Diecast #246: Handhelds, Programming, Simulations

By Shamus Posted Monday Mar 4, 2019

Filed under: Diecast 51 comments

Yes, we do spend a little time talking Anthem and Warframe. I know this is the third week in a row and this website isn’t really the core audience for looter-shooters. Hopefully you can put up with one more week of this. On the upside, we also talk some programming.

Like I said on the show, the mailbag is empty. The email address is in the header image. You know what to do.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Show notes:
00:00 Suddenly done with Anthem

During this segment, Paul references this talk: Juice it or lose it – a talk by Martin Jonasson & Petri Purho. Here is the same idea conveyed with better audio and production values:

Link (YouTube)

14:45 Still Playing Warframe

As promised on the show, here is the build I’m using in Warframe:

For those that don’t play: The two rows of stuff that begin with “Stretch” and “Streamline” are slots where you equip various cards that boost your stats. Redirection boosts my shields by 360%. Fast deflection boosts my shield recharge rate by 90%. Vitality gives me 400% more health. Steel Fiber gives me +80% armor. While the game never explains what armor does, players have told me it’s really important. I assume it reduces damage to hitpoints by some amount. How much? I dunno. Go read the wiki, because the game itself won’t tell you.

You can see there are little glowing blue pips on the cards. You can upgrade the cards. The cost to do so goes up exponentially while the bonus scales linearly. So maybe every level of upgrade will add an additional 20% to (some value) but the cost to do so doubles every time.

This is it. This is the best I’ve been able to do in terms of survivability. I’m as durable as I can get. Yes, I can maybe squeeze another level out of a couple of these cards. The cost to raise even one of these cards would be staggering. Literally days of grinding for the endo resource, which is what is used to upgrade these cards. Even if I did that, it’s not like these last couple of upgrades would be all that game-changing. Increasing my shield boost from +360% to +380% isn’t going to change the result all that much.

Like I said on the show, this bossThe junction guardian going from Pluto to Sedna. killed me instantly, with a single shot, the moment the fight began, using a hitscan weapon. I hit the button to open the door and then fell over dead before I even saw the bad guy move. The boss pulled this trick several times before I scraped by using blind luck and cheese.

There’s no way to tell how much the boss was OVER killing me. I’ll admit that Mag (the warframe I’m using) isn’t the most durable in the game, but she’s not that far behind the others in terms of survivability. I could spend a week grinding for more endo to upgrade my cards and find he was still one-shotting me. At the very best, doing the full round of upgrades might allow me to survive a single shot. Maybe switching to the most durable frame I have might let me take two shots. That’s still ridiculous in terms of a fight against an AI with a hitscan weapon in an open arena.

I don’t know. Maybe this is what the designer intended. Maybe I’m not supposed to be going after this content just yet. Maybe there’s some secret mystery card out there that will vastly improve my survivability. The difficulty of this game is all over the place. Nothing in any of the previous missions indicated I was getting in over my head.

This is such a stubbornly obtuse game.

On the other hand, Warframe isn’t boring. Not like that other game. The one that just came out. What was it called again? Anaheim or something?

22:12 Mailbag: Sony’s Handheld Misadventures

Dear Diecast

With rumours of the Xbox Gamepass coming to the Nintendo Switch should Sony consider re-entering the handheld market? Is it worth the risk for Sony to build a successor to the PS Vita or consider making the PS5 a hybrid console? Or would it be better for them to leave the market to Nintendo and Microsoft?



33:26 Paul’s Peculiar Python Programming Project

Here are some renders of the crystal structures Paul made.

48:33 Mailbag: Simulationist approach to game design.


2/10 stars question.

I got an itch to replay old and very niche games (Brigade E5 and 7.62mm), since there were nothing like them to this day (even close). They are very simulationist hardcore tactical strategies (think X-Com and Jagged Alliance 2 but with real-time with smart pause) that placed realism of all interactions above all else (a small example, getting a clip from a pocket is 2.35 seconds faster than getting a same clip from a backpack; all these rules applies to enemies as well). Of course, it means that these games aren’t really friendly, like recent XCOM games, and it would take a lot of time, patience and quickloads to finish them. So my question is – is there a merit in going against getting fun/balanced/polished gameplay all the way to a practically complete 1-to-1 realism (to expand to other games, think ArmA, SWAT4, Richard Burns Rally, etc)? What would be gained from this, in your eyes, and what would be lost?

