out windows onto sci fi scenes, and gradually coming to the realization its just paintings hanging on a wall with nothing behind them, and then you realize its just a circular hallway and you’re passing the same pictures over and over

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