Best regards, DeadlyDark



[1] The junction guardian going from Pluto to Sedna.

From The Archives:

51 thoughts on “Diecast #246: Handhelds, Programming, Simulations

  1. boz says:

    I just tested that junction and died with a +5k hp Inaros with Adaptation equipped.

    You might be a victim of updates. It’s the Saryn Spectre which starts her action with casting an ability. She has an ability that gives her toxin damage (Toxin damage completely bypasses shields. Which may or may not get fixed in an upcoming update, there have been talks about it). Her other ability is an AoE viral attack (viral procs halves your hp pool). That frame received couple of buffs recently.

    1. boz says:

      Your way of getting past her seems to be the best option*. i.e. instantly bullet jump to close the distance and hope to kill her before she casts anything. Otherwise I’d say you’d most likely die regardless of your tankiness.

      *there are some warframe abilities that would ease that fight but that would devolve into a specific backseating stuff.

  2. Daimbert says:

    I’d be, I suppose, one of those people who bought a Vita that you’d laugh at, but I feel that it was worth what I paid for it and was a better system for me much of the time than a DS would have been and that the PS4 and PS5 often were, and for reasons that I think would make a handheld system a success and that the Switch is playing off of: essentially, a console that you can play pretty much anywhere.

    Phones are ubiquitous, sure. But as you said, what people play on phones are timewaster games that they can play while waiting in line or waiting to pick something up or, well, while waiting. And there’s certainly a need for that. But for me the Vita was the system that I played when I wanted to play games but didn’t want to play them on my TV. For me, that was mainly when I wanted to watch TV while playing. But you can certainly see cases where others might want to do that as well. For example, the spouse wants to watch something on TV that you don’t want to watch, and you want to play a game but don’t want to be in a completely separate room. Well, pull out the handheld and play, and then maybe after that there’s something you can do together. Or for someone like Josh in the comic who wants to do something more serious in the downtime of the game. Or it’s a get-together and many people are playing a game you don’t want to but, again, you don’t want to go somewhere completely separate from them but don’t want to be bored either. Or you’re out and about but would really like to grind some sidequests, too, so that you can pick up from the fun parts when you get back to your console.

    The idea is to be able to play the same games — and sometimes LITERALLY the same games — on your console as on your handheld. This is not a market that cell phones can really get. This is the market the Switch is tapping into. Sony SHOULD be able to tap into it as well, if they play it right.

    1. Geebs says:

      I bought a Vita this year, mostly for remote play from a PS4. It’s lighter, more comfortable to use, and has better battery life than the Switch and e.g. the Uncharted game on the Vita gives the Switch a run for its’ money in terms of visual quality – that game even uses SSAO, which is insane for a portable console from 2012.

      The only downside is that it kind of sucks for remote play because it doesn’t have click sticks and the wireless connectivity is garbage. Still, in the context of the Vita and the Shield Tab (which has a much nicer screen than the Switch but abysmal battery life), the Switch is revealed as just another underpowered Nintendo console, which happens to have some absolutely brilliant, albeit very blurry and aliased, games.

      1. Jason says:

        I bought a Vita back in 2012, about a year after they first came out. I had PS+ at the time, so I could play some of the free games on it. I remember playing Uncharted and Gravity Rush from PS+, but I never finished them. It came with Assassin’s Creed Liberation, which I never even played on it (but did eventually play and finish on PC).
        I previously had a PSP, and definitely got my money’s worth on it, but I never really put a lot of hours in the Vita. Never had a 3DS, but had every flavor of Gameboy before that.
        I don’t have a PS4, and PS3 remote play was pretty weak.
        I just got a Switch for Christmas, and only have one game (Mario Party), but I think it’s going to be my go-to for portable gaming now. As discussed, phone games for me a mostly time-waster type games, and aren’t very deep.

    2. WarlockOfOz says:

      I bought a 10″ windows craptop recently, replacing my old Android tablet that had failed. I chose it as a stopgap because it was cheap and i wanted something small and light to use in a hotel room while travelling for work. It is, relative to modern high end laptops, a piece of junk… but I’ve found myself going to it for light gaming even at home when I can’t be bothered heading to the desktop. It’s a bit bigger than a vita, having the size and heft of an iPad, it includes a detachable keyboard/cover rather than controller buttons… but the selection of windows games that will play on it includes pretty much the whole non-3D indie scene as well as every commercial release from a decade ago, all of which can be bought for relative pennies if not already in my steam backlog.

      Which is a long winded way of saying that I’d love a Windows device that could fill the Vita or Switch slot ;)

      1. MarsLineman says:

        The GPD Win is exactly what you describe- a Windows device in a 3DS-like form. Hardly cheap, but supposedly quite effective for mobile windows gaming


        1. WarlockOfOz says:

          Yeah, i know of a couple of similar expensive attempts – I didn’t make it clear but ‘at a price that I’m willing to spend on a portable entertainment device’ has to be part of the specification.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            If you already have a Windows-phone, one of these controller-dock things would fit the bill, assuming they’re cheap enough. Microsoft is still apparently researching this type of thing, although it’d be nice if any of the controller-dock-things available for Android / iOS just worked for Windows-phones too.

            1. Geebs says:

              I’ve spent a bit of time recently mucking about with in-home streaming, because my PC is connected to the TV. I have a couple of those clip-on peripherals, and the problem with playing PC games on a phone or tablet doesn’t actually go away even when you have physical controls.

              The odd thing I’ve noticed is that there’s a threshold effect of screen size for being able to tell what’s happening in a game, which depends on genre and art style. 8 inches is fine for first person shooters like e.g. Prey. 7 inches (as in, Switch) is fine for something with a cartoonish art style (Mario, Zelda) or 2D games, but causes me to get quite disoriented in more detail-heavy 3D games (e.g. Warframe, Doom). Playing something like Bloodborne streamed to a 5 inch iPhone is just miserable.

              I think phone games need to have a fundamentally different design, not just due to the relative lack of precision of the control scheme but also due to a problem with trying to present a lot of visual information in a small space. I don’t think “AAA” games will ever work in this form factor in a satisfying way, while a “Switch XL” with an 8” screen could probably get by.

              (As for phone games, the vast majority don’t support controllers anyway)

              1. Echo Tango says:

                1. Getting a game to work on a different screen size (smaller or larger) is a different problem to solve, than trying to use phone + controller-dock to replicate what’s available in other handhelds.
                2. Yes, touch-screen control hardware requires different control schemes, and limits game possibilities.
                3. Not all games need to support the same set of input devices; You just need some games to work on a phone + controller-dock, for it to be a success compared to an expensive standalone handheld.

      2. John says:

        I had a laptop that size once. Mine was a second-hand machine. It was old, feeble, and terrible for gaming, but I grew to love the size and form-factor. It was just about as portable as a tablet but with all the advantages of a proper computer. I’m not in the market for a new laptop at the moment, but if I ever get a $200 windfall of some kind I will be sorely tempted to buy something similar.

    3. Echo Tango says:

      Just because most phone games are time-wasters instead of proper games with deep mechanics, good stories, etc, doesn’t mean that a phone is incapable of playing games like that. If Sony, Microsoft, etc wanted to, they could port games to run on phones natively; Depending on the system requirements of the game, they could just run it in an emulator on a phone, to save dev costs. A dedicated handheld gaming device has a bit better feel in your hands because it’s an integrated device, but for a much lower cost, you can just get a controller-dock-thing, that your phone plugs into, and gets you 90% of the way there.

  3. Ayrshark says:

    If it’s the junction I’m thinking of then no amount of tankiness would help. Can’t remember how I dealt with it but I’m pretty sure it involved one-shotting it with…something. Not sure what. Most of the junction one on one battles are really easy if you’ve kept up mod upgrades aside from a single junction that just straight up murders you in a single shot. The good news is that if that was the junction that I’m thinking of then you won’t run across another one like it. Also, some advice. Join a guild, build a guild key, buy various blueprints from the guild dojo, craft dragon keys (special keys for opening a vault in derelict missions which contains some useful mods, prints ore in guild dojos), find a party, go vault hunting. Also, some of the guild weapons are really good if you can afford to pick up the blueprints. If you do stop playing then come back on the anniversary of Warframe as they tend to have an event for dex weaponry which are rather good. Also, your build seems fine for the mods you have.

  4. kdansky says:

    Mag is one of the squishiest (and most useless) frames in the game, and Steel Fiber does nothing for her because of her low base armor – just remove it. The trick to junctions is to use Loki with invisibility, or one-shot them. Warframe is not a game where you use one frame for everything, but where you bring something specialized to the point where it feels like you’re cheating.

    If you want to one-trick frames, Rhino, Neezha, Loki and Gara are your best choices. Two of them have massive shields, Gara has a 90% damage reduction and Loki is invisible.

    > This is such a stubbornly obtuse game.

    Absolutely. If you don’t have the wiki open at all times you have no idea what you’re doing.

    1. Hector says:

      Yes; drop Armor from your Mag. There are lots of ways to do survivability, of course, but most of them involve mods and things you won’t have. This canbe somewhat annoying (it is tome). But higher-level players can put together some crazy combinations.

      The Specter fight actually sounds like some kind of bug; Specter’s are powerful but they shouldn’t be one-shotting a build like that. I don’t want to tell you something and make you waste your time, but Loki may be a counter here.

      1. PeteTimesSix says:

        To be fair, I do remember one of the junctions being way out of whack regarding difficulty, and Sedna sounds about right regarding how far down the star chart it is.

        Also, just for completeness’s sake, if in this hypothetical scenario Shamus was dead set on using Mag, I note he has [Quick Thinking], which is the traditional (barring some relatively recently added mods) tanking mod for low-armor high-energy glass cannon frames like Mag. It essentially turns your energy bar into a second, much longer health bar. As long as you can get your hands on [Flow] or [Primed Flow], anyway.

        Oh, and drop [Fast Deflection]. Shields only regen when youre *not* getting actively shot at, in which case one or two seconds wont make any difference anyway. Consider [Rage] (which you wont have) or [Hunter Adrenaline] (which is pretty easy to get as long as the ghoul bounties that Lotus never shuts up about are around).

    2. King Marth says:

      Your mods themselves are looking solid. Definitely don’t worry about pushing ten-rank mods to rank 9 or 10, it’s perfectly fine to leave those mods at rank 6 or rank 8 which is a quarter the cost for 80% of the power; maxing out mods that only go up to 5 is advisable, though. Fully maxing your mods is a rite of passage, but it’s a long-term goal. I always find it hilarious when I load up an old weapon I haven’t touched since I started playing, and see that it has three unranked terrible mods installed; you’re comfortably past that stage.
      That said, I do agree that Quick Thinking will give you more benefit than Vitality/Steel Fiber on a frame like Mag with low base health/armor but reasonable base energy. Note that all mod bonuses are multipliers, you’re generally better off pushing a frame’s strengths up to ridiculous amounts rather than trying to cover a frame’s weaknesses.

      I definitely found posts complaining about the junction Saryn, I noticed there’s apparently also a junction Mesa off of Pluto which could also be nasty. It’s not just you, Shamus!

      I don’t think anyone actually tested the junction bosses, given they were all added in one update. Specter AI exists as you can create little pokéballs of your frames for temporary allies (and they used to show up in pseudo-PvP combat), which was likely just plugged in with some number for enemy level, and no-one checked how those fights change when the base frame is buffed. Ultimately, this sort of content is basically only seen once, and people find some sort of exploit around it and then forget, and so the devs keep putting more new shiny stuff in the game while blissfully unaware of the garbage.
      I’ll put in another request for a proper article, you’d probably get a response from the devs if you poke them on Twitter.

      1. Ciennas says:

        Yes please. I would love to see your take on this game in a concise format.

  5. Liessa says:

    I have to admit I was a bit surprised to see such negative reviews for Anthem. 60% on Metacritic… ouch. Then again, I guess it kind of vindicates the argument that this isn’t Bioware’s area of expertise and they should stick to what they’re good at (though in all honesty, I’m not sure what that is any more. Certainly not the kind of slow-paced, dialogue-focussed RPGs they used to be famous for).

    1. Thomas says:

      I think Anthem’s review score is suffering from a lot of baggage- being hyped, being EA, being a live service as everyone burns out on them and a terrible launch. Andromeda was a game in a genre that’s been severely underfed. Anthem is bursting at the seems.

      Which should show EA that the way they’re squeezing their customers is hurting them.

      …also load times. You can have the best game in the world and people dont want to spend 10% of their time in loading screens.

      1. Liessa says:

        Yeah, even in the early demo previews, I couldn’t help noticing that there seemed to be an awful lot of loading screens. Seems a bit weird that they didn’t realise players would react badly to this.

        I suspect Anthem will get an easier ride from EA despite the review scores, simply because it’s the kind of game they’re desparately trying to push at the moment (multiplayer, ‘live services’, heavily monetised, etc.) However, that will depend on whether they can actually persuade the players to stick around long enough for it to become profitable..

      2. Syal says:

        Didn’t people say Andromeda’s development suffered because they were concentrating on Anthem? I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few bad reviews were based on just that.

        1. Thomas says:

          That outlines the difference in expectations between the two. Anthem was the golden child, heralded as new ambitious direction for Bioware.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      It is kind of shocking that on a scale from 7 to 10, the videogame industry gave Metacritic a 6. To go any lower than that your game almost needs to crash on boot (Hi Fallout 76, Colonial Marines).

      I really don’t have a theory for how they got so badly trashed. Maybe this is what it looks like when Bioware fans across the games journalism world finally give up hope and pull the plug on life support.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        My personal theory is that there are two major factors to it.

        First is the saturation that people mentioned above, Anthem’s target audience is ultimately the same crowd who play Destiny and Warframe (or at least it overlaps heavily, Anthem might be somewhat more casual and at least pretending to be a bit more story focused I think?) but those players are usually invested in those games already, so they’ll try Anthem but it would need to grab them real hard to make them stick with it, especially since a lot of what Anthem does differently will feel “wrong” to those players initially and they’ll keep thinking about how their old game does it “better” (by which I mean in a way that they’re already used to). Just look at how many Warframe comments in these recent posts are along the lines of “yeah, that part is crap but…”, a lot of these people when they reach the part they dislike in Anthem will bail out rather than power through it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the Warframe commenters are wrong, I’m just saying that if you’re invested in a persistent game you usually get enough fun from it to overlook or work around the bad parts.

        The second reason is that it’s a Bioware game that is rather distinctly not a “Bioware game” so a bunch of especially “old guard” Bioware fans might have bought it because of that and came away somewhat disappointed. On top of that the “EA is destroying Bioware” idea and the general EA hate might be contributing factors.

  6. DeadlyDark says:

    I’ve made a mistake. It’s not 2.35 seconds more. It’s (depending on stats), 15+ seconds to take an object from a backpack

    1. Echo Tango says:

      That sounds way more realistic! :)

  7. Chris says:

    As someone who bought into the vita, I must say its not as bad as you guys say. I think it failed because of 2 reasons: 1) they made proprietary SD cards which meant that space on the thing was insanely expensive. 2) it had zero support in the west. I think the best way to sell the vita was via the PS+ subscription. A lot of people have that for the PS3, so why not lure them into buying a vita, after all, they already have a library waiting there. But no, it would require them spending 90 bucks on memory just to DL all their games. That and no advertisement ever came through telling them of this opportunity. This also creates the problem that “no users ->nobody makes games -> nobody buys it since no games -> nobody makes games” cycle that is hard to defeat. So as sony you either decide to just shoulder the costs and make a bunch of games and hope people then suddenly buy the console, or you lose a lot of money. Sony decided to drop it.

    I think the vita was the last chance though. Now the phones are so widespread you can never get another portable going. I think nintendo figured out the same thing with hte 3ds, they rode that thing for a long time, and then with the switch they merged their handheld and console setup.

  8. tmtvl says:

    When Paul was talking about taking a break in sim games where the game plays itself while you wait for a task to be finished, I immediately thought of the X series and the infamous auto-pillock.
    To clarify: the X series is a series of space sandbox games made by Egosoft and you can tell your ship to autopilot somewhere. However if you’re flying a fast ship and you use the fast-forward functionality it had the unfortunate tendency to pancake you on any asteroid, space station, big ship,… in the way.

    They made it way better for X: Rebirth (although that game had its own problems) and X4: Foundations seems like it’s gonna be my game of the year.

    1. Droid says:

      Really? I’ve bought X3:TC/AP way after release, and I don’t think I had any autopilot deaths, ever. There were, of course, the unfortunate jumpgate deaths (like a TL ramming into you from hyperspace while you were dogfighting around the gate because of an escort mission or just had to make a mad dash for the gate for some reason, and you had no time to line up in the “safe zone”, so to speak). But just ramming an asteroid? Only ever while collecting ores.
      But then again, I don’t entrust the autopilot with anything that actually requires navigation more complex than “turn around and fly in a straight line from then on” or auto-docking.

      I also don’t see how X:Rebirth made it better. I guess it’s a lot less busy in terms of number of moving objects, and with simpler object geometry in general. I’m not sure I’d call that an improvement to the autopilot, per-se.

      1. tmtvl says:

        They changed the way the AI pathes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt4B4e3i5_0

        TL;DR: Instead of just looking to see if there’s anything directly ahead of it and changing course very late, the AI tries to calculate a path in advance.

  9. Chad Miller says:

    Re: Xbox Game Pass – it’s pretty much an attempt at “Netflix, but for video games”. You can see a complete list of available games at https://www.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-game-pass/games (although for some reason Microsoft isn’t letting me link directly to the page that shows all games instead of just recent releases? That’s some questionable web design, you guys!)

    One fun mini game I like to play is to figure out individual game companies’ business strategies based on their Game Pass releases. For instance, at one point you could play vanilla Fallout 4, Fallout 3, and Obvlivion. You couldn’t play Morrowind or Skyrim, games that are only available bundled with DLC (in the versions you can get for Xbox One anyway), but you could play the ones that had extra DLC available for purchase. Then around the time Fallout 76 went on preorder, Fallout 4 was removed, possibly in a desperate attempt to drive sales for that game.

    Similarly, Mass Effect is available. Just Mass Effect. Maybe you’d be interested in some DLC? Or how about a subscription to EA All Access which has the other three games?

    Smaller indie games are probably just glad for the kickback/exposure of having their game up in the first place.

    With Microsoft’s own titles the appeal of putting them in is obvious, hence even very new games like Forza Horizon 4.

    1. MarsLineman says:

      Mass Effect 1 was published by Microsoft- they may still own the rights. Interesting thoughts on the Bethesda games, but Mass Effect being available may just be a result of the initial publishing agreement

  10. Paul Spooner says:

    If anyone wants to offer feedback on the crystal tools code, I keep my latest dev version here:
    It’s broken, as usual, but hopefully less broken than it used to be!

  11. Hector says:

    Thinking about the armor system comment, I was initially confused because it seemed normal enough. Then I realized that may be the problem. There are a LOT of games where I can’t explain how armor actually works.

    Say what you will about DnD, but you can understand the rules for all the defensive options and make judgements about tradeoffs.

    1. Abnaxis says:

      It frustrates me no end when games do this. I don’t know why RPG designers feel some desperate need to hot the actual internals of how armor/strength/accuracy/damage/whatever actually work

      Total War is THE WORST for this. So many goddamn numbers with no real idea what they do…

  12. GargamelLeNoir says:

    That talk about over-customization reminded me of that fantastic Onion video about the ultimate character creation and simulation.

    Anyway Shamus, did you have a nice time not playing Anthem after the show? Because I did the same and it was excellent.

  13. Axebird says:

    If you’re trying to pump up your survivability, combining Rage and Quick Thinking should help a lot, especially with the Flow you already have.

    You have Quick Thinking already (which is awesome- it’s a pretty rare drop), and you can get Rage from containers in the Void, which have a bunch of other nice stuff as well (like the Multishot mods Split Chamber, Hell’s Chamber, and Barrel Diffusion). It’s also about 15 platinum on Warframe.Market if you don’t want to hunt for it, which is pretty reasonable- the equivalent of less than 10 minutes of cracking relics.

  14. OldOak says:

    Glad to hear you guys spinning off the idea of “screens and everything else just attached to them”. I had this in a discussion with some friends some 9-10 years ago.
    I really thought the Google’s modular phone idea was getting closer, but I’d bet it failed “as it should’ve been”. For big corps, hardware upgrade due to the lack of proper software support is still a better financial option than the other way around.
    This is a story that also applies to USB. I’m not sure if anybody remembers this, but initially you didn’t need more than 1 USB port in your computer, because the USB devices connected as the bus advertises in its name: serially (that is you plugged in your keyboard, then you plugged in your mouse in your keyboard, and so on). Not anymore!

    1. OldOak says:

      Sorry for the noise, need to correct myself: the “serial” in the USB is about the data transmission protocol. Still, the initial facility with serializing the USB devices, was a useful/nice one.

    2. Bloodsquirrel says:

      The failure of those ideas doesn’t really have anything to do with “a better financial option” for the big corps.

      A modular phone will never be able to match an all-in-one build in power, battery life, storage, etc. without being larger, heavier, and more expensive. It’s just an inferior way to build a phone from an engineering perspective. And most people don’t really want a modular phone. People who want the best and newest phone don’t just want one part of the best and newest phone, and people who just want a phone that works don’t want to upgrade parts of it. And since all parts of phones were, at least for the last few years, advancing all together at a steady rate, what’s the advantage there?

      Having to daisy chain all of your USB devices would be an unnecessary hassle. You can accomplish the same thing while still only having one USB port on your computer with an external USB hub, and that way your phone and MP3 player don’t have to have two USB ports. But having multiple ports on your computer itself is just more convenient, which is why companies keep putting them on their computers even though it’s more expensive to do that. Some monitors and keyboard still do come with extra USB ports, but the computer manufacturer can’t count on the customer having one of those.

      They’re ideas that sound neat, but aren’t really practical.

  15. Syal says:

    I’m not a big fan of simulationism, but I do often enjoy having some unnecessary fiddly bits in games. Original X-Com has ammunition for weapons, which is dirt cheap and will practically never be an issue if you pay any attention to it, but it gives the base operation more character. And I bought Graveyard Keeper because of the feel of the guy carrying a slab of stone overhead with both hands, even though that slab can only be turned into smaller stones (that can already be gathered separately) and is mechanically pure busywork.

    But I think it’s important that those bits aren’t important. Horizon Zero Dawn had a lot of collecting things to make your ammo and such, and while I enjoyed it in the beginning, eventually I started needing certain things and running up against inventory limits, and the process became gameplay-stopping tedium.

    1. Liessa says:

      If you’re a fan of original X-Com style games with ‘fiddly bits’, you might enjoy this game. I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘simulationist’, but you can certainly spend hours between missions fiddling around with ammo, equipment upgrades, crafting, and crafting your own ammo (if you so desire). It’s glorious.

  16. Inviscid says:

    Re: Warframe:
    So let me preface this with the standard disclaimer: no, very little of this is explained in the game, and what explanation there is is hidden behind 2 or 3 screens in the Codex. (Fun fact: there is a codex!) Also; all my opinion, others will disagree.

    If you keep playing Warframe, now might be a good time to go back and do some of the earlier content that you might have missed/skipped. Maybe build/try some other warframes, try the special “Nightmare” missions (random effect such as No Shield, but rewards special mods with 2 bonuses), do some of the missions/activities on the open world maps (very different, and access to customized pistols and melee weapons), or level up in the “Syndicates” (access to mods that change the abilities of warframes). Depending on what mods you’re missing you can also farm some of the “endless” mission types. Note that each of those has 4 (repeating) rounds of increasingly better rewards.

    You are however getting to a point where certain ways to progress are much (much!) easier and faster with a full squad and/or access to a clan.
    – Void Fissures: consumes a “relic” item and gives a (~random) part for stronger versions of weapons and warframes. With a full squad you can pick one of 4 rewards instead of just your own.
    – Derelict vaults: Requires two different types of keys. One (for the mission) can be bought on the in-game market, but the other (“Dragon”, for opening the vault) requires access to a clan. Rewards mods that have a large bonus and a penalty.
    – Clans can research certain weapon (and frame, and item, and …) blueprints that you can copy. You can make a one person clan, but the research will then be fairly expensive.

    Some other random thoughts:
    -Once you have completed the next(?) quest (“The War Within”) I’d recommend going back to the Earth open world, find some help, and fight the boss that appears there at night. Doing that will allow you to get a special type of weapon that makes a later quest significantly faster. (#nospoilers?)
    -Endo for upgrading mods becomes much easier to get later on.

  17. Cerapa says:

    You have more upgraded mods than I do haha. If you need more durability then get Valkyr. Her 4 turns her invincible (as long as your energy lasts), it’s useful for some sorties and boss kills and stuff where you just want to get in as fast as you can and ignore enemy fire. Rescue missions are fun, since in that case you will be raging to hack doors.

    And in regards to the intended experience, I don’t think there really is one. DE tends to just throw content at the player without much regard.

  18. Bloodsquirrel says:

    All this talk about Anthem and Warframe has really made me want to play Destiny again.

  19. MadTinkerer says:

    The Vita was a joke ONLY because Sony wouldn’t allow Vita users to buy adequate storage. The problem was fourfold:

    1) The Vita had a bigger screen with sharper graphics than any of it’s competition at the time of it’s launch. Like EVERY OTHER TIME EVERY OTHER PLATFORM have ever had a graphical upgrade, this meant that more storage space per game is needed, to hold all those exponentially more-detailed textures.

    2) You were not allowed to install any kind of SD card in a Vita except the official Sony-approved storage cards. This is absolutely 100% for DRM and no other reason.

    3) The absolutely largest size of the official Sony SD cards was 64 gigs.

    4) No wait, those were only available in Japan. If you were outside of Japan, the absolute most storage space you could have in your Vita or Vita TV without jailbreaking it was 32 gigs.

    Among the sizable cult following of the Vita and Vita TV, the storage limit is pretty crippling, because there are a lot of Vita games that are digital only. On the positive side, a lot more games were released in physical cartridges that otherwise would not have been, because a lot of Vita developers were keenly aware that their audience needed physical copies for as much as possible. In spite of Sony’s efforts to kill Vita and Vita TV manufacturing, new Vita carts were still being manufactured years afterwards, because the system was a cult hit.

    The Vita also has a thriving emulation, hacking, and homebrew scene, which might not have been as big if Sony hadn’t forced a lot of their users to make the choice between jailbreaking their Vitas or just not having a lot of digital games at once. Some of the best PS1, PS2, and PS3 era games have even better Vita remakes that only came out in Japan… but that’s okay because you can import it, rip it, hack in a translation patch, and play it on your PC or jailbroken Vita TV.

    Some of the best games in the world, particularly the greatest RPGs of all time, are Vita games. It’s just that, in order to play a lot of them, you need to stop treating your Vita like it’s a console. (Also, some of them were eventually ported to Steam, but they were on the Vita first!)

    In the end, in spite of Sony’s initial incompetence and later outright hostility (because of executives moving around to different divisions) towards the Vita, the Vita and Vita TVs are no jokes. They were cheap, powerful, and if you had even a little technical knowledge, it’s limitations could be exceeded. Out of the box, yeah, the Vita was pathetic, but the hosts of the above podcasts are programmers. I expect you guys to know better than to judge consoles by what they can do out of the box.

  20. default_ex says:

    On the topic of simulation games. There’s a really good use of hardcore simulation that would be incredibly fun but I have yet to see done. Games that are playing with laws of physics.

    One thing that stuck out to me diagnosing a Hydromatic 4T65-E transmission is the hydraulic diagrams. Incredibly complicated but also incredibly simple at the same time. You can see on the diagrams if this valve moves right it’ll open flow to these lines above it which then push on this other valve and opens flow to there and so on in a cascade reaction spanning through hundreds of individual parts. There’s definitely a game in there, both in diagnosing and fixing (via appending changes) to a faulty system as well as crafting the systems with a specified set of rules. Pipe games are somewhat close to this but they never really bother to do exotic valves, fluid compression or any of the fun stuff a more hardcore simulation of the physics would allow.

    Electromagnetics is another fun one that has great potential to make a game out of a hardcore simulation of it. When you see a low pass or high pass filter implemented as waves traveling through boxes cut in just the right ways. It kind of pops out as “hey, maybe this could make for a fun game”.

    Quantum physics is one where a game could serve to introduce a lot of people to the fun quirks of quantum systems. Things like how a particle and flip it’s charge every tick, if it’s one charge it slams into a barrier while another passes right through as if the barrier isn’t even there. Bizarre things go on that follow some simple rules at that level of physics.

  21. TehShrike says:

    I was super-surprised to hear you dumping on the Vita :-o

    I didn’t own one, but I know some folks who did, and they loved it. My impression is that it was the only decent handheld option for years until the Nintendo Switch, and it satisfied a real market niche. It seemed to satisfy that niche in a way the 3DS couldn’t (at least, not after the 3DS had been out a couple of years).

    The only complaints I heard from users were based on Sony abandoning the console from a marketing and support perspective after the product wasn’t an immediate commercial success.

  22. Amarsir says:

    “Go read the wiki, because the game itself won’t tell you.” might as well be the Warframe slogan.

    So I leveled up before the junction bosses existed. I’m MR 27 with virtually everything in the game. Curious about your encounter I just took a a very high armor / high health Atlas to that junction boss and it one-shotted me. (On the second try it killed my sentinel giving me time to one-shot it in return.)

    So that’s just badly balanced. But on the bright side having beaten it once you can now freely forget that it exists.

